Johnson Controls, the globally renowned company for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, has announced the expansion of its Tyco corridor sprinkler family, with the launch of the Series RFII-C Royal Flush II Quick Response Concealed Pendent sprinkler. Corridor sprinklers Along with the recently released EC-8C Light Hazard Quick Response sprinkler, the corridor sprinkler family offers the cost-saving benefits of needing fewer sprinklers at lower design pressure, compared to standard covera...
MSA Safety, an industry-leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of safety products the world over, announced the introduction of the GALLET F2XR rescue helmet. It is the first and only firefighters’ helmet on the market that can be used in a wide range of applications, including wildland firefighting and technical rescue operations, including responding to road traffic collisions, rescue at height, and water rescue operations. The F2XR helmet is produced at MSA’s design and...
Some of CFA’s most experienced and distinguished CFA members have been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their outstanding service to the community when the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honors List was announced. With more than 250 years of combined service between them, CFA’s seven recipients have contributed across bushfire management and community fire preparedness, incident management and operational command, training and development, and welfare...
Much has changed in the nearly four decades since the America Burning report was issued in 1973 and revisited in 1980. The number of fires and fire deaths in the United States has reduced dramatically and that progress has unfortunately led to fire safety taking a back seat to other social concerns that seem more pressing. To understand the headway that has been made and the challenges that remain, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) commissioned the Fire Protection Research Foundat...
Four C-130 aircraft from the California and Nevada Air National Guard, worked alongside the U.S. Forest Service, during annual refresher and certification training with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), from May 4 – May 7, 2021. During the training, these aircraft, equipped with MAFFS units, practiced dispersing water in rugged, mountainous terrain, as they are guided by lead planes flown by members of the U.S. Forest Service. Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System MAFFS...
The NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute has released the 2020 Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™: Year in Review report. This latest edition examines the U.S. and international events in the last year including massive wildfires, the Beirut port explosion, and another exterior cladding high-rise fire that highlights how gaps, cracks, and weaknesses in our global fire and life safety system become tragedies. The Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™ is a framework NFPA dev...
As California continues to recover from the historic 2020 fire season, and faces continued severe fire threat and extreme drought conditions in 2021, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is deploying new resources to protect California communities and augment the state’s fire and rescue mutual aid system. Currently, Cal OES transferred nine new Type VI engines and one Type III engine to local fire jurisdictions as part of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System. Established in 1950, California’s fire and rescue mutual aid system is a one-of-a-kind partnership between state and local government that provides equipment and personnel surge capacity to protect the state during wildfires and other hazards. Substantial fire engine order With this delivery, Cal OES has a fleet of 114 Type 1 fire engines, 68 Type 3 fire engines, and 34 Type 6 fire engines in-service across California. These transfers are part of a substantial fire engine order that strategically places a total of 160 fire engines with local fire agencies throughout California to combat wildfires and respond to other disasters and emergencies. The Type VI engines were transferred to the following Region II fire agencies: San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department (2) South San Francisco Fire Department Central County Fire Department San Bruno Fire Department Encinitas Fire Department Riverside Fire Department Oceanside Fire Department Murrieta Fire Department The Type III engine was transferred to: Oceanside Fire Department All-risk emergency response “With unprecedented drought, the wildfire season is anticipated to be larger and more destructive,” said Cal OES Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Marshall. “These additional fire engines in the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System give additional surge capacity to help firefighters control wildfires when they are small. These fire engines will often be prepositioned in areas that have extremely high fire potential due to severe weather.” The Cal OES Fire and Rescue Division coordinates the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which moves local government resources across the state in support of all-risk emergency response on behalf of local, state, and federal government fire organizations. Cal OES assigns local government fire agencies with fire apparatus to maintain surge capacity during day-to-day duties and major events/emergencies. Through a contractual agreement between Cal OES and the local government fire agencies, the state permits the use of the fire engines for mutual aid responses, local multiple alarm fires, temporary replacement for out of service engines, training, and other local, state, and federal needs. In return, the assignee is required to dispatch the engine with the required personnel to any emergency.
MSA Bristol is a foremost supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) to firefighters across the globe. Its specialist, in-house managed services team are now responsible for the inspection, washing, and repair of all structural, urban search and rescue, and wildland PPE for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s 6,660 firefighters, including fire coats, trousers, hoods, and gloves. As part of the contract, MSA Bristol regularly collects PPE from key fire service hubs which are spread throughout Scotland. The PPE is then thoroughly cleaned, decontaminated, and inspected for signs of damage or wear. If any issues are identified, items are swiftly repaired and then returned to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – all within seven days. Service Center and History MSA Bristol has two in-house service centers in Bristol and London and is in the process of setting up a third in Livingston, Scotland. The servicing of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s PPE is currently taking place in Bristol, but this will move to Scotland later in the year when its new service center goes live. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s PPE was procured through the UK Collaborative PPE Contract, and supplied by MSA Bristol. Each item of PPE, therefore, has a unique bar code, which enables MSA Bristol and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to effectively track its service history. PPE Maintenance Edward Shepherd, MSA Bristol’s Service Operations Director said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has put its trust in us to clean and maintain its PPE. As manufacturers of their PPE, we know it inside out and can ensure it remains clean and always fit for purpose.” The cleaning and maintenance of PPE is a top priority for the fire industry “The cleaning and maintenance of PPE is a top priority for the fire industry, with the vast majority of UK fire and rescue services now taking up professional managed services provision as part of their PPE contracts.” “In recent years, MSA Bristol has seen a significant increase in take up of Fully Managed Services packages in the UK, partly due to convenience and competitive pricing, but also partly due to health concerns. Our new service centre in Livingston will enable us to handle more items of PPE and improve our resilience.” Firefighters PPE remains fit for purpose Roddy Mackinnon, Equipment Manager at Scottish Fire and Rescue said: “As the largest Fire and Rescue Service in the UK, it is essential that all of our firefighters have the right PPE and equipment to continue to serve the local communities of Scotland and are adequately protected while doing this.” “Regular cleaning, decontamination and repair is recognised by the Service and industry as the best way to ensure firefighters’ PPE remains fit for purpose. We have been using MSA Bristol’s managed services since March 2021 and have been very impressed with the level of service and quick turnaround times.”
KME Fire Apparatus., a subsidiary of REV Group® and a foremost manufacturer of fire apparatus, announces that Campbell Supply Company is expanding its portfolio and will represent KME Fire Apparatus in designated counties within Eastern Pennsylvania. “At Campbell Supply, our business philosophy has been based on two guiding principles, honesty and integrity,” said Scott Campbell, President of Campbell Supply Company. “It has always been very important to establish a good relationship with the companies we represent. We are excited to represent KME Fire Apparatus in Eastern Pennsylvania.” About Campbell Supply Campbell Supply Company was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in South Brunswick, NJ, with locations in Newark, NJ; Lafayette, NJ; Bridgeton, NJ; Absecon, NJ; Woodbridge, NJ; and Montgomery, NY. Campbell Supply Company provides unmatched capabilities with a full-service maintenance shop containing 94 bays as well as superior mobile service. With more than $15 million of parts inventory, the company operates more than 20 delivery vans covering all of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New York City’s five boroughs, providing twice a day delivery service to assure parts are available when needed. Its portfolio also includes REV Group subsidiary Spartan Emergency Response®. Authority Comment “We are thrilled to be adding Campbell Supply to our dealer network. The team has made a significant commitment with the addition of an experienced KME sales team, updated facilities, and aftermarket support capabilities which will provide our customers with a premium experience. We look forward to their contribution in helping to grow the KME brand in Eastern Pennsylvania,” said Chris McClung, Director of Sales for KME Fire Apparatus.
Northern Minnesota’s International Falls Fire Department (IFFD), together with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, quickly extinguished a dangerous wildfire on the shore of Rainy Lake. On May 18th, amid elevated fire danger conditions and high winds, the fire jumped across open water from Frank Island to Voyageurs National Park on the U.S. mainland, but those responding swiftly extinguished it with help from a new Lake Assault Boats fireboat. Fireboat stationed on rainy lake The fireboat, featuring a 375 gpm fire pump, was acquired by Koochiching County’s Rural Fire Protection Association through revenue derived from a recently expanded taxing district within its borders and is operated under contracted services with the IFFD. A recent survey distributed to property owners showed that 72 percent of respondents favored the purchase of the fireboat.The fireboat is 22-feet long and features a modified V-hull design to operate in very shallow waters “Fortunately, we keep the fireboat stationed on Rainy Lake about three and a half miles from Frank Island, and were able to arrive on scene within thirty minutes of receiving the emergency call,” recalled Fire Chief Adam Mannausau of the International Falls Fire Department, “Other agencies on hand included the Minnesota DNR and the Koochiching County Sheriff’s Department. Together, we were able to quickly knock down the blaze and prevent it from becoming much worse due to strong winds and large amounts of very dry fuel.” Design and features The Lake Assault fireboat is 22-feet long and features a modified V-hull design that is able to operate in very shallow waters. It is configured with twin 175-hp outboard motors that are seamlessly managed through a one-touch joystick system. “We were operating in very shallow water, and the joystick system allowed our craft to safely maneuver laterally along a rocky shoreline and maintain an optimal angle to the blaze,” explained Chief Mannausau. The vessel is also equipped with a full-width T-top pilothouse (offering an interior clearance height of 76-inches), and its ergonomic helm station features a 12-inch Garmin touchscreen integrated with GPS, maps, chart plotter, sonar with structure and side scan, and forward-looking infrared. “Rainy Lake is known for its rocky, granite terrain and the FLIR system has proven to be indispensable,” added Mannausau. The fire was contained to a 3–4-acre footprint on Rainy Lake’s Frank Island, and just one-quarter acre in Voyageurs National Park. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
More than 4.5 million U.S. properties are at a high-to-extreme risk of wildfire, with more than two million of those in California alone, according to estimates from Verisk, a foremost global data analytics provider. To help promote the importance of building resilient communities for property insurers and their customers, the National Fire Protection Association is providing Verisk with robust data on communities engaging in wildfire mitigation efforts. Verisk will leverage the data from the NFPA Firewise USA® recognition program to develop property-level analytics insurers can use to refine their underwriting. This collaboration will help NFPA by promoting the value of community-wide wildfire risk reduction activities to a broader public. Authority Comments “The record-breaking wildfire seasons in recent years has underscored the devastation these catastrophes can cause. Communities can take steps to protect properties and the surrounding neighborhood, including educating property owners and encouraging them to take wildfire risk reduction steps,” said Jim Pauley, President and CEO of the NFPA. “By sharing the data on these efforts with Verisk, we’ll be able to further promote the need for community and individual action to reduce risk.” “Our collaboration with NFPA will not only enable insurers to assess wildfire risk mitigation efforts but will also help communities recognize the growing importance of resilience,” said Doug Caccese, President of ISO Personal Lines at Verisk. “We’ll be able to strengthen efforts to protect people and property from the dangers of wildfire and be a leading provider of mitigation data to the insurance industry.” Public Education About Wildfire Safety National Firewise USA recognition program is administered by NFPA and is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service The national Firewise USA recognition program is administered by NFPA and is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. It provides a voluntary, collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community to reduce wildfire risks at the local level. Public education about wildfire safety is also one part of Outthink Wildfire™, an NFPA policy initiative, which calls on all levels of government to make significant policy changes to create safer homes and businesses through home upgrades and risk reduction, sound building and land use standards, and increased resources for managing wildland fuels. Versik Solutions Verisk has developed a full suite of solutions that can help insurers and communities assess wildfire risk. The suite includes the property-level risk scoring tool FireLine® and solutions that provide evaluations of local fire protection capabilities, insights on building code enforcement, assessments of defensible space, and post-event aerial imagery. Verisk also offers probabilistic wildfire modeling for portfolio management and risk financing strategies and assistance with claim management.
In the dry heat of the high desert, the California and Nevada Air National Guard, the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and multiple other fire-fighting agencies across the United States are performing their annual certification training for the aerial fire-fighting mission with MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System), from May 4 – May 7, 2021. The success of this training is built on the trusted partnerships between the fire-fighting agencies, having forged their tactical expertise suppressing wildfires since the early 1970’s. 48th anniversary of the MAFFS partnership According to Kim Christensen, U.S. Forest Service Deputy Director for Fire Operations, this year marks the 48th anniversary of the MAFFS partnership, between the Air National Guard and the U.S. Forest Service, a partnership she describes fondly for the members’ commitment and professionalism on both sides. Christensen also feels this year’s certification and training is starting just in time. Kim Christensen said, “Fire season has started much earlier than in previous years. We are simultaneously conducting training and certification while supplementing our fleet to fight active fires burning in California right now. While one tanker fills up to run a practice sortie, the other tanker is tasked to put out the real fires.” Annual certification training The 146th Airlift Wing’s 115 AS has performed an integral part of the MAFFS mission, since its inception Pilots and aircrew from the 115th Airlift Squadron (115 AS), Port Hueneme, California, and the 152nd Airlift Wing, Reno, Nevada, are participating in the first round of certification training, held by the U.S. Forest Service. For the 115th Airlift Squadron, it’s another successful year in the books in a long history of aerial fire-fighting for the squadron. The 146th Airlift Wing’s 115 AS has performed an integral part of the MAFFS mission, since its inception. With a remarkable history serving California, the flying squadron’s legacy dates back to the early 1900s, when the squadron performed its first missions as an observation group, at the Santa Monica airfield in California. Protecting California has always been a part of the 115 AS legacy, and it continues to grow those traditions with the new pilots attending this year’s training with the U.S. Forest Service. Partnership with the U.S. Forest Service U.S. Air National Guard Capt. Curtis Byrd, a MAFFS pilot from the 115th Airlift Squadron, says the partnership with the U.S. Forest Service is invaluable, citing the organization’s rich history in aerial fire-fighting as the backbone to the partnership’s success. Capt. Curtis Byrd said, “We have such a great relationship with the U.S. Forest Service, and this training and certification is so important to continuing our commitment to protecting lives and property against the devastating effects from wildfires.” Aerial fire-fighting partners He adds, “As aerial fire-fighting partners, we have overcome many obstacles and hardships together in the past. We’re so appreciative of the U.S. Forest Service’s professionalism in their ability to provide the quality and safety of our training to help ensure we are best prepared for the next major wildfire.” MAFFS, which can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in less than 10 seconds across a quarter-mile line, is based on a system that slides into the back of the a C-130 military aircraft, and retardant is released through a nozzle on the rear left side. MAFFS aircraft in wildland fire-fighting operations MAFFS aircraft can be activated to supplement the U.S. Forest Service MAFFS aircraft can be activated to supplement the U.S. Forest Service and the civilian air tanker program to slow or stop the spread of wildland fires across the nation. The Department of Defense can provide up to eight MAFFS equipped aircraft, as required. The 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyoming and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado are also part of the AEG MAFFS program, and will be participating in certification training the following week in Colorado. Critical training for fire-fighting agencies “Certification training allows these units to refine their processes, and helps cement our working relationships with NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center) and other agencies. It is critical training that helps ensure the entire team is postured and prepared to deliver critical fire-fighting capability,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, Commander, Air Forces Northern Command. Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce adds, “Summer 2021 is projected to be a busy wildland fire season, so the training and command relationships are critical to our mission to protect life and property.”
There is a sense in some markets that the paper and pulp industry will decline owing to the digital technologies with which people interact every day. While this might be considered logical, the reality is completely different. In fact, the paper and pulp industry has experienced a steady growth and will continue to do so in 2021. Production of paper increased by more than 450% in the last decades and the demand of paperboard in the world is expected to grow significantly, driven by e-commerce and big retailers increasing their presence in the online sales universe. This sustained growth in production capacity and paper consumption presents several fire risks to companies and exposes communities that develop around paper mills, to the impact of disasters caused by these fire risks. Fire risks in the paper and pulp industry Paper and cardboard are combustible, but this is not the only fire risk found in these types of industries. Raw materials and finished goods storage are sensitive to fire. In addition, the paper making process includes several stages where fires can occur, due to hot surfaces or poor ventilation. The most relevant fire risks on a paper plant are: Storage Areas: As mentioned before, paper and cardboard are combustible. Solid paper blocks and reels have hard surfaces that don’t ignite easily, but usually these reels can suffer minor damages or have loose sheets that significantly increase the fire risk. When paper reels are stacked in columns, gaps in the center can act as chimneys and when fires start in the bottom of the stack, this chimney effect will accelerate smoke and hot air spread, increasing vertical and horizontal flame spread. Wood and Bale storage fire risks Bale storage also presents a high fire risk, as loose materials are always present Raw materials for the paper making process can have two main sources, forestry products (mainly wood) or recycled cardboard and paper. Wood storage presents several challenges, especially due to wood chips that are highly combustible and, in some cases, even explosive. Bale storage also presents a high fire risk, as loose materials are always present. Fire in baled paper is difficult to extinguish and generates heavy smoke. In many recycling facilities, these paper bales are stored outdoors, where paper or rags soaked in flammable liquids, embedded between the paper sheets, can ignite resulting in a fast spreading fire. Chemicals, flammable liquids and gases In addition, it is possible to find different types of chemicals, flammable liquids and gases that are used in the paper making process. These materials have their own fire-related risks that need to be taken in consideration. Production Areas: In pulp factories, there are several long-distance conveyors that transport wood and wood chips. These conveyors constitute a fire risk and the most probable causes of fire are bearing damage, overheating of the conveyor and igniting chips in the environment. IR dryers, a common source of fire After the wood has been transported, chipped and digested, the paper making process becomes extremely humid, due to the large amounts of hot water and steam needed. But, as soon as the pulp fiber sheet starts to dry, the hot surfaces in contact with the paper sheets can be a source of ignition. IR dryers used in the process are also a common source of fire in the paper industry. When the sheet of paper is formed, close contact with reels and bearings moving fast can create static electricity that could ignite loose paper or airborne particles. Problems like these are likely to be more extensive in tissue mills. Paper dust is generated in certain parts of the process, especially where paper shits are slit or cut. Poorly insulated steam pipes lead to fire Poorly insulated steam pipes can ignite paper dust or even their own insulation materials. In addition, paper dust gathers in the ventilation grills of machinery, causing overheating and igniting as well. Heated oil is used in several parts of the process as well and if a malfunction occurs on the Hot Oil Roll systems, leaks might occur, exposing hot surfaces to this oil and causing ignitions. A paper mill has hydraulically operated machinery, where leaks or sprays might ignite as well. Service Areas: As in many other manufacturing facilities, several service areas can be found. Electrical and network equipment rooms have an inherent fire risk due to damaged wires or equipment, overheating or short circuits in high voltage circuits. Transformer and generator areas entail fire risks as well. High fire risk for boiler rooms Flammable gas distribution systems can be ignition sources, in case of leaks or damaged pipes or valves Hot water and steam are key components for the paper making process. For this reason, paper plants use high capacity boilers that can be powered by flammable liquids or gases. A high fire risk can be considered for boiler rooms. Flammable gas distribution systems can be ignition sources, in case of leaks or damaged pipes or valves. In addition to the fire risks mentioned in these areas, many maintenance operations can also pose fire risk, especially when hot works are being performed. Sparks caused by welding or the use of certain tools can ignite paper sheets or dust in the air. Poor housekeeping and buildup of paper dust, for example, increases the risk associated with maintenance and construction works. Prevention, the first line of defense According to the Health and Safety Executive from the United Kingdom, 60% of fires on paper mills are caused by machine faults and poor housekeeping. The first line of defense to avoid fire risks in paper plants is prevention. As mentioned before, a high number of fires in these types of facilities occur because of poor housekeeping and machine malfunction. The key is to identify the risks and possible ignition sources, and apply measures to minimize them. As in many industries, fire protection has two main components: Passive and Active protection. Passive fire protection measures Passive measures include fire rated walls, ceilings, and floors in the most critical areas. Chemical storage areas should be physically separated from other dangerous areas, if this is not possible then the walls separating areas should be fire rated and materials must be stored in a way that minimizes the risk of fire spread by radiation or conduction. Proper compartmentalization and intumescent protection of structural elements should be part of the package as well. Passive measures include proper ventilation and smoke control. As mentioned before, paper dust is a major fire risk, which is why ventilation and cleaning of hoods over the paper machine is important to minimize the possibility of ignition. Fire resisting construction should be designed with the following goals in mind: Protection of escape routes Form compartments to contain fires that might occur Separate areas of higher fire risk Protect load bearing and structural members to minimize risk of collapse Sprinkler systems, gas extinguishing systems and hose reels Active fire protection includes sprinkler systems, gas extinguishing systems and hose reels to support fire brigades Active fire protection includes sprinkler systems, gas extinguishing systems and hose reels to support fire brigades. Finished goods stored indoors should be protected with sprinkler systems and the same should be considered for chemical storage areas and certain raw materials. Paper bales, ideally should be protected by sprinklers that are suitably designed to cope with the height and located, in all cases, 3 meters above the level of bales stacked vertically (which should not exceed 5 meters height). Spark detectors in hoods, pipes and ventilation systems Dangerous sparks could be generated in several parts of the paper making process, which is why spark detectors must be installed in hoods, pipes, and ventilation systems. Water spray and CO2 systems can be used to protect machinery against these risks. Means to fight fires, like extinguishers and hose reels, should be provided to support fire brigades. All the elements should be properly identified and all personnel should be trained and made aware of the location of such devices. Importance of fire alarms Fire alarms are required in all paper mills and fire alarm call points should be provided in all locations, according to international guidelines, such as NFPA 72 or EN54. The spread of flames and smoke in paper, wood and chemical storage might become extremely fast. For this reason, early detection is critical. Many technologies might be applied in the different areas of a paper plant. Nevertheless, there are dusty or humid areas where regular heat or smoke detectors might fail under certain circumstances. For these areas, especially located outdoors, innovative state-of-the-art detection solutions might be applied, like Video Fire Detection (VFD). NFPA 72 standard for flame and smoke detection NFPA 72 provides guidelines to implement this technology for flame and smoke detection NFPA 72 provides guidelines to implement this technology for flame and smoke detection, opening interesting alternatives for designers and fire protection engineers. Many EHS managers and fire protection professionals selected VFD, because it is the only fire detection solution that effectively covered their needs. Many engineers, specialized in fire protection for paper plants, explained that they tested linear heat detection, aspiration smoke detection, IR/UV detectors and even beams, but none of these technologies performed as they needed on the dirtiest or more humid areas. Video Fire Detection (VFD) solutions Outdoor storage areas are often unprotected, because deploying flame or heat detection in large open areas can be costly and mostly ineffective. VFD solutions can detect smoke and flames in outdoor conditions, allowing the monitoring and protection of wood and paper bales in large areas. Fire detection and alarm systems should be designed with the following goals: Minimize risk of fires, including the use of fire detection technology in areas where regular detection technologies cannot be implemented or are not practical. Minimize risk of flame and smoke spread, with state-of-the-art detection algorithms that guarantee fast and effective detection. Also, reliable algorithms minimize the possibility of nuance or unwanted alarms. In case of a fire, fast detection gives occupants life-saving time to reach to a place of safety, before the flames and smoke have spread to dangerous levels. Global production of paper and pulp reached 490 million tons in 2020, with many industries and markets depended on the paper and pulp supply chain. That is why innovative ways to protect this supply chain, are key to sustain the paper market growth in the future.
On Wednesday 3rd March the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered the Spring 2021 budget to the House of Commons. In this, Sunak outlined how the Government would be rebuilding the economy and continuing to financially support its citizens as the country gradually returned to a sense of normal after COVID-19 restrictions. Highly anticipated announcements Despite several leaks to the press, the Chancellor’s announcement was highly anticipated by many industries, businesses, and individuals around the UK. Many were poised to find out what the spending plans would look like as we continue to tackle the Coronavirus, but also what long-term aid would be given to those who have been and will continue to be impacted by it in years to come. Not least on the list of eager listeners were the emergency services. The fire and rescue services in England have been slashed by £139.7m since 2016/17 Austerity measures and efforts to tighten the country’s purse strings in recent years left the emergency services in an especially vulnerable position when the pandemic hit the UK at the beginning of 2020. According to recent reports uncovered by England’s Fire Brigade Union (FBU), the fire and rescue services in England have been slashed by £139.7m since 2016/17. Fire safety engineering This analysis, which was released by the FBU at the beginning of this month, reveals a 13.8% reduction in government spending in the sector, despite an increase in demand for emergency fire and rescue-related services due to increased wildfires, flooding, and heightened emergency calls during national lockdowns. Basil Jackson, Managing Director of Vemco Consulting Ltd, a management consultancy specializing in the delivery of specialist fire safety engineering services, comments on the importance of the government knowing its limits when it comes to making these kinds of cuts. “The need to manage public spending has been the focus of successive Governments in recent times, and for good reason,” Jackson begins. Preliminary spending envelope For each public service there comes a point where there is no more fat to cut" “But, while cuts across the board may be necessary to some extent, for each public service there comes a point where there is no more fat to cut and core services start to be adversely affected. In the case of the Fire Services, this impacts the ability to save lives in an emergency,” he goes on to say. “Once lack of funding starts to have an adverse effect on the delivery of core services, the Government will have very little choice but to make more money available.” In his announcement at the beginning of this month, Sunak outlined a preliminary spending envelope. According to these plans, the Government has promised to increase day-to-day spending across public services by 2.1% in real terms each year, between 2021/22 and 2025/26. According to the Budget proposal, this does not include emergency spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delivering core services The Chancellor failed to outline any specific plans in terms of actual cash value However, while this does come as positive news for the public sector as a whole, the Chancellor failed to outline any specific plans in terms of actual cash value. He also did not mention how this spending would be allocated to each sector; while the NHS and schools have since been named, the Spring budget has yet to address what the impact will be for emergency services like the Fire Service. In response to this announcement, Jackson suggests that this uncertainty needs to be addressed sooner rather than later if the UK’s Fire Service is to continue to deliver core services and prevent emergencies and risks to public health as we move into the Summer. “Extra spending arising from COVID 19 and costs associated with Brexit will, no doubt, put further pressure on the public purse going forward, so I expect more cuts [to emergency services] are to come,” he states. Funding for community projects While many elements were missing or not fully addressed in the Spring Budget, many have praised the Government for at least emphasizing the importance of giving autonomy to local councils and authorities going forward. According to Sunak’s statement and the White Paper that followed this, financial provisions will be granted and powers will be devolved to local councils to allow them to rebuild communities as national COVID-related restrictions ease. The Government is introducing several financial schemes and funds To do this, the Government is introducing several financial schemes and funds, including the Levelling Up Fund and the Community Renewal Fund, which are both competitive schemes which will allow councils to apply for and gain funding for community projects and development up until at least 2026. Releasing specific details While key bodies like the Local Government Association (LGA) welcome this, emphasizing that ‘councils know their local areas best and have delivered for their communities’ and that it is therefore ‘good that councils have been placed at the heart of the delivery of new funds,’ organizations like the LGA are concerned by several of the proposals outlined in the Spring Budget. “We are concerned by the prospect of competitive bidding as we want all our resources and energy to be used to support regeneration in our communities,” it states in its official response. The LGA goes on to put forward an official Budget submission which calls on the Government and Treasury to release more specific details on how much money will be available and how much each sector will have allocated to it. These calls have been echoed by those throughout the emergency services, from the NHS, to police forces, and are also reflected by those positioned within the Fire Service sector. Impacting public safety There comes a point when this impacts public safety; which isn’t acceptable" In response to the announcement, Jackson states: “I am under no illusion that all public services need to be scrutinized, and any inefficiencies drove out. Quite rightly, the taxpayer should expect to receive efficient services for the money it pays. However, when it comes to the emergency services, there comes a point when this impacts public safety; which isn’t acceptable.” “The key question for the Fire Service and the Government is: at what point has true efficiency been reached? I can't remember where I first heard the term, but this is what I like to refer to as a ‘wicked problem’. By that I mean there is probably no perfect or correct answer. Whatever the answer, it will involve innovative thinking from the Fire Service to find more efficient ways of delivering the same outcomes, and it will require a Government who is able to listen and be honest about the issues." Luna Williams is a content writer and commentator for Vemco Consulting, a UK-based consultancy firm that specializes in the delivery of specialist engineering services, including fire safety engineering.
From August to November, areas of Western North America brace for fire seasons that grow increasingly more destructive. 2020, in particular, has brought the United States some of the most destructive wildfires seen throughout US history. In California alone, over 4 million acres have been burned in over 9 thousand incidents, claiming 31 lives and over 10 thousand structures. When looking at the totality of fire damage in all of Western North America, this number nearly doubles, with over 8 million acres devastated by fires. This staggering number is 2 million more than the previous 10-year average, which points to the continual increase in fires affecting homes, businesses, and lives in the areas in which they run rampant. With the winter bringing even more potential for fires to emerge in Southern California as warming and drying conditions create the perfect opportunity for fires to spread, the need for fire-resistant homes has never been greater. A Recipe for Disaster Since the 1800s, air temperatures have steadily continued to rise. While globally, these temperatures have risen by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, California has experienced a rise in temperatures by nearly 3 degrees. Since the 1800s, air temperatures have steadily continued to riseThis drastic increase in temperature results in the hot air being able to hold more water vapor, draining moisture from plants and soil. Drier soils and vegetation create the perfect environment for fires to rapidly spread through the easily burned fuel. Since the 1970s, Cal Fire has extended the fire season by 84 days but has also publicly stated that there is no longer what they consider to be a “fire season” since fires affect the state throughout the year. Homes facing the greatest threat from the fires are those built on the “wildland-urban interface,” or the areas where homes are located close to open space overgrown with brush and foliage. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has identified nearly 5 million homes and 200 communities located within this vulnerable zone, making the need for fire-resistant building essential. Building Fire-Resistant Homes With 10,488 structures destroyed in the 2020 California wildfires, building fire-resistant homes are important for the safety and longevity of the occupants and the structure. Wood building materials have been ranked third as the first-combusted material in home fires by the National Fire Protection Association. Materials like steel provide increased protection against firesThis makes the material extremely dangerous, especially in areas that often face the threat of destructive wildfires. Homebuilders need to consider this important fact when designing the homes to be built, especially in the Western US. Materials like steel provide increased protection against fires, as steel is non-combustible and does not provide a source of fuel for fires. Instead of wood, which easily combusts when temperatures reach over 500 degrees, steel studs do not ignite when exposed to the same temperatures. Without the ability to add fuel to a spreading fire, steel studs protect the integrity of a home’s structure. Even if other non-combustible materials are used during construction, the failure to build a non-combustible steel frame will spell disaster for a home facing a wildfire. With steel as a primary building material, homeowners can benefit from lower costs of home insurance, in addition to the increased protection from fires. Some contractors are using prefabricated steel frame wrappings that are covered in non-combustible insulation. Many are also implementing metal roofs in newer constructions. Emerging building methods and materials However, besides steel, there are many emerging building methods and materials that offer fire protection. As people rebuild their homes from the fires of this year, a trend that has emerged includes incorporating solid wall construction. This construction method provides no materials for a fire to burn, as it is concrete on the inside, followed by a layer of foam insulation, and covered with more concrete or stucco.Other construction methods include steel grids with foam inside Other construction methods include steel grids with foam inside, that are then covered with concrete blown onto the frame. This method can provide the home with fire resistance for up to 4 hours, giving the home enough time for the fire to pass. New home designs are also passing up on attics and soffit vents, which can allow embers to blow inside and ignite the home. In addition to the construction of a home itself, landscaping methods can further protect the home from wildfires. If the area surrounding a home is filled with dry, combustible vegetation, the fire will be able to quickly engulf the home, spelling disaster if the house is not built with fire-resistant materials. The Future of Construction As the danger and devastation of wildfires continue to increase, construction needs to adapt to protect homes and the lives that live inside them. There has never been a greater need for home builders to adopt fire-resistant home building methods, since each year, the incidence of fire grows at an increasing rate. Fire-resistant homes are the future, especially in areas such as California, where drought and dry conditions create the perfect recipe for the fast-spreading wildfires. Non-combustible materials such as steel are playing an integral role in this space, as it does not add additional fuel to a fire that is already burning out of control. When combined with other fire-resistant building methods, homes are better protected from destruction. Hopefully, as these methods see an increase in their adoption, fires will destroy fewer homes and claim fewer lives.
Thinning forests to prevent wildfires include the removal of diseased trees and other debris by private, state, and federal land managers. The byproduct of that thinning is called woody biomass. Removal of woody biomass from forests can help mitigate disastrous wildfires in fire-prone states like California. Reducing wildfire risk Some of the biomass material is left to decay, is burned in place, or is hauled to landfills. However, this byproduct of reducing wildfire risk can also be used to produce engineered lumber, paper and pulp, and a range of other wood products. Woody biomass is a compelling organic feedstock for conversion to renewable liquid fuels Alternatively, it can be used to produce bio-based fuel products such as ethanol. In fact, woody biomass is a compelling organic feedstock for conversion to renewable liquid fuels. However, there are obstacles, such as resistance to chemical breakdown and possible toxicity of pre-treatment methods. New conversion methods Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are developing new treatment methods to pave the way for more efficient conversion of woody biomass into ethanol. In one study, researchers have optimized pre-treatment and scale-up of an integrated one-pot process to deconstruct California woody biomass using ionic liquid (cholinium hysinate) as a pretreatment solvent. In scaling up the process, researchers streamlined and optimized the impact of solid loading, solid removal, yeast acclimatization, fermentation temperature, fomentation pH, and nutrient supplementation to maximize final ethanol yields. First-ever end-to-end process With the refinement of the processes, researchers reached ethanol production at $3 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) via the conversion pathway. It is the first-ever end-to-end process that combines both high conversion efficiency and a simple one-pot approach. The simplified process is also the largest scale demonstration of ionic liquid pretreatment and biofuel conversion known to date, and overall biomass-to-ethanol efficiencies are the highest reported so far. The research was published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. There will be 38 million tons of dry woody biomass available each year by 2050, making it an abundant carbon source for biofuel products, say the paper’s authors. Converting Biofuel to ethanol In another study, at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBI) at Berkeley Lab, researchers evaluated woody biomass types (pine, almond, walnut, and fir) from California as potential biofuel feedstocks. The feedstocks were pre-treated with two ionic liquids (cholinium lysinate and ethanolamine acetate) followed by enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation to produce ethanol. The demonstration of the use of ionic liquids for pretreatment of woody biomass blends results in high overall efficiency The study represents the first demonstration of the use of these ionic liquids for pretreatment of woody biomass blends that results in high overall efficiency for ethanol products. In addition to providing new sources of ethanol to contribute to fuel supply, the techniques transform biomass sources that would otherwise be burned in the field, thus increasing the risk and severity of seasonal wildfires. Tackles wildfire risk Converting woody biomass into fuel simultaneously tackles the multiple problems of wildfire risk, air pollution caused by burning of crop residues, and dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, the approach will reduce carbon in the atmosphere and create new jobs in the bioenergy industry. The research was supported by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Additional authors of the research are affiliated with the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Demonstration Unit, the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, and Southern Illinois University.
Fire and EMS departments are eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) of their costs, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A streamlined project application process eases the burden of applying for the program, but support documentation is required. Tracking costs For COVID-19 recovery Many departments do not apply for the money because they perceive reporting requirements as too difficult, and record-keeping as too big a challenge. To help, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) provides simple Excel worksheets for tracking costs related to COVID-19 response and recovery. Customizable worksheets capture common reimbursable costs as they are spent. Departments seeking reimbursement should submit a project application online at the FEMA Public Assistance Grants Portal (no paper submissions are accepted). FEMA’s Public Assistance Program The mission of FEMA’s Public Assistance Program is to provide assistance to State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal governments The mission of FEMA’s Public Assistance Program is to provide assistance to State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal (SLTT) governments, and certain types of private nonprofit (PNP) organizations so that communities can respond quickly to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the President. A submission request for public assistance must provide complete and accurate documentation of expenses and usage, including standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms, Public Assistance Grant forms, verifiable receipts, personnel costs sheets and apparatus sheets. Applications submitted via jurisdiction serviced Applications are submitted through the jurisdiction serviced. Additional documents include supporting plans, assignments, activities and shift records (payroll), pay policy receipts for purchases and rental equipment, and a copy of the service agreement/contract with the jurisdiction. Some activities may be eligible for funding through both FEMA and other federal agency funding sources for COVID-19, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Public assistance cannot duplicate funding from another federal source. Public Assistance program Some activities may be completed through direct federal assistance. If an applicant does not have the capacity to directly complete the activity or oversee activity completion through contract or mutual aid, the Applicant may request that FEMA or another federal agency directly conduct the activity. The assistance FEMA provides through its Public Assistance program is subject to a cost share, with the federal share not less than 75% of eligible costs.
There are more than half a million homeless people in the United States, including many who deal with mental illness, drug addiction, and other problems. At homeless shelters where some of them are housed, attention to fire prevention may take a back seat to other concerns, such as adding capacity. More troubling are fire hazards at makeshift housing sites and homeless camps. Fire calls to homeless encampments run the gamut, including many of the same types of emergencies as other calls. Because homeless people often use fire for cooking or warmth, there are brush fires or abandoned building fires. Inside the makeshift tents in homeless encampments, residents may use or store propane, butane, car batteries, or other hazards. Fire hazards in homeless encampments Responding to fires at homeless encampments requires additional training for firefighters Homeless persons often run extension cords from nearby power poles that provide jerry-rigged power systems that can create additional fire hazards. Nearby fire hydrants may have been tapped for drinking or bathing and therefore are not available in an emergency. Responding to fires at homeless encampments requires additional training for firefighters, especially in issues such as mental health, addiction, de-escalation tactics, crisis resolution, etc. More personnel are often needed on a call; for example, someone may be needed to keep watch on equipment that might otherwise be stolen. EMS calls to homeless encampments also run the gamut from minor strains and sprains to overdoses, behavioral health issues, or shortness of breath. Causing Widespread damage Fires that start in homeless camps can obviously go on to cause widespread damage beyond the confines of the camps. For example, the Skirball wildfire in Los Angeles in December 2017 started in a homeless camp and later destroyed several homes. After the fire, Mayor Eric Garcetti had firefighters map out the locations of encampments in high fire danger zones, including in the dry, brush-covered canyons in the Hollywood Hills next to residential areas. In 2018, a 30-acre fire in Griffith Park was traced to a homeless encampment. Another fire in a homeless encampment started along Burbank Boulevard in the Sepulveda Basin. A fire in the Hansen Dam recreation area in Lake View Terrace also began in a homeless encampment. Nearby homeowners reported seeing people in the camps smoking and lighting fires for warmth and to cook in the midst of dry brush. Fire-safety education Fire hazards prompted a campaign to educate homeless individuals about fire safety, especially in the winter Fire hazards in homeless encampments drew attention in 2014 in Taylors, S.C., after emergency responders saw smoke coming from under a bridge and later found a homeless man with third-degree burns. The incident prompted a campaign to educate homeless individuals about fire safety, especially in the winter. Precautions to prevent fires among the homeless population include making sure campfires are confined to dug-out pits and/or are surrounded by rocks or other non-combustibles. Dos and Don’ts Furniture and other combustibles should be kept a minimum of 15 feet away from fire, and highly flammable items such as tents and tarps should be kept a minimum of 25 feet away from fire. Kerosene or other portable heaters should be kept a minimum of 3 feet from combustibles. Candles should not be left unattended or used near curtains or bedding. Gallons of water should be kept nearby in case of emergency to extinguish a fire. Smoking in bed should be avoided, and lit cigarettes should not be left unattended.
The Vizcaya Provincial Council in Spain, has invested seven million euros in its fire prevention, firefighting and rescue services. Almost 25 percent of the existing fleet will be replaced by new trucks, which will enhance efficiency and improve rapid response. The 15 new vehicles include six heavy-duty urban fire trucks, three heavy-duty large-tank pumpers, three first-response trucks and three automatic turntable ladders, all fitted with Allison fully automatic transmissions. Heavy-duty urban fire trucks VEICAR built the bodywork for nine of these vehicles, including the six heavy-duty urban fire trucks, which have already been delivered. The bodywork is mounted on a SCANIA P 410 B chassis with 4x4 traction and Allison 4000 Series transmissions with retarders. These trucks have water and foam tank capacities of 4,200 and 200 liters respectively. They are equipped with roof boxes that can be accessed from the ground, eliminating the need to enter the truck to access tools. An LED lighting mast provides supplementary lighting and a further feature is a monitor that provides a joystick-controlled flow rate of 4,000 liters per minute from the pump cabinet. Large-tank pumpers The Vizcaya Provincial Council’s order of three large-tank pumpers is also based on the SCANIA P 410 B chassis The Vizcaya Provincial Council’s order of three large-tank pumpers is also based on the SCANIA P 410 B chassis. The vehicles share the same features as the six heavy-duty urban fire trucks, including Allison 4000 Series transmissions with retarders. They have larger water and foam tank capacities of 9,000 and 300 liters respectively. Like many other vehicle bodybuilders, VEICAR has full confidence in the benefits of Allison fully automatic transmissions. The company has worked in close cooperation with Allison since 2009. Allison fully automatic transmission Rather than using the automated manual transmissions that come as standard in this SCANIA model, VEICAR opted for a fully automatic transmission with torque converter, in this case, an Allison 4000 Series model with retarder (GA866R in SCANIA nomenclature). “The vast majority of our fire trucks are equipped with Allison automatic transmissions. We consider them an indispensable firefighting tool as they maximize vehicle performance, and greatly improve acceleration, reliability and safety,” said Carlos Prieto-Puga González, CEO at VEICAR. Faster acceleration and increased torque Carlos Prieto-Puga González adds, “In addition, their superior acceleration and maneuverability are beyond question, which is vital when there is not a second to be wasted. Most urban firefighters prefer them because they provide greater safety. And if that weren't enough, the vehicles reach the final years of their service life in better condition.” Allison transmissions are designed to offer increased torque and up to 35 percent faster acceleration. When fire trucks respond to emergencies, they are heavily loaded, so the optional retarder has been incorporated to provide high braking capacity, enabling the vehicles to slow down quickly at intersections. Optimum maneuverability on varied terrains Allison transmissions have demonstrated exceptional reliability and durability in the most demanding conditions" “Allison transmissions have demonstrated exceptional reliability and durability in the most demanding conditions and are the transmission of choice for firefighting fleets around the world. As regular users of these transmissions, we have no doubts whatsoever. As bodybuilders, we are always much happier when vehicles are equipped with Allison,” said Prieto-Puga González. Allison automatic transmissions provide optimum maneuverability on soft ground and in tight spaces, greater control on steep grades, smoother driving, better starting capacity, and faster acceleration. This makes it possible to reach higher average speeds and save fuel. Prieto-Puga Gonzalez adds, “A two- or three-minute head start can be crucial. Not losing power during gear shifts means smoother, more continuous and consequently more effective acceleration. It also improves maneuverability and saves time, which, along with the reliability of the transmission, means greater safety for firefighters. These great benefits are even more extraordinary when we consider that Allison transmissions reduce fleet maintenance costs.” Featuring Chelsea 870 power take-off “The easy maneuverability of the vehicles simplifies the drivers' work. They don't have to shift gears and can concentrate fully on the job and the road when traveling at high speed. And with Allison, vehicles can include up to two power take-offs (PTOs) to keep hydraulic equipment working correctly, even while the vehicle is in motion,” said Trond Johansen, European Key Fleets and Market Development Manager at Allison Transmission. “The Chelsea 870 power take-off incorporated into the transmissions has allowed us to fine-tune the entire unit to achieve the best possible onsite fire pump performance,” concludes Prieto-Puga González.
FlamePro, a renowned British manufacturing specialist of life safety garments and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for firefighters, has been awarded a £4 million contract by Capita, to provide its firefighting PPE for the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), across the next decade. Firefighting PPE tender The competitive tender, part of Capita’s contract with the MOD, saw four different PPE providers bid for the contract, with FlamePro being appointed to provide its full ensemble of Personal Protective Equipment, alongside a total garment care package. FlamePro was awarded the Ministry Of Defence’s PPE contract, due to its high-quality products FlamePro was awarded the Ministry Of Defence’s PPE contract, due to its high-quality products and the company’s dedication to providing support and expertise on Personal Protective Equipment care, use and maintenance. The contract includes a multi-million pounds initial roll out, with a total value of £4 million over 10 years duration. New fabric technologies and designs Nathan Bricknell, the General Manager at FlamePro, said “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this contract with Capita. It marks a key milestone for the company. Over recent months, we’ve worked with our partners to develop brand new fabric technologies and designs, including a 3D woven structure and new moisture barrier membrane, to ensure our PPE is the most advanced on the market.” Nathan Bricknell adds, “Our brand new structural fire suit has set a new benchmark across the whole industry. This, teamed with our shorter-than-average lead times, stands us in great stead to deliver top-quality products and service on this contract.”
The flames and billowing smoke rose high enough to veil as an acre of bone-dry grasslands was ignited by a slow, fiery ooze belching from something called a drip torch. The initial wave of heat could have easily seared the clothing of the sturdy crew of firefighters who purposely set this section of land aflame, but they knew which way the wind was blowing and lit accordingly. That is what a prescribed burn looks like. USDA Forest Service employees repeat similar scenarios on national forests and grasslands across the U.S. Why start wildfires? The Forest Service conducts prescribed burns, assisting Mother Nature to create safer wildfire conditions The simple response is that all fire is not bad, nor is there only one kind of fire. In fact, many of the wildlands in the U.S. rely on fire to remain healthy. When conditions are safe, with calm winds and low temperatures, the Forest Service conducts prescribed burns, assisting Mother Nature to create safer wildfire conditions. By burning under planned weather conditions, they can better manage the thick smoke that can come with out-of-control wildfires, and make the communities safer by removing some of the dry, dead debris that builds upon the forest floor. Forest Service researchers study prescribed fire in the lab and on forests. Using experimental prescribed burns, they collect valuable information about fire behavior, fuels and emissions to then help managers better implement prescribed fire. Scientists from across the agency work with universities, industry, and other agencies to study fire and develop tools to help land managers. USDA scientists teamed with experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Tall Timbers Research Station to develop the computer-based QUIC-Fire tool that rapidly predicts complex fire behavior. The tool shows how weather and fuel conditions affect ignition patterns, fire effects, and smoke impacts. The scientists continue to study how prescribed fires can best mimic “good” wildfire so that native plant and wildlife species can thrive, carbon pools are maintained, and forests are better able to survive drought. Wildfire Management Prescribed fire is a part of a larger approach to wildfire management Prescribed fire is just one part of a larger approach to wildfire management. When weather conditions heat up and dry out, the Forest Service works to prevent and contain fires that could threaten communities. They also use mechanical equipment to clear out dead and dying undergrowth and thin dense areas to improve tree mortality. This keeps the forests and grasslands healthy and resilient to severe wildfire and drought. None of this would be possible without the scientists, who continue to create better models and tools to help understand how to best engage with fire – proactively and in real-time.
Following the successful delivery of more than 5,000 sets of high-quality structural firefighting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from globally renowned specialist PPE manufacturer, MSA Bristol (MSA Safety Incorporated) and its Australian distributor, Pac Fire Australia (Pac Fire), Australia’s Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) fire service has continued with their roll out and expect to have an additional 5,000 sets of structural PPE delivered by June 2021. The expectation is that Fire & Rescue New South Wales will be able to complete the rollout of structural PPE to all of its 6,500 firefighters by December 2021. Fire & Rescue New South Wales Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) is one of the world’s renowned urban fire and rescue services Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) is one of the world’s renowned urban fire and rescue services and the busiest fire service in Australia, with more than 6,500 firefighters spread across 335 fire stations and attending close to 120,000 call outs per year. An extensive evaluation and wearer trial carried out in 2019 led to FRNSW selecting MSA Bristol’s popular XFlex ensemble for its PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) upgrade. MSA Bristol is a renowned designer and manufacturer of protective clothing and equipment for emergency services across the globe, formed by the recent acquisition of Bristol Uniforms by MSA Safety Incorporated. XFlex range of structural PPE Its XFlex range of structural PPE has been ergonomically designed with sports styling and lightweight fabrics, providing advanced comfort and protection. The unique fabric combination consists of Safety Components Nomex 360, combined with a GORE PARALLON liner system, which provides unparalleled levels of breathability while preventing drops in thermal protection. On taking delivery of the new kit, Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) Commissioner, Paul Baxter said, “These new uniforms are heavy-duty but lightweight, allowing for enhanced maneuverability and coverage, and will be supplied in a wider range of male and female sizes, so all firefighters will have better fitting garments. They also feature a customized moisture barrier, which helps prevent steam burns and keeps firefighters dry while on the job.” Service information on UHF-RFID chip fitted to PPE Service information, such as garment specifics, is assigned to a unique UHF-RFID chip fitted within the item Pac Fire Australia (Pac Fire) is one of Australasia’s renowned suppliers of personal protective equipment to the fire and emergency industry. Its specialized roll-out of the XFlex range of PPE ensembles to the Fire & Rescue New South Wales has included the allocation of each item to a specific firefighter. Service information, such as garment specifics, date of issue and firefighter information, is assigned to a unique UHF-RFID chip fitted within the item. This process allows garments to interact with inventory management and laundry systems, tracking physical location and the condition of the item, throughout its service life. Advanced fabric technology offers optimum protection Paul Clark, Business Development Manager (BDM) for Pac Fire Australia said, “The XFlex design with its distinctive sports styling has proved particularly popular with the firefighters, offering greater flexibility and reduced resistance when carrying out physical tasks, as well as providing optimum protection thanks to the advanced fabric technology.” Roger Startin, Joint Managing Director at MSA Bristol (MSA Safety Incorporated) said, “The roll-out of the first order went very smoothly, despite the challenges of the global pandemic, and all garments were delivered to schedule. It’s great to see the New South Wales firefighters in action in their new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and we’re delighted to be following this up by providing a further 4,500 sets of structural PPE this year.”
Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS) in Sweden have enhanced their existing Sepura critical communications solution by upgrading to include Over the Air Programming, saving the team time and reducing costs while improving their programming capability. Sepura SC Series radio terminals Supported by Sepura’s Swedish partner, Northcomm Technologies (Northcomm), the rescue organization has been able to implement powerful changes to its programming capability by programming radios wirelessly, with no requirement to bring all radios into a programming station. The upgrade means that the organization’s fleet of Sepura SC Series terminals can be reprogrammed or updated whenever they are connected to a secure Wi-Fi connection, and without needing each individual radio to be physically connected to a programming device. With radios based in multiple locations and different shifts having an effect on when they can be made available for upgrades, this significantly eases the process of performing fleet wide updates. The functionality is significant as it makes the reprogramming and radio update much simpler, more efficient and more flexible around operational needs. Radio Manager programming tool Using Sepura’s established Radio Manager tool, administrators can upgrade all SC Series radios across a fleet Using Sepura’s established Radio Manager programming tool, administrators can upgrade all SC Series radios across a fleet, whether they are used in vehicles, based in control rooms or hand-held models. Over the Air Programming enables administrators to change many aspects of a radio’s setup. Options include amends to a radio’s configuration, phonebook or talkgroup updates, enabling feature licenses, installation of AppSPACE applications or the upload of crucial data. Over the Air Programming A Sea Rescue Society spokesperson said, “We often need to react quickly and decisively to an emergency. Over the Air Programming means that as our ships are being prepared for rescue, the radios can immediately be prepared to support this mission. It is easy now to make dynamic changes to radio configurations, to support our operations.” The spokesperson adds, “Similarly, the radio fleet can be updated around shift times, but without the radios needing to be brought into the programming suite. This has removed a large administrative burden on our control team and allowed us to focus more time on our missions.” Wireless programming reduces radio downtime risk Wireless programming vastly reduces the risk of radio downtime and rather than requiring every fleet radio to be in one central location for the process, the fleet administrator can program multiple radios, at a set time. Upgrading to Over the Air Programming is a simple process as the programming environment already exists Downloading data to the radio does not interrupt any communication and does not require user intervention. Users can continue with their duties while downloads run as a background task. Once downloaded, the user is still in control and triggers the installation process at the next radio switch off. Connection to secure Wi-Fi devices Upgrading to Over the Air Programming is a simple process as the programming environment already exists. Users simply connect radios to the site’s secure Wi-Fi connection and can move to the more dynamic wireless option. Sepura’s Business Development Manager for the Nordics, Sergei Yarushin said “OTAP is a great step forward for Sepura’s users who can make use of the advanced connectivity available through SC Series radios to connect to secure Wi-Fi devices, making the programming of radios easier, quicker and less of a resource burden to fleet administrators.” Sergei Yarushin adds, “As the world struggles to come to terms with the impact of Covid-19, it also reduces the requirement for radios to be handled by multiple personnel, reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.”
As Australia takes careful steps to re-open its borders and economy, public safety personnel have continued to serve on the frontline throughout the nation’s lockdown owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic spread. This year has delivered extraordinary challenges for Australia’s public safety agencies, from managing safety and physical distancing in the field, to maintaining interoperable communication across state borders, during the intense pressure of natural disasters, as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. APX NEXT mission-critical P25 public safety radio Motorola Solutions has announced the launch of its next-gen APX NEXT mission-critical P25 public safety radio in Australia Motorola Solutions has announced the launch of its APX NEXT in Australia, a next-generation, mission-critical Project 25 (P25) public safety radio with LTE for enhanced communications and secure, data-centric applications. The smart radios feature ViQi, a first of its kind, public safety virtual assistant that enables users to quickly manage radio controls through simple and intuitive voice commands. The highly rugged smart radio is also built to military standards, is fully submersible and has a touchscreen that can be operated in any weather and while wearing gloves. Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communication Con Balaskas, Motorola Solutions Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said the purpose-built smart radio from Motorola Solutions is designed to combat the unique challenges posed by Australia’s tough public safety environment. Balaskas said, “Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communication has always been a first responder’s lifeline. That’s never more apparent than when disaster strikes and teams depend on instant, reliable voice communication to safely manage emergency response.” Interoperable access to voice communication “APX NEXT increases both the value and reach of reliable, mission critical communication, providing interoperable access to voice communication as well as essential application services to pinpoint the location of officers in the field, collaborate via multimedia services and help to keep people and communities safe,” Balaskas adds. He further stated, “With first responders facing new challenges including the need to maintain safety and social distancing in the field, ViQi enables them to control the radio hands-free using voice commands. This helps to ensure they can protect their focus on what’s happening around them at all times.” Embedded LTE connectivity The smart radios are one of the newest mission-critical P25 radio offerings in Motorola Solutions’ APX portfolio The smart radios are one of the newest mission-critical P25 radio offerings in Motorola Solutions’ purpose-built APX portfolio. With embedded LTE connectivity, the radio provides a range of application services to increase safety and productivity, with rich data capabilities and extended voice coverage to improve users’ situational awareness in the field. “APX NEXT was created after more than 2,000 hours of extensive field research and testing with numerous law enforcement agencies,” said Scott Mottonen, Motorola Solutions Senior Vice President of Products, adding “In today’s highly challenging public safety environment, we know that first responders need their technology to deliver reliable communication at all times as well as allow them to work with their eyes up and hands free in any situation.” Purpose-built smart radios The purpose-built smart radio designed for emergency services recently won two Good Design Australia Awards, one for the radio’s design and features and another for the APX NEXT Ownership Experience, which provides seamless management and support for the entire fleet of radios deployed into the field. APX NEXT was also named in Fast Company’s Top 10 Product Innovations of 2019. APX NEXT Application Services The new smart radio uses LMR for mission-critical voice communications and LTE broadband to power new application services including: ViQi: With ViQi, first responders can control key features of the radio via voice command. ViQi Virtual Partner, available from 2021, will enable radio users to retrieve information from remote databases. For example, ViQi, run a number plate to retrieve information from back end systems using the smart device’s artificial intelligence capabilities. SmartConnect: APX NEXT detects when it is leaving P25 coverage and automatically switches to LTE broadband, ensuring continuity of PTT voice communications. It then switches back to LMR when the signal returns without the need for user intervention. SmartLocate: An officer’s location data is automatically sent over broadband to a dispatcher’s mapping console, providing dispatchers with up-to-date location information as fast as every 3 seconds. Leveraging broadband to send frequent location updates frees up valuable LMR system resources. SmartMapping: Built on the same platform as CommandCentral Aware, this application service provides precise location information in a map view on the radio’s display. For example, a police officer can see the location of other officers as icons on a map, quickly locate officers in distress and tap on the icons to send alerts or communicate with colleagues via the radio. SmartMessaging: A multimedia communication tool allows users to securely share videos, pictures, texts and voice notes across extended teams. A dispatcher, for example, can send pictures of a suspect to a group of officers in a specific location, or videos can be shared with a group of officers before they arrive at the scene of an incident. SmartProgramming: The radio’s software and configuration data can be rapidly updated over broadband, even when a police officer is using it. This means APX NEXT users spend less time at the station and more time in the field.
Round table discussion
Wildfire season presents special challenges to firefighters, and environmental trends point to even more frequent wildfires in the future, due to factors such as global warming. Technology, in all its variety, provides new tools to aid departments tasked with fighting wildfires. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the emerging technologies in wildfire prevention and protection?
New tools and technologies are emerging that augment the efforts of the fire market to prevent and fight fires. Modern firefighting is benefiting from an ongoing sea change in technological capabilities, spanning equipment, electronic components, greater connectivity and firefighter monitoring, to name just a few. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What technologies will have the greatest impact on the fire industry in 2021?