Editor's Dispatch

Deadline Looms to Preserve the T-Band for Critical Communications

The T-band radio spectrum provides critical communications for firefighters and other first responders in large metropolitan areas. However, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently required by law to auction off the spectrum for other uses in February 2021. Congress will need to pass legislation in the next several months to stop the auction, which is a provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.   In the last several years, various bills ha...

Addressing The Flammability Risks Of New Refrigerants

Refrigerants used in cooling systems for homes and businesses are being replaced with alternatives that have less potential for global warming. But the transition comes at a risk: Some of the new refrigerants are flammable.  Although less flammable than gases such as propane, for example, new refrigerants can still ignite and burn with a high intensity under ideal circumstances. The new materials have low-flame velocity and are less easily ignited; however, one byproduct of combustion is t...

First Responders on the Front Lines as COVID-19 Continues to Spread

First responders are on the front lines of the latest health crisis that involves spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Around the country – and around the world – EMS departments are facing the uncertainties of a rapidly-spreading virus. One problem is a shortage of face masks. As cases surge, it will also be harder for ambulance companies to get other needed supplies. In King County, Wash., an epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Kirkland, Wash., firefighters and...

Tracking Firefighting Trends Through Research and Data Analysis

Research is a Congressionally mandated mission of the U.S. Fire Administration, although their activities are limited by funding and staffing challenges. “A lot of what we do is work with other agencies and organizations that are conducting research,” says G. Keith Bryant, U.S. Fire Administrator. “We have the data to help them with their research.” Research partners include Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Na...

U.S. Fire Administration Provides Support at State and Local Levels

The mission of the U.S. Fire Administration is to support and strengthen fire and emergency medical services (EMS) and to help stakeholders prepare for, prevent, mitigate and respond to all hazards. It is an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). G. Keith Bryant was sworn in as the U.S. Fire Administrator in 2017. Prior to his presidential appointment, he was the chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD). Experience as a fi...

Weighing the Environmental Aspects of Firefighting Foams

Firefighters often use aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) to extinguish fires, especially fires that involve petroleum or other flammable liquids. AFFFs that contain fluorinated surfactants have been shown to be the most effective agents to fight hydrocarbon-fuel fires in military, industrial and municipal settings. They have been used since the 1960s. However, the surfactants have been shown to be an environmental threat, contaminating ground water and creating hazards to human health. What ma...

UK Government to Address Housing and Fire Safety Issues

The U.K. government is looking to apply the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire by strengthening the regulatory system for building safety, including regulations for high-rise buildings. By changing the industry culture to increase accountability and responsibility, proposed measures seek to ensure residents are safe in their homes. The new measures – Building Safety and Fire Safety Bills – expand on a pledge to “[bring forward] new measures to … improve building safety,...

Video Surveillance In Fire Stations: Is It A Good Idea?

Installation of video cameras has been proposed in the aftermath of a drug scandal at a fire station in New York. The firefighters’ union is resisting the cameras. The situation raises questions about the usefulness of video surveillance in fire departments: Is it effective? Does it solve the problem? Does it violate privacy? What is the impact on morale? In Middleton, N.Y., a former fire lieutenant was operating an illegal drug distribution ring out of the city’s Central Firehouse....

Massive Wildfires in Australia Defy Firefighters; U.S. Joins Response

Around 2,700 firefighters are working to stamp out the wildfires in Australia that have engulfed 24,000 square miles (about 15 million acres) and killed at least 28 people since the fire season began last July. About 3,000 homes have been destroyed since September, and hundreds more could be at imminent risk. More than 100 U.S. firefighters are among those at work in Australia. They include 59 from California who are assisting the Victoria Rural Fire Service, the largest in the Australian state...

Fire Safety Among Smart Home Benefits On Display At CES 2020

Technologies to protect against fire are among the innovations being shown at CES 2020, the technology event, Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas. The fire market is one of many served by the range of consumer and smart home technologies on display at CES 2020, from artificial intelligence (AI) to 5G, vehicle technology to AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality), robotics to home automation. For example, Longan Vision will display augmented reality systems for firefighters, helping them make good decisions du...

Keep the Holidays Happy by Educating Citizens About Fire Risks

The holiday season is fraught with possible dangers from fire. Ranging from dried-out Christmas trees to overloaded electrical circuits, the dangers are high in a season when awareness may be at a low point. Fire departments are well positioned to communicate these dangers to citizens. Social media makes it easier than ever to spread “messages of good habits” when it comes to fire prevention in homes and businesses. A Look At The Statistics The dangers are high in a season when aw...

Does High Overtime Pay For Firefighters Reflect Deeper Issues?

One Los Angeles firefighter made $360,010 in overtime last year, and 18 employees of the department each earned more than $200,000 in overtime pay. In all, more than 90% of LAFD employees received overtime – an average of $27,737. Excessive overtime is an ongoing challenge at many fire departments around the United States, and the situation can often attract the attention of auditors and budget-conscious city managers, who may be concerned, or even suspicious, about the additional costs....

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