News in Brief: July 2019

news in brief

iWomen now Women in Fire 

The International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen) changed its name to Women in Fire during its conference within a conference at FDIC International 2019. The change, according to Executive Director Kimberly Cox, is part of the organization’s strategic plan that has been in development over the past year. Access the organization at its present Web site while its new site www.womeninfire is under development.


Female Firefighter Health and Safety Issues report

Women in Fire (formerly iWomen), in conjunction with the United States Fire Administration (USFA), has prepared the report Emerging Health and Safety Issues among Women in the Fire Service. The document provides information relative to the critical health and safety issues of female firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) responders and addresses initiatives, programs, and strategies for enhancing health and safety and preventing on-duty female firefighter fatalities and injuries.

“Women held 12,850 career firefighting roles and 72,250 volunteer roles nationally, averaging 7.3 percent of the U.S. fire service overall,” according to “U.S. Fire Department Profile—2015.”1 “Because of this presence, there is a need for effective safety and health support for the nation’s female firefighters,” says Kimberly Cox, executive director, Women in Fire.

Also a part of the report are USFA recommendations proposed at the symposium it sponsored in 1994 to identify the most pertinent issues affiliated with women firefighters and to create recommendations for action. The USFA notes in the report: “Almost 25 years later, the recommendations made by the task force at the symposium are still relevant. In fact, many are just now starting to be investigated or resolved, and others have yet to be initiated or instituted. The recommendations from the symposium that continue to relate to health and safety issues among women firefighters in 2018 are presented in the report.”

Download the report at


2×6 wood exterior wall fire-resistance-rated wood assembly: AWC

Asymmetrical exterior wood-frame walls constructed with 2×6 studs spaced at 24 inches on center with fiberglass cavity insulation have been added to the American Wood Council (AWC) Design for Code Acceptance (DCA) 3-Fire-Resistance-Rated Wood Floor and Wall Assemblies. According to AWC Manager of Engineering Technology Jason Smart, P.E., a wall assembly with these parameters was successfully fire tested and passed the ASTM E119 one-hour fire endurance test and “the required hose-stream component of the test was successfully conducted on the same assembly, even though the test allows conducting a separate, shorter-duration fire exposure just for the hose stream portion.” He noted that designers requested the use of this assembly “to meet new energy requirements.”

The updated DCA 3 is on the AWC Web site at

In another matter, the AWC held its first conference call meeting on April 30 with its newly established Fire Service Advisory Council, a national group of fire service experts. The Council, according to the AWC, “provides the opportunity for a productive dialogue with the nation’s fire service to address reducing fires in wood construction” and “is also intended to help identify effective training materials for the fire service and enhance the relationship between the fire service and wood products industry.” The first in-person meeting of the Council is anticipated for the fall.

The Council members are as follows: Ray O’Brocki, AWC fire services relations manager, chair; Kwame Cooper, assistant chief (ret.), Los Angeles (CA) Fire Department; Jack Dempsey, deputy chief/fire marshal, Boston (MA) Fire Department; Carly Helwick, assistant chief, Denver (CO) Fire Department; Steve Lohr, chief, Hagerstown (MD) Fire Department; Rich Mikutsky, New Jersey state fire marshal; Adolf Zubia, chief (ret.), Las Cruces, New Mexico, and former South Carolina state fire marshal; and Shane Ray, National Fire Sprinkler Association.


NVFC elects leaders

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held its Board of Directors meeting in April in Alexandria, Virginia, and elected the following officers for the 2019-2020 term. NVFC officers and executive committee: Steve Hirsch (KS), chair; Kevin D. Quinn (RI), first vice chair; Dallas Renfrew (TX), second vice chair; and Jeff Cash (NC), secretary/treasurer.

Executive committee members: Dick Brown (CA), Bill Offerman (IL), Brian McQueen (NY), Bob Timko (PA), and Reid Vaughan (AL). Bob Guthrie (CT), the chair of the Legislative Committee, and Eric Quinney (WY), the chair of the EMS/Rescue Section, also serve on the Executive committee.

In conjunction with the board meeting, the NVFC EMS/Rescue Section also met and elected the following officers for the 2019-2021 term: Eric Quinney (WY), chair; Jules Scadden (IA), vice chair; T.J. Nedrow (WA), secretary; Ken Brown (VA), NVFC appointee; and Brian Foley (NJ), Ed Mund (WA), and Ken Wettstein (CO), directors-at-large.


FirstNet changes name

The FirstNet Association has changed its name to the Public Safety Broadband Technology Association (PSBTA). The PSBTA explains that it is committed to supporting all aspects of the FirstNet ecosystem with the primary goal of serving as the link between FirstNet, network developers, innovators, and—most importantly—the end-user/first responder. PSBTA President Al Gillespie explains: “The new name clearly defines our direction and mission, which is to support the growth of the FirstNet ecosystem.”

The Association, which has grown to more than 500 members, has sponsored nine regional forums to the public safety community nationwide. The forums have been attended by FirstNet, FirstNet built with AT&T, vendors critical to ecosystem development, and primary and extended primary users. The PSBTA says it will continue to provide FirstNet Education Forums in support of FirstNet Primary and Extended Primary users. Additional information is at


Study: Higher PTSD risk for female firefighters

“Almost one in three (30%) female firefighters indicated that they had considered or attempted suicide compared to one in seven (15%) male firefighters and that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were more common among female firefighters, with one in five (20%) compared to one in eight (12%) male firefighters,” according to a study published in Occupational Medicine Journal. The study author, Professor Consuelo Arbona, Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences, University of Houston, Texas, noted that women with 10 to 20 years in the fire service were at a higher risk of developing PTSD symptoms than those in the first 10 years of service.

The subjects of the study were 2,639 firefighters, 75 women and 2,564 men, in a large urban fire department. They anonymously completed questionnaires that contained questions pertaining to their experiencing symptoms of depression, general stress, PTSD; problem behaviors associated with alcohol consumption; or considering or attempting suicide.

The study results revealed also the following:

  • Being single increased the risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts in both genders; previous research indicates that having a life partner may be a protective factor for suicide.
  • Approximately one-third of male (31%) and female (32%) firefighters screened positive for alcohol problems. 
  • Female firefighters are experiencing a number of challenges in the industry and have called on screening and intervention programs specifically aimed at the differences in increased risk factors between male and female firefighters.

Arbona states: “In addition to the stressors associated with the work of first responders, women firefighters are likely to experience challenges associated with being female in a male-oriented work environment. Gender discrimination and harassment are also likely to increase a woman’s risk for traumatic stress and suicidal ideation. Therefore, screening and interventions need to consider the specific occupational and psychological needs of female firefighters.” For a copy of the research paper, e-mail Dr. Yvette Martyn at


Emergency treatment guidelines for TBI improve survival

“Training emergency medical services (EMS) agencies to implement prehospital guidelines for traumatic brain injury (TBI) may help improve survival in patients with severe head trauma,” according to the Excellence in Prehospital Injury Care (EPIC) Study, led by Daniel Spaite, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The study involved more than 21,000 people and its findings were published in JAMA Surgery. It was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

According to Patrick Bellgowan, Ph.D., program director at NINDS: “This demonstrates the significance of conducting studies in real-world settings and brings a strong evidence base to the guidelines. It suggests we can systematically increase the chances of saving lives of thousands of people who suffer severe traumatic brain injuries.”

Guidelines for prehospital management of TBI, based on scores of observational studies, were developed in 2000 and updated in 2007. They focused on preventing low oxygen, low blood pressure, and hyperventilation in people with head injury. Adherence to the guidelines, however, had not been examined. EPIC trained EMS agencies across Arizona in the TBI guidelines and compared patient outcomes before and after implementation of the guidelines. All patients in the study experienced head injury with loss of consciousness.

According to the NINDS press release, “Overall survival of the entire group, which included patients who had moderate, severe, and critical injuries, was not affected. However, further analysis showed that the guidelines helped double the survival rate of people with severe TBI and triple the survival rate in severe TBI patients who had to have a breathing tube inserted by EMS personnel. The guidelines were also associated with an overall increase in survival to hospital admission.”

Dr. Spaite noted further: “We found a therapeutic sweet spot and showed that the guidelines had an enormous impact on people with severe TBI. The guidelines did not make a difference in the moderate TBI group because those individuals would most likely have survived anyway; and, unfortunately, the extent of injuries sustained in many critical patients was too extreme to overcome.”

Bentley Bobrow, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona and co-principal investigator for the study, said, “It was exciting to see such dramatic outcomes resulting from a simple two-hour training session with EMS personnel.”

The researchers noted that they will reevaluate the recommendations for oxygen levels and blood pressure and determine if they should be revised. In addition, they said, “More research is needed to determine the best strategies for airway management and breathing support to optimize ventilation.” Additional studies will explore the best methods for national and global adoption of the TBI guidelines. For additional information, contact Barbara McMakin, (301) 496-5751, <>.


Spaite DW, et al. “Impact of statewide implementation of the prehospital traumatic brain injury treatment guidelines: The excellence in prehospital injury care (EPIC) study.” JAMA Surgery. May 8, 2019.


NFPA to consolidate standards

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards Council has announced that the information in the NFPA 114 Emergency Response and Responder Safety (ERRS) standards, guides, and recommended practices will be consolidated into “38 overarching standards.” The five-year process, which will begin in January 2020, will involve combining 20 to 25 standards annually in their proper cycle. Related standards will be merged into all-inclusive standards; existing documents will become separate chapters.

The NFPA explains that the consolidation will not only facilitate access to the standards but also enable the more than 2,000 principal and alternative NFPA Technical Committee members to more easily access comprehensive personal protective equipment manufacturing guidance; selection, care, and maintenance tips; professional qualifications benchmarks; and other critical information.

In addition, ERRS standards will have a new revision cycle: Both the first and second draft meetings and any necessary correlating committee meetings will occur during the same year. One meeting will be held in January and the other in November. Any required additional meetings will be scheduled on an as-needed basis. More information is available at, or contact Lorraine Carli,

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April 15. Firefighter John “Jack” Leming, 78, Cape May Point (NJ) Volunteer Fire Company 1: heart attack.

April 17. Firefighter Dwain Hudson, 73, Argyle Volunteer Fire Department, Custer, SD: unknown.

April 24. Driver/Engineer Michael Watkins, 75, Northeast Lakeside Fire Department, Mountain Home, AR: heart attack suffered on April 21.

April 27. Firefighter/EMT Brad Gregrich, 30, Desoto County Fire Rescue, Arcadia, FL: cerebrovascular accident suffered on April 14.

May 5. Firefighter Kody Vanfossan, 24, Christopher (IL) Fire Department: collapsed at structure fire; cause under investigation.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

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