Archive for September 11th, 2015

Discussion on appropriate response times for fire & EMS

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Recently, some fire departments have found themselves under scrutiny by the media and elected officials over the issue of response times. NFPA 1710, Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments, requires specific times for the response of fire and emergency services. While the intent of the Technical Committee was to provide response timelines based on empirical data, the value of that data can get lost when departments are taken to task for their interpretations of those requirements. But the question remains: How fast is fast enough?

NFPA 1710 provides clear requirements for the optimal time it should take for fire apparatus to travel to the scene. In Chapter 3, the term time is broken into eight specific components, including travel time, defined as “the time interval that begins when a unit is en route to the emergency incident and ends when the unit arrives on scene.” Chapter 4 requires that fire departments establish travel-time objectives of 240 seconds or less for the arrival of the first engine company at a fire suppression incident. If that four-minute limit is so clear, why have departments found themselves in the hot seat?

Part of the problem is a lack of transparency on the part of fire officials with the media. Departments have gone on record as unequivocally complying with the travel time provisions of NFPA 1710, when in fact they have modified the required times, often by measuring travel time in a manner not consistent with the standard. Since all NFPA standards can be read online, however, it is easy for reporters to research the criteria in NFPA 1710 and cite specifics when they call fire departments seeking confirmation of full compliance.

Another transparency issue can arise when agencies utilize NFPA 1710 only for budgetary justification or when questioned by the media. The standard requires that departments draft an organizational statement that provides the background information to support any travel time or similar response objective, and that it be updated annually and be made available to the public.

Finally, some fire departments may fail to accept the right extended to the executive authority of the department or community to modify the recommendations of any NFPA standard, unless required by law or regulation, to meet the needs of the community. Modifications to any NFPA document can be considered under the equivalency clause generally found in Chapter 1. NFPA 1710 allows the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to use the requirements as a foundation for a community-specific program, meaning the AHJ may choose to have travel times in excess of those in NFPA 1710. The caveat is that the public needs to know if the change increases its risk, and if it does, that steps are being taken to address that risk.

How fast is fast enough? That depends, but NFPA 1710 offers valuable tools to help answer the question. Be sure to use the entire standard, including the fire propagation curve found in Annex A as the basis of the four-minute travel time. Draft a fire department organizational statement, be transparent if you modify your travel-time objectives, address any gaps posed by the increased times, and share all of it with the public early and often—not just at budget time.

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Apparent attack planned at 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb has been stopped

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A 20-year-old Florida man has been arrested on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack using explosives at a Kansas City 9/11 memorial event this weekend.The FBI raided Joshua Ryne Goldberg’s home near Jacksonville and took him into custody. He’s accused of sending instructions on how to make a pressure cooker bomb. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

According to court documents, the target was Sunday’s Kansas City Stair Climb, a 9/11 memorial event [that] is very popular with firefighters who take part or watch in honor of the firefighters killed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Goldberg is accused of telling a confidential informant [what to pack into a pressure cooker bomb, hoping to kill as many people as possible. The informant told Goldberg that Kansas City was within close driving distance and the two men discussed the Stair Climb as a potential target.

“Have you decided what kind of attack to carry out on 9/11?” he asked. “We could make pipe bombs and detonate them at a large public event.”

“It’s very troubling and very disturbing,” said retired FBI agent Michael Tabman, who read over the criminal complaint.

He said he believes the FBI directed the informant to mislead Goldberg into thinking he would participate.

According to the complaint, Goldberg suggested the informant put the backpack near the crowd. Tabman said there’s a science to these sorts of conversations.

“They do it in such a way to keep the subject engaged so he doesn’t go elsewhere looking for someone else that we may not know about,” Tabman said.

He said timing is everything, which is why agents moved in and arrested Goldberg at the home he shared with his parents and siblings.

“If we didn’t get control of it, he might have gone to someone else that we didn’t know about, and might have gotten someone who had the wherewithal to pull it off,” Tabman said.

Tabman said he believes the Stair Climb should absolutely go on. Police are expected to have a large presence at Sunday’s event.

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Prospect Heights Fire District is looking for POC firefighters

This from Deputy Chief Drew Smith:

We are accepting applications for Paid-On-Call (POCs) firefighters. We will select three candidates to attend the January fire academy then integrate into our part time shift staffing program. Applications and details are on our website.


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