Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The ISFSI, George D. Post Fire Instructor of the Year Award 2011

On March 24, 2011 the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award was presented to Division Chief Brian Kazmierzak from the Clay Fire Territory near South Bend, Indiana at the Fire Department Instructors Conference-FDIC in Indianapolis.

One of the most honored ISFSI traditions is the George D. Post Fire Instructor of the Year Award. Named after an honored FDNY firefighter, ISFSI fire instructor and considered the father of instructional multimedia for the fire service, it is THE top award for fire instructors in North America.

Now called the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award, it recognizes the “best of the best” fire service instructors.

  • For video, links and a podcast, go to TheCompanyOfficer.com HERE
  • More information on the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award, HERE and HERE
  • The International Society of Fire Service Instructors- ISFSI, HERE….not a member?…JOIN!
  • ISFSI on FireEngineering.com, HERE

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Casa Grande Fire Fighting

At 2356 hours on Saturday March 19, 2011, the Huntingtown (MD) Volunteer Fire Department was alerted for the reported Chimney Fire in a residential house. The home was not conventional by any accounts as it was a 10,000 Square foot single family dwelling.  While en-route, firefighters received information that the owner was trying to extinguish the fire and believed it had spread to the attic.

The first arriving chief officer arrived to find smoke showing from the second floor eaves of this 10,000 square foot mega-mansion. The first-due Engine laying a supply line, advancing a400′ pre-connect and began pulling the ceiling within the interrir, at which time they found fire in the truss loft concealed attic spreading rapidly. Within seconds, conditions deteriorated rapidly resulting in zero visibility accomapied by intense heat. Command immediately ordered evacuation tones.

Due to high winds off the adjacent river, coupled with water supply issues, respone distance times from quarters, and the size of the structure (10,000 square feet), fire spread rapidly resulting in nine firefighter injuries during the rapid egress and bailout from the interior positions. Immediately thereafter, the second floor flashed ,several firefighters took extreme measures such as jumping out of windows and running through walls to evacuate the structure.

A detailed account of the incident with video, photos and pre-fire house images is available on CommandSafety.com, HERE

Additional References:
  • 10,000 SF Residential Fire MD, Commandsafety.com HERE
  • Behind the Ever-Expanding American Dream House, NRP HERE
  • LAFD LODD: Hollywood Hills Mansion Investigating Building Standards, CommandSafety.com HERE
Today's insights and discussion points;
  • Are you aware of large or mega-sized residential occupancies within your district, greater alarm or mutual/automatic aid response areas?
  • Do you pre-fire plan these occupancies?
  • Have you established special protocols, SOPs or procedure for potential operations at these occupancies?
  • Have you considered augmented first-alarm, supplemental or immediate greater alarm response deployments at these structures?
  • Do you have adequate first-due fire suppression capabilities AND fire flow; (GMP and sustainable water flow and pressure) to implement an offensive tactical IAP?
  • Do you have adequate staffing to support the above?
  • Have you practices operations that require deployment and coordinated actions?
  • Do you treat an 8,000 SF; 9,000 or 10,000 SF SFR occupancy the same as you would a 3,000-4,000 SF residence? Does this matter?
  • Do you think the fire load package within today's residential (minor or mega-house) settings  has any bearing on fire suppression capabilities and the containment? 
  • What have your past experiences indicating to you?
  • Are your personnel and command staff prepared to address "Wind-Driven fires?"
  • Different Strategies and Tactics?
  • Are you adequatly trained, prepared and resourced to address a working fire in a casa grande, mega-residential occupancy?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Probably Won't Die - No Matter What You Do

Does it sound crazy for a firefighter to say that? Maybe it does, but statistics show that approximately 100 U.S. firefighters die in the line of duty each year, with a smaller number of annual non-firefighter EMS LODDs.

There are approximately 1.15 million firefighters in the USA each year. That results in a LODD rate of 8.69 to the power of -5...a fraction so tiny that I don't think I can count that far without help from a math professor, a computer, and a calculator with advanced math functions. Or, to put it the same way my basic calculator put it, that number is 8.6956521739130434782608695652174e-5

Adding the 20 or 30 annual non-fire EMS provider LODDs to that number doesn't change the fraction in any way that is meanigful either mathematically or statistically.

So, eat at McDonald's all you wish, smoke and dip tobacco, don't work out or do any cardio, pack in the sugar and the caffiene, drive way faster than the speed limit, don't stop at controlled intersections, don't wear your seat belt or SCBA, don't perform size-ups, run blindly into every building no matter how little - or how much fire or smoke issue from it, freelance, ignore orders, and you'll probably live to tell the rest of us how tough and cool you are...

...this year.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fire Risks Data 2007 Issued

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) issued three special reports, as part of its Topical Fire Report Series, examining the risk of death or injury from fire by various demographics, such as age, race, and gender.
  • Fire Risk in 2007 , HERE
  • Fire Risk to Children in 2007 , HERE
  • Fire Risk to Older Adults in 2007 , HERE
The three reports were developed by the National Fire Data Center, part of USFA. The reports explore factors that influence risk and are based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), and the U.S. Census Bureau.

These reports are an update of the previous fire risk reports issued in April 2008 (Volume 7, Issues 5, 6, and 7).
These short topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information.

  • Risk by age: Adults ages 50 and older have a greater risk of dying in fires than the general population. The elderly ages 85 and over have the highest risk of fire death. The risk of fire injury is greatest in the 20 to 54 age ranges. Adults ages 30 to 34 have the highest risk of fire injury.
  • Risk by gender: Men are 1.5 times more likely to die in fires than women.
  • Risk by race: African-Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives are at much greater risk of death in a fire than the general population.
  • Risk by region: The risk of dying in a fire in the South is higher than other regions of the United States.
  • Risk by economic factor: Populations at the lowest income levels are at a greater risk of dying in fires than those with higher incomes.
  • How do these findings have an influence of impact within your jurisdiction of department?
  • Are there risk factors that are either evident or suspected that require fire department intervention or follow-up?
  • What avenues or efforts do you think the Fire Department should undertake to reduce the civilian fatality rate in your community related to fire deaths?
  • Has your community “accepted” a higher level of risk and decreased level of service capabilities due to the challenging economic hardships, and if so, how has that been reflected in you fire loss and fatality and injury rates?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Ides of March

Here are five (5) NIOSH Firefighter LODD Event report summaries for incidents that occurred in the March 4-8 time frame in the years 1998, 2001, 2002, 2008. Take the time to look over the event summaries, discuss and comment on the factors that lead to the events and the recommendations formulated from the subsequent investigations.

Take the opportunity to identify the common themes and apparent causes that were identified and discuss with your company, team or station, relevant considerations that may have a direct or indirect relationship to your organization, past incident calls or district risk profile. What are your capabilities? What are your gaps? How can you prevent a similar situation from occurring?

Promote questions and dialog related to operational issues such as these;

  • Coordinated multi-company operations; how “coordinated” is your incident scene?
  • Do rapidly changing incident conditions get identified promptly and communicated to Command in rapid succession for actions?
  • How effective is the base line knowledge and skill set of company and command officers in “reading the building”?
  • What is the adequacy of your training for conducting operations above the fire floor?
  • When was the last time you “tested” the effectiveness of your RIT/FAST Team? Can they truly perform under the most demanding of incident conditions?
  • When was the last time you trained or drilled on Fire Behavior or on Building Construction?
  • Are you training on calling the mayday and personal survival techniques?
  • Have you implemented and trained on procedures for rapid and efficient transition in operational modes on the fireground?
Down load the complete NIOSH Reports and expand on the lessons learners and their applicably to your organization and capabilities.

Floor Collapse and Fire Conditions:
On March 7, 2002, a 28-year-old male volunteer fire fighter and a 41-year-old male career fire fighter died after becoming trapped in the basement. One firefighter manned the nozzle while second firefighter provided backup on the handline as they entered the house. After entering the structure, the floor collapsed, trapping both victims in the basement.

A career fire fighter captain joining the fire fighters near the time of the collapse was injured trying to rescue one of the fire fighters. Crew members responded immediately and attempted to rescue the victims; however, the heat and flames overcame both victims and eliminated any rescue efforts from the garage entrance.

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should;

  • Ensure that the Incident Commander is clearly identified as the only individual responsible for the overall coordination and direction of all activities at an incident
  • Ensure that the Incident Commander conveys strategic decisions to all suppression crews on the fireground and continually reevaluates the fire condition
  • Ensure that Incident Command conducts an initial size-up of the incident before initiating fire fighting efforts and continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
  • Ensure that fire fighters from the ventilation crew and the attack crew coordinate their efforts
  • Ensure that fire fighters report conditions and hazards encountered to their team leader or Incident Commander
  • Ensure fire fighters are trained to recognize the danger of operating above a fire
NIOSH REPORT: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200206.html

Wall Collapse and Fire Conditions
On March 7, 2008, two male career fire fighters, aged 40 and 19 were killed when they were trapped by rapidly deteriorating fire conditions inside a millwork facility in North Carolina. The captain of the hose line crew was also injured, receiving serious burn injuries.

The victims were members of a crew of four fire fighters operating a hose line protecting a firewall in an attempt to contain the fire to the burning office area and keep it from spreading into the production and warehouse areas. The captain attempted to radio for assistance as the conditions deteriorated but fire fighters on the outside did not initially hear his Mayday. Once it was realized that the crew was in trouble, multiple rescue attempts were made into the burning warehouse in an effort to reach the trapped crew as conditions deteriorated further.

Three members of a rapid intervention team (RIT) were hurt rescuing the injured captain. One firefighter was located and removed during the fifth rescue attempt. The second firefighter could not be reached until the fire was brought under control.

The fourth crew member had safely exited the burning warehouse prior to the deteriorating conditions that trapped his fellow crew members. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include radio communication problems (unintelligible transmissions in and out of the fire structure that may have led to misunderstanding of operational fireground communications), inadequate size up and incomplete pre-plan information, a deep-seated fire burning within the floor of the office area that was able to spread into the production and warehouse facility, the procedures used in which operational modes were repeatedly changed from offensive to defensive, lack of crew integrity at a critical moment in the event, and weather which restricted fireground visibility.

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:
  • Ensure that detailed pre-incident plan information is collected and available when needed, especially in high risk structures
  • Limit interior offensive operations in well-involved structures that are not equipped with sprinkler systems and where there are no known civilians in need of rescue
  • Develop, implement, and enforce clear procedures for operational modes. Changes in modes must be coordinated between the Incident Command, the command staff and fire fighters
  • Ensure that Rapid Intervention Crews (RIC) / Rapid Intervention Teams (RIT) have at least one charged hose line in place before entering hazardous environments for rescue operations
  • Ensure that the incident commander establishes the incident command post in an area that provides a good visual view of the fire building and enhances overall fireground communication
  • Ensure that crew integrity is maintained during fire suppression operations
  • Encourage local building code authorities to adopt code requirements for automatic protection (sprinkler) systems in buildings with heavy fire loads.
NIOSH REPORT http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200807.html

Floor Collapse
On March 4, 2002, a 22-year-old male career fire fighter was injured and subsequently died and a 25-year-old male Captain was injured when the floor collapsed while they were fighting a residential fire.

The Captain was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he was admitted overnight for first- and second-degree burns. The victim was conscious and was transported by medical helicopter to a State medical center where he died 2 days later.

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should;
  • Ensure that each Incident Commander conducts a size-up of the incident before initiating fire-fighting efforts, after command is transferred, and continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
  • Ensure fire fighters are trained to recognize the dangers of searching above a fire
  • Ensure that an Incident Safety Officer, independent from the Incident Commander, is appointed
  • Ensure that ventilation is closely coordinated with fire attack
  • Ensure that a Rapid Intervention Team is established and in position immediately upon arrival
  • Ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to operate safely and effectively
NIOSH REPORT http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200211.html

Floor Collapse
On March 8, 2001, a 38-year-old male career fire fighter fell through the floor while fighting a structure fire, and died 12 days later from his injuries. At 1231 hours, Central Dispatch notified the career department of a structure fire with reports of the occupants still inside. The Assistant Chief arrived on the scene along with Engine 70 and assumed Incident Command (IC).

The IC immediately called for the second alarm, began conducting the initial size-up of the structure, and confirmed heavy fire in the left front section. At that time, the neighbors approached the IC and informed him that the occupants were trapped inside. The IC ordered the fire fighters on scene to commence search and rescue efforts, and then verified the stability of the structure through radio and face-to-face communications.

Engine 68 arrived on the scene at approximately 1250 hours with an Assistant Chief and the victim. The Assistant Chief provided tactical command of the fire ground, and along with the victim, conducted search and rescue operations. Other crews conducted searches with a thermal imaging camera of the first floor and basement level of the residence with no sign of any occupants. During these searches the stability of the structure was diminishing due to the intense fire that was now venting through the roof.

Fire fighter #3 and the victim were at the front entrance conducting a defensive attack as the third emergency evacuation signal was sounded. The neighbors were still insisting to the IC and fire fighters that the occupants were trapped inside, and one of the occupants was handicapped. The victim and one other fire fighter conducted another search of the structure.

The heat and flames were now extending from the basement level to the first floor when the fire fighter’s low air alarm sounded. The victim and the fire fighter were backing out of the structure when the floor beneath the victim gave way, causing him to fall through the floor and become trapped in the basement.

Attempts were made from the first floor to rescue the victim by utilizing a handline and an attic ladder, but they were unsuccessful due to the intense heat and flames. Two Rapid Intervention Teams (RIT #1 & RIT #2) were deployed simultaneously from separate entrances into the basement to perform a search and rescue operation for the downed fire fighter. The RITs were able to locate and remove the victim on their initial entry. He sustained third degree burns to over half of his body and died 12 days later.

NIOSH investigators concluded that to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should;
  • Ensure that Incident Command continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
  • Ensure that a separate Incident Safety Officer independent from the Incident Commander is appointed
  • Ensure that fire fighters are trained in the tactics of defensive search
  • Ensure that fire fighters performing fire fighting operations under or above trusses are evacuated as soon as it is determined that the trusses are exposed to fire
  • Ensure consistent use of Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices at all incidents and consider providing fire fighters with a PASS integrated into their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus which provides for automatic operation
  • Ensure that personnel equipped with a radio, position the radio to receive and respond to radio transmissions
NIOSH REPORT: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200116.html

Roof Collapse and Fire Conditions
On March 8, 1998, one male fire fighter, the Captain on Engine 57, died while trying to exit a commercial structure after his egress was cut off by the wooden trussed roof that collapsed. Task Force 66 was the first on scene and reported light smoke showing from a one-story commercial building. A ventilation team from Truck 66 proceeded to the roof of the building and commenced roof ventilation. Forcible entry into the building required about 7 ½ to 9 ½ minutes from arrival on scene to force open the two metal security doors in the front. While fire companies waited for the security doors to be opened, fire conditions changed dramatically on the roof.

Fire was coming from the ventilation holes opened by the ventilation crew. As soon as the security doors were opened, three engine crews (Engine 66, Engine 57, and Engine 46) advanced hand lines through the front door in an attempt to determine the origin of the fire. Approximately 15 feet inside the front door, the fire fighters encountered heavy smoke with near zero visibility conditions. The engine crews advanced their hose lines approximately 30 to 40 feet inside the building.

As conditions continued to deteriorate inside the building, the members from the four engine companies involved in the fire attack began to withdraw. During this time the victim became separated from his crew and remained in the building. The victim was subsequently located by the Rapid Intervention Team and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed immediately and en-route to the hospital, where the victim was pronounced dead.

NIOSH investigators conclude that, to prevent similar occurrences, fire departments should:
  • Ensure that incident command conducts an initial size up of the incident before initiating fire fighting efforts, and continually evaluate the risk versus gain during operation at an incident
  • Ensure that incident command always maintains close accountability for all personnel at the fire scene
  • Ensure communications are established between the interior and exterior attack crews, e.g., the ventilation crew and the interior fire attack crew should communicate conditions among themselves and back to incident command
  • Ensure that Rapid Intervention Teams are in place before conditions become unsafe
  • Ensure that some type of tone or alert that is recognized by all fire fighters be transmitted immediately when conditions become unsafe for fire fighters
  • Ensure sufficient personnel are available and properly functioning communications equipment are available to adequately support the volume of radio traffic at multiple-responder fire scenes
  • Consider placing a bright, narrow-beamed light at the entry portal to a structure to assist lost or disoriented fire fighters in emergency egress.
NIOSH REPORT: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face9807.html

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Combat Fire Engagement

There are a number of insightful and thought provoking theories, debates, assertions, contentions and positions being postured, promoted or advocated in the realm of fire suppression and firefighter safety.

Some continue to promote with renewed banter and unwavering passion certain attributes that they feel are fundamental to the fire service, just as others promote with similar zeal and passion a different perspective of what the fire service has or should look like in today’s challenging and continually evolving built environment.

Combat fire engagement and it’s alignment to what I define as the Art and Science of Firefighting has numerous facets, components and considerations that must be taken into consideration in today’s context that are evolving, changing and challenging the notions and how we do business in the streets.

Take the time around the kitchen table today or in the day room tonight to talk about what are the evolving parameters that define combat fire engagement today.

Here are a couple of prominent links that provide different perspectives on a common theme. See how each perspective impacts your personal perspectives and those of your organization or department.

  • Rational Aggressiveness, HERE
  • Mission of the Fire Service Warrior, HERE
  • Rules of Engagement, HERE
  • Survivability Profiling, HERE 
Stay tuned for the upcoming schedule of topics and guests that will address these very issues on future programming on Taking it the Streets on Firefighernetscast.com.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System; Untapped Resource

Have you heard about the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System (NMRS)? Have you used the NMRS Reports, or submitted a near miss event? Did you know there is a wealth of resources available on the NMRS web site or that there is a Report of the week that is published weekly?

If not, this is a great opportunity to learn about this national fire service program.

The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety.

Submitted reports will be reviewed by fire service professionals. Identifying descriptions are removed to protect your identity. The report is then posted on this web site for other fire fighters to use as a learning tool.

The reporting system is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The program was originally funded by DHS and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.

There are three main goals:
1. To give firefighters the opportunity to learn from each other through real-life experiences;
2. To help formulate strategies to reduce the frequency of firefighter injuries and fatalities; and
3. To enhance the safety culture of the fire and emergency service.

Fire fighters can use submitted reports as educational tools. Analyzed data will be used to identify trends which can assist in formulating strategies to reduce fire fighter injuries and fatalities. Depending on the urgency, information will be presented to the fire service community via program reports, press releases and e-mail alerts.

Why should I submit a near-miss report? A near miss experienced by a firefighter can improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of everyone who is made aware of it. Reporting your near-miss event to http://www.firefighternearmiss.com/ will help prevent an injury or fatality of a firefighter. Near-miss reporting has worked effectively in other industries, especially aviation, since team members have more knowledge. Industries using near-miss reporting systems have lower injury rates and fewer worker fatalities.

As a Company or Command Officer you have an obligation to capture your department’s near-miss events and contribute to the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System data base so the fire service can learn from each event with the objective that they are not repeated or escalate into something more severe or significant in terms of injuries or line of duty death events.

Take the time to browse through the NMRS web site and familiarize yourself with the content, resources and information available to you.

Realize that the resource center and the near-miss reports are all formulative and can very easily support training drill development, just in time training, table-top discussions, scenario based exercises and review discussions with company, staff or command officers and all station or company personnel.NMRS

Resource Section, HERE

Got a Near-Miss Report to Submit?

Click on the button for a direct link to the NFNMRS here

Frequent Questions:

Taking it to the Streets, Blogtalk radio on Firefighternetcast.com (link here)
Mark your calendars for Wednesday March 16th at 9:00pm ET for a new edition of Taking it to the Streets, where we’ll be discussing the National Near Miss Reporting System and program with Chief Steve Mormino, NMRS Program Advisor past Chief with South Farmingdale (NY) Fire Department and retired Lieutenant , FDNY and a number of other special guests. Tune in for an exceptional program.

  • Dont't forget to visit the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System booth at FDIC next month
For more information:Rynnel Gibbs nearmiss@iafc.org
703-537-4858 www.firefighternearmiss.com

Near Miss Reporting System Advisory Board
  • Dennis Smith, Chairman, First Responders Financial Co. (Chair of Advisory Board)
  • Jim Brinkley, Director of Occupational Health and Safety, International Association of Fire Fighters.
  • Alan Brunacini, Fire Chief
  • Linda Connell, Director, NASA/Aviation Safety Reporting System
  • I. David Daniels, Fire Chief/CEO, Woodinville Fire and Rescue (WA)
  • Gordon Graham, Graham Research Consultants
  • William Goldfeder, Deputy Chief, Loveland-Symmes Fire Dept. (OH)
  • Manuel Gomez, Chief, City of Hobbs Fire Dept. (NM)
  • Bill Halmich, Fire Chief, Washington Fire Dept. (MO)
  • Christopher Hart, Vice Chair, National Transportation Safety Board
  • Mark Light, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • Ed Mann, State Fire Commissioner, Office of the PA State Fire Commissioner
Take a look at the NMRS Partners, HERE

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