Firefighting New in Brief

FEMA interprets SAFER program guidance re rehiring of laid-off firefighters

On November 19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program Office issued a memorandum to AFG subscribers reminding them that the application period for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grants is now open and will end on December 18, 2009.

In addition, FEMA advised that the program office and help desk have received many inquiries concerning the eligibility for grants of those fire departments that have planned layoffs of firefighters but have not yet implemented them. (Under the FY 2009 SAFER program guidance, “Grants can be awarded to fire departments to rehire firefighters who have been laid off from the fire department due to economic constraints.”)

The FY2009 SAFER program guidance states: “The position must have been the object of a layoff action that was effected between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009.”  FEMS said it interprets this statement to mean the following: “A notice must have been issued between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, even if the actual layoff had not occurred by October 31, 2009.”

FEMA explains that an applicant’s narrative should be used to explain the circumstances of the layoff notifications, such as the date of notification and the effective date of the layoff.

Editor’s Note: The House of Representatives approved the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 3791) on November 18. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council’s News Alert of November 19, the bill extends the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the SAFER grant program for five years. The bill was sent to the Senate for its consideration.   

USFA report: Cooking fires leading cause of university housing fires 

Some 83 percent of the university housing fires that occurred from 2005 to 2007 were related to cooking, according to University Housing Fires, a special report issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA). The report, developed by the National Fire Data Center as part of the USFA’s topical Fire Report Series and taken from data reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, examined the causes and characteristics of fires in college and university residential buildings, including dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses, for those years.

The report estimates that an average of 3,800 fires occurred in university dwelling each of those years and were responsible for five deaths, 50 civilian injuries, and $26 million in property annually.

Among other finding in the report were the following:

 • Ninety-four percent of university housing fires occur in dormitories and dormitory-type residences; six percent occur in fraternity and sorority houses. 
 • There are more university housing fires in September and October, and they are most frequent in the evening hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., when students prepare snacks or cook meals.
 • Confined cooking fires, those confined to the container, account for 77 percent of all university housing fires.
» Download the report (PDF, 891 Kb) 

NIOSH releases Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports:

•  F2009-18    Aug 03, 2008  “Volunteer fire fighter dies after suffering a head injury while operating a platform aerial ladder – Rhode Island,”
• F2009-16     Dec 08, 2008  “Lieutenant suffers a fatal cardiac event after completing live fire training – Wisconsin,”                        

• F2009-10    Jan 02, 2009  “Career fire fighter dies when backed over while spotting an apparatus – New Jersey,”                                   

• F2009-07   Feb 19, 2009  “Volunteer lieutenant and a fire fighter die while combating a mobile home fire – West Virginia,”
• F2008-08  Mar 05, 2008  “Volunteer fire lieutenant killed while fighting a basement fire – Pennsylvania,
• F2007-32  Aug 29, 2007  Two career fire fighters die while making initial attack on a restaurant fire – Massachusetts,                         

Jan. 15 new deadline for comments on adopting NFPA 1600 for DHS’ PS-Prep Program

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) has proposed adopting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, for its Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep)  DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended the comment period on this standard selection to January 15, 2010.

NFPA 1600 is one of three standards selected by DHS/FEMA to be used for accrediting certifiers and certifying private sector preparedness plans under the federal program .In addition, DHS/FEMA announced that it planned to hold half-day public hearings throughout the United States starting November 17 and ending December 14 in 10 cities across the nation to obtain public input and establish a dialog with federal officials managing the PS-Prep Program.

Comments may be submitted using the electronic comment form and instructions at in Docket ID: FEMA-2008-0017. Members of the public who wish to make a presentation at a hearing are asked to submit information one week prior to the hearing.

Details are posted in the Federal Register notice. The NFPA’s initial comments submitted to DHS are at Information on the PS-Prep program is available from FEMA at

NFPA 1600 may be viewed, without charge, and a PDF may be downloaded at (

Cardiac Science Notifies of AED field correction

On November 13, Cardiac Science Corporation initiated a voluntary field correction for certain automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that may not be able to deliver therapy during a resuscitation attempt. This failure to deliver therapy may affect the resuscitation of the patient, which could lead to serious adverse events or death. Failure of these AEDs’ electronic components may not be detected by the device’s periodic self-tests. The affected models include the Powerheart 9300A, 9300C, 9300D, 9300E, 9300P, 9390A, 9390E, and CardioVive 92531, 92532, and 92533 devices.

Cardiac Science has received 64 complaints concerning four resistors within certain AEDs; two of these complaints were associated with a failure to deliver therapy. The company says this issue is predicted to occur in approximately one in 75,000 AEDs manufactured between August 2003 and August 2009. The company has also received 114 complaints regarding “Service Required” messages that are the result of a specific relay switch failure. There have been no reported instances where this issue has resulted in an inability to deliver therapy.

The company has implemented more stringent testing of the components; all AEDs produced since August 2009 are unaffected. Owners of an AED that may exhibit either of the above issues will be notified by the company immediately. A software update to address the resistor issue will be available by May 2010. This software update will enhance the AED’s self-test capabilities and improve detection of the issue. In the interim, the company advises customers to keep their AEDs in service and follow the normal testing and maintenance procedures found in the Operator and Service Manual. A copy of these procedures is available at At this site, you may also confirm if your AED is affected and register for automatic e-mail reminders to conduct scheduled maintenance.

If the AED is not rescue ready (the indicator is red), contact the company immediately at (425) 402-2000 (option 1) within the United States. Outside the United States., call +44-161-926-0011 or the local Cardiac Science representative. You can also email the company at

Application period for NFA resident classes closes Dec. 15   

The application period for the second semester of National Fire Academy (NFA) resident classes opened October 15. The application period closes December 15.

All information about courses, applications, and suggestions for successful completion of the application can be found at the following sites:

  • Course catalog and schedules at
  • Download applications at FEMA Form 75-5 | Form Fillable (PDF, 352 Kb), FEMA Form 75-5 | Form Non-Fillable (PDF, 116 Kb).
 • Tips to completing your application at Eight Tips for Completing a Successful  NFA Application.
Send completed applications for resident courses to the following address:

  Office of Admissions, Building I, Room 216
 National Emergency Training Center
 16825 South Seton Avenue
 Emmitsburg, MD 21727-8998.

You may also fax applications to (301) 447-1441. If you need additional information,  call the Admissions Office at (800) 238-3358, ext. 1035 or (301) 447-1035.

FSF offers free training videos on mental health for first responders

A free set of videos relative to the mental health of first responders is offered by the Firefighters Support Foundation’s (FSF) without charge. The set includes the following three videos:

The 50-minute video Helping First Responders, Their Colleagues, and Their Families Prepare for and Deal with a Line-of-Duty-Death, which features Dr. Ellen Kirschman, one of the best-known first responder psychologists in the nation (and author of I love a Firefighter and I Love a Cop).

Some of the questions Dr. Kirschman addresses are the following: How is the death of a first responder different? What can families do to prepare for a line-of-duty (LODD) death? How is it different to lose a parent who is a first responder? What is the grieving process? What makes the loss worse for a first-responder’s family? What advice do you have for the family regarding media coverage? How should a family deal with the ongoing aftermath? Should the family allow footage of the incident to be used as a training film? Should the family listen to the last radio transmission of the deceased? How should the family prepare for LODD anniversaries? How much help should colleagues offer? What advice do you have for management? What about unhappy or separated families?

When a Child Dies on a Call is a 20-minute program presented by Dr. Anne Bisek, a psychologist practicing in Fremont, California. She is the mental health professional on the San Mateo CISD team and provides debriefings for the California Highway Patrol. Dr. Bisek addresses the following areas: How is the death of a child so different? What happens to first responders when a child dies on a call? Why do different responders react differently to the death of a child? How can a first responder identify with the victim, someone else on the scene, or even the perpetrator? What are the unhealthful ways to respond to a child’s death? What are some productive things to do?  Is there something wrong if you don’t feel affected?  Can you prepare for such a call? How long do the effects last?

When to Seek Therapy is a 30-minute presentation also by Dr. Bisek; it covers this subject in depth. Most public safety professionals have been given very little information on this subject beyond possibly a brochure at one time. Dr. Bisek discusses questions such as: How do we know when it’s time to see a professional? What is therapy? How do I find a therapist who is appropriate for me? Does the therapist need to be a current or former public safety professional? What kinds of therapies are available? Is it always post traumatic stress disorder that first responders suffer from? Should I talk to colleagues? How can I make it worse for myself? Does therapy work?

Download your copies at For additional information, call Ralph Mroz at (413) 774-3512.

Homelite Backpack Blowers Recalled: possible fuel leak

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a voluntary recall of Homelite Backpack Blowers because the fuel tank can leak gasoline and pose a fire hazard to users. About 85,000 blowers are involved.

Manufacturing date codes include UT08580: ATK1820001 through ATK3659999, UT08580A: ATL1530001 through ATL3669999; and ATM0010001 through ATM1749999.

The units were sold at Home Depot stores and various retailers of refurbished products including Direct Tools Factory Outlets, CPO Homelite, Gardner, Tap Enterprises, Isla Supply, and Heartland America stores nationwide from September 2007 through October 2009.

Consumers should stop using the blowers immediately and contact Homelite for the name of the closest dealer location to schedule a free fuel tank replacement. For additional information, contact Homelite Consumer Products, Inc. at (800) 242-4672 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit

The recall notice and pictures of the recalled product are at

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