Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Fines Pennsylvania Manufacturer For Workplace Safety Hazards Following Employee Amputation

OSHA - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 07:00
May 22, 2019 U.S. Department of Labor Fines Pennsylvania Manufacturer For Workplace Safety Hazards Following Employee Amputation
Categories: Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Framing Contractor for Exposing Employees To Fall Hazards at Alabama Worksite

OSHA - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 07:00
May 22, 2019 U.S. Department of Labor Cites Framing Contractor for Exposing Employees To Fall Hazards at Alabama Worksite
Categories: Safety

FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/22

Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 03:40

5/22/1892 a Saint Paul, MN firefighter “was killed when he fell into the fly wheel of the Stock Yard’s feed elevator.”

5/22/1898 a Toledo, Ohio firefighter was “killed by falling walls at Dow & Snell Wholesale Grocery, at Superior & Jefferson.”

5/22/1938 a Chicago, IL firefighter “died of smoke inhalation while operating at a three-alarm fire at a fire at 3227 S. Kedzie.”

5/22/1962 a Chevy Chase, Maryland firefighter died when he “and fellow firefighters were fighting a single-family home basement fire, when an explosion occurred. The explosion injured four firefighters and fatally injured one.”

5/22/1964 a Newark, NJ firefighter died while “he was working on the roof of a wood frame structure during a fire when he collapsed.”

5/22/2001 a Newark, NJ firefighter died at a “fire in a 2-story wood frame building. Upon arrival, firefighters reported a working fire on the top floor of the building. The firefighter stretched a 1-inch handline to the fire floor and operated the line at that location. An order to evacuate the building was given, but he either did not hear or was unable to comply with the order. He was found face down with his facepiece off and not breathing. He was removed from the building while receiving CPR, and he was transported to the hospital. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.”

5/22/2010 a Shawnee, Kansas firefighter died while working a residential structure fire. “The Shawnee Fire Department received a residential fire alarm report at 8:52 p.m. and dispatched a single company. Additional calls reporting a working fire generated the response of a full alarm assignment of three engines, two quints, a Command Officer, and a medic unit. Firefighters arrived on the scene and found a working fire in a 6,000-square-foot residence. The firefighter was assigned search and rescue of the structure with his company officer. Bystanders reported that a dog and an elderly couple might be inside of the structure. The firefighter broke out a side window by the front door and unlocked the door. Heavy black smoke began to pour out of the broken window as he worked. He and his company officer entered the structure and began a search. As they searched, he advanced an uncharged 1-¾” handline and a Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC). They located the family dog and carried it to the front door, where it was handed to other firefighters. The firefighter and his company officer reentered the structure to continue the search. They were joined by another crew. Shortly thereafter, the firefighter’s company officer was heard calling for him. The second crew scanned the area with their TIC in an attempt to find him. Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) crews were assigned and searched the structure for the missing firefighter. After approximately 10 minutes of searching by multiple crews, he was located in a small room behind a closed door. He was removed from the structure by firefighters and treated. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead. Investigation revealed that he had become ill and vomited into his SCBA facepiece. When he was found, he was lying on his back without his helmet, gloves, and facepiece. His death was caused by smoke inhalation.”

5/22/1967 the Innovation store fire killed 325 in Brussels, Belgium. “There were approximately 2,500 people shopping in the store during their lunch hours when fire broke out in the furniture department on the fourth floor, just after noon. However, virtually no one in the store was aware of the fire because no fire alarm went off, nor were there any sprinklers. The fire spread quickly because there were only a few handheld extinguishers available. Witnesses reported that the many flags on display helped fuel the flames. In addition, firefighters were slow to arrive because the store was located in a crowded area of the city with narrow streets.”

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

NORFOLK FIREFIGHTER INJURED AT HOUSE FIRE!

Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 20:22

A firefighter was taken to the hospital with minor injuries after responding to a fire Monday afternoon at Willoughby Spit.

Norfolk Battalion Chief Brian Nichols says the firefighter was conscious and breathing when they were transported.

The house fire broke out around 4:50 p.m. in the 1100 block of Little Bay Avenue. Firefighters were still at the scene as of 5:35 p.m., but said the fire was under control.

No other injures have been reported, including to the home’s two occupants, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. Check back for updates.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

CANCER CLAIMS THIRD-GEN. ARIZ. FIREFIGHTER AT 31

Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:07

By Dani Coble, Arizona Republic:

The Phoenix Fire Department is mourning the loss of a 31-year-old Phoenix firefighter who lost his battle to occupational cancer on Sunday morning.

Brian Beck Jr., a third-generation firefighter, was an eight-year veteran with the Phoenix Fire Department, while mostly working at Fire Station 33 in north Phoenix, according to the United Phoenix Firefighters, a nonprofit organization.

Beck Jr. is the second Phoenix firefighter who died from occupational cancer this year, according to the United Phoenix Firefighters. Occupational cancer is cancer caused by occupation hazards.

In a post on a Facebook page titled Support For Firefighter Brian Beck Jr, Beck’s father, who is a retired Phoenix fire captain with 33 years of service, stated his son was diagnosed a year ago with malignant melanoma cancer.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/21

Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 03:23

5/21/1881 the American Red Cross was founded in Washington, D.C. by humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons.

5/21/1866 two Gramercy/Flatiron Area, Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighters died just before midnight, a fire had broken out at the Academy of Music Theater. “When firefighters first arrived on the scene, the fire appeared to be fierce, but not spectacular. While the steam engines were working up enough pressure to start getting water on the building (this took about 10 minutes) A firefighter of Ladder Company 3 entered the building and spotted flames shooting up from the basement near the stage. Two firefighters of Engine Company No. 13 took a hose inside and were working the pipe (nozzle) when they were relieved by two firefighters from Engine Company 5. Meanwhile, as other firefighters and theater staff were hauling out furniture and other property, the gas that had been accumulating in the theater exploded, turning the building into an inferno. Two firefighters were knocked down by the blast and burned; one got out, but the other in became trapped between the flames and the front entrance. He was severely burned but managed to escape by leaping through the flames. Unfortunately, there was no escape for two other firefighters. The bodies of the two men were not discovered until 10:00 a.m., after hours of frantic searching. A team of firefighters from Engine Company 5 and 3 Truck found one of the missing firefighters near the center of the stage. His arms and legs had burned away, but he was identified by a knife and a key in his pockets. The other missing firefighters remains were found near the 15th Street side of the stage, just a few feet from the wall that separated the theater from the dressing rooms. His upper torso had burned, and only his trunk could be recovered. Both men were single. Their families each received $1,000 in insurance from the fire department. The firefighter who was badly burned, received $5 a week while on disability.”

5/21/1916 a Saint Paul, MN firefighter died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall while operating at a fire.

5/21/1921 a Portland, ME firefighter “died as a result of injuries suffered at a general alarm fire at Deering High School, 522 Stevens Avenue. He was swept from a ground ladder and buried beneath a pile of bricks when the roof fell in, knocking out the cornice above the front center of the building.”

5/21/1950 two San Rafael, CA firefighters died from a building collapse during a fire. “The fire began close to lunchtime just as the marching members of the Fire Department were supposed to participate in a downtown parade. Thousands of San Rafael residents were lining the downtown area to watch the St. Raphael’s Mission parade. Flames began to shoot high above the building with black smoke moving its way into the downtown area as the business “Mar Vista Motors” became totally engulfed, even before the firefighters were able to arrive. The building was L shaped, and the crews set up their hose lines and ladders to attack the fire from the front and the back of the building. One firefighter had become trapped in the fire. The second firefighter was alive when the crew pulled him to safety and administered first aid. He suffered a compound fracture to his leg as well as third degree burns. He was later transferred to Cottage Hospital where he later died. The first firefighter was trapped under a burning beam when the building collapsed, and it was believed that he died instantly.”

5/21/1969 a Bronx, New York (FDNY) firefighter died “while operating at an alarm. He was shot to death when a fellow firefighter turned over a mattress that had a gun hidden in it. The gun fell out of the mattress and discharged, striking him.”

5/21/1977 a Battle Creek, Michigan firefighter died from smoke Inhalation.

5/21/2006 a Denver, CO firefighter from injuries he received on a fire on 5/14/2006. “Engine Company 9, along with other Denver Fire Department units, was dispatched to a report of a structure fire in a residence. The caller reported that one person was trapped in the structure. Firefighters arrived on the scene and found a working fire in a 2-story structure. Firefighters entered the house to perform a search; they located a victim and removed her from the structure. The crew from Engine Company 9 laid a supply line from a hydrant and advanced an attack line into the structure. Smoke and heat conditions on the second floor began to worsen. Firefighters had difficulty in finding the fire. The ceiling was opened, and water was applied to the attic. Firefighter communicated that the crew should go back to the stairs to regroup. Thinking the victim had exited the other firefighter left the structure. Firefighters operating inside of the structure heard the faint sound of a PASS device and began a search. Despite difficult fire and debris conditions, firefighters found the missing firefighter unconscious under a mattress. Firefighters reported to the incident commander that a firefighter was down; command activated the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT). Fire conditions were worsening, and firefighters crawled on their stomachs to push and drag the missing firefighter to the stairs. The fire fighting strategy was changed to defensive after his removal. He was found to be in full cardiac arrest. Sometime prior to his arrival at the hospital, a pulse was restored. He remained in intensive care for 7 days. With no prognosis for improvement, life support was removed, and he died on May 21, 2006. The cause of death was oxygen deprivation to the brain as a result of smoke inhalation. The accident happened on Mother’s Day 2006.

5/21/1977 a fire in hotel Duc de Brabant in Brussels, killed nineteen.

5/21/1964 a fire in a Wegimond Belgium resort killed nineteen.

2/21/1919 Mobile, AL conflagration started in a meat market-grocery, located on the northeast corner of Madison and Hamilton Streets at 3:25 p.m. and extended to 40 city blocks containing 200 houses.

5/21/1917 the Great Atlanta (GA) fire was centered in the Old Fourth Ward.

5/21/1912 a Waukesha, WI hotel was destroyed by fire.

5/21/1976 Martinez, CA a school bus crash killed twenty-eight “when a bus carrying the school choir smashed through a guardrail in Martinez and plummeted to the concrete 30 feet below.”

5/21/1953 the 1st Society of Fire Protection Engineers chapter was formed in Chicago, IL. “The purpose of the Society is to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering and its allied fields, to maintain a high ethical standard among its members and to foster fire protection engineering education. The Society supports the development of the annual Professional Engineer licensing exam in fire protection and the grading of those exams under the auspices of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.”

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

NC POLICE SHOOT MAN WHO THREATENED FIREFIGHTERS ON EMS CALL

Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:32

The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is investigating after a Raleigh officer shot an armed man near an apartment complex on Sunday morning, officials say.

It happened in the 5200 block of Falls of Neuse Road.

Officials said the Raleigh Fire Department responded to a medical call around 9 a.m.

When they got there, a man began verbally threatening the firefighters, according to officials.

Officials said the man went up to the first police officer on the scene with a gun.

The officer took cover behind a patrol vehicle and ordered the man to drop the gun. Police said the man did not comply with the command so the officer fired one shot and hit him.

He was then taken to WakeMed. His condition and name are unknown.

“It’s kind of unnerving,” said one woman who lives near the scene. “But it gets closer to home every day. It’s just, you know, right around the house. We’re just concerned, all the neighbors are concerned. Everybody wonders what’s going on when you see something like that and hear all the sirens.”

SBI will investigate the shooting and report its findings to the District Attorney.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

OFF-DUTY FDNY FIREFIGHTER ASSAULTED HELPING COUPLE

Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:29

An off-duty city firefighter was punched in the head after stepping in to stop a group of teens from harassing a couple on the Upper East Side, according to police and sources.

The 38-year-old man was walking on East 86th Street at about 7:20 p.m. Saturday when he spotted a few teens bothering a couple on the sidewalk, police said.

“Leave them alone,” the man told the teens, cops said.

One of the teens then punched firefighter in the back of the head and stomped on him when he fell, according to police.

The firefighter was treated for minor injuries at Cornell hospital, according to police and sources.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

PA. FIREFIGHTER SENT TO HOSPITAL DURING STUDENT APARTMENT FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:28

By Lauren Muthler, Centre Daily:

Residents in 24 apartment units in the Tremont Student Living complex were displaced after a fire broke out Sunday evening, Alpha Fire Company Chief Jason Troup said.

The Centre Region fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Multiple Centre County emergency crews were dispatched to the third-alarm fire off Vairo Boulevard at about 5:35 p.m., while severe thunderstorms rolled through the area. Once on scene, Troup said he could see heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof area of Building F.

“Crews went up to the third floor and began opening up the ceiling,” Troup said. “We also began searching the apartment to make sure everybody was out. We didn’t find anyone in either building, everyone had evacuated.”

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

New Jersey Food Manufacturer Agrees to Safety and Health Improvements At Eight Facilities After U.S. Department of Labor Inspection

OSHA - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 07:00
May 20, 2019 New Jersey Food Manufacturer Agrees to Safety and Health Improvements At Eight Facilities After U.S. Department of Labor Inspection
Categories: Safety

FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/20

Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:21

5/20/1894 a Tampa, FL firefighter died in the line of duty from previous injuries.

5/20/1940 a Cambridge, MA firefighter died while operating at a cellar fire.

5/20/1967 a Scarborough, Ontario, Canada firefighter died “during fire operations at a basement fire on Lawrence Ave East.”

5/20/1983 a Sunset Whitney Fire Department, CA firefighter collapsed “while fighting a structure fire in the neighboring community of Loomis, and died en route to the hospital.”

5/20/2013 a Dallas, TX firefighter died at the Hearthwood Condominium fire. “Dallas firefighters were dispatched to a report of a fire alarm in the Hearthwood Condominiums at 12363 Abrams Road, at 2:51 a.m. The firefighter and his ladder crew were dispatched to the scene as a part of the fourth alarm at 4:05 a.m. The truck company was assigned to evacuate an adjacent building in the complex and then received orders to conduct a primary search of the ground floor of the fire building. Shortly after beginning the primary search, a portion of the structure collapsed. The collapse trapped him, and he radioed that he was trapped. He was recovered from the rubble following an hour-long process to locate and remove him. He died of mechanical compression of the chest causing asphyxia.”

5/20/1980 a fire in nursing home in Kingston Jamaica, killed 157.

5/20/1965 a plane crashed at Cairo airport killing 124.

5/20/1969 the amended Wash-Healey Act allows adoption of NFPA standards by reference. The Walsh-Healey Act of 1936 allowed the Department of Labor to ban contract work done under hazardous conditions. Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and first woman Cabinet member, created the Bureau of Labor Standards in 1934 to assure that workplaces would be “as safe as science and law can make them.” The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York (March 25, 1911) deeply impacted her life. The evolution of workplace safety continued, and President Richard Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970, the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act, giving the Federal Government the authority to set and enforce health and safety standards for most of the country’s workers.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER INJURED AT OTTAWA FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 18:46

Irving, TX, Fire Chief Victor Conley distinctly remembers the incident that prompted him to look into the effectiveness of using older fire apparatus as “blockers” in order to protect firefighters and other first responders at traffic scenes.

He was at the National Fire Academy in July 2015 when he received a call about a collision involving one of his department’s ladder trucks that had been blocking out traffic at an accident.

“An 18-wheeler, fully loaded, rear-ended the back of this ladder truck, which weighs approximately 30 tons, fully loaded. And it spun the ladder truck 180 degrees and rolled it 360,” Conley said. “Needless to say, it totaled our fire apparatus, and the driver of the 18 wheeler died in the incident.”

“And while we were blocking that mess, we had another DWI driver run into the back of a police squad car,” he added.

Three firefighters were injured in the crash with the ladder apparatus, and it took months for them to recover and return to their posts. While the department already used vehicles to keep personnel safe at high-traffic scenes, the 2015 incident spurred Conley to develop even better protective measures for first responders and the department’s front line equipment.

The Irving, TX, Fire Department uses old, ready-for-retirement apparatus as “blockers” in order to protect first responders at high-traffic emergency scenes.IRVING, TX, FIRE DEPARTMENT

That same year, as part of his academy project to enhance how the department handles specific emergency scenarios in the community, the chief looked at similar incidents over a five-year span in Irving. Here’s what he discovered:

  • Nine fire department vehicles were involved in accidents while at the scene of an emergency during this period.
  • Of those vehicles, two were totaled.
  • The cost of the accidents cost the city $1.5 million, which included expenses stemming from injuries.
  • Fire apparatus was out of service more than 2,000 days because of the incidents.

Armed with that information, Conley wrote his academy paper, which provided the blueprint for Irving’s blocker program. But it wasn’t until 2017—nearly two years later—that city officially adopted it.

“Typically with fire departments, there are two things they don’t like: They don’t like for things to stay the same, and they also don’t like change,” Conley said. “This was a change in the whole philosophy of what we were doing, and they didn’t like it at first because it’s just another piece of equipment they have to keep up with and utilize at the scene. But once they’d seen the effectiveness of what the program does … now we’ve seen wide support of it.”

Out with the New, In with the Old

Obviously, safety is the blocker program’s first priority, but Conley emphasized how inexpensive it is to maintain. Unlike the way Irving’s FD had been using apparatus as blockers, the new approach assigned protective duty only to older, outdated units—typically pieces about 20 years old and ready to be retired—and not the department’s newer vehicles.

Irving’s program works the following way:

  • Five older apparatus have been designated as blockers, and it costs about $3,500 to outfit the vehicles for that duty, which includes installing arrow boards and graphics.
  • Blockers are automatically deployed at emergency scenes along major thoroughfares. Irving has two highways that are in the top 100 of the most congested roads in Texas. But Conley said fire and police officers can request blockers in other cases.
  • As the department adds new apparatus, the older vehicles are moved through a rotation, first becoming backups and then moving on to become blockers. Blockers eventually can be auctioned off as long as they aren’t too damaged—in which case, insurance can pay out— and Conley says those apparatus can still fetch a few thousand dollars for the city.

Even though it has been around for about two years, 2019 might be considered the year the program has come into its own. Not only has it earned a statewide safety award this year, but in March, it quite possibly had it’s defining moment. That’s when a blocker was totaled while protecting several police and firefighters from being hit by a car that barreled through a previous crash investigation scene.

“We’ve seen it from the concept phase to the proof phase that (the program) works,” Conley said.

A Concept That’s Catching on

Of course, one of the biggest signs of success has been the interest the blocker program has generated among other fire departments. Conley said he’s had fire officials from around the country and overseas reach out with questions about blockers.

“It’s catching on in our area, and I’ve had other fire chiefs tell me their city manager wants them to implement the program. Slowly but surely … people are learning about the program,” he said.

In April, nearby Dallas Fire Rescue began using blocker apparatus as part of a pilot program. Over a three-year period, apparatus from that department had been hit 62 times while blocking highway crashes, totaling millions of dollars in repair costs, Assistant Chief Randall Stidham said.

Dallas has two blockers available around the clock, and like Irving —a program DFR officials looked at when creating their own—the department uses older, decommissioned apparatus up for auction. The equipment is stripped from the vehicles, and around 6,000 pounds of sand is loaded into the water tanks.

Using the blockers can reduce the risk to emergency responders working on high-speed roadways, prevent expensive apparatus from being struck, and reduce maintenance/repair time and costs. Blockers don’t necessarily have to be pretty, just functional.

A “blocker” apparatus protected several Irving, TX, firefighters and police officers when a car crashed through a previous accident scene in March.IRVING, TX, FIRE DEPARTMENT

In the first two weeks of DFR’s program, blockers were deployed nearly 120 times, according to Stidham. And just six days into the program, a blocker was hit while protecting the department’s brand new $1.3 million fire apparatus that had been in service for less than a week, he added.

“The blocker did its intended duty in protecting our firefighters and our equipment,” Stidham said.

“The pilot program has already been viewed as a successful initiative within the department. Expectations have been exceeded, with members reporting feeling safer on scene, while DFR apparatus receives better protection. Our members are hoping to see more blockers on the street very soon”

In order to figure out the best way to deploy blockers, Stidham said the department looked at data on blocking accidents since 2016 in order to “geo-fence” those vehicles to the most dangerous parts of the city.

“One area in particular, east of downtown Dallas on Interstate 30, had over a third of all of the blocking accidents during the three-year period,” he said. “By geo-fencing these areas, we isolate the blockers to these two areas. Staffing the blockers around the clock allows the blockers to answer with any truck companies that respond into those areas, not just one.”

Tailor-Made Programs

Dallas’ approach to blockers highlights an aspect Conley says is vital to the success of these types of programs. Departments shouldn’t look at a blocker as a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping first responders safe. Officials need to tailor their programs to fit their communities, Conley stressed.

Going forward, both Conley and Stidlam believe the blocker programs will continue to develop and grow. For instance, Conley thinks insurance companies might eventually play a role as blockers become a simple way for those businesses to save money.

In a perfect world, though, Conley wishes blockers weren’t a tool fire departments needed to know about.

“What I would rather do, I’d rather educate our community to pay attention to what’s happening on the road. But that hasn’t happened so far, so I have to protect my people and my equipment out on the scene,” he said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

TEXAS FIRE APPARATUS BLOCKING PROGRAM SUCCESS!

Firefighter Close Calls - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 18:44

Irving, TX, Fire Chief Victor Conley distinctly remembers the incident that prompted him to look into the effectiveness of using older fire apparatus as “blockers” in order to protect firefighters and other first responders at traffic scenes.

He was at the National Fire Academy in July 2015 when he received a call about a collision involving one of his department’s ladder trucks that had been blocking out traffic at an accident.

“An 18-wheeler, fully loaded, rear-ended the back of this ladder truck, which weighs approximately 30 tons, fully loaded. And it spun the ladder truck 180 degrees and rolled it 360,” Conley said. “Needless to say, it totaled our fire apparatus, and the driver of the 18 wheeler died in the incident.”

“And while we were blocking that mess, we had another DWI driver run into the back of a police squad car,” he added.

Three firefighters were injured in the crash with the ladder apparatus, and it took months for them to recover and return to their posts. While the department already used vehicles to keep personnel safe at high-traffic scenes, the 2015 incident spurred Conley to develop even better protective measures for first responders and the department’s front line equipment.

The Irving, TX, Fire Department uses old, ready-for-retirement apparatus as “blockers” in order to protect first responders at high-traffic emergency scenes.IRVING, TX, FIRE DEPARTMENT

That same year, as part of his academy project to enhance how the department handles specific emergency scenarios in the community, the chief looked at similar incidents over a five-year span in Irving. Here’s what he discovered:

  • Nine fire department vehicles were involved in accidents while at the scene of an emergency during this period.
  • Of those vehicles, two were totaled.
  • The cost of the accidents cost the city $1.5 million, which included expenses stemming from injuries.
  • Fire apparatus was out of service more than 2,000 days because of the incidents.

Armed with that information, Conley wrote his academy paper, which provided the blueprint for Irving’s blocker program. But it wasn’t until 2017—nearly two years later—that city officially adopted it.

“Typically with fire departments, there are two things they don’t like: They don’t like for things to stay the same, and they also don’t like change,” Conley said. “This was a change in the whole philosophy of what we were doing, and they didn’t like it at first because it’s just another piece of equipment they have to keep up with and utilize at the scene. But once they’d seen the effectiveness of what the program does … now we’ve seen wide support of it.”

Out with the New, In with the Old

Obviously, safety is the blocker program’s first priority, but Conley emphasized how inexpensive it is to maintain. Unlike the way Irving’s FD had been using apparatus as blockers, the new approach assigned protective duty only to older, outdated units—typically pieces about 20 years old and ready to be retired—and not the department’s newer vehicles.

Irving’s program works the following way:

  • Five older apparatus have been designated as blockers, and it costs about $3,500 to outfit the vehicles for that duty, which includes installing arrow boards and graphics.
  • Blockers are automatically deployed at emergency scenes along major thoroughfares. Irving has two highways that are in the top 100 of the most congested roads in Texas. But Conley said fire and police officers can request blockers in other cases.
  • As the department adds new apparatus, the older vehicles are moved through a rotation, first becoming backups and then moving on to become blockers. Blockers eventually can be auctioned off as long as they aren’t too damaged—in which case, insurance can pay out— and Conley says those apparatus can still fetch a few thousand dollars for the city.

Even though it has been around for about two years, 2019 might be considered the year the program has come into its own. Not only has it earned a statewide safety award this year, but in March, it quite possibly had it’s defining moment. That’s when a blocker was totaled while protecting several police and firefighters from being hit by a car that barreled through a previous crash investigation scene.

“We’ve seen it from the concept phase to the proof phase that (the program) works,” Conley said.

A Concept That’s Catching on

Of course, one of the biggest signs of success has been the interest the blocker program has generated among other fire departments. Conley said he’s had fire officials from around the country and overseas reach out with questions about blockers.

“It’s catching on in our area, and I’ve had other fire chiefs tell me their city manager wants them to implement the program. Slowly but surely … people are learning about the program,” he said.

In April, nearby Dallas Fire Rescue began using blocker apparatus as part of a pilot program. Over a three-year period, apparatus from that department had been hit 62 times while blocking highway crashes, totaling millions of dollars in repair costs, Assistant Chief Randall Stidham said.

Dallas has two blockers available around the clock, and like Irving —a program DFR officials looked at when creating their own—the department uses older, decommissioned apparatus up for auction. The equipment is stripped from the vehicles, and around 6,000 pounds of sand is loaded into the water tanks.

Using the blockers can reduce the risk to emergency responders working on high-speed roadways, prevent expensive apparatus from being struck, and reduce maintenance/repair time and costs. Blockers don’t necessarily have to be pretty, just functional.

A “blocker” apparatus protected several Irving, TX, firefighters and police officers when a car crashed through a previous accident scene in March.IRVING, TX, FIRE DEPARTMENT

In the first two weeks of DFR’s program, blockers were deployed nearly 120 times, according to Stidham. And just six days into the program, a blocker was hit while protecting the department’s brand new $1.3 million fire apparatus that had been in service for less than a week, he added.

“The blocker did its intended duty in protecting our firefighters and our equipment,” Stidham said.

“The pilot program has already been viewed as a successful initiative within the department. Expectations have been exceeded, with members reporting feeling safer on scene, while DFR apparatus receives better protection. Our members are hoping to see more blockers on the street very soon”

In order to figure out the best way to deploy blockers, Stidham said the department looked at data on blocking accidents since 2016 in order to “geo-fence” those vehicles to the most dangerous parts of the city.

“One area in particular, east of downtown Dallas on Interstate 30, had over a third of all of the blocking accidents during the three-year period,” he said. “By geo-fencing these areas, we isolate the blockers to these two areas. Staffing the blockers around the clock allows the blockers to answer with any truck companies that respond into those areas, not just one.”

Tailor-Made Programs

Dallas’ approach to blockers highlights an aspect Conley says is vital to the success of these types of programs. Departments shouldn’t look at a blocker as a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping first responders safe. Officials need to tailor their programs to fit their communities, Conley stressed.

Going forward, both Conley and Stidlam believe the blocker programs will continue to develop and grow. For instance, Conley thinks insurance companies might eventually play a role as blockers become a simple way for those businesses to save money.

In a perfect world, though, Conley wishes blockers weren’t a tool fire departments needed to know about.

“What I would rather do, I’d rather educate our community to pay attention to what’s happening on the road. But that hasn’t happened so far, so I have to protect my people and my equipment out on the scene,” he said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/19

Firefighter Close Calls - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 03:46

5/19/1857 the first U.S. patent (No. 17,355) for an automatic fire alarm system was issued to William Channing and Moses Farmer for a municipal electric fire alarm system using call boxes with automatic signaling indicating a fire’s location in Boston, MA.

5/19/1811 a Manhattan, New York firefighter died at “a fire, which started in a coach factory, was fanned by a brisk wind and went on to consume 100 houses along both sides of the street. Firefighters fought bravely for several hours before stopping the spread of the blaze. While operating at the conflagration, he collapsed due to overexertion and the extreme heat, and was taken to his home, where he died a few hours later.”

5/19/1930 two Ottawa, Ontario, Canada firefighters “died from injuries received after they were both blown off ladders by a massive explosion and coved in debris. They were transported to the hospital on the hose bed of an engine, this Engine was involved in an accident at an intersection in route to the hospital.”

5/19/1938 a Fitchburg, MA firefighter was killed when he fell from a ladder while operating at a dwelling fire. He was at the top of a 25 Foot ladder when pressure from his house threw him backwards onto the fence.

5/19/1943 three Salt Lake City, UT firefighters “died from injuries sustained while fighting a fire at the Victory Theater, at 48 East 300 South when the balcony and second floor of the structure caved, trapping the men.”

5/19/1951 four Peterborough, Ontario, Canada firefighters “died fighting a massive downtown blaze. The third floor of a George Street building between Hunter and Simcoe streets collapsed, killing all four firefighters of whom were battling the blaze on the building’s ground floor.”

5/19/1981 a Toledo, Ohio firefighter “died as a result of firefighting operations at Bell & Fernwood on May 18, 1981.”

5/19/2015 Baku, Azerbaijan a fire in a multi-story (sixteen-floor) residential building located in Azadlig Avenue claimed fifteen lives, five were children, and at least sixty-three people were injured, most of the victims were killed by toxic smoke. The fire burned for over three-hours. A low quality flammable facade material had been used in the renovation by the Mayoralty of Baku, contributed to the rapid flame spread. A similar fire erupted in Baku April 10, 2015, but there were no injuries.

5/19/2010 buildings across Bangkok were set on fire by red shirt protesters after the military stormed a protest camp in the center of the city.

5/19/1928 a coal mine gas explosion killed 273, near Mather, PA.

5/19/1902 Coal Creek, Tennessee near the Fraterville Mine a gas explosion killed over 200 around 7:30 a.m.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

N.Y. FIREFIGHTER SUES CITY TO PAY FOR LINE-OF-DUTY INJURIES

Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 05/18/2019 - 12:13

By Christopher Eberhart, LOHUD:

A decorated New Rochelle firefighter says he suffered several serious injuries when roofs collapsed on him and a smoke explosion knocked him down a staircase.

But the city is refusing to pay for treatment, claiming some of Stephen Schmitt’s injuries came from pre-existing conditions.

After unsuccessfully trying to resolve the issue, Schmitt filed legal action in state Supreme Court on Feb. 21.

The city declined comment on the pending legal action.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/18

Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 05/18/2019 - 03:51

5/18/1971 NFPA Standard 19B required SCBA use during firefighting.

5/18/1893 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter “died from injuries he sustained after falling from a ladder at Orchard and Mill Streets.” “The fire in an umbrella company went to four alarms in less than a half-hour after it extended to a lace mill.”

5/18/1896 five District of Columbia (Washington DC) firefighters died after lightning started a building fire. “During a severe thunderstorm, lightning struck the branch office of a telegraph office, starting a fire. The fire spread very rapidly throughout the 22 stores that comprised the block, necessitating the sounding of a general alarm. While operating a hoseline inside one of the stores, two firefighters were killed instantly when a floor collapsed, burying them under tons of iron and bricks. As other firefighters attempted to rescue their fallen comrades, there was a sudden collapse of the walls and more men became trapped under tons of burning rubble. Three additional firefighters were all killed instantly in the second collapse.”

5/18/1924 a Leominster, MA firefighter died “while operating at a brush fire, he was killed when the soda-acid extinguisher he was using exploded. The six-gallon extinguisher was standing upright on the ground and he was standing over it when the bottom blew out. The force of the explosion blew him and the extinguisher about ten feet into the air. He lived for about five to ten minutes after being injured.”

5/18/1956 two Chesapeake City / Galena, Maryland firefighters “died from the injuries they sustained while operating at a fire at the Kent Oil Company, after two large explosions and number of small ones occurred during a fire. One was fatally burned, and the second was decapitated by flying debris. Eight other firefighters were hospitalized for their injuries, and eight were treated at the scene.”

5/18/2017 a San Antonio, TX firefighter “died from injuries received while operating at a four-alarm fire in a shopping center mall in the 6700 block of Ingram Road. Fire crews were searching a gym in the strip mall for any possible occupants as fire conditions rapidly intensified and the structure began to collapse. All firefighters were ordered to exit the building, but he was unable to do so before becoming caught and trapped. Crews continued to battle the fire but due to conditions were unable to reach trapped firefighter. According to initial reports, another member of the initial search team was also trapped in the fire but was pulled to safety along with an injured member of the Rapid Intervention Team. The two injured firefighters were transported to the hospital.”

5/18/1927 The Bath School disaster killed forty-five and injured fifty-eight, most children in the second to sixth grades, attending Bath Consolidated School in Bath Township, Michigan. In the morning a school board member, Andrew Kehoe, upset by a property tax levied to fund the construction of the school building. He killed his wife, set his farm buildings on fire, and detonated dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol he planted inside the school. As rescuers arrived at the school, Kehoe drove up and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle that killed himself, the school superintendent, and several others. An additional 500 pounds of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol was discovered planted throughout the basement of the school’s south wing.
“Pyrotol was an explosive available for a time after World War I. It was reprocessed from military surplus. Usually used in combination with dynamite, it created an incendiary blast. Since it was very inexpensive, it was often used by farmers to remove tree stumps and clear ditches.”

5/18/1918 the Aetna chemical explosion in Oakdale, Pennsylvania claimed 193 lives both inside and outside the facility. “At noon an explosion in a room used to mix chemicals inside the plant triggered a chain of blasts and fires that claimed 193 lives both inside and outside the facility, according to NFPA data. The catastrophe remains the deadliest fire or explosion in a manufacturing plant in U.S. history, according to NFPA. … Only about half of the victims could be identified, … the bodies of the other people lost in the blast had been incinerated among the wreckage of the plant. The company suffered an estimated $2 million in losses, and an additional $200,000 of damage was inflicted on nearby properties. An investigation revealed that the blast occurred because Aetna, which manufactured TNT for the Allied powers in World War I, ignored an order from the federal government to stop using a chemical that was linked to dangerous reactions, … Even so, the company was never held accountable for its actions. The Oakdale plant closed six months after the explosion.”

5/18/1980 Mount St. Helens in Washington erupts, killing fifty-seven and causing a massive avalanche. “Millions of trees were scorched and burned by the hot air alone. When the glacier atop the mountain melted, a massive mudslide wiped out homes and dammed up rivers throughout the area. The plume of ash belched out for nine hours; easterly winds carried it across the state and as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota.” “Mount St. Helens went from 9,600 feet high to only 8,300 feet high in a matter of seconds.”

5/18/1765 Montreal, Canada 108 houses, containing 215 families, were destroyed by fire.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

HOUSTON FIREFIGHTER INJURED AT APARTMENT FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 20:20

At least one firefighter was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons during a four-alarm fire at the Greenridge Place apartments.

Officials say the fire happened in the 3000 block of Greenridge Drive at Westheimer.

Firefighters are working to put the fire out. It started just after noon, and quickly spread to additional units.

Two other people, including another firefighter and a resident, were treated at the scene. The resident was observed for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters can be seen working on the roof of one building, not far from where flames can be seen shooting through.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

2 OH FIREFIGHTERS INJURED AT HOUSE FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 14:53

The Elyria Fire Department responded to a May 17 fire that resulted in injuries to two firefighters.

Crews responded at 4 a.m. to 143 Clark St. for a house where the second floor was fully engulfed, according to Elyria fire Assistant Chief Joe Pronesti.

While combating the blaze, two firefighters were injured; one received a minor injury to a finger, and the other was sent to UH Elyria to be evaluated for a knee injury, Pronesti said.

“The fire was extinguished in 10 minutes, but we stayed for around two hours to check for possible extensions,” he said. “The second floor sustained severe heat and smoke damage.

“The one occupant of the home made it out, but she and her family will have to relocate.”

Pronesti said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The blaze caused about $12,000 in damages, he said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

10 PA FIREFIGHTERS SENT TO HOSPITAL AFTER CHEMICAL FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 14:51

Ten firefighters and three employees were sent to hospitals early Friday as a precaution after a fire in a Chester chemical plant office extended into a nearby lab, officials said.

No serious injuries have been reported following the blaze at the Norquay Technology Inc. complex, located at 800 Front St., officials said.

Chester Fire Commissioner William C. Rigby IV said firefighters responded to a blaze in an office at the plant about 1 a.m. Friday.

A fire at a chemical plant in Chester, PA, sent 10 firefighters and three employees to the hospital early Friday after they were decontaminated at the scene.DELAWARE COUNTY, PA, EMERGENCY SERVICES

The fire extended into an adjoining lab, prompting officials to call in a hazmat decontamination unit in case firefighters and employees in the building had been exposed to potentially harmful chemicals, Rigby said.

After on-scene decontamination, the 10 firefighters and three employees went to three area hospitals for further examination, Rigby said. There was no immediate indication that anyone had been adversely affected by exposure to any chemical.

A fire at a chemical plant in Chester, PA, sent 10 firefighters and three employees to the hospital early Friday after they were decontaminated at the scene.DELAWARE COUNTY, PA, EMERGENCY SERVICES

Norquay’s product line includes chromic, electronic, catalyst, ligand, medical adhesive and UV performance products, according to a statement announcing the company’s acquisition by MPD Chemicals in January 2018.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

TWO OHIO FIREFIGHTERS HURT AT HOUSE FIRE

Firefighter Close Calls - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 11:08

The Chronicle-Telegraph:

Two firefighters were injured while fighting an early-morning blaze in Elyria.

The Elyria Fire Department was called to a house fire at 4 a.m. today at 134 Clark Street. They found a fire on the second floor of a two-story house, and were able to get it under control in about 15 minutes. The house sustained smoke and heat damage on the second floor and water damage on the first floor, but remains habitable, firefighters said. Damage was estimated around $12,000.

One firefighter sustained a minor injury and was treated at the scene. Another had a knee injury and was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center for further evaluation.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

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