Since 2012, Globe by MSA, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to provide 403 sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to fire departments in need – a value of over $920,000. An additional 13 departments will each receive four sets of gear in 2018.

MSA and Globe's mission is to see to it that men and women live and work in safety and health, and that speaks to the heart of exactly why we're proud to support the NVFC,” said Globe chief operating officer Tom Vetras. “Firefighters deserve nothing less than the very best personal protective equipment. Our Globe Gear Giveaway program – in partnership with DuPont – is just one of the ways we're happy to support the many NVFC initiatives that help improve volunteer firefighters' overall health, wellness, and safety.

Safety gear for the firefighters

Having standards-compliant, well-fitting gear is a critical component to keeping firefighters safe, healthy, and ready to respond,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “We appreciate the efforts and generosity of Globe, MSA, and DuPont to help departments keep our boots on the ground safe and protected through this invaluable program.

The first two recipients of the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway are the Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department and Cedar Fort (UT) Volunteer Fire Department.

In addition to emergency response, the HVFD members provide fire prevention education to roughly 500 children in the community each year

Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department

The Hindman Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) protects 2,000 residents in Hindman, KY, located in the eastern part of the state. The department is currently celebrating 50 years of dedicated service to its community. While funding for the department has decreased over the years due to a waning coal industry from which they formerly received support, their call volume has not. Despite budget constraints, the department strives to provide the best possible service.

In 2017, the HVFD increased its Insurance Service Office rating from seven to four, which is the best rating it has had since the department’s inception. In addition to emergency response, members provide fire prevention education to roughly 500 children in the community each year.

Protecting firefighters with better-quality gear

To ensure the safety of its responders, each firefighter is required to complete the KY Fire Commission 150-hour certification. However, only 15 of the HVFD’s 24 volunteers have gear, and only five of those are less than 10 years old, meaning the rest don’t meet recommended safety standards and can’t be used during live fire training in the state. Often gear must be borrowed from one member to another to be able to perform the training, leaving responders on duty without compliant gear.

We are a great fire department with a young and dedicated membership,” said HVFD Chief James Preston Hays. “We have always tried to do the best we could with limited resources. Receiving this gear will be a great benefit to protect our firefighters and further improve as a department.

Receiving new sets of turnouts from the Globe Gear Giveaway program will improve the safety of Cedar Fort responders and allow the department to be more effective

Cedar Fort (UT) Volunteer Fire Department

The Cedar Fort Volunteer Fire Department is dedicated to serving and protecting the second largest response area in Utah County, which encompasses 214 square miles. 200 of those miles are open area where there are no paved roads and access is difficult; small blazes can quickly become a serious issue. The department is also responsible for Five Mile Pass, which is a popular recreation area designated for off-road and open-use. It is not uncommon to see thousands of people visiting the area on any given day. Cedar Fort firefighters are required to certify at Firefighter I and II and hazmat operations, so they are ready to respond.

All 32 of the department’s firefighters have turnout gear; however, the gear was donated by a neighbouring department and all sets are over 10 years old and no longer compliant with national safety standards. With a limited budget, the department has been unable to afford the new gear its responders so desperately need. Receiving new sets of turnouts from the Globe Gear Giveaway program will improve the safety of Cedar Fort responders and allow the department to be more effective when protecting its community and visitors.

Additional Globe Gear Giveaway awards will be made monthly throughout 2018.

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A New Normal: California Wildfires Deadliest In History
A New Normal: California Wildfires Deadliest In History

The immense scope and scale of this month’s California wildfires are a timely reminder of a “new normal” that includes a catastrophic toll in human tragedy and presents new challenges for fire service professionals. Some have pointed to the increased frequency of wildfires as a consequence of global warming, and the resulting higher temperatures, less humidity and changing wind and rainfall patterns. President Trump has blamed “poor forest management” (an assertion the president of California Professional Firefighters has called “dangerously wrong.”) Other theories include population shifts and the proximity of residences near wildlands. There has been talk of a need for better long-term fire prevention. But whatever the cause, the results are eye-opening. Historically, all but one of California’s biggest-ever wildfires have occurred in the last 10 years Rapid Increase In Wildfires In California California’s Camp Fire has been called the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. Fast-moving and unpredictable, the fire totally destroyed the town of Paradise. At the same time, the Woolsey Fire continued for 10 days and consumed an estimated 96,949 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Historically, all but one of California’s biggest-ever wildfires have occurred in the last 10 years, whether measured in terms of area impacted, loss of life or damage to property, all suggesting a troubling acceleration. In fact, an increase in wildfires is causing destruction around the world. Firefighters Combating Wildfires Effectively For firefighters, the experience and environment have been compared to working in a war zone, reflected by terms such as “aerial assaults” and “boots on the ground.” Burned-out cars on the side of the road, residents fleeing from their homes and whole areas totally annihilated reflect a level of destruction that is unusual in a peaceful society. Tent cities of displaced residents are reminiscent of war refugees. For the recent California fires, firefighter teams traveled from 17 states to battle the wildfires The California wildfires also bring out the best in humanity. There are tales of neighbor helping neighbor and examples of heroism among residents and firefighters, who also share a feeling of brotherhood and kinship forged in extremely adverse conditions. It’s a job that demands bravery and resilience. For the recent California fires, firefighter teams traveled from 17 states to battle the wildfires, from as far away as Alaska and Georgia. There were around 200 firefighters from Texas, 300 from Oregon, and 144 from Arizona among the extra manpower deployed to fight the fires. Protecting Firefighters From Wildfire Danger Fighting wildfires requires a specific approach and offers new challenges. Water can be difficult to find in an already drought-ridden state. Fires that spring up in wooded areas present difficult terrain for fire-fighting vehicles. Higher heat and smoke levels challenge the best methods of protecting firefighters from injury. As the accelerated pace and larger scale of wildfires continue, the fire service will need to expand its strategies, and fire equipment industry will need to enhance its toolbox to meet tomorrow’s continuing horrific realities. If there is a lesson in this month’s wildfires in California, perhaps it is this: More to come.

Shortage Of Volunteers In Fire Service, Growing Need For Trained Personnel
Shortage Of Volunteers In Fire Service, Growing Need For Trained Personnel

Recruiting and training enough firefighters to meet community needs has been a continuing challenge for decades, especially in the case of volunteer firefighters, who make up 70% of the fire service in the United States. In some areas of the country, the problem has reached a critical stage. A recent report by a commission of lawmakers, city officials and emergency service personnel in Pennsylvania, for example, notes that the population of volunteer firefighters in the state has dwindled from 300,000 in the 1990s to fewer than 38,000. In Pennsylvania, around 90 percent of the state’s 2,400 fire companies are volunteer. Challenges Faced By Volunteers There are multiple challenges to supplying adequate personnel to the fire service. One is an aging population. About a third of small-town volunteer firefighters are over 50, and it’s not uncommon for rural firefighters to be in their 60s or 70s. Furthermore, economic challenges today require many households to have two incomes, and increased job and family responsibilities leave little time for volunteering. Commuting patterns make it less likely volunteers work in the local community, which makes them less available in case of a fire emergency. Nationwide calls to volunteer fire departments have tripled in the last three decades Also exacerbating the problem is that fire departments are facing more emergency calls than ever, including a variety of different kinds of calls. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) notes that volunteer firefighters are summoned to a wide array of emergencies across the country every day including fires, emergency medical incidents, terrorist events, natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, water rescue emergencies, high-angle and confined space emergencies, and other general public service calls. The shortage of volunteer firefighters is being felt everywhere. Meanwhile, nationwide calls to volunteer fire departments have tripled in the last three decades. The problem is especially serious in small towns and rural areas, which are more likely to depend on volunteer firefighters. About a third of small-town volunteer firefighters are over 50, and it’s not uncommon for rural firefighters to be in their 60s or 70s Some Facts Of Interest From The NVFC Most volunteer firefighters (95%) are in departments that protect fewer than 25,000 people Of the estimated 29,727 fire departments in the U.S., 19,762 are all volunteer, and another 5,421 are mostly volunteer Nearly two-thirds (65%) of volunteer firefighters have more than five years of service Training costs are high, too. The NVFC estimates the cost to train and equip a firefighter at around $27,095. Volunteering can be costly for the volunteers, also, who drive personal cars to and from the station, for example. Even as the fire service embraces new technologies and approaches, the role of firefighters will remain essential Various measures are being undertaken to address the shortage of volunteer firefighters, including an increase in recruiting and marketing efforts to make volunteering more attractive. Given the aging firefighter population, it’s important to make entering the fire service a more desirable option for Millennials. Promotional efforts in Pennsylvania include marketing campaigns, recruitment centers, billboards, commercials in movie theaters and mailers. Need For Trained Personnel Incentives to join the fire service might include high school or college credit to volunteers or even free tuition to community colleges and state universities. Some states provide financial incentives such as property tax breaks or local income tax credits to fire volunteers. Departments are also changing to accommodate the lack of sufficient personnel. Some departments are centralising or consolidating. Others are transitioning to more full-time or paid-on-call firefighters. Even as the fire service embraces new technologies and approaches, the role of firefighters will remain essential. The role may evolve, but the need for trained personnel is a constant. Fulfilling that need will be an ongoing challenge for departments and local jurisdictions.

In Search Of Best Practices As Grenfell Tower’s Impact Reverberates
In Search Of Best Practices As Grenfell Tower’s Impact Reverberates

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