News

USFA Administrator Paulison comments on proposed FY-06 budget

In a February release, R. David Paulison, administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), said he was aware of “the concerns expressed by organizations representing the fire service regarding the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2006 (FY-06) funding for the USFA.” He explained that he wanted “to reassure first responders across the country that the President is committed to ensuring that America’s firefighters have the equipment, training, and planning resources to support their communities.”

Among the statistics Paulison cited were the following:

When the 2005 grant process finishes, almost $2.6 billion will have been awarded to more than 22,258 local fire departments through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (FIRE Act). The amount will grow to $3.1 billion with the additional $500 million requested to fund grants in 2006.

• The President’s budget includes a $1.3 million increase for the USFA as well as additional funds for the National Fire Academy and the Emergency Management Institute for developing and providing training for first responders on the new National Incident Management System and the National Response Plan.

• The USFA’s virtual campus has been expanded, and an average of more than 2,000 students a day are accessing online training.

• Since its creation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has allocated or awarded $13 billion in grants to first responders and state and local governments.

Fire service organizations also have released comments concerning the FY 2006 proposed budget. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), for example, says it is “carefully evaluating the budget and will work with Congress throughout the appropriations process to ensure that first-responder programs are fully funded.” IAFC President Chief Bob DiPoli noted that Congress determines the actual funding levels for each program and that the process takes several months.

The IAFC pointed out the following “facts” related to the FY 2006 budget proposed by President Bush:

• The budget request of the Department of Homeland Security is $34.2 billion, a 7 percent increase over the FY 2005 budget.

• The budget request for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is $500 million. Although the President proposed the same amount in the 2004 and 2005 budgets, Congress ultimately appropriated $650 million for 2005 and $750 mission for 2004.

• There is no funding for SAFER in the President’s budget, as was the case last year. Congress, however, appropriated $65 million for the program.

The IAFC has urged the fire service to withhold any action pertaining to USFA funding until “facts can be solidified and there can be a unified effort that will be effective.” In January, it released a multistep plan for addressing funding concerns pertaining to the NFA and announced that it was convening a meeting with other national fire service organizations on February 24 in Washington, D.C. to address the funding issues (see “IAFC sponsors fire service summit” below).

IAFF expresses disappointment

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), AFL-CIO/CLC, on the other hand, has expressed “disappointment that the FY 2006 budget proposed by President Bush cuts funding for the FIRE Act (Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program) by 30 percent.” (The President has proposed $500 million for FY 2006, the same as he had proposed for FY 2004 and 2005, according to the Congressional Fire Services Institute.)

“These reductions represent a continuing pattern in which President Bush has either not included any funding for the FIRE Act or substantially reduced funding below what Congress appropriated the prior year,” according to IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. He said the IAFF hopes it can work with members on both sides of the aisle in Congress “to bring the funding for emergency preparedness in our nation’s communities back to levels that begin to address the major shortages we see in more than two-thirds of the communities in America.”

The IAFF opposes any cuts in FIRE Act funding and is working to establish “a productive dialogue” with the new Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, and the White House concerning additional funding and the quick and efficient distribution of the funds that are ultimately appropriated. It referred to the Boston Globe report (see “Boston Globe report says firefighters not meeting response time standards” below) that noted a decline in the nation’s fire response capabilities (www.boston.com/news/specials/fires/) and studies by the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Council on Foreign Relations, reported in 2003, that found “our nation’s emergency response capabilities critically underfunded and our first responders understaffed, undertrained, and ill equipped.”

NVFC Asks for Full Funding

Finally, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has asked Congress and the Bush Administration to fully fund the USFA in the approaching fiscal year, beginning October 1, 2005. The United States Fire Administration Reauthorization Act (Public Law 108-169), signed by President Bush in December 2003, authorized funding for USFA activities through FY 2008, setting FY 2006 funding at $64.85 million. If the USFA is not funded fully, notes NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg, “the activities of the Fire Data Center, various prevention and fire service outreach initiatives, National Fire Academy course development and revision, and more, will be impeded.” The NVFC is encouraging fire service members to contact their legislators and ask for full funding for the USFA.

Boston Globe report says firefighters not meeting response time standards

Barely over a third of fire departments nationwide are meeting national standards for response time, according to a Boston Globe report. The newspaper based its findings on an analysis it made from reviewing National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data pertaining to 3.3 million building fires. Among the information presented in the two-part series was the following:

• Only 35 percent of departments reached 90 percent of building fires within six minutes, in accordance with National Fire Protection Association standards.

• The percentage of departments that met the six-minute response time in 2002 dropped to 58 percent from 75 percent in 1986, when data on response were collected for the first time.

• More than 4,000 people died in fires in which firefighters took more than six minutes to respond.

In a January 30 emsnetwork report (article 13779), retired Fire Department of New York Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn pointed out that “response times outside the center cities are too great, and the personnel responding inside and outside the center cities are too few.”

The Globe used U.S. Census data to estimate that spending for fires dropped from an average of 6.1 percent of municipal spending in 1987 to 5.7 percent in 2003. www.emsnetwork.org, article 13779, Jan. 30, 2005

IAFC sponsors fire service summit

Representatives of 18 major fire service organizations and the fire service media met in Washington, D.C., on February 24 to discuss funding for the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)/National Fire Academy (NFA) and the need for an expanded role for the fire service within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The event was hosted by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).

The objective of the meeting, according to IAFC President Chief Bob DiPoli, who chaired the summit, is to speak with one voice “to better demonstrate to the Administration, to Congress, to the press, and to the public our [the fire service’s] solidarity in preserving the funding and missions of these critical institutions.”

USFA Administrator R. David Paulison briefed the group on the status of the USFA/NFA initiatives and said that even though the USFA budget has been cut in recent years, “it has remained manageable since September 11, 200l.”

He also noted that no courses have been cancelled at the NFA and that the number of first responders receiving USFA training “has been growing tremendously, exceeding our capacity at times, particularly during peak hours of the day.”

Attendees also met with a panel of Congressional staff to present the fire service’s perspective on funding and the fire service’s relationship with the DHS.

The following goals were established and adopted:

• Fire chiefs and other senior fire service officials must represent the fire services within the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security and in key positions throughout the department.

• The USFA’s position and function within the DHS should be proportionate to the fire service’s responsibilities relative to responding to incidents of terrorism and all- hazard events.

• The Office of Management and Budget and the DHS need to recognize and designate the USFA and the NFA as “homeland security critical in the federal budgeting process.”

• The USFA and the NFA must be fully funded to the authorized levels to support the ongoing mission; funding should reflect contemporary issues and community risks.

• To ensure the most effective use of training resources, the DHS should be required to work more closely with the NFA and state and local fire training academies regarding the use of curriculum and the delivery system for terrorism response training.

The unified American fire service organizations will work to develop a strategy pertaining to these goals by April 7, the date of the National Fire Emergency Services Dinner. Additional details are at www.iafc.og/ news/article.asp?id=211.

Nextel to reconfigure 800 MHz spectrum

Nextel Communications has formally accepted the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Report and Order to eliminate interference at 800 MHz, to achieve the ultimate goal of interference-free communications for public safety agencies operating within the spectrum. Under the FCC’s reconfiguration proposal, public safety and commercial operations would be separated and additional spectrum would be made available for first responders at 800 MHz. According to IAFC President Chief Bob DiPoli, the Nextel consent “culminates three years of hard work and collaboration to find a comprehensive solution to 800 MHz radio interference.”

A group of public safety organizations supported the plan. In addition to the IAFC, the group included the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. The group called the agreement “a triumph for public safety in America.”

The group noted, however, that the process to eliminate interference is far from finished and that all must “diligently work together to see that the FCC’s order is successfully implemented.” Additional information on wireless communications for public safety is at www.iafc.org/government/index.asp#wireless/.

Sprinkler extinguishes university fire

A fire sprinkler knocked down a fire in a dormitory room at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, averting a tragedy. The fire, which broke out around 8:30 p.m., was caused by a student’s cigarette. The fire was contained to the third-floor room. Reportedly, the student flicked the cigarette ashes on the dormitory room floor. The incident is under investigation.

Some 150 students were unable to return to their rooms until the next day; water damage kept about 25 students away for a longer time. University officials said they are reviewing policies concerning residence hall smoking.

Drew University had completed installing fire sprinklers in 2003. The sprinklers had been mandated by the state after the January 2000 fire at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in which three students died and several were seriously injured. Daily Record News, Jenna M. McKnight, jmcknigh@gannett.com, Feb 16, 2005

Jersey City (NJ) tests new interagency communications system

A new interagency communications system implemented in Jersey City, New Jersey, can eliminate the communications problems experienced among emergency responders during the 9/11 attacks, according to officials. The system was first used during the “orange alert” issued last year relative to terrorist threats to the Prudential Building in Newark. It allows for communication among city, county, state, and federal first responders.

The state’s first chief public safety communications officer, Raymond Hayling II, used a single handheld radio to establish contact with the vehicles of representatives from 12 fire, military, law enforcement, medical, and government agencies.

A central dispatch center at the Essex County Sheriff’s Department patches together existing frequencies, according to Hayling. A backup is at an undisclosed location. Redundant equipment is installed at numerous locations, and backup equipment is ready to be deployed as needed.

The system includes the cities of Jersey City and Newark and the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, and Union. Any agency can request activation of the system.

With the new system, Jersey City meets the RapidCom standards of 9/30, a Department of Homeland Security initiative announced in July designed to enable first responders in 10 cities identified as high-threat urban areas to communicate in an emergency. The nine other RapidCom areas are New York City, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, and Boston.

So far, New Jersey has spent $1 million to bring the system online. The long-term plan is to expand the system throughout the state; the anticipated cost would be between $150 and $200 million. www.nj.com,art3/ 110621599373120, Jan 20, 2005

“Best practices ensure homeland security,” author Kemp reports

Roger L. Kemp, city manager of Vallejo, California, and author of Homeland Security: Best Practices for Local Government (ICMA, 2003), has been tracking the best practices in homeland security among the various levels of government since the 9/11 attacks. He reports that cities and counties are “forging best practices in this new field.”

In his update, Kemp noted the following:

• States are working to develop relationships and plans with the regions, counties, cities, and special districts within their jurisdictions.

• All units of government have worked to enhance intergovernmental cooperation to ensure national security in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

• Before the advent of the DHS and immediately after 9/11, the Office of the Attorney General (USAO) in every district in the country formed an Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing future terrorist attacks against the homeland.

Today, every state has a branch of the USAO and a recently formed Council, which is coordinating the necessary city, county, regional, state, and federal resources to help ensure homeland security. Public safety representatives from various public and nonprofit agencies meet on a regularly scheduled basis to discuss precautions, safeguards, and best practices for protecting their respective areas from future terrorist attacks.

Among the federal agencies participating are the following: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Federal Air Marshal Service; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Immigration and Customs Service; the Transportation Security Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Environmental Protection Association; the Internal Revenue Service; the Marshal Service; the Secret Service; the U.S. Postal Service; and the Social Security Administration. State and municipal government participating agencies include public health and safety, homeland security, emergency management, the Attorney General’s Office, other criminal justice administration agencies, the National Guard, public colleges and universities, state and international airports, independent water and utility districts, nuclear power plant companies, regional transit authorities, and major private hospitals and universities.

Among the precautions and safeguards discussed at these meetings are those pertaining to the following: local and regional train stations, nuclear power plants, municipal harbors and ports, state and municipal airports, national and state military installations, tribal nation properties (major gambling casinos, for example), major post offices and mail-handling centers, private military contractors, major intra- and inter-state transportation centers and corridors, special districts and their facilities, and other government properties with “target rich” environments.

Much of these homeland security efforts have been directed at protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure and to ensure that essential public services are provided during an emergency. To help achieve this goal, Kemp recommends that fire chiefs work closely with city and county managers to ensure that their staffing levels and equipment are sufficient to limit the loss of life and property during a disaster.

GAO releases new report on wildfire management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior provide Congress with a cohesive strategy for developing wildland fire policies. The recommendation was included in the GAO report “Wildland Fire Management: Important Progress Has Been Made, but Challenges Remain to Completing a Cohesive Strategy” (GAO-05-147).

The report was produced for the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health as a follow-up to a 1999 report. The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (OR), was to hold an oversight hearing on the report in February, after press time.

The Healthy Forests Act has been an effective tool for reducing the threat of catastrophic fire, Walden said, but he noted that the report acknowledges that a significant amount of progress must still be made. In 1999, the GAO report “Western National Forests: A Cohesive Strategy Is Needed to Address Catastrophic Wildfire” stated that accumulated vegetation is the number one threat to the health of our national forests. In its new report, the GAO found that implementing the Healthy Forests Act has contributed to an upward trend in hazardous fuels reduction projects.

Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (CA) notes that much work still needs to be done to correct the nation’s wildland fire problems and that it is vital that Congress continue to improve and expand the abilities of the Forest Service to treat hazardous fuels on national forestland.

In early February, Pombo, Walden, and other members of Congress joined to support a bill that would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act of 2000. The bill reauthorizes the cooperative partnership between citizens in rural forest counties and federal land management agencies to simultaneously stimulate community development and stability and develop forest health improvement projects on public lands.

Reauthorizing the legislation would allow students in rural schools to continue receiving educational opportunities comparable to urban and suburban students, according to Pombo. More than 4,400 schools receive funding through this Act. The legislation also calls for continued assistance with rural county roads and projects on federal forestlands that have included fuels reduction, reforestation, maintenance, and rehabilitation. The law creates a local Resource Advisory Committee that interacts with the management of neighboring national forests.

U.S. DOT establishes two new agencies

Two new agencies created at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) began operating on February 20. The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) will focus on advancing innovation and research in transportation technologies and concepts. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will oversee the safety of the more than 800,000 daily shipments of hazardous materials in the United States and 64 percent of the nation’s energy transported by pipelines.

RITA, which will house the Secretary’s Office of Intermodalism and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, will be composed of staff from the RSPA’s Office of Innovation, Research and Education and will include the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City. Members of the former Research and Special Programs Administration’s Office of Hazardous Materials Safety and the Office of Pipeline Safety will staff PHMSA.

Governors assess homeland security progress, challenges

The “Homeland Security in the States: Much Progress, More Work” report released by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices concludes that governors have made great strides in enhancing their states’ homeland security processes and requirements since 9/11 but still have much more to do. “Homeland security is such a new and fluid discipline that all the lessons we learn are in real time,” observes John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center.

The survey was completed in August 2004 by 38 of the 55 state and territorial homeland security directors.

According to the survey, respondents said that states have made great strides in protecting their borders and preventing future attacks even though there is “a general lack of precedent to assist their work.” Recognizing that each state tailors its homeland security strategy to its specific needs, the following “like-minded strategies” have been employed:

• Establishment of statewide emergency operations centers (100 percent of respondents).

• Development of exercises for training first responders while identifying weaknesses in agency response plans (98 percent).

• Focusing attention on bioterrorism preparedness and acting to amend policies and laws related to isolation and quarantine practices (95 percent).

• Developing mutual assistance agreements with neighboring states for sharing National Guard resources, equipment, and personnel (94 percent).

Respondents were also asked to identify the top 10 priorities for their states that still must be addressed to meet the homeland security challenges. The following top three priorities were named:

• Interoperability-the need for the ability for emergency responders to communicate with one another during an incident.

• Intelligence sharing-the need to enhance states’ ability to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence by creating “fusion centers” for intelligence sharing among federal, state, and local government.

• Protection of critical infrastructure-this would include identifying and protecting essential daily functions such as telecommunications, transportation, and banking.

More fires occur in spring, say USFA

The daily incidence of fire is at its highest during the spring months-a seasonal average of nearly 5,000 fires each day is reported,” according to “The Seasonal Nature of Fires” report developed by the National Fire Data Center, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration. The findings are based primarily on National Fire Incident Reporting System data averaged over the 2001-2002 period.

The report also found an increase in daily fires occurred during and around the holidays of Independence Day (the greatest number of fires is reported), Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holiday period that includes Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/reports/pubs/seasonal.shtm/.


CPSC would like electrical panelboards and receptacles for study

Fire investigators are asked to send to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) any electrical panelboards or receptacles (all types) in which there has been a performance failure. The CPSC will examine these items from the perspective of making recommendations to code-making organizations. For additional information, contact your regional CPSC office, or call (800) 638-8095. You can read the details on the CPSC study in FIRE FINDINGS, Winter 2005, 13:1, 4-5, www.firefindings.com/.


Line-of-Duty Deaths

December 14, 2004. Captain William J. Briggs, 52, INEEL Fire Department, Idaho Falls, ID: heart attack.

January 3, 2005. Captain Ornell E. Fuller, Jr., 40, Midway Volunteer Fire Department, Dexter, NM: heart attack.

January 26. Firefighter Donald Conner, 74, Brooken Volunteer Fire Department, Stigler, OK: collapsed at a forest fire; cause of death to be determined.

February 3. Captain William Hudson, 50, Salem (MA) Fire Department: from complications of hepatitis C, contracted on the job several years ago.

February 5. Captain William “Bill” Goodin, 56, Mt. Victory Fire Department, Somerset, KY: collapsed after an EMS call.

February 6. Firefighter Todd Smith, 31, New Paltz (NY) Fire Department: cardiac arrest.

February 10. Firefighter William Pierce, 53, Ogdensburg (NJ) and Hardystown Township (NJ) Fire Departments: possible heart attack-he became ill while working a handline at a residential structure and collapsed outside by the apparatus; autopsy pending.

February 12. Chief Engineer Angelo Petta, 46, City of Garfield (NJ) Fire Department: collapsed (suspected heart attack) outside of single-family structure while evacuating occupants on a call for an odor of natural gas.

February 13. Captain Mark McCormack, 36, Santa Clara County Fire Department, Los Gatos, California: apparently was struck by a fallen power line dangling across the driveway from a tree limb while at a residential fire.

February 13. Staff Sergeant-Firefighter Ray Rangel, 29, Dyess AFB, 7th Civil Engineer Squadron: drowned while attempting, with another firefighter and a medic, to save two soldiers trapped in a Humvee that had overturned in a canal while on assignment as a firefighter in Iraq.

February 15. Lieutenant Michael Lee Crawford, 51, Carroll County Fire Rescue, Carrollton, GA: heart attack while returning to fire station.

February 18. Firefighter Michael Mercurio, 52, Urbandale (IA) Fire Department: heart attack.

February 19. Captain Grady Burke, 39, Houston (TX) Fire Department: in roof collapse at structural fire.

Source: National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Database, United States Fire Administration.


RESOURCES

FEMA Reports

The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued the following special reports as part of its Topical Fire Research Series: “Fire Risk,” “The Fire Risk to Children,” and “The Fire Risk to Older Adults.” Developed by the National Fire Data Center, part of FEMA’s U.S. Fire Administration, the reports assess factors that influence risk and are based on 2001 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and U.S. Census Bureau data.

According to the reports, children under the age of five and adults over the age of 54 are at the greatest risk of death in fires. Individuals in the 20-to-44 and 85+ age groups are at highest risk for fire injury. The reports can be downloaded at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/reports/pubs/tfrs.shtm/.

• • •

IAFC Reports

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has released the following reports:

• Health Care Fire and Life Safety Roundtable. Experts from the fire service and health care industries address major life safety concerns in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities. Recommendations pertain to training, education, and the processes necessary for improving life safety and preventing injury in health care facilities; improving consistency in the application of codes, regulations, and laws; developing a plan that addresses evacuations and the “defend in place” concept. The report is at www.iafc.org/grants/documents/healthcare.pdf.

• Emerging Codes Issues Roundtables. These two reports address catastrophic fires involving public assembly occupancies. The IAFC convened these Roundtables in 2004 to develop strategies for enacting building code changes with an emphasis on life safety and reducing the threat of fire in nightclubs and other places of public assembly.

Fifty diverse fire service representatives met to develop strategies directed at creating a model uniform fire and life safety code to prevent tragedies such as the 2003 tragedies at the West Warwick (RI) nightclub and the Chicago (IL) dance club. The report is available at www.iafc.org/grants/documents/codes.pdf.

The above reports were supported by a Department of Homeland Security/Office of Domestic Preparedness grant awarded under the Assistance to Firefighters’ Fire Prevention and Safety Program.


News Glimpses

Seat belts saved 160,000 lives in U.S. since 1960. A government analysis shows that safety belts saved 160,000 lives in the United States, more than half the lives saved by auto safety features adopted since 1960. Among safety features assessed were braking improvements, air bags, energy-absorbing steering columns, and child seats. Most of the gains from safety belts were noted in the late 1970s, when shoulder belts were introduced, and in the 1980s and 1990s, when states began adopting mandatory safety belt laws. www.medscape.com, article 497871, Jan. 19, 2005

Rep. Curt Weldon named Homeland Security Committee vice chairman. The Pennsylvania representative is serving his ninth term in Congress and has been part of committees pertaining to intelligence, national security, weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and first responders. He also has been prominent on the Congressional Fire Service Caucus, which he founded in 1987.

Chertoff is new DHS head. Judge Michael Chertoff has replaced Tom Ridge as secretary of Homeland Security. He previously had been a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

Negroponte new national intelligence chief. President Bush named John D. Negroponte as his choice for the new intelligence chief in February. Negroponte was formerly ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations. He will oversee 15 intelligence agencies. At press time, Negroponte was not confirmed by Congress.

NJ legislators seek to increase funding for homeland security. U.S. Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Robert Menendez have proposed changing the formula for allocating funds for homeland security to the states. They suggest that states receive funding based on threat risk instead of general revenue sharing. Corzine calls the proposed legislation “the common-sense Homeland Security Act.” He said “it is designed to reflect the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that all funding should be based on threat and vulnerability.” The legislators announced their proposal at a press conferences in response to the federal government’s cutting New Jersey’s Homeland Security budget from $93 million in 2004 to $61 million in 2005. Homeland Security funding for Jersey City, the second largest city in the state, was cut from $17 million in 2004 to $6.7 million in 2005. Under the current program, New Jersey receives almost four times less than Wyoming. The officials noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers the two-mile stretch between Port Newark and Newark Airport as the most dangerous area in the country. Changes to homeland security funding would not affect grant programs such as Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (FIRE Act). www.nj.com, article 11007781816223650, Feb. 7, 2005

Firefighters form association for hazardous materials technicians. The International Association of Hazardous Materials Technicians (IAHMT), founded by two Georgia firefighters, is open to hazardous materials technicians in the fire service and private industry. Firefighters Chris Smith and Ben Holley, members of a hazardous materials response team, attended COBRA training on weapons of mass destruction for hazardous materials technicians and said they realized there was some work to be done to be fully prepared for a weapons of mass destruction incident. They contacted other fire departments in the country and found many in the same situation. The objective of the association is to establish communication among haz-mat technicians nationwide. Membership is free. Its Web site is www.iahmt.com. The IAHMT also instituted an awards program for Hazmat Technician of the Year, Hazmat Team of the Year, and Hazmat Product of the Year.

Cleveland (OH) Fire Department’s haz-mat unit awarded NFPA’s 2005 Warren E. Isman educational grant. The department’s Fire Prevention Bureau’s Haz-Mat Team will use the National Fire Protection Association $5,000 grant to attend the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ International Hazardous Materials Response Team Conference in Hunt Valley, Maryland, June 2-5, 2005. The award must be used for specialized training in hazardous materials.

LaSala replaces Caldwell as IAFC head of Government Relations. Ken LaSala will take over as head of government relations for the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He replaces Alan Caldwell, who held that position for more than eight years. Caldwell will now serve as senior advisor to government relations. In this role, he will focus on wireless radio communications and other issues. LaSala was a member of Senator John McCain’s professional staff and has spent more than seven years with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

FCC chairman resigns. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael K. Powell resigned in March. He has served on the FCC since 1997; he was named chairman in 2001.

IAS offers building department accreditation. The International Accreditation Service (IAS), a subsidiary of the International Code Council, is offering a new accreditation program for building departments. A team of independent evaluators will determine if the codes the community has adopted are being effectively enforced to provide public safety and protect property. James Lee Witt, CEO of the International Code Council, notes that the IAS accreditation is a tool building departments can use to document strengths, identify areas in need of improvement, and implement solutions that result in safer communities. The Insurance Services Office, Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding that supports the IAS Building Department Accreditation Program. Additional information is at www.iasonline.org, or call (1-866) 427-4422, or e-mail info@iasonline.org/.

Orlando (FL) firefighter stabbed in attempted robbery at fire station. The firefighter was thrown to the ground and stabbed. According to a report from Local 6 News, one individual stuck a knife in the firefighter’s side and had his knee in the firefighter’s back as another individual was cutting open the firefighter’s back pocket to get the wallet. The men were apparently scared away before they could steal the wallet. The firefighter was transported to a hospital with moderate injuries. He was walking at the rear of his station, going for the morning newspaper, when the attack occurred. At press time the suspects were still not apprehended. Yahoo!News, Feb. 17, 2005

Fire damages Chicago fire station. Some 40 firefighters and paramedics on Chicago’s South Side were working out of temporary quarters in January after a fire damaged part of their station. The fire occurred at about 10:46 p.m. on a Sunday. Reportedly, an electrical service panel “blew,” according to a fire department spokesman. The fire was contained to a first-floor kitchen and entertainment room. It was expected that it would take about three months to complete repairs to the station. Personnel will be assigned to three nearby fire stations in the meantime.

News

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FEMA: 107 firefighter line-of-duty deaths in 2004

Figures released by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicate that 107 firefighters died in the line of duty in the United States in 2004. In addition, the USFA reported an additional firefighter fatality in 2003 and a firefighter death in 2004 that occurred as the result of an incident that took place in 2002. The fatality statistics for 2004 are provisional and subject to change as the USFA contacts state fire marshals to verify the names of firefighters reported to have died on-duty during 2004. The final annual firefighter fatality report for 2004 is expected to be available by early June.

Among the 2004 death statistics are the following:

• Career firefighters: 29 deaths (27%); volunteer, seasonal, and part-time firefighters: 78 deaths.

• Half of the firefighters suffered traumatic injuries such as asphyxiation, burns, drowning, trauma from vehicle crashes, and other physical injuries; 49 deaths were attributed to heart attacks and strokes.

• Nine deaths were attributed to wildland fires.

• Five firefighters were struck by passing vehicles at an emergency scene. Three died as a result of being run over by apparatus.

• Four were killed in falls from fire department vehicles.

• A Kentucky firefighter was shot and killed as she approached an emergency involving domestic violence.

• Twenty firefighters died in vehicle collisions; seven involved the crash of their personal vehicles.

• The average age of the firefighters was 47; the average age of the firefighters who died of a heart attack or stroke was 52.

Additional information on firefighter fatalities, including the annual fatality reports from 1986 through 2003 and the “Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990-2000,” is at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fatalities/statistics/.

Analysis of accidents yields insights into emergency vehicle accidents

The Fire Service Research Institute (FSRI) has released its report on an analysis it conducted of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) database of accidents involving emergency vehicles for the years 1998 through 2003. The Homeland Security Administration (HSA) funded the research. The project was subcontracted to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The HSA named the grant “The Blinding Light Study,” although W. Kenneth Menke, director of the FSRI, vice chair of the Society of Automotive Engineers Committee on Emergency Warning Lights and Devices, and a member of the committee for National Fire Protection Association 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, explains that neither he nor anyone at UMTRI is aware of any incident that might have prompted this study.

Menke, an active member of the fire service for 42 years, has been involved in designing warning lights since 1975, when he founded Code 3. He served as a member of the advisory committee for the FSRI study.

Among the findings of the FSRI study are the following:

• Two-thirds of fire vehicle accidents occur during the day. There is less chance of an accident occurring at nighttime.

• The civilian drivers in 120 of the 380 accidents said they did not see the fire vehicle; no one reported being blinded by the warning lights. The MODOT clearly indicates that the bright warning lights needed during the day do not cause accidents at night.

• Fire vehicle accidents are more frequent in large cities than in rural or suburban areas. The problem seems to be associated with large apparatus traveling on narrow streets.

• A common city problem is fire vehicles’ hitting stationary objects-removing all of the mirrors on a line of parked cars or hitting objects while attempting to back in to lay hoselines, for example. In older neighborhoods, smaller, narrower engines might be more appropriate.

• Accidents involving fire apparatus declined from 76 in 1998 to 58 in 2003. This was attributed to better driver training and improved steering, braking, and warning light systems (issues warning signals in all directions, not just the front) in apparatus.

Polaris ATVs cited for hazardous defects

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has provisionally accepted a $950,000 settlement from Polaris Industries Inc., Medina, Minnesota, for the company’s allegedly failing to “timely inform the CPSC of serious defects and hazards in certain models of the company’s all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).”

Two issues are involved. The first affects the ATV Scrambler, Sport, and Xplorer 400 models. The throttles on 13,600 units of these vehicles can stick and prevent the ATVs from slowing down or stopping, leading to loss of control and crashes. Polaris became aware of 88 reports of the throttles sticking in these vehicles between December 1998 and May 2000. These reports included 19 crashes or other types of accidents. Polaris reported the problem to the CPSC in May 2000 and announced a recall in August 2000.

The second issue involved 55,500 Xpedition, Trail Boss, and Magnum 325 model ATVs. The oil lines on these vehicles blew off, disconnected, or loosened, leading to the spraying of hot pressurized oil. Between March 1999 and February 2001, the company received almost 1,450 reports of oil line problems. Some of the incidents involved fires. These ATVs were recalled in April 2001.

Federal law requires that manufacturers, retailers, and distributors report defects that could create a substantial safety risk to the public or violate a federal safety standard to the CPSC within 24 hours.

ARRP Research Project to focus on new equipment and rescue methods

Captain Steven Cobb of the San Bernardino City (CA) Fire Department is inviting members of the fire, rescue, EMS, law enforcement, military, and aviation safety professions to participate in The Forcible Entry & Victim Extrication Aircraft Rescue Research Project (ARRP) to be held at San Bernardino Airport from April 26-29, 2005. The outdoor event will be held on the airport tarmac.

Hosts for the event will be the San Bernardino City Fire Department, the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the International Aviation Fire Protection Association (IAFPA), and the San Bernardino International Airport.

The objective of this ARRP program is to bring together all the tools, equipment, materials, and resources that could be used to locate, extricate, and remove victims trapped inside crashed aircraft. Equipment and subject areas might include, but not be limited to, the following: fuel containment; shoring, cribbing, and stabilization; forcible entry/extrication equipment; foam and foam application; piercing and penetrating nozzles; generators; lighting; ladders; search cams; thermal imaging cameras; flashlights; full protective clothing (head, hands, and eyes included); rescue hand and power tools; litters, backboards, and packaging systems; tents and shelters; command and multicasualty management materials; biohazard protection, decontamination equipment; ARFF; rapid intervention; rescue vehicles; and rescue training materials and resources.

There will be ample room for displaying and demonstrating the equipment. Nothing negative will be noted regarding any product. The focus will be on showcasing the available rescue resources and identifying ways to effectively use them in an aviation emergency. Additional information is at the ARRP Web site at www.edmus.info, or call Steven Cobb at (909) 897-2648.

Self-extinguishing cigarette prevents fire in upholstered chair test

In January, fire marshals from the Suffolk County (NY) Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Service conducted a non-scientific burn test involving an imitation leather overstuffed chair and two cigarettes of the same brand. One cigarette was a New York state-approved self-extinguishing cigarette; the other was purchased in the state of Virginia. The test took place in a room on the first floor of the class A burn building at the Suffolk County Fire Training Academy. Witnessing the test was Scott Cohn, senior correspondent, and his production staff from the television station CNBC. The wooden chair was filled with foam rubber and had a cloth backing. It was about 30 to 40 years old and was stored inside at room temperature until the test.

The cigarettes were ignited at 10:28 a.m. and placed in corners of the chair. The self-extinguishing cigarette was dropped between the seat cushion and the armrest at the back left side corner of the chair; the ordinary cigarette was placed in the corresponding area on the right side. Ten minutes after ignition, the self-extinguishing cigarette was no longer burning. The ordinary cigarette continued to burn and produced a steady stream of smoke until around noon, when the fire marshals present recommended that the television crew record the test from outside because of the buildup of smoke and carbon monoxide within the structure. At about 12:48 p.m. (two hours and 20 minutes after ignition), visible flame appeared on the right side of the chair, where the ordinary cigarette had originally been dropped. The entire chair was consumed by fire within 10 minutes of the visible flame.

DHS makes recommendations for emergency response plans

In its December 16, 2004 INFOGRAM, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security made the following recommendations pertaining to emergency response plans:

• Keep up-to-date plans in a hard-copy format and available to community stakeholders. Electronic versions of the plans may not be accessible during extended power outages or system interruptions.

• Consider community critical infrastructures when revising the plans. Emergency managers and responders’ prevention, protection, and mitigation efforts must apply to local critical infrastructures to guarantee continuity of emergency operations and essential services to citizens.

• Develop revisions in the plan through workshops and consultations with first preparers (emergency managers and planners); first responders (police, fire, EMS); first receivers (hospital emergency staff); and public utilities/works, mass transportation, emergency communications, and other local decision makers.

• In revised plans, clearly outline the communication and coordination that will take place among the previously mentioned community leaders to ensure protection of critical infrastructures.

IAFF submits comments on Homeland Security Presidential Directive

In a letter dated January 18 to C. Suzanne Mencer, executive director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, Department of Homeland Security, Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), made detailed recommendations related to the draft pertaining to National Preparedness Capabilities Summaries for Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8).

In addition, Schaitberger offered “two overarching comments” related to the initiative.

1. An All-Hazards approach is important to emergency response …. The best way to prepare emergency responders to respond to acts of terrorism is to prepare them to respond to all hazards. “Any effort to restrict the federal government’s involvement in emergency response solely to acts of terrorism will ultimately be counterproductive to the goal of protecting Americans.”

2. The recommendation in the National Response Plan that emergency response “be handled at the lowest possible organizational and jurisdictional level” will require the federal government to issue clear and rigorous standards, as well as find new ways to vigorously enforce such standards. Schaitberger cited the need for the “promulgation and enforcement of the highest professional standards.” He noted that although fire departments differ in capabilities, based on their need to target their resources to their local population, demographics, and geography, “every community should be required to use the same baseline understanding of the training equipment and personnel fire departments require to protect the public.”

“Those who advocate local autonomy and only nominal compliance with standards undermine the very essence of the National Response Plan,” Schaitberger said. “Only by raising the bar on what is expected of our Fire Departments will we achieve the goal of national preparedness,” he concluded.

DHS warns responders of ordnance hazards

The Department of Homeland Security has reported two incidents that occurred at the end of December in which responders unexpectedly encountered dangerous ordnance when performing their duties. One incident involved a fire in a weapons storage locker at a power plant. The fire set off ammunition that could be heard discharging from behind a locked door. The small arms locker contained ammunition for the power plant’s armed security force.

The second incident occurred in a large metropolitan area. Firefighters were extinguishing a fire in a three-story home and found a weapons cache that included numerous handguns, rifles, and ammunition.

The DHS recommends that response plans be reviewed, if necessary, to provide for minimal deployment of personnel and apparatus until the scene of an incident and adjacent areas have been adequately searched and cleared of hazards when practicable. “Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate,” INFOGRAM, Jan. 6, 2005

Fees for emergency services a new option for some communities

Winter Park, Florida; San Luis Obispo, California; and Vernon Hills, Illinois, are among communities considering assessing fees for rescue services. Winter Park, according to a local6.com report, may charge nonresidents higher fees than city residents. The revenue raised by the fees could be used to offset budget shortages.

Firefighter safety is the rationale for the San Luis Obispo law that took effect January 1, which states that any person saved from an area that a “reasonable person … should have known is closed to the public” could be liable for the cost of the rescue. Examples would be crossing creeks or kayaking in them when the water level is high after a storm, or driving in flooded areas. Fire officials say the primary considerations are civilian and rescuer safety.

Drunken drivers involved in traffic accidents in the Vernon Hills area will have to pay for an emergency response as a result of an ordinance enacted by The Countryside Fire Protection District. The ordinance stipulates that individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants (DUI) will be required to pay up to $1,000 for the use of firefighter services or equipment. State law allows local departments to be reimbursed for costs for DUI-related service and hazardous-materials spills. The legislature has been investigating other areas in which to recover costs of specialized services, such as technical rescues. www.local6.com, article 4070118, Jan. 11, 2005; www.sanluisobispo.com, article 10617225, Jan 11, 2005; www.dailyherald.com, article 3836567, Jan. 13, 2005

Firefighters may apply for Reno Fire Science Academy grant classes

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the University of Nevada, Reno Fire Science Academy a $2.5 million grant to support the academy’s 2005-2006 “Responding to Terrorist Incidents in Your Community: Flammable-Liquid Fire Fighting Techniques for Municipal and Rural Firefighters” training program. Attendees at the four-day program receive scholarships covering tuition, travel, lodging, and meals.

The national program covers methods for mitigating flammable-liquid fires and sabotage and damage to “soft targets,” including truck and rail terminals, pipeline transfer stations, and other industrial facilities. Live-fire training exercises are included. Enrollment is by application only and is open to all U.S. firefighters 18 years and older who have National Fire Protection Association 1001, Firefighter Level I, or equivalent and two years of practical experience.

Additional information is available at www.fireacademy.unr.edu, or e-mail the academy at fireacademy@unr.edu/.

DHS developing EDXL interoperability base for first responders

Officials in the Homeland Security Department’s Disaster Management e-Government Initiative Office are working with members of the Emergency Interoperability Consortium to develop an interoperability language known as Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL). The consortium is made up of federal, state, and local agency officials and information technology industry leaders.

EDXL is intended to set a standard by which emergency response information can be disseminated quickly and accurately to communities involved in a national emergency before, during, and after the incident. Standards are being developed for the following areas: incident notification and situation reports, status reporting, resource requests and dispatches, analytical data, geospatial information, identification, and authentication.

The goal is to have first responders use EDXL to achieve data interoperability, which is crucial for nationwide emergency response systems. The DHS National Incident Management System (NIMS), for example, is needed for information sharing, said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. The future effectiveness of NIMS depends on common federal, state, and local policies and practices that must be in place by the end of 2007, he explained.

However, officials say that EDXL alone will not completely solve the interoperability problem. Policy issues, such as providing systems to cash-strapped communities and identifying the type of information to be shared, also must be considered. “Deciding who will have access to what information will be a continual matter of debate,” says John Markey, director of the Office of Emergency Management Fire and Rescue Service Division in Frederick County, Maryland.

The EDXL standard is the next step in the evolution of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), an open standard for exchanging hazard warnings and reports. That protocol has already been tested and certified as an international standard by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, a nonprofit, global consortium developing e-business standards.

DHS awards grants to states and cities

In December, the Department of Homeland Security announced that $1.66 billion in grants was awarded to states and an additional $855 million in grants was awarded to urban areas to fund first responders and support state and local resources necessary to prevent, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.

Under the State Homeland Security Grant Program, each state, territory, and the District of Columbia receives a portion of the grants according to a formula based on a baseline amount plus the population of the state or territory. Funding is for equipment, training, planning, and exercises.

The Urban Area Security Initiative provides additional resources for areas with greater security needs by allocating $55 million in a formula based on factors such as population and population density, critical infrastructure, threat information, formal mutual-aid cooperation, and law enforcement investigations and enforcement activity.

Recipients of Fiscal Year 2005 Homeland Security grants (state and local governments) may now have up to 120 days to draw funds in advance of purchase and investments, instead of the three to five days allowed before adoption of a task force recommendation that the flow of funds be expedited. The amount each state and urban area received may be viewed at http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/asset/library/Grants_Recipients_FY05.pdf. Your state homeland security contact is listed at www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/ states.htm. Program guidelines and application kit are at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/docs/ fy05hsgp.pdf.

ESRT aid to protecting responders and critical infrastructure

The Emergency Services Response Team (ESRT) involves providing relevant and detailed cross-training to volunteers of the law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical disciplines. Its use could reduce or eliminate the risk during the time when first responders at an emergency scene are awaiting the arrival of law enforcement to secure the scene, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The team is not intended to substitute for a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

ESRT members train together to develop skills that would better enable them to help victims and protect infrastructures, especially during the early critical minutes of violent and dangerous circumstances. Existing resources are used to promote interoperability through interdisciplinary teamwork and fortify the protection of critical infrastructures, first responders, and community residents. Infogram, Dec. 2, 2004, Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, DHS

Haz-mat security concept introduced at TRB meeting

Tom Moses, president of Spill Center, presented a Public Sector Reporting Center (PSRC) program for enhanced security of hazardous materials during the 84th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC, in January.

The concept would serve as the communications backbone of a new architecture designed to create centralized information processing and command and control capabilities using existing technologies. Open-architecture technology and automated intelligent agents continuously analyze data transmitted by truck-tracking systems, onboard computers, and other telematic devices to predict when a material being transported poses a threat. It can integrate a wide variety of telematic devices with event messaging, enabling the sharing of information, including data from truck-tracking systems and various security devices, without regard to proprietary hardware or software.

If patterns associated with increased risk are identified, the Internet-based system automatically alerts law enforcement, response agencies, transporters, shippers, and other registered users. The alerts could be in the forms of user-specified e-mail, fax, page, text-enabled cell phone message, or voice message.

The effectiveness of the concept was demonstrated during the U.S. DOT’s yearlong Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Field Operational Test of Technologies to prevent commercial vehicles carrying haz mats from being used in terrorist attacks. “If implemented, the PSRC could evolve into a ubiquitous resource because of the system’s ability to serve as a data consolidator, the widespread nature of event messaging, and the universal importance of alert notification,” Moses said.


Line-of-Duty Deaths

January 6. Lieutenant Christopher DeWolf, 41, Newington (NH) Fire Department: personal vehicle accident while returning to the station from an incident scene.

January 9. Firefighter Robert Dewey Martin, 26, Bostic (NC) Volunteer Fire Department: heart complications at home; had engaged in strenuous EMT class at the fire station the night before.

January 11. Firefighter James Fugate, 20, Collinsville (OK) Fire Department: personal vehicle accident while responding to an alarm.

January 20. Captain Scott Thornton, 39, Summit Township Fire Department, Jackson, Michigan: entrapped at a residential fire; cause of death is pending.

January 20. Fire Equipment Operator Timmy Young, 41, Columbia (SC) Fire Department: cardiac arrest suffered Jan. 7 while on an EMS call.

January 20. Firefighter Walter Sarnoski, 19, Sabula Fire Station, Sandy Township Fire Dept., Dubois, PA: injuries sustained in vehicle accident en route to an alarm.

January 23. Assistant Chief Michael Falkouski, 59, Rensselaer (NY) Fire Department: apparent heart attack at fire scene.

January 23. Firefighter John G. Bellew, 37, Ladder 27, Fire Department of New York: injuries sustained in jump from window at third-alarm structural fire.

January 23. Lieutenant Curtis W. Meyran, 46, Battalion 26, Fire Department of New York: injuries sustained in jump from window at third-alarm structural fire.

January 23. Firefighter Richard T. Sclafani, 37, Ladder 103, Fire Department of New York: asphyxiation at second-alarm structural fire.

Source: National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Database, United States Fire Administration.


Resources

FEMA National Response Plan (NRP) online training

The IS-800 course, “The National Res-ponse Plan (NRP), an Introduction,” is at http: //training.fema.gov/emiweb/is/is800.asp/.

“The Seven Signs of Terrorism” video

This seven-minute Michigan State Police video demonstrates how Al-Qaeda operatives assess potential targets to ensure the greatest destruction and killing power of a terrorist attack. The video includes information used internationally about terrorists’ surveillance, acquisition of supplies, and performing “dry runs” of an attack. The video may be viewed at SZZM13: http://www.wzzm13.com/news/videoarchive.asp. Scroll down to “Michigan State Police Video-7 signs of Terrorism.”


News Glimpses

Sen. DeWine a CFSI co-chair. Sen. Mike DeWine (OH) will serve as a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus beginning with the 109th Congress. DeWine is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Judiciary Committee; the Select Committee on Intelligence; and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He succeeds Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (CO), who retired at the end of the 108th Congress.

CFSI dinner April 7. The 17th annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars will be held on April 7 at the Hilton Washington (DC) and Towers. Additional information is at cfsi@cfsi.org/.

PA passes immunity law for donors of apparatus to volunteer fire companies. Effective in February, donors that provide vehicles in good faith to volunteer fire companies in Pennsylvania will be immune from civil liability related to the condition of the vehicles, as long as the donor disclosed all known defects to the company. The immunity does not apply in cases where the donor’s act or omission constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.

Chertoff new head of Homeland Security. Michael Chertoff was nominated by President Bush to replace Tom Ridge as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff, 51, has been a federal judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2003; he directed the Justice Department’s criminal division from 2001 to 2003. At press time, he was not yet confirmed by the Senate.

OSU to get $40 million in bioterrorism research contracts. Oklahoma State University veterinary science researchers will receive $40 million worth of contracts over the next seven years to discover vaccines. The money will be used to develop testing procedures so the government can validate drugs and vaccines for placement in stockpiles, as a biodefense mechanism. The National Institute of Health through its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is administering the contracts. Veterinarians are increasingly being used in biodefense research because they have experience working to contain diseases such as anthrax and tularemia (rabbit fever). OSU has received an initial $1.6 million and will receive more money as it fulfills tasks assigned by the federal government. www.channeloklahoma.com, Nov 10, 2004

California laboratory develops “biological smoke detector.” The Autonomous Pathogen Detection System (APDS) continuously monitors the air and can detect and identify bacteria, viruses, and toxins, including anthrax, plague, and botulisum toxin. A study published in the Jan. 1 edition of Analytical Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, notes that the stand-alone detector can provide early warning of a biological threat and runs the same tests molecular biologists would perform in a laboratory for detecting biological agents. This new version of the detector was tested at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. In addition to simultaneously testing for multiple agents with protein antibodies, the APDS also confirms positive results with a DNA test specific for the agent, which may reduce the probability of a false alarm. www.sciencedaily.com, Jan. 7, 2005

Fire destroys emergency equipment in a Utah county. A fire truck, three ambulances, a road grader, and a snowplow were destroyed in a fire in Box Elder County, Utah. The fire was attributed to a broken propane line. According to the fire marshal, snow from the roof landed on the propane line, which broke, and flammable gas filled the county shed. The gas was ignited by a pilot light. All five bay doors were blown out. www.emsnetwork.org, article 13482, Jan. 18, 2005

CPSC to start developing mandatory standard for cigarette lighters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will start to develop a mandatory safety standard for cigarette lighters that could be based on the current voluntary Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Lighters (ASDTM F-400). The voluntary standard would address the risk of fire, death, and injury associated with the mechanical malfunction of lighters. It would apply to imported as well as domestically manufactured products. The CPSC already has a mandatory standard for child-resistant cigarette lighters pertaining to hazards for children younger than five years of age. Additional information is at www.cpsc.gov.