USFA releases cooking fires report

According to a new report from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), cooking remained the leading cause of all residential building fires and injuries for the period 2008-2010. The report, Cooking Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010), addresses the characteristics of these fires and is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

Findings from the report, developed by the USFA’s National Fire Data Center, include the following:

  • An estimated average of 164,500 cooking fires in residential buildings occurred in the United States each year and resulted in an annual average of 110 deaths, 3,525 injuries, and $309 million in property loss.
  • Residential building cooking fires peaked from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when many people were preparing the evening meal.
  • Confined fires, those fires limited to the cooking vessel, accounted for 94 percent of residential building cooking fires.
  • Oil, fat, and grease (51 percent) were the leading types of material ignited in larger, more widespread cooking fires in residential buildings.

Building on this research to help the U.S. fire service increase awareness about fire-safe cooking behaviors in communities, the USFA provides recommendations for behavioral mitigation strategies that reduce cooking fires and resultant injuries and fatalities. Educational video messages, research reports, and presentations for public fire educators are available on the USFA’s Web site at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/prevention_education/strategies/cooking/.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

January 8. Jonathan W. Burgess, 33, South Alabama Regional Airport Fire Department, Andalusia, AL: apparent heart attack.

January 22. Captain Matthew J. Porcari, 34, Oswego (NY) Fire Department: injuries from falling through floor while fighting a structural fire.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

Obama signs AFG/SAFER reauthorization into law

The President signed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310), which contained several National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) priorities, into law on January 2. The bill reauthorizes the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs as well as the United States Fire Administration (USFA) through fiscal year (FY) 2017. It also enacts the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program Improvements Act (PSOBIA), another NVFC priority.

Under H.R. 4310, volunteer, combination, and career departments will be guaranteed a minimum of 25 percent each of funds made available through AFG for purchasing equipment, apparatus, and training. Previously, all-volunteer departments were guaranteed a percentage of funds equal to the percentage of the population that they protected, approximately 18 percent as of 2011. The bill also reauthorizes the USFA for five years, without making any substantive programmatic changes. By reauthorizing AFG, SAFER, and USFA, Congress and the President renewed their commitment to the long-term success of these critical programs in the midst of a hyper-partisan atmosphere and difficult budgetary situation.

PSOBIA explicitly defines volunteer members of private, nonprofit EMS agencies as eligible for PSOB. It also clarifies that public safety officers who suffer a fatal vascular rupture injury in the line of duty qualify for PSOB under the terms of the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act, which was enacted in 2003.

Guide for emergency vehicle visibility

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), supported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and in partnership with the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association’s Emergency Responder Safety Institute, announced the availability of a guide to help emergency services departments increase the visibility of emergency vehicles to motorists to keep responders safe during roadway operations.

Vehicle Marking and Technology for Increased Highway Visibility–A Reference Guide for Decision-Makers provides information on best practices in the application of various arrangements of emergency warning devices, creative use of retro reflective decal markings, and other innovative designs-all with the intent of increasing the visibility of emergency vehicles to motorists approaching them. It focuses on emergency vehicles not covered by existing standards in this area.

“Enhancing the operational safety of law enforcement officers and firefighters is a major priority of NIJ,” said John H. Laub, director of the National Institute of Justice. “We place a premium on partnerships like this one with the USFA because they multiply our ability to prevent accidents and save lives.”

Detailing team restores damaged fire equipment

With help from fellow detailing industry professionals, former Jersey City (NJ) police officer Harry Sandwith of Dirty Harry’s Detailing refurbished 11 damaged emergency vehicles and equipment from three of the four fire stations in the Union Beach, New Jersey, community hit hard during Hurricane Sandy. The restoration project took place at the end of January.

Featured in the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief, Union Beach received help from the detailing industry countrywide, all of whom donated their time and skill. Generous cash donations also poured in.

According to Union Beach Fire Chief Rob LaBerta, “We have four fire stations and more than 60 firefighters in Union Beach. Three of the four fire stations were completely flooded, and they require reconstruction both inside and out. Furthermore, of the 6,800 Union Beach residents, more than 3,300 were displaced as a result of the storm, and many of them still have not found permanent housing.”

This is not the first time Dirty Harry’s has tackled a communitywide detailing project on a pro bono basis; in fact, community projects are part of Dirty Harry’s business plan. Last summer, Sandwith and his son Joseph, an active duty Jersey City police officer, corralled a team of high-end detailers including Doyle and Wiener to help him recondition four historic fire trucks for future exhibition in the upcoming New Jersey Fire Engine & Equipment Museum at Allaire State Park. “Rather than charging a nonprofit organization for the work, whatever money I would have made charging for the project will come back to me two or threefold in referrals,” Sandwith says. “It is more important to invest in community and customer loyalty through philanthropic endeavors.”

Nominations being accepted for CFSI awards

The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) are accepting nominations for the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Safety Leadership Award. Presented annually at the CFSI National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner, the award recognizes organizations for outstanding leadership in advancing firefighter health and safety. Taking place on May 9, 2013, in Washington, DC, the dinner will be attended by the nation’s top political leaders and 2,000 state and national fire service officials. The nomination deadline is March 15. Organizations nominated should exemplify one or more of the following goals:

  • Recognizing the Life Safety Initiatives developed during the 2004 National Fire Service Summit hosted by the NFFF.
  • Recognizing the need to address firefighter health and safety and becoming an advocate for this cause.
  • Leading in promoting and supporting firefighter health and safety initiatives at the local, state, or national level.
  • Reaching out to other organizations and developing partnerships to further the cause of firefighter health and safety.
  • Engaging government leaders at all levels to work together for positive changes in firefighter health and safety.

The award recipient will receive an all-expense paid trip to the dinner.

Nominations are also being accepted by the CFSI for the Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award. Co-sponsored by Motorola Solutions, Inc., the award recognizes individual leadership in advancing fire and life safety initiatives. Nomination submissions must include letters of support from at least two elected public officials familiar with the nominee’s leadership. The deadline is also March 15.

For additional information about the awards, contact the CFSI at (202) 371-1277. Information is also available on the CFSI Web site at www.cfsi.org.

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USFA Releases Cooking Fires Report

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According to a new report from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), cooking remained the leading cause of all residential building fires and injuries for the period 2008-2010. The report, Cooking Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010), addresses the characteristics of these fires and is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

Findings from the report developed by the USFA’s National Fire Data Center include:

An estimated average of 164,500 cooking fires in residential buildings occurred in the United States each year and resulted in an annual average of 110 deaths, 3,525 injuries and $309 million in property loss.

Residential building cooking fires peaked from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. when many people were preparing the evening meal.

Confined fires, those fires limited to the cooking vessel, accounted for 94 percent of residential building cooking fires.

Oil, fat and grease (51 percent) were the leading types of material ignited in larger, more widespread cooking fires in residential buildings.

Building on this research to help the U.S. fire service increase awareness about fire-safe cooking behaviors in communities, USFA provides recommendations for behavioral mitigation strategies that reduce cooking fires and resultant injuries and fatalities. Educational video messages, research reports and presentations for public fire educators are available on the USFA’s website at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/prevention_education/strategies/cooking/

Cooking Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010) is part of the Topical Fire Report Series. Topical reports explore facets of the United States fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or put the report topic in context.

For more information regarding topical reports, fire prevention programs or other programs and training available from USFA, visit www.usfa.fema.gov.