Editor's Dispatch

Best Practices to Avoid Spread of COVID-19 in Fire Stations

Fire stations are unique environments with conditions that could be conducive to the spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19. Firefighters live in close quarters for 24-hour shifts, and then return home to their families. Reports about “hot” firehouses have helped to emphasize the need to follow best practices to avoid the spread of the disease.  The Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) has compiled a list of guidelines that departments can put into practice to...

Volunteer Departments Face Grim Finances As Pandemic Eliminates Fundraisers

Among volunteer fire departments, spring is a prime season for fundraising. But not in 2020. Concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus have ruled out the possibility of large public gatherings. A consequence of the coronavirus shutdown is cancellation of hundreds of volunteer fire department fundraisers across the United States – from fish fries to bingo to hog roasts to chicken barbecues. No more carnivals or spaghetti suppers or gun raffles. And departments are losing thousand...

Even with Firefighters Retiring Earlier, Pension Costs Remain Manageable

Because the physical challenges take a toll, firefighters tend to retire at earlier ages than other occupations. There is also a greater likelihood of workplace disability. Firefighter pension plans are often more generous to offset a lack of Social Security eligibility for some public safety employees. Also, more years of retirement translate into an overall increase in medical care costs for fire service retirees. Therefore, pension benefits for public safety workers are more expensive than...

Cordico’s App Promotes Wellness, Psychological Self-Care Among Firefighters

Wellness, mental toughness and psychological self-care for firefighters are available in the palms of their hands; that is, in a smart phone app. Fire and police agencies can provide their officers access to these and other self-help tools in an app that reflects each agency’s identity and design choices. Employees can be assured that use of the app is totally confidential. Cordico, Gold River, California, west of Sacramento, provides confidential support for firefighters and other emplo...

In An Emergency, Communicating Exact Location Is Easy Using what3words

Working to organize events around the world in the music industry, Chris Sheldrick struggled with the challenge of bands and equipment constantly getting lost on the way to venues and festival locations. It became clear that street addresses were not good enough, and there needed to be a better way to communicate locations. GPS coordinates are hard for people to input into devices and nearly impossible to give correctly over the phone. Sheldrick sat down with a friend and devised a solution as...

Training Goes Online for Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting every aspect of our business lives. But buried among the disruption might be an opportunity. Newly idled workers could see this as an opportune time for training to expand their career options. Meanwhile, employees still on the job may find that a cancelled or postponed project means they have time on their hands. Training can enable them to make the most of that time. In-person training has come to a halt, of course, because of social distancing requirements...

FirstNet’s First Responder Network: Deployment and Subscribers Exceed Expectations

A new report highlights FirstNet’s progress in its goal of enhancing public safety communications using a nationwide interoperable broadband network for first responders. The report provides an update after three years of a public-private partnership between AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority, which oversees the development of FirstNet. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for FirstNet is more critical than ever. The report comes from the First Responder Voice project, a s...

BAFE Registration Ensures UK Fire Service Competency and Best Practice

Why do gas engineers need to become Gas Safe Registered? Why do heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers need to have an advanced driving license? We all know the answers to these questions: To determine competency and reduce risk. Because they are mandatory, it is simply expected. Premises managers expect the same competency from their fire safety providers; however, there are no mandatory measures in place to ensure a particular level of competency is met. But there should be, says Stephen Adams, C...

CARES Act Includes Money for Firefighters, But Is It Enough?

The third stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27 includes funding earmarked to help fire and EMS services deal with the burgeoning coronavirus emergency. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $2.2 trillion in all to help the nation deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Among the provisions of the law is $400 million in grants that can be disbursed for firefighters, emergency managers and providers of emergency foo...

Why Firefighters Are at Risk of Managed Care Abuse

Some insurance carriers delay or deny a patient’s medically necessary care, despite recommendations by doctors or other health professionals, in order to reduce costs and increase profits. A delay or denial can happen to anyone with a health care plan. However, firefighters are particularly vulnerable because, as government employees, their plans are not protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) in the United States. Protections for firefighters Without th...

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...

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