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October 27, 2011 Previous day Next day

Firewise Communities award recipients

Nine Firewise Communities pilot sites were honored today at NFPA’s Backyards & Beyond conference in Denver for their ten years of commitment to the program.

Front row, from left: Mary Prescott (Orlando, FL), Harry Steele (Boise, ID), Kathy Christensen (Salt Lake City, UT), and Ann Cooke (Jemez, NM)

Back row, from left: Chief Darrell Willis (Prescott, AZ), Ken Kucera (Golden, CO), NFPA President Jim Shannon, Keith Worley (Sundance, UT), and Bob Owens (Larkspur, CO)

See an overview of each community’s efforts and more photos on our Firewise blog.

- Mike Hazell

andrewklock

School buses go electric!

Posted by andrewklock Employee Oct 27, 2011

M-SBF11trans-open-1-1[1]

It’s not quite Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus, but the ride to school may be getting a bit more advanced.

According to Fox News,  New York-based bus manufacturer Trans Tech Bus has just revealed plans for an electric school bus be sold next year.

Known as the eTrans, the 42-passenger Type-A bus will be engineered in conjunction with Smith Electric Vehicles, based in Kansas City. Trans Tech Bus CEO Dan Daniels says that the eTrans will be available in several models, with a maximum range between 45 and 120 miles per charge—perfect for the average school bus. It will take about eight hours to charge completely (only a little longer than the average school day), and run at a top speed of 50 mph.

Lots of people are concerned about adults making their daily commutes more environmentally friendly, but often forget that kids have a commute, too! Approximately 26 million elementary and secondary school-age children ride a school bus twice a day in the United States. The eTrans is just one way for some of the country’s littlest future environmentalists to get a taste of doing their part to green up our roads.

Jim Shannon
It’s estimated that nearly 45 million homes abut or intermingle with wildlands in the United States. And while living in the wildland urban interface (WUI) is ideal for many, it comes with huge challenges, such as fire suppression costs, water supplies, and evacuation planning.

At the opening session of NFPA’s “Backyards & Beyond” conference in Denver today, NFPA President Jim Shannon said that resources to address these challenges continue to shrink due to tough economic times. “But wildfire isn’t concerned with those constraints, and as brush, grass and forest fires continue to rise, communities struggle with how to adapt,” he said.

The 2011 wildfire season is on its way to becoming one of the worst on record. The combination of severe drought and excess fuel build-up in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years.  Just last month, in Bastrop County, TX, more than 1,500 homes were destroyed, making it one of the worst fires in the history of the state. 

“Wildfires in the U.S. and around the world are placing greater demands on our resources and creating greater risks to lives and property,” said Mr. Shannon. “Many in this room have worked on the front lines and experienced first-hand the intensity and frequency of wildland fires. You know how much damage they do and anybody who lives in a community that has experienced a wildfire knows how devastating it can be.”

And wildland fires are not just a problem in the United States, said Mr. Shannon. “We know that wildland fires have had a profound impact on countries around the world. I extend a special welcome to our international visitors who have traveled from as far as South Africa, Australia and Canada to be with us today to join in this global wildfire conversation.”

Mr. Shannon thanked attendees for traveling to Denver, saying it was wonderful to see so many different organizations and agencies, including representatives from the forest service, fire departments, land management agencies, educational institutions, the insurance industry and homeowner associations. “All of you share this sense of purpose to protect lives and property in the wildland-urban interface,” he said.

Read complete coverage from this year's Backyards & Beyond conference in Denver on our Firewise Communiteis blog

Massachusetts sprinkler initiative adDid you know that every national model building code in the United States includes a provision for fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes?

And in Massachusetts, every major fire organization -- the state fire marshal, fire chiefs, firefighters and fire prevention officers from across the Commonwealth -- supports home fire sprinklers in new homes.

But in a recent action, the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) promulgated a building code for the Commonwealth and removed the provision for fire sprinklers in new construction. The new code became effective August 4, 2011.

Aren’t our lives and homes worth protecting?
NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, supported by fire organizations from across Massachusetts, says the BBRS should reverse its action to better protect the citizens and firefighters of the Commonwealth, or at a minimum, push out the implementation date for the provision to become effective.

There are several ways you can take action for safer homes in Massachusetts. Visit www.firesprinklersma.org to learn more about:

  • attending the BBRS public hearing on November 8.
  • writing or calling the BBRS to ask that the provision for fire sprinklers in new homes be added back to the building code.
  • placing our print ad and radio spot on your website or blog.

Don't allow substandard homes to be built in Massachusetts. Learn the facts and how you can help in this effort by visiting http://www.firesprinklersma.org/

According to a new NFPA report, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths (2005-2009) resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. The report, “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires” is available for free on NFPA’s website. The report examines the number of reported fires in U.S. households with and without working smoke alarms, as well as the effectiveness of smoke alarms in preventing fire-related deaths.

“Working smoke alarms are essential in saving lives from fire,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Communications. “We know you can have as little as three minutes to get out if you have a fire before it becomes deadly. The early warning provided by smoke alarms gives you extra time to escape.”

Download NFPA's full smoke alarm report for key findings and recommendations from NFPA on how to install and maintain smoke alarms in your home.

NFPA's Sharon Gamache discusses the latest information on types of smoke alarms you need, their placement and special features. Working smoke alarms give you early warning to help you escape a fire.

- Mike Hazell

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