Today’s Responder is focused on the needs of all first responders regardless of uniform or badge. This blog is produced by NFPA’s Public Fire Protection Division, staffed by fire fighters, paramedics, fire marshals, emergency managers and safety professionals. Together, they work on more than 90 NFPA documents, standards and guides ranging from personnel protective equipment and professional qualifications to emergency management and public safety communications centers.
I was fortunate enough recently to be able to spend the day with members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) to learn about the department’s amazing Risk-Based Inspection System, or RBIS. The trip was to do reporting for the feature, "In Pursuit of Smart," which you can read in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.
The backbone of the system is a computer algorithm called FireCast, which is able to analyze three years worth of building data using as many as 7,500 different fire risk factors. After complex calculation, FireCast produces a fire risk score for each of the 330,000 buildings in the city that FDNY firefighters are responsible for inspecting. Firefighters use the RBIS information to schedule their inspections so that they get into the riskiest buildings first, which they hope will help them prevent more fires and enable them to be more familiar with critical building systems if a fire were to occur. It’s a great example of how fire departments today are using smart tools and new technologies to make their communities safer.
I recently sat down with Kyle MacNaught, online editor for NFPA Journal, to discuss RBIS, how it works, what it aims to do, and how an everyday firefighter in New York uses and interacts with the system.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
The videos, “Sparky’s Wildfire Safety Home Projects for Kids and Parents,” “Sparky’s Neighborhood Wildfire Safety Tips for Families” and “Sparky and NFPA’s Wildfire Safety Checklist” feature NFPA’s spokesdog, Sparky the Fire Dog® who teaches young children the importance of wildfire safety.
Each video provides a fun and easy way parents and children can work together to help reduce the risk of wildfire damage to their homes and around their neighborhoods.
The videos complement other youth-related wildfire information including interactive games, quizzes and artwork, and teaching materials. And don't forget, you can share these videos and other great resources with family and friends!
Have you noticed the number of people bundled up outside having a smoke on the front steps or porch? A September 2014 article by King, Patel and Babb in MMWR, “Prevalence of Smokefree Home Rules — United States, 1992–1993 and 2010–2011,”confirms that this effort to limit second-hand smoke is part of a real shift. The authors noted that in 1992-1993, 43% of all households, and 10% of households with at least one smoker, said that no one was allowed to smoke inside the home. In 2010-2011, 83% of all households and almost half (46%) of all households with one or more smokers banned indoor smoking. NFPA also encourages people who smoke to smoke outside to reduce the risk of a deadly fire.
A new NFPA fact sheet shows how the leading areas of origin in home structure fires have changed over time. Only 1% of home smoking material fires started on the exterior balcony or open porch and less than 1% started in a courtyard, terrace or patio in 1980-1984, compared to 14% and 6% in these areas, respectively, in 2007-2011.
Careful disposal of smoking materials is as important outside as inside. We are seeing too many fires that began outdoors in mulch, potted plants, landscaping, or on an outside porch. Such a fire can easily spread into the home itself.
Yesterday, the Board of Directors of the ProBoard, the accrediting organization that internationally recognizes professional achievement in the fire service and related fields, met in the Quincy headquarters of NFPA. The group listened to various updates from around NFPA, including information about our International Operations, Fire Protection Research Foundation related projects, and social media efforts.
Additionally, and very thougthfully, Jim Estepp, chair of the ProBoard, presented NFPA President, Jim Pauley, with a plaque commemorating thirty years of collaboration!
In his recent NFPA Journalcolumn, "Global View," Don Bliss, vice-president for Field Operations at NFPA, talks about the Association's continuing efforts to make a significant investment in its mission to “reduce the worldwide burden of fire.” In particular, he notes, NFPA standards are in use around the world and have been translated into at least 12 languages, and NFPA supports participation in the its standards-development process with an online platform that can be accessed anywhere.
However, he says, more needs to be done to engage the global fire protection community in efforts to reduce deaths and property loss due to fire.
"NFPA is currently re-assessing its international strategy, with a vision of being the worldwide authority on fire, electrical, and building safety," he says. "Most importantly, we have the capability—and a moral and professional obligation—to assist developing nations in building a culture of fire safety. With more than a century of experience, NFPA is in an ideal position to share its codes and standards, research, educational resources, and experience in the adoption and enforcement of fire safety standards with nations facing high rates of fire death and property loss. In this age of an increasingly interconnected world, those are burdens we all share."
An Oregon fire marshal has made such a convincing case for home fire sprinklers that an Oregon mayor and city council are considering requirements in new homes.
The Mail Tribune reports that the city of Medford's mayor, Gary Wheeler, received a recommendation to sprinkler all new one- and two-family homes from Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg. Noting that competition will eventually drive down sprinker installation costs (a point highlighted in NFPA's recent sprinkler cost study report), Kleinberg's recommendation seems to have gotten the attention of Wheeler, who told the paper, "You can't put a price on a child."
Kleinberg also noted that Medford has averaged 82 fires a year over the past five years, the majority occurring in one- and two-family dwellings.
NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations is now accepting public inputs (proposals) to the next edition. Deadline for submissions is January 5, 2015. To submit public inputs go to www.nfpa.org/921.
Last year, fires killed over 3,000 people, injured more than 15,000 and caused an estimated $11.5 billion in damage, Over a five-year period, the cause of ignition in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) was unknown in almost three out of every five home fire deaths, according to the United States Fire Administration and NFPA. Recognizing the reporting gap in NFIRS, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has launched a free, online training program for the fire service, “Understanding Your Role in Fire Incident Data,” available at NASFM’s training portal www.nasfm-training.org.
The new training program is the result of a project by NASFM’s Fire Education Research Foundation, funded by a FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, to determine the root causes contributing to the reporting gap and develop a training solution to help fire departments across the nation with stronger reporting practices.
“The new training program addresses such an important gap in our national fire incident data,” said Butch Browning, NASFM President and Louisiana State Fire Marshal. “If we don’t know what is causing these fires, we really can’t work effectively to prevent them with solutions that specifically address the root problems. By explaining to fire fighters and chief officers the critical importance of accurately reporting the cause of fires, big and small, in their communities, we can go a long ways towards closing this gap.”
Research conducted for this project identified four areas that contributed to this data gap that are addressed in the training program:
Closing the loop. So often, there is a disconnect within fire departments between those who make the initial fire report entry, such as the line officer, and the fire investigator who later determines the cause of the fire, and the initial report is not updated with the new information.
Clearing the litigation cloud. Fire departments are often reluctant to enter the cause of the fire unless they are 100% sure because of the potential for being called to task later during any court proceedings.
Black Hole. A number of people interviewed for the project had an inaccurate impression that the information went into a “black hole” and didn’t really make any difference, either locally or nationally.
Complexity. The current NFIRS systems is perceived as being overly complex and not user-friendly, which discourages those using it from taking the time to accurately enter the information.
The online course takes about one hour and a certificate of completion is available that can be used for continuing education requirements. In addition, since this training program is self-guided, it can be easily incorporated into recruit training at a fire academy or station level and used by full-time, call and volunteer fire departments.
A story posted to EMS1 recently has gotten a lot of attention, so we wanted to share the news about an AED-carrying drone that could improve EMS with our readers. One of the most important considerations in emergency medical treatment is response time. Alec Momont, an engineering graduate at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has created a rapid response drone prototype. It is able to fly at speeds of up to 60 mph while carrying a defibrillator and equipped with features that could reduce the time before a heart attack victim receives first aid, greatly increasing the chances of recovery.
"It is essential that the right medical care is provided within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest," Momont said. 'If we can get to an emergency scene faster, we can save many lives and facilitate the recovery of many patients. This especially applies to emergencies such as heart failure, drownings, traumas and respiratory problems, and it has become possible because life-saving technologies, such as a defibrillator, can now be designed small enough to be transported by a drone."
The prototype drone is designed to be deployed when emergency services receive a cardiac arrest call. Unconstrained by traffic and roads, the drone, in theory, could arrive at the scene faster than an ambulance. Because it cannot, however, carry EMTs, it is equipped with the next best thing: livestream audio and video connection that will allow medical professionals to deliver instructions to people at the site, viewing the situation through the webcam and talking the responder through the treatment -- including how to use the defibrillator.
Watch the video above, and let us know how much you think this could impact EMS.