NIOSH supports firefighters’ seat belt use

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added its logo to the National Fire Service Seat Belt Pledge 100% Participation Certificate, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has announced. This endorsement, the USFA says, “reinforces the importance of wearing these safety devices.” The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Fire Protection Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation are among the other declared supporters of the seat belt pledge.

Additional information on the seat belt initiative is at www.trainingdivision.com/seatbeltpledge.asp/. The site also lists fire departments that have achieved 100-percent participation in the Fire Service Seat Belt Pledge Campaign and enables you to download the pledge signature form and information on how your organization can receive a 100% Certificate.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

November 5. Firefighter Leonard Riggins, 52, St. Louis (MO) Fire Department: injuries sustained from a bullet wound in the chest while attempting to assist at a vehicle crash, which involved a carjacker.

November 7. Firefighter Roy Smith Jr., 17, McGaheysville (VA) Volunteer Fire Department: vehicle accident while en route to a structure fire.

November 9. EMT/Firefighter Trainee Cecilia Turnbough, 42, Dale City (VA) Volunteer Fire Department: stress/overexertion while training.

November 11. Firefighter John Clasby, 45, Hull (MA) Fire Department: injuries sustained from being struck by a bullet under heavy fire conditions on June 29, 1999.

November 11. Probationary Firefighter Jamel M. Sears, 33, Fire Department of New York: collapsed during training at the training academy on November 10, 2008.

November 14. Firefighter Carol Irene Taylor, 41, Goldsboro (NC) Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

November 15. Firefighter Walter P. Harris, 38, Detroit (MI) Fire Department: crushed by debris in a roof collapse at a structure fire.

November 17. Firefighter Michael David Snowman, 49, Hartland (ME) Volunteer Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

November 18. Firefighter/Paramedic Steve D. Kline, 37, Stone Park (IL) Fire Department: cause of death under investigation.

November 23. Lieutenant Robert J. Ryan Jr., 46, Fire Department of New York: injuries sustained in a ceiling collapse at a structure fire.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

FHWA modifies vest rule to exclude responders in certain conditions

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued in November an Interim Final Rule that addresses safety concerns the firefighting community voiced in regard to high-visibility safety apparel.

Worker Visibility Final Rule – 23 CFR Part 634 took effect November 24, 2008. It requires that “firefighters and other first responders responding to or working at an incident on federally funded highways wear a retro reflective safety vest that meets the Class II or III standards of the American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) 107-2004 publication.” The ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 Public Safety Vest standard also has been interpreted as meeting this requirement.

The Interim Final Rule revises the definition of “worker” to exclude firefighters when they are exposed to flame, fire, high heat, or hazardous materials. It also exempts firefighters from having to use high-visibility safety apparel, as defined in this rule, when they are exposed to hazardous conditions in which the use of such apparel may increase the risk of injury to firefighter personnel. The Interim Final Rule is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-27671.htm.

USFA, IAFF offer revised Voice Radio Communications Guide

The Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service contains updated information on communications technology and discusses critical homeland security issues and concepts, including SAFECOM, which did not exist when the original manual was published. In addition, it will help the fire service achieve a minimum level of familiarity with basic communications issues such as hardware, policy, and procedures.

The revision of the United States Fire Administration’s (USFA) manual Fire Department Communications Manual—A Basic Guide to System Concepts and Equipment(FA-160) was a joint project of the USFA and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) SAFECOM Program Office supported the program. Download the revised manual at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/research/safety/communication.shtm/.

NIOSH updates firefighter fatality investigation blog

Members of the fire service can now provide feedback relative to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program online. Visit the NIOSH Science Blog Web site to provide your feedback on the program and suggest ways to ensure that small and rural fire departments receive the reports. To access the Blog, go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire and click on “NIOSH Science Blog” (www.cdc.niosh.blog).

Also, the following are the most recently released NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports:

Advocates of fire-based EMS establish Web site

The Fire Service-Based Advocates have launched the Web site www.fireserviceems.com to make decision makers aware of the important role fire service-based EMS plays in communities nationwide. Formed in 2006, the Group, composed of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Fire Protection Association, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), plan to use the site to make available “objective information from respected fire and emergency services leaders to ensure that policy makers have accurate data to help them make informed decisions,” according to the NFVC.

New York State releases WTC responder mortality data

The federally funded World Trade Center (WTC) Responder Fatality Investigation Program has been identifying all deaths among rescue and recovery workers who served at the WTC between September 11, 2001, and June 30, 2002. Data released by the New York State Department of Health, in cooperation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, monitors of the program, reveal that 664 people who worked at the WTC have died as of September 2008.

The program has also confirmed 352 causes of death of these police officers, firefighters, construction and demolition workers, EMS technicians, and other health professionals and volunteers who worked at the WTC site, on the barges, or at the Staten Island landfill. The causes of death were identified from death certificates, autopsies, and medical records.

The agencies collect the data from newspapers, medical examiners, county coroners, unions, police, family members, and WTC health programs, including the WTC Health Registry. The Registry estimates that more than 91,000 workers and volunteers participated in the WTC rescue and recovery operations. For more information, or to report a death, call (518) 402-7900.

NIST releases final report on WTC 7 collapse

The final report of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report on the collapse of the 47-story World Trade Center (WTC) Building 7 on September 11, 2001, maintains that fire was the primary cause of the building’s failure. NIST, during its extensive three-year scientific and technical building and fire safety investigation, had revised its initial report according to clarifications and supplemental text suggested by organizations and individuals worldwide. Nevertheless, NIST’s major findings were unchanged.

With the release of this report, NIST has completed its federal building and fire safety investigation of the WTC attacks. Its study of the collapses of the WTC towers 1 and 2 was completed in October 2005. Based on the report, more than 20 changes in the U.S. model building and fire codes have been adopted.

NIST will now work with public and private groups to implement additional changes to the U.S. model building and fire codes, including those based on the 13 recommendations of the WTC 7 report. The complete text of the final WTC 7 report, a video describing the WTC 7 investigation findings, a listing of all comments received on the draft WTC 7 report, a chart tracking the progress toward implanting NIST’s WTC recommendations, and other material are available at http://wtc.nist.gov (see “Key News and Updates” section).

NIOSH: EOSTI performance requirement for SCBA under revision

In response to a petition to initiate rulemaking to change the provisions of Paragraph (f) of Section 84.83 in Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations, part 84 [(42 CFR 84), Open-Circuit, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) End of Service Time Indicator (EOSTI) Performance Requirement], the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had asked stakeholders to provide input concerning the following by January 16, 2009:

1. The current End of Service Time Indicator (EOSTI) or “low-air” SCBA performance requirement.
2. Whether the current EOSTI performance requirement should be modified from a range to a minimum value:
—Should NIOSH continue to interpret the provision to require the alarm to continue uninterrupted until the minimum value (20 percent) is reached?
—If the petitioned change is adopted, what tolerance should NIOSH use to evaluate acceptable EOSTI performance at a specified setting rather than within a range?
—If the petitioned change is adopted, should NIOSH evaluate EOSTI performance at settings other than the 20 percent minimum? If so, at what additional values?
—Is there a rationale to distinguish fire service SCBA from those used for industrial applications for the evaluation of the EOSTI?
3. Alternative approaches to address EOSTI performance.
4. Other comments on the subject.

42 CFR 84 requires that each remaining service-life indicator or warning device give an alarm when the apparatus’ remaining service life is reduced to within a range of 20 to 25 percent of its rated service time. It does not state that the device must initiate activation in this range—only that it give an alarm in this range. In other words, the EOSTI needs to alarm between the two limits. It can remain on as the air pressure drops below those pressures or stop alarming after a brief time.

The petition, according to NIOSH, is requesting that the provision be modified to eliminate the upper limit of this range so that each respiratory protection program manager would be allowed to determine the most appropriate alarm setting, with 20 percent as the retained minimum, to provide SCBA users time to exit a scene.

Study finds psychological distress levels of 9/11 workers above norms

The findings of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in workers who participated in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) are similar to those encountered in war veterans returning from Afghanistan, according to a study reported in the September 2008 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. These workers were found to have levels of chronic impairment of mental health and social functioning and psychological distress considerably higher than the general population.

Some 10,000 workers completed self-administered mental health questionnaires. Of the participants studied, 8.8 percent met criteria for depression, 5 percent for panic disorders, 62 percent for substantial stress reaction, and 11.1 percent for PTSD. The article is available free of charge at www.ehponline.org/members/2008/11164.html/.

Nationwide recall of battery caps used with Animas insulin pumps initiated

Battery caps used with the OneTouch Ping System, Animas 2020 Insulin Pump, Animas IR1200 Insulin Pump, and Animas IR1250 Insulin Pump are being recalled. According to a notice from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the caps were manufactured from June 1, 2008, through July 31, 2008, and there may be an intermittent loss of contact between the battery cap and the battery compartment in the pump, which may cause the device to reset and interfere with proper dosing. Additional information is at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2008/safety08.htm#batterycap/.

Man dies at home; paramedics diagnosed acid reflux

Paramedics called to the home of a 39-year-old man living in Washington, D.C., for complaints of chest pains and difficulty breathing did not transport the patient to the hospital. According to washingtonpost.com, the patient was told he had acid reflux and allegedly was told to take an over-the-counter preparation. Hours later, family members found the patient dead on the floor of his home.

The matter is under investigation by D.C. fire officials; the medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. “Man Dies at Home After Paramedics Diagnose Acid Reflux,” Elissa Silverman, Washington Post Staff Writer, www.washintonpost.com. Dec. 4, 2008.

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