"Tools and Everything for first responders including Federal Government, Municipality, Volunteer, Private contractors, Hazardous materials teams, structual Firefighters, wildland Firefighters and Rescue crews. Also articles on training and educational opportunities for the Fire Service, EMT, Rescue, disaster response. Please submit and comment on stories. Firefighting related Stories."

This site will focus on first responder safety equipment and gear including Fire fighting tools, personnel protective equipment, high angle gear, safety equipment anything and everything for first responders including Federal Government, Municipality, Volunteer, Private contractors, Hazardous materials teams, structual Firefighters, wildland Firefighters and Rescue crews. Also articles on training and educational opportunities for the Fire Service, EMT, Rescue, disaster response.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Emergency Alerts: ALERT FM

From: FIRST RESPONDER TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT:

Hazard and Aert Information to cells phones via FM public radio

Emergency Alerts: ALERT FM Provides Solution to Nation’s First Responders, Schools and the general public via FM public radio .
WARN: Technical standards for the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) for Wireless Carriers approved by the FCC.

ALERT FM™ is a personal alert and messaging system that enables emergency management officials to create and send digital alerts and messages, including NOAA weather warnings, evacuation instructions, homeland security notices, Amber Alerts or school closings to first responders, school officials, businesses and citizens based on geographic or organizational groupings.

LAS VEGAS - NAB 08 - Global Security Systems (GSS)’s emergency alert system, ALERT FM, is poised to expand its critical emergency alert service to first responders, governments, institutions and to the public as a result of last week’s adopted ruling. The rules, set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), adopt technical standards pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006 in response to severe communications failures from natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.

With standards now in place, ALERT FM can provide the nation’s wireless carriers the ability to transmit timely alerts and warnings to the public in the event of an emergency. ALERT FM is designed to broadcast emergency messages over the FM public radio network as well as the commercial radio stations to reach emergency management officials, local governments, schools and, most importantly, individuals in an affected community or even across the country during a crisis.

“We applaud FCC’s order from last week and its commitment to ensuring the transmission of crucial information to public safety personnel and citizens alike in the event of an emergency,” said Robert Adams, president and CEO of Global Security Systems. “Lives are saved when first responders have the necessary tools to quickly respond to a crisis and citizens are able to receive critical alerts.”

ALERT FM provides a switch-less solution to deliver alert messages in real time to cell phones equipped with a standard FM radio chip. By using the existing FM radio networks, which remain reliable even when most wireless networks are clogged in a national crisis, ALERT FM is a “best fit” for the nation’s public alert and warning system. ALERT FM can send a single message across multiple platforms to ensure that the American public has accurate information in real time.

In comments filed with the FCC, state and local broadcasters, as well as the National Association of Broadcasters, advocated utilizing the Radio Broadcast Data System for distributing emergency warnings to cell phones and other devices equipped with FM receiver chips.

“Cell phone subscribers are only an FM chip away from having the ability to receive real time hazard and alert information over a secure and protected network,” Adams added. “Implementing ALERT FM into the nation’s public alert and warning system will save lives.”

More Information: at by Global Security Systems - Link

Hazard and Alert Information to cells phones via FM public radio

Emergency Alerts: ALERT FM Provides a emergency alert and messaging system solution to Nation’s First Responders, Schools and the general public via FM public radio .
WARN: Technical standards for the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) for Wireless Carriers approved by the FCC.

ALERT FM™ is a personal alert and messaging system that enables emergency management officials to create and send digital alerts and messages, including NOAA weather warnings, evacuation instructions, homeland security notices, Amber Alerts or school closings to first responders, school officials, businesses and citizens based on geographic or organizational groupings.

LAS VEGAS - NAB 08 - Global Security Systems (GSS)’s emergency alert system, ALERT FM, is poised to expand its critical emergency alert service to first responders, governments, institutions and to the public as a result of last week’s adopted ruling. The rules, set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), adopt technical standards pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006 in response to severe communications failures from natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.

With standards now in place, ALERT FM can provide the nation’s wireless carriers the ability to transmit timely alerts and warnings to the public in the event of an emergency. ALERT FM is designed to broadcast emergency messages over the FM public radio network as well as the commercial radio stations to reach emergency management officials, local governments, schools and, most importantly, individuals in an affected community or even across the country during a crisis.

“We applaud FCC’s order from last week and its commitment to ensuring the transmission of crucial information to public safety personnel and citizens alike in the event of an emergency,” said Robert Adams, president and CEO of Global Security Systems. “Lives are saved when first responders have the necessary tools to quickly respond to a crisis and citizens are able to receive critical alerts.”

ALERT FM provides a switch-less solution to deliver alert messages in real time to cell phones equipped with a standard FM radio chip. By using the existing FM radio networks, which remain reliable even when most wireless networks are clogged in a national crisis, ALERT FM is a “best fit” for the nation’s public alert and warning system. ALERT FM can send a single message across multiple platforms to ensure that the American public has accurate information in real time.

In comments filed with the FCC, state and local broadcasters, as well as the National Association of Broadcasters, advocated utilizing the Radio Broadcast Data System for distributing emergency warnings to cell phones and other devices equipped with FM receiver chips.

“Cell phone subscribers are only an FM chip away from having the ability to receive real time hazard and alert information over a secure and protected network,” Adams added. “Implementing ALERT FM into the nation’s public alert and warning system will save lives.”

More Information: at by Global Security Systems - Link
For more information, visit http://www.alertfm.com.
nationswireless%20carrier.pdf (25.08 kb)

Monday, October 27, 2008

News: New SCBA on the way! IAFF news release

Federal Contract Gives IAFF Lead in Developing Lighter Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

Washington, DC – The Department of Homeland Security has awarded the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) a $2 million contract to develop a new pressure vessel that will make the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) worn by first responders substantially thinner and lighter.

Smaller, lighter SCBA will improve fire fighter safety.

“The IAFF is proud of its record as the leader in the development of projects that provide direct benefits to fire fighter health and safety. With all the recent technological developments and new materials we can work with, it’s time to fast-track the introduction of new, lighter, less stressful, but highly protective equipment,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said.

The cylinders that contain the pressure vessels in existing SCBA account for much of the weight and size of the units. The weight and profile of those cylinders has been associated with increased rates of injury and fatalities for emergency responders.

The IAFF is working with Vulcore Industrial in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to use technology, engineering and new materials to modify the pressure vessel in a way that will reduce the weight and make it smaller and more flexible.

In initial prototype designs, the new pressure vessel offers an approximate 60 percent weight reduction over conventional SCBA cylinders. Prototypes also have a substantially smaller profile, measuring two inches in depth. Pressure vessels on conventional SCBA cylinders measure seven inches in depth.

The design braids new, thin, tubular pressure vessels in the harness assembly, instead of the large cylinders used today sitting on top of the harness assembly, allowing for greater mobility in confined spaces. Unlike conventional cylinders which contain air pressures up to 5000 psi, the new vessels won’t fragment if they’re ruptured. A punctured pressure vessel would simply vent contained air.

Members of Fort Wayne, IN, Local 124 have tested the prototypes in simulated confined space entry.

The IAFF’s contract with DHS spans a 15-month period. The research and development is expected to result in a new, commercially available SCBA.

“The IAFF is confident that a new generation of lighter, low-profile SCBA will be available to the fire service when this important research concludes, and our members will be safer for it,” Schaitberger said.

----------------------------

Government approvals
The DHS contract to the IAFF spans a 15-month period to advance the new technology toward commercialization. This effort includes getting the necessary government approvals for the new pressure vessel, working with the SCBA industry to integrate the new pressure vessel as part of existing SCBA, fulfilling government and NFPA standards certification requirements, and carrying out field testing to prove the benefits of the new technology. The IAFF Project Team, which also includes International Personnel Protection, Inc., based in Austin, Texas, is working with a Technical Advisory Committee, which is providing input for the integration, testing and introduction of the new pressure vessel technology. At the first meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, several factors were identified that will help with ensuring a smooth transition of the fire service to lower weight, thinner profile SCBA. For example, since only one system can be initially brought through various required approvals and certifications, the advisory group opted for a 45-minute service life rated system.

Amazing new SCBA represent a significant improvement in personal protective equipment.
Photo : Screenshot from ABC 9 video

Harold Schaitberger, general president of the IAFF, has prioritized this effort to ensure his membership has the latest technology to minimize firefighter and other first responder stress during emergencies. "The IAFF has a long history of promoting new development projects that provide direct benefits to fire fighter health and safety," he said. "We feel that the time is right to fast track the introduction of new technology that will allow firefighters to respond lighter with a higher degree of safety by using less stressful, but highly protective equipment. At the end of this project, the IAFF is confident that a new generation of lighter, thinner SCBA will be available to the fire service."

Within the next two years, the new SCBA technology is likely to change the way that the fire service and other first responders look at SCBA and the missions that require air-supplying systems. Not only will the firefighter ensemble look different, with sleeker, lighter SCBA, the improvements for stress reduction and confined space mobility will be dramatically improved. Most importantly, the new technology will represent a paradigm change in the industry the same way that positive-pressure SCBA afforded firefighters substantially higher levels of safety and health compared to previous respirator use.

A Technical Advisory Committee of IAFF members will provide input for the integration, testing and introduction of the new pressure vessel technology. At the first meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, several factors were identified that will help ensure a smooth transition of a new SCBA to the fire service. The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, represents more than 292,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population. More information is available at www.iaff.org.

video
VIDEO:
ABC 9 video

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

INFO: Personal Locator Beacon COSPAS-SARSAT System

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

plb.jpgThe Personal Locator Beacon is one interesting gizmo as it targets those who tend to live life to the extreme, going about their duties with a variety of outdoor activities such as four-wheel driving, boating, camping, off-road motorcycling and even snowmobiling. Unfortunately, such activity is often accompanied by a wider range of risks, including breaking a random body part, getting bitten by an animal such as a snake, or being in a position where it is nigh impossible to get out of without some external help. This is where the Personal Locator Beacon comes in as it is capable of transmitting your current location (in GPS coordinates, of course) on internationally recognized distress frequencies monitored by companies such as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System (SARSAT). Should you be unable to be under the umbrella of a GPS signal, there is always the less advanced (but accurate) option relying on the Doppler for your current position.

I guess Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) would definitely be worth every penny - after all, how much value do you place on your own life? Everyone has been created to be wired with a survival instinct, so it doesn’t make much sense to not do your bit whenever engaged in such outdoor activities. PLB will cost anywhere from $499 to $699 each, but the best thing is there isn’t any annual or subscription fees to worry about. The following are some of the specifications for your perusal.

  • Works in concert with the COSPAS-SARSAT System
  • Dedicated global satellite SAR system
  • Serious Life Saving Equipment
  • Designed to work when all else has failed
  • Approved to International Standards for life saving equipment
  • SAR agencies: NOAA, USCG, US Air Force and NASAR (National Association of Search & Rescue)
  • Emergency signals received by two satellite groups: GEOSAR (stationary/provides immediate alert) & LEOSAR (provides location/orbits every 100 minutes)
  • User Fee: NONE (tax payer supported system)
  • Three redundant methods of pinpointing location
  • Alert notification 50 seconds with GPS; one hour without GPS
  • Lithium batteries with 11-year shelf life
  • Antennas: 1 for GPS and 1 for distress message
  • Source: Gizmag
    Tags: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs, GPS, GEOSAR, SAR, NOAA, USCG, US Air Force, NASAR

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Media: Rapid Intervention Team Staging and Task Force Operations

    Monthly Training Topic - Rapid Intervention Team Staging and Task Force Operations

    First published January 2005 - Discovered today? rehashed here because it is still good...Great RIT Media From rapidintervention.com




    Rapid Intervention Team Staging and Task Force Operations
    By James K. Crawford
    Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire


    The importance of building an equipment bank close to the scene for firefighter rescue operations cannot be underestimated. Having this Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) equipment staging area close to the firefighter rescue operations will drastically reduce the amount of time required to move this specialized rescue equipment to a downed firefighter in the event of a mayday. This operation is similar to transferring companies closer to a working fire as the incident escalates.

    As we all know, seconds count when a firefighter becomes lost or trapped in a burning building. Taking steps to reduce this time wherever we can will increase the chances of survival for the firefighter in trouble. Rapid Intervention Teams must be pro-active while on the fireground. Performing building and fire condition size ups on a periodic basis during the incident should be standard protocol for the RIT. A pro-active procedure such as setting up and maintaining a pool of firefighter rescue equipment near the incident, versus running for this equipment when a mayday is declared is good rapid intervention management. A series of staging levels is incorporated into the RIT standby to better manage the operations.

    Level 1 Staging

    A level 1 staging operation would be for "routine" room and contents fires that are held to one alarm, a smaller fire. This type fire is usually under control within 15 to 20 minutes requiring the use of one or two attack lines. Statistically, the most dangerous time on the fireground is within the first 20 minutes of arrival. With a quick dispatch of a RIT on the first alarm of reported structure fires, a firefighter rescue team would arrive well before this time frame expires.

    During a level 1 staging operation the RIT would report to command and stage in front of the building, (trying to maintain a view of at least two sides of the fire building). The team should have with them; basic forcible entry tools, full PPE and SCBA, handlights, RIT bag (if used), a thermal imaging camera (if available), and an SCBA rescue pack. This level of staging will usually be short in nature time wise and would not require the action of setting up a formal staging area.

    Level 2 Staging

    A level 2 staging operation would be for one alarm fires that escalate into a two alarm or greater incident, a larger fire. Additionally, a fire that would advance to a second alarm before the arrival of the RIT would advance to a level 2 staging operation. This type of incident is inherently more dangerous to firefighters and would require a more pro-active standby.

    The length of on scene time increases, structural integrity of the fire building weakens, firefighters work strenuously at initial on scene tasks reducing their stamina. Engine crews advance deeper into smoke filled structures locating the seat of the fire, truck crews are spending more time on the roof, and SCBA air supplies are often stretched to the low air alarm.

    All of these situations and more make for a more perilous fireground with accidents and dangerous situations lurking in the shadows. It is within this type of incident that our firefighter rescue teams must be vigilant and ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

    Having a formal equipment staging area during this type of incident will increase the RIT's ability to deploy on a mayday. This level of standby adds more specialized rescue equipment to the teams arsenal requiring the use of a salvage tarp placed on the ground to better control and maintain this equipment pool. This tarp will also notify suppression firefighters that this equipment is for use by the RIT only in the event of a mayday.

    Equipment such as a chainsaw and circular saw with a metal cutting blade. Having these saws immediately available to the RIT will enable them to quickly perform an enlarged opening on a structure to remove firefighters or cut steel security bars from windows for immediate firefighter escape. This staging level would also require the team to secure a power source for providing electrical power to specialized rescue equipment such as sawzalls, electric chainsaws, or lighted search rope.

    In addition, the team would make arrangements for a protective hoseline to be available to advance behind the team if they deploy into the structure on a mayday. I have observed some teams purchase bright orange tarps with reflective trim for use as the staging tarp. This simply is one more way to further identify that the tools and equipment on this tarp are designated for firefighter rescue operations only. The use of a tarp is not required but certainly helps to control the pool of equipment being placed in one area.

    Level 3 Staging and Task Force Operations

    The level 1 or 2 staging would advance to level 3 staging for any of the following reasons:

    • An actual "mayday" has been declared
    • A firefighter or company is reported missing and the RIT deploys
    • A PASS device has activated that cannot be identified or located and the RIT deploys.
    The initial standby team would deploy into the structure and two additional Rapid Intervention Teams, or a Rapid Intervention Task Force, would be dispatched immediately. It is best if this task force is on scene before the mayday occurs.

    A way of having this task force on scene early on is to have it dispatched on the implementation of a level 2 staging operation. It is a proven fact through training and case studies of actual firefighter rescues that a tremendous amount of manpower is needed to find, extricate, and remove a downed firefighter from a burning building.

    Often as much as 10 to 12 firefighters may be needed to rescue just one downed firefighter. This extra manpower could be the difference between life and death of a trapped firefighter. If the downed firefighter has become trapped or pinned by an object or debris, the initial RIT will more than likely NOT complete the removal. Their air supplies and stamina will become depleted before the firefighter is rescued. Having the back up teams in place will drastically increase the chances of survival for the downed firefighter. It is more important to have this extra manpower on scene where they are needed the most versus having to respond to the scene wasting critical time.

    When the two additional RIT's arrive on the scene, one team (RIT 2) will prepare to enter the structure and assist RIT 1 with the firefighter rescue. They may also be ready to assist from the exterior of the building by creating enlarged openings or setting up mechanical advantage lowering systems for removal from elevated locations.

    The other additional team (RIT 3) will work to move specialized rescue and EMS equipment from the apparatus on scene to the forward RIT staging tarp. This will save valuable time in getting this equipment inside to the victim if the initial team finds the downed firefighter in an entrapment situation. RIT 3 will then standby and protect the remaining fireground and prepare to support RIT 1 and 2. You should now have a staff of at least 10 to 13 firefighters on scene to deal directly with the mayday. If needed, additional Rapid Intervention Task Forces can be dispatched to the scene to assist with the downed firefighter operations.

    This RIT staging operation should be the basic minimum procedure used on any fireground. Certainly if you have a larger response plan in place continue with what is working for you. Having a larger Rapid Intervention response to any incident is a plus when it comes time to deploy on a mayday.

    Most fire departments simply do not have these resources immediately available to them. This is not to say that a plan could not be devised and implemented with some pre-planning and joint cooperation with your mutual aid fire departments. For larger career departments, this RIT task force concept and staging level plan should not be an issue. For both the career and volunteer sectors, it's simply an attitude, whether positive or negative regarding your firefighter rescue operations.

    The task force can be dispatched automatically on the finding of a working fire or an additional alarm being struck. This task force could include an additional engine, truck, and rescue company devoted to RIT to arrive on scene and assist the initial standby team with rapid intervention duties such as implementing the RIT staging levels.

    However you decide to set up your RIT response, keep in mind that when a mayday occurs, it happens very quickly and will catch everyone off guard. If you do not have a solid rapid intervention plan in place right then and there, chances are you will not catch up to the rescue operation.

    The emergency actions involving a mayday will most likely be over within 20 minutes of the distress call. If you have to call for the task force after the mayday is sounded, you will already be behind for this event. Personally, I would rather not be throwing Hail Mary passes during a firefighter rescue. But rather planned, precise, and logical decisions that will save the firefighters life.

    Conclusion

    Not every procedure, guideline, or plan will work for every fire department. Each individual organization must plan and develop a firefighter rescue program that is tailored to suit their needs, response area, and building construction. But remember, firefighter rescue is extremely labor intensive regardless of where you are located. Bottom line is this. Fire buildings kill firefighters. Mix that with a combination of untrained rescue teams, inadequate rescue equipment, poor or no rapid intervention procedures, and lack of a priority in RIT and you are surely setting yourself up to be hosting a firefighter funeral. The Rapid Intervention Task Force concept is a viable way of having or getting manpower to the scene quickly to increase the chances of survival for our people in trouble. Rapid Intervention staging levels are another way of putting the resources we need close to the area it is needed most. Lets all give each other the upper hand at survival if we become lost, trapped, or disoriented within a fire building and initiate new procedures or revise old ones. Remember, change can be good?


    About The Author

    picture of Jim Crawford James K. Crawford is a Lieutenant with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire assigned to Truck Company #8 in the East Liberty section of the city and a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine and Firehouse.com. He is a Fire Suppression Instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy and the Assistant Chief of Operations for the 171st Air Refueling Wing Fire Department, Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Jim is also a Search & Rescue Manager with the Pennsylvania USAR Strike Team One (PA-ST 1). He is a graduate of the Pittsburgh Fire Academy and the Air Force Fire Academy spending four years on active duty as a firefighter. He has over 25 years experience in the career and volunteer fire service. Jim teaches nationally on the subject of firefighter rescue and is the President of Rapid Intervention Training Associates and founder of RAPID INTERVENTION.COM.
    Media Subject: Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) - Rapid Intervention Team Staging and Task Force Operations

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Firefighting Foam contaminates water supply

    Fire foam contaminates water supply

    Fire trucks' water pressure overwhelmed the city's drinking supply lines and pushed fire-suppression foam into them as firefighters tried to extinguish a burning Strip District warehouse, Pittsburgh's director of public safety said Wednesday.

    Two pumper trucks were connected to fire hydrants for a long time Tuesday afternoon, said Public Safety Director Mike Huss, and as the pressure built up in the truck lines, it overwhelmed the drinking water lines' force.

    "It's highly unusual, and we're surprised that it did it," Huss said.

    The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority advised people Downtown and in the Strip District not to use water for a few hours into yesterday morning, until the foam could be flushed from the system.

    Ingesting less than an ounce of the biodegradable foam wouldn't pose a health threat, but it can irritate skin and eyes, said Bob Hutton, a project coordinator for the authority. Callers began complaining about soapy-looking water Tuesday afternoon.

    Firefighters allowed the four-alarm fire, which started Tuesday morning in the former Otto Milk Co. complex at 25th and Smallman streets, to burn overnight because of difficulties extinguishing it in cork- and foam-insulated walls. The building continued smoldering yesterday.

    Fire Chief Darryl Jones said he had not seen the foam problem in the 20 years he has fought fires.

    "We are going to make some adjustments to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

    The fire apparently started when a construction crew's cutting torch ignited insulation in the building, the construction crew manager said. The building's owner, Jack Benoff, was gutting the building and plans to convert it to condominiums.

    Source: Full story and updates at: pittsburghlive.com

    Fire Gel: Fire foam contaminates water supply

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Public Safety Vests - ANSI 207 Vests


    First Responder Safety:

    PUBLIC SAFETY VESTS OK SAYS FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION

    Public Safety Vests (ANSI 207-2006) meet the requirements of Federal Regulation 23 CFR 634 according to a letter to the CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute from Jeff Paniti Associate Administrator for Operations at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), US Department of Transportation.

    The decision clears the confusion highway responders faced in preparing to comply with the Rule that goes into effect on November 24, 2008. ANSI labeled garments Class II and Class III are referenced in the rule. In his letter Mr. Paniti stated " we reviewed the ANSI ISEA 207-2006 public safety vest standard very carefully and found this standard compatible with the ANSI/ISEA Class II requirements for night-time visibility."

    As reported previously Federal Highway intends to add ANSI 207 Vests to the next revision of the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The comment period is now open for the revision and pubic safety groups are encouraged to submit comments on this and other issues.

    The CVVFA ERSI advocated for the clarification and rallied support for the change with the Safety Health and Survival Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and with the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition among others.

    "FHWA deserves praise for making the correct decision to include the Public Safety Vest." said Steve Austin CVVFA ERSI Project Manager. "Now that the confusion is cleared up we can direct all of our efforts to educating highway responders on how to comply with the federal rule so lives can be saved" he added.

    Click to download related files
    1. FHWA PS Vest Compliance -.pdf
    Full Text of FHA Letter

    1. File Your Comments on the MUTCD

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Government Resources for Firefighter PPE – Part 2


    NIOSH is probably best known among firefighters for its certification of all respirators used in the United States. Respirators are the only type of PPE that is certified by the federal government. However, NIOSH has a much larger role than just respirator certification in the area of PPE.

    The organization is increasingly involved in several other programs supporting research and testing that is leading to better PPE for fire service applications. It even has a specific facility that focuses on PPE issues — the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) — which was established in 2001 at the Bruceton Research Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This article highlights NIOSH's role relative to PPE as a government resource to the fire service and describes some of the other federal programs that are directed towards improvement of firefighter health and safety.

    As an extension of NIOSH's respirator certification program, the NPPTL, with support from what is now the Department of Homeland Security, developed specific criteria for SCBA that offer protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents.

    NIOSH capitalized on the existing framework of requirements in NFPA 1981, the current standard for open-circuit self-contained breathing apparatus used by the emergency services, and established additional criteria against chemical warfare agents based on a comprehensive hazard and risk analysis. The CBRN approval criteria became an extra certification for fire service SCBA in 2002, but are now a mandatory part of the new NFPA 1981 standard that was released earlier this year.

    NIOSH NPPTL then went on to develop additional criteria to cover CBRN approvals for other respirators such as air-purifying, escape, and powered air-purifying respirators. As with conventional respirators, NIOSH maintains the responsibility for the certification of these specialized respirators while NPPTL continues to broaden its creation of new criteria for respirator development, with many of these programs benefiting fire and emergency services.

    Impartial support
    NPPTL personnel directly participate on NFPA protective clothing and equipment standards development committees related to fire service PPE. This role helps to provide impartial support for standards development that is otherwise unavailable to the voluntary member-based committees.

    In particular, NPPTL personnel have undertaken efforts to meet standards development needs as they are identified by the fire service and other organizations. For example, a recent NIOSH-sponsored project entailed an investigation of emergency medical first responder needs, and created and revised criteria for emergency medical PPE as part of the revision of NFPA 1999.

    These revised criteria are helping the protective clothing industry and end users to overcome industry performance and acceptance issues, which were inhibiting the use of certified products. NIOSH NPPTL has also sponsored a program for research into test methods that better predict the incidence of firefighter burns in protective garments where no clothing damage takes place.

    This research program for the development of a "stored thermal heat energy" test method will lead to new performance criteria that will help protective clothing manufacturers apply new materials and designs to minimize burns that occur under ordinary fireground conditions and ultimately result in the overall reduction of firefighter burn injuries.

    In another example, NIOSH has been working to collect surveillance data on smoke and toxic chemical exposures during wildland firefighting. This information is expected to form the foundation of performance criteria for the long awaited and overdue standard on respiratory protective devices for wildland firefighters.

    In some instances, NIOSH has had to undertake short-term research programs for responding to industry issues where concerns exist about equipment in the field. Recently, it was discovered the firefighter PASS devices had alarm components that diminished when exposed to certain high heat and moisture conditions. A program led by NIOSH with support from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Building Fire Research Laboratory worked to identify the nature of the problem, investigate test methodology for replicating the field malperformance of PASS, and recommend criteria that would overcome device deficiencies.

    These criteria became part of NFPA 1982 standard adopted earlier this year. In response to a different industry concern, NIOSH and NIST joined forces to examine heat resistance testing variability associated with different laboratories for evaluating glove liners. While this investigation is still in progress, initial findings show some discrepancies exist among laboratories performing certification testing and may impact the status of some certified products in the field. Both of these programs illustrate how government resources can provide relatively rapid assistance for impartially dealing with PPE issues as they arise in the absence of overall industry oversight organizations.

    Fatality prevention program
    In 1998, NIOSH instituted the Fire Fighter Fatality and Prevention Program (FFFIPP). The FFFIPP investigates firefighter line-of-duty deaths — and selected non-fatal injuries — with the goal of formulating recommendations for the prevention of future casualties. The investigators use the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) model.

    Medical records, death certificates, and autopsy reports as well as interviews and evaluations of PPE, particularly SCBA, are integral to the process of investigating fatalities. Each report includes a summary of the incident and specific recommendations for preventing similar events. Reports omit department and individual identifiers, as the focus is not on determining fault or blame, but rather on understanding the causes of firefighter fatalities and then developing and disseminating recommendations for prevention of fatalities.

    As a result of this program, deficiencies related to the use of PPE are sometimes identified and can lead to improvements in both PPE design and deployment.

    Meanwhile, government resources are being applied to increase the protective qualities and usability of PPE for fire and emergency services. Government studies are frequently undertaken to encourage evaluation for the limitations of current PPE and the potential for improvements in first responder health and safety.

    While many developments have taken place over the years, one of the earliest successful programs was Project FIRES (Firefighters Integrated Response Equipment System) as sponsored by the U. S. Fire Administration, with technology transfer support by NASA and led by the IAFF. Project FIRES established the template design and performance for today's modern bunker clothing.

    Currently, with the USFA as part of the Department of Homeland Security, new generation firefighter protective ensembles are being developed in two separate efforts by the IAFF and Total Fire Group through Project HEROES, and by North Carolina State University and Globe Fire Fighters Suits in their CB Ready program to deal with emerging threats for chemical and biological terrorism.

    These programs are managed by the Technical Support Working Group, a government organization that fast tracks R&D programs for rapid commercialization related to domestic preparedness applications. The resulting new protective ensembles are establishing new ways to increase firefighter protection and are encouraging design innovations in clothing technology. A recent adjunct to the IAFF's Project HEROES is a new pressure vessel development program that will revolutionize the PPE industry with lower weight, smaller profile SCBA.

    The judicious focus of resources through organizations seeking to address issues, heighten awareness and provide solutions is one way that the federal government is helping to promote greater levels of firefighter and other first responder health and safety issues.

    Source: (1)

    Google
     

    This site will focus on first responder safety equipment and gear including Fire fighting tools, personnel protective equipment, high angle gear, safety equipment anything and everything for first responders including Federal Government, Municipality, Volunteer, Private contractors, Hazardous materials teams, structual Firefighters, wildland Firefighters and Rescue crews. Also articles on training and educational opportunities for the Fire Service, EMT, Rescue, disaster response.