Editor's Dispatch

In A Busy Wildfire Season, Researchers Seek New Approaches

It makes perfect sense that a horrific wildfire season would come in the year 2020 on the heels of a pandemic. Dozens of major fires burned across North America in September, including 85 large uncontained fires and six contained fires across 12 states. Active fires have burned more than 3 million acres already, and 41,417 fires have burned almost 5 million acres year-to-date. The severity of the wildfire season is on track to surpass the 10-year average. Better understanding wildfires Globa...

Should Firefighters And First Responders Use Face Masks?

Should firefighters and other first responders be exempt from requirements that they wear face masks to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? The City Council of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seems to think so. They are proposing an amendment to exempt first responders from complying with the city’s face mask ordinance. Amendment to Exempt first responders from face mask rule Specifically, the proposed amendment states, “Exempted from the requirements of the ordinance r...

Using Artificial Intelligence To Analyze Fire Data For More Effective Firefighting

The fire service worldwide collects a lot of data, and a university in Seoul, South Korea, is researching how to crunch the numbers using artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the probability of fires more accurately and to direct fire departments’ assets where they will do the most good. Students and faculty at Hongik University are developing AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms into a model that can predict the probability of fires and enable authorities to take action to make the...

The International Association Of Fire Chiefs’ ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ Program Helps Residents Address Risk Of Wildfires

The biggest risk of property damage and injury from wildfires comes at the wildland-urban interface (WUI), which is defined as areas where structures and the built environment begin to intermingle with wildland vegetation. More and more such areas are being created as humans move near wildland areas to take advantage of their natural beauty and privacy. As a result, fire departments are fighting more fires along the interface, and there is a greater need for citizens living in these areas to be...

DHS Promotes Smart City IoT Solutions for First Responders

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding the variety of technical capabilities deployed in the interest of public safety, and smart cities are leveraging IoT data to provide insights and improve operations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is promoting technology development through its Science and Technology Directorate’s SCITI (pronounced “city”) solutions lab. SCITI stands for Smart City and Internet of Things Innovation. SCITI innovations promote public safety in...

Research Foundation Developing Computerized Tool for Crowd Management

Crowd management can be critical in a fire emergency – or in almost any other emergency situation. The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) has undertaken a project to develop a computerized tool to provide data and situational awareness about crowds based on computer vision analysis of video. Crowds have become an unusual occurrence during the COVID-19 pandemic, but sooner or later, life will be returning to normal. When it does, the safety consequences of poor crowd management wil...

When A Global Pandemic Collides With An Active Wildfire Season

The global pandemic presents complications for firefighters during what will likely be an active wildfire season. Firefighting manpower could be diminished by the pandemic; training sessions have been cancelled, postponed, or conducted remotely. And travel risks undermine the traditional approach of calling on firefighters from throughout the country or around the world to help fight the wildfires. Social distancing is at odds with the teamwork and camaraderie that characterize firefighting uni...

Camp Fire Disaster in 2018 Inspires New Research on Wildfire Risk Assessment

Ignited by a faulty electric transmission line in November 2018, the Camp Fire burned for 17 days in Butte County, near the city of Paradise, Calif. When the blaze was finally contained, it had burned more than 150,000 acres, destroyed 18,000 buildings and taken 86 lives. The question is if the fire could have been predicted and if the damage could have been minimized through greater understanding of risk factors. Also if there is a scientific way to reduce the risk of fires, analogous to advan...

‘Fund the First’ Provides Verified Crowdfunding Platform for First Responders

When the Cardwell, Missouri, Volunteer Fire Department needed to raise money for new equipment and to build a new fire shed, they posted a request online. When the residents of Massapequa, New York, wanted to raise funds to provide food to show their gratitude to the local fire department, they also posted an online fundraising request. Both requests used Fund the First, a new crowdfunding platform for first responders. Unlike other online fundraising tools that can be subject to fraud or abus...

Tracking the Impact of the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), promoting safety comes from a joint effort of knowledge, preparation, oversight and vigilance. The ‘Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem’ includes eight elements, as listed by NFPA, and weakness in any of the eight creates conditions that foster risk. A recent NFPA report includes examples, drawn from current events, that illustrate the importance of each element of the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem. Government responsibiliti...

FIA Survey Provides Insights Into COVID-19 Impact On Fire Protection Industry

COVID-19 has shaped and altered the fire protection industry in recent months, and the Fire Industry Association (FIA) in the United Kingdom has published a survey report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey, conducted by FIA, sought to gain a greater understanding of how organizations have been impacted by COVID-19 and of the impact on the wider fire industry now and in the future. Resilience is a recurring theme in the FIA report. At the time of the survey (when the United Ki...

During The Pandemic, Technology Allows 911 Dispatchers To Work From Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend toward working from home has accelerated. New technologies are now making it possible for 911 dispatchers to work from home, too, whether to ensure social distancing or to supplement operations during evolving emergencies. The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems offer web-based interfaces and mobile capabilities that enable public-safety answering point (PSAP) operators to work from anywhere. Other technologies that are paving the way for dispatchers to...

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