NIOSH reports now available on NFF Memorial Database

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) firefighter fatality investigation reports are now accessible through the National Fallen Firefighters (NFF) Memorial Database. A “View NIOSH Report” link is below the “Final Summary” information link for each of the memorial database listings, making it possible for users to have access to detailed information concerning the specific fatality they might not otherwise have known existed, explains Alexandra R. Furr, director of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) National Fire Data Center.

The NIOSH report was initiated in 1998 with the objective of reducing firefighter fatalities through analysis of the circumstances of the death and recommendations for preventing deaths under similar conditions in the future. The USFA has established as one of its primary goals reducing firefighter fatalities by 25 percent in five years and by 50 percent in 10 years.

For the past 25 years, the USFA has tracked the number of firefighter fatalities and conducted an annual analysis. These reports and other resources related to firefighter fatalities, such as the “USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990-2000” and a United States Forest Service report on “Wildland Fire Fatalities in the United States 1990-1998,” are available online at dhtml/ inside-usfa/ff_fat.cfm. The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Database is at Note: Select the “Memorial” radio button and any one or all of the years 1998 to 2001 to view listings with NIOSH reports (not all fatalities will have a completed report). The “Notices” radio button is for current year data only and is not linked to the NIOSH reports. You can also use the input form to specify the year of death and search by name.

Using the National Fire Data Center’s Firefighter Fatality Database at http://www. tally_report.cfm, you can create custom queries summarizing firefighter fatality data by year or multiple years (1994-2001) and by several other user-defined variables.

NYC firefighters subjects of Cornell University stress, trauma study

A major study that will examine stress, trauma, communication, work relations, peer support, retirement, workplace culture, work-family conflict, and substance abuse as they relate to New York City firefighters is expected to be completed in late Spring 2003.

The study, to be conducted by the Smithers Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) in Ithaca, New York, will be under the direction of ILR Professor Samuel Bacharach, in cooperation with the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York. Bacharach is director of the ILR School’s R. Brinkley Smithers Institute for Alcohol-Related Workplace Studies and of the New York City-based Institute for Workplace Studies. He has headed research studies pertaining to the worklife of assembly-line workers, teachers, steamfitters, transportation workers, nursing home workers, and retail workers. He and his colleagues presently are engaged in a five-year study on substance abuse among retired workers for the National Institutes of Health.

The project will go beyond measuring the effects of the 9-11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks on the firefighters. It will strive to present a comprehensive view of the firefighters’ working life. The objective of the study, according to Bacharach, is to use the data obtained through surveying several thousand firefighters “to assist labor, management, and all relevant parties in developing a better understanding of the specific problems and needs of firefighters.”

USFA announces second phase of fire department census

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have initiated the second phase of the National Fire Department Census.

Approximately 16,000 fire departments had registered during the first phase, which ended in Spring 2002. According to FEMA/ USFA, these departments represent about one half of the fire departments estimated to be in the United States. The initial census database of respondents was to have been posted to the USFA’s Web site by the end of November (after press time).

Departments that applied for Assistance to Firefighters Program grants and are not in the census database have been contacted and are encouraged to complete the census form. Variations in how a department listed its name or address may cause some departments to receive more than one application form for the second phase, explains USFA Deputy Administrator Charlie Dickinson. Even slight differences in how a department registers its name or address can give the appearance of two separate entities, he adds. Departments that believe they re-ceived the recent mailing in error should contact the USFA to resolve the situation.

The National Fire Department Census and the Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey are separate and distinct from the National Fire Department Census. Earlier this year, the USFA conducted a Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to define the current role and activities associated with the fire services, determine the adequacy of current levels of funding, and identify shortfalls. The results of this survey were expected to be published by the end of 2002, after press time.

For more information about the USFA National Fire Department Census, contact Gayle Weant-Kelch at gayle.weant@

MSA FireSlayerT of the Year Award nominations deadline is January 31

MSA will accept nominations for its FireSlayerT of the Year (FOTY) award until January 31. Full- or part-time, paid or volunteer firefighters (individually or as a group) who have committed a selfless act of bravery and served as a role model of commitment and integrity to fellow firefighters during 2002 are eligible.

For details and a nomination form, go to the Web site or contact Becky Pflaum by phone at (412) 967-3153, fax at (412) 967-3337, or e-mail at Becky.

NFPA: Preschoolers most likely victims of fires set by young children

Fires started by children under the age of six are the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers, according to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study. In each year from 1994 to1998, it was reported to U.S. fire departments that 85,620 fires were started by children playing with fire. These fires caused 303 deaths, 2,359 injuries, and $146.1 million in direct property damage.

NFPA data show that roughly three out of every four child-playing fires—and at least four-fifths of associated deaths and injuries—involved matches or lighters. Lighters were involved in the greatest number of incidents, deaths, injuries, and property damage. Children started fires also with stoves, candles, lighted tobacco products, and fireworks.

In 1994, the U.S. Consumer Product Safe-ty Commission (CPSC) required that disposable cigarette lighters be designed so that they could not be operated by children younger than five. A study published this year in Injury Prevention found a 58 percent reduction in cigarette-lighter fires caused by children under age five since the new standard went into effect. The CPSC estimated that this prevented 3,300 fires, 100 deaths, and 660 injuries in 1998.

January 31 deadline for 2003 Harvard fire executive fellowship program

Applications for fellowships in Harvard University’s annual Senior Executives in State and Local Government program must be postmarked by January 31. Eight applicants will be selected to attend one of the following three-week sessions: Sunday, June 8 through Friday, June 28, 2003; Sunday, July 6 through Friday, July 25, 2003; or one scheduled for February 2004. Applicants must be available to attend any one of the sessions.

Applicants are responsible for travel costs to the final interview process and, if selected, to Cambridge also. Housing will be provided for the interview process. The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Fire Service Training Association, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/United States Fire Administration each will cover tuition costs for two of the successful candidates.

Senior fire executives who have effected and initiated change are eligible. Demonstrated experience in facilitating significant change within a public-sector setting is more important than having attained a senior position.

Preference may be given to graduates of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, even though program completion is not a prerequisite, or to candidates who have completed graduate-level degree programs or course work.

Individuals whose organizations have been represented in the Harvard 2000, 2001, or 2002 Fellowship Programs are not eligible.

The candidate must complete a FEMA General Admission Application (Form 75-5). An organizational chart of the applicant’s sponsoring organization (with the applicant’s position highlighted) and a resume must be submitted with the application. The submission package should be sent to Harvard Fellowship Program; U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Academy; c/o Ms. Mary Wingert; 16825 South Seton Ave.; Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

For additional information, contact Mary Wingert at (301) 447-1085 or mary.wingert@ Semifinalists will receive information and materials for the essay-based secondary application process. Information is also posted at ( fire-service/nfa-high2.cfm).

NFIRS 5.0: Updates on some persistent problems

National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) 5.0 has been plagued with problems from its inception. Representatives from various levels of government, fire service software vendors, and fire service organizations have been attempting to resolve these problems, most notably through the National Fire Information Council, Inc. (NFIC).

Following are some of the most commonly cited problems experienced by users of the NFIRS 5.0 system and the actions undertaken or proposed by the USFA/FEMA:

  • Multiple announced and unannounced design specification changes. It is anticipated that this situation will be improved as a result of a resolution adopted at the NFIC Annual Meeting. It stipulates that specification changes be released every year instead of every six months. The changes will be implemented on January 1 of each year; notification of the proposed changes will be released three months before that date.

An example of the scope of the problem associated with this issue can be seen from the following. When the State of Massachusetts checked its validated data for the previous year through the revised specification rule changes imported in July 2002, relates Jennifer Mieth, fire data/public education manager for the State of Massachusetts, and Derryl Dion, research analyst and Massachusetts State Program Manager for NFIRS, 140 errors were found in the data covering only the first two weeks in January. Under the previous specification rules, the data for the entire year had zero errors.

Action: The USFA is changing the system to ensure that once an incident is marked as valid, it stays valid, reports Alexandra H. Furr, division director, National Fire Data Center, United States Fire Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency (USFA/FEMA).

  • Communications. Mieth and Dion note that there is no provision for sharing with the states any data related to conversion problems—or any other problems—identified by other states and reported to the USFA.

Action: The NFIC is attempting to make such information available through its Web site and e-mail lists.

  • Lack of standards for analyzing NFIRS 5.0 data.

Action: The USFA and NFIC are considering the development of a hierarchy protocol for determining causes of fires.

  • Analysis coding guidelines. Mieth cites the need for more assistance with data analysis (additional fields and codes, queries, connections between data, click-and-point options, shortcuts, for example) so that the individuals inputting data do not have to look up six-digit codes in a manual.
  • Reporting, data import, and validation tools. Various needs have been identified in these areas. Among them are tools with expanded capacity so that large data files can be exported without having to break the file down into smaller files, facilitation of the process by which states that store their own data can export to the federal database, and eliminating the invalidation of files that were valid under previous specification changes.

Action: “Particular emphasis is on tools that are essential for effective operation and management of the system at the state level,” says Furr. She relates the following:

The reporting portion of the current Data Entry Tool (DET) is being replaced with a Web browser-based reporting tool, which is being field-tested by some states. Before making the new tool available, “formatting problems, bugs, and inaccuracies in some of the reports filed by states” must be corrected.

The Bulk Export Tool will employ an access permissions system that will secure confidentiality, security, and the like by restricting access to the full, detailed database while facilitating access to the summary reports in the Reporting Tool.

New error-checking functionality will be added to the Bulk Import Tool before it is released to prevent the system from crashing if the tool tries to process a data file that is bad. (Five states are now using this tool.)

The USFA is investigating ways to enable vendors to use the USFA edit validation in their software so that data quality and processing concerns can be averted at the state level. One possibility may be to provide vendors with a Dynamically Linked Library (DLL) file.

Rob Farley, who has been an NFIRS user for many years and a state program manager for 13 years, and who recently assumed the position of NFIC president, points out that the changes the USFA has made in the program were “driven by users of the system.” This version of NFIRS, he adds, “accurately reflects what the nation’s fire service is actually doing on the street.”

For the most part, Farley says, feedback from NFIC members at regular training sessions indicates that state program managers are satisfied with the system. But, he adds, “One message from our membership was universal: States could use more money to deal with the extra demands placed on them, including NFIRS reporting.”

The USFA, in 2001, sought the help of the Office of the Inspector General to find an objective third party to review NFIRS and make recommendations for future management. Shortly after the audit began, Furr explains, the NFIRS-specific review was temporarily set aside so that FEMA could meet its priority of reviewing all its systems in relation to planning and security. The FEMA-wide review has since been completed, and attention has returned to the NFIRS review.

The report, Furr notes, is expected to contain documentation pertaining to the above problems and recommended actions, some of which the USFA has already completed. It is expected to be available early in 2003 (after press time) and will be shared with the public after it has been reviewed.

The USFA and the National Fire Data Center are also addressing the issue of how to ensure that individual fire departments will continue to support the NFIRS reporting process.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

October 24. District Fire Chief Gerald W. Nadeau, 51, Fall River (MA) Fire Department: acute respiratory distress syndrome after inhaling toxic and noxious gases and fumes at September 19 structure fire.

October 24. Firefighter Rupert Allen “Junior” Fuller, 76, Darlington-Gaskin Fire Department in Westville, Florida: aneursym after responding to October 20 medical call.

November 4. Firefighter Edmund E. Malinski, 39, Northern Wayne Fire Company, Lakewood, Pennsylvania: carbon monoxide poisoning caused by smoke inhalation.

November 10. Firefighter Robert Glenn Poore, 71, Briceville (TN) Volunteer Fire Department: heart attack suffered while performing debris removal and cleanup after tornado.

November 11. Lieutenant Timothy DiOrio, 36, Maine Fire Company, Coal Township (PA) Fire Department: wall collapse at residential fire.

November 12. Firefighter Patrick L. Brooks, 38, West Hartford (CT) Fire Department: sudden illness while on duty; cause of death under investigation.

Source: National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Database, U S. Fire Administration.

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