Leatherhead Thursday: Physical fitness in the fire service

By Shane Wells of the Leatherhead Instructors Many departments across the United States require that new recruits pass a physical fitness or abilities test of some kind prior to their appointment to the position. So why aren’t more departments requiring their firefighters to keep up some type of physical fitness performance level? One reason might be a rejection from the local union. They may fear losing their job if unable to meet the fitness requirements. Many cities have or are implementing work place wellness programs that are voluntary. These programs are sometimes encouraged by workers compensation for lower rates. My question…

Leatherhead Thursday: The importance of precision

By James R. Dennison of the Leatherhead Instructors Saws, hand tools, ladders, hoses, nozzles, rescue equipment, and gas tools can be found on all fire trucks across America. There are many similarities between manufacturers of the equipment, but there are also many differences. The manufacturer of the equipment is unimportant, but the knowledge needed to use your departments’ equipment is absolutely monumental. The operations and abilities of the tools that we regularly use are second nature to us, but the stuff that seems to spend more time on the rig than in use may be far from familiar. The proper start…

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…

Flame Resistant T-Shirts May Replace Cotton

By Guy Lucas for Safety Components The Firehouse Industry Insights blogs are contributed by experts in various areas of the fire service industry. A hot topic being discussed these days is the idea of fire departments adopting flame resistant base layer garments to replace 100% cotton t-shirts or polyester t-shirts. The U.S. military has already gone through similar evaluations and found inherently flame resistant knits like Sigma™ as the optimum fabric for flame resistant base layers. Explored below are a few reasons why your department may be on the brink of retiring cotton and should be banning polyester t-shirts. Why replace 100%…

Fire Hazards of Exterior Wall Construction: An NFPA Research Report

By Owen Davis For NFPA Today In the commercial building industry, many combustible materials are used in exterior wall construction to improve energy performance, reduce water and air filtration and allow for aesthetic design flexibility. These exterior wall assemblies include Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS), metal composite claddings, high-pressure laminates, and weather-resistive barriers (WRB). Given a number of documented fire incidents involving combustible exterior walls, a better understanding of these incidents was needed to inform current material test methods and potential fire mitigation strategies. The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated a research project to develop the technical basis for fire mitigation…

FireRescue1: 4 ways for fire chiefs to not get steamrolled by details

By Dennis Rubin For FireRescue1.com The top official of any agency is the responsibility party for everything that happens in the organization. During World War II President Harry S. Truman put it best: “The buck stops here.” Truman was taking responsibility for the escalation of the war effort and placing the lives of many of America’s military members in harms way. The president took personal accountability for the decisions that were being made on the battlefield based on his position and authority to engage our nation in combat against a foreign enemy — that’s true leadership. Make no mistake, the…

Fire Engineering: Social media tips and tricks for volunteer departments

By Thomas A. Merrill For Fire Engineering What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And on Facebook. And Twitter. And anywhere else people decided to post their photos and comments for the world to see. Of course, what people post is their own personal business. However, the professional volunteer firefighter has a duty and obligation to ensure his posts do not negatively impact the image and reputation of his department or our great fire service. Used correctly, social media can be a great tool and can contribute greatly to a department’s professional reputation. But, if used inappropriately, a firefighter and a department’s…

Leatherhead Thursday: Are you “good enough”?

By J.R. Dennison For the Leatherhead Instructors The fire service is full of all types of people, from all walks of life, with many different goals.  Some of us are second, third, or fourth generation firefighters that have dreamed of the job since childhood.  Others discovered the fire service as young adults or even older adults.  The fire service is truly diverse in its makeup, but so are the standards that each firefighter holds him/ herself to. Regardless of the age, gender, or ethnicity of the firefighter; they were probably quite ambitious at the beginning of their career.  You could…

New research to examine fire safety concerns of green buildings

By Fred Durso Jr. For the NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding a three-year project through the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) aimed at identifying and reducing potential risks posed by “green” elements in newer buildings. The $1 million project is a follow-up to the 2012 report commissioned by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that identified dozens of these concerns and how research could pinpoint mitigation tactics. In his initial research, Brian Meacham, associate professor of fire protection engineering at WPI, compiled a list of 78 green building features and construction elements that could pose risks to…

Ventilation Limited Fire: Keeping it Rich and Other Tactics Based Off Science

By P.J. Norwood and Frank Ricci For Fire Engineering Scientific research and data is critical to increase our understanding of the dynamic environments we face as firefighters. However, it is important that the message does not get lost in the noise. Although our service has been attempting to reconcile the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and National Institute of Safety and Technology (NIST) studies, we will focus on the practical application. We have found that the new understanding is not as scary as it seems. What we consider as new is based off tactical pieces of the puzzle that have been in practiced…