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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 9:11 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Here comes winter again!

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

The long warm days of summer and fall are gone and the bitter cold has arrived!  The winter months present some real challenges to us as firefighters when dealing with emergencies and how we operate.  We are faced with slippery, snow covered roads that are often our work station for hours upon hours.  We are going to talk about some basics that can protect us through this season.

We all have large trucks and equipment that we respond to emergencies in, and there are some things that we should address.  Most of our fire apparatus is equipped with either an engine or exhaust brake; it is a good idea to turn them off when roads are snow or ice covered.  These brakes can cause the apparatus to slow too rapidly and essentially slide out of your control.

All of our apparatus at my department is equipped with automatic tire chains, and our first out medic is equipped with four wheel drive.  These features are excellent when used correctly.  The chains and four wheel drive can certainly increase traction when driving on snow or frozen roads, but neither effect the quality of braking.  Do not get yourself in the mindset that you can stop any better than others!

How about salt and snow shovels?  Keeping these items on your equipment is an awesome idea!  How many times do you respond to a med run at a residence and find the path to their door covered in snow and ice?  Being able to clear that path for your crew can reduce the likelihood of falls that lead to time off the job.  Salt also comes in handy when the pump operator finds that they are standing on a sheet of ice due to loose connections or an overfilled tank.

The last thing that I want to discuss is the preparations that we need to make while operating at emergencies on roadways.  Motorists operate less than ideally year-round, adding a slick roadway will not stop them!  We need to make sure that we are keeping lanes of operation closed and staying away from moving traffic.  Think about sending a second unit to the scene just to shield the emergency crews that are working.  You can inquire about using your local or state police, and having barriers set if you are going to be there for a while.

I hope some of these basic thoughts and ideas help you in some way.

Stay safe and train hard!


Posted by Francesca Solano | Events, Firefighter Combat Challenge, General, Health
Monday, November 10th, 2014 11:11 am

LION sponsors the Firefighter Combat Challenge in Phoenix

We all know the importance of health and fitness for firefighters, and the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championships exemplify the hard work, rigorous training and fitness levels from firefighters who compete in this event.

This past week firefighters from around the world gathered in Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the 23 rd annual World Challenge, their last stop after a year of grueling competitions. LION has been a proud sponsor of the Challenge since its inception in 1992, we believe in encouraging and recognizing firefighters who take the initiative to maintain exemplary health goals and sportsmanship.

We saluted the outstanding athletes who have distinguished themselves on the course by inducting them into the LION’s Den, the letteman jacket program that recognizes those athletes who strive and succeed by posting times that place them at the top of of the sport.

Congratulations to all the combat challenge participants that worked hard throughout the year!


Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors, PPE
Thursday, November 6th, 2014 7:11 am

Helmets of the fire service

By Shane Wells
of the Leatherhead Instructors

I have had a large variety of helmets in my 20 plus years as a firefighter; they range from inexpensive fiberglass helmets to quite expensive leather helmets. The first helmet that I had was a Cairns Fiberglass “salad bowl” Helmet, and now I have a Sam Houston Leather Helmet. There are differences in style, comfort, fit, and weight between the two; both have acceptable ratings.

I consider there to be three types of helmets that we typically see in the United States; leather, composite, and proximity. There are many styles that can be chosen among them, but the three listed types cover most of the bases. Each department really needs to do their research as to what fits them, and uniformity should be considered. Do not allow “what’s popular” to dictate what you get!

There are several things that should be considered when deciding what helmets to purchase for your department. Cost, amount of calls that you respond to, types of service provided (structural, technical rescue, airport crash rescue), turnover rate of your department (applies more to part time and volunteer), and ratings. Some departments opt to use different types of helmets for technical rescue, or wild land firefighting. A leather helmet is a poor choice for a department that uses one helmet and does technical rescue, due to the weight. Be wary of the first salesman that walk in your door and offers the cheapest price; cheapest is NOT always best! Something in the middle may be a good place to start.

I received a LION American Heritage Classic Helmet about two years ago to use while teaching classes, and I have to say that it is one of the most comfortable helmets that I have had the privilege of wearing. It has the look of a traditional leather helmet, but the weight of a composite. The helmet has held up well during the trainings that it has been worn during, and I look forward to wearing it for years to come. We wear Leather Sam Houston’s for our primary helmet, a Cairns 1010 composite as a backup, and a separate helmet for wild land and technical rescue at my department. We are given a leather helmet once our probationary period is met and these helmets remain with us for our career; we get to take them when we retire.

I hope that this helps you in your decision making regarding the purchase and use of helmets.


Posted by Francesca Solano | Events, Fire and Rescue, General, Health, News, Safety, Training
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 8:10 am

Fire service organizations send letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary amid ebola concerns


Representatives from the Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking for their support in protecting EMS personnel against the current Ebola outbreak.

These fire service organizations specifically requested the Health Department’s “commitment to ensuring EMS personnel have sufficient training and resources to respond to suspected cases of Ebola.”

Here an excerpt of the letter, focusing on preventative measures that can help protect First Responders.

It is highly likely that more individuals infected with Ebola will seek assistance from emergency response personnel in the coming months. As the vast majority of EMS in the United States is performed by firefighters who have been cross‐trained as emergency medical technicians and paramedics, it is crucial that we ensure such personnel are properly trained and equipped to respond to such a scenario.

At a minimum, responding departments must provide sufficient personal protective equipment for all responders, including fluid resistant or impermeable long‐sleeved gowns, double gloves, eye protection, leg coverings, disposable shoe covers, and N95 respirators. As we learn more about the disease, additional protections may also be required.

Departments must also provide specialized training to all responders to limit the spread of the disease and provide the highest quality care for patients. Responders must learn to recognize a potential Ebola infection, institute necessary precautions to limit the spread of the disease, and utilize proper disinfection procedures.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

The IAFC has compiled thorough information and guidance on Ebola for EMS personnel here.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, October 9th, 2014 9:10 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Multipurpose Gear

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

The fire service revolves around responding to a wide variety of emergencies and non-emergencies; most of these responses require us to wear either a hazardous materials suite or our turnout gear.  The gear that we have can be viewed as overkill in many of the situations that we must deal with, but the simple Nomex or cotton uniforms we wear are just not enough.  What is the solution?

Multipurpose gear is a great tool to add to the toolbox.  Wild land firefighting gear and rescue response suits are offered by several manufactures, but they do not appear to be multipurpose.  Offering a set of gear that has fire protection, comfort, and reinforcements in the most vital places is the next step in reducing firefighter fatigue, while still offering protection.  The lack of a liner system will reduce the weight of the gear for situations other than structural firefighting.

This type of gear would be well suited for extrication, wild land firefighting, and any situation that does not require structural firefighting or bloodborne pathogen protection.  You lose the ability of having necessary protection from structural firefighting and bloodborne pathogens when you remove the lining of the gear, but we already have structural gear and Tyvek suites when dealing with significant bleeding, trauma, or other body fluids.

Customization of such equipment would simply add luxury; as we already have with our turnout gear.  The ability to add reflective striping, department names, and pockets where you wish is a nice touch that adds workability among firefighters.  It is certainly nice to be able to add pockets for tools or gloves, and a clasp for flashlights.

The needs and wants of firefighters is a top priority among safety equipment manufacturers; LION is no exception.  I encourage you to write a letter or send an e-mail to let them know what you are interested in seeing to better our field.

Stay safe and train hard!

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, September 11th, 2014 8:09 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Living at the firehouse

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

Firefighters have a second family that most people know nothing about.  These families are unknown to everyday working folks, people that view their counterparts as co-workers, or that dread having to deal with people at the office or factory.  What we have is rare, awesome, and yet difficult.

Our days at the station revolve around conversation, meals, television, and responding to the emergencies in our communities.  Many of our calls bring stress, emotions, anger, and disappointment; the relationships that we have with our brothers and sisters is what gets us through it.  We spend time talking about calls and somehow those conversations help diffuse the feelings that we have formed from the emergency.  The ability to have conversations with people that know exactly what you are felling is rare.  Many of the stories, conversations, counseling sessions, or whatever you want to call it never leave the firehouse.  This prevents a lot of problems in our personal relationships with our husbands, wives, or children.

Many meals, joking, and general good times take place at the station.  Many departments across America have long standing traditions regarding meals and partaking together.  Some places have a steady cook, or crew members take turns cooking, or maybe your big meal together is lunch instead of dinner.  Whatever the regimen is, it is taken seriously!  Meals bring people together, and this is no different at the station.

Down time is spent playing cards, shooting hoops, working out, studying, or watching television.  You will rarely find a member of a crew hanging out alone when all the work is done.  There are always stories to share about your kids, vacation plans, or whatever is going on daily at home.  The relationships formed at the firehouse are unlike any other.

The firehouse contains many people from different walks of life with different views; there are going to be times where you butt heads.  The realization that life is truly fragile almost always helps the disagreements blow by.  Rarely do you find firefighters behaving in an unacceptable manner to resolve a conflict.  The reality is that you get out of these relationships what you put into them.  Unlike most jobs, I guarantee that each firefighter has a unique story to tell regarding their decision to do the job.

I find myself quite thankful to be part of such an amazing profession, with amazing people, and I hope that you do too.

Stay safe and train hard!


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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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