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.
The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA, established in 1896, is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.
So I am sure that anyone who views this blog has certainly heard how loud sirens on ambulances are and has probably asked themselves “why are they so darn loud”? From personal experience it would seem that you can hear an ambulance with its siren activated coming from a good distance away and might seem piercing or deafening once the ambulance is upon you. Well there is a reason, believe it or not, why an activated siren is so loud. Imagine yourself standing on the sidewalk when an ambulance with an activated siren drives by you, the siren is incredibly loud. Now also imagine yourself in your personal vehicle sitting at a stop sign with the windows closed, radio on, maybe talking on the cell phone or with other occupants in the vehicle with you engaged in conversations. Now that same ambulance pulls up from behind you then is beside you and I would venture to say that the sirens would not be as loud as they were if you were standing outside. I get the statement is obvious but in order for the siren to be heard by the operator of another vehicle where that operator might be exposed to other stimuli the need for a loud siren is imperative. Not only for your safety but for the safety of the ambulance operator and patients, if applicable.
This video shows a pretty amazing study or example of how and when sirens from an ambulance might be heard. It most definitely sheds some light on the subject of why activated sirens are so loud.
A quick search for close call videos on YouTube provides plenty of instances where responders are not wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). There are a couple of videos where responders are not wearing any PPE whatsoever. After watching this video clip it reminded me that we often fall subject to complacency. It's just a car fire right? So don't let it be a life changing or life ending event. Wear NFPA compliant PPE and SCBA.
Talk about thinking outside of the box, pardon the pun, and
designing something that works best for the end user and the patient. Here is a
really neat article about a group of students from MIT who designed an
ambulance that meets their needs as providers to that they can provide the
highest and most efficient level of service to their patient’s as well as being
focused around safety.
With responder safety and the safety of the occupants inside
an ambulance being a focus point we are seeing marked changes what the inside
of an ambulance looks like. This article comes at a very interesting and
pivotal time, as it relates to the design, performance, and testing of
ambulances. I say this as NFPA 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances is
currently in revision and the technical committee responsible for the document recently
met to address almost 500 public inputs that are suggesting change to the 2013
edition of the document. The committee will be meeting again in December,
meeting information can be found here, to finish their work that will be
published as part of the first draft report. You can follow the progress of the
revision of the document here.
On another note, I do happen to have a connection to the
ambulance that was designed at MIT and I am hoping to get up to see it and get
some photos of it. So check back soon.
(A research project sponsored by the FPRF, NFPA’s research affiliate)
Help us help today’s fire service! Unwanted fires are volatile and increasingly dangerous, and personal protective equipment (PPE) used by fire fighters is critical for their safety. But when is gear dirty and when is it contaminated?
Replacing firefighter gear too infrequently may influence contamination risks such as presumptive cancer, and replacing it too frequently incurs significant expense. We need your help by collecting critical background information to guide standards revisions and to support future research needed to fully clarify and resolve this issue. This on-line survey is part of a research project by the Fire Protection Research Foundation and involves approximately 30 brief questions and takes about 5 minutes. Go to www.nfpa.org/PPECareSurvey and help us help the fire service address this issue.
With so many recent aircraft incidents, emergency service organizations may be looking to review their response procedures to these emergencies. Many of these emergencies have taken place in areas off airport properties without staffed aircraft crash rescue firefighting capabilities. The FAA reports that there are over 19,700 airports in the United States. Of those 5,170 are open to the public and over 500 offer commercial airline services. In 2011, according to the NTSB there were 1,550 aircraft accidents in the United States. The sheer number of incidents demonstrates the need for a level of understanding when it comes to aircraft emergencies for all first responders regardless of their proximity to a major airport.
402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Operations is written to assist airport fire departments as well as structural fire departments with information on preparing for and responding to aircraft emergencies. Chapter 14
Structural Fire Department Operations at ARFF Incidents provides specific guidance to non-airport fire departments that are faced with an aircraft emergency. The guide provides information on specific aircraft emergencies, aircraft construction, extinguishing
aircraft fires and many other areas. Click on the standard to the left to review NFPA 402.
economic times, Fire Departments are forced to get creative when it comes to
the purchasing of fire apparatus that will meet the needs of their
department. Check out a great article on some of the concerns associated with the use of military
vehicles that have been converted/refurbished to function as fire
While these vehicles may come
at a bargain price, they are not without their issues. Multiple NFPA standards exist that can assist
your department whether you are converting a military surplus vehicle or
refurbishing an older apparatus. All apparatus
that are to be converted/refurbished for utilization as front line or reserve
fire apparatus should meet the requirements set forth in NFPA 1912, Standard
for Fire Apparatus Refurbishments, 2011 edition.
NFPA 1912 addresses “the refurbishing of
automotive fire apparatus utilized for fire fighting and rescue operations,
whether the refurbishing is done at the fire department or municipal maintenance
facilities, or at the facilities of private contractors or apparatus
manufacturers”. This standard can guide
your department in the proper updates to your apparatus, increasing operational
capabilities and safety to your personnel.
In addition, fire departments across the country are realizing the
financial benefits of a well-rounded preventative maintenance program for their
existing fleet. NFPA 1911, Standard for the Inspection,
Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus,
2012 edition, details requirements for a thorough preventative maintenance
program that can save your department a lot of headaches by identifying issues
early and putting precious dollars back into your operating budget.
Octave band analysis of the fireground equipment recordings. In this graph one can see how the PASS compares to other fireground sounds.
It was 30 years ago at NFPA’s Annual Meeting in Kansas City Missouri that NFPA 1982 Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems was first issued. Now pass devices are used by every fire fighter in a potentially IDLH environment whether at hazardous materials incidents or at structure fires these devices are counted on by fire fighters to work every day. Despite widespread use and many technological advances over the years many variables and factors are influencing the effectiveness of these devices in a negative way.
NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation set out to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of existing PASS devices and their effectiveness on the fireground. The Foundation has teamed up with the University of Texas Austin and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct this research which is reciving funding through DHS/FEMA. The study is evaluting the overall effectiveness of PASS devices on the fireground with such varriables as other fire ground sounds like chainsaws, fire's impact on sounds and personal protective equipement's ability to reduce hearing capabilites.
At NFPA’s 2013 Annual Meeting, 30 years after the PASS standard was introduced, a presentation was given by Mustafa Abbasi of the University of Texas on the progress of their research and what they have learned so far. Click here to view a copy of the full presentation:
Download PASS PRoj Mustafa Draft2. During one experiment a small trash can fire was lit to see what effect a small fire had on the sound of the PASS alarm signal. The sound became muffled and quieter and the fire seemed to merge the multiple tones into one sound. “It did not change beyond recognition but it was an audible change,” Abbasi says. “We believe the effect will be magnified by larger fires,” he adds, as this was just a trash can fire. Below are audio clips of the PASS alarm signal in an open environment and in a compartment at 10 seconds into a fire.
10seconds PASS device sounding in a compartment 10 seconds into trash can fire.
How big of a difference did you notice? Hearing this really makes me appreciate those out there working to research and study how we can make fire fighting safer, some things like the PASS are easily taken for granted. I myself never once thought about the effectiveness of the PASS device in fire conditions or if it would be loud enough when I needed it until hearing the difference in those two audio clips.
Multiple fire fighter deaths occurred in 2012 because of
collisions or rollovers while responding to or returning from emergency
calls. In efforts to assist the fire service with
the safe operation of tanker trucks, the Department of Transportation and the National
Tank Truck Carriers have released a training video on driver safety. The manufacturing and use of mobile water
supply fire apparatus, as defined by NFPA
1901, Standard for Automotive Fire
Apparatus, may be somewhat
unique, however, the principles for safe operation of these vehicles applies to
all types of tanker trucks. Check out
Safety Training Video for more information on tanker driver safety.
The deputy chief arrives on scene of an apparent working fire and establishes command and begins an initial size up. Heavy smoke is rising from the roof of the structure and from the ground the commander cannot tell if the roof is compromised. Opening the back of the sport utility vehicle the commander reaches in and pulls out what appears to be a small helicopter, it immediately begins flying straight up in the air toward the roof of the building. Within seconds the commander is viewing live aerial footage streaming to a mobile handheld device of the roof and its condition. The roof is well involved and the commander redirects the incoming ladder truck from their previous assignment of vertical ventilation.
What just a few years ago may have been impossible for many departments may now be readily available for a low cost. The video above was taken by a private citizen of a fire in Detroit that injured two fire fighters. He used a remote controlled helicopter with an integrated camera attached to it, which could be set up to send streaming video footage to decision makers on the ground. The technology is available to configure these devices to do many things which may be helpful in many instances such as hazmats, confined space rescues, brush fires, structure fires or in the case of the above example just to get a quick peek at the roof before setting up an aerial device.
The future may be closer than we think and perhaps an NFPA Standard on fire service drones isn’t that far off.