Archive for May 18th, 2016

UL tests transitional attack for house fires (more)

Excerpts from

A groundbreaking study in Illinois could change the way firefighters attack the hottest and most dangerous fires. The Milwaukee Fire Department is taking part in the study, but a retired New York City battalion chief says the researchers are all wet. It may sound elementary, but scientists in suburban Chicago are studying whether applying water on a fire from the outside should come before search and rescue on the inside.

“It’s an inherently dangerous profession,” says Erich Roden, battalion chief for the Milwaukee Fire Department. “Our ethos and our mission is to get inside that building as quickly as possible to rescue those trapped civilians.”

Roden is on the advisory board for Underwriters Laboratories, which recently invited firefighters from around the world to witness a first-of-its-kind experiment. Not just a controlled burn, but a live fire inside a fully-furnished, 1,200 square foot house, with temperature sensors, oxygen sensors, air flow sensors and video cameras.

“We couldn’t make measurements like this 30, 40 years ago,” said Steve Kerber, director of UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute. “Now we can.”

The tests are being driven, in part, by the way most homes have changed.

“There is a lot more synthetic material in our homes today, which means fires burn hotter and faster than they did 30 or 40 years ago,” says John Drengenberg, a spokesman for UL. “This means you have less time to escape.”

It also means that by the time firefighters get to a burning building, the fire may already be nearing its most dangerous point — a sudden, dramatic combustion event known as flashover.

“It used to take upwards of 20 to 30 minutes for a room to reach flashover stage. Now it’s down to as few as seven or eight minutes,” said Lloyd Bertram with the New Berlin Fire Department.

To prevent firefighters from getting trapped, UL is studying an alternative method of attack.

“A standard attack would involve usually going right through the front door, getting inside and searching for occupants,” Kerber said.

Instead, they’re employing what’s known as a transitional attack that starts outside. In the fire service, they call that “hitting it hard from the yard.”

“The occupants are on the inside, so the firefighters want to get to the inside as quickly as possible. But if the fire isn’t under control, that opening in the door can make the fire larger and now you are in a situation where you could potentially be making things worse for me inside,” Kerber said.

Hartland Fire Chief Dave Dean describes how his crews used transitional attack on a suburban garage fire.

“The fire was extremely hot. A lot of flames. Huge fire ball,” Dean said.  “Before we were able to send anybody into that structure, we were able to cool the fire by a large diameter hose attack line outside… then entering the structure. It worked like clock-work.”

“I don’t fight fires like that,” said John Salka, a retired battalion chief for the New York City Fire Department. “I am not a scientist, but I have done some experiments myself. Like about 30,000 experiments. I’ve been to a lot of fires.”

Salka says experience tells him there’s no time to waste.  In 2012, he wrote an opinion piece for Firehouse magazine titled, “Transitional Attack Is Whack.”

“Any minute that you delay going in to find a victim in a building puts them at greater risk,” he said.

In addition to delaying search and rescue, there’s another concern among old-school firefighters.

“The conventional teaching was that if you put water on a fire before you have had a chance to actually rescue a victim, you are, in essence, steaming that victim,” Bertram said.

“Am I doing what my grandfather taught me 30 years ago?” Kerber asked a room full of firefighters.

He says science is proving that theory wrong.

“It allows temperatures to cool off quickly, heat flux to go down, [and it’s] more survivable for occupants faster. The numbers don’t lie,” Roden said.

Salka is not convinced.

“They set all these beautiful controlled conditions up, do an experiment and then write down with their little pencils the results and say, look what happened.” Salka said. “It certainly is a lot easier and a lot safer to be out there than inside.”

He worries that the new approach is being driven by a desire among firefighters for self-preservation.

Data obtained by FOX6 News from the US Fire Administration shows civilian fire deaths have steadily declined over the past 40 years, but firefighter deaths have remained the roughly the same.

“So this research is focused on how to keep firefighters safe,” Drengenberg said.

“I’m fairly certain that it is designed to assist and protect firefighters, rather than civilians,” Salka said.

Milwaukee’s Erich Roden says they’re trying to do both.

“What we are learning here is a much more rapid application of water is going to allow us to get in there and rescue occupants much quicker and it is safer for the victim and for ourselves,” he said.

For some, the retired FDNY chief represents the stubborn old guard of the fire service.

“We’re very attached to the way we have always done things,” Roden said.

But the director of UL’s research says it’s not their place to tell firefighters how to do their jobs. “What we are going for is informing them,” Kerber said.

When the right approach is a matter of life and death, they just want to put the data behind the decision. The tests conducted by UL back in March are part of a three-year study that’s expected to be published later this year (2016). Fire departments can then use that information to determine the best approach for protecting their own personnel as well as victims who may be trapped inside a burning building.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Towns plan to consolidate emergency dispatch

Excerpts from the

The Illinois General Assembly has given small towns all across the state an order to consolidate their emergency police and fire dispatch centers by mid-2017, forcing municipalities to scramble to either join existing dispatch centers or form their own.

And by July 1 the state wants written plans for just how such consolidation is going to be handled — a task that has brought Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside together to form a joint dispatch center.

Tentatively called WC3, the joint dispatch center for all three villages will be located inside the North Riverside Police Department and will be governed by a board of directors that will hire an executive director to manage operations.

Earlier this month, all three villages signed off on a consulting contract to hire Northbrook-based GovHR USA for $25,000 to assist them in implementing the plan.  Representatives from all three villages, including village managers, police and fire chiefs, and dispatch supervisors have been meeting weekly with GovHR USA consultant Paul Harlow, who formerly served as village manager and public safety director of Glencoe.

Last summer, the General Assembly passed the consolidated dispatch law bill which  mandates that all towns with populations less than 25,000 consolidate services to reach that population. The cost to create the joint dispatch center would be borne equally by all three municipalities.

There are many moving parts to the consolidation process. In addition to physically upgrading the North Riverside dispatch center to include a third position and some new equipment, Brookfield is not presently on the same dispatch radio frequency as Riverside and North Riverside, and Brookfield belongs to a different fire department mutual aid division.

In addition, the records software used by North Riverside and Brookfield is not used by Riverside, and all dispatchers will need to be trained to provide what’s called Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), which is a higher level of dispatch service that’s being mandated along with the consolidation. While some of the dispatchers currently employed have been trained in EMD, none of the three villages presently provides EMD service because it requires a second dispatcher to be on hand 24 hours a day.

All three towns say the full-time dispatchers they currently employ will be retained, but the future of part-timers is not so clear. Eventually, however, the dispatchers will go from being municipal employees to being employees of WC3, and a new collective bargaining unit will be created for those employees, who are now members of three separate units.

One of the other changes that will come as dispatch services consolidate is that Brookfield and Riverside police will no longer have personnel at their front desks 24 hours a day. During the overnight hours, North Riverside will have dispatch personnel available to handle walk-ins, but some sort of phone/video system will need to be installed at Brookfield and Riverside to allow anyone walking up to the front doors of those departments to reach a dispatcher in North Riverside.

In June, all three municipalities will sign an intergovernmental agreement to set up the WC3 board, which will include officials who have already been meeting informally with the consultant. 

Tags: , , , , , ,

New engine for Berwyn (more)

This from Jeff Braun Jr.:

These three photos are of the Berwyn Fire Department’s new Engine Co. 902. This rig is a 2016 Pierce Enforcer PUC pumper that was delivered Tuesday morning (5/17/16) at 9:30 AM. ThecChiefs mentioned that the rig should go into service sometime in Mid-June.  I would like to congratulate the department on their new delivery and thank the BFD and Chief O’Halloran for allowing me take take these photos!

2016 Pierce Enforcer PUC pumper

2016 Pierce Enforcer PUC for Berwyn Engine 902. County-Wide Fire Photography

2016 Pierce Enforcer PUC pumper

County-Wide Fire Photography

Berwyn Fire Department Engine 902

County-Wide Fire Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

New ambulance for York Center

From the Foster Coach Facebook page:

Brand new custom Horton conversion on a Ford F550 chassis

new ambulance for the York Center FPD

New Horton ambulance for the York Center FPD. Foster Coach Sales photo

new ambulance for the York Center FPD

Foster Coach Sales photo

rear of new ambulance

Foster Coach Sales photo

new ambulance interior

Foster Coach Sales photo

Tags: , , , ,