The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation company, announces the 2017 winners of the annual “IAFC Fire Chief of the Year” awards at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) in Charlotte, N.C. Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Wade of the North Lenoir Fire & Rescue Department in Kinston, N.C. and Career Fire Chief Marvin Riggins of the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department in Macon, Georgia are this year’s honorees.

Thorough evaluation of nominees

A committee appointed by the IAFC selects the award recipients, evaluating the nominees based on leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity and contributions to the fire service as a whole. Sponsored by Pierce, the awards will be presented July 27 during FRI’s general session at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C.

“The leadership and integrity modeled by Chief Wade and Chief Riggins are truly an inspiration to us all and to the fire service, reminding us of the crucial function of fire departments in society today,” said Jim Johnson, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president of the Fire & Emergency segment and Pierce Manufacturing. “Together, these leaders have nearly 60 years of dedicated service to their departments and the communities they serve. It is an honor to bestow these awards, and all of us at Pierce congratulate Chiefs Riggins and Wade!”

Both honorees are highly accomplished individuals with impressive career, educational, and certification credentials as well as civic involvement; their commitment to the fire service and their communities is evidenced by numerous awards they’ve received and the accolades offered in support of their nominations. Following are just a few highlights.

Chief Wade is implementing an officer and leadership development program to cultivate the growth and skills of his fellow department members

Volunteer Fire Chief Honoree – Brian Wade of the North Lenoir Fire & Rescue Department in Kinston, N.C.

Chief Wade joined the North Lenoir Fire & Rescue department in 1996. He began as firefighter and rose through the department ranks as a captain, battalion chief, and assistant chief before being named fire chief in 2010. Wade graduated with honors with an Associates of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology from Wilson Technical Community College, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science with a concentration in fire service management from Fayetteville State University. Wade has always been a strong supporter of training and certification. He was named, in 2013, a Fire/Rescue Training Specialist by the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal, for whom he has led training programs across the state.

He also served as a fire and rescue instructor for a decade at Lenoir Community College. Wade sought to make training a priority in the department, as well. The department, under the leadership of Chief Wade, is creating one of the premier training facilities in the region – complete with a dedicated flashover simulator, T-box burn simulator, and a training tower. More recently, Chief Wade is implementing an officer and leadership development program to cultivate the growth and skills of his fellow department members. As fire chief, Wade has advanced the department’s mission and enhanced its community engagement efforts. An outstanding communicator and writer, Chief Wade secured Fire Act Grants for his department in 2007, 2009, and 2014 totaling more than $900,000. Chief Wade’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed: in 2016, he was recognized as the IAFC Southeast Region Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year. As Wade received this honor, George Smith, III, the president of North Lenoir Fire & Rescue, in acknowledging the legacy Wade will leave the department, noted that “the fire service desperately needs more leaders like Chief Wade.” A shining example of leadership in action, Chief Wade is a deserving recipient of Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year.

Chief Riggins is a three time Firefighter of the Year, a recipient of the Macon Optimist Community Service Award, the Shields Club Award, and the Paramedic of the Year Award

Career Fire Chief Honoree – Marvin Riggins of the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department in Macon, Georgia

Chief Marvin Riggins is a 38-year veteran of the fire service, who began his career as a fire private. He rose through the ranks to sergeant, lieutenant, chief of training, and assistant fire chief. In what is recalled as “one of the best hiring decisions I’ve made” by Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, Chief Riggins was appointed fire chief in 2008. He was instrumental in the department achieving and retaining its ISO Class 1 rating. Riggins promoted the first African American female Chief Officer within the Macon-Bibb Fire Department. He has served on various committees with the Georgia State Firefighters Association and is responsible for putting together the state fire service memorial program each year at the Georgia Fire Service Conference and Expo.

A lifelong Georgian, Chief Riggins has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Georgia College & State University. Chief Riggins is a three time Firefighter of the Year, a recipient of the Macon Optimist Community Service Award, the Shields Club Award, and the Paramedic of the Year Award. He received the President’s Awards from both the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs. He also received the 2016 Georgia Fire Chief of the Year Award. One important crossroads event demonstrates Chief Riggins’ character as a leader and his dedication to the department and community; when Riggins was offered an early out retirement package, he declined the opportunity because he knew that key command staff were retiring under the arrangement which would leave the department in a leadership void. He decided to maintain continuity and stay on as chief to bring up a new generation of command staff. Chief Riggins’ many outside interests and activities include volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Georgia (since 1995) and The Booker T. Washington Center, serving as a board member with the American Red Cross and as a division chairperson for the United Way of Central Georgia, and many more. Chief Riggins’ approach is to answer the call of duty, and his dedication makes him a worthy recipient of Career Fire Chief of the Year.

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The Value Of Data For Fire-Fighting And Firefighters’ Safety
The Value Of Data For Fire-Fighting And Firefighters’ Safety

The power of data provides numerous benefits to the fire service, and today’s data collection and analysis software tools are making data more valuable than ever. Data collection and records management have been a core requirement in the U.S. fire service since the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 established a necessity for state and local governments to develop fire reporting and analysis capabilities. The National Fire Information Reporting System (NFIRS) requirements cover incident and casualty reporting, and later versions of the NFIRS format (NFPA Standard 901) have expanded the collection of data beyond fires to include a full range of fire department activity on a national scale. All 50 states and the District of Columbia report NFIRS data, which together represent the world’s largest national, annual database of fire incident information. Benefit The Operation Of Fire Department Effective collection and analysis of data can help fire departments document their performance to various stakeholdersAnd the benefits of data collection at today’s fire departments also extend beyond the ability to meet NFIRS requirements. Collecting and analyzing data from department training records, building and inspection information, document management, and apparatus and equipment maintenance and tracking, among other categories, are additional aspects of data collection that can benefit the operation of a fire department. A variety of commercial data collection software products help to streamline data management in today’s fire service, including suppliers such as Firehouse by ESO, ImageTrend, ZOLL and Emergency Reporting. In particular, effective collection and analysis of data can help fire departments document their performance to various stakeholders, make a stronger case when applying for grants and/or additional funding, and understand strategically how their department can improve. Demonstrating Fire Department’s Effectiveness “Data is driving the fire service, but humans are in the driver’s seat,” says Tom Louis, Business Development Analyst for Emergency Reporting. “Humans must extract data, compile it and communicate it in an effective manner to demonstrate a department’s effectiveness in serving the community.” Collecting data such as daily logs, incidents, maintenance and safety analytics can enable a fire department to tell its story more effectively using numbers More sophisticated management of incident reporting and other data can support departmental requests for grant money and other funding. “Most departments are looking for sources of funding, and they know the firefighter grants are out there, so they need to up their game,” says Louis. “Data collection can bring value locally to meet a department’s need to demonstrate its effectiveness to the community.” “In the fire service, decisions cannot be made on emotion alone, and people are grateful for [data management systems] we provide,” he adds. “Taxpayers require a level of transparency in order to hold those managing the services of a community accountable, to justify and verify the essential reason for their existence.” Promoting Firefighters’ Health And Safety Capturing data points can also serve as a means to analyze the situation and prevent injuries from happening Another benefit of data collection is to promote the safety of firefighters. 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Considering the high cost of equipment and other fire service expenses, the cost of good data management software is “small potatoes,” says Louis, especially considering the benefits. Cloud-Based Data Collection System Emergency Reporting provides a 100% cloud-based system to collect and report fire service data, and annual subscription costs vary depending on which modules are purchased and on the size of a department (number of fire stations). A starter NFIRS-only package starts at under $1,000 a year. Other software companies provide a range of products including both cloud and/or systems installed on-premise. Simplicity of use is one point of differentiation among various products. Data reporting software from companies such as Emergency Reporting is a powerful management tool in the fire service Before the advent and growing popularity of specialized data reporting software systems, fire departments typically used laborious ‘pen and paper’ reporting techniques, or they used ‘home-grown’ computer systems designed using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and/or Access databases, for example. The next wave of data management systems is providing more robust business intelligence services, including real-time data in the form of dashboards that enable insight into the state of a department at a glance. Application software protocols (APIs) are enabling integration of data systems with scheduling software, response software and other solutions. Data For Fleet Management Systems If you make data easy to use, then decision-makers can extract data that is trustworthy and easily understood"In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), there will be more integration with devices such as heart monitors or apparatus systems that can provide data for fleet management and maintenance systems. “The data environment will get denser, and the ability to sift through it and pull out useful information will be more of a challenge,” comments Louis. “Beyond compliance, probably the biggest benefit of better data collection is the ability to extract data out of the system to make intelligent, actional decisions,” says Louis. “If you make data easy to use, then decision-makers can extract data that is trustworthy and easily understood.” “It allows you to take an introspective look into the performance of your department, using data that measures what you do day-to-day, incident-to-incident,” he adds. “Measure it and you can tell your story of what you’re contributing to your community.”

Fire Suppression Fluids And Gases, The Future Of Marine Fire Safety
Fire Suppression Fluids And Gases, The Future Of Marine Fire Safety

The original fire suppression agent has always been, of course, water. In the age of sail, it was ideal. Not so with the advent of the combustion engine, however. When applied to burning petroleum, the fire spreads. It also simply destroys electronics. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Halon derivatives were the first widely used commercial fire suppression solutions, gaining popularity in the 1950s and '60s. Unlike water, they were highly effective, electrically non-conductive and didn't leave any residue. As compressed gases, storage wasn't a major issue. Unfortunately, Halon was found to be a high ozone depleting chemical; as a result, production was banned in 1990. Evolution Of Fire Suppression Systems Ideal for marine applications, HFC227 is fast, effective and clean With the sunsetting of Halon and the search for alternatives, CO2 gained prominence. However, it has three significant drawbacks: it's a greenhouse gas, requires a large number of cylinders and is potentially fatal if breathed at design concentrations. In the 1990s, HFCs rose to dominance as a fire suppression solution. Ideal for marine applications, HFC227 is fast, effective and clean. Like Halon and CO2, however, it's a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming. Discharging an average-sized cylinder of HFC227 has the same CO2 equivalent as driving a car 268,760 kilometers. This is why it is being eliminated as part of a phased-down mandate from the EU, and restricted or taxed by various countries such as Australia and Norway. It is expected that similar legislation will begin to affect Canada and US-flagged vessels. Environmental Profile Of HFCs In 2002, 3M introduced Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. It offers a number of important advantages over other clean agents in marine fire suppression applications. It has low acute toxicity and high extinguishing efficiency. This gives it a wide margin of safety compared to other chemical clean agents such as HFC227. A fluid, it vaporizes rapidly during discharge, is non-corrosive, non-conductive and leaves no residue. It is, importantly, a long-term, sustainable solution with virtually zero global warming potential, e.g., it has an atmospheric life of about a week versus HFC227's 34 years. So confident is 3M of its product, it offers its BlueSkySM Warranty; if it is ever banned or restricted from use due to its environmental properties, the company will refund the cost of the fluid. Unlike CO2, a gas, Novec 1230 fluid can be flown to the vessel or platform allowing less downtime waiting for supplies to arrive by ground For the marine and offshore oil and gas industries, Novec 1230 fluid offers distinct advantages. Because it's a fluid, recharging is simple. Unlike CO2, a gas, it can be flown to the vessel or platform. This means less downtime waiting for supplies to arrive by ground. It also takes up significantly less space. Recently, Sea-Fire Europe ceased distribution of HFC227. The move was strategic and ethical, given the environmental profile of HFCs. Novec 1230 Fluid For Recreational Marine Market With the phase-down of HFCs, supplies are running out. This means in the immediate future there will be a serious inability to service systems. Also, with shortages beginning, costs are rising, making the switch to Novec 1230 fluid a smart move financially. While 3M will obviously benefit from this, the real winner here is our planet and the people we share it with" Sea-Fire recognizes that it may lose business in the short term as boat and shipbuilders continue to choose HFC-based fire systems strictly based on cost alone. But, ultimately, eliminating the use of hydrofluorocarbons is the right thing to do for the marine industry as a whole. As the first manufacturer to introduce Novec 1230 fluid into the recreational marine market in 2012, Sea-Fire is fully prepared for the phase-out of HFCs. Benefitting The Marine Industry "As a corporation, 3M is committed to improving every life," said David Olds, 3M account executive for fire suppression applications. "Sea-Fire Europe made a difficult decision when announcing it would cease distribution of HFC227. While 3M will obviously benefit from this, the real winner here is our planet and the people we share it with." Sea-Fire Marine has long held the belief that it is in the business of protecting people and property at sea. With its recent declaration that its master European distributor Sea-Fire Europe is ending distribution of HFC-based fire suppression fluids, it can add the environment to its list.

2019’s Biggest Challenge: We Need More Career And Volunteer Firefighters
2019’s Biggest Challenge: We Need More Career And Volunteer Firefighters

I gave a lot of thought to identifying the biggest challenge facing the American fire service in 2019. Many things came to mind: funding; fire prevention - if every building was sprinklered and all had working smoke alarms, it would solve a lot of other problems; political influences; initial, regular and ongoing training, and a bunch more. But the one constant that kept popping up is the people issue. Staffing. This obviously isn’t the first time you’ve heard that. Normally, when we talk about staffing, we talk about the number of firefighters on the apparatus. That is not exactly what I'm talking about. What I mean is, in 2019, we better figure out where our next group of recruits is coming from. Measurable Drop In Applicants If one fire department is paying more than another, members jump ship On the career side, numerous areas are reporting a measurable drop in applicants—in other words, they need people who want to be firefighters and medics. In some areas, it’s a bidding war. If one fire department is paying more than another, members jump ship. And who can blame them? They have families to take care of. But when the dust clears, there are still far fewer people interested in this job than we need. Some theories are that the new generation: Doesn’t like helping people Are self-focused Aren’t into doing physical things Are lazy Can make the same money without shift work Can make the same money without risk None of these theories gets us far in addressing the problem. The goal of any fire department is to deliver staffed, trained interior firefighters just a few minutes after someone dials 9-1-1 Big Picture Focus On the volunteer side, all you have to do is listen to a fire radio nearly anywhere in the U.S. (and Canada) and you will hear volunteer fire departments toning out... toning out... and toning out—with little response when members are responding from home or work. It, too, is a measurable problem. There are volunteer departments with little funding and others with plenty of funding. Regardless, there seems to be little “big picture” focus on solving the problem based upon what’s best for the people having the fire. Some say to simply hire career firefighters. Is it that simple? What are the pros? And are there any cons? There certainly are. Trained Interior Firefighters Some departments solve the problem by having their volunteers on duty, in quarters, ready to roll The old model of volunteers responding from home or work doesn’t work very well when you consider the proven fire spread in 2019 vs. fire spread even just 20 years ago. Some departments solve the problem by having their volunteers on duty, in quarters, ready to roll. That may be the least expensive option depending upon the local model. Some hire part-time firefighters. Some unfairly and regularly rely on mutual aid. Some have a fair and balanced mutual aid system. Some have their heads in the sand. The goal of any fire department is to deliver staffed, trained interior firefighters just a few minutes after someone dials 9-1-1. If we don’t have people knocking on the fire station doors to become career firefighters or to volunteer, that goal is in jeopardy. I simply can’t see a bigger, more immediate challenge for 2019 than the “people” issue.

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