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Four legs don’t stand in their way. Whether they share space with just one of us or an entire family, pets are very special members of our households. They depend on us for a safe and secure home, and they pay us back every day with their unconditional love.

You’d never take your four-legged best friend for granted, but what about emergencies? Do you have a good pet fire safety plan in place just in case?

Our fire damage restoration services take care of residents all across Chicago, and we want everyone under your roof to be prepared for the unexpected. As you review your home fire prevention plans and practice evacuation procedures, be sure to include pet fire safety.

How to Keep Pets Safe From House Fires

Pet fire statistics from the American Kennel Club tell a disturbing story. Each year, more than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires. Those same furry family members also start an average of 500 fires annually.

You know how important it is to keep the kids aware of fire safety. Dogs and cats need protection too, so we offer an overview of three smart pet fire safety strategies that help your family and your pets stay safe in case of a fire at home.

1. Don’t Let Pets Start Fires

pet kitchen fire

How can a dog or cat set the house on fire? Pets have a great sense of smell, they’re naturally curious, and they love to run and play. Practice animal fire safety with these simple preventative tips.

• Don’t allow pet patrol in the kitchen while you’re cooking. All those wonderful aromas can tempt an agile cat or dog to investigate the stove top, and that can lead to a kitchen fire disaster.

• A tall dog can turn on the oven or stove with just a quick lift of the paw. Avoid this accident by protecting control knobs with covers or removing them when you leave the house.

• Wax candles are lovely, but battery-operated luminaries are much safer in a home with pets. Electric candles eliminate the hazard of open flames, and they rarely need replacing.

• When it’s cold outside, pets are attracted to the warmth of fireplaces and space heaters. Encourage them to safely snuggle up in their own beds away from open flames and heating elements.

• Celebrate beautiful Chicago weather with backyard barbecues, and make cookouts safe for everyone by expanding the no-kid zone to include four-legged best friends too.

2. Have an All-Inclusive Fire Response Plan

pet fire evacuation plan

It only takes a few adjustments to make sure home fire evacuation plans protect your pets. Include the dogs and cats in your practice fire drills, and keep them safe with a little additional pet fire safety planning.

• Assign each pet to a family member who’s responsible for ensuring quick passage out of the house. Store leashes and carriers close to exits for fast, easy access.

• The noise and excitement of a fire can scare pets into their own safety zones. Confirm their hiding spots now so that you can quickly round them up during a home evacuation.

• Develop an advanced plan for sheltering the pets in case you can’t return to the house for several days. Check with pet-loving neighbors who might be willing to exchange emergency housing favors.

• Put together a dog- or cat-centric survival kit. Stock a small bag with a few cans of food and any necessary pet medications as a part of home fire evacuation supplies. 

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It’s one of the first lines of defense in case of a workplace fire. As a business owner or manager, you understand how very important it is to have the correct type of commercial fire extinguisher on your property.

Eventually, the equipment ages out or needs replacement after an emergency. Do you know which model is the right choice for your business?

We’re often asked about portable fire extinguishers in the workplace. They play an invaluable role in keeping everyone at your business safe, but extinguisher requirements, types and even placement can seem confusing.

Choosing Commercial Fire Extinguishers: 6 Things You Need to Know

choosing business extinguisher

They’re a common sight in businesses, stores and restaurants all across the city, and they have to be ready for action 24/7. As you decide on the right fire extinguisher for your property, keep in mind these six important factors.

[Read full article]

Per NFPA 20, all main discharge line pressure relief valves should be installed in the vertical position.  Are there any exceptions to this? 


I've attached a picture showing the relief valve's current position. 

The aftereffects of a residential fire can linger for weeks. Smoke damage, layers of soot and heavy odors create an environment that’s very difficult to clean up. It takes the expertise of fire damage restoration specialists to get everything back to normal.

During the recovery process, you might ask yourself, “Can soot cause health problems?”

The answer is, “Yes.” Exposure to house fire soot can lead to a number of health issues. That risk is one of the reasons that fire cleanup companies recommend immediate soot damage removal after any type of residential fire.

House Fires, Soot Damage & Health Problems: 7 Important FAQs

smoke damaged staircase

Worries about breathing soot after a house fire are always a concern. To help you better understand the dangers, we’ve put together this list of FAQs based on our years of experience with residential fire restoration.

1. What Is Smoke Damage?

The smoke that you see during a fire is produced by burning materials that don’t completely ignite and combust. The dark, rolling clouds contain a mix of gases and particulate matter. Even as a fire is contained, the smoke it generates continues to spread through a property.

Smoke damage refers to streaking and stains left on walls and surfaces after a fire is extinguished. It also includes layers of soot that coat interiors and personal belongings as well as unpleasant, lingering odors. Smoke damage often extends well beyond areas of the original blaze.


Read Full Article

Fire Fighter Suicide and Behavioral Health Are Becoming a Concern to the Fire Service.

This is the first of a three part series of blogs highlighting selected authors, titles, and publications used for fire fighters and behavioral health research. For additional information and the annotated bibliography for each study navigate to:


Kimbrel NA; Pennington ML; Cammarata CM; Leto F; Ostiguy WJ; Gulliver SB. (July 2016). “Is Cumulative Exposure to Suicide Attempts and Deaths a Risk Factor for Suicidal Behavior Among Firefighters? A Preliminary Study.Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.


Stanley IH; Hom MA; Joiner TE. (May 2016). “Suicide mortality among firefighters: Results from a large, urban fire department.American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


Gulliver SB; Pennington ML; Leto F; Cammarata C;, Ostiguy W; Zavodny C; Flynn EJ; Kimbrel NA. (2016/40(2)/121-128). “In the wake of suicide: Developing guidelines for suicide postvention in fire service.Death Studies.


Stanley IH; Hom MA; Hagan CR; Joiner TE. (November 2015/187/163-71). “Career prevalence and correlates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among firefighters.Journal of Affective Disorders.


Hom MA; Stanley IH; Ringer FB; Joiner TE. (June 2016/67(6)/688-91). “Mental Health Service Use Among Firefighters With Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors.Psychiatric Services.


Carpenter GS; Carpenter TP; Kimbrel NA; Flynn EJ; Pennington M;, Cammarata C; Zimering RT; Kamholz BW; Gulliver SB. (March 2015/39(2)/191-6). “Social support, stress, and suicidal ideation in professional firefighters.American Journal of Health Behavior.


Chu C; Buchman-Schmitt JM; Hom MA; Stanley IH; Joiner TE Jr. (June2016/240/26-33). “A test of the interpersonal theory of suicide in a large sample of current firefighters.Psychiatry Research.


Stanley IH; Hom MA; Joiner TE. (March 2016/44/25-44). “A systematic review of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics.Clinical Psychology Review.


Henderson, Sarah N.; Van Hasselt, Vincent B.; LeDuc, Todd J.; Couwels, Judy. (June 2016/47(3)/224-230). “Firefighter suicide: Understanding cultural challenges for mental health professionals.Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.


Heitman, Steven. (March 2016). “Suicide in the Fire Service: Saving the Lives of Firefighters.Thesis: Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA.

Spirits are bright, and you’re decking the house in its holiday best. From frosty snowmen on front lawns to Christmas trees glowing in front windows, Chicagoland turns into a beautiful wonderland this time of year.

As busy as you are, have you set aside a little time to work up your checklist for holiday home safety tips?

As the leader among Chicago’s fire restoration companies, we can help. Based on our years of experience in the field, we offer a list of tips that are easy to apply to your upcoming celebrations this very special season.

Holiday Home Safety Tips: 10 Ways to Keep the Season Safe

1. Give Candles Clearance

flameless candle

Beautiful candles light up the holidays with a special glow, but they can quickly become a fire hazard. Give candles at least 12 inches of clearance on all sides, and display them on sturdy bases protected by hurricane globes.

Power Tip: Switch from wax to the soft light of flameless candles. These safe substitutes operate on battery power and come in a variety of styles and sizes.


Read Full Article

The warm kitchen fills with delicious aromas. Your plans include family favorites and a few new dishes. The most mouthwatering day on the calendar is well-seasoned with anticipation for even more holiday celebrations.

You’ve done it all for so many years, and everything always turns out just fine. Why think twice about Thanksgiving cooking safety tips?

The answer to that question is easy. Taking precautions can prevent disasters. You don’t want to spend the holidays cleaning up after a grease fire, tackling smoke damage or facing the devastation of a house fire.

Holiday Kitchens, Disturbing Numbers

Like most home chefs, you’re extra busy on Thanksgiving day putting in extra hours and putting the final touches on favorite dishes. All that activity in the kitchen results in holiday meals to be remembered.
It’s also the source of disturbing statistics.

According to figures from the National Fire Prevention Association, kitchen fires peak during the holidays. Three times more fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

10 Thanksgiving Cooking Safety Tips

family cooking during thanksgiving

By practicing basic fire prevention strategies and following these 10 life-saving Thanksgiving cooking safety tips, you can help keep your kitchen from becoming a holiday statistic.

1. Don’t Desert the Turkey

Too many cooks can be great in a Thanksgiving kitchen. They make sure that food is never left unattended over open flames. If you’re manning things by yourself, call in backup when you need to leave the room.


Read Full Article


How to Conduct a CRA

Posted by thecodecoach Oct 30, 2016

Chapter 5 of NFPA 1730 outlines the requirements for the conduct of a community risk assessment (CRA). The CRA is the tool that is used to determine the priorities and strategies of a the fire prevention organization.  The CRA can be conducted in 3 steps.

  1. Gather Information
  2. Analyze Data
  3. Develop Strategy
Gather Information. NFPA 1730 describes seven content areas that should be assessed. These areas are:
1.)  Demographics - describes the composition of the communities population
2.)  Geographic overview - describes the physical features of the community
3.)  Building stock - describes occupancy types within the community
4.)  Fire experience -  describes the communities past fire experience(s)
5.)  Responses -  describes the types of calls for service
6.)  Hazards - describes the different types of hazards within a community
7.)  Economic profile - describes facilities and activities vital to the communities financial sustainability
Analyze Data.  After the above information has been gathered, the data must be analyzed and evaluated. This analysis should be applied to identify specific risks the community is exposed to. NFPA 1730 recommends the use of a risk assessment matrix.  The matrix is a visual representation that classifies hazards based on probability and impact.  
Another type of risk assessment matrix prefer presents hazards and risk level in a numerical format. I have written extensively on, and utilized, this numerical assessment matrix format. Read more about this method at, Fire Risk FAQ and Conducting the 3 Step Risk Assessment. You can also take my free on-line course, Risk Assessment Workshop.
Develop Strategy.  After you have defined your community needs, and identified risks and hazards, a strategy for prevention and mitigation can be developed. This strategy is referred to as a community risk reduction (CRR) plan. The CRR outlines the programs and strategies that will be utilized to reduce, mitigate, or eliminate the risks posed to the community.  The CRR will be different for every community common elements include, existing building inspections, plan review, origin and cause investigations, and public education. 
It is essential that a CRA be conducted. It is only through this analysis that fire prevention organizations can be effective.  A valuable tool for assisting departments with the CRA is the on-line Community Risk Assessment Guide, created by Vision 20/20. This guide can be accessed at

It might be a flickering lamp or an odd odor around the wall outlet. Either one can indicate a hidden danger that easily leads to property destruction and fire damage repair.

The electricity humming through your home is a powerful energy source and, according to the National Fire Protection Association, one of the leading causes of devastating house fires.

We help residents and businesses across Chicago recover from fire damage every day. Our crews find that many people don’t completely understand the unusual nature of electrical fire or what to do when it suddenly breaks out.

Are you ready to handle this type of emergency?

Voltage Instead of Flames and Embers

Most homeowners think of fire hazards as unattended stove tops or stray fireplace embers.

You probably don’t worry about the voltage running through your home’s electrical system, but the statistics are disturbing. More than 50,000 homes are affected and almost 500 deaths are caused by electrical house fires every year.

Even when the damage is confined to just one or two rooms, this type of fire spreads very quickly. As electricity arcs through wiring in walls and ceilings, it fries lines, ricochets off equipment and ruins appliances plugged into your home’s electrical system.

The Most Common Sources of Electrical Fires in Homes:

electrical fire kitchen after

Wiring and related equipment are responsible for more than 60 percent of electrical home fires. Lighting fixtures, lamps and bulbs account for another 20 percent while plugs and cords are to blame for approximately 11 percent.

A 2013 report from the National Fire Prevention Association breaks down the different types of equipment involved in electrical house fires including space heaters, HVAC systems, water heaters and electric ranges.

Whether an electrical fire starts in the kitchen or sparks behind a wall, the causes are usually similar.

1. Equipment Wears Out

All appliances have limited mechanical lives. Once a space heater or electric range outlives its manufacturer’s recommended years of usage, it can become a fire hazard.

                                                                                Read Full Article

Ever since 1927, Fire Prevention Week has focused on a different theme. This year, it’s all about the smoke alarm, so this small but vital appliance leads off our list of simple things you can do to prevent home fires.


1. Do More Than Test the Smoke Alarm

Three out of every five house fire fatalities occur in homes that don’t have a working smoke alarm. It’s not enough to change batteries and test the trigger mechanism.

Take the unit down from the ceiling or wall, and check the production date located on its frame. If it’s 10 years old, you need a new alarm.

Fire Prevention Week banner

This banner is reproduced from NFPA’s website, ©2016 NFPA.

2. Don’t Leave the Kitchen While You’re Cooking

Your stove and oven don’t look dangerous, but cooking equipment is statistically the leading cause of home fires.

If you leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off burners, and turn on a timer to remind you that the stove’s still on. Keep dish towels, pot holders and plastic utensils away from open flames.

Power Tip: Toaster ovens can generate intense electrical heat in just a few minutes. Always keep a close eye on these countertop appliances when in use.

Sorry for any misrepresentation all is well with the Jurisdiction of the City Regina

The discussion continues; unwanted alarms are still a problem and we’re seeking solutions to not only assist our local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), but our industry and of course, our community. After reading, “The Unwanted Conundrum,”, published in the NFPA’s Journal on May 2, 2016, the final question I asked myself was, could third party, web-based Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) tracking systems be a secret weapon in the fight for reducing unwanted alarms?


Reading the different perspectives in the NFPA’s Journal brought into play three key components of what we (i.e. everyone involved in fire and life safety) keep searching for: increased communication efforts, more tools and resources that are cost effective, and a way to educate our community members and place more accountability in their hands. If we can’t pin-point the issue, or solutions, of unwanted alarms we can most certainly look at what’s already available to assist in these efforts.


A few key points were first shared by the Automatic Fire Alarm Associations (AFAA) technical director, Thomas Hammerberg. To paraphrase, “Most of the problems boil down to money….Owners must be reminded that they are responsible for keeping their systems in working condition and tested per NFPA 72…There is also a lack of enforcement of the inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) procedures of fire alarm systems for a growing number of reasons…I have found that proper ITM, along with a good working relationship with fire prevention personnel, can help solve problematic systems.”


Hammerberg almost solidifies the exact reasons why third party, web-based systems were not only designed, but necessary for our communities. First and foremost, money or budget concerns. If this is an industry issue, the cost should be placed onto those involved in maintaining their systems. Most third party systems are not only a no cost option for our AHJs, they’re a no direct cost option for those whom we keep trying to place accountability back onto; the owner. While there are fees for the service providers performing the required ITM, these fees are often passed along to the accountable owner and in many cases recouped.


The discussion of accountability has been going on for years but until recently (within past five to ten years) there has not been an easy and effective tool or resource connecting the three most important entities in fire and life safety. If more information is sought to better respond and prioritize our efforts on all ends (i.e. AHJ, service provider and owner), we need a centralized way to communicate and share this information. The innovation of the “cloud” and modifying its platform to meet the needs of our industry is not only bridging the gap between the entities and opening the lines of communication, it’s proving to be an effective platform assisting in building sustainable prevention models. It’s allowing our AHJs to assist the provider in not only educating our owners but placing accountability back where it belongs.


I’m not surprised by Fire Marshal Anthony Apfeleback’s perspective, especially looking at the industry as a whole. Apfeleback’s attempt at early fire bureau intervention along with notification to business owners in hopes of more timely ITM follow ups is relative to the size and need of this particular jurisdiction. Most fire prevention bureaus are understaffed to follow up on ITM issues. This probably stems from the need to allocate resources where they are most needed at any given time.


While there is no overnight solution to reducing unwanted alarms, utilizing web-based reporting is an integrated, sustainable solution that positively impacts system reliability. The solution also easily integrates and compliments current agency fire prevention and life safety efforts.


It's apparent from the length of discussion and depth of scope of the problem of unwanted alarms that the fire service needs to build collaborative partnerships with multiple stakeholders such as service companies and business owners. Implementing a tool for all entities helps build a comprehensive solution and brings awareness to the problem at hand.


I guess it’s fair to ask, “could third party, web-based ITM systems be a secret weapon in the tool box for fighting the fight against unwanted alarms?”


The University of Maryland's Department of Fire Protection Engineering is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera on The Effect of Fire on People, Property and the Environment. This is a 6-week course which will include video lectures, online discussion boards, and opportunities for additional independent study. A great course for non-fire protection professionals to learn, including students interested in career opportunities. Here is a brief summary from the course website:


Fires impact people, property and the environment in all countries around the world. In some cases, the resulting losses are extraordinary, causing hundreds of deaths, widespread damage to property and contents and significant impacts on the environment. More often, fires may cause a single casualty or affect a single home, though the effects are still highly significant to those affected and collectively are substantial. This course will provide an overview of the challenges posed by fire as well as the fire safety solutions that are available to meet those challenges.


I am planning to take the course this session which officially starts Monday, August 29 - hope to connect with people on the discussion boards there.

Pipe_installation_2.jpgWorkplace injuries are common almost across all industries and sectors. But, some industries like construction, oil and gas, and aviation consistently report more worker injuries and fatalities than any other. Agricultural and fishing industries also report a high injury rate, mainly because considerable manual labor is involved and rural settings do not allow quick access to medical help.


If you have been injured while at work, it is important that you are compensated for the loss that you have incurred. You must have lost days of work and income, and paid considerable amount of money for your treatment.


If the injury is severe, it will affect your long-term career prospects and earning potential. Debilitating injuries also result in loss of enjoyment, and hampers your social life.


A financial compensation may not help you get your health back, but it will help ease the financial burden on your family and bring things back on track.


If you are or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, here are a few things that you should know about obtaining a fair compensation.


1) Workers' Compensation Is Often Inadequate


If you have suffered an injury while at your job or in your workplace, you can term it as a workplace injury.


When you suffer an injury at your workplace, you are entitled to a no-fault remedy and are compensated by the employer for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. The drawback here is that you cannot claim for noneconomic damages or all of your lost income. Note that no proof is required to prove employer liability. If you are injured in the workplace, you are automatically entitled to workers' compensation.


But, in most cases, it is not the employer alone who is responsible for the injury. Your injury may also have been caused by malfunctioning equipment, negligence of a subcontractor, or carelessness on the part of a supervisor. In such cases, you can file a third-party claim where you can claim for all damages incurred, including all of your lost income, and non-financial ones like pain and suffering.


2) Consult a Workplace Injury Lawyer


A workplace injury lawyer will be able to study the cause or causes of your injury and determine who is liable.


Very often, workers do not attempt to get in touch with a lawyer. They are satisfied with the workers' compensation that they receive and do not think about anything further. But, when you do that, you are losing money that you may rightfully have a claim to.


You also need to check whether your injuries are indeed workplace injuries. For your injury to be truly work-related, you should be involved in work or any activity on the behalf of the employer. Your injury will be considered work-related if you were attending official parties or get-togethers, even if not on official premises. If a pre-existing condition worsened as a result of the job, then it will be treated as a workplace injury. Mental health problems that have occurred as a result of your job, or that were sustained at the workplace, are also treated as workplace injuries.


Also, if you consult a Indiana workplace injury attorney, he or she will be able to check your eligibility for worker's insurance. Very rarely is there gross negligence or failure detected on the side of the employer. In such situations, you will be advised to sue by your lawyer.


3) Report Your Injury as Soon as Possible


It is mandatory that you report your injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. It is important that your employer officially records the incident and the injury that you suffered. It is mandatory under law that every company maintains a record of adverse events and incidents happening in the workplace. This not only serves as a warning and reminder to other employees, but also helps employers improve safety and health measures in workplaces. This is an important step toward workplace injury prevention.


If you want to make a legal claim, it is necessary that you report your injury on the same day or within a few days, and file a claim with the workers' compensation court or industrial court in your area, as mandated in the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the minimum period within which a legal claim can be filed after one becomes knowledgeable about the injury.


4) Know Your Rights


Workers who suffer from injuries at workplaces are entitled to legal rights that are common across most states.


Your rights include the right to file an injury claim, right to medical treatment and days off work to recuperate, right to return back to work after recovery and approval from your physician, right to appeal against the amount granted as compensation and seek fairer terms, and also the right to be represented by a lawyer throughout.


If you are harassed or intimidated by your employer at any stage, or suffer from reprisal due to your decision to file a compensation claim, you can take legal action against your employer. Severed penalties and fines are imposed on guilty employers.


Workplace injuries can affect a person's ability to work, and the family's financial stability, social life, and fulfillment. It is important that you follow the right legal option and receive a fair compensation that will address not only your current suffering, but also your future needs.



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When you're new to NFPA's Xchange, your avatar image (the little picture next to your posts) is auto-populated with a stock image from the platform. That's why you may be noticing a sports car, helicopter, bowling ball or some other random icon. Adding your own avatar and completing your profile (more on that later) is an important part of getting the most out of your Xchange experience.


Here's how you can quickly personalize your profile by adding your own photo. It's simple, and just a few clicks away.


1) Click on your current avatar in the upper right corner of your screen. On the dropdown menu, click "Edit Profile."




2) Then click on the "Avatar" tab, and "Add another avatar".



3) You'll be prompted to upload an image. Navigate to find it on your computer. After you find the file, click "Upload & Continue."



4) You can then crop the photo to your liking. You'll see a live preview of you avatar on the right as you edit the photo. Once you're happy with it, click "Crop Image", then "Finished."



That's it! You've now updated your avatar photo.