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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prepared to Handle a Bio-Fuel Fire?

When there’s a large industrial plant fire with no injuries, loss of life, and minimal damage to property you can say it was a good day, as well as a good fire fighting operation. This is my opinion after reading several news reports concerning an emergency fire response. Such was the case at the Minnesota Soybean Processor Biodiesel Plant that had a fire in Brewster MN this past Memorial weekend on May 23, 2008. This processing plant processes 35 million bushels of soybean and makes roughly 30 million gallons of biodiesel fuel a year.

The fire at this facility was reported at around 10:00 pm that Saturday night by the plant employees by dialing 911. After reading several news articles on the incident it became apparent the fire fighting operation conducted to contain and extinguish the fire was due to good training, as well as good community relations with surrounding fire departments. According to a press release from Nobles County Emergency Management: “More than 20 fire and law enforcement agencies from three counties in Minnesota and one Iowa county responded with assistance.” Between 100 to 200 fire fighters and emergency services personnel were involved in making the community safe.

Brewster MN residence living in close proximity were told to evacuated with a one mile cordon established around the processing plant. All those residents that evacuated were able to return back to their homes at 1:00 am Sunday morning.

Only real damage as a result of the fire was on a biodiesel and soybean oil storage tanks. The cause of the fire was not determined and is under investigation. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal is conducting the fire investigation.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) offers to those in the industry as well as local fire officers and fire departments some tips on how to handle the rare fires involving biodiesel.

This NBB press release along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) have cooperated for more then a year preparing and distribute safety training materials:

“With a flash point of 200 degrees, biodiesel is the safest fuel to handle, store and use,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “MnSP is certified as a BQ-9000 producer, the industry’s voluntary quality control program, so they were very well prepared to handle any safety issue.”

NBB has posted the new “Biodiesel: Response Considerations” safety resource on its web site and is mailing copies to NBB producer members to work with their local fire departments. The IAFC will distribute 2700 copies to fire departments and at events, like the International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference held this week near Baltimore.

“The Biodiesel Response Considerations training program provides the critical information First Responders and Haz Mat Response Teams need for a safe and competent response,” said Captain Steve Hergenreter of Fort Dodge, Iowa. “It includes information on the chemicals involved in production, along with information on the properties of biodiesel. Whether preplanning a facility or responding to one, understanding these chemical and physical properties ensures a response based on facts, science and circumstances.”

Here's a two very good NBB YouTube videos on “Biodiesel: Response Considerations”...



It is worth repeating also, the making of biodiesel fuels has become more common place to where it’s not just out on the farm where this alternative fuel source is being made; it could and has been made in the home. There are no real restrictions in making biodiesel for the most part other then maybe the quantity.

“You won’t find a rule anywhere that says you can’t cook biodiesel in your garage,” said Bob Benedetti who works for the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Mass as a flammable liquids engineer.

There could be stockpiled items such as tanks & barrels of materials at a home garage or out on a farm. Storage of biodiesel on a farm could range anywhere from 200-300 gallons in plastic containers if not more. Fire fighters need to be aware of this potentially hazardous material when responding to a fire call that a heavy column of dark black smoke is coming from a home residence in the community or reported barn fire. Once large quantities of biodiesel get burning there’s going to be one very hot fire and will make for a bad day.

Today’s local fire departments, emergency services, and law enforcement need to pre-plan and practice for any type of biodiesel fuel incident, be it small or big, that could occur if processing is taking place in the local community of this alternative fuel source. Being prepared is always the better option.

If there are any updated information concerning the Minnesota Soybean Processor Biodiesel Plant fire in Brewster MN as to the actual cause of the fire or any other follow-up information, I will post it here at the TFPFP Blog.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Twitter Thing

As mentioned in a previous blog entry of mine, I’ve ventured into doing The Twitter Thing now. Again I’m not sure how it happen? It just did. I guess I was curious about what Twitter was all about, that it made me take the step of setting up a Twitter account. Getting a Twitter account started is pretty easy to do too. If I can set up an account to tweet tweet on then anyone can. Working all the bells & whistles is another thing. lol All in good time.

I think being online and surfing the internet at home or work is a common place thing to do now. Hopefully not to much surfing the internet at work for those that do when there’s actual work to do? lol We are getting more and more information from the internet these days. Wow, I can still remember when there weren’t no computers in the home or very few at work and if you had a color TV with cable then you were the cool family in the neighborhood. A little age dating there but it’s true I think as well as the fact that computers and the internet are a part of what we do in our daily lives now. No turning back now. Even little towns and villages are getting Wi-Fi wireless internet access areas at the library. So when something new comes along to do on the internet, like Twitter the general reaction is one of curiosity.

I was surprise to fine out, and really I shouldn’t be, there are different fire departments and fire protection agencies that are doing The Twitter Thing. Now there’s a lot of news agencies that you can get the latest news from like ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and FoX. All are online now with Twitter also, as if their news web sites weren’t enough in providing news information. So to find out that the NFPA, USFA, National Fire, and yes there are a whole bunch of fire departments out there using Twitter made me think that this is not a passing fad. When looking at the “tweets” being made, there’s a lot of current, at the moment, moving updated information being posted through this new online platform. I’m seeing Twitter more and more as a “Good Communication Tool” to use the more I use it now.

So what actually is Twitter? If some are still not sure what Tweeter is, here's a real good YouTube that explains it all:

I do like the Twitter. Why? Like I said it’s a “Good Communication Tool.” Just read the New York Post: TWEET DEALS, USING TWITTER TO FIND A JOB which is a great article on how Twitter is a valuable networking tool. That is no game when something so simple a Twitter can get you back to being employed after getting caught in a “Resource Reduction” which is what their calling lay offs now. Twitter is some serious stuff! The New York Post article mentions Twitter “high roller,” Joel Comm who is the author of “Twitter Power.”

The Twitter Thing is endless when you really look at its overall potential for information and the knowledgeable people you can, in twitter terms, “Following.” Twitter is shaping our culture in my opinion and is here to stay. The Twitter Genie is out of the bottle so if your not into it, well, you have to put up with the folks that do. Tweet Tweet! : )

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fire Safty: Grilling out? Here are some safety tips...

Why hit the beach when you could spend Memorial Day weekend at home?

That’s one question many New Yorkers are asking in the wake of a struggling economy – one that is forcing many people to forgo vacationing and instead stay close to home this summer and enjoy outdoor activities like backyard barbecues.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) reminds New Yorkers that while “Staycations” is fun for the whole family, it also wants homeowners to play it safe this summer.

“With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, the outdoor cookout season will soon be in full swing. Unfortunately, a barbecue grill could start a fire if certain safety rules are ignored. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, almost 5,000 Americans are injured by grill fires every year. We urge families to follow these simple safety tips so that their summer season remains a safe and fun one,” said Thomas J. Cuff, Jr., President of FASNY.


• Check your grill thoroughly for leaks, cracking or brittleness before using it.

• Check the tubes leading to the burner regularly for blockages. Check your specific grill manufacturer's instructions. • Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, trees or anything else flammable.

• Store and use your grill on a large flat surface that cannot burn (e.g. concrete or asphalt).

• Don't use grills in a garage, on a porch, deck or on top of anything that can catch on fire. Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof; it is both dangerous and illegal.

• Keep children away from fires and grills. It is a good idea to establish a safety zone around the grill and instruct children to remain outside the zone.

• Have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose attached to a water supply, or at least 16-quarts of water close by in case of a fire.

• Before getting a propane cylinder filled, check for any damages to it.

• Never transport or store propane cylinders in the trunk of your automobile.


• Keep children away from the grill.

• Don't wear loose clothing that might catch fire.

• Use long-handled barbecue tools and/or flame-resistant mitts.

• Never use any flammable liquid other than a barbecue starter fluid to start/freshen a fire.

• Never pour or squirt starter fluid onto an open flame. The flame can easily flashback along the fluid's path to the container in your hands.

• Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill, they are flammable!

• Never leave the grill unattended.


• When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all the connections are secure and open the lid and strike your match or lighter before turning on the gas.

• Always shut off the propane fuel at the grill and at the bottle after you have finished barbecuing. Otherwise, this will lead to fire hazards, such as leaks and faulty regulators.

• Store your BBQ and propane cylinder outdoors.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use, cleaning and maintenance of your BBQ.

• Test your cylinder for leaks on a regular basis. When testing for leaks, never use matches or an open flame. Use soapy water or a leak detector.

• Store your cylinder away from heat and insert a safety plug on the valve.


• Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning and storing instructions that accompany the grill.

• Keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup that may lead to a fire.

• Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home and/or near any possible sources of flame.


• For PROPANE Grills - turn off the burners. For CHARCOAL Grills - close the grill lid. Disconnect the power to ELECTRIC Grills.

• For PROPANE Grills - if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.

• If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department.

• If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, ALWAYS CALL YOUR FIRE DEPARTMENT.

• NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fire Fighter's Referance Materials

A good library reference source for fire fighters is a must to keep current while on the job or with an on-going self training program. To have a place to refer to on basic fire fighting techniques can make the difference between getting a task done and done correctly or not getting it done which could result in someone having a very bad day on an emergency scene.

Though the many state fire service classes conducted and emergency first responder classes you gain knowledge by taking them as well as acquiring a lot of books, manuals and other reference materials. A fire fighter could use YouTube, the web itself, or hopefully this blog TFPFP as reference sources also. One only has to attend a class, turn a page or do a few clicks on the PC, and there you have it...INFORMATION. The information within the reference library will refresh and give a review on something you already know or enable one to gain new knowledge. Either way you become a better fire fighter in doing the job when the bell/alarm rings to respond.

The "Essentials of Fire Fighting and Fire Department Operations" is a very good first book for anyone entering/joining a local voluntary fire department to refer to, and usually the first book used on that first state fire class. For New York State though they have their own version of fire fighting essentials that’s basically the same in nature if you ask me. Why New York has to be different then a national standard I have no idea…no idea. Pretty much the same information if you ask me, just different formats I guess in presenting it.

Jones & Bartlett Publishers in conjunction with NFPA and IAFC, recently released the book "Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations." Written by Rob Schnepp, Assistant Chief of Special Operations, Alameda (CA) Fire Department, and a principal member of NFPA's Technical Committee on Hazardous Materials Response Personnel (NFPA 472 and 473), the book provides emergency responders with the skills necessary to stay safe while mitigating hazmat incidents. Based on the 2008 editions of NFPA 472 and 473, the book also provides responders with information related to the recognition and identification of hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction, and what their roles are in the response plan. Contributing authors include Glen Rudner, Hazardous Materials Response Officer for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and Ed Allen, Emergency Management Coordinator and SWAT Tactical Operations Coordinator with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office (FL). Mr. Rudner and Mr. Allen are also principal members of the NFPA 472 technical committee.

Having an established library to refer to is a good idea and it’s best to start with the basics then build on it. Before you know it you’ll have a collection that can becomes very important to you. The NFPA, IFSTA, and IAFC are just a few very good places to go to and stay current on what’s going on in the fire fighting service.


(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Month Later!

Well now, here it is, a whole month since I started blogging and WOW! I’ve actually written some stuff and posted stuff to where the TFPFP Blog has taken form. CONTENT, CONTENT! That’s what the blogging thing is all about. : )

Now I guess everyone goes through this “look at me, look at me, its my one month blog anniversary” and I’m no exception. I’ll admit it. LOL! I’ve actually had fun doing the bogging, and I’m looking at some other projects because of it, as well as continuing blogging. I have one project on the drawing board now. I don’t want to bite off more then I can chew so for me, like I stated in my “Training is Important…” blog entry yesterday, being steady, in control, and most important: be consistent will be my key foundation to continue with my blogging. At least till my “look at me, look at me, it’s my one YEAR blog anniversary” comes around.

The month has gone by very quick but writing articles for TFPFP blog has put me down that path of opening a Facebook to see what that is all about. Actually it was my buds from those Air Force days in Kansas that got me going on the Facebook. It is great hooking up with them again along with some friends & old co-workers to catch up with and to stay in contact with now. Alot more fun then the email. Facebook is what I would call a “Good Communication Tool.”

I’ve also ventured into the Twitter realm since starting the TFPFP blog. Oh my, how did that happen? At first I was a bit wary, not knowing what to expect of venturing into the unknown of the Twitter World. Figure I see what I thought was something new but had been around for a few years, and getting a lot of play on the internet and on the news was all about. After reading up on it, seeing a few what I would call Twitter “high rollers” talk about Twitter, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to giving it a try. I said that about playing an online game called Travian and got pretty hooked but beat that habit, luckily after two go arounds with the game. Fun game but can be very time consuming. Twitter isn’t an online game, it’s a bit different and I can see it being time consuming if you let it. Just check the YouTubes about Twitter, funny stuff.

I like the Twitter though after driving it around the block this past month and will be hanging out on the web with it. Why? It’s another “Good Communication Tool.” Just read the New York Post: TWEET DEALS, USING TWITTER TO FIND A JOB which is a great article on how the Twitter is a valuable networking tool. That is no game when something so simple a Twitter can get you back to being employed after getting caught in a “Resource Reduction” which is what their calling lay offs now. Twitter is some serious stuff! The New York Post article also mentions or I should say quote one of my Twitter “high rollers,” Joel Comm who is the author of “Twitter Power.” Joel Comm is a very inspiring person that if it wasn’t for the blogging and twittering I wouldn’t have met or known about otherwise. This Twitter is endless of the knowledgeable people you can, in twitter terms, “Following.”

So for me this first month of blogging on the TFPFP blog has been very eye opening and a learning experience. As I look at Google and do a two word search for “Tioga Fire” the results is 7th of about 444,000 for TFPFP. If you do a three word search on Google for “Tioga Fire Protection” the results has TFPFP at #1 of about 46,100. Wow! That’s a benchmark I like to thank those that have visited Tioga Fire Protection and Fire Prevention thus far.

I will keep to my core ideas for this Blogger spot of having an area to share thoughts, ideas, or just some general discussion on the Fire Protection & Fire Prevention subjects. I remain excited in having this spot on the internet to be able to do that. Thank you again and God Bless. : )

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Training is Important...

How Important Is Fire Fighting Training?

When I was really into my running program years back, training for the weekend race or marathon, I knew the amount of training put in would determine if I would be successful or not. Running those marathons though, it was just being able to finish the distance. lol The training was important, not only the physical aspect of being prepared but the mindset of being prepared. The training before hand though prepared me to be able to do.

This basic outlook I applied to my running, I applied the same also to my fire protection training as well. Like in my running, being physical and mentally prepared for fire fighting is equal if not as important. You have to know what you’re doing to accomplish the tasks. There are many tasks to many various scenarios that a fire fighter may face. Training on the basics is very important. A quote I used in an earlier blog entry here on Tioga Fire Protection and Fire Prevention applies now when talking about Training:

“A battlefield does not give an opportunity for study, one does what he can to apply what he already knows, therefore, it is necessary that he know thoroughly and be able to use his knowledge quickly.”

How is training approached then? Well, like in my running program I applied/followed the same important rules to my fire fighting training:

1. Use Proper Form: do all aspects correctly and do them in the way they should be done. Keep it simple and basic. Making something more complex then it should be will only muck things up.

2. Steady & Control: be consistent. Going through the training fast as you can just to get it done is just short changing yourself and others that may be training. Learn the whole subject.

3. Full Range in Motion: use all the tools that are needed to perform the tasks in training because when the real deal happens then there’s no question what needs to be done. Do not if you’re a trainee or trainer accept training that is a “dog & pony” show and have it said its training. There’s a step by step process to doing training.

4. Focusing In: focus in on the whole training process of teaching and learning the “how” by doing the hands on, apply what is being learned, evaluate what has been taught as well as the “how” and see if changes need to be done to improve and make better the training process. Change can be a good thing I’m told. lol

Training is all about being effective not only in the way of doing but also the way of thinking. When someone is well trained and faced with a situation, that person should be able to respond quickly and wisely. This performance applies to a fire fighter putting on a SCBA and pulling a fire hose line to fight a fire as well as the emergency medical technician using CPR on a person in need.

The steps of doing training are simple:

1. Starting Point of Training: do an assessment of the training needs themselves. What is needed? Identify needs and determine the training requirements to meet them.

2. The person training should be required to design a course that best gets the “how” across.

3. It goes without saying the person training must be prepared to conduct the course of study.

4. Assessment, evaluation, and analysis the training activates. To include an overall assessment performance of those being trained. Any short falls will surface and adjustment should be taken to improve on future training.

5. Trainers/trainees should and be expected to give feedback and consult on overall training to upper levels of management.

A training program is something that is not fixed in stone. Sure you have the required subjects such as OSHA training throughout the year for local fire departments. So planning the training is important to have training sessions up and running to get the “how” across to persons expected to do the tasks. Make training fun but the most important part of any training session/class is to have a sense, when a person walks away at the end of class, that a good review had taken place or knowledge had been gained.

Like in my training runs that prepared me to finish the race, the same applies to fire fighting. Getting good knowledge and training beforehand on “how” to use tool & equipment of the trade will protect and enable to accomplish what needs to be done on the fire ground scene.

You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind ~ author unknown

The same applies to training in the fire protection field, you just can’t think about training and the training magically happens. Training must be explained, shown, have practical “hands on,” actual showing & doing, and displaying confidence in doing what is being taught. This is the training process, a multi-step process of “how” something is done. Just thinking about training is not going to make the grade, the actual doing is going to get you across the finish line.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rural Fire Safety

Self-reliance is the rule for fire safety for many people. If you live in an area where the local fire department is more than a few minutes away because of travel time or distance, or if you are outside the limits of the nearest town, be sure you know how to be self-reliant in a fire emergency. Use these fire safety tips to help you protect yourself, your home and its surroundings from fire.

Rural Fire Safety and Prevention

A move from an urban center to a suburb or rural area requires you to rethink fire safety. First, you must be aware of special fire hazards near wooded areas. Second, geographic location may create longer response times for fire and rescue services.

If you live in the rural-urban interface, the point where homes meet combustible vegetation, you must increase your role to protect lives and property in your community beyond the city limits.

Fire Facts about Rural Living

Once a fire starts outdoors in a rural area, it is often hard to control. Wildland firefighters are trained to protect natural resources, not homes and buildings.

Many homes are located far from fire stations. The result is longer emergency response times.

Within a matter of minutes, an entire home may be destroyed by fire.

Limited water supply in rural areas can make fire suppression difficult.

Homes may be secluded and surrounded by woods, dense brush and combustible vegetation that fuel fires.

Tips for Making Your Property Fire Resistant

Keep lawns trimmed, leaves raked, and the roof and rain-gutters free from debris such as dead limbs and leaves.

Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.

Store flammable materials, liquids and solvents in metal containers outside the home at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences.

Create defensible space by thinning trees and brush within 30 feet around your home.

Landscape your property with fire resistant plants and vegetation to prevent fire from spreading quickly.

Post home address signs that are clearly visible from the road.

Provide emergency vehicle access with properly constructed driveways and roadways, at least 12 feet wide with adequate turnaround space.

Make sure water sources, such as hydrants and ponds, are accessible to the fire department.

Burning yard waste is a fire hazard. Check with your local fire agency on a non-emergency number for fire permit requirements and restricted burning times.

Protect Your Home

Use fire resistant, protective roofing and materials like stone, brick and metal to protect your home. Avoid using wood materials that offer the least fire protection.

Cover all exterior vents, attics and eaves with metal mesh screens no larger than 6 millimeters.

Install multipane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters to protect large windows from radiant heat.

Use fire-resistant draperies for added window protection.

Have chimneys, wood stoves and all home heating systems inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.

Prepare Your Family

Know how to contact fire emergency services in your area.

Plan ahead. Make sure you and your family are prepared for a fire emergency.

Develop and practice escape and evacuation plans with your family.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long-life smoke alarms.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is F.O.D.?

Well in a nut shell F.O.D. is an acronym that stands for “Foreign Object Damage.” F.O.D. is any damage in which any type of object that may or may not compromise the safety and/or performance to something mechanical, such as an aircraft. It’s basically and commonly any type of debris that can potentially cause damage to an aircraft engine if ingested out on a ramp or runway of an airfield/airport. The geese, that were sucked into the engines of the US Airways plane that crashed into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 had shut down the engine, was F.O.D.. Flying F.O.D. but F.O.D. none the less.

When I was in the Air Force as an ARFF fire fighter we were required along with others working on the flight line, to pick up any such items while working on the airfield, and even check each tire of ARFF vehicles or other vehicles that were driven on the flight line. With all the activity that’s on an airport parking ramp, taxiway, and runways, keeping it all cleared and F.O.D. free is a continuous, on going, labor intense job. Very important if you think what the consequence can be by not picking up an item that doesn’t belong.

In the news today, the term F.O.D. was highlighted in a big way. You’ve may or may not have heard about the incident but here’s a YouTube video of what I’m talking about :

The aircraft is a Boeing 747 and was getting ready to depart Los Angeles international airport with 245 passages. The F.O.D. in this case is an empty baggage container sucked into the number one engine of the aircraft. Something like this should never happen, but due to probable human error of having an object not tied down on a container trailer getting to close to the engine intake area it did. It shows the straight of a jet engine when it’s not even at full power, more then likely at idle seeing the aircraft was on a taxiway.

So all the news and manly those headlines such as “Baggage Container Sucked Into Jet Engine,” or “Jet ‘Eats’ Baggage Cart On Runway In LA,” even “Jumbo Jet carrying hundreds of passengers grounded when baggage container is sucked into engine” can be sum up into three letters…


I’m blogging about it today mainly because I still have to deal with and be aware of it in my current work as an ARFF fire fighter. The two examples the geese and baggage container are fairly large items, but an item as small as a nut or bolt can ripe through a aircraft engine causing a ground emergency to take place that can make for a bad day. Watching out for those small things are just important and can be as dangerous as large ones. Seeing news about F.O.D. shows me how important of a reminder to not take those small things for granted. That folks is pretty much the “Nuts & Bolts” of “Foreign Object Damage.” Be careful and be safe.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fire Protection Training: GROUND LADDERS

The ladder is a basic firefighting tool. A variety of types are available to meet a wide spectrum of firefighting tasks. It is important that the types of ladders carried on your apparatus meet your local needs and that you are proficient in their use.

By their design fire service ground ladders are potentially dangerous under normal circumstances and use. They are large, awkward to carry or control and limit maneuverability. Under emergency conditions, especially in hours of darkness, they become substantially more dangerous.

Observance of safety rules can minimize the potential harm to everyone on the fire ground and increase the effectiveness of ground ladder evolutions. There is no substitute for common sense, make sure you wear required safety clothing: Gloves; Helmet with shield; Turnout coat and pants; Turnout boots; Breathing apparatus if necessary.

Select correct ladder(s) for task and large enough to support operation. For proper length estimate 12 feet per story and estimate 4 feet to window sills. Have sufficient excess length to perform assigned task on the fire ground.

Assign sufficient number of fire fighters for ladder operations. Use only ladders which are well maintained. Lift with legs and keep back straight. Person at butt is generally ladder commander. ALWAYS work as a team. Use standard commands for preparing and executing ladder maneuvers Unused ladders should be returned to apparatus or staging area.

Ladders should have the right-of-way on the fire ground. Carry ladders with proper number of personnel, and use legs not back. Use standard precautionary warnings such as:

"Ladder coming through" or "Ladder coming around"

Watch for ground level hazards and obstacles.

When raising ladders have the proper number of personnel and use proper method for type and size of ladder. Make sure the path is free of overhead obstructions such as electrical lines, telephone lines, trees and other obstructions.

Use standard precautionary warnings when raising ladders:

"Fingers and toes" or "Pawls locked"

Clear the area of unnecessary personnel, position at strong points of structure, position upwind, and position out of path of potential fire extension.

Climb ladders at proper climbing angle of a 75 degree angle, less than 75 degree angle puts unnecessary stress on ladder and reduces weight bearing capacity. Greater than 75 degree angle decreases the stability of ladder.

Test ladder stability positioned on stable surface, positioned on level surface, properly resting against structure that has adequate structural integrity. Secure ladder and tie off with clove hitch.

Use assistant to heel the ladder with a person heeling ladder should exert slight inward pressure since this "load" must be factored in when determining how much weight ladder is supporting. At no time should person heeling ladder look upward. Person heeling ladder should have helmet in place and shield down. Person heeling ladder shall hold the beams NOT the rungs. Check to ensure pawls are locked prior to climbing onto each fly section. Use legs to climb, not arms. Erect posture/back straight and maximum ladder loading is one person per fly when climbing.

When lowering ladders use proper number of personnel and proper method for type and size of ladder being lowered. Keep path free of overhead obstructions such as electrical lines, telephone lines, trees. Again, use standard precautionary warnings:

"Fingers and toes," "Pawls locked," "Clear"

Make sure designated area is clear and control the speed with which ladder is being lowered.

Ground ladders are essential in rescue and fire extinguishment operations. They permit access to areas where such access would not be otherwise available. By their nature, however, they can be dangerous unless properly maintained and utilized. It is important that safety rules be followed to limit the number and severity of firefighter injuries.

One of the most basic skills a firefighter must possess is the ability to safely lift and carry 16 - 35 foot ladders. These ladders are long, heavy, and awkward. They present safety hazards to the fire fighters moving them and to all other fire fighters working on the fire grounds. Only by using proper lifting and moving techniques can the number of injuries attributable to ladder evolutions be reduced. Practice, drill, but do it safely so when the real deal comes about raising a ladder will be a task that contributes to a successful fire ground.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fire Safey: "Have a 2nd Way Out!"

Not all alarms that the fire department respond to are life threating, but far too many are. The fire department responds to all types and kinds of emergencies, hazardous chemical dangers, auto accidents, and fires to name a few. Now is the time to educate yourselve, family members, neighbors, and co-workers. By doing so helps us all gain a better understanding of how important fire prevention in the home and work place is.

Here’s a YouTube video about some fire safety tips by Captain Joe Bruni. Fire Fighter Joe has more than 30 years of experience as a street fire fighter and company officer. He has also worked as department training officer in the Fire and Rescue Safety & Training Division. Here’s the video…

Fire Drills Are Important For Because:

• They help ensure familiarity with exit routes and can build confidence in your ability to respond promptly and safely if an actual fire occurs.

• They familiarize building occupants with the sound of the fire alarm.

• They are training opportunities for emergency response units.

• They serve as important tests of alarm systems and fire reporting procedures.

• They save lives! A fire drill is a brief interruption in your life … better brief than permanent.

The majority of fatal fires occur in the middle of the night when people are normally asleep. It’s to late to discover the bedroom window is stuck and won’t open while a fire blazes around you. Practice finding your escape route . Know where all exit ways will lead to, and that would be outside. In a real fire once you probably won’t be able to see through the smoke, stay low, so crawl on your hands and knees. When you reach a exit get out and stay out. “Fire Drills Save Lives.” Always know and "Have A 2nd Way Out!"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tragedy in Tioga County, New York

You never want to hear about it, but it does and will happen. A fully involved structural fire, in this case a structure with four apartment units at 442 Clark Street, Waverly, New York.

The fire took place this past Wednesday night (May 6, 2009), and was reported at 11:16 pm. As reported by all the local newspapers and TV news outlets that I’ve read concerning this emergency, nine persons survived the structural fire, but one resident didn’t make it out and died as a result of the fire it would appear. There could have been more loss of live if it wasn’t for the use of alternate exit routes from the second floor out windows, as well as a good Samaritan neighbor assisting those off the roof escaping the fire with a ladder. The fire is reported to have “started in the hallway with the fire start in bottom” of the stairwell. It was also reported that “A person was lighting a lantern, and was burnt himself,…But he notified all the apartments to let [them] out. There was one deceased, and he was a great man.”

"A total of 60 fire fighters converged on the scene to battle the blaze... It took fire fighters a little over an hour to get the blaze under control... Probably by 6 am, we had the fire pretty much contained and out." stated Waverly Fire Chief Howard. Fire fighters tried to located the one missing person, but due to the fact the fire & smoke was so intense it prevented them from completing the rescue attempt. Waverly Village Police said people living upstairs had to use upstairs windows as exits due to flames consuming the main/common exit way through the stairwell, and there were no fire escapes. Cause of the fire is not of a ‘suspicious’ nature but is being investigation by the Waverly Village Police Department.

A tragedy like this fire shows the importance of a knowing secondary way to egress/exit a structure if a fire prevents you to do so. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes that having a sound escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and protect you and your family's safety if a fire occurs. More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured. Deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable.

Always look for that second exit be it at home, in the store shopping, at the movie theater, or hotel when your on vacation. Every year people parish in fires because they didn’t know what to do. Have you prepared a fire escape plan and practiced it? It really doesn’t take but a few minutes in most cases. Start by getting into the habit to locate and learn the use of alternate routes to safety. Don’t wait until there’s a fire to discover windows are painted or nail shut. Check ALL windows to see if they open and ensure passageways are clear of obstructions. Fast actions are needed in a fire and practice helps if you have to put that action into play.

Here’s a YouTube video on “Home Fire Escape,” that shows safe & effective ways of escaping. Such as the fire in the Village of Waverly showed, the majority of fire deaths occur in the home and of those most happen at night between 10pm and 6am. Keep your family safe and practice a home fire drill. Watching and reviewing this video will show what one needs to know and needs to be practiced...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Leadership, It’s Not Just a Word

When we look up to someone that person, whether they know it or not, is leading. Where we live, where we go to school, and for sure where we work, there are leaders present. Be it a community leader, a teacher leading a class, or a manager leading the group by outlining a project and then a supervisor leading the way to accomplish the work at hand. These are just a few examples of leaders we see everyday. There are different styles and treats to a leader. What style defines what type of leader.

Anyone in a leadership role is a person that holds a responsibility in which as a leader you contribute to key organizational out comes and provide direction to the group as a whole. There is and has to be trust and integrity when being a leader, and in my opinion this is the corner stone to leadership. You opinion may differ and I respect that because there are many more building blocks to leadership. But, with out the trust of those you are leading and the lack of being honest along with upholding ethical principles that are ones integrity, the leader will soon enough see that he/she is not a leader in the eyes of those to be lead.

There are those in a position of authority that think they are a leader but really don’t measure up as a leader in the eyes of those being lead. It might be due to the leader not fully knowing or understanding the position or job of dealing with people. Or the leader might have a “my way or the highway” leadership style or a leadership style where the followers are leading and the leader is just a figurehead. The worst case leadership style is when the line is crossed of an individual miss using the leadership role in favor something or someone more so over the group that is being lead. If this is the case then for the most part the group will go into a mode of just respecting the position and not the person that is in the position of leadership. It would become a notion of going through the motions in a manner of speaking.

Leaders should not think of themselves as simple managers or supervisors; but rather as “Team Leaders.” Thinking of yourself as a manager or supervisor places you in a position of traditional authority based solely on respect for the position, which places you in a position of power. By understanding the personal work preferences and motivations of your team members, you as a individual, rather then your position, will earn their respect and trust. By earning the individual respect of those you lead, having the trust, and not compromising on integrity the end result is having a basic structure of developing a Team that is being lead with leadership.

Leadership is not just a word but a make up of a group of many words that have true meaning. Just like the group of many individuals that one leads have a true meaning. In the fire service those in the position of leadership, for the most part, know this and lead by the example of trust and integrity.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Safety Tips for Safe Grilling of Food

“With simple steps, mishaps can be easily avoided and dinner saved.”The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reminds grilling enthusiasts and basic backyard cooks alike to remember grilling safety as the outdoor cooking season heats up. In 2003-2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, causing 120 reported injuries and $80 million in direct property damage.

"Nothing dampens an outdoor barbeque like a fire or burn," said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. "With simple steps, mishaps can be easily avoided and dinner saved."

One-third of the non-confined home structure fires involving grills started on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, 18% started on a courtyard, terrace, or patio, and 11% started on an exterior wall surface. Of these fires that involved gas grills, the leading contributing factor was a leak or break in hoses or other equipment, and the leading contributing factor of fires involving charcoal or other solid-fueled grills was something that could burn being too close to the grill.

In 2007, 18,600 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.

For general grilling safety tips, audio clips, statistical information, and a slide show on how to prepare your gas grill for grilling, visit

NFPA offers the following grilling safety tips:

· Gas and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide poisoning.

· Place the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

· Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.

· Keep children and pets away from the grill area: have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.

· Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames.

· Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

· Use only charcoal starter fluid to start a fire.

· Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to get the fire going.

· Store the charcoal starter fluid out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.

Gas Grills

· Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame:

· Turn off the gas tank and grill.

· If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

· If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

· If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

· Only use equipment bearing the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers' instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

· Never store propane gas tanks in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the tank and leave it outside.

If you have a grill fire, immediately move a safe distance from the fire and call 911.

For flare-ups:

· Be prepared to keep the fire under control. If it is possible, raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature.

· Normal flare-ups can be handled with a cup of water.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization 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. Visit NFPA's Web site at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fire Protection Training: ROAD FLARES

Road flares and reflectors are commonly used as well as very useful tool on roadways & highways during highway incidents and other related emergencies. Emergency responders on our roadways & highways tend to become complacent about these tools. Just like using any tool the user needs to be aware of potential for injure and the consequences of using any tool carelessly.

A road flare is made up of: Flare cap, Striker cap, Striker, Body/solid core, Igniter, Stand, Pull strip, and Hollow tube.

In general the road flares when used, will last for about 10, 15, 20, or 30 minute. The time duration will be noted on the flare being used in your department. If the use is for a longer term emergencies it will require re-lighting additional road flares or even considering cones, signs, and barriers. Alerting the caution to warn traffic of hazard at hand is important to set-up as soon as possible to protect those or traffic control fire fighters and EMS personnel working the emergency scene.

Safety should always be in play when using road flares. A road flares burn at approximately 1400 degrees F. Phosphorus is the main chemical and vapors are toxic. You should avoid breathing any fumes. Flares will splatter or sometimes shoot particles of hot burning phosphorus. Contact with water can cause small explosive-like reactions. Use gloves and eye protection when igniting and extinguishing road flares. Keep bare skin covered use PPE.

To ignite/light road flares grasp flare with either hand near base with gloves on and goggles/face shield in place. With free hand grasp and remove flare cap, twist either direction, exposing igniter. Remove striker cap, place thumb under edge, force upward Exposing striker. Place igniter and striker of flare together, with exposed igniter in one hand and flare cap with exposed striker in the other. Ignite flare with hands fully ex- tended from body, eyes turned away from flare and striker. Rapidly rub striker across igniter with movement of flare away from the body. Repeat striking until flare is ignited. Hold ignited flare at arm's length from body, pointed away from body. DO NOT look directly at flame and DO NOT inhale toxic smoke.

Should road flares be held by emergency responder to direct traffic? No, and is a bad idea due to the burn injury hazard. Hot phosphorus could land on or in passing vehicles. Hot phosphorus can easily burn through clothing, even safety turnouts, and can cause severe burns
If raining, flare should not be set straight up, as raindrops hitting burning end directly can cause splattering of hot phosphorus (up to 20 feet). Due to cylindrical shape, flares may: Roll, be blown away by air currents from passing vehicles, be accidentally kicked, or be run over by vehicles requiring concern for where the flare may roll (Dry Vegetation, Fuel Sources, etc.)

To overcome these problems by carefully placing flares, constantly watch their placement, chock with rocks if you need to. Some flares have a plastic tab that prevents them from rolling. To utilize the "Anti-Rolling Tab," place the flare cap on the non-burning end of the flare after ignition. A wire stand can be used to hold the flare in place.

Avoid looking directly at flame for any length of time. Extreme brightness may damage or impair vision. Do not throw a burning flare down, impact on burning end may or will cause explosive-like reaction. Burning particles will scatter many feet.

To safely extinguish road flare you should: Find an area void of vegetation. Grind flare into ground rotating clockwise and counterclockwise. If necessary, use a small amount of water to assure complete extinguishment. It may be necessary to extinguish
road flare slag as well.

Emergency Responders that’s use road flare on an emergency scene of a MVA on the roadways & highways need to be wearing those neon safety vests that will help keep fire fighters and EMS personnel safe. Also, continuously do “Your Own 360” scene safety while performing, because being safe is just plan good, common sense.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Smoke Detectors: Change Your Battery!

The beeping sound from a smoke alarm could save someone’s life. Everyone knows this fact. We’ve all seen the stories of how smoke detectors have save lives from fire. But, we’ve always hear the flip side of the coin and those deaths associated with fires where the battery had lost it’s charge and the early warning of a smoke detector didn’t work correctly.

Your probably asking yourselves, didn’t we get that “change your battery in the smoke detector’ reminder this for daylight saving time this past March? Yeah that’s normal 'Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery' that we do when we turn our clocks ahead in the Spring and we turn our clocks back in the Fall. Call me a dollar short but I’m one that always like doing a reminder in between those times and if you haven’t yet…change that battery…what are you waiting for?

Fire prevention is a year round outlook that it don’t hurt to get a little extra reminding. Everyone should remind families & friends to take the life saving step, by replacing the batteries in all smoke alarms. Have you at least been testing your smoke detector at least monthly? Hmmmm…note to self, “test smoke detectors in the house.” I will and you all should too as well as remind your neighbors. A smoke detector is one of the cheapest and most effective ways homeowners can provide year round fire protection for themselves and their families.

Every year lives are lost when the smoke detector becomes non-functioning. It takes but a moment to test or replace a battery in a smoke detector, and they do save lives.

Follow these simple tips concerning smoke detectors…

- Test smoke alarms once a month

- Replace batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year

- Don’t “borrow” or remove batteries from smoke alarms even temporarily

- Regularly vacuum or dust smoke alarms to keep them working properly

- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years

- Don’t paint over smoke alarms

- Practice family fire drills so everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off
Ok now, be fire safe and check those smoke detectors. Go on now, it’ll only take a minute.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Arson for Profit - Arson Awareness Week May 3 to 9

Arson is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the willful or malicious burning of a property (as a building) especially with criminal or fraudulent intent.”

As a fire fighter, arson is defined as “an unnecessary fire and a crime.” Law enforcement defines arson as a crime.

This coming week, the United States Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the International Association of Arson Investigators, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and a number of insurance groups are trying to raise the public’s awareness about this staggering problem.

You didn’t hear that this was a problem? Here are some numbers from the NFPA for 2005: --323,900 arson fires--490 civilian deaths--3 fire fighter deaths--1,500 civilian injuries--7,600 fire fighter injuriesMoreover, here is the price tag--$1.102 BILLION in direct property damage.

Every year there are almost 2,000 people killed in fires. More than a quarter of those deaths are the result of someone deliberately setting fires for sinister purposes. The next leading cause of death in fires is due to smoking.

The crime that is committed is not hidden, or burned away. Fires burn a certain way. Fire fighters study this behavior and the different factors that can affect them. Fires will move in specific patterns. These patterns are determined by nature and physics. It is the basis that fire fighters are able to fight fires. When an arsonist tries to mimic nature, they often leave only clues. If someone can think of burning a material to start a fire, it has been done in a lab or as part of a training program to train arson investigators. Any liquid or solid that rapidly burns and is used as an accelerant can be detected. Dogs are amazing at finding these clues. Chemical analysis of materials will also reveal the cause of a fire. It may not be CSI: Miami or some other Hollywood concept, but arsonists need to understand, fire is the business of fire fighters who know how this almost living thing acts. Fire fighters can recognize within seconds of entering a home if there is a suspicious nature to the fire. It cannot simply be burned away.

People have given many reasons for why they committed this crime. Many times, it has to do with financial issues. This is unfortunate, as many people will make this panicked and mistaken decision only to find the consequences are much worse. A couple in Connecticut learned that a Christmas arson to collect on homeowners insurance only left their children without parents, and the mother looking at 5 years in prison, and the father facing 15 years. Once they are released, it is likely they will have to repay the insurance payouts, and possibly the mortgage they tried to flee. This will amount to more than a half million dollars. Add in another hundred thousand dollars for their criminal defense, and they will be paupers the rest of their lives. And the kids? So much for college or any other happy holiday memories-gone for the simple fact of panic and greed.

Automobile “giveups” are another source of arson. The statics vary with the source, but it is a problem. A panicked person will make this bad decision without remembering physics. Cars and trucks burn for any number of reasons that are documented and reproducible. The arsonist hopes that because it is only a vehicle, the investigation will be less intense. This is a wrong assumption. Insurance adjusters have the advantage of time to determine the cause of an automobile fire. A home needs to be cleared up after a fire due to the potential public safety hazard. A burned out vehicle is towed to a secure area where forensic mechanics can take their time and find a bolt that is recently turned, a tube that is cut, a part that was newly installed to determine the cause of the fire

The bottom line on all of this is simple for everyone. We all know people who may be facing hard financial times. People generally will not ask for help. The first sign of trouble may be the flames and smoke coming from their property. If we see our friends or neighbors going through their belongings and giving away valuable items, moving newer furniture out of their home while moving used furniture in, leaving as a family at strange times as if practicing an escape, making comments that are out of character or acting very nervous when they otherwise would not be, are all signs that some event may be on the horizon. We all need to act.

A good friend or neighbor will step in to stop that decision for arson. A foreclosed home or a repossessed car are events from which a person can recover. Their family will be uncomfortable, but they will be together and survive. The government has assistance in many forms that may help them. Pride may be the thing that keeps people from seeking that assistance. A kind word and a strong shoulder may be the thing that helps them find it.

If a person finds himself or herself in a financial problem, seek help. Many organizations can help them find answers. Only through a concerted community effort can these fires be reduced. Too many times neighborhoods are in the “not my business” mode, when we all need to be “our brother’s keeper.”

Stay fire safe, and thanks for reading

For more info: National Fire Protection Association,, United States Fire Administration,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

National Arson Awareness Week, 3-9 May 2009

May 3-9, 2009 is National Arson Awareness Week, and the U.S. Fire Administration has partnered up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms; the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the International Association of Arson Investigators to educate the public on arson hazards. This year’s theme will focus on Arson for Profit, and according to FEMA, arson for profit is more than insurance fraud—it can turn deadly.

"According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, arson for profit accounts for 28 percent of civilian fire deaths nation-wide."

National Fire Protection Association figures (2005) estimate that the 323,900 intentional fires in their databanks resulted in 490 civilian fire deaths, 3 firefighter on duty deaths, 1,500 civilian fire injuries, 7,600 firefighter on duty injuries and caused over $1.1 billion in direct property damage. The insurance Information Institute reports that arsonists destroyed nearly $900 million in insured property, and killed 295 civilians in 2007.

"We can all help reduce and prevent these serious crimes by reporting suspicious activity, and by supporting local Neighborhood Watch programs and local fire department initiatives."

Arson Awareness Week information is available from the USFA (, the Coaltion Against Insurance Fraud ( InterFIRE ( and Firehouse Magazine ( For more information contact USFA at 1-888-603-3100.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and man-made disasters

Friday, May 1, 2009

Arson Awareness Week May 3-9, 2009

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces this year’s Arson Awareness Week (AAW) theme:
Arson for Profit.

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