Volunteer firefighters suffer Hurricane Sandy losses

Donations are urgently needed for volunteer firefighters whose homes and property were devastated by Super Storm Sandy, advises the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The number of firefighters who have suffered damages from this storm has been overwhelming, and the NVFC Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund has been depleted and requests for assistance continue to be made.

The Fund provides stipends of $250 to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to meet expenses in the aftermath of a state-declared or federally declared disaster. The volunteers must have suffered an uninsurable loss in excess of $5,000 and be from an NVFC member state as an individual or department member of the state association.

The Fund has responded to hundreds of requests for help and has provided almost $100,000 in assistance. The Fund had received donations from individuals and supporters including the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, Scott Safety, and California Casualty. All contributions made to the Volunteer Firefighters Support Fund go to providing assistance to volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders impacted by disasters. The NVFC donates all administrative costs associated with the fund. Information on how to make a donation to the fund is at www.nvfc.org.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

February 15. Lieutenant Eric Wallace, 36, Bryan (TX) Fire Department: burns sustained in roof collapse at a structural fire.
February 16. Lieutenant Gregory Pickard, 54, Bryan (TX) Fire Department: burns sustained in roof collapse at a structural fire.
February 22. Fire Police Officer Claudia Sokol, 55, Diligence Fire Company No. 1, Summit Hill, PA: medical emergency while on traffic control duties at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on February 21.
February 24. Firefighter David Schnepp, 43, Carter’s Valley Fire Department, Church Hill, TN: cause to be determined.
February 26. Firefighter Nate Fruin, 22, Mattawan (MI) Fire District: medical incident resulting in cardiac arrest; cause to be determined.
Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

Behavioral health focus of Safety and Health Week

The 2013 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week will be celebrated June 16-22, 2013. The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council have announced that behavioral health will be the focus of this year’s activities. The importance of responders looking out for their own and each other’s mental and physical well-being will be emphasized, as reflected in the tag line “Saving Our Own … An Inside Job.”

FEMA offers building code information for consumers

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration (FIMA), Risk Reduction Division, Building Science Branch has recently developed “Building Codes Toolkit,” a central online page that describes building codes and their role in occupant safety.

The site also lists resources property owners and the general public can use to become acquainted with standards and best practices. Building codes and proper construction practices, FEMA explains, can help individuals, organizations, and communities to ensure occupant safety, protect the local tax base, ensure continuity of essential services, and facilitate more rapid recovery from disasters.

More information on FEMA building codes and construction standards and guidance is available at http://www.fema.gov/building-science-publications.

DHS national urban security technology lab reopens

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) opened its National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) in New York City in February. The facility includes a new training space for first responders and testing and measurement labs with state-of-the-art radiation detection equipment.

“Our new facility fosters information sharing and collaboration with our most trusted and important partners-first responders who serve on the frontline of homeland security,” notes Dr. Adam Hutter, NUSTL director. The laboratory is used to test, evaluate, and analyze homeland security capabilities and technologies. Its scientists and engineers, in collaboration with technology partners, identify and address risks before the final production of technologies.

Originally designed to support the Manhattan Project, the NUSTL lab has continued to serve as a hub for radiation detection and analysis in the United States-analyzing environmental impacts of major events such as the Three-Mile incident and Chernobyl accidents. It was previously known as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Measurements Laboratory, transitioned to DHS S&T in 2003, and was renamed in 2009 to reflect the Department’s expanding mission.

NUSTL houses the New York Area Science and Technology Forum, a consortium of federal, state, and local government organizations and private sector groups that meet regularly to discuss advances in science and technology applications. Additional information is at http://www.dhs.gov/st-nustl.

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