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Sunday, June 28, 2009

What is A.R.F.F.?

ARFF is an acronym for Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting. I first got started in ARFF back when I join the US Air Force Fire Protection field a while back, and it was called CFR back then which was the acronym for Crash Fire Rescue. Guess many didn’t care for the term “crash” in a fire fighting title so it was changed to the current ARFF title. I’m age dating myself when I use the CFR reference because many just don’t use it anymore and ARFF is the accepted term/title now a days. Took me awhile to get use to that change but we all must adapt to change. Besides the actual fire ground on any emergency can always be in a changing state.

I notice in my TFPFP Blog profile page here and my Twitter home page bio I have “ARFF Fire Fighter” and thought it be a good idea to explain it some what to those who visit both sites that might not be familiar with the ARFF term. Seems to always happen though, I’m thinking about two other subjects to write about and it’s the third one, that surfaces that I write about.

Now everyone knows what a Fireman...oh wait…its Fire Fighter now. Ha ha ha! Well, I’m still part Old School and still use the title Fireman now & then even thought it is Fire Fighter now.

Everyone though pretty much knows what a fire fighter is and does. The fire fighting job is basically such that you “put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” Well a lot of times that’s easier said then done. The job of fire fighting has become a pretty complex job now a days and especially when you throw in the Haz-Mat aspect that can develop at and on any emergency response.

Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting or ARFF is a type of fire fighting that is specialize for when an airplane or helicopter that departs and arrives at an airport or field which may have an emergency issue with it. There are two types of emergencies but are basically either a “Ground Emergency” or a “In-flight Emergency.”

The primary purpose and goal for any ARFF emergency is to save lives if possible. This is achieved by the ARFF fire fighter being trained to establish what is called a rescue path to the aircraft once on the ground if it’s in-flight, and prepared to battle large volumes of acrid smoke, rapid heat build up, fight fire, lots of fire depending on the amount of fuel is being carried on the aircraft, and perform rescue. The ARFF fire fighter receives training includes structural firefighting tactics, aircraft familiarization, confined-space training, aircraft rescue, vehicle familiarization and aircraft egress. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

As to what an actual aircraft CFR or ARFF incident may look like, here’s a YouTube footage of an actual ARFF related incident of the B-2 crash that happened on Feb 23, 2008 at Anderson AFB, Guam. You’ll see first a B-2 take off normally and then @ 1:45 into the video it will show a second B-2 taking off that will crash at about the 7000 ft mark of the runway:

Like any disaster, an aircraft accident may require actions that do not fall into a predictable pattern. When there is any doubt on a crash site or any fire ground for that fact the ARFF fire fighter takes the course of action based on one’s own experience, training, and judgment that will dictate an outcome in order to minimize the risk to victims and rescue personnel.

There is a long training process to become an ARFF fire fighter with a lot of class room instruction and actual hands on training through simulated fire training exercises/drills. The result of this train as is in any fire protection training is to prepare. In most cases the over all training conducted and done gives the confidence to the ARFF fire fighter of being able to perform under what ever circumstance may develop.

Here’s another YouTube called “ARFF Operations” that starts off showing some more actual real aircraft crashes that ARFF fire fighters had to respond to and battle. It gives a pretty good prospective of what an actual crash site can look like and develop into. The video then switches showing what I would call the as close to reality as one can get ARFF hands-on training that is done:

Hopefully this little glimpse of what ARFF is, gives a better outlook of what this part of the fire protection field is about. I have to say also, that those that do structral fire fighting, hazardous material responses, and emergency medical services, be they paid or volunteer, response and work equally as hard to perform on any emergency scene. Lots and lots of training as well as after incident review on how an emergency operation could have been done better. The only problem is, it’s never the same as the last one. So you can see now that it is a little more then just “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.”

(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.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fire Protection Training: SCBA

With 2009 Fire/EMS Safety, Health, and Survival Week ending last week, the one key statement that stands out and everyone should remember as well as practice is “Protect Yourself, Your Safety, Your Responsibility.” This outlook needs to be practiced 24/7 by all fire fighters and first responders. Equipment we use and vehicles we respond in need to be safe and this is initially done from our equipment inspections, checks, and training. As an emergency first responder, be it Fire Fighter, Haz-Mat, EMS, or Law Enforcement, it’s each of our responsibility to perform as best we can and as safely as we can.

The Self-Contain Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is one of the many important pieces of emergency equipment that’s used on the fire ground. The SCBA is an intriagal part of the overall PPE for the fire fighter to use when call for. SCBA are one of the most effective and potently hazardous pieces of equipment that can be used in the field. They allow us to go into extremely hazardous situations and may give a false scene of security if fire fighters are not careful in their uses. Training is necessary and vital in knowing without hesitation the proper use/operation of the SCBA.

It is extremely important to know the SCBA’s limitations when using. Understanding the pack’s operation, how to maintain it, and check the air pack is equally important. The fire fighter also needs to be familiar with the SCBA’s safety features and able to use the air pack in a zero visibility environment if need be.

Some regulations that the fire fighter needs to know about are able to refer to and familiar with during training class room sessions are:

- OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard–29 CFR 1910.134–Respiratory Protection Requirements.

- NPPA: 1440-Standard for Fire Services Respiratory Protection Training

1852-Standard on Selective, Care, and Maintenance of Open-Circuit Self-Contained
Breathing Apparatus.

Other references the SCBA user needs to refer to for information concerning proper use and operation is the Essentials of Fire Fighting Forth Edition, IFSTA and the NFPA Standard 1500.

There are basically six SCBA components that make up an air pack: Cylinder, Harness/Back-plate, Low Pressure Warning Device, High Pressure Hose, Regulator Assemble, and Face piece Assemble. The air cylinder can be a 30 or 60 minute rated at 4500 psi. To hold and carry the cylinder as well as having straps for carrying is the harness/back-plate. You have low pressure warning device to warn you when the air supply is running low and activates when working pressure is at 25% (3-4 minutes) of air left. A high pressure hose carries at, at cylinder pressure, from the cylinder to the first and second stage regulators where the air pressure is stepped down. First stage regulator is mounted on the side backpack and you have your face piece mounted regulator. The two regulators reduce the air pressure starting 4500 psi, stepping it down to about 100 psi in the face piece to be able to breathe in an Immediately Dangerous to Life & Health (IDLH) atmosphere. The face piece covers/protects and provides inhalation and exhalation of low pressure air.

Inspection of the SCBA should be either daily, weekly, monthly depending on how your department is setup for using equipment, and always an after use inspection. It is imperative to perform inspections and document the inspections. Failure to do so may lead to injury or death. All personnel that use the SCBA should be fully knowledgeable on proper inspection of unit.

The demonstration of the operation of SCBA, which is to put it on, needs to be performed at every training session and class. Doing so prior to a fire department drill, live fire exercise, and of course the real world emergency will better prepare the first responder that will have to use the SCBA on the emergency scene. SCBA training and review should be done monthly and at a minimum every three months. This training should be properly documented. Personnel that respond and at anytime need to put the SCBA into use should become proficient in donning within 1 minute 30 second.

Donning SCBA Overhead Method:

Donning SCBA Coat Method:

The SCBA is only going to be as good as the inspection and training conducted of the air pack prior to use, so you know it will work correctly, and the knowledge in using it. The person wearing the air pack needs to be in good health and physically fit. Heart attacks are still the number one killer of fire fighters. The use of the SCBA increases cardiovascular work and heat stress on the fire fighter. If you experience any shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, chest pain, light headedness, or confusion while using the SCBA you need to get to re-hab and seek medical attention. Do not take these early warning signs and symptoms lightly. Listen to your body because it will tell you that you need to back off, stop, and get over to re-hab. Prevention to physical stress factors, the fire fighter should keep hydrated, keep physically fit, and re-hab frequently on long fire ground operations. Most important is to know your limitations and quit before there is a problem.

It should be stressed that safety in all aspects of fire fighting duties are part of our attitude, training , and awareness. Proper knowledge, training, and use of the self-contained breathing apparatus is necessary to help provide as best as one could expect a safe environment for the fire fighter that may and eventually will use.

(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, June 16, 2009

Podcast: Fire/EMS Safety Week...

This will be sort of a quick blog post to highlight a podcast that I listen to today. The podcast is over on the Radio @ page and I don't usually listen to podcasts unless I'm sitting at the PC and there's nothing good on TV to listen to. Thought your suppose to watch TV one might be saying? Well, I usually have the TV on for the background noise because I don't like a quiet room. Goes back to my USAF days I guess. Call it having a nightlight on because your afraid of the dark. lol

Anyway, the podcast I listen to today (click on the hotlink below) was a discussion covering ...

Speakers on the podcast for this roundtable discussion are a Senior Writer from, and guests from the USFA, IAFC, NFFF, and NVFC.

What was interesting as I listen was the outlook of how simple one's personal responsibility to safety is. We cut corners every now and then but if we're going to walk the walk and talk the talk, then we must do what is expected. That being "Protect Yourself: Your Safety, Your Responsibility." No one else is going to click that seatbelt as your riding to the emergency scene but you. I'm looking at fastening that seatbelt a lot different now.

"Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler" -- Albert Einstein

For more on this years 2009 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week, visit:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

2009 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week

Protect Yourself: Your Safety, Health and Survival Are Your Responsibility

June 14-20, 2009

Protect Yourself: Your Safety, Health and Survival Are Your Responsibility encourages chiefs and fire/EMS personnel to focus on what they personally can do to manage risk and enhance their health and safety. This year’s theme reflects the need for personal responsibility and accountability within a strong safety culture.

Recommended activities and materials will incorporate four key areas where standard operating procedures, policies and initiatives—along with the training and enforcement that support them—can limit fire/EMS personnel's risk of injury or death:

Safety: Emergency Driving (enough is enough—end senseless deaths)

1. Lower speeds—stop racing to the scene. Drive safely and arrive alive to help others.

2. Utilize seat belts—never drive or ride without them.

3. Stop at every intersection—look in all directions and then proceed in a safe manner.

Health: Fire Fighter Heart Disease and Cancer Education and Prevention

1. Don't smoke or use tobacco products.

2. Get active.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.

5. Get regular health screenings.

Survival: Structural Size-Up and Situational Awareness

1. Keep apprised of different types of building materials and construction used in your community.

2. Develop a comprehensive size-up checklist.

3. Always complete a 360° walk of the structure to collect valuable, operational decision-making information.

4. Learn the practice of reading smoke.

5. Be familiar with the accepted rules of engagement.

6. Learn your accountability system and use it.

7. Master your tools and equipment.

8. Remain calm and concentrate.

Chiefs: Be the Leader in Safety

1. Become personally engaged in safety and make it part of your strategic vision for the department.

2. Be willing to make the tough decisions regarding safety policies and practices and their implementation.

3. Hold members of the organization accountable for their safety and the safety of those with whom they work.

4. Ensure that resources are available to accomplish activities safely and effectively.

We encourage all fire/EMS departments to devote this week to reviewing safety policies, evaluating the progress of existing initiatives and discussing health and fitness. Fire/EMS departments should make a concerted effort during the week to correct safety deficiencies and to provide training as needed. An entire week is provided to ensure that each shift and volunteer duty crew can spend one day focusing on fire fighter safety, health and survival.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fire Training & Fire Education...

I was going to blog on a fire training subject but it can wait for the next blog posting, in a few days or so. With the events that have unfolding on a fire and major loss of live last week, I really feel compelled to write about the child care center fire in Mexico along with some other fire protection outlooks. We can look at this emergency incident last Friday and it’s usually after the fact that we always learn lessons of actions that should have taken place before hand. The lost of live is a major thing and it’s always troublesome when the lost of live could have been prevented and in this case, in my opinion, it wasn’t.

The child care center fire in Hermosillo, Mexico happened on June 5, 2009 and so far has killed 44 children. The apparent cause to this fire was due to a malfunction in an air condition that was located in a warehouse next to the child care center. Once the fire started the fire spread to the rafters of the warehouse building and across to the building housing the day care center. It was found that there was no alarm or sprinkler activation at time of the fire. It was also found that there was only one exit out of the child care center and another door that could have been use to egress out of the burning facility was bolted shut. The last fire inspection of the now gutted Mexican child care center was conducted on May 26, 2009. It was noted on that day the “safety inspection” of the facility “had fire extinguishers and emergency exit signs leading the way out.”

As a career fire fighter I would say training is the “backbone” of the fire service, and I would think all in the fire fighting field would agree with that outlook. Those in fire protection need good solid training to keep their skill set sharp to perform on the fire ground. But, as training is an important aspect to those in the fire protection field, education is just as important to the fire prevention side. You can not marginalize or understate the importance of fire prevention, and the same would go for good fire fighting training. They both go hand in hand. They both can prevent lost of live.

I heard in a fire fighting pod cast on the internet last week which stated in so many words that fire operations was all there is to fire fighting. Nothing else, it was all about the fire fighter doing the “operation" in the fire service. This pod cast further stated that the fire service shouldn’t bother or waste its time over the Sparky aspect and that it was, in so many more words, a waste of time and money. All you had to do is take a national survey poll or something to prove it to be so. I disagree totally to this one sided outlook and taking a so called national survey poll is like grasping at thin air to prove your point.

One doesn’t need to make up a survey poll to try and prove it’s all about the fire fighter or fire operations because it won’t measure up or stand up to the fire facts and fire statistics that are out there. One only has to check and do the research at the National Fire Protection Association or the U.S. Fire Administration to see the number of lives that have been saved and/or could have been saved through an aggressive fire education program. Fire education I would say then is the fire protection service’s “first line of fire action.”

Now it’s just a reality we will always have fire departments, fire equipment, and fire fighters in our communities to save lives when needed and to protect property when call upon. It becomes even clearer though, especially after a the fire and major lost of life in Hermosillo, Mexico, if good solid fire prevention practices as well as a real facility fire inspection was done correctly there might have been a lesser lost of live.

Human actions needs to be such that we all take fire prevention & education seriously, even those “old school” fire fighter that think it’s all about fire operations need to re-think outside the box. Fire training for fire fighters though should not and never be compromised. A fire fighter needs to be “brilliant in the basics” of fire fighting and the community needs to be fire smart & fire wise in fire prevention practices.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fire Prevention Week 2009 Theme!

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced this last week its theme for the 2009 Fire Prevention Week (FPW) campaign “Stay Fire Smart! Don't Get Burned.” The 2009 Fire Prevention Week (FPW) campaign will be held October 4-10. During this 2009 Fire Prevention Week attention will be focused on burn awareness and prevention, as well as keeping homes safe from the leading causes of home fires. We should all practice fire safety all year long. Many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fireproof their home.

Eighty-four percent of all fire deaths were attributed to a home fire. By providing valuable information on fire and burn prevention and safety tips, the campaign aims to help the public keep their homes and its occupants safe from fire and burns. Testing the water before putting a child in the bath may sound like common sense. Wearing short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking on the stovetop may show foresight. This and other simple actions may be all it takes to prevent devastating burns.

Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 9, 1871. This tragic fire killed some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. One popular legend claims that Mrs. Catherine O'Leary was milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, set the O'Leary's barn on fire and started the fiery conflagration. The city of Chicago was fast to rebuild and soon began to remember the event with festivities.

The Fire Marshals Association of North America believed the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would keep the public aware of the importance of fire prevention. On Oct. 9, 1911, FMANA sponsored the first National Prevention Day.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first national Fire Prevention Day proclamation. By 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, which was Oct. 4-10, 1925. He noted that in the previous year approximately 15,000 lives had been lost to fire in the United States. President Coolidge's proclamation stated, "This waste results from conditions that justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented.... It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions that have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth."

National Fire Prevention Week is always the week in which Oct. 9 falls. Each year, a specific theme is chosen and is commemorated throughout the United States.

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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June is National Safety Month

The National Safety Council has designated June as "National Safety Month". This is a national annual campaign that continues all month. The overall theme this year is "Celebrating Safe Communities" because while both the national workplace injury and illness rate and the driving collision rate have decreased somewhat, the non-work accidental injury rate has increased dramatically.

According to the National Safety Council, "Nine out of 10 accidental fatalities and two-thirds of disabling injuries to workers occur off the job. In 2005, more than 60 percent of all accidental deaths involved either workers who were off the job or their family members.

The overall economic impact of all accidental injuries exceeds $625 billion a year and is devastating to individuals, families and employers. The cost of on- and off-the-job accidental injuries is a staggering $380 billion, of which 58%, or $220 billion, are costs related to employee injuries off-the-job."

Each week has a different safety focus and specific tips as listed below:





Here is the link to the National Safety Council's "June is National Safety Month Website. You will find a lot of information at this site, including the following:

· 7 Elements Of an Off-The-Job Safety Management System
· Gap Analysis for an Off-the-Job Safety Management System
· Off-The-Job Safety Compass (Implementation Tools)
· "Making the Case" Presentation (Powerpoint)

(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.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

National CPR & AED Awareness Week

Celebrate National CPR & AED Awareness Week – Make Your Training Count!

June 1-7 is National CPR & AED Awareness Week, and to celebrate, the American Heart Association has set a goal to train 1 million people in June. In December of 2007, Congress declared the first week in June of each year as National CPR/AED Awareness Week with the goal of encouraging states, cities and towns to establish organized programs that provide CPR and AED trainings and increase public access to AEDs.

Each year, about 310,000 coronary heart disease deaths occur out-of-hospital or in emergency departments in the United States. Of those deaths, about 166,200 are due to sudden cardiac arrest – nearly 450 per day.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors. Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.

Unless CPR and defibrillation are provided within minutes of collapse, few attempts at resuscitation are successful.

Even if CPR is performed, defibrillation with an AED is required to stop the abnormal rhythm and restore a normal heart rhythm.

New technology has made AEDs simple and user-friendly. Clear audio and visual cues tell users what to do when using an AED and coach people through CPR. A shock is delivered only if the victim needs it.

AEDs are now widely available in public places such as schools, airports and workplaces.

Learning CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can quite possibly mean the difference between life and death for someone suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. If ordinary people act immediately with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), instead of just waiting for help to arrive, many thousands of lives can be saved every year.

FirstAidWeb is unique online self-guiding CPR course and First Aid course.

Check it out in your free time to become more proficient in CPR.

Contact the American Heart Association or American Red Cross for times and locations for CPR & AED classes.

(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.)

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