Logo550x200We will be publishing FireWatch once a month this year and hope you enjoy the stories we found interesting enough to provide links for. If you have any comments please do not hesitate to share them with us.

This weekend firefighters in Atlanta, Georgia went door-to-door in some of the city's low-income neighborhoods to replace free fire alarms that may be counterfeit.  The fire department unwittingly distributed 18,500 bogus photoelectric smoke alarms from 2006 through this month as part of the Atlanta Smoke Alarm Program.

 Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran announced the recall of smoke alarms after his department received information from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that the photoelectric smoke alarms they distributed bore counterfeit UL labels and were not compliant with UL's safety requirements for smoke alarms.

I recently attended the first annual Brunacini Hazard Zone Management Conference at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Chief Alan Brunacini delivered the opening remarks and seminar overview.  He was in fine form, demonstrating his passion for and commitment to the fire service and the public they serve.  His comments were followed by a series of workshops facilitated by first class knowledgeable speakers.  The setting was beautiful and the facilities were perfect.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the highlights of the conference with you starting with:

Wind Driven Fires

Wind can increase the spread of fire gases through a building.  Heat and smoke in the corridors and stairways can prevent fire fighters from suppressing the fire from inside the structure.  Wind driven fires have caused fire fighter injuries and fatalities.

There are several regulations that govern care facilities operating from traditional single family dwellings in British Columbia. The Child Care Licensing Regulation and the Residential Care Licensing Regulation are both administered by the Community Care Licensing Branch of the British Columbia government.  Facilities that provide residential care to three or more persons (e.g. group homes, long term care homes, residential treatment facilities) must have a valid community care facility license, whether they receive funding from a public agency or the client pays for the care directly. In order to meet the licensing requirements the facility must pass a fire safety inspection.

The Blue Card Incident Command Certification Program has been developed by Alan, John and Nick Brunacini to first instruct and then certify fire officers who serve in the role of Incident Commander or as a member of an Incident Management Team (IMT). Through the program fire officers become certified to supervise and manage emergency and hazard zone operations for everyday, local "National Incident Management System" Type 4 and Type 5 events, which account for more than 99 percent of all fire department response activity. This program teaches officers how to command everyday incidents so when a major event happens they know how to react effectively.


How often have you seen news headlines like "Pets Die in House Fire"?  How often as a firefighter have you seen pets die in a fire and the devastating effect it has on the owner's family?  Most firefighters have seen people try to rush back into a burning building to save their pets because "they are part of the family".  

Fire death rate statistics in the US indicate that 4,000 people lose their lives annually in house fires. Many pets also lose their lives in fires, mostly due to smoke inhalation. 

What if your department could save just ten percent of those pets?  Would the smile on a child's face say it all?  Would you receive community support for the program? 

SCBA_Face_PieceDuring the Brunacini Hazard Zone Management (Blue Card) Conference Tim Merinar and Steve Miles of the National Institute of Occupational  Safety & Health (NIOSH) did a presentation on investigations involving firefighter fatalities relating to thermal degradation of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) face piece lenses. They conducted a review of seven recent fatalities in five separate events where SCBA face pieces may have been thermally degraded while they were still "air on".  This was identified by a review of autopsies and medical examiner reports, radio transmissions, examination of personal protective equipment (PPE) and witness reports.