NFPA: Home fires cause majority of firefighter injuries

“About three in five firefighters injured at the scene of a structure fire (2003-2006)—21,000 of the 34,450 firefighters injured during this period—were battling one- and two-family home fires at the time,” according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report Patterns of Firefighter Fireground Injuries, released in June.

“Avoiding fires altogether is by far the best scenario for everyone’s health and well-being, civilians and fire service alike,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of communications. The NFPA, consequently, has launched the “Fire Sprinkler Initiative: Bringing Safety Home,” which encourages communities to mandate home fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. “Home sprinklers are a proven way to save the lives of residents and also reduce deaths and injuries among the firefighters who respond to these fires,” adds Cali.

Among key findings in the report are the following:

  • There are nearly 298,000 one- and two-family home fires each year.
  • There was an estimated annual average of 40,270 firefighter fireground injuries in the United States during 2003-2006: an average of 29,710 minor and 10,560 moderate or severe.
  • Strains or sprains accounted for an annual average of 7,035 injuries; pain only, 3,345 injuries; thermal burns only, 3,415 injuries; and cuts or lacerations, 2,695 injuries.
  • The leading causes of moderate and severe injuries were slipping, falling, and tripping (3,095).
  • The greatest number of minor and major injuries occurred while handling hoselines.
  • The highest injury rates per 100 fires occurred in the midnight-to-8:00 a.m. time frame.

Information on The Fire Sprinkler Initiative is at

Line-of-Duty Deaths

March 3. Firefighter Alan M. Hermel, 62, Bossier Parish Fire District 1, Haughton, LA: cerebrovascular accident.

April 1. Firefighter George A. Wimberly, 63, Stonewall (MS) Volunteer Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

May 20. Lieutenant Stephen Michael Cospelich, 56, Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department: collapsed several hours after fighting a house fire on April 17 and never regained consciousness.

May 30. Firefighter/EMT James M. Hall, 40, Greentown Volunteer Fire Department, Uniontown, OH: unknown.

June 5. Firefighter Matthew Douglas Tramel, 18, Town of Pembroke (NC) Fire Department: personal vehicle accident.

June 8. Firefighter Jeffrey H. Reed, 39, Pulaski (VA) Fire Department: unknown.

June 11. Firefighter/Paramedic Debra A. Cole, 40, South Portland (ME) Fire Department: cerebrovascular accident.

June 14. Firefighter Conrad Mansfield, 45, Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Department, Defiance, OH: cerebrovascular accident.

June 16. Firefighter Lyle Lewis, 49, Osborne County Fire District #3, Alton, KS: unknown.

June 16. Firefighter Jimmy E. Cameron, 47, South Chester Fire Department, Blackstock, SC: heart attack.

June 18. Firefighter William Thompson, 65, Dushore (PA) Fire Company: heart attack.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

Care at Level 1 trauma center lowers death rate

Care at a Level I trauma center lowers the risk of death by 25 percent for severely injured patients, compared with treatment received at a hospital without trauma care services, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report “Recommendations from the Expert Panel: Advanced Automatic Collision Notification and Triage of the Injured Patient.”

The CDC and the CDC Foundation partnered with OnStar and the GM Foundation to develop procedures that will help emergency medical responders to determine more quickly and accurately if a motorist needs care at a trauma center after a vehicle crash. A panel of emergency medical physicians, trauma surgeons, and public safety and vehicle safety experts (the panel) considered how real-time crash data from the advanced automatic crash notification (AACN) vehicle telematics system and similar systems can be used to determine whether injured patients need care at a trauma center.

Vehicle telematics systems, like AACN, send crash data collected by sensors to an advisor if a vehicle is involved in a moderate or severe front, rear, or side-impact crash. The data collected vary with the type of system but generally include information relative to the severity of the crash, the direction of impact, air bag deployment, multiple impacts, and rollovers (if equipped with appropriate sensors). The advisor can send this information to emergency dispatchers to help them determine the appropriate combination of emergency personnel, equipment, and medical facilities to use.

The report includes guidelines from the panel, which has determined that using AACN appears to be helpful in decreasing response times of prehospital care providers, assisting with field triage destination and transportation decisions, and decreasing the time it takes for a patient to receive definitive trauma care.

Download the report at Additional information on on-scene triage decisions for emergency medical services providers is at

“Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned” is theme

Preventing devastating burns and keeping homes safe from the leading causes of home fires will be the focus of Fire Prevention Week 2009, October 4-10. Fire and life safety educators throughout the nation will deliver these safety messages to members of their communities under the theme of “Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned.”

Proposal memorializes SC LODD firefighters’ sacrifices

Following a presentation at the National Fire Academy on the Super Sofa fire in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18, 2008, which took the lives of nine Charleston firefighters, the Monroe County (NY) Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (MCFMIA) proposed a method for honoring these firefighters. The presentation took place during the Prevention Advocacy Resource and Data Exchange (PARADE) Conference.

The (MCFMIA) plan is to ask firefighters across the world to conduct safety inspections of furniture stores each year in their jurisdictions from June 9 through June 18 (the anniversary of the SC fire) and to update or complete a preplan on all the furniture stores in their first-due areas. These preplans are to be shared with neighboring departments, companies, or stations that would respond to a fire in these facilities with them.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) termed the proposal “an excellent idea” and committed to helping promote the initiative. Departments that have conducted the inspections and updated or created preplans for these occupancies will be asked to complete a Web survey at “What better way can we show the families of the fallen firefighters that their ultimate sacrifice has not been forgotten?” asks the USFA. Questions on the initiative can be directed to William Timmons, MCFMIA president, at

H1N1 virus update

Following are some key developments relative to the Influenza A (H1N1) virus situation:

  • May 28. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that a swine flu vaccine could be available as early as October if vaccine production and testing go well over the summer.
  • May 31. Influenza experts express surprise at the way the current swine flu outbreak has occurred and said, “It is forcing the world to rethink what a pandemic is and what pandemic preparedness means.” The expectations were that the “next pandemic strain would jump from birds to human beings someplace in Asia …. The strain would be recognized immediately and would have to be fought with drastic measures.”

But that has not been the case. Consequently, despite five years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on getting ready (for the pandemic), the world is unprepared for the incipient pandemic of H1N1 swine flu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is consulting with experts to change the definition of pandemic by adding a measurement of the disease severity to the criteria for moving to Phase 6, which declares “that a global pandemic is underway.” “New Virus Spurs Experts to Rethink Definition of Pandemic,” Washington Post, David Brown, May 31, 2009.

  • June 1. The CDC reported that the H1N1 virus has been found in all 50 U.S states and tests have confirmed the virus in more than 10,000 people across the nation. The CDC said the confirmed tests represent about one in 20 of the actual number of infections, which would bring the total number of U.S. cases to around 200,000. Some experts suspect the actual number of U.S. cases may be considerably higher, as only patients with serious illnesses are tested.
  • June 12. WHO declared the swine flu virus a pandemic. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that although the virus is now “unstoppable,” the danger it poses is “moderate.” Officials note that declaring a pandemic does not mean the disease has become more severe but that there is an increasing number of infections in different geographical locations. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advised the world to be watchful “because it is not known what will happen in the coming months.” The United States has recorded the greatest number of cases of the flu, with more than 13,000; Mexico has the most deaths, at more than 100. “Novartis Produces Swine Flu Vaccine, VOA News, 12 June 2009
  • June 12. Novartis announced that it has produced a first batch of a vaccine to fight the H1N1 Influenza A virus and that clinical trials were to begin in July (after press time).
  • June 17. Sanofi-Pasteur announced at the Pacific Health Summit in Seattle, Washington, that it was donating 100 million doses of vaccine on behalf of the world’s less developed countries. WHO will ensure that the vaccines get to those who would not have access to pandemic vaccines. “WHO welcomes Sanofi-Pasteur’s donation of vaccine,” U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services release.
  • June 18. The number of laboratory-confirmed cases officially reported to the WHO by States Parties to the International Health Regulation (2005) was 39,620.

EPA approves decontaminant for anthrax

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the first license for a pesticide product that can decontaminate buildings, vehicles, and other dry nonporous surfaces from anthrax.

Clean Earth Technologies (Missouri) has permission to sell the product to federal, state, and local emergency response teams; the military; and other groups or people trained in its use for emergencies only. “Breathe Easier: Anti-Anthrax Product Approved,” Ed O’Keefe, Federal Eye,, accessed June 2, 2009.

USFA recruiting students and instructors for pilot classes

The United States Fire Administration (USFA), Department of Homeland Security, is recruiting students and instructor candidates to attend pilot classes for its new six-day, on-campus Hot Topics in Fire Protection classes. The classes will be offered October 18-23, 2009, at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Students will arrive Saturday, October 17, and depart Saturday, October 24.

The new series helps students to identify what’s new in fire protection by exploring how current events, products, and trends apply to them and their jurisdictions. They will learn to “scan the environment” and conduct valid research into new technologies, trends, laws, and products. Other course objectives include the following:

  • Read, interpret, and apply fire protection research, human behavior studies, fire dynamics research, fire protection law, and emerging issues.
  • Identify emerging local, regional, and state fire protection challenges and develop technically based strategic solutions.
  • Determine how technology develops and how it can be used to solve local issues.
  • Identify significant short- and long-term changes for fire protection systems and equipment.
  • Learn how fire protection plays a part in all-hazards preparedness and response. Instructors, course developers, and students engage in a high level of participation in pilot classes. Attendees are expected to contribute their ideas and expertise to improve course content and delivery.

Attending a pilot course does not affect a student’s ability to obtain another travel stipend within the fiscal year. For additional information and an application, visit

The target audience for this pilot course would be individuals responsible for the review or approval of building and fire/life safety features in the regulatory process. Prerequisites include ICS 100-level and ICS 200-level training. Preferred courses are Q462 and Q463, which are available through NFA Online at The department chief must verify that the applicant has completed this required training.

Students must complete a separate FEMA General Admissions application (Form 75-5). An electronic application is at Completed applications must be postmarked by September 1, 2009. They should be sent to NETC Admissions Office; Building 1, Room 216; 16825 South Seton Avenue; Emmitsburg, MD 21727. Applications may also be faxed to the Admissions Office at (301) 447-1441. Applicants will be notified in writing if they have been accepted.

Instructor candidates should submit a letter of interest and a summary of their interest and qualifications to become an instructor. Send the letter to Lisa Makar; U.S. Fire Administration; National Fire Academy; 16825 South Seton Avenue; Emmitsburg, MD 21727, or forward it by e-mail to Minimum instructor qualifications can be found on the USFA Web site at Select “Become an Instructor,” and follow the hyperlink to “Qualification criteria.” Priority will be given to applicants who express interest in and meet minimum qualifications to become course instructors.

Site provides resources for responders has created a new U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) Resource Page where members can access USFA technical and special reports, related original content and featured documents, and valuable links. To access the resource page, log onto and click on “US Fire Administration” under “LLIS.GOV PARTNERS.”

The team posts new Lessons Learned, Best Practices, Practice Notes, and Good Stories to the system on a regular basis. Weekly updates about new original content can be found in the NEW LLIS.GOV CONTENT box on the homepage of

ANSI approves standard for TERT deployment

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved in May the Standard for Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) Deployment, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)/National Emergency Number Association (NENA) A NS 1.105.1-2009. The standard will provide public safety answering points (PSAPs) and governing 911 authorities with the information needed to develop, train, equip, and deploy a TERT team.

APCO and NENA have joined to create the National Joint TERT Initiative (NJTI) to assist states in developing programs to establish predetermined, selected, and trained teams of individuals who can mobilize quickly to assist communications centers during a disaster. The standard can be downloaded at Direct comments or questions by e-mail to

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released the following line-of-duty death (LODD) investigation reports:

• F2007-19 Jun 21, 2007. “Career fire fighter dies in fall from roof at apartment building fire-New York,”

• F2007-33 Aug 13, 2007. “After Conducting Fire Suppression Duties at a Structure Fire, Captain Collapses in Incident Scene Rehabilitation-Kansas,”

• F2008-29 Sep 12, 2007. “Fire chief suffers fatal heart attack while responding to a structure fire-Pennsylvania,”

• F2008-30 Aug 09, 2008. “Fire captain suffers fatal heart attack after conducting live fire training-Pennsylvania,”

• F2008-33 Sep 29, 2008. “Career fire fighter fatally injured when struck in the head by the boom of an aerial platform-Louisiana,”

• F2008-34 Oct 29, 2008. “Volunteer fire fighter dies while lost in residential structure fire-Alabama,”

• F2008-35 Mar 09, 2008. “Fire fighter suffers fatal heart attack while fighting residential fire-New Jersey,”

• F2008-36 Jun 06, 2008. “Fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death during live fire training-North Carolina,”

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