By Julie Percha
For ABC News
Just three days after Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a group of police officers at their convention, he took his campaign message to firefighters Wednesday, taking aim at Republican governors who “lay the blame for this recession on you, on public sector workers.”
Biden told the International Association of Fire Fighters, who endorsed his campaign for re-election last month, that Republicans in Congress aren’t making their jobs any easier by cutting budgets and shrinking the number of firefighters on duty.
“I think this new Republican Party looks at you as both the reason for, and the solution to, this God-awful recession we inherited — we inherited, by the way, because of their policies,” said Biden.
Biden went on to explain that President Obama and his administration understand the struggles facing the middle class. Referring to the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Biden told the crowd he’s not sure Romney understands them.
“I think part of the problem is, I don’t think he just gets you … what makes you tick, what makes you decide to go into this profession,” he said.
Clearly comfortable with the crowd, Biden said firefighters have been his best allies his whole career. In a poignant moment, the vice president recalled the 1972 car accident that killed his wife and daughter, critically injuring his two young sons.
Read the full article here.
By Don Michael Acelar De Leon
Firefighters all over the world risk their lives to save others in the heat of raging fires in various scenarios, from wildfires to urban accidents. In most cases, they are required to dress hastily within 90 seconds to reach ground zero. Because of the rushed time, it’s only human to miss out on key accessories and equipment. But Omer Haciomeroglu’s ambitious helmet concept could spell the future of firefighting equipment: the C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet.
The helmet features wire framing technology that allows the firefighter to map out his surroundings and locate victims without resorting to manual means that may cost time. It also is equipped with a communications system that eliminates having to bring a separate remote communicator such as a walkie-talkie or phone. Finally, C-Thru also employs noise-cancelling technology to eliminate surrounding sounds and isolate the cries of victims as well as distinct, cracking sounds that can give leads to their direction.
Click here to see more pictures of the C-Thru helmet.
From the NFPA Journal®, July/August 2012
By Rita F. Fahy, ph.d., Paul R. LeBlanc, and Joseph L. Molis
In 2011, 61 firefighters died while on duty in the United States. This is the third consecutive year that the number of deaths has dropped sharply and is, for the second year in a row, the lowest total since NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977. In the previous three years, the totals were 73, 82, and 105 deaths, respectively. The average number of deaths annually over the past 10 years is 91.
Of the 61 firefighters who died while on duty in 2011, 35 were volunteer firefighters, 21 were career firefighters, three were employees of state land management agencies, and two were employees of federal land management agencies.
This study includes only on-duty firefighter fatalities that occurred in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, a firefighter in Guam died in 2011 while on station duty.
Read the report here.
From the National Fire Protection Association
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today issued a safety alert on Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lenses. Among other things, NFPA is recommending that fire departments, fire academies, and emergency service organizations inspect all SCBA facepiece lenses before and after each use. Any SCBA facepiece lens found to have cracks, crazing, bubbling, deformation, discoloring, gaps or holes should be immediately removed from service and a replacement issued.
The alert comes after investigations and additional research found SCBA facepiece lenses may undergo thermal degradation when exposed to intense heat. The full alert and recommendations can be found at www.nfpa.org/scba.
“SCBA is a critical component in the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by today’s fire service. This equipment is essential for allowing firefighters to operate in hostile fire ground environments. However, in recent decades there have been significant changes in the environments encountered by structural firefighters and in how they operate in those environments,” said Kenneth Willette, division director of Public Fire Protection at NFPA. “The SCBA facepiece lens is generally based on polycarbonate. The SCBA facepiece lens is often considered the weakest component of a firefighter’s ensemble in high heat conditions, but the level of thermal performance of the facepiece lens has not been well understood.”
During the investigation of firefighter fatalities that occurred from 2002 to 2011, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found evidence of thermal degradation of facepiece lenses that may have been a contributing factor in three fatalities. NIOSH also reported on the investigation of three SCBA from a state training academy where the SCBA facepiece lens showed evidence of thermal degradation after being used in live fire training. Additionally, in four other NIOSH Line of Duty Death Investigations, the evidence, while not conclusive was suggestive of possible SCBA degradation or failure.
Read the full news release here.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
For the Los Angeles Times
This Independence Day, many firefighters will be spending the holiday battling massive blazes in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, not to mention smaller fires elsewhere.
Conditions are so dry across the West that wildfires are being started by, among other things, overheated cars, people firing guns and heavy-equipment operators. The Times spoke with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell about how to handle the increased risks.
What’s being done this season to reduce fire risks?
Many of our national forests are closed to fireworks. This year, now that we’re facing these especially dry conditions, we’re asking that unless the decision is made on the state level, fireworks are going to be prohibited on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
This is really focused on the July 4 holiday and whether it will be extended depends on weather conditions.
Continue reading to see how you can further reduce the risk of forest fires.
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.
By Joseph Goldstein
For The New York Times
One of the first tasks for firefighters arriving at a blazing home has long been to ventilate the structure — make holes in it — so that hot gases and smoke can escape. It has been this way for generations: a so-called roof man from a ladder company opens a hatch or saws through the ceiling, while other firefighters break windows as they search inside, often before the first drop of water has hit the fire.
But house fires have changed. Now, spurred on by at least one grievous injury to a firefighter last year, the New York Fire Department is rethinking its tactics for residential fires, while trying to hold onto its culture of “aggressive interior firefighting” — charging inside burning buildings as fast as possible.
As it is the largest municipal department in the country, its new course may well affect the tactics of other fire departments.
“We’re an organization steeped in tradition and we’ve been fighting fires for many years in certain ways and they worked,” the fire commissioner, Salvatore J. Cassano, said in a phone interview.
Read the full article here.
Photo courtesy of Librado Romero/The New York Times.
By Patience Haggin
For Time Newsfeed
Paul Hyman, who volunteers as a local firefighter, is familiar with the difficulty firefighters face trying to see clearly in smoke-filled buildings. His inventions provided firefighters better equipment in adverse conditions–and provided the 17-year-old with a full college scholarship.
After becoming disoriented by smoke and flames in emergency situations, Hyman invented a miniature infrared camera that fits inside firefighters’ masks and allow them to see even through thick smoke and flames. He also invented a sensor which prevents a common cause of house fires by detecting when the lint in a clothes dryer is in danger of catching fire, and pre-emptively releasing carbon dioxide to snuff it out.
Last week we kicked off our LION Fire Academy Fridays with our first installment of NFPA 1500 PPE Safety and Use Training. Learn what every fire fighter should know before donning their NFPA 1971 structural fire fighting PPE.
Chapter 1 focused on the Personal Repsonsibility of the Individual Firefighter.
This week’s installment on Chapter 2, is about Purpose and Limitations. A look at the limited protection your PPE provides, the hazards you face during firefighting operations and, inappropriate use of your PPE.
After you’ve finished watching the video, take the test.
LION Fire Academy is our brand-new online training destination for all things related to personal protective equipment (PPE).
By Paul Delean
For The Gazette
Errors by firefighters have left the taxpayers of Rawdon with a hefty bill.
Quebec Superior Court has ordered the town to pay $119,527 plus interest to an insurance company to cover part of its settlement with the owners of a home ravaged by fire.
Judge Robert Castiglio ruled the failure of Rawdon firefighters to bring a key connection for a port-able pump caused a delay that aggravated damage from the fire, which forced a family of four from their home in December 2003.
He also ordered Constructions Gauthier & Frères Inc. to pay the identical amount of $119,527 to AXA Assurances Inc., even though the construction company ceased operation in 2005.
In its suit, AXA argued the fire was due to faulty work by Gauthier on the wood structure around the fireplace of the newly constructed home, and was aggravated by poor execution by Rawdon firefighters.
Read the full article here.
International Fire/EMS Health & Safety Week, brought to you by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, is June 17-23. The goal is for fire departments to make safety, health, and survival a priority. International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week encourages firefighters and EMS professionals to focus on what they can do to increase safe operations, improve your health, and reduce your risks of tragedy.
At LION, we felt this was a perfect time to kick off LION Fire Academy Fridays. LION Fire Academy is our brand-new online training destination for all things related to personal protective equipment (PPE). In the fire service, your survival can depend on your knowledge. We want to help you learn all you can about your PPE, what it’s designed to do, and also that while designed to protect you, it cannot make you invincible.
This week, we’re kicking off weekly dose of NFPA 1500 PPE Safety and Use Training. Learn what every fire fighter should know before donning their NFPA 1971 structural fire fighting PPE. Chapter 1 focuses on Personal Responsibility of the Individual Fire Fighter. It covers the individual responsibilities each fire fighter has for his or her PPE, including:
- Reading, understanding and following User Instruction, Safety and Training Guides
- Reading and understanding all warning labels attached to your PPE
- Understanding the purpose and limitations of your PPE
- Inspecting and maintaining your PPE
- The importance of proper diet and physical fitness.
After you watch the video, you can put your knowledge to the test!