Tips on saving lives and property from wildfire by NFPA
Second deadliest fire for
firefighters in U.S. history
has 100th anniversary

The Great Fire of 1910 ranks second on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) list of deadliest incidents in the U.S.

During the summer of 1910, forest fires burned an estimated 3 million acres in Idaho and Montana. The incident, known as The Great Fire of 1910, killed 78 firefighters on August 20 of that year and ranks second on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) list of deadliest incidents in the U.S. resulting in the deaths of eight or more firefighters. (The deadliest incident for firefighters was at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.) 

According to Forest History, “the 1910 forest fire in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region is an episode which has had much to do with shaping the fire policy not only of that region but the whole United States. The tragic and disastrous culmination of that battle to save the forests shocked the nation into a realization of the necessity of a better system of fire control.”

Wildfire conditions can be found nearly anywhere in the U.S. at some point during the year. A record 9.2 million acres of land has burned each year since 2004, along with homes, buildings and natural resources. With an increasing number of communities located in areas at greatest risk of wildfire, it’s important to be aware that wildfires will occur, it’s just a matter of when. Damage can be minimized through practical Firewise activities. 

Eight steps you can take to reduce the risk of your home & property from wildfire

Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing your property of debris and regular landscaping are important first steps to reduce your risk for wildfire damage. Here are eight steps you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property from becoming fuel for a wildfire.

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch. 
  • Clear vegetation surrounding your home, at least 30 to 100 feet depending on your area’s wildfire risk.
  • Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.
  • Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant
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What Trends Are Likely to Change the Fire Market in 2020?
What Trends Are Likely to Change the Fire Market in 2020?

Welcome to our Expert Panel Roundtable, a new feature of TheBigRedGuide.com. We will be asking timely questions about the fire market and seeking out experts in the field to provide responses. Our goal is to promote a useful exchange of information on a variety of topics and to create a forum for discussion of important issues facing the fire service and market. For our first question, we look to the year ahead and ask our panelists: What trends are likely to change the fire market in 2020?

Weighing the Environmental Aspects of Firefighting Foams
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 makes up the foams? Although the materials have been manufactured for 50 years, it is only in the last couple of decades that the compounds have been linked to health problems. Major components of the foams are per- and polyfluoroalkyl acid (PFAS) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Concerns about the materials surfaced as early as 1974. Both chemicals are persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. Related health problems include kidney, testicular, bladder and prostate cancer Related health problems include kidney, testicular, bladder and prostate cancer, as well as immune reproductive and hormonal dysfunction. Unacceptable levels of the chemicals have been detected in the drinking water on or near sites where AFFF is used, such as fire training areas, airports, refineries and chemical plants. Newer foam formulations Some newer foam formulations contain variations of similar compounds that are also problematic, specifically PFAS substances based on shorter carbon chains (C6). There are potentially hundreds of these “precursor” materials, and none are biodegradable. Some are proprietary and evade detection and regulation. Although not specifically regulated in many cases, the materials can still be problematic. The Fire Fighting Foam Coalition (FFFC) is a non-profit trade association formed in 2001 to focus on issues related to the efficacy and environmental impact of firefighting foams. They publish “best practice” guidance on proper foam selection, containing and eliminating foam discharge, and disposal of foam and firewater. The international counterpart is the FluoroCouncil, a global organization representing the world’s leading FluoroTechnology companies. Founded in 2011, membership includes companies that manufacture, formulate or process fluoropolymer products, fluorotelomer-based products, fluoro-surfactants, and fluoro-surface property modification agents. Weighing up effectiveness vs environmental damage There has been effort to develop foams that are free of fluorosurfactants In the last decade or so, there has been effort to develop foams that are free of fluorosurfactants, although there is some disagreement about whether these foams are as effective. Some Fluorine-Free Firefighting (F3) foams have been shown to have comparable performance in some applications, and many airports around the world have embraced the F3 foams, including London Heathrow, Gatwick, Paris De Gaulle and Orly, Lisbon, Brussels, Stockholm, Sydney and Melbourne. Airports have often reported success using the F3 foams, and U.S. airports will be required to use fluorine-free foams by 2021. However, some experts contend that fluorine-free foams are not as effective. The search continues for ever-more-effective fluorine-free foams. One argument goes: If fluorine-free foams do not perform as well in a specific emergency, the threat to human life is more immediate than any threat posed by possible future environmental exposure to PFAS. Using a fluorine-free foam simplifies cleanup after an incident, as the foam can be washed into runoff drains. There is no need to collect and dispose of the effluent to prevent release into the environment. Specially designed training foams There are also specially designed training foams that simulate AFFF during training but do not contain fluorosurfactants and are biodegradable. The safety debate also extends to firefighters The safety debate also extends to firefighters, some of whom claim illness from exposure to fluorosurfactants. There are multiple firefighting-foam-related lawsuits pending. But does lack of fluorine equate to more “environmentally friendly?” One researcher contends that higher aquatic toxicity of non-fluorinated foams suggests otherwise, basing the conclusion on how many fish die when exposed to each type of material. Fluorinated surfactants may have fallen into disfavor, but a worldwide ban is unlikely, given that China still produces large quantities of PFOA which is widely used to make firefighting foams in Asia.

UK Government to Address Housing and Fire Safety Issues
UK Government to Address Housing and Fire Safety Issues

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