NVFC adds EMS/Rescue Section

Members of the EMS/Rescue (EMS/R) Section recently created by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) will enable volunteers in an emergency medical or rescue delivery system to vote and promote EMS issues on the national level. “EMS has long been an integral part of the NVFC’s mission, and this new Section gives the emergency medical services an even stronger voice on the national level as well as within the Council,” says NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “We encourage all volunteer EMS and rescue personnel to join the new Section and let their voice be heard.”

EMS/R Section members must be NVFC members. Section membership fee is $15. The Section membership will elect EMS/R Section leaders annually at the NVFC Spring Meeting. The leadership is comprised of a chair, a vice chair, a secretary, an NVFC director, and three directors-at-large. Stittleburg has appointed the following Section leaders to serve until the 2011 Spring Meeting elections: Ken Knipper, chair; John Lyman, vice chair; T.J. Nedrow, secretary; and Lee Sachs, NVFC director.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

June 6. Firefighter Edward Eckert, 71, Stafford Township Fire Department, Manahawkin, NJ: brain hemorrhage.

August 3. Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Wheatley, 31, Chicago (IL) Fire Department: injuries sustained when he fell 35 feet from a ladder while climbing to the roof at a restaurant fire.

August 20. Captain Jonathan Lewis “Johnny” Littleton, 40, Pine Level (NC) Fire Department: cause to be determined.

August 23. Firefighter Douglas Farrington, 44, Delta-Cardiff (PA) Volunteer Company: heart attack.

September 4. Chief Larry Suiter, 66, Lorraine (KS) Green Garden Fire Department: cause to be reported.

September 6. Firefighter-Chief Driver John Kelly, 51, Tarrytown (NY) Fire Department: overcome by fumes while climbing into a manhole to effect a rescue.
Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

USFA releases report on fatal fires in residential buildings

The U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Data Center recently released Fatal Fires in Residential Buildings. Among the findings in the report, part of the Topical Fire Report Series based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, are the following:

  • An estimated 1,800 fatal residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 2,635 deaths, 725 injuries, and $196 million in property loss.
  • The leading cause of fatal residential fires is smoking (19 percent), and the leading areas of fire origin are bedrooms (27 percent) and common areas such as living rooms and family rooms (23 percent).
  • Larger fatal residential fires cause more damage and have higher injury rates than nonfatal residential fires. More information is at www.usfa.fema.gov/

ICC and NVFC pilot program targets fires in rural areas

The International Code Council (ICC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Sound the Alarm Web site (www.soundthealarmtoday.org) offers a community outreach and education program aimed at reducing rural community fire hazards and other potential dangers in residential homes. The program makes it possible for fire department members; Fire Corps volunteers; and building officials in Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to conduct home safety checks, install smoke alarms, and conduct follow-up evaluations. The pilot program is being conducted in the rural areas of these three states because these states have high residential fire death rates. The smoke alarms, tool boxes, and tool kits used in the program are donated to the neighborhood teams.

Departments interested in establishing a similar program in their communities can access all of the resources at the new Web site. Online forms are available for departments that wish to participate and for local families that would like a smoke alarm installed in their home.

The ICC received a Fire Prevention & Safety Grant to implement this pilot program; the NVFC is assisting with its implementation.

ASTM approves standards for fire resistance experiments

ASTM E2748, Guide for Fire Resistance Experiments, describes and standardizes methods for making variations in test methods for fire tests of buildings so that different investigators looking at the same or similar variables can achieve more comparable results. “There is a move toward modeling, and the dearth of input data for the models is problematic,” says Dr. Robert Wessel, assistance executive director of Gypsum Association and a longtime ASTM member. “Fire modeling also leads to the use of design test fires based on the expected or actual fire hazard in a given building. The end result is a wide range of reporting and recording practices. The goal is to try and make it possible to generate input data for fire models.” Until now, there has been no standard for designing these experiments and no common reporting format, making it difficult to compare the results with those of other research tests, according to ASTM.

ASTM E2748 resolves some of these issues and provides a place for researchers to add guidance for altering other variables not currently covered, according to Wessel. He explains: “ASTM E2748 standardizes how test specimens are instrumental for specific dependent variables to minimize the effects of confounding variables introduced by using different instrumentation that may or may not be comparable to each other. The guide also specifies how and what is to be recorded and reported so that different tests provide the same type of information reported in a similar manner to make the reports easier to compare against one another.”

All fire resistance laboratories are invited to participate in future revisions to ASTM E2748.

ASTM E2749, Practice for Measuring the Uniformity of Furnace Exposure on Test Specimens, also was recently passed. It provides a standardized procedure for assessing the performance of furnaces. According to Robert Berhinig, of Berhinig Services LLC, a member of ASTM International Committee E05 on Fire Standards, “Results from ASTM E2749 can be used to document the continued uniformity of furnace performance after significant repairs or modifications have been made.” He says fire test laboratories and agencies involved with certifications related to standards such as ASTM E119 and ASTM E814, Test Method for Fire Tests of Penetration Firestop Systems, will use ASTM E2749.

NVFC comments on proposed Medicare medical transport fee revision

National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg has submitted public comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing its proposed change for reimbursing fees to providers that transport patients to hospitals. The CMS is proposing that providers submit claims for reimbursement by reporting distance driven down to a fraction of a mile.

Stittleburg notes that the NVFC is concerned that reimbursement rates for Medicare are well below the cost of providing services, particularly in rural areas commonly served by volunteer agencies. “While I support in principle the concept of more accurate reporting of mileage, I strongly object to any proposal that could lead to a gross reduction in reimbursement payments that are already far too low,” Stittleburg wrote in his comments. The American Ambulance Association also opposes the proposed fractional mileage policy.

WHO: 2009 H1N1 influenza global pandemic has ended

World Health Organization (WHO) International Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan announced in August that the 2009 H1N1 global influenza pandemic has ended, based on strong indications that influenza, worldwide, is transitioning toward seasonal patterns. The influenza has not disappeared, WHO notes, and urges that continued vigilance is needed because the virus will continue to cause serious disease in young age groups and pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides weekly reports of influenza activity in the United States during the flu season at www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivity.htm/.

Court denies PBA’s attempt to ban residential sprinklers

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, at the end of August, ruled that the process used to adopt the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), including the residential fire sprinkler requirement, was constitutional. The decision rejected the Pennsylvania Builders Association’s (PBA) contention that the process was unconstitutional. Pennsylvania now will be able to continue enforcing the requirement that homebuilders install fire sprinkler systems in all newly constructed townhomes built after January 1, 2010, and all newly constructed one- and two-family homes beginning on January 1, 2011.

The Court’s decision reaffirms the vote of the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which voted in December, 2009, to adopt the 2009 IRC and Commonwealth Court Judge Johnny Butler’s decision to deny the PBA’s request for a primary injunction in March.

The PBA had argued that the process did not provide interested parties the chance to render their opinion on the code’s requirements. According to the National Fire Sprinkler Association, four public meetings were held during the code adoption process, and the PBA’s testimony against the code and the residential fire sprinkler requirement was heard.

Counterfeit circuit breakers pose fire hazard

According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Alert #10-749, on August 2, 2010, counterfeit “Square D” circuit breakers, distributed by Miami Breaker Inc. (MBI) of Miami, Florida, are being recalled because they can fail to trip when they are overloaded. The breakers, determined to be counterfeit by Square D, are labeled “Square D” or “SQD.” About 43,600 units were sold to distributors and wholesalers nationwide from March 2005 through July 2006. For additional information and model numbers, contact MBI at (800) 941-1112 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or e-mail the company at info@miamibreaker.com

More Fire Engineering Issue Articles
Fire Engineering Archives

No posts to display