Remembering Andy

I wish I could have thanked him while I had the chance. I wish I had told Andy Fredericks just how much his teachings meant to me and to the fire service. Andy’s articles, his videos, and his lessons taught what for many of us had become a lost art-stretching and operating fire attack hoselines.

Andy Fredericks emphasized the basics of our job at a time when the multitude of nonfirefighting duties performed by today’s fire service had distracted many of us from focusing on our most important mission-firefighting. In his short life, Andy Fredericks made an enormous contribution to our profession. He will be dearly missed.
Bill Gustin
Captain
Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue

WTC coverage

I wanted to thank Fire Engineering for putting out such a wonderful magazine. Of all the magazines I have read, I find Fire Engineering to be the most informative and educational out there. I have often used the magazine for training purposes within our department and find the contributing editors to be very helpful. I also want to thank Fire Engineering for the outstanding work put forth in the October issue regarding the September 11 tragedy. My heartfelt sympathy to FDNY and all of those affected by the attacks, including Fire Engineering, as I know several of its contributing editors were from FDNY.
Mike Spinney
Rollinsford, New Hampshire
Via e-mail

Clearing up ISO misconceptions

Recently, a comment in Letters to the Editor challenged a few aspects of the tool the property insurance industry relies on to evaluate the structure fire suppression system of jurisdictions across the United States. This tool, the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), is administered by the ISO.

The author of the letter had two concerns I would like to address. First was a question of the recognition of fire training. The FSRS outlines criteria for training, crediting up to nine points (of a total available of 100 points). The ISO reviews the training facilities, aids, and use during fire department training, engine and ladder/service company training at fire stations, officer training, driver training, hazardous-materials training, recruit training, and prefire planning inspections and records.

Fire department training facilities do not have to be under the ownership of the fire department being evaluated for the jurisdiction to receive maximum credit. However, the ISO will confirm that the fire department has permission to use the facility, that it has used the facility within a year of the evaluation, and that sufficient structure fire protection remains in the jurisdiction while the department is at the off-site training facility. Credit is also available for personnel receiving training at facilities such as state and college training facilities and the National Fire Academy. Because the FSRS concerns itself with structure firefighting capabilities, credit for the classes taken will be based on their relevance to this aspect of the fire department’s management and operation and percent of personnel participating.

The other concern I would like to comment on is the FSRS’s ability to incorporate new firefighting technology within its criteria. The ISO strives to stay abreast of advances within the firefighting industry through a variety of means. In fact, a number of ISO staff involved in our Public Protection Classification (PPC) evaluations are currently involved in the fire service. This includes membership in pertinent organizations representing fire departments; emergency communications and water supply interests; subscription to the respective industry and trade journals; NFPA and AWWA committee membership; and a countrywide field staff who keeps the ISO apprised of local, regional, and national issues.

One area in structure firefighting that is subject to change is the equipment used to fight a fire. To address these changes, the ISO publishes an “equivalency list” to identify tools and equipment considered equivalent (of equal point value) to that published in the FSRS. Included in the list you will find recognition for a hose clamp in place of a burst hose jacket, a piercing nozzle instead of a distributing nozzle, and Class A foam and compressed air foam systems. This list accompanies the distribution of each copy of the FSRS (free to fire chiefs) and can also be found on our Web site at www.isomitigation.com.

The ISO is committed to ensuring that local fire departments and municipal administrators have first-hand opportunities to better understand the PPC grading process. For example, the ISO has presented FSRS overview sessions to hundreds of senior fire service personnel over the past 18 months. Normally these sessions have been presented in cooperation with state fire chief associations or other fire service organizations. There is no charge to the associations for the participation of ISO technical staff regarding these programs. You can contact me at dgage@iso.com or (201) 469-2475 or one of our national PPC customer service centers at 800-444-4554 if you are interested in these classes.
Dennis Gage
Manager, Natural Hazards Mitigation
ISO

Firefighter survival and rescue

Regarding September’s Letters to the Editor, in any firefighter survival and rescue class I have ever taken, it has always been made perfectly clear that the methods taught (such as the ladder bail) were to be used as a last resort in emergency situations. Anyone who would criticize these classes has either never taken them or lives in a perfect world. If we teach the ladder bail and never have to use it, it is still a tool in our toolbox. However, the time I do have to use it and save a brother or sister firefighter, it will be worth it.

Concerning the SCBA harness, I have never heard it called a rescue harness in classes I have taken. Again, it is made clear that this method is to be used only in emergency situations to remove firefighters from harm. As for lifting with the harness, it is used only to lift from step to step while moving firefighters up or down steps one step at a time. As far as living in the “age of attorneys,” I would rather defend myself for doing my job and helping my fellow firefighters than for doing nothing. I am glad I live in the real world and can learn new ways to help myself and my fellow firefighters in need. For those who live in a perfect world, come back to reality and take a firefighter rescue and survival class before you criticize such a good method.
Rick Covington
Captain
Paris (KY) Fire Department

How government should spend money

As a member of the Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) from Sacramento that went to New York and an economics instructor at California State University, Sacramento, I have a unique perspective on how the federal government should spend its money in an effort to increase aggregate demand. As you know, an increase in aggregate demand is the best way to ward off the cyclical unemployment caused by a recession. My proposal is to have a member of Congress sponsor a bill that would channel money to the 100 largest cities’ local fire departments that now find themselves on the front line in the war against terrorism. I suggest that each city receive a one-time $20 million grant. This would be a $2 billion expenditure at a time when the federal government is looking for a venue for its expansionary fiscal policy. Americans are fighting two enemies: terrorism and recession. This would address both in a positive way.

It is the local fire department’s regular staff and equipment that will have to manage any terrorist attack or other disaster for the first 10 to 24 hours (the time frame in which the most lives will be saved) until help can arrive. Most local fire departments are woefully underfunded to manage even a small incident. Realistically, it is not fair to expect the taxpayers in neighborhoods such as Del Paso Heights and Oak Park to be able to fund fire and ambulance protection for all of the people who come to Sacramento to work but who live and pay taxes in Rocklin and El Dorado Hills.

Because of demographics, the citizens of Sacramento already put a large demand on the resources of the local fire department. It would be difficult to try to handle even a small incident and at the same time handle our regular responsibilities to the residents of Sacramento. This would be especially true with regard to ambulance protection. There are currently only nine full-time 24-hour ambulances and two partial-shift ambulances to serve the entire city. On any day, most or all of the ambulances are in use just handling the regular day-to-day business of the sick and injured citizens.

I propose that we change the criteria used for determining how many ambulances the city fire departments staff from the for-profit perspective we use now to a more conventional benefit-cost analysis used by the federal and state governments to prioritize their spending. We need to view ambulance service as a public good, something provided by government for the general good. If we do this, we will have the redundancy in the system we need to handle additional incidents.

Why do I ask the federal government for help now? Local government tax and spend policies tend to have a procyclical effect on the local economies. This is because, unlike the federal government, cities are mandated to balance their budgets. This mandate causes cities to have to cut spending and increase taxes during a recession. This is exactly the opposite of what is needed. The only government agency that can increase spending and cut taxes during a recession is the federal government because it does not face this balanced budget requirement. This is the reason we need the fire chief, city manager, and city council to put their heads to together and make a proposal for federal help.

This letter is not a personal assault on the fire chief or the local officials who fund the fire department. No one could foresee the events of September 11. This letter is a call to action for the officials to take a more eclectic approach in solving funding problems of the Sacramento Fire Department. Do not let our reluctance to admit we have a problem get in the way of solving it. Let’s ask for the help we need from the federal government.

Don’t forget fire patrol

In the October issue of Fire Engineering, I noticed one omission from the Roll Call of missing and lost FDNY members. Although not a part of FDNY, Patrolman Keith Roma of the New York City Fire Patrol also is missing in the line of duty. The Fire Patrol has a long and distinguished history of operating at fires and other catastrophes protecting life and property. The Fire Patrol, and especially Patrolman Roma, deserves to be recognized as dedicated emergency workers within the fire service.
Larry Wagonfeld
New York, New York

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