2007 FDIC attendance exceeds 27,000; firefighters cited for valor, training, other achievements

Attendance at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), held in Indianapolis in April, reached an all-time high this year, hitting 27,468. In addition to the hands-on training, workshops, classes, big-room seminars and panels, the vast exhibits, and other special events, attendees witnessed the presentation of prestigious awards for valor, training, and other accomplishments.

FDIC International/YouTube

2007 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award: Lt. Howard Carpluk, FDNY

Lieutenant Howard Carpluk, a 20-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, assigned to Engine Company 42, was posthumously named the recipient of the 2007 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award. He was cited for his selflessness in attempting to save the life of Probationary Firefighter Michael Reilly, who had been out of the Fire Academy for six months. Carpluk, the probationary firefighter, and firefighters from two other companies had fallen through the floor at a taxpayer store fire. Despite being seriously injured and trapped up to his chest in debris, Carpluk struggled to direct his and rescuers’ efforts to locating and removing the probationary firefighter before he, himself, was removed from the debris. After rescuers finally freed his arms from the debris, Carpluk began to dig beneath his body with his hands in an attempt to find his probationary firefighter, jeopardizing his chances of survival. Debris compressed his chest and diaphragm and restricted his intake of oxygen. He became exhausted and fell unconscious. After the removal of Carpluk’s body from the debris, rescuers located the lifeless body of Reilly, which had been under Carpluk’s body.

(Left to right): FDIC Education Director Robert Halton, PennWell Corp. CEO Robert F. Biolchini, Paige Carpluk, Debra Carpluk, Bradley Carpluk, Battalion Chief Joe Downey. (Photos by Tony Greco.)

The Courage and Valor Foundation was created by PennWell Corporation to ensure that the heroic sacrifices made by FDNY members on September 11, 2001, would forever be remembered and to commemorate the life and career achievements of Deputy Chief Ray Downey, chief of FDNY rescue operations, a 39-year veteran of the department, and the most highly decorated firefighter in the history of New York, who also perished in the World Trade Center attacks.

The award, a medallion and a check for $25,000, was presented to Carpluk’s widow, Debra, and the couple’s children, Paige and Bradley, by Robert F. Biolchini, president and CEO of PennWell, and FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Downey, son of Ray Downey.

“PennWell is honored to present this award to Lt. Carpluk’s family in recognition and remembrance of his heroic act of courage,” said Biolchini. “Lt. Carpluk exemplifies the true spirit of a firefighter, sacrificing his own life in his attempt to save a fellow firefighter. His selfless act of brotherhood reminds us of the responsibility we all share to protect and serve others.”

Fire Engineering 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Denis Onieal, National Fire Academy

Dr. Denis Onieal, superintendent of the National Fire Academy (NFA) since 1995, was the recipient of the Fire Engineering 2007 Lifetime Achievement award. The presentation was made by Robert Halton, editor in chief of Fire Engineering and FDIC education director, who lauded Onieal as “a true fire chief, a true gentleman, a friend, a brother, and an inspiration.”

Denis Onieal

Onieal was the first nonpolitical appointee to the position of NFA superintendent, having been selected after a competitive, nationwide search. He was a member of the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department from 1971 to 1995; he was acting chief at the time he retired to join the NFA. He served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1967. He has a bachelor of science degree from the fire science department at Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), a master of public administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a doctorate in education degree from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. During his tenure in the Jersey City Fire Department, Onieal led a uniformed force of more than 600 firefighters and officers, spent the entire time “in the street” as a line fire officer, and helped prepare thousands of New Jersey and New York firefighters for the civil service entrance and promotional examinations.

Fire Engineering’s Training Achievement Award renamed for Tom Brennan

The Fire Engineering Training Achievement Award has been renamed for Tom Brennan, editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and a technical editor up until his death in April 2006. Brennan had more than 35 years of fire service experience, including in the Fire Department of New York and in the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1998 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award. “Through his writings and teachings, and even through his everyday conversations with firefighters across the nation, Tom exemplified training achievement,” said Diane Feldman, Fire Engineering executive editor and FDIC conference director.

Brennan’s wife Janet assisted Diane Feldman and Glenn Corbett, Fire Engineering technical editor, in presenting the 2007 Tom Brennan Training Achievement Award to Lt. Jim McCormack of the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department.

Lt. Jim McCormack receives Tom Brennan Training Achievement Award

Lieutenant Jim McCormack of the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department was named the recipient of the 2007 Tom Brennan Training Achievement Award.

(Left to right): Chief James L. Greeson, Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department; Indianapolis Public Safety Director Earl Morgan; Janet Brennan; FDIC Eduction Director Robert Halton; Lt. Jim McCormack; Fire Engineering Technical Editor Glenn Corbett, and Executive Editor Diane Feldman.

McCormack graduated from the Massachusetts Fire Academy and began his fire service career in the Hopkinton (MA) Fire Department. He has been an FDIC H.O.T. instructor since 1999. He founded the Fire Department Training Network (FDTN), a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit, membership organization dedicated to training firefighters. The Network publishes a monthly training newsletter and a department training package, which are distributed to more than 1,000 members and departments, and has published nine training manuals covering street-smart firefighting tactics.

Also part of the Network is a 50-acre training academy located just outside of Indianapolis, which has two burn structures that allow students to perform live-fire training in multiple types of occupancies. A strip-mall burn structure is under development. In addition, the site’s multiple training buildings and props help students to acquire firefighting skills and to maintain equipment, tools, and facilities. The FDIC uses FDTN’s training facility for some of its hands-on training (H.O.T.) courses.

FDTN, which provides training courses throughout the country, has applied to the State of Indiana for recognition as an accredited college and is developing the first known associate’s degree program in fireground operations.

McCormack is the son of the late Ed McCormack, founder of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), and Mary McCormack, FDSOA executive director.

Tamiflu® side effects cause concern

Health experts are striving to determine if there is a connection between taking the influenza drug Tamiflu® (oseltamivir), which some health experts hope may effectively mitigate a bird flu pandemic, and abnormal psychiatric behavior. In Japan in 2005, 12 children died and 32 experienced abnormal behavior after taking the drug. According to Japan’s Health Ministry, 54 people died so far after taking Tamiflu; in February, a 14-year-old girl and a boy fell to their deaths from their apartment homes in separate incidents after taking the drug. Neither had left a suicide note.

Roche Holding AG, the maker of Tamiflu, has denied a link between the medication and the deaths, citing that influenza itself could cause psychiatric problems. The company points to the fact that 50 million people have been treated with Tamiflu since it was approved in 1999 and “only 103 reports of neuropsychiatric problems” have been reported.

The supplier of the drug in Japan, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., added a reference to abnormal behavior as a possible side effect in the Tamiflu package in 2004. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in November 2006, required that Roche put a caution on Tamiflu labels stating that there should be close monitoring for abnormal behavior, such as delirium. The FDA, however, said it is not known if the drug contributed to the psychiatric problems reported.

In Japan, a Health Ministry team surveyed about 2,800 children last year. It found no evidence of a relationship between Tamiflu and abnormal behavior. Among those who took Tamiflu, 11.9 percent exhibited such behavior; 10.6 percent of those who did not take the medication also exhibited abnormal behavior. The Ministry is conducting a more thorough survey in which 10,000 influenza patients will be surveyed. The results will be available later this year. “Tamiflu Side Effect Concerns Grow After Deaths in Japan,” George Nishiyama, Reuters Health Information,, March 14, 2007

USFA announces 2006 Outstanding Research Award winners

The following fire service executives were awarded National Fire Academy (NFA) 2006 Annual Outstanding Research Awards, presented at the 19th Executive Fire Officer Symposium April 13-15, 2007, at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The award recognizes Executive Fire Officer Program students for their research projects. The recipients and their projects are listed below:

  • Allen S. Williams, instructional designer, University of Maryland-Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, College Park-Leading Community Risk Reduction course awardee; Safety Culture within the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
  • J. Matthew Fratus, division chief, San Bernardino City (CA) Fire Department-Executive Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management course awardee; High Reliability Organization Theory and the San Bernardino City (CA) Fire Department.
  • Deborah A. Prouty, assistant chief, Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Department-Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management course awardee; Incident Activity Information Reporting for Cost Recovery.
  • A. Lynn Schofield, captain, City of Provo (UT) Fire/Rescue Department-Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management course awardee; After Dark: Assessing Hydration and Glucose Levels During Late-Night Operations.
  • Kevin Milan, division chief, City of Golden (CO) Fire Department-Executive Leadership course awardee; Evaluating Instructional Efficiency in a National Response Plan Training Course.

Copies of the research projects may be downloaded at, or a CD containing the five papers may be obtained by calling (800) 238-3358, ext. 1639; leave your request on voice mail.

NJ receives $1.5 million in DHS CEDAP grants

First responder organizations in New Jersey will receive roughly $1,481,990 in equipment and training awards under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP). More than 2,000 equipment and training grants were awarded to first responders across the nation as a part of the program, which helps to ensure that law enforcement and emergency responders can acquire specialized equipment and training to meet their homeland security mission.

“CEDAP is yet another mechanism for the department to work with our local homeland security partners in strengthening this nation’s ability to prevent, protect, respond and recover from a natural disaster or terrorist attack,” said George Foresman, Under Secretary for Preparedness. “This program enhances state and local communities’ capabilities as well as arms their first responders with the tools to build stronger regional coordination.”

CEDAP offers equipment in the following categories: personal protective equipment; thermal imaging, night vision, and video surveillance tools; chemical and biological detection tools; information technology and risk management tools; and interoperable communications equipment. This program also focuses on those smaller communities and metropolitan areas not eligible for the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program. Awardees are required to receive training on their awarded equipment either on-site or at a CEDAP training conference. For more information on CEDAP and other DHS grant programs, visit

APCO Institute releases new Fire Service Dispatch Guidecards

APCO Institute’s Fire Service Dispatch Guidecards, based on its Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Program, are designed to assist with the triaging and dispatching of fire service related emergency calls. Available in paper and electronic formats, they are customized to match the needs and resources of the individual agency. They use the fire service-specific information and call-handling techniques taught in APCO Institute’s Fire Service Communications 1st Edition training course and incorporate information provided by subject matter experts from the fire service and the public safety communications industry.

Call types covered by these new Guidecards range from commercial and residential structure fires to hazardous materials incidents and explosive devices. Additional information is at

APCO is supporting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin’s call to tighten requirements on how location accuracy from wireless phones is measured. It is about to release a report on its Project LOCATE’s (Locate Our Citizens at Times of Emergencies) testing of the accuracy received by public safety answering points (PSAPs) from 911 calls made from wireless phones. It is often difficult for communities to assess location information for their areas, APCO says. The APCO report provides a snapshot of the kind of location information call takers get when they receive a call for help and highlights how the public safety community and the wireless service providers can work together to improve the quality of this location information so the public safety community can effectively respond to the 911 calls made by wireless telephones.

At the end of April, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2007 (S. 428), which APCO strongly supported. The bill’s intent is to require VoIP service providers to provide 911 capability, including E911 functionality, to subscribers in accordance with the FCC’s order, according to APCO’s International President Wanda McCarley. APCO also noted it full support “for a proactive approach from Congress in ensuring that new telecommunications services provide effective and comprehensive E911 services to the calling public.”

Farmers Insurance® supports electronic stability control vehicle standard

Farmers Insurance Group® of Companies, based in Los Angeles and doing business in 41 states, has announced its support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) new federal motor vehicle safety standard #126. The standard mandates electronic stability control (ESC) systems in all vehicles by the 2012 model year.

ESC assists drivers in regaining control on roads covered in water, ice, or snow by compensating for fishtailing and mitigates the overcorrecting in surprise situations, such as at animal crossings or when other drivers make errors. Approximately 40 percent of new vehicles sold today have ESC systems. Some automobile manufacturers are planning to beat the 2012 deadline by as many as three years.

FAMA study shows link between improved fire equipment and life safety

A study recently released by the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) documents how the advances in fire and rescue equipment made over the past 25 years have helped to protect the lives of firefighters and civilians.

The study, summarized in a presentation created by Roger Lackore of Pierce Manufacturing, chairman of FAMA’s Technical Chassis Subcommittee, provides a detailed, pictorial review of more than 60 ergonomic, material, and technological enhancements, including fully enclosed cabs, air disc brakes, combination rescue/pumper units, reflective striping around the perimeter of vehicles, sirens and air horns mounted low and to the front, automatic tire chains, improved warning lights, and roll-up doors. The presentation is available for download in PDF format at Additional information is available from Karen Burnham at or at (781) 334-2911.

Fire officer fellowships awarded

Eight awardees received fellowships to the John F. Kenney School of Government under the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. Recipients are scheduled to participate in the program this summer. The winners are Chief Robert Creecy, Richmond (VA) Department of Fire & Emergency Services; Chief Clare Frank, City of Milpitas (CA) Fire Department; Chief William Goodwin, Baltimore (MD) Fire Department; Chief Bruce Martin, Fremont (CA) Fire Department; Deputy Chief Patricia McAllister, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Department of Fire Rescue & Emergency Services, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Chief Ned Pettus, Columbus (OH) Department of Public Safety, Columbus Division of Fire; Deputy Chief Kevin Simmons, Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services, Columbia, Maryland; and Deputy Chief Judy Smith-Thill, Maple Grove (MN) Fire Department.

The National Fire Protection Association partners in the program with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). Fellowship awardees are selected by a panel of representatives from these organizations and former program participants.

Severe MRSA community-acquired pneumonia reported in the U.S.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) released in April an Alert on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), based on a Reuters Health Information 2007 release.

Reuters reported that 10 cases of severe MRSA community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) arose in Louisiana and Georgia in December 2006 and January 2007, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

These infections, although rare, can prove fatal, particularly during influenza season, explains CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Surveill Summ 2007; 56:325-329, April 13). Six (four children and two adults) who contracted the infection, although previously healthy, died.

According to the CDC, few obvious characteristics distinguish MRSA CAP from other bacterial infections or from the influenza virus infection. “MRSA should be suspected in persons with severe pneumonia, especially during the influenza season, in those with cavitary infiltrates, and in those with a history of MRSA infection,” the CDC report notes. Severe cases of MRSA CAP should be reported through state health departments to CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at (800) 893-0485) or at

CDC releases guidelines for pandemic influenza threat, including “Severity Index”

If a flu pandemic (a global disease outbreak of a virus for which people have little or no immunity) were to occur, federal health officials plan to keep the public updated about disease conditions through the use of a tiered response system similar to that used for hurricanes.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its “Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation” that sets up a Pandemic Severity Index. The index defines phases of a pandemic, ranging from Category 1, in which no new influenza subtypes have been detected in humans, to Category 6, where there would be increased and sustained virus transmission among the general population. With each stage, the guidelines outline what government and public health officials should do to protect the public and contain infections.

The guidelines rely on what officials describe as “early, targeted, layered measures” to prepare for and respond to a pandemic. The plan is designed to change as new science becomes available.

CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, said at a press conference that use of the word “category” helps people to understand the difference in severity of the various levels of the index through its use in evaluating hurricanes.

The guidelines present interventions that can be used in the community to slow the spread of infection, including voluntary home quarantine of households with confirmed or probable influenza cases or school cancellations in a widespread outbreak.

Some health professionals raise concerns about the feasibility of some of the guidelines, especially fully closing schools, since schools today are depended on for more functions than education-providing meals for children, for example.

Other concerns are getting the public to cooperate and questions about whether health officials would have enough time to employ the appropriate Index strategies. They all agree, however, that the threat of a pandemic is real and that the education of the public and health agencies, planning, and work needed to implement systems for such an event must begin now if lessons learned from past pandemics are to be heeded. Donya C. Arias. Nation’s Health, 2007; 37(3) ©2007 American Public Health Association, posted 04/11/2007

The U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also released new workplace safety and health guidelines to help employers prepare for a pandemic. Developed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic” differentiates among seasonal outbreaks, pandemics, and avian influenza; explains how a pandemic could affect workplaces; and offers employers advice on what to do to protect their workers, such as developing a disaster plan and reducing flu exposure on the job.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus first emerged among birds on Asian poultry farms in 2003 and has killed at least 167 people since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. The new CDC prevention guidelines, as well as the OSHA guidance on workplace infection control, are available at

Line-of-Duty Deaths

March 29. Firefighter Steve Olinik, 65, Rome (OH) Volunteer Fire Department: heart attack.

April 3. Fire Police Captain Edgar Hamlin Scott, 75, Menands (NY) Fire Department: collision with propane truck while responding to a motor vehicle accident in a fire department vehicle.
April 7. Firefighter Christopher Jaros, 24, Ceredo (WV) Volunteer Fire-Rescue: injuries sustained in a vehicle collision while responding to the fire station in his privately owned vehicle.
April 12. Staff Chief of Operations Bryan Zollner, 44, CAL FIRE, Sacramento, CA: injuries sustained in a single vehicle traffic accident when his vehicle, for a reason still to be determined, left the state highway.
April 16. Firefighter-Technician One Kyle Robert Wilson, 24, Prince William County (VA) Department of Fire and Rescue: while performing search and rescue at a working residential (inhabited) structure fire; rapid fire and a partial collapse prevented other firefighters from responding to his Mayday message in time.
Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database


  • NWCG/USFA’s online ICS course. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are offering the I-100, Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS) course, which is available on the USFA’s virtual campus and at the NWCG’s training Web site The course is designed for entry-level firefighters, but it can benefit also fire crew supervisors, nonfire agency employees who want to take on collateral duties in fire suppression, and the news media. The course can also be helpful to commanders when the U.S. military is called to assist with firefighting. Students can complete the course in two to three hours. Additional information is available from Ken Frederick, external affairs, National Interagency Fire Center (208) 387-5508.
  • NFA’s One-Day Fire Prevention Courses for Code Officials. The National Fire Academy’s Off-Campus and State Weekend Programs have added the following one-day courses for fire marshals and code enforcement officials. The courses were developed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) through a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. They strongly emphasize the roles of fire research, product safety testing, fire safety standards, and computerized fire modeling for safety in the built environment. Fire suppression personnel who want to learn more about fire behavior and fire studies are encouraged to apply.
  • Comprehensive Approach to Fire Protection in a Commercial Occupancy (F355, W355)
  • Fire Behavior in a Single-Family Residence (F356, W356)
  • Fire Modeling in a Single-Family Residence (F357, W357)

As part of the course development and content, UL constructed a full-size 1,400-foot , two-bedroom, single-family dwelling inside its test labs in Northbrook, Illinois, and conducted full-scale fire tests that documented fire spread, heat release rates, time to flashover, toxicity, fire sprinkler performance, and a variety of other measurements. Test procedures and equipment are explained in the courses.

UL and National Fire Protection Association test standards are referenced throughout the courses, particularly as they apply to fire behavior and building construction. Students observe live-fire test videos and perform hands-on exercises with fire models derived from the full-scale fire tests.

For general information on these courses, contact the program manager at (1-800) 238-3358, ext. 1301, or (301) 447-1301. For specific course content information, contact the training specialist at (1-800) 238-3358, ext. 1209, or 301-447-1209. Anyone interested in becoming an instructor for these courses or others in the USFA Fire Prevention: Technical curriculum should contact for an application packet.

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