Firefighter Health and Safety
Around 200 delegates from the building and design industries in the United Kingdom region and beyond attended a one-day business seminar themed - “Sprinklers Save Lives” on providing a fire resilient environment for everyone. It was held at The Burgess Hall in St Ives, United Kingdom. “Sprinklers Save Lives” seminar Organized by BAFSA (British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Ltd.) in collaboration with, and hosted by, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, t...
The BAFSA Executive have now written to its members and outlined immediate action as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. BAFSA (British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Ltd.) announced in a statement that they will continue to work within the current Government guidelines (both national and devolved) throughout this COVID19 pandemic outbreak. They have provided links below to HM Government advice, Scottish Government advice, Welsh Government advice and Northern Ireland Government advice we...
The AFFF foam concentrates FILMOPOL and BIOFILM are now UL 162-certified. FILMOPOL, an AFFF fluorosynthetic AR versatile foam concentrate, is especially effective at: Putting out hydrocarbon fires fast owing to its AFFF properties (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) Forming a protective film gel over the surface of all types of flammable liquid (class B polar solvents) due to its AR property (Alcohol-Resistant) offering remarkable resistance to re-ignition of the exposed combustible materials. BI...
The national picture for the Coronavirus outbreak is evolving and changing rapidly. As a supplier of PPE and Managed Services to the Fire and Rescue Service, Bristol Uniforms qualifies as an essential service that needs to remain operating if possible. In light of this the company wants to reassure their customers of the following steps they have taken at Bristol, both to ensure that their colleagues are able to work safely and to make sure they help keep their organization running as smoothly a...
Popular with fire-fighters around the world, XFlex is Bristol Uniforms’ flagship range in structural fire fighting (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE. Its name came from the ‘X’ shape formed by the curved seams on the garment’s elbow and its flexibility. It enables excellent range of movement which helps fire-fighters carry out their physical roles more effectively. The creation and introduction of XFlex into the market marks a new direction in fire fighting PPE design a...
DuPont announced close monitoring of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it continues to spread across the world, and taking key steps to ensure the safety of their employees, customers and communities in which they operate to keep them informed as the health crisis unfolds. Effective COVID-19 response The company said that the health and safety of their employees is of the highest priority. They have corporate, regional and local crisis management teams in place that are actively monitorin...
C-TEC is fully operational and is continuing to supply its customers in the UK and overseas. The health, safety and well-being of the workforce, as well as fulfilling customer demand, remains a top priority. Following advice provided by the UK government, regular updates on the necessary precautions to take are being communicated to all C-TEC's staff, and close monitoring of the coronavirus evolution is underway. Protocols have been stepped up throughout the company in terms of close personal contact and daily cleaning routines. Delaying COVID-19 outbreak In containing and delaying the coronavirus outbreak within the business, C-TEC has suspended factory tours and customer training sessions. They are also requesting that the customers and visitors: Comply with government guidelines surrounding isolation and self-isolation prior to attending site or coming into contact with any of the staff. Comply with the increased hand washing and hygiene precautions in place if visiting any of C-TEC's premises. Refrain from close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands whilst coming into contact with any of the staff. Contingency plan A robust contingency plan is in place at C-TEC to ensure that customer demands are being met, and provisions are in place to prepare for a change in the coronavirus situation. The majority of C-TEC's supply chain are based within the UK which significantly limits the impact of any importing issues that may arise. The suppliers that are used overseas provide bulk stock at standard consumption rates, and 8-12 weeks of stock is held on site. The stock control mechanisms in place have been implemented for over 24 months to manage the electronic component lead time issues that have been witnessed across the electronics industry. The production workforce are predominantly local residents and steps to manage labour capacity requirements are in place and are being continually reviewed.
Thanks to Anheuser-Busch, volunteer fire departments who respond to wildland fires can now apply for canned emergency drinking water through the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) for their immediate or upcoming wildfire response needs. Fighting Wildfires The Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program supports volunteer departments across the U.S. fighting wildfires throughout the year by helping provide critical hydration when it is needed most. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots on the ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chairman, Steve Hirsch. Supporting fire and emergency ground responders It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response" Steve adds, “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” This is the second year of the program, which is an expansion of Anheuser-Busch’s longstanding tradition of providing emergency drinking water and supplies for disaster relief efforts. In 2019, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC to deliver over 1 million cans of clean drinking water to help hydrate our nation’s firefighters. This year, Anheuser-Busch has pledged to continue this support through a donation of 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water to support fire departments across the country. Enhancing firefighters’ safety “Volunteer firefighters selflessly put their lives on the line to help protect our friends, families, and neighbors,” said Adam Warrington, Vice President, Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “We are proud to provide valuable hydration support through our emergency drinking water program to our nation's brave firefighters and to work alongside our partners at the NVFC, highlighting their efforts and sacrifices for the continued safety of our communities.” Departments will have two key opportunities to request water in 2020 to support immediate and upcoming wildfire-related incidents. Application Period 1: March 15 – May 15. NOW OPEN! Application Period 2: July 1 – August 31 Applying for emergency drinking water Departments in a declared emergency due to wildfire will also be able to request water outside of the application periods to help with their immediate wildfire response needs. To apply for emergency drinking water from Anheuser-Busch and the NVFC, departments must meet the following requirements: Responded to wildfires in 2019 and plans to respond to wildfires in 2020 Be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50%) Serve a population of 25,000 or less Be located in the U.S. and be legally organized under state law Must be available to accept the water delivery, store requested amount, and utilize amount by ‘best by’ date on package (canned water has a shelf life of 365 days from the packaging date) Demonstrate a need for the water Departments are encouraged to submit one application per year. Subsequent applications received for that department will be subject to additional review. NVFC members will have priority to receive the water donation.
Bristol Uniforms Ltd announced that it is offering a new selection of stock styles Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for structural firefighting. Immediately available, these ready-made garments can be personalized by adding a heat-sealed patch to the back of each coat, a name to the front, and a name to each trouser. Stock PPE for Structural Firefighting Bristol Uniforms provides a choice of three Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stock styles that are currently available in the market, featuring the most popular elements of the company’s existing top-quality ranges: Ergotech Action - EN469 Level 2 -The CEN certified style includes an anti-wicking barrier on the cuffs and hems, underarm gussets and pleated back panel for improved ergonomics, knee reinforcement, and numerous pockets, loops, and rings for equipment. The kit is made up of a navy TITAN1220 outer, Gore Crosstech Fireblocker moisture barrier and a quilted aramid felt and viscose inner lining. Ergotech Action – (National Fire Protection Association) NFPA 1971:2018 -The NFPA certified style is similar and features a Gore Crosstech moisture barrier and a gold Hainsworth TITAN outer layer. The jacket also has distinguishable lined box bellow pockets on both the coat and trouser, and thumb holes on the cuff to prevent exposure around the wrists. XFlex - EN469 Level 2 - The XFlex stock design conforms to the CEN standard and features elbow reinforcement, ergonomic 3D knee pads with reinforcement to make kneeling more comfortable, plus an adjustable waist band, a removable braces system and a knife pouch in the trouser. It is made up of a gold PBI Max outer, Gore Crosstech Airlock moisture barrier and an aramid viscose inner lining.
As BAFE Registered Companies will be aware, there are certain time period requirements when service and maintenance work should be performed for fire safety provisions and systems. At present, if a client is not permitting access on-site due to coronavirus precautions, the company should make sure that they explain that it is their decision to not allow the completion of the work. It is the role of the premises management (i.e. Responsible Person/Duty Holder) to ensure they fulfil their fire safety obligations. Advise them of any risk and if they still do not grant access on-site, document this communication. This will provide evidence that they have acted responsibly with their clients. If they are allowed access on-site, please stay safe and follow appropriate coronavirus guidance to ensure that they are not unnecessarily increasing risk to anyone in the premises or themselves. Chris Auger, Head of Schemes - BAFE
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service announced that it has been putting plans in place to ensure residents across the county will get emergency response treatment when they need it during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Emergency response treatment Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Chief Fire Officer, Chris Strickland said, “We want to assure residents that we are taking the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic very seriously. We have been working closely with our local authority partners for the last few weeks and are continually monitoring the latest government advice. Staff is exercising good hygiene including washing and sanitizing hands at locations across the county. We will continue to do this to ensure we are able to offer the highest level of service and to respond to emergencies as quickly as possible.” “Over the coming weeks and months we will continue look at how we provide our service to the public, to ensure we minimize the risk to the public and our staff, while taking a proportionate response to the latest emerging information about the coronavirus."
The last INTERSCHUTZ was five years ago, and a lot has happened since then. The megatrends of digital transformation, urbanization and demographic and climate change mean that societies worldwide – and the fire, rescue and civil protection services charged with safeguarding them – now face greater and often different challenges than just five years ago. Consequently, INTERSCHUTZ is now even more important than when last staged in 2015. "It is in times of change such as these that the world most needs an INTERSCHUTZ," commented Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Andreas Gruchow. "INTERSCHUTZ is a platform for discussing key trends, a showcase for learning about the latest technologies, vehicles and equipment, and a gathering hub for building up networks and a sense of community and cohesion." first-responder organizations This year's show, which runs from 15 to 20 June, will be the biggest and most international INTERSCHUTZ ever. The organizers already have bookings for 115,000 square meters (1.18 million sq. ft.) of exhibition space, up from the previous record of approximately 108,000 square meters (1.16 million sq. ft.), set in 2015. So far a total of more than 1,500 companies and first-responder organizations from around the world have registered. The organizers have also achieved their declared goal of further boosting the show's internationality. At 44 percent, almost half of the exhibition space at INTERSCHUTZ will be occupied by international participants, up from 37 percent in 2015. The biggest exhibiting nations, after Germany, will be Austria, Italy and the Netherlands, followed by the USA, China, France, the UK, Poland and Turkey. biggest festival for the firefighting community INTERSCHUTZ is a major event that would not be possible without its numerous supporters "INTERSCHUTZ is very close to the hearts of a lot of people," Gruchow said. "It is a B2B show that people attend with very definite procurement aims in mind, certainly; but it is also a powerfully emotive thing – like a keenly anticipated family reunion combined with the world's biggest festival for the firefighting community." INTERSCHUTZ is a major event that would not be possible without its numerous supporters, chief among them the official INTERSCHUTZ partners, namely the German Fire Protection Association (GFPA), the Firefighting Equipment Association within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA Feuerwehrtechnik) and the German Fire Services Association (DFV). The DFV is also the organizer of the 29th German Firefighting Convention, which will be held in parallel with INTERSCHUTZ and will attract even more members of the firefighting community to Hannover. Connected for Protection and Rescue INTERSCHUTZ revolves around six main display categories: Fire Fighting (a large part of the show), Fire Prevention (featuring as a display area in its own right for the very first time), Rescue Services, Civil Protection, Communication & Control Center Solutions, and Protective Equipment. This year is also the first time that INTERSCHUTZ has a lead theme. "Teams, Tactics, Technology – Connected for Protection and Rescue" will shape the displays and dialogue at the exhibition stands, forums and symposia. The "connected" aspect of the theme refers both to the opportunities and benefits of digital technologies and to the power of collaboration among stakeholder organizations and institutions. Another key focus of this year's INTERSCHUTZ is "Digitalization and Transformation". It is the defining theme of Hall 16, which will be configured as a space for interactive learning and discovery, innovative thinking and new ideas. fire extinguishing technology and agents INTERSHUTZ 2020 is rounded off by an extensive program of supporting conferences and workshops The hall will feature theme-specific walk-through displays that will explore the defining megatrends of our times and take visitors on a journey of discovery through the future of civil protection. The purpose of this part of the show is to bring together a range of perspectives, spark new ideas and initiatives, break down outdated structures and help actively shape the digital transformation process. INTERSHUTZ 2020 is rounded off by an extensive program of supporting conferences, workshops and captivating action. Over the six days of INTERSCHUTZ, there will in fact be more than 70 of these side events. They will be held in the exhibition halls and – in the case of spectator events and live demonstrations of the latest fire vehicles and fire extinguishing technology and agents – on a large outdoor demonstration site. rescue services and civil protection There will be knowledge-sharing and professional training sessions on offer at special summits on the rescue services and civil protection, fire prevention, incident-site hygiene and digitalization, at the "Transcending Borders" Civil Protection Symposium, and at the Hannover Emergency Care Symposium. Meanwhile, career starters and changers will find the information they need at the Job & Career showcase. And of course, INTERSCHUTZ would not be INTERSCHUTZ without a thrilling mix of high-performance sport, physical contests and outright fun. Events of this type include the German High Angle Rescue Championships; the Holmatro Rescue Challenge (in which 29 teams from all around the world will compete for top honors), the S-Gard SAFETYTOUR Program, and, last but by no means least, the FireFit Championship, in which firefighters will go head-to-head in an all-out contest of strength, fitness and speed. diversity of show's exhibitor lineup This diversity of the show's exhibitor lineup will likewise be a powerful magnet for visitors from abroad As a global event that welcomes participants from around the world, INTERSCHUTZ will be drawing special attention to a particular country on three of the show's six days. On the Tuesday, the spotlight will be on exhibitors from France, on the Wednesday, Italy will be in the limelight, and on the Thursday, exhibitors from the USA will take center stage. This diversity of the show's exhibitor lineup will likewise be a powerful magnet for visitors from abroad. National pavilions by Finland, France, Italy, Canada, Korea, Malaysia Russia and the USA, for example, will serve as a major drawcard for high-ranking visitor delegations from outside Germany. This international effect will be further amplified by numerous international side events, such as the meeting of the FEU Officer Development Leadership Program and the meeting of the ISO TC94/SC14 Firefighters PPE Committee. exhibitors and organizers The exhibitors and organizers are now kicking their INTERSCHUTZ preparations into high gear, and the same is true for visitors, judging by the ticket sales. Several hotels in and around Hannover are already fully booked for the duration of INTERSCHUTZ, but participants still looking for accommodation are sure to find what they are looking for on the company’s website under the accommodation section.
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.
Firefighting is hot, hazardous, and let's face it, grueling work. But believe it or not, the job today has become even more challenging as firefighters must deal with increased heat loads, toxic substances and other physical challenges that make structural firefighting one of the most demanding professions on the planet. So, needless to say, being well-trained, physically fit, and safely equipped can make all the difference in the world. Evolving Technology The fact is, as heat loads and toxicity exposure risks increase due to modern synthetic construction, the ways in which fires are fought are changing as well. These shifts, combined with the revolution that’s taking place in firefighter protection technology, have led to new and exciting designs in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) offerings. Technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits Take the tried and true SCBA for instance. Since the invention of the first breathing apparatus in the late 1910s, their primary function has been air delivery. But today, technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits. Revolution Of Life-Changing Technology Consider this: the effects of technology today impact virtually every aspect of modern life. And the same is true for the fire service, as software, thermal imaging, and wireless communications capabilities become more mainstream on the fireground. In response to these new capabilities, the consensus organizations responsible for PPE performance standards (i.e. NFPA and EN) have increased standards by mandating certain electronic components for each firefighter. But performance of these components can be limited by the fact that only so many “parts” can be attached to an SCBA, or because some capabilities are simply out of reach from a budget perspective. Over time, these limitations create long-term implications when it comes to SCBA choice, because the breathing apparatus purchased today may have to be in use for the next 15 years or more. So, what are firefighters to do? Firefighters should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future It’s More Than Air Delivery Missed opportunities for more timely safety improvements – which keep up with the pace of technology – are rooted in a false assumption that all SCBA are comprised of separate, mechanical components – and that the SCBA function is only about respiratory protection. But air-delivery is not the issue because every SCBA meets the standards, and every SCBA delivers air well. Further, looking at the SCBA merely as a separate component for air diminishes its potential to serve as a revolutionary safety technology “platform.” Safety As A System Firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus To keep pace with the rapid improvements in firefighter safety, firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus. Instead, they should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future. I’m talking specifically about platform-type products that can be easily updated with the latest technology, as soon as it becomes available, to help protect them when their lives are on the line. Key Questions To Consider When Looking For An SCBA Include: Does the SCBA have features that allow you to see, hear, and react quickly to changing situations? Can the SCBA sizing be customized to best fit each firefighter? How many total batteries are needed for the SCBA, and how does that affect long-term costs? How well does it integrate with other systems, such as communication devices, portable instruments, etc.? Does the SCBA provide you, your team, and incident command with critical information to make effective, life-saving decisions? Can the SCBA be programmed to meet your standard operating procedures, such as audible and visual alarms at 50% remaining pressure? Is the facepiece reducing or adding to overall SCBA cost and complexity? How easily can the SCBA be updated to meet changing standards? How easily can integrated accessories or features, such as thermal imaging, be added as they are developed in the future? At MSA, we develop technologically-advanced safety equipment designed to help meet today's changing fireground dynamics. We’re committed to setting the pace for safety with continuous improvements and innovations in PPE. For today. For tomorrow. For the future.
In order to recruit and retain, you must change your mindset to that of a business. While we continue to scratch our heads on how to recruit and retain members among the ranks of our departments, we might want to take a look at ourselves. Sometimes looking in the mirror is a hard thing to do, as it may give us a clear view of who and what we are as an organization. For years, the volunteer fire service has had to overcome many obstacles such as funding, a not-so-friendly environment or poor leadership, to name a few. They may even have had to re-create themselves. Business Mindset And Reputation Whether you are in a rural, suburban or urban area, what drives us? Is it pride? Is it fulfilling a need to belong? Ultimately, it is the end user, the customer – the resident, the taxpayer. In order to target new membership, we must be able to sell ourselves as a good, a service and a product. Business models have been around for years and, if followed, yield positive results We need to begin to think about running our volunteer organization like a business in order to be successful. Businesses that are successful have a great reputation. People want to work for them and they easily retain and recruit top talent. Business models have been around for years and, if followed, yield positive results. Building Community Of Employees Let’s take Google for an example, a company with more than 64,000 employees with growth to the tune of billions of dollars each year. When looking at Google’s performance, it raises the question: what is Google’s success secret? How can a company amass $9.7 billion in revenues mostly from advertising? How can they keep great help and recruit? The answer is its leadership being innovative, actively advertising, creating a unique and rewarding work environment as well as creating and executing their business model daily. A business that goes above and beyond by treating their employees great will in return get motivated and loyal employees. Google allows their employees flexibility to work on passion projects and tap into their creativity. Google also encourages its employees to become teachers and coach one another to help build a more creative, satisfied and intimate community of employees. One needs to make fire departments attractive to potential recruits, there are small moments of observation that are then used to make bigger decisions are called “thin slices” Positive First Impressions In this day and age, we need to be ahead of the curve. People want to be informed and they want it now. They want a quality product and will shop around until they find it. They also want to be part of something big. They want to be recognized. Remember the statement, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, it was the tagline for a Head & Shoulders shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s. Are we continuing to make our fire department attractive to potential recruits? How do we expect to garner new membership if we don’t make that “first impression” a positive one? These small moments of observation that are then used to make bigger decisions are called “thin slices.” Potential candidates for membership are constantly assessing us, slice by slice, as “recruiters". Business Model For Your Demographic We need to create a business model and execute it at all times Is the fire station in good shape? Is it clean and orderly? Is the organization structured? Is the leadership strong and decisive? Or are there cliques and groups that work against the common goal or the command? These are easily seen and quickly discovered by potential candidates. They are looking to see what we are offering them: why should I risk my life, my health, my safety – what’s in it for me? How do we take all of these “thin slices,” package them together and make them attractive for potential recruits? We need to create a business model and execute it at all times. In order to sell, we need to advertise. In order to advertise, we need the leaders of our departments, the innovators and recruiters, to all come together and develop a business plan that works. It should work for your demographic. It should pour information to the masses. It should build on a reputation that you are a place that you’d want to work for! We need to begin to think about running our volunteer organization like a business in order to be successful Utilizing Current Volunteer Membership We need to begin to think about running our volunteer organization like a business in order to be successful. So, what does this mean for “my fire department”? Simply put, it means that you need to rely on the staff you have in place; lean on them and their expertise. Your current membership may hold the keys to your success. Develop a mission statement that is creative and energetic Canvass your current membership for professionals who could be utilized. You may have trained CPAs, human resource professionals, CEOs of corporations, advertising and marketing experts or veterans already inside your organization. They may remain quiet as they are unsure that they are needed to assist. Ask for the help and utilize them! Learning From Shortcomings Do not hesitate to implement them into your business plans. Help them look at how to target demographics in your area. Remember that great leadership will work to identify an individual’s strongest points and work to utilize them for maximum effectiveness. When you create a plan, be sure that you set obtainable goals. Develop a mission statement that is creative and energetic. Don’t eat the elephant in one bite: set a timeline in your plan. Meet often with your team, as you will learn more from your shortcomings than from your successes.
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 the protections of ERISA, insurance carriers can more easily get away with delaying or denying claims without significant pushback – which can ultimately harm the patient and lead to exacerbated injuries. However, some states, such as Florida, have protections in place so that firefighters and other similarly situated workers can seek legal recourse. We discussed the issue with Leslie M. Kroeger, a partner at the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll. She serves as co-chair of Cohen Milstein’s Complex Tort Litigation practice. Kroeger has also led several managed care abuse cases, spoken at conferences on this topic, and currently serves as President of the Florida Justice Association. TheBigRedGuide.com: What is "managed care abuse" and why is it an important topic? Kroeger: Managed care abuse occurs when your medical insurance provider or HMO breaches its fiduciary duty or contractual responsibilities to you by denying you access to medically necessary care or medication in violation of its healthcare policies and the law. It is often the result of the company prioritizing cost-cutting and profit-making over patient care. This obviously puts the health of the patient at risk. Cohen Milstein has extensive experience litigating managed care abuse claims against insurance companies and HMOs. The result of the company prioritizing cost-cutting BRG: How are firefighters particularly at risk? What are the solutions? Kroeger: The health and welfare of firefighters is paramount as they need to be physically fit to perform their life-saving duties. Firefighters also have a dangerous job that can result in physical and emotional injury. They should be able to get any and all medically necessary treatment allowed by the terms of their health insurance policy without having to fight for them after being wrongfully denied by their insurance carrier. BRG: How should firefighters seek proactively to address the issue of managed care abuse (short of filing a lawsuit)? Kroeger: If a firefighter believes he or she has been wrongfully denied medical care or medication, the first step is to follow the appeal process outlined by the health insurance policy. This will usually require placing a call or writing a letter challenging the decision within 30 days of the denial, but one should check the terms of the policy to follow the procedure that applies in a particular situation. It’s important to keep notes on all action taken during the appeal, including who you spoke with, when, and the details of the conversation. It’s also vital to work with healthcare providers to insure they too are following through with the insurance carrier. BRG: What are the legal remedies available to address the problem? Kroeger: If your appeal to the insurance company is denied, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the company. You should call an attorney to discuss your particular situation. Firefighters are increasingly exposed to chemicals and other toxic materials BRG: What other potential issues/challenges do you see related to medical care for firefighters, especially those injured in the line of duty? Kroeger: Firefighters are increasingly exposed to chemicals and other toxic materials while doing their jobs. This will continue to place them at risk for additional medical problems, thereby increasing the need for medical care.
Research is a Congressionally mandated mission of the U.S. Fire Administration, although their activities are limited by funding and staffing challenges. “A lot of what we do is work with other agencies and organizations that are conducting research,” says G. Keith Bryant, U.S. Fire Administrator. “We have the data to help them with their research.” Research partners include Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and various institutions of higher learning. The U.S. Fire Administration also collects data from a variety of sources to provide information and analyses on the status and scope of the fire problem in the United States. The fire service can use this data to increase awareness, set priorities and/or motivate corrective action. The data can also help to target public education programs and create a baseline for evaluating programs. Collecting the data “We do a fair amount of reports that go out nationally, on firefighter fatalities, for example, or fires at educational institutions,” says Bryant. One recent report covered health and wellness issues specific to female firefighters. Streamlined systems are needed at the local level to maximize data input Local fire departments provide data to the National Internet Fire Reporting System (NIFRS), and streamlined systems are needed at the local level to maximize data input and ensure accuracy. “The system could use modernization, but that takes funding,” says Bryant. “The software might not be as detailed and accurate as it could be.” A big challenge facing the fire service is collection and analysis of accurate data. The need for data extends to issues such as occupational-related cancer among firefighters: Is there accurate data about how bad the problem is and where resources should be focused? Another issue is mental health: Data is needed to confront the issues in a positive way. The challenges of data collection Working with the fire service leadership at the local level can help to meet the challenges of data collection. “We get into those discussions – honest, frank discussions – about what they can do in their agencies to provide more oversight,” says Bryant. “Everybody understands there is a huge need for it.” Local participation ensures maximum value of data collected nationally, and compliance among departments is a “mixed bag,” says Bryant. Data collection is also a tool to help local departments to get the funding they need. Accurate data is needed about the amount of property, dollars and lives that are lost Related to firefighting, accurate data is needed about the amount of property, dollars and lives that are lost. Specific to the growing problem of wildfires, data is needed about which areas are at risk and the nature of the challenges. More information is also needed on occupational-related cancer, for example, which is a serious concern among firefighters. “We need to do a better job of collecting and recording data, and using it in a better way,” says Bryant. “And we need to do it on a more consistent basis nationally.” User conscientiousness User conscientiousness is also an issue: “In some cases, firefighters just want to get through that incident report ASAP, so they may not be as detailed, or fill in all the fields,” says Bryant. During the 45 years of the U.S. Fire Administration’s existence, there has been a significant reduction in reported fires, reflecting a gradual positive trend. The 1973-74 “America Burning” report, which led to establishment of the U.S. Fire Administration, noted that there were more than 3 million fires annually then, compared to the current yearly average of around 1.3 million. Fire fatalities were counted in the tens of thousands several years ago, but there are only about 3,000 a year now. Firefighter fatalities have been cut in half, and there are fewer firefighters injured, too. “These are huge successes, but it doesn’t mean we’re there yet,” says Bryant. “We still have work to do. We don’t take direct credit, but the improvements are based on us working together with the fire service industry.” Location of communities adjacent to areas prone to wildfires, the so-called wildfire urban interface (WUI), has impacted how wildfires are controlled and managed. At one time, the approach was to control a wildfire rather than to extinguish it, but not anymore. “People have moved into those areas,” says Bryant. “Now you have to take a different approach.” Recent tragedies in Paradise and Santa Rosa, Calif., reflect the problem. In the last eight years, there have been resulting increases in property losses and fire fatalities. In the last eight years, there have been resulting increases in property losses and fire fatalities Fires, injuries, deaths, and property loss Specifically, statistics show there were 1.3 million fires in 2017, down 6.2% from 2008, and injuries were down 15.8% to 14,670. However, there were 3,400 deaths in 2017, up 9.6% from 2008; and property loss amounted to $23.0 billion, up 12%. Also contributing to the problem is a trend toward lightweight construction and reliance on different materials, such as chemicals, plastics and particle board as examples. These materials burn much hotter and faster, thus reducing the possible time to escape. And in spite of campaigns to increase use of smoke alarms, there are still some properties that are not protected. “There is still a lot of work to be done,” says Bryant.
The mission of the U.S. Fire Administration is to support and strengthen fire and emergency medical services (EMS) and to help stakeholders prepare for, prevent, mitigate and respond to all hazards. It is an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). G. Keith Bryant was sworn in as the U.S. Fire Administrator in 2017. Prior to his presidential appointment, he was the chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD). Experience as a firefighter Bryant says his former experience as a firefighter and fire chief informs and directs his performance as U.S. Fire Administrator. Coming from Oklahoma City, a major metropolitan area, Bryant has faced issues and challenges – staffing, resources etc. – that are common among departments on the national level. His involvement with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also provided a broad view of issues across the country. The scope of duties that fire departments are asked to respond to has expanded Bryant has been in the fire service since the 1970s. During that time, he has watched the industry evolve from a “trade” to a “profession.” The scope of duties that fire departments are asked to respond to has expanded, also, and continues to grow, now including medical emergencies, Hazmat, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and natural disasters. “We have become ‘all-hazards,’ and it takes a higher level of training and education to handle all these issues,” Bryant says. The U.S. Fire Administration is focused on helping the fire service at the local and state levels. One element of that work is the National Fire Academy (NFA), which provides training, education and professional development for firefighters through live, online, off-site and/or self-study programs. They also provide funding for state training agencies, which conduct NFA courses at the state level. NFA Courses “We make sure our courses are geared to those who will be managing issues at the local level, to ensure they have the training and skillset,” Bryant says. Leadership in the fire service today needs both business and political acumen to manage their agencies effectively, and training must address leadership and management concepts as well as emergency training, he says. The need for higher education is also changing The need for higher education is also changing. At one time, a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) would suffice as an entry-level requirement for the fire service. In this day and age, a higher level of education may be required, especially for those seeking to manage a fire department. The National Fire Academy offers the Executive Office Fire program and the Managing Officer Fire program to help develop managerial and executive skillsets. Many National Fire Academy programs are aimed at helping smaller departments, including public education programs. Some programs are geared toward volunteer agencies that might not be able to attend a program on campus. In addition to online options, there are also programs on weekends and condensed courses. “We see the needs of different agencies reflected in our course offerings, from smaller, rural agencies to major metropolitan departments,” says Bryant. Issues of concern Another issue of concern is a shortage of firefighters, especially among volunteer fire departments. “We know the volunteer service has a big challenge with recruitment and retention, and we have seen it for a long time,” says Bryant. The gravity of the problem varies by locale. Some volunteer agencies have folded because they could not serve the needs of the community. The U.S. Fire Administration is seeking answers: What are the issues and what programs can make sure volunteer agencies have adequate staffing? What are the issues and what programs can make sure volunteer agencies have adequate staffing? Sometimes the problem is money, contingent on the financial fitness of a community and what they are willing to invest. Traditional commitment to providing fire services and responding to emergencies may be taken for granted by some communities, which may not be adequately funding, staffing and training their departments. “There are communities that invest very well in public safety, and they see the need for that, but it runs the range from bad to adequate to good,” says Bryant. The U.S. Fire Administration also spreads the word about the availability of federal fire service grants using social media, fire service publications and other channels, emphasizing application periods and eligibility. The grants are managed and administered by the FEMA grants directorate, and the U.S. Fire Administration has an oversight role in addition to publicizing the various grants to local departments.
Large fires, ammunition finds, rescue operations, and searching for people: The scope of duties for the List Fire Department on the German island of Sylt is extremely broad. They are well prepared for these challenges with the new rescue firefighting group vehicle (HLF) 20 from Rosenbauer. Fire-Fighting Vehicles Almost 1,500 inhabitants live in List on Sylt, the northernmost municipality in Germany. Sand dunes, salt marshes, and the Wadden Sea characterize the unique environment on this island in the North Sea, which is especially famous for its wellness tourism. Its particular geographical location also poses special challenges for fire-fighting vehicles. The climate and the salt-laden air put more strain on the materials than in other regions. This makes it all the more important for Rosenbauer vehicles to use high-quality materials that are also manufactured with utmost precision. Numerous Rescue Operations In the optimally sorted equipment compartments there is space for additional hosesNot only is the climate itself a challenge for man and material, but also the various operations that the Fire Department of List on Sylt has to cope with. Last year they responded to 49 calls, including two major fires. The fire department was also called in when ammunition was found, as well as coping with numerous rescue operations, people searches, and smaller fire operations. The extensive equipment of the new HLF 20 mounted on a MAN chassis plays a decisive role in ensuring that it is optimally equipped for these different operations. The 2,000 liter water tank can be used to extinguish fires, and the vehicle is also equipped with a 180 liter foam compound tank. In the optimally sorted equipment compartments there is space for additional hoses, but also for the equipment required for rescue operations. The extendable LED light mast provides optimum illumination for night-time operations. Safety And Ease Of Use Before deciding to purchase the vehicle, they were able to put the HLF 20 through its paces. "It won us over right from the start. And not just us, but also the municipality representatives, who decide on the purchase," says Matthias Stahl from the List Fire Department on Sylt. The safety and ease of use of the new HLF 20 are of course also at an extremely high level Not just the equipment, but above all the outstanding manufacturing quality was a decisive argument. "The entire vehicle concept is very well thought out," says Matthias Stahl enthusiastically. The safety and ease of use of the new HLF 20 are of course also at an extremely high level. "You simply feel safe and comfortable on the way to operations or exercises", explains the Fire Chief of the List Fire Department. Tank Firefighting Vehicle The excellent cooperation between Rosenbauer and the List Fire Department during the procurement process and the very positive experience since the commissioning of the new HLF 20 have prompted the List Fire Department to choose Rosenbauer for the purchase of another new vehicle. The new tank firefighting vehicle (TLF) 4000 is due to arrive on the island of Sylt as early as spring. And it will increase the operational power and impact of the List Fire Department many times over.
The National Fire Chiefs’ Council has called for all residential buildings with four floors or more to be installed with sprinkler systems after a huge fire tore through student flats in Bolton, United Kingdom last month. Fire sprinklers in Tall buildings But a Freedom of Information request from The Argus revealed 44 council-owned housing blocks in Brighton and Hove which are four storeys or taller do not have sprinklers installed. This is a worrying discovery as two of the 44 buildings had sprinklers systems approved last September. However, despite funding of £300,000 from Brighton and Hove City Council and East Sussex Fire and Rescue service, the installation of fire sprinklers has been delayed due to ‘feedback from residents’. Sprinkler installation program “For a sprinkler installation program to be successful, the residents must be consulted. Although, not all residents are in favor of installing a sprinkler system; despite sprinklers being paramount in preventing another tragic disaster similar to the Grenfell Tower fire,” says an East Sussex Fire Brigade Union Spokesman. Whilst firefighters on the frontline understand the importance of sprinkler systems in assisting to prevent the rapid growth of fires, sprinkler systems should not be viewed as a ‘golden bullet’. There is no replacement to a properly funded and resourced fire and rescue service.
Peterborough firefighters were buzzing to help a local project to enhance the environment for bees. Last week on Monday the firefighters from Green Watch at Dogsthorpe Fire Station attended an environmental initiative called Jimmy’s Bee’s at the newly built Connect Park in Millfield, Peterborough. Building Relationships With Local Residents The crew joined volunteers from the community to dig the grass up, sew and plant wildflower seeds in order to create a fantastic haven for bees. The project was commissioned by Channel 4 due to the third of Britain’s bee species declining since 1980. Planting the wildflower seeds allows bees and other insects to pollinate. Station Commander Matt Murdoch, the officer in charge of Dogsthorpe Fire Station, said: “A key part of being a firefighter is to be an active part of the local community. This allows us to ensure we are reaching the most vulnerable people to help keep them safe. Projects like this are a great way for our crews to pitch in and help the community, as well as make useful links and build relationships with local residents.”
The Secaucus Fire Department, located in Hudson County, New Jersey, placed a 28-foot Lake Assault Boats firefighting and rescue craft into service earlier this summer. The department’s firefighting and emergency response area includes a large portion of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers (and their 28 bridges) that empty into Newark Bay and the Hudson River. Firefighting and recue craft “We’re located in a somewhat landlocked part of the river system, so our new fireboat has to be versatile and self-sustaining in case of a major incident,” said Fire Chief Carl Leppin, a 22-year veteran of the department and chief since 2014. “With help from Lake Assault Boats, we were able to customize the design to meet our needs. And their response to requests, and overall excellent customer service, are very important to us.” The Secaucus Fire Department is a member of the New York and New Jersey Regional Fireboat Taskforce The Secaucus Fire Department is a member of the New York and New Jersey Regional Fireboat Taskforce, comprised of 12 fire departments, including FDNY and the U.S. Coast Guard. This is the first fireboat taskforce of its kind in the country, and its combined team protects over 50 miles of New Jersey shoreline containing transportation hubs, transfer facilities, manufacturing plants, and other critical infrastructure. Critical emergency response “We’re thrilled to have one of our craft serving with the Secaucus Fire Department on such a critically important waterway,” said Chad DuMars, Lake Assault Boats vice president of operations. “This custom engineered vessel features fast response combined with capabilities to address a wide range of emergency scenarios.” The boat’s landing craft style hull sports a 63-inch hydraulically operated bow door (with an integrated ladder for diver re-entry) and flat tread areas for ATV deployment. The boat also features a clear opening dive door, swimmer’s grab rails, a davit crane, and a floating stokes basket for faster patient retrieval from the water. It is powered by twin 350 hp outboards that enable the boat to reach 50 miles per hour in open water conditions. infrared FLIR video camera The full-width, fully enclosed pilothouse is located mid-ship with deck space both on the fore and shaft. The vessel is equipped with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRNE) positive pressure defense capabilities. The helm station carries controls for both fire pump and monitor controls, as well as two 12-inch touchscreens with GPS, Sonar with SideVu and DownVu, chart plotting, and a roof-mounted forward looking infrared (FLIR) video camera. The new craft has greatly improved our response capabilities in our protection area" The boat’s draft is just 28 inches when the motor is trimmed up and 32 inches when trimmed down, an important consideration for the department. “The department’s previous boat needed a full five feet of draft to safely maneuver, so our new boat can reach much closer to shore in low tide situations – and that’s a huge benefit. Our team loves the new craft,” Chief Leppin added. warning lights and fire pump For its firefighting operations, the boat is outfitted with a 1500 gpm fire pump powered by a dedicated 350 hp marinized V-8 engine. The craft features deck and bow mounted monitors, a foam system, and a five-inch large diameter hose discharge to support ground based firefighting operations. Other notable features include a full complement of LED floodlights, warning lights, scene lights, and remote-controlled spotlights. “We applied for a Federal FEMA Port Security Grant three years in a row, and this year we were approved,” added Chief Leppin. “We received help from the Mayor Gonnelli, the Town Council, Congressman Pascrel, and the U.S. Coast Guard throughout the grant process, and are grateful for their support. The new craft has greatly improved our response capabilities in our protection area.”
Sigma A-XT gas extinguishing panels from Kentec, a life safety control systems manufacturer, are at the heart of a new fire safety solution protecting users of the magnificent Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB). The HZMB is a 55km-long bridge-tunnel system consisting of three cable-stayed bridges, an undersea tunnel and four artificial islands. It spans the Lingding and Jiuzhou channels, connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, three major cities on the Pearl River Delta. The HZMB includes a 41.6km bridge from Zhuhai-Macau Port to Hong Kong’s port, making it the largest sea crossing in the world. Recommending Kentec products We are happy to recommend Kentec products to our customers" Shanghai Construction China installed Kentec’s extinguishing system, working with solution providers Guangzhou Wanzhen Information Technology Co. Ltd on behalf of the Macau Government. The team specified a suite of Sigma A-XT extinguishing panels, as well as supporting status units, and Abort and Disablement Switches. The panels are based in the vast entry and exit port buildings. A spokesperson for Guangzhou Wanzhen Information Technology Co. Ltd says the panels and accessories were chosen because of their renowned reliability: “We work with Kentec extensively and know the systems they manufacture perform to an excellent standard. For this reason, we are happy to recommend Kentec products to our customers.” Robust build quality The Sigma A-XT releasing panel provides three initiation circuits as standard, meaning the release can be configured to activate from any combination of detection zone inputs to allow specific, controlled activations. With all the electronics mounted on a single removable steel plate, the panels are both robust and easy to install" Kevin Swann, Managing Director of Kentec, says Sigma A-XT’s world-wide reputation is a result of its reliability, robust build quality and configuration capabilities: “The configuration options of the Sigma A-XT allow the functionality of the system to be extensively modified to suit complex and large installations, such as this prestigious project,” he explains. “And with all the electronics mounted on a single, easily removable steel plate, the panels are both robust and easy to install.” Providing localized indication Another feature is the large LED display, simplifying configuration and displaying the time remaining until release for added user safety. The countdown timer can be duplicated on up to seven status units per panel, to provide localized indication of system status. Any number of abort and disablement switches can connect to the abort terminal of the releasing panel. The HZMB cost 127 billion yuan (£14.9 billion) to build and was designed to last for 120 years. The structure was completed in February 2018 and open to the public on 24 October 2018 following an opening ceremony attended by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The Sigma A-XT has been approved to UL864 and is FM listed. EN approved versions are also available.
KME Fire Apparatus, a renowned manufacturer of fire apparatus, announces the delivery of (12) twelve KME custom pumpers and (2) two KME tractor-drawn aerials (TDA) to Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). The new trucks will join hundreds of KME apparatus currently in service at the LACoFD. The custom pumpers are built on KME’s Severe ServiceTM cab. The Severe ServiceTM cab was engineered for heavy-duty use and has been exposed to high-volume calls with over a million miles of real-world testing. The twelve new LACoFD custom pumpers include: 96” KME Predator Severe Service cab 175” wheelbase for tight turning radius Cummins X12 500 hp engine and Allison EVS 4000 transmission Hale QMax 1500 GPM pump Hale Smart Foam system Hale CBP250 Auxiliary PTO pump for pump and roll 500 gallon stainless steel water tank with 25 gallons of class A foam KME lock-n-load hose bed cover, which provides a strong aluminum tread plate working surface that can easily and safely be lifted for hose repacking with a short raised height for operations in low clearance offers robust network of sales The two AerialCatTM Tractor Drawn Aerials feature the following: KME Severe ServiceTM cab Cummins X15 600 hp engine and Allison EVS 4500 transmission Waterous S100 2,000 GPM pump AerialCat 101’ ladder with a 350-gallon water tank Equipment capacity of double the NFPA requirement of an aerial ladder Integrated hose bed with the capacity of 800’ of 4” hose 225’ of wooden ground ladders The Los Angeles County Fire Authority is supported by REV Fire Group sales and service center in Jurupa Valley, California. This operation offers a robust network of sales, parts, and service to support LA County with both mobile and service center support.