BY JOHN L. PRESTON
Several firefighters have been affected by lightning strikes in the United States in the past several years. This article guides you toward creating operating guidelines for reducing the likelihood of having firefighters being struck by lightning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that as of September 1, 2009, 31 people were killed by lightning in the United States and 28 people died as a result of lightning strikes in 2008. In addition, hundreds of lightning-related injuries occur every year. There were 424 lightning deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2008. It is widely believed that lightning strikes are typically fatal; however, only about 10 percent of the people struck by lightning are killed; the other 90 percent suffer varying degrees of injuries and disabilities.
Many survivors of lightning strikes suffer nervous system injuries or neurological disorders. For some victims, these symptoms are mild or even unnoticeable; for others, they are debilitating. Survivors of lightning strikes have formed a worldwide organization called the Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International. Steve Marshburn Sr., a lightning strike survivor in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is its founder.
COMPONENTS OF A LIGHTNING STRIKE
The visible stroke of lightning is just one part of a complex set of events that culminate in the visible strike. Lightning is an extremely brief surge of negatively charged particles traveling from a cloud to the ground through a pencil-thin column of air molecules that have been ionized or literally ripped apart. The first part of lightning is known as a stepped leader. This electrical impulse travels in a zigzag motion, taking steps of about 150 feet each.
As this stepped leader nears the ground, it is met by streamers, which leap up from the ground and meet up with the stepped leader. When the stepped leader and the streamers meet, the circuit is complete and there is a visible flash of lightning. Stepped leaders and streamers (sometimes called upward leaders) are visible light; however, they occur at a speed that cannot be viewed with the human eye. The step leader travels at 136,000 miles per hour (mph) and the main stroke of lightning at about 61,000 mph. The flash of lightning you see is actually multiple strokes occurring along the same path and can number as many as 40 flashes. These flashes occur so fast, however, that they appear as only one flash to the human eye.
Lightning creates a channel of air, which is heated to 50,000°F within a millisecond. The explosive heating of the column of air creates a shock wave that moves at about the speed of sound and causes what we call thunder.
The National Weather Service has found that lightning can travel great distances. A general rule is that lightning can strike as a “bolt from the blue” up to 10 miles from a storm. There have been several cases in which lightning has struck individuals at distances up to 12 miles from storms hidden behind mountains. Recent research indicates lightning can travel 60 miles or more. The longest recorded stroke of lightning to date occurred over the Dallas-Ft. Worth area of Texas; it was 118 miles long.
Michael Mogil describes lightning’s power in his book Extreme Weather. The true power behind lightning, aside from the ability to heat air to five times that of the sun’s surface, which is only about 11,000°F compared to lightning’s 54,000°F, is the incredible amount of electricity transferred during a lightning strike. A typical stroke of lightning can discharge 30,000 amperes of electricity, at up to 100 million volts, billions of watts, and with electron densities exceeding 1,022/cubic foot. During a lightning strike, several things are emitted from the stroke, including visible light, radio waves, x-rays, and gamma rays. Seymour Simon, who is associated with the Smithsonian Institution, notes that the power emitted from a lightning strike in that split second is equivalent to as much power as there is in all the electric-generating plants in the United States. A lightning stroke lasts only for a millionth of a second, so the power over time would yield only enough electricity to power a light bulb for about one month.
METHODS OF INFLICTING HARM
Mary Ann Cooper, MD, states in an article in “e-medicine” (WebMD, June 12, 2009) that lightning has consistently ranked as one of the top three environment-related causes of death. Lightning kills and injures people more frequently than hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. Only extreme temperature causes more environmental injuries and fatalities per year than lightning.
Dr. Cooper explains that a lightning strike, although only pencil thin, can damage objects and personnel who are not in the path of the direct strike. There are in fact six ways an individual can be killed or injured by lightning:
1Direct strike. Most people falsely believe this is the only cause of death and injury associated with lightning strikes. A direct strike is one in which the visible stroke of lightning, which is the surge of electricity that occurs after a stepped leader connects with an upward leader, strikes an individual. This direct strike form of injury or fatality accounts for only about three to five percent of lightning-related injuries.
2Side splash. Side splash can injure or kill a person. It occurs when lightning strikes an object and intensely energizes it; the object itself then emits electrical discharges. Side splash of lightning from another object accounts for about 30 percent of injuries.
3Contact voltage.It occurs when an individual is touching an object that is struck by lightning. Contact voltage lightning injuries account for about one to two percent of lightning injuries.
4Ground current effect. When lightning strikes the earth, it is seeking an electrical ground. Although we may consider the earth “ground,” lightning needs an electrical ground. The dirt that makes up our “ground” is ironically a poor conductor of electricity, so the lightning strikes the ground and then spreads out along the ground seeking a path to go deeper into the earth. The enormous surge of current moving across the earth in the area of the direct strike can travel for some distance before becoming grounded. Ground current effect is the leading cause of lightning-related injuries, accounting for 40 to 50 percent of lightning-related injuries.
5Failed upward leader. A visible lightning stroke is the result of a stepped leader traveling downward from a cloud connecting with an upward leader coming out of the ground. The upward and downward leaders are both invisible to the naked eye and often occur without making a connection. During most lightning strikes, several upward leaders are coming from the ground in an area, trying to make a connection with a single downward leader. It is, therefore, possible to be hit by an upward leader that never connects with a stepped downward leader. Lightning injuries associated with failed upward leaders account for about 20 to 25 percent of lightning injuries.
6Trauma. Blunt trauma occurs when a strike of lightning literally throws a person; barotrauma occurs when a person is too close to the explosive force of the lightning.
Dr. Cooper states that injuries associated with lightning are primarily neurological injuries. Most lightning strike victims are not directly struck; instead, the lightning is transmitted to them through another medium such as the ground, a tree, or another object; therefore, less than one-third of lightning strike victims suffer burn injuries.
FIREFIGHTERS’ ODDS OF BEING STRUCK
It is easier to have people accept that lightning is dangerous and can kill or injure a firefighter than it is to try to convince firefighters that they may actually be struck. Many of them believe that the odds of a firefighter’s being struck by lightning is near zero. Is it really?
On any given day, Mogil says, there are about 44,000 thunderstorms on planet earth and about 2,000 of them are in progress at any moment in time. These storms produce lightning discharges at a rate of about 100 per second. According to Paul Douglas, author of Restless Skies, lightning flashes more than three million times a day on earth and has also been detected on other planets. One in 86,000 strokes of lightning will hit a person, and one in 345,000 strokes of lightning will be fatal. The average American is twice as likely to die from a lightning strike as from a tornado or hurricane. According to the National Weather Service, it is estimated that 600 to 1,000 U.S. citizens will be injured or killed by a lightning strike every year. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 31 people every year. All the victims killed by lightning strikes in the United States in 2008 were outdoors.
Marty Ahrens, Fire Analysis and Research Division, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), wrote a paper about lightning fires in the United States, in which he indicated that in the average year 31,400 fires are caused by lightning. These lightning-caused fires result in 12 deaths, 57 injuries, and $213 million in property damage on average every year. Lightning ignites fires at all hours of the day, and nowhere in the world is exempt from the possibility of lightning strikes.
Lightning strikes are considered random events associated with storms; however, there do seem to be some interesting trends.
- Lightning-caused fires follow storm seasons for frequency. April through September are peak months for lightning strikes and lightning-related fires, accounting for 94 percent of the annual fires.
- Most lightning strike fatalities occur on Sunday; Saturday is the second most common day. Lightning strike fires are also concentrated in the afternoon and early evening hours; peak times are between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
- The pattern for lightning strikes that did not cause fires is similar to these trends.
Lightning poses a threat to every state in the United States, nearly every place on planet earth, and on distant planets such as Jupiter and Venus. Recent discoveries of new types of lightning known as elves, sprites, and jets, which reach outward from clouds into space, make it possible for lightning to occur in space, which once was thought to be a lightning-free area.
Your overall odds of being affected by a lightning strike in a given year are much greater than your odds of winning the Florida lottery—1:22,957,480 vs. 1:700,000, respectively. A Google search for “firefighter hit by lightning” yields far more results than you would think.
- An incident, reported by the Mount Airy News, occurred on August 21, 2009. Two Surry County, North Carolina, firefighters were hit by lightning in separate incidents. The firefighters were operating on different scenes but were affected by lightning strikes associated with the same storm. Both firefighters were struck indirectly by ground current effect; in each case, the point of contact of the lightning strike was about 100 feet from the firefighter’s location. Both firefighters survived.
- KMBC.com reported that on Tuesday morning, August 4, 2009, a firefighter with the South Metropolitan (MO) Fire Department was struck by lightning while taking an ax off the fire truck. Lightning apparently struck the fire truck at the exact moment the firefighter was reaching for the ax. The lightning splashed from the truck and injured the firefighter’s hand. The firefighter was transported to the hospital and recovered from his injuries. The truck had a blown tire and significant damage to the electronics as a result of the strike.
- The McClatchy-Tribune Information Services reported that on July 22, 2008, eight firefighters were struck by lightning while working at a fire in Caldwell County, North Carolina. The strike came from a distant storm as the firefighters all reported the skies above them were blue and calm. All eight firefighters were taking a break while waiting for aerial support to help them fight the brush fire. Lightning hit a nearby snag and traveled through its root system to the area where the eight firefighters were sitting. All eight were thrown about 10 feet and woke up unable to move. All were transported to hospitals, where they spent several days recovering from burn and neurological injuries. All the firefighters survived the lightning strike but not all returned to firefighting.
- On May 24, 1999, in Palmdale, California, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter was struck by lightning while standing next to a cottonwood tree. The lightning apparently struck the tree and then splashed from the tree and struck the firefighter in the shoulder. Lightning continued to strike very close to paramedics who were treating the injured firefighter after the lightning strike. Initially, the firefighter had a viable heartbeat, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
LIGHTNING STRIKES IN THE SAME PLACE
Contrary to popular thought, lightning does strike more than once in the same place. The Empire State Building in New York City was intentionally built to dissipate lightning strikes, since it is struck more than 100 times every year. It is understandable that lightning will hit a tall building more frequently, but what is not understood is how it can hit a moving target with frequency. The world record holder for lightning strikes to a human is Roy Sullivan, a former park ranger at the Shenandoah (VA) National Park. He was struck by lightning seven times between 1942 and 1977. Six of the times, he was at work; once, he was fishing. His coworkers nicknamed him “Dooms,” “Sparky,” and “human lightning rod.” Two of his ranger Stetsons, showing lightning damage, are on display at the Guinness World Exhibit Halls. Ironically, seven lightning strikes did not fatally injure Sullivan, but he took his own life six years after his last lightning strike.
To completely understand a problem or a threat, you try to discover the cause of the problem or threat; however, determining the cause of lightning poses a significant problem. Lightning is associated with storms and has even been encountered in sand storms with no associated rain or moisture. Lightning has also been observed during volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions, and even forest fires. Meteorologists and scientists alike have several competing theories as to the cause of lightning, none of which can be definitively proven. With about four million lightning strikes per day on earth and decades of electric field measurements taken inside of thunderstorms, the answer should have become apparent. As it turns out, all of the research has shown that no electric field large enough to produce a spark has been found even when precipitation is taken into consideration.
One of the more popular theories behind lightning is that warm updrafts carry positively charged particles into the tops of the clouds while negatively charged particles collect in the base of the cloud or ground. When the charge differential becomes great enough, there is a spark or what we call a stroke of lightning.
Another theory holds that lightning during thunderstorms is caused by collisions between ice and water particles. In this theory, water droplets are carried on updrafts to altitudes as high as 70,000 feet, which is well above the freezing level. The water droplets freeze at the high altitude and begin to fall back toward the earth, colliding with warmer water droplets ascending on the updrafts. The warmer water in the droplets, which collides with the descending ice, keeps the surface of the ice slightly warmer than the surrounding air, which causes the ice to turn into a soft hail known as “graupel.” Some scientists believe that this graupel is to blame for the electric charge needed for a lightning strike. As the graupel churns within the thunderstorm, it collides with multiple droplets of water or ice; as these collisions occur, electrons are sheared off the rising particles and are carried to the base of the cloud while the positive ones continue to the top. This continues to develop, and the charge becomes greater and greater until there is an energy release known as lightning.
There are many other, more complex theories, such as that cosmic rays cause lightning. Russian physicist Alex V. Gurevich theorizes along with several other scientists that the movement of high-energy cosmic rays originating from exploding stars light years away produces showers of energetic particles on earth. These energetic particles form a conductive path that initiates lightning. The cosmic rays by themselves would not produce the needed reaction to cause lightning, so this theory is also based on the tenet that the storm gives the cosmic rays a boost through what is called “runaway breakdown.” Although this theory sounds farfetched, signs such as x-rays and gamma rays emitted prior to a lightning strike lend some credence to it.
As firefighters, we do things that place us at greater risk for a lightning strike. Three primary factors determine the statistical probability of a lightning strike: the height of the object, the isolation of the object, and the narrowness of the object facing the cloud. Other factors to consider are the proximity to water and the holding of metal or pointed objects. The area in which you live should also be included in your lightning strike risk assessment. If you work in an area that has a greater amount of lightning strikes, you are obviously at an increased risk. Many of the tasks we perform place us directly in these high-risk categories for a lightning strike. The NOAA lists objects and equipment to avoid in thunderstorms; it ironically includes many firefighting tools, being on rooftops, touching ladders and large pieces of apparatus (such as a fire truck), and touching water or water pipes. “Workmen’s Compensation Insider,” a Web blog that covers risk management and workplace health and safety, lists firefighters as a group that has too many close encounters with lightning.
Not going outside during conditions that may produce lightning is the only sure way to be safe in a lightning storm; however, this is not practical for firefighting operations. We must frequently conduct operations in adverse weather conditions, mitigating emergencies that may very well have been caused by a lightning strike. Between 2002 and 2005, there were 31,400 lightning-caused fires in which fire department response was required. These fires resulted in direct property damage of $213 million and placed firefighters in a position of fighting a fire in known lightning conditions.
AVOIDING LIGHTNING STRIKES
Following are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning:
- Predict where and when lightning may strike.Research is underway on forecasting lightning threats that involve what is called “the cloud-resolving model simulation.” This prediction method involves measuring the ice-phase hydrometer fields generated by regional cloud resolving numerical simulations. This prediction method is in its fledgling stages and is a starting point for better predication methods.
Analyze where lightning is currently striking. The nation’s central site of data collection related to lightning strikes is the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), which has more than 100 sensors throughout the United States that instantly transmit data related to electromagnetic signals given off by lightning striking the earth. The signal is sent by satellite to the Network Control Center in Tucson, Arizona, and is operated by Vaisala Inc. Within a few seconds of a lightning strike, the information is analyzed and communicated to users all over the United States. The data are broken down to street-level detail and are extremely accurate. At this point in time, the fire service uses these data only for fire cause and origin investigations and has not expanded their use to following real-time lightning to make decisions on firefighting practices on a given scene.
For most incidents, there is no computer access to watch a lightning prediction model; the other lightning detection method currently available is a portable version. Several portable lightning detection units are available. These units are portable professional grade lightning detection systems, some of which, it is claimed, can detect strikes more than 40 miles away. Some units feature a rechargeable battery that will last for more than seven days on a single charge. The units are housed in rugged weather-resistant cases and provide audible and visual indications of lightning’s proximity. The technology in these portable units provides filtering software that does not allow the unit to alert when the lightning is cloud to cloud. These units are ideal for applications in which the personnel are moved to different locations at different times, such as firefighters responding to calls.
Perhaps the best protection in the form of early warning in today’s fire service can be provided through our phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). There is a group of value-added resellers (VARs) that use Vaisala’s NLDN data to distribute current lightning information to portable devices all over the country. Current lightning strike data are transmitted to these devices so that users can have real-time lightning data from approaching systems. The resellers of this service charge varying monthly fees for it. This form of lightning detection and data distribution provides the most accurate lightning data available to date.
Predicting a lightning strike and avoiding an impending strike are completely different. Avoiding lightning is not easy when conducting outdoor activities, and there are very few ways to limit the possibility of a strike. Buildings, power poles, and some traffic-control systems are protected from lightning strikes through the use of lightning rods, metal rods erected vertically on top of the site to be protected. The rods are electrically connected to an earth ground by heavy wire. The lightning rod theoretically provides a cone of protection over the building or site under the lightning rod. The cone has an apex angle of about 45°, so the height of the lightning rod is critical to the area it will protect.
Lightning rods are by no means a guarantee of lightning protection; lightning will strike areas directly under the lightning rod. In a recent study, lightning rods of several heights were evaluated for effectiveness over a 300-lightning-strike period for each rod. It was observed that a lightning rod 131 feet tall was struck 237 times at the top, 15 times at lower levels, and 48 times on the ground within the cone of protection. As the lightning rod became taller, performance improved—for example, a 328-foot lightning rod had 289 strikes at the top, seven strikes lower on the rod, and only four strikes on the ground in the area in the cone of protection. One reason lightning does not always strike the highest object is that there can be up to 20 return strokes with each strike of lightning. About half of the return strokes from a lightning strike will terminate at locations other than that of the original strike.
It has been reported that the military is developing a form of lightning protection for individuals; however, no information on this protection is available yet. It has also been proven that footwear, clothing, and wetness have little to do with lightning protection; lightning travels miles through the air, so the insulation your shoe or boot provides will be no challenge for a stroke of lightning. All of the research agrees that the only way to ensure safety or really limit the possibility of a lightning strike is to remain indoors during lightning conditions.
If firefighters cannot stay indoors, the only other reasonably safe place is inside the enclosed cab of the fire truck. Dr. Martin A. Uman with the University of Florida Lightning Research Group is one of the foremost lightning researchers in the country. He conducts lightning research at the University of Florida’s Camp Blanding 100-acre site outside of Gainesville, Florida. At Camp Blanding, an average of five to six natural lightning strikes are studied every year. Because five or six lightning strikes are not enough to conduct in-depth research, the facility uses rockets with thin wires attached to induce 30 to 50 lightning strikes every year.
Dr. Uman states there is no lightning rod and there are no actions firefighter can take to ensure their safety from lightning; the best place to be would be inside your truck or inside a dwelling. He also stated that a raised ladder truck, while acting as a lightning rod, would not be effective in reducing the lightning strike threat to firefighters. He noted that although his lightning research is conducted inside a specially made trailer with all pneumatic and fiber optic input from sensors outside, he still has had errant strikes that went to unintended locations.
With lightning posing a risk to health and safety, many organizations have taken steps to reduce the risk of a lightning strike to personnel. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, Professional Golfers Association, National Athletic Trainers Association, many schools, and many others have developed comprehensive guidelines and policies to prevent lightning-related deaths and injuries.
A study by Ronald Holle enforces the distinct advantages of being inside a fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle during a lightning strike. The key element of this study as it relates to firefighters is an evaluation of 76 events that occurred between 1980 and 2007 involving people inside fully enclosed, metal-topped vehicles that were struck by lightning. During the 76 events, there were four fatalities and 77 injuries. Although this sounds like a high incidence of injuries and fatalities, you must break down the incidents further to determine the true safety behind being inside this type of vehicle.
In more than half of the events (40), the occupants of the vehicles struck by lightning reported no injuries. Of the persons who were injured, the injuries were typically minor. It is also questionable if the four fatalities can really be attributed to lightning fatalities while inside an enclosed, metal-roofed vehicle. Two fatalities were reported when lightning struck a vehicle with occupants; the fatalities, however, were persons who were leaning on the outside of the vehicle. In another case, the lightning strike caused the driver to have a vehicle crash, which led to the fatality.
The next case involved a bus that had been converted to an office with no wheels; this incident is questionable as it relates to the lightning’s mode of strike. This study also evaluated incidents involving people standing in proximity to vehicles struck by lightning and was helpful in that it could be used to evaluate what would happen if the pump operator or firefighters approached the truck to remove equipment. Of the 47 events associated with people near a vehicle in some fashion, 14 fatalities and 77 injuries were reported. This clearly indicates that standing in proximity to a vehicle is dangerous and frequently leads to injuries or fatalities when the vehicle is struck by lightning. This problem would certainly be far worse if the vehicle were a ladder truck with the ladder extended, acting as a lightning rod. This study successfully concludes that one of the best protections for firefighters is to be inside the enclosed, metal-roofed cab of a fire truck.
A review of NFPA standards indicates there are several chapters involving lightning and protection from a strike. NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, however, discusses only the protection of structures, not personnel. NFPA 407, Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing, is the only standard to recommend lightning protection for an individual. NFPA 407 (5.9) states: “Fuel servicing operations shall be suspended where lightning flashes are in the immediate vicinity of the airport.” This standard also requires that written procedures related to lightning be developed to control fueling operations at airports.
A few fire departments have developed policies with varying degrees of specificity for protecting their personnel from lightning strikes. Orange County (FL) Fire/Rescue has a policy which states that all nonemergency outside activities shall be discontinued when visible cloud-to-ground lightning appears to be in the general area.
Departments in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area have developed more detailed policies that include halting ladder and roof operations, using metal tools, and having personnel not engaged in operations and pump operators remain in the cab. The Tampa area has several departments that emphasize having nonessential personnel remain inside the protection of the enclosed apparatus cab.
No policy or other safety measure can guarantee lightning safety on the fireground; however, there are ways to improve the lightning safety on a daily basis. Technology has evolved to a level that makes it possible for nearly all departments to obtain early-warning lightning detection equipment. Convincing departments that there is a need for this type of equipment is more of a challenge. Fire departments that have had a member struck by lightning are keenly aware of the advantage this equipment offers and frequently have it on all command vehicles. As the technology has evolved and has become more accurate and more real time, the cost has also come down. Portable units and even information on your phone are now available.
Prevention is the best way to avoid a lightning strike. The safest place to be during a lightning storm is inside a building of significance or inside the cab of an enclosed vehicle with a metal roof. Make every effort on the fireground during lightning storms to keep as many personnel inside the trucks as possible. If personnel are inside the structure or inside the cab of an apparatus, the threat of a lightning strike is greatly reduced. Reducing other lighting strike threats will help, but they will not be nearly as safe as reducing the targets.
Firefighters need to have some form of lighting strike safety measures in place. The following recommendations are guidelines to improve your lightning safety.
1 Develop a policy related to lighting safety at structure fires that incorporates the following elements when lightning is in the area:
- a. Lower all aerial apparatus.
- b. Do not conduct roof operations.
- c. Have the driver/engineer remain inside the vehicle when possible.
- d. Stage the rapid intervention team inside the vehicle.
- e. Do not carry or raise ladders.
- f. Stage all personnel not on active assignment inside apparatus.
The primary focus of this policy should be directed at limiting the number of firefighters outside the protection of fire apparatus. It has been established that having all personnel remain inside the apparatus is the safest course of action; however, this is not always possible when conducting necessary operations.
2 Develop a policy related to lightning safety at nonstructure fires that incorporates the following elements when lightning is in the area:
- a. The incident commander (IC) should use a risk-benefit analysis to determine the value of property at risk vs. the safety of firefighters; lightning safety should be a major consideration.
- b. If outside operations are undertaken, only the minimum number of personnel should be used outdoors.
- c. If the fire is reachable, attempt fire attack with all personnel operating the nozzle from inside the protection of the apparatus.
The primary intent of this policy is to focus the IC’s attention on the risks of a lightning strike and measure them against the value of the property that would be lost if there were no outdoor firefighting operations. The secondary goal is to encourage ICs to seek alternatives to having personnel exposed to the dangers of a lightning strike when other options may be available.
3 Seek a grant to purchase an early-warning and lightning-proximity device or preferably use data from the NLDN, which could be accessed on mobile data terminals already in use on apparatus.
The importance of acquiring access to early-warning and lightning-proximity technology cannot be overstated. The superior technology would be a subscription to live data from the NLDN. It is realized that on many of the scenes in which we operate the warning parameters of any device would indicate an unsafe condition; however, even the knowledge that the device is going to indicate an unsafe condition when activated will cause ICs to make lightning safety a consideration in their planning. The simple presence of a device of this type should raise awareness of lightning safety on every operational scene.
4 Develop a training program that focuses on lightning safety, and present this training to all personnel on an annual basis.
The policies, procedures, and equipment used in the other recommendations will have little value if they are not accompanied by training. Training and awareness are leading factors in improving lightning safety. The training should be comprehensive and generalized to include multiple situations. It should be presented annually to reinforce the information for existing personnel and to educate new personnel who have not had the training.
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JOHN L. PRESTON, a 16-year veteran of the fire service, is the fire prevention and life safety officer for Oakland Park (FL) Fire Rescue. He has a bachelor of public management degree from Florida Atlantic University and an associate of science degree in fire science from Broward College and has completed three years of the EFO program at the National Fire Academy. He is an adjunct instructor at Broward College, where he teaches fire prevention and the fire officer II program. He has National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications certifications as fire inspector II, firefighter II, plan examiner I, fire officer II, and fire instructor I.
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