Posted by mmierzejewski | General, Health, Safety
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 2:03 pm

Not in Our House

Not in Our House, cancer awareness campaign, was launched within LION’s booth at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC).

Since 2002, more than 60% of career firefighters added to the IAFF memorial of LODD’s have died from cancer. Scientist equate the rise of cancer related deaths with firefighters to the synthetic materials now used in homes. These materials burn quicker, and release more cancer-causing carcinogens into the air.

Not in Our House asks firefighters to sign an online pledge of safety on the website,, and provides downloadable resources, awareness statistics, and an outlet to share personal firefighter cancer stories.

LION, in partnership with industry organizations such as the: NFFF First Responders Center for Excellence, Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN), and the National Volunteer Fire Council, are promoting Not in Our House to challenge industry ideals that lead to higher risks of cancer in firefighters, and make a lasting effect on the fire service.

To help launch the campaign, “Chicago Fire” television actors, Eamonn Walker (Battalion Chief Wallace Boden), and Dave Eigenberg (Christopher Herrmann), were present in the LION booth on Friday, April 28 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The actors provided a photo and signing opportunity for show attendees to support the Not in Our House Campaign, and raise money for the non-profit, Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN). Show attendees also had the opportunity to win a trip to the set of “Chicago Fire” during an actual film set shooting, and to win a leather helmet signed by the cast of “Chicago Fire,” as well as an opportunity to participate in a ‘Fill the Boot’ donation.

Thanks to the generosity  of the show attendees in raising money to support  non-profit FCSN, who works to help firefighters, and their families suffering from cancer.

The campaign will continue to grow and change with the needs of the fire service, but more information can be found online at the Not in Our House website,

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Posted by Francesca Solano | General, Health, Leatherhead Instructors, Performance, Safety
Thursday, March 19th, 2015 1:03 pm

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 is why aren’t more firefighters proactive in starting physical fitness programs in their own departments? Core training is gaining in popularity among firefighters.

The National Occupational Research Agenda has identified traumatic injury and intervention effectiveness as two of its priority research areas. Injuries are the leading cause of mortality and loss of potential years of life for working individuals. This study focused on a unique method of injury prediction and prevention in high risk workers using a functional movement screen and core strength intervention. Many workers must deal with physically demanding tasks that involve awkward positions and less than optimal ergonomics. Firefighting is a particular hazardous profession with exposure to a host of chemical, biological, and physical hazards including musculoskeletal trauma. Firefighters perform physically demanding tasks such as forcible entry and rescues that are injury prone because of maneuvers that compromise trunk stability and ergonomically hazardous conditions. Because of the nature of firefighting, these physical conditions are often difficult to control. There are over one million firefighters in the United States and the injury rates of firefighters are among the highest in all occupations. In 2006 U.S. firefighters sustained 88,500 injuries while on duty. Forty four percent of all U.S. firefighters have suffered from sprains and strains while on duty. It is important for firefighters to be fit because they work in physically unpredictable settings, and must maintain a high level of fitness for at least 20 years before they are eligible for retirement. Various strategies have been evaluated to decrease the occurrence and the severity of the firefighter’s injuries. These methods have focused on exercise, training, ergonomic coaching and flexibility improvements. A physical fitness intervention for firefighters was shown to effective in reducing injuries, but the scope of the study was limited to back disorders. A firefighter flexibility training program did not find improvement in injury incidence, though lost time, severity and costs improved. Workplace injuries are multi-factorial, especially in occupations where work events are unpredictable and task completion places rigorous demands on the body. Furthermore, many ergonomic interventions have limited applicability in certain firefighter tasks. For example, a firefighter who must crawl under wreckage and control his or her body to rapidly rescue a trapped individual has severe ergonomic challenges that are difficult to address with standard ergonomic suggestions such as “lift with your legs not with your back.” Although many firefighter exercise programs have focused on upper and lower body strength, they have paid less attention to core stability and strength and the other dimensions of movement that might decrease the chance of injury in the above scenario. Core stability is the ability of the lumbopelvic hip complex to prevent buckling and to return to equilibrium after perturbation. Although static elements (bone and soft tissue) contribute to some degree, core stability is predominately maintained by the dynamic function of muscular elements. There is clear relationship between trunk muscle activity and lower extremity movement. Current research suggests that decreased core strength may contribute to injuries of the back and extremities, that training may decrease musculoskeletal damage, and that core stability can be tested using functional movement methods. The study goes on to talk about how a group of 433 firefighters were ran through a battery of seven tests over a four week period in 2004. After that they were enrolled in a training program designed by multi-disciplinary team. Participants were all taught techniques to strengthen core muscles and to decrease mechanical load on the affected parts of their musculoskeletal system during these ergonomically challenging job tasks.

For one year following the training, information on the type and number of injury cases, cost of treatment, and the lost day’s due to injury were gathered by the organization’s worker’s comp department. Comparing the number of injuries pre and post-intervention of these 433 firefighters, lost time injuries were reduced by 62%, whereas total injuries were reduced by 44% compared to a historical control group. In my area there are several Cross Fit gyms that have continued to gain in popularity. Cross Fit is a core building focused workout program.

Reference: Peate, W. F., Bates, G., Lunda, K., Francis, S., & Bellamy, K. (2007). Core strength: a new model for injury prediction and prevention. J Occup Med Toxicol, 2(3), 1-9.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Health, Leatherhead Instructors, Performance, Safety, Training
Thursday, February 19th, 2015 3:02 pm

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 up procedures for your saws can make or break you in an emergency. Small engines can prove to be challenging in themselves due to their “cold blooded” nature, but knowing how to properly handle the equipment and how to overcome things such as a flooded engine or loose chain can keep you in the game.  Regular maintenance of the equipment is imperative to smooth operations, but can also provide an understanding of the more technical aspects of the saws.

Hose loads and lays are never the same between two fire departments, and often are different between the trucks in your bays. The loads, lengths, and nozzles are typically set up for the area in which you respond and departmental preference. Understanding the proper way to deploy each type of load on your trucks can save time, property, and lives. Knowing your loads and lengths will enable you to quickly add sections when needed to reach the fire, ensure efficiency of deployment, and allow you to be an asset instead of liability to your company. Knowing and understanding the type of nozzle, its flow, operation, and pressure is also necessary to be successful on the job.

Routine care of your hand tools, personal equipment, and PPE will greatly reduce failure on the emergency scene. Keeping your hand tools clean, properly assembled, and sharpened is your responsibility; don’t rely on the previous crew or user to maintain them. You better know where and how to use the tools in your pockets if you are going to carry them; it is ignorant to have a mass pile of items on you that you have no idea how to use or where it is. Do you like to wear the same underwear several days in a row? I hope not! Treat your turnout gear the same way. If you use it, clean it! Proper maintenance of turnout gear can prevent you from absorbing carcinogens on a regular basis and allow the gear to effectively work when needed.

Keep in mind that even the simple things can be reviewed and a lot can be gained. Take five minutes and look at your hydraulic rescue tools; which way do you move the control to make the tool operate? How far does the hydraulic reel reach? What type of oil does the hydraulic reservoir use? Are the tools clean? I bet you can refresh your mind and maybe gain something you didn’t know in that five minutes!

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Health, Safety
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 10:01 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Firefighter injuries and physical fitness

By Shane Wells

of the Leatherhead Instructors

Firefighters are at increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries and cardiorespiratory illnesses compared to other occupations. Each year tens of thousands of firefighters are injured while fighting fires, rescuing people, responding to emergencies, and training incidences. Occupational injuries are the leading cause of disability and early retirement.  Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of work related death.  All of these injuries contribute to a significant human and financial toll. In addition departments suffer lost work hours, higher insurance premiums, increased overtime, disability and early retirement payments.

Despite measures to prevent injuries such as improving our protective clothing and changing health and safety regulations very little about individual factors influencing firefighter injuries are known. Certain literature has predicted things such as; equipment failure, protective equipment not being worn, lack of training, fitness, team work, and  human error, in addition to fatigue, weather, poor decision making and communication systems.  However, very little information about how individual lifestyle variables and obesity contribute to the risk of injuries among firefighters.

Obesity in adults has doubled in the past 15 years, and the rate of severe obesity has quadrupled. Today roughly 2/3 of adults are overweight and 1/3 is obese. It is also known that as BMI increases certain diseases increase as well, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Studies have shown ties between obesity and increased risk of occupational injuries. Research is scarce about the association between obesity and risk of occupational injuries among firefighters.

Posten and colleagues conducted a study of 433 firefighters that participated in the Promoting Healthy Lifestyles Alternative Models Effects (PHLAME) worksite wellness program. This program was implemented in fire departments in Oregon and Washington five years after that program was first introduced. These were the findings; of the 433 firefighters there were 184 injuries overall and 160 injured firefighters had at least one injury. Of the 184 injuries, 68 were injuries for which a worker’s compensation claim was filled (37%). About 35% of injuries involved the back which was twice as many as the next largest category which was knee and lower leg at 17%. Twenty five percent of firefighters were in the normal weight category. Fifty-six percent were in the overweight category. Nineteen percent were in the obese category. Firefighters that were in the overweight or obese categories had a higher percentage of injury prevalence for all types of physician’s visits. The body part injured the most was the back. There were also a higher percentage of firefighters in the obese category that required a visit to a specialist as compared to the 12.5 % of firefighters in the normal weight category.

Other studies also show a mismatch between fitness and health requirements of firefighting and the current profile of the fire service. Current standards recommend that firemen participate in a fitness program, but it is the responsibility of each individual department to decide whether or not to institute a program. The NFPA 1583 Standard recommends a program that is positive, non-punitive, and does not set fitness standards. Cardiovascular events are by far the leading cause of line of duty deaths among firefighters. Appropriate fitness programs can enhance overall health, improve performance, and lessen the risk of firefighter injury and fatality. Firefighters and the public they serve will benefit from more fitness programs in the Fire Service. Some different types of physical training include; aerobic training, Sprint Interval Training (SIT), and functional training. Aerobic training provides several health benefits, including improved body composition, serum lipids, glucose metabolism, and maximal aerobics capacity. SIT is a type of high-intensity interval training that is designed to improve endurance, increase anaerobic threshold, and improve maximal performance. Functional training targets movements that are necessary for everyday living. Functional training utilizes full-body, dynamic movements to increase muscular strength and endurance as well as aerobic capacity using equipment such as medicine balls, physioballs, and exercise bands to provide resistance. This type of exercise mimics the high-intensity demands of firefighting. CrossFit workouts have been gaining popularity in progressive departments across the country.

There must be a cultural change within the U.S Fire Service in order to improve fitness and decrease injuries and cardiac events. Fit firefighters have increased mobility, energy, and endurance, allowing them to better perform job duties efficiently and safely.  Fit firefighters also are less likely to jeopardize the safety of their fellow firefighters or the public they serve.


Kuehl, K. S., Kisbu-Sakarya, Y., Elliot, D. L., Moe, E. L., DeFrancesco, C. A., MacKinnon, D. P. & Kuehl, H. E. (2012). Body mass index is a predictor of fire fighter injury and worker compensation claims. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54(5), 579.

Smith, D. L. (2011). Firefighter fitness: improving performance and preventing injuries and fatalities. Current sports medicine reports, 10(3), 167-172.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors, Safety, Training
Thursday, January 8th, 2015 11:01 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Training Props and Aids

By Shane Wells

of the Leatherhead Instructors

Firefighter educational services use training props or aids almost every time that we train. The costs range from free or inexpensive to multi-million dollar training towers or burn buildings, but they provide  a hands on experience. The training props and aids are a more interesting training method than a standard lecture, and they also allow us to test skills and gain an understanding of how the student is doing.

There are many companies that manufacture training props, BullEx is one company that offers many options for professional and innovative training aids.  BullEx offers everything from smoke generators to training towers and aircraft simulators. They not only provide props for the fire service, but they also offer props for public education, workplace safety training, and fire brigades. Some of the props pertain to forcible entry, roof simulators, window props, and lock cutting stations.  However, not all departments and facilities can afford to purchase props; they simply build their own. They key to building props for your department or organization is safety.

The internet provides many resources for building the props or aids that your department or organization may need or want. VentEnterSearch is one website that offers weekly training prop ideas, ranging from basic to complex. My department has historically built our own props varying from a forcible entry door to a confidence maze that has been set up in a training house. Our most utilized training prop is a shipping container that acts as a burn building, the container has a ventilation hole cut in the roof that has a hinged cover that can be controlled from the ground. We have submitted a grant for a training tower that can serve multiple departments in our county.

A training prop can be as basic as a kids puzzle from the store that acts as a training prop for dexterity when wearing a level A hazmat suit. Don’t allow budget constraints hamper your training, there is always a way to make your training better with or without a large training budget.

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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!

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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 Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, PPE, Safety, Training
Friday, July 18th, 2014 9:07 am

Fire Academy Friday: Retirement of PPE

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 makes sure you know when your PPE has made its last run and how do to dispose of it.

After you’ve finished watching, take the test.

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | General, Safety
Thursday, July 17th, 2014 10:07 am

Fire Prevention Week is Approaching – Enhance Your Efforts with Fire Corps

By the National Volunteer Fire Council

Fire Prevention Week is October 5-11, and fire departments around the country will be conducting activities to spread important fire prevention and safety messages in their community. Fire Corps can assist with these efforts and help departments keep fire prevention programs going all year long.

Through Fire Corps, which is administered nationally by the National Volunteer Fire Council, local fire departments bring in community members to help with non-emergency tasks, such as fire prevention and safety education. There are currently over 1,500 Fire Corps programs in 49 states. Starting a new Fire Corps program is easy – simply go to and register for free. This will give you access to a myriad of resources to help you start, implement, expand, and recruit for your local program.

The theme of the 2014 Fire Prevention Week is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.” Activities Fire Corps can specifically assist with regarding fire prevention education and smoke alarm safety include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Coordinate an open house at the department
  • Conduct fire prevention education programming in schools, at senior centers, and among other high risk populations
  • Staff an information booth at local events or fairs
  • Perform home safety checks and smoke alarm installations in the community
  • Maintain department web sites and social media to disseminate information

To assist local Fire Corps teams with these efforts, the national Fire Corps program offers many resources, including:

  • Fire Corps Academy courses such as FC-303: Fire Corps in Public Education and FC-304: Conducting Home Safety Checks
  • Fire Corps Guide to Fire and Life Safety Education
  • Home Safety Checklist
  • First Alert Smoke Alarm Donation Program, in which registered Fire Corps programs can request free First Alert smoke alarms to install in their community
  • Customizable outreach materials promoting a smoke alarm check/installation program
  • Fire prevention tips sheets

Find all of these resources and more on the Fire Corps web site at Learn more about Fire Prevention Week at

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Safety
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 10:07 am

Free fireworks safety resources for the 4th

Looking for fireworks safety tips for your department to distribute? Be sure to check out NFPA’s Fireworks Safety section:

  • In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks related injuries; 55% of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31% were to the head.
  • The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children under 10.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
Each July Fourth, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.
You might also be interested in the NFPA-coordinated Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks:
The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks is a group of health and safety organizations, coordinated by NFPA, that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

NFPA’s infamous Dan Doofus character appears in this fireworks safety video:

And if you’re looking for shock value, recently posted a pretty gruesome example of what happens when fireworks safety isn’t observed.

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