IAFC 102nd Conference Features Workshops, EMS Presentations

IAFC 102nd Conference Features Workshops, EMS Presentations

Chief David Gratz, Montgomery County, Md., Fire/Rescue Services, president.Chief Myrle K. Wise, Denver Fire Department, first vice president.Chief John L. Swindle, Birmingham Fire Department, second vice president.Chief G. A. Mitchell, Opelika. Ala., Fire Department, treasurer.

Emergency medical service presentations and workshops were the feature of the 102nd annual conference of the International Association of Fire Chiefs held in Las Vegas, Nev., September 14-18.

Chief David Gratz of Montgomery County, Md., Fire/Rescue Services, was elected president at the annual election and succeeding him as first vice president was Chief Myrle K. Wise of Denver. In a contest with Chief James Shern, Pasadena, Calif., Chief John L. Swindle of Birmingham, Ala., was elected second vice president. Chief G. A. Mitchell, Opelika, Ala., was reelected treasurer.

In his opening remarks, keynote speaker Howard D. Tipton, administrator of the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, called upon the assembled chiefs to get involved in the political processes, remarking that “people who don’t care don’t make things happen.” He also said that passage of the National Fire Prevention and Control Act signified only a beginning and that the fire service just cannot sit back and watch the federal dollars roll in to solve its problems.

“At this moment,” he said, “the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration consists of just some high-sounding words on paper and a few people in Washington.”

Tipton emphasized that the NFPCA wanted participation-input-from the fire service and he urged that chiefs evaluate their present programs-goals and objectives-in terms of the pay-off in fire loss reduction. And in terms of how their successes can be used by the NFPCA.

His biggest concern now is to develop programs and find the staff needed to run them. Major areas in this development include public education, the national fire academy, the data system, and research and development. Tipton also said his administration is looking forward to the day when the fire service will have its own information service, one that will be able to provide quick dissemination of anything new or .different that happens in the fire service-techniques, apparatus, protective clothing, etc.

He left no doubt in his audience’s mind that most actions taken by the NFPCA would lean initially or eventually to fire prevention as opposed to fire suppression.

Emergency medical services

“What is your position and where are you now in emergency care?” was the question posed by Eugene L. Nagel, M.D., of Harbor General Hospital, Torrance, Calif., moderator of the emergency medical services panel. He was answered in presentations by Chief Derek Jackson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Lieutenant Willa K. Little, R.N., Emergency Medical Services, Department of Fire/Rescue Services, Montgomery County, Md.

Jackson, whose department recently took over the job of providing EMS for his city, posed another question: “Why others and not the fire service?”

He felt that the reasons for the “others” was simply due to inertia within the fire service and urged his audience to get involved as his department became involved when the private emergency service in Calgary “practically broke down.” This breakdown caused the city to get enabling legislation that permitted it to actually buy out the private service and establish a public emergency ser vice. This service was assigned to the fire department and designated as a separate division manned by civilians but under the overall command of Chief Jackson.

The Calgary emergency medical ser vice began by providing only transportation for the sick and injured. The initial qualifications for personnel only called for basic first aid skills and the ability to drive. Emergency units were all designed and equipped in the same manner. Following a crash training program (1800 hours in 18 months), full paramedic services were offered.

Jackson was strong in his feeling that “the emergency medical service and the rescue service be separate and distinct and the design of the apparatus for each service be treated separately.”

Howard D. Tipton, administrator, National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, was the keynote speaker.President John Hurley, right, introduces his successor, Chief David Gratz, as Assistant Chief James Dalton, Silver Spring, Md., banquet toastmaster, looks on.Donald D. Flinn, general manager of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, reports to the members.

He also held the belief that civilians working in the fire department in a separate division posed no problems.

Mixed volunteer and paid EMS

According to Lieutenant Little, Montgomery County started its ambulance service 30 years ago and as early as 20 years ago had instituted some paramedic service. But, she explained, it was an idea whose time had not arrived and the doctors had not yet been won over to the paramedic concept.

Today, Lieutenant Little said, Montgomery County operates 40 ambulances that respond to some 26,000 calls per year. The service is manned by both paid and volunteer fire fighters within the county department. Training calls for 300 hours of classroom and clinical instruction and as a registered nurse, she carries the title of training officer. The county provides most of the training for EMS with some assistance from doctors.

Training schedules initially were a problem, according to Lieutenant Little, and particularly those for volunteers. But this problem was resolved by doing all the training at night or on weekends for both the paid men and volunteers while using the same standards for both.

Moderator Nagel made the point that Montgomery County units average less than two calls per day and that from a recognized efficiency standard, an ambulance should have from five to 15 runs per day.

Lieutenant Little countered this with some facts that more than justified the inefficiency. “First,” she explained, “the volunteers provide and maintain their own vehicles. And by manning intensive care units they reduce by one half the total cost of emergency medical service in the county.”

Lieutenant Little also brought out the fact that it was the volunteers who provided the initial impetus, years ago, for the establishment of the emergency service. She admitted, however, that at some point down the road there might be some consolidation of units.

Federal safety standards

In discussing the DOT safety standards, George Layden, president of Peter Pirsch and Sons Co., pointed out that the legal requirements of the DOT standards are for automotive requirements and not for basic fire fighting requirements. By this, he meant that there are no federal motor vehicle safety standards for such things as sirens, special fire apparatus lights, paint colors, etc.

“Although they (the DOT) have undoubtedly looked at some of these features,” Layden said, “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not indicated any immediate likelihood of moving into the field of individual fire apparatus design problems.”

He covered 13 of the safety standards established by the DOT but gave particular emphasis and time to FMVSS 121 (air brake systems) as the standard that “will have the greatest impact on fire apparatus design and cost when it goes into effect.”

For fire trucks, it goes into effect March 1, 1976 or September 1, 1976. The September 1, 1976 date is for rear axles with GAWR of 24,000 pounds or more, or front axles of 16,000 pounds or more. This exemption of heavier axles was not a special for the fire apparatus industry, but was a special for the heavy-duty truck industry because the hardware necessary for the heavier axles wasn’t available as fast as for higher production axles. If a truck has a 24,000-pound rear axle and a 15,000-pound front axle, the deadline would still be September 1, 1976.

Layden went on to tell the men in the volunteer workshop that the overall effect of this air brake standard will be very great on the fire apparatus industry. The 50 states as a whole buy about one third custom trucks and two thirds commercially produced chassis. On the commercially produced units, the chassis manufacturer will set up rules on how high the vertical center of gravity can be located. This will vary in height at various positions along the longitudinal axis.

“Technically,” he said, “we will violate the rules of the major truck chassis manufacturers if our weight distribution doesn’t stay within the limits of their rules and then we assume their obligations to comply with the standard. Typically, the major truck manufacturers are not going to gamble so their rules will be very conservative in their favor. If any fire apparatus manufacturer exceeds their rules by a reasonably small margin, he will undoubtedly be safe but on the hot seat if anything goes wrong.”

There is no guarantee in the fire apparatus business that the weight and center of gravity will not change in service, Layden commented, and that this change can get into a gray area of responsibility if a fire department adds additional equipment which shifts the location of the vertical center of gravity. Fire departments will have to realize that as they add weight, it will have to be more and more towards the rear of the truck, and this will be more important on short wheelbase chassis than on long wheelbase chassis.

“I’m not going to make any attempt to try to explain the technical details of the requirements which we have to guarantee under FMVSS 121,” Layden said, “but each manufacturer will have to analyze his own problem and make a decision on what is necessary to comply. No matter which way he goes, it will have a major influence on both design and cost.”

Chief Merrel C. Hendrix, Dallas, spoke on manpower requirements and the Dallas Plan at the metropolitan workshop.Chief Derek Jackson, Calgary, Alberta, told of his department's paramedical program as a member of the EMS panel.Lieutenant Willa K. Little reported on paramedics-volunteer and career personnel- in Montgomery County, Md.

Layden was of the opinion that most of the truck industry feels that the only way of complying with 121 is to use the so-called anti-skid brake systems. There has been enough research in this area to lend credence to this statement. However, the fire apparatus industry encounters much longer single-chassis wheelbases than the general truck field and the horizontal center of gravity of the load tends to stay toward the rear of the truck. This tends to provide weight distribution that is favorable to meeting the standard. Layden stated that he knew of at least one fire truck manufacturer who ran tests in accordance with FMVSS 121 and who has been able to comply with 121 standards without using anti-skid brakes.

He informed the audience that there are several manufacturers who are suppliers of the anti-skid system and there is no unanimity of opinion among fire apparatus manufacturers concerning the best one to use. There will be several different types used and hopefully they all will work to the betterment of the fire apparatus industry.

“I’ve seen various estimates on added costs,” Layden concluded, “and some actual quoted figures on cost, and all have been a definite cost increase factor. These figures generally are in the $1000 to $2000 range.”

Marine fire protection project

Captain John Hansen, Seattle Fire Department, spoke on the Marine Fire Protection Project, a joint venture sponsored by the Federal Maritime Administration, the State of Washington and the Seattle Fire Department. During phase 2 of the project, Hansen said, “municipal fire fighters from port cities cities all over Washington State have been trained to carry out pre-fire planning surveys aboard vessels which call in their respective ports. The objective of these pre-fire plans is to provide detailed information about the vessel which would be useful in the course of fighting a fire.”

Each pre-fire plan is prepared in the form of a manual, according to Hansen, and once the pre-fire survey is completed, the manual is reproduced in sufficient quantities to place three copies aboard the vessel and provide two copies to each port city fire department where the vessel calls.

“The pre-fire planning surveys are not inspections to discover deficiencies or enforce regulations,” Hansen emphasized. “The survey is not mandatory on the part of the vessel operator.”

The sole objective of the pre-fire survey, he explained, is to gather technical information about the vessel which may be needed during fire fighting operations. The resulting manuals are designed for use by both municipal fire fighters and the ship’s crew. The costs of conducting phase 2 surveys are shared by the Maritime Administration and the State of Washington. The only cost to the operator is to provide two sets of general arrangement plans for the vessel.

During the pilot program, approximately 60 vessels of all types will be pre-fire planned. These will serve as a representative sample of the types of vessels presently in use. The experience gained will be used to prepare recommendations on future development of vessel pre-fire planning efforts.

Hansen noted that pre-fire planning of buildings has been carried out by many municipal fire departments for a number of years, but the maritime project marks the first time that prefire planning procedures have been applied to vessels.

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Chief Joseph Redden, Newark, N.J., chairman of the IAFC civil service committee, presented its report.Chief E. S. C. Barber, Benoni, South Africa, Fire and Ambulances Departments, headed the panel on internationalizing the IAFC.

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“One significant difference,” he said, “exists between the pre-fire planning of structures and vessels, namely, that vessels are not stationary, they travel from port to port. This means that if a standard format for pre-fire planning vessels can be developed, the pre-fire planning work carried on by one fire department can be utilized by other port cities when the manual is placed aboard the vessel.”

Hansen hopes that the concept and format of the marine pre-fire plan will be adopted by other departments throughout the United States and that the day will come when each major vessel has a pre-fire plan aboard, ready for immediate use should the occasion arise.

In another phase of his talk, Hansen made the point that many ships have been lost which might have been saved had the proper experience and equipment been brought to bear during the early stages of the fire. During phase 2 of the project, 53 members of the Seattle Fire Department have been trained as specialists in marine fire fighting. Their course of instruction has included over 200 hours of classroom and field training.

The objective of this element of the program is to provide the professional municipal fire fighter with the necessary skills to be a competent specialist in marine fire fighting techniques.

Plastics industry to cooperate

Much information on the combustibility characteristics of plastics is being developed as a result of substantial fire testing efforts being conducted by the plastics industry and by government and independent agencies, according to Ralph L. Harding, Jr., president of the Society of the Plastics Industry. Harding, who proposed a joint effort with the IAFC to reduce fire hazards in the built environment, stated that:

“Not only are we learning more about combustibility behavior of plastics materials, but we are getting similar information on the natural materials as well, and we are beginning to be able to compare them with more realism. One of our concerns, however, is whether we are providing you with the kind of information you need for your inspections, for your fire prevention programs, and for your fire fighting efforts.”

Harding urged the fire chiefs to let the plastics industry know about any special problems involving plastics that they come across in actual fires, adding that “if you encounter a fire in which you feel plastics have contributed an undue hazard, we want to know about it.”

He urged the chiefs to contact SPI with questions about applications of plastics, either in new construction or renovations, and to let SPI know of any failures of previously approved materials or assemblies. Conversely, if you see an innovative plastic material or assembly that you think is unusually good, let us know that too,” Harding said. “A little bit of encouragement once in a while can do wonders for development of new ideas and better products.”

He suggested that SPI and the IAFC work together on establishing some formal plastics-related informational programs for the fire services. “First, we would like to review with you your present sources of information on plastics and combustibility,” he said. “We can advise you on what is worthwhile, update older material, discard what is outdated or erroneous, and then we can jointly decide how to J establish and maintain a constant stream of useful information.”

Harding also suggested that such a program might include slide presentations, information for training manuals, films and even complete courses on the fire behavior of plastics.

“The point is that we in the plastics industry cannot devise such a program by ourselves,” he said. “We need to know from people in the front lines of fire prevention and fire fighting what the problems are and what kind of answers are needed to solve them and how they need to be presented.”

Civil service

The two areas of greatest interest within the scope of the civil service committee of the IAFC, according to its chairman, Chief Joseph Redden, Newark, N.J., are those of the National Professional Qualifications Board and the standards being developed under its direction and the impact of federal and state legislation on discrimination in public employment.

Redden stated that in the case of the National Professional Qualifications Board much progress has been made, but there is much more to be accomplished before there will be a professional certification program in effect in the fire service.

“The same cannot be said in the area of legislation and its effect on discrimination in public employment,” he said. “As time passes, action in this area seems to get more confusing and more frustrating.”

Redden told of an interview with Edward W. Powers, director of civil service for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was very enlightening in this area and also quite important. Powers stated that Massachusetts and New Jersey are possibly the only states with statewide systems for testing fire fighters at the entry level and for promotions. A court ruling in either of these states has great impact, because it affects all jurisdictions in the state.

A ruling that affects Massachusetts was one by the United States Court of Appeals and stated that civil service must certify to Boston and Springfield one minority fire fighter applicant for every white fire fighter applicant. In 138 other Massachusetts jurisdictions with minority populations exceeding 1 percent, one minority fire fighter applicant must be certified for every three white fire fighter applicants.

Redden cited an example of what happened in New Jersey which indij cates how confusing the present situation can be.

A local jurisdiction in New Jersey had been ordered by the State Division of Civil Rights to hire a certain ratio of non-whites to whites on the fire department because of an imbalance of non-whites to whites on the department as compared to the total population. This ruling was appealed by this jurisdiction to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court-New Jersey’s second highest court. The court reversed this ruling, stating that some hiring quotas designed to eliminate discrimination against nonwhites are illegal because they may backfire against other groups. The court stated, “Once a quota system is imposed, as was done here, such numerical criteria will unquestionably result in the kind of insidious discrimination and injustice the quota system was designed to prevent.”

The court said the temptation is too great to right the wrongs against all minorities by letting a small number of their groups now obtain what they have been denied. Both of these examples, one in Massachusetts and the other in New Jersey, deal with entrance into the fire service. How about the promotional area?

Redden emphasized that the basis of most actions is on the job-relatedness and the validity of the examination process. The job-relatedness of the examination must be demonstrated and the variance in performance must result from variance in qualifications and not from race.

“It is also quite apparent”, Redden said, “the answer to this shotgun approach that we are presently experiencing has been provided by the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations in their establishment of the National Professional Qualifications System. As a result of this system, we have a job-related minimum standard for fire fighter entrance and progression to journeyman fire fighter in NFPA Standard 1001.”

The next logical step, he added, will be to conduct a validation study to ascertain compliance with the federal guidelines. And in view of the intensive effort that was put forth by the fire fighter qualifications committee and the National Professional Qualifications Board, there is a distinct probability that this standard will meet the guidelines in question.

Arson increasing

The committee on arson investigation techniques, chaired by Dan Carpenter, reported that arson rates are rising faster than most other kinds of crime. In 1971, 72,000 incendiary fires caused $233 million in property damage, or 10 to 30 percent of all building fire loss. Although this represents 13 times the number of such fires set in 1950, the population increased only 1.4 percent during the same period. The report noted that the only national study since 1968 to study police and fire civil disorder programs indicates that arson is one of the most important property crimes- more serious than all robberies or net losses from all automobile thefts. Moreover, indications are that the true rate of arson may be much larger than that which is presently reported. Some studies have reported arson to represent up to 25 percent of all fires and up to 50 percent of all fire loss.

The lack of agreement between police and fire agencies as to the responsibilities of each appears to result in confusion and failure by both agencies to adequately respond to the investigation and law enforcement needs associated with the arson problem.

In response to these problems, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Criminal Justice Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have begun an investigation of arson investigation techniques. A proposal to the NFPCA has been submitted to support the data collection and data analysis phases of the research.

The purpose of this project, according to the committee, is to investigate the effectiveness of the various types of police and fire agency arson investigation arrangements. In some jurisdictions, the responsibility is left only to the police agencies. In others, only the fire service handles such investigations. Still other arrangements are found elsewhere. Yet clear evidence is not available as to the advantages of one policy over another. The goal of this project will be to provide data which may suggest the greater desirability of one form of investigation arrangements over the other.

The project is designed to provide data that may have implications for fire service training and which may be used to promote progressive programs of arson investigation.

The investigation of these problems will include the analysis of data presently being collected. This proposal involves the completion of a research project that was begun but has not been completed. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the arson committee of the International Association of Fire Chiefs collaborated in the design of three questionnaires which were distributed to the membership of the IAFC as prepaid return postage inserts in the association’s monthly newsletter.

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Committee reports

The building code committee, headed by John Degenkolb, reported that there had been a great deal of activity in the field of codes the past year and that the new edition of the National Building Code, as recommended by The American Insurance Association, will probably be available late this year. Two sections of the three-part presentation (of the new code) have reviewed and commented upon. Where high-rise buildings are concerned, it appears that all those above a height of somewhere around 75 feet will be required to be sprinklered. In other respects, it appears that it will be much more life safety oriented than have been earlier editions. It does introduce the term “limited combustible” to which objection was voiced. In the opinion of the committee the term was improperly written, in that it refers to Btu per pound rather than to Btu per square feet of projected area. The committee contended that a steel beam painted with a paint having more than 3500 Btu per pound would not permit it to qualify as either noncombustible or limited combustible.

Basic (BOCA) building code

There was also a new 1975 edition of the Basic Building Code. The provisions it contains for high-rise buildings were written about two years ago and the modifications worked out since that time are not to be found. It does, however, as reported last year, permit either compartmentation (safe areas of refuge) or spinkler protection for buildings 75 to 150 feet in height. Those buildings over 150 feet in height must be sprinklered. In addition, one elevator is required to be of sufficient size to accommodate a stretcher in the horizontal position. This was a specific proposal from the IAFC brought about by problems encountered by paramedics.

The Basic Building Code now has requirements for smokeproof enclosures in buildings six stories or 75 feet in height. It also has adopted very restrictive requirements pertaining to the use of foam plastics. This very severe restrictive legislation was proposed by the Society of the Plastics Industry. It does have requirements for the installation of single-station smoke detectors in every dwelling and every dwelling unit within an apartment house.

The committee also reported that the name of the Southern Building Code has been changed to the Standard Building Code. This has “come to life” in the past couple of years and is significantly fire protection oriented. It has modified its high-rise requirements in accordance with committee work in which the IAFC participated. It, too, will permit compartmentation or sprinklers for buildings 75 to 150 feet in height. Because of the mistaken belief that compartmentation was to be preferred to sprinkler protection, the complete rewrite places sprinklers in the first position. All fire protection systems are to be actually field-tested in the building before acceptance of the building. Elevators are to open into a lobby separated from the remainder of the building. On-site water demands have been modified. Details of compartmentation are spelled out. more clearly.

The requirement for smoke detectors in dwellings includes one in the basement. Individual dwelling units of apartment houses also require smoke detectors and now such detectors will be required in each guest room of hotels and motels.

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