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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 9:08 am

Leatherhead Thursday: It’s about time for some pink!

By J.R. Dennison
of the Leatherhead Instructors

There is no secret: October is the month that is dedicated to breast cancer awareness and, of course, wearing pink!  There is no doubt that all cancer deserves awareness, but breast cancer alone takes so much from us all and can be drastically changed if the word and awareness is continually spread.  We all have special women in our lives that lose that battle each year, and that hits us right in our hearts.  Our lives revolve around strong co-workers, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and friends and we want to do all that we can to protect them.

Firefighters across the U.S. and Canada have been able to support the fight with their public standing.  Firefighters are looked at by communities across the U.S. and Canada as role models, upstanding citizens, and generally good people.  We have an opportunity to support the research and awareness through raising funds and advertisement in the pink shirts!  The International Association of Fire Fighters has been a top supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for several years; in 2012 the IAFF and its affiliates raised about $108,000.00 for the foundation.

Around 300,000 women and 2,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014; about 40,000 women and 430 men will succumb to the disease.  These numbers are terrible, but they are on the decrease since 2000.  The reason for the drop is funding for research, treatment, and awareness.  It is imperative that we do not allow any of these three paths to falter in any way!

The Susan G. Komen Foundation website ww5.komen.org can provide you with tons of information regarding the disease, its research, treatment, early detection, and support.  The IAFF website www.iaff.org can provide you with information about what fire fighters are doing to support.  I encourage you to take a look at these sites, and talk to the women in your lives about self-exams.  This disease can be detected early and the battle can possible be won if the right steps are taken.

Stay safe, train hard, and wear that pink!


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, PPE
Friday, August 15th, 2014 2:08 pm

Fire Academy Friday: Advanced Cleaning for Structural Fire Helmets

It’s Fire Academy Friday! LION Fire Academy provides fire department members with online training on PPE and Continuing Education Units for successful completion.  Fire instructors can incorporate PPE education into their classes and have their students earn credits.  If you are a fire student or contemplating a career in firefighting, you’ll find helpful quizzes, videos and links on PPE and other firefighting topics.

NFPA 1851 and NFPA 1500 training modules are valid for any brand of PPE.

Learn how to perform an Advanced Cleaning on your structural firefighting helmet. Covers thorough cleaning of helmets, how often an Advanced Cleaning is needed and who can perform an Advanced Cleaning. It also defines the difference between Routine Cleaning, Advanced Cleaning and Decontamination.

After you’ve finished watching, take the test.


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Leatherhead Instructors, Training
Thursday, August 14th, 2014 2:08 pm

Leatherhead Thursday: Lines Down

By J.R. Dennison
of the Leatherhead Instructors

The fire department is one of the first agencies that the public turns to when situations arise that pose any type of threat or emergency.  Fire departments across the country respond to countless calls involving downed utility lines and poles each year; the risk of injury or death is always there.  We are going to take a few different looks at how these calls can be handled and what our function should be once on scene.

Our job description varies, but at no point are we capable of determining if a downed line is energized or not.  Every line should be treated as if it was energized and our scene management should be accordingly.  A downed tree across utility lines can present a great danger in itself, because of the potential of transferred energy through that tree and any people in the immediate vicinity.  It is important to not only look at the downed utility lines as being energized, but the objects in which they are now touching.  Remember that you are the ground, and a direct route for that energy to ground.

Our primary function on the scene of downed lines is to provide safety for ourselves and the public.  Many times we respond to calls that involve lines down on a vehicle while occupants are still inside; it is best to keep these folks right where they are until the power company can de-energize the lines.  You limit the risk of grounding out the vehicle, the occupants, and the first responders when you wait.  One wrong move can be the difference of life and death!

Think about the operations and care that we take when using our aerial devices.  The platforms at the pump panel and aerial control area are not for comfort; they are keeping you from being a ground should the aerial device strike a live line.  This same concept should be viewed when operating at scenes involving downed lines.

Talk with your local power company about providing training for your department regarding utility lines.  Most providers will be glad to work with you to better educate about their profession and things to look for.  Awareness is absolutely the first step in helping yourself and others!

Stay safe and train hard!


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Law Enforcement
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 9:08 am

NYTimes.com: Coaxing Fire and Police Staffs in Arizona to Cut Own Pensions

Bryan Jeffries of Arizona’s firefighters’ association says that emergency workers have an obligation to protect not just the public but also their cities. Credit Jarod Opperman for The New York Times

By Ken Belson
For The New York Times

PHOENIX — Bryan Jeffries, the chief of Arizona’s firefighters’ association, has been arguing to anyone who will listen that his members — and the state’s police officers, too — should volunteer to cut their own pension benefits.

Mr. Jeffries, a fourth-generation Arizonan who has been a firefighter and a city councilor, says that emergency workers have a special obligation to protect the public not only from physical peril, but also from financial ruin. Cutting pensions for firefighters and police officers would help save their woefully underfunded retirement plan and bail out towns and cities that are struggling to keep up with their mandated contributions, he says.

“It is critical for our state, for the taxpayers and for the next generation that will be here long after we are gone, that we repair this,” said Mr. Jeffries, whose group, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, is not a union but works on political issues relevant to its membership. “I know intellectually that with these ballooning payments, I feel a direct conflict with the oath I took to protect the citizens.”

His unusual proposal has been a touchy subject for many of the people whose pensions would be cut, because defined benefit pension plans are viewed as compensation for doing dangerous work and a lure to recruit new public servants. And despite the growing shortfall in the statewide pension plan that has put stress on cities and towns, which must make up the difference, politicians have been nevertheless wary of attacking these benefits, for fear of alienating two powerful constituencies and to sidestep questions about why they lavished such generous pensions on them in the first place.

Read the full article here.


Posted by Nick Hrkman | PPE, Training
Friday, August 8th, 2014 3:08 pm

Fire Academy Friday: Structural PPE Construction, Features, and Functions

It’s Fire Academy Friday! LION Fire Academy provides fire department members with online training on PPE and Continuing Education Units for successful completion.  Fire instructors can incorporate PPE education into their classes and have their students earn credits.  If you are a fire student or contemplating a career in firefighting, you’ll find helpful quizzes, videos and links on PPE and other firefighting topics.

NFPA 1851 and NFPA 1500 training modules are valid for any brand of PPE.

What are the components of your PPE elements? What is the purpose and limitations of each element in your structural PPE? This week’s video covers these questions and more.

After you’ve finished watching, take the test.


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue
Friday, August 1st, 2014 10:08 am

Fire Academy Friday: Advanced Inspection – Turnouts Part 2


It’s Fire Academy Friday! LION Fire Academy provides fire department members with online training on PPE and Continuing Education Units for successful completion.  Fire instructors can incorporate PPE education into their classes and have their students earn credits.  If you are a fire student or contemplating a career in firefighting, you’ll find helpful quizzes, videos and links on PPE and other firefighting topics.

NFPA 1851 and NFPA 1500 training modules are valid for any brand of PPE.

Part two is a continuation of instruction on how to perform an Advanced Inspection of Structural Turnout Gear. This section includes thermal barrier inspection, moisture barrier inspection and complete liner inspection,

Before you take the test, you need to complete Advanced Inspection – Part 1.


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Health
Monday, July 28th, 2014 1:07 pm

FireRescue1.com: Firefighting among best work-life balance jobs

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is no easy task. Glassdoor, which compiles data about workplaces, released a list of the top highly rated jobs for work-life balance. The results are based on employee feedback over the past year, according to the report.

Ratings were based on a five-point scale, with 1 representing dissatisfied, 3 representing OK and 5 meaning very satisfied.

Firefighting took the ninth spot with a work-life balance rating of 4.1. Curious to see what other jobs made the list? Check them out on FireRescue1.com.

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Health, Training
Friday, July 25th, 2014 10:07 am

Fire Academy Friday: How firefighting affects the body


It’s Fire Academy Friday! LION Fire Academy provides fire department members with online training on PPE and Continuing Education Units for successful completion.  Fire instructors can incorporate PPE education into their classes and have their students earn credits.  If you are a fire student or contemplating a career in firefighting, you’ll find helpful quizzes, videos and links on PPE and other firefighting topics.

NFPA 1851 and NFPA 1500 training modules are valid for any brand of PPE.

This week’s video covers how your body is affected during firefighting operations, including:

  • Heat Stress
  • Ways to combat heat stress
  • On-scene rehabilitation
  • Rehydration
  • Active cooling
  • Medical monitoring
  • Effective physical fitness

After you’ve finished watching, take the test.

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, July 24th, 2014 9:07 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Sirens on or off?

By Shane Wells
of the Leatherhead Instructors

We respond to numerous calls each and every day using lights and sirens, but should we? In the past when the call came in, we got in the truck and went blasting down the road lights on and sirens blaring regardless of the nature of the call.  It didn’t matter if it was to a structure fire or a simple patient assist; our lights and sirens were on.  In recent years there have been many studies involving the use of emergency responses.  The information found has shown us that this causes more wear on emergency vehicles, uses a larger amount of fuel, and causes more danger to the public; all unnecessarily.

Many departments across the United States have adopted policies for responding lights and sirens to their calls.  There are several ways in which departments have changed their SOP’s. Some departments have used automated dispatch which sends the closest unit to the call regardless of the department’s jurisdiction; this is dependent upon cooperation with separate departments and how they are staffed.  Another option may be to send an engine company that is closer to the scene first, and have the further out squad respond non-emergency.  Many departments have a pre-determined list of calls that they will respond to in emergency mode such as severe anaphylaxis, chest pains, shortness of breath, cardiac arrest, severe trauma, and hypovolemic shock, just to name a few. The real goal here is to serve the people and protect ourselves in as safe of a manner as possible.

There are many ways that we can be safer when responding using lights and sirens. Pre-empted traffic signals have taken off in recent years; when activated these devices give immediate right of way to the emergency vehicle and return to normal operation once the emergency vehicle has passed.  These can be operated by a switch at the fire station or from a dispatch center, or from a signal on the emergency vehicle as it approaches an intersection.   Our city is currently working on replacing all of our traffic signals through a grant, and we are adding preemptive devices to them all.  We have SOP’s that dictate how we respond to types of calls, based on their nature.  How does your department handle emergency calls?

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Performance
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 2:07 pm

New NFPA 1670 chapter gives guidance on conducting animal technical rescues

By Ryan McGinnis
For NFPA Journal July/August

Two years ago, John Haven was sitting down to eat dinner with his wife in his Gainesville, Florida, home when his phone rang. It was a local fire chief calling with the news that a dog had fallen down a 50-foot sinkhole in a city park while playing fetch with its owner. First responders were on scene and preparing a rescue, but the chief was concerned about the plan, which involved an improvised rope-and-pulley system that would lower a responder into the hole, then lift him out as he held the dog in his arms. “Your team can do this better, smarter, and safer, right?” the chief asked.

“Sure,” Haven said. “We’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

Haven’s team is the University of Florida Veterinary Emergency Treatment Services, part of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which Haven directs. The 50-member team includes a smaller core group trained in both advanced human technical rescue and animal technical rescue, and Haven was part of a five-member crew that responded to the chief’s request for assistance with the dog in the sinkhole. Haven’s group had conducted previous training exercises with Alachua County Fire Rescue, the first responders on the scene, and the team was in touch with the chief while they were en route to the park, allowing it to get a compete picture of the situation and assign tasks before it arrived. Haven described for the chief the type of rigging setup they’d need for the rescue, and the chief told him it would be ready to go when they got there.

Read the full article on NFPA Journal.

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