Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety, Training
Thursday, June 19th, 2014 9:06 am

How to eliminate LODDs in fire service training

By Sarah Calams

For Fire Chief

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council met Monday to take a close look at how to keep firefighters safe during training drills.

This year’s International Fire and EMS Safety and Health Week theme is “train like you fight.” Fire departments are encouraged to focus on safety, health training and education during the week of June 15-21.

An IAFC webinar presented by Allan Rice, of the Alabama Fire College and Personnel Standards Commission, and Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal, with the Baltimore City Fire Department, focused on how to eliminate line-of-duty deaths and the lessons learned from past incidents to prevent them from happening in the future.

“We have to be very careful that we step people in from the shallow end and that we walk them into the deep end through a series of planned evolutions,” Rice said. “We have to avoid the temptation to throw people into the deep end to find out if they know how to swim.”

The North American Fire Training Directors’ presented these 10 rules of engagement for safe fire service training.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety, Training
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 9:06 am

Back to Basics: Engine company ops – master streams

By Mark van der Feyst

For Firefighting In Canada

The primary job function of an engine company is to suppress fire by using different-sized hoses and delivering water from its source to the fire. One such method of water delivery is master streams.

Engine companies have a few options when it comes to master streams. Most engines have a fixed master stream device on top of the apparatus (see photo 1). This device is armed with either a straight-tip nozzle or a combination nozzle. The advantage of a straight tip is its reach when flowing water. A straight tip provides a true straight stream or solid stream of water for better fire penetration and fire knockdown (see photo 2). Tip sizes can vary in diameter from 35 millimetres (1 3/8 inches) to 50 mm (two inches)

A combination nozzle provides a straight stream pattern but not a solid stream of water. Instead, the stream comprises many droplets of water in a straight-stream pattern. The stream patterns can vary, from straight stream to a wide fog, which is useful to protect the apparatus when it is exposed to radiant heat.

A firefighter must be assigned to operate the master stream on top of the engine and ensure that the stream is appropriately directed for effective fire suppression. This operation takes one firefighter away from the engine crew, leaving a three- or four-person crew.

Read the full article here.

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Safety
Monday, June 16th, 2014 11:06 am

Firewise virtual workshop will help you understand how embers ignite roofs in a wildland fire

From NFPA Today

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to “Ask the Expert” by participating in an upcoming virtual workshop on July 15th. The workshop will teach you about how embers ignite roofs in a wildland fire and how to make your roof more survivable.

Join Firewise residents throughout the country through a one-hour format including a thirty minute presentation by Dr. Stephen Quarles, Ph.D. from IBHS, followed by a thirty minute live “Ask an Expert” interactive opportunity for pre-selected homeowners to ask a question related to the session’s topic. This unique learning format provides wildland/urban interface homeowners with information on how to make important mitigation modifications at their homes. Participation is limited to the first 100 registrants.

Register now for the virtual workshop on July 15th at 1:00pm EDT.

Mark your calendars for the next “Ask an Expert” Virtual Workshop on August 19 at 2pm MDT for Mulch Combustibility – Choosing the Right Type for Your Wildland/Urban Interface Home.  Pre-registration information will be available following the July 15 session.

Read more on NFPA Today.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Health, Safety
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 9:06 am

Strategies for Protecting Firefighter Hearing

By Seth R. Nadel

For FireRescue

There is something dangerous that can be found at fire and rescue scenes that we often notice, but tend to ignore. Although it doesn’t present an immediate danger, it can have a negative impact on our health. But this danger is something we never talk about, perhaps because we no longer hear it. While we address the obvious dangers of flame, heat, toxic smoke, collapse, stress, falls, etc., we don’t seem to notice the impact of the one danger that we bring to the scene—noise.

I’m sensitive to the issue, as I have had tinnitus ringing in my ears for 50 years. While mine was not caused by my time in the fire service, it has impacted my life. My chosen career in the military never happened because I didn’t hear well enough to pass the physical. I know I missed out on a number of good opportunities, because I couldn’t hear either the offer or the positive response to my queries. So how could fireground noise be harmful?

Noise Level
Consider the noise level at a simple nighttime motor vehicle accident involving extrication. After the siren is turned off, the fire truck’s engine continues to run at high revolutions per minute (RPM) to keep a line charged. Next, in most cases, a gas-powered generator is fired up to power the lights. Then, another gas-powered unit is started up to power the extrication tools. All of this is going on while we’re hammering on various steel parts to clear them for the power tools. On some occasions, we also add the noise from a gas-powered saw that cuts away the steel or fiberglass around the structural members.

At a structure fire, we have multiple engines running at high RPM to pump water, chainsaws cutting ventilation holes in roofs, and gas-powered fans creating positive pressure ventilation (PPV). Add radios, the noise from the fire, team members cutting holes in walls and breaking doors, and lights at a night scene, and it’s a wonder any of us can still hear. Of course we then turn up our radios so we can hear them over all the ambient noise, and yell into our team members’ ears to give and get commands.

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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Safety
Thursday, June 5th, 2014 9:06 am

Fire Hero Learning Network launches operational checklists

From the Fire Hero Learning Network

What are the NFFF Operational Checklists?

The National Fallen Firefighters Operational Checklists project provides standard and customizable checklists for major operations conducted by fire departments. The checklists, developed by recognized experts and leaders in the fire service, detail the typical major tasks to be conducted during a particular type of operation. By using the checklists, you can help ensure that you have considered and completed all these tasks during the operation. Therefore, it is recommended that you print the checklists you create and keep a copy in each apparatus and response vehicle.


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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 9:06 am

UL releases new research in basement fire computer modeling

From UL New Science

Why Basement Fire Models Matter

Basement fires are an extremely dangerous challenge for firefighters. In the late 1970s, fire deaths inside a structure occurred at a rate of 1.8 deaths per 100,000 structure fires. By the late 1990s, the mortality rate had risen to three per 100,000. Fire Engineering notes that a “large majority of firefighter fatalities or significant injuries occur at what were ultimately basement fires.” For these reasons, it is critical to understand the particular safety risks associated with basement fires through experimentation and advanced engineering analysis. To build on and further the knowledge gained from physical experiments, UL relies on computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based fire modeling tools to expand the available experimental dataset and deepen insights.


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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Safety
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 9:06 am

Fire Engineering: Understanding and avoiding a flashover

By Michael Salzano
For Fire Engineering

The International Fire Service Training Association’s (IFSTA’s) Firefighter Essentials textbook defines a flashover as “the temperature in a compartment that results in the simultaneous ignition of all the combustible contents in the space.” However, I don’t care what the book says! Don’t get me wrong, “the book” helped teach us the initial essentials of firefighting—the tip of the proverbial iceberg—that is “enough to get you injured or killed.” However, the book won’t help you at 3 a.m. in a dark hallway with zero visibility and no visible fire. The only thing that will help you is realistic training and remembering the critical signs during a fire’s lifespan. As a probationary firefighter, rookie, or veteran firefighter, it is imperative to have the necessary critical information to help you recognize, prevent, and survive a flashover.


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Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Safety
Thursday, May 29th, 2014 9:05 am

Into the Fire: Report examines fire that killed two Boston firefighters

By Michele McPhee
For Boston Magazine

The run came in at 2:43 p.m. on March 26, just as a dark cloud of smoke began to rise over the Back Bay. It was a nasty day—16 degrees and with gusts whipping off the Charles River at up to 50 miles per hour. A fire had started on Beacon Street near Exeter and now the wind was pushing the smoke across the neighborhood, darkening the area.

About a half-mile away, the smoke was already visible from the Engine 33/Ladder 15 fire station on Boylston Street. In less gloomy weather, the doors to the station’s bay are kept wide open. The firefighters stand in the apron of the historical 1888 brownstone, acting as civic ambassadors, happy to show off their two fire trucks. Ladder 15 is parked to the left. It’s stocked with battering rams, Jaws of Life, metal and wood saws, and ropes and harnesses used for search and rescue—the tools of “truckies,” as the ladder-company firefighters are known. Engine 33 is on the right, packed with hoses, hydrant wrenches, and HAZMAT gear.

The past 12 months had been long and difficult for Engine 33/Ladder 15. First came the marathon bombings: The explosions were so close the firehouse shook. The firefighters had charged through the screams down Boylston Street, into the hell of severed limbs and bloodied ball bearings. But afterward, not a single man wanted to leave Engine 33/Ladder 15 or take extended time off.

Read the full article in Boston Magazine.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Health, People, Safety
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 11:05 am

Trouble in Mind: Behavioral health in the fire service

By Janet A. Wilmoth

For NFPA Journal

KYLE IENN WAS ONE OF THE NEW BREED OF FIRE CHIEFS. A 23-year member of the fire service, he led a progressive volunteer fire department in his hometown of Ralston, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha. He was active on the state and national level with the Nebraska Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer Combination Officers Section. He served the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s “Everyone Goes Home®” program, an initiative to prevent firefighter line-of-duty deaths and injuries. As founder of the Nebraska Serious Injury & Line of Duty Death Response Team, Ienn was first on the scene to help fire departments with the death of a firefighter.

In a 2010 interview for, when asked what kept him motivated, Ienn replied, “Knowing I have helped someone.”

On the morning of January 31, 2012, just days before his 41st birthday, Ienn’s body was found hanging from a bridge in an Omaha park. A fire department vehicle was parked nearby. Omaha police concluded that Ienn committed suicide. He left behind his wife, who worked as an administrative assistant with the fire department, and three teenaged children, two of whom participated in the fire department’s Explorer program.

The suicide of an active, high-profile chief sent a shock wave through the nation’s fire service. Deaths like Ienn’s, along with “suicide clusters” in recent years involving firefighters in metropolitan fire departments around the country, have focused increased attention on behavioral health problems—alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among them—affecting first responders, primarily firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. While empirical data on the problem remains scarce, there are suggestions that behavioral health problems among emergency responders may be widespread; studies have found that as many as 37 percent of firefighters may exhibit symptoms of PTSD. Compounding the problem is a lingering stigma that can make it difficult for emergency responders to acknowledge behavioral issues like depression, whether it’s their own or that of a colleague.

Read the full article here.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety, Training
Monday, May 12th, 2014 11:05 am

Structural Firefighting: Rapid intervention and NFPA 1407

By Mike Mason

For Fire Engineering

By now, departments throughout the United States should be familiar with the need for rapid intervention and the extreme importance of its presence on the fireground. The relationship among rapid intervention policies; rapid intervention crews (RICs); rapid intervention training; and officers, RIC leaders, and chief officers can be overwhelming as can be meeting the standards of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1407, Standard for Training Fire Service Rapid Intervention Crews. It is also necessary to correlate NFPA 1407 with other important standards that mention the need for rapid intervention.

RICs and firefighter survival go hand in hand especially when training and preparing a solid rapid intervention presence on the fireground. A fire chief or incident commander’s worst nightmare at structural fires is a Mayday. Just gaining control of such an incident can be daunting for some departments, as can be establishing the presence of a RIC at their structural fires. To survive the fireground, a rapid intervention presence cannot be questioned and should be provided for no matter what size team you can muster. Proactive training well before an incident occurs is needed in three prominent areas: firefighter self-survival, firefighter rescue, and firefighter RIC coordination.

All three areas require specific techniques and maneuvers that range from an individual firefighter’s actions to the actions of the RIC, RIC leaders, and chief officers. Departments should have a well-written training program and policies that contain proactive as well as reactive action plans. As we know, even the best training and written policies can never predict the event itself or what it may entail in saving one of our own.

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