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Ken Willette
NFPA's own Ken Willette, Division Manager of Public Fire Protection, recently sat down with Chelsea B. Sheasley of The Christian Science Monitor to discuss the current historically low firefighter death numbers. Here is some of the article that resulted; 

When Ken Willette started firefighting 35 years ago, his uniform left much to be desired. Little more than a raincoat with rubber boots and plastic gloves, the outfit was more likely to melt than sustain his job responsibilities.

Now, with improvements to firefighting equipment, as well as better safety standards, and a decrease in overall fires, the number of firefighter deaths has dropped by more than a third in the past three decades and has fallen to historic lows the past two years.

The Firefighter Fatality Report, just published by NFPA, tells us that a total of 64 on-duty firefighters died in the US in 2012, marking the second consecutive year that the total has been below 65 deaths, the lowest level since statistics began to be tracked in 1977. The number of fatalities that occurred during actual firefighting also dropped to a record low.

It’s a significant improvement from the late 1970s, when the average number of on-duty firefighter deaths reached 151. The numbers have been trending downward since then, according to that new NFPA report. By the 1990s, the average number of on-duty deaths fell to 97 and the first decade of the 21st century saw the figure drop to 88. In the past five years the number fell further to 77 average annual fatalities.

Mr. Willette, who ran two fire departments in Massachusetts after his early firefighter days, says that even though fewer firefighters are dying at fires, fires are reaching "flashover" points, where all combustible materials ignite at the same time, sooner.

“It’s a point of no survival for the firefighter or the occupant. We want to get firefighters there within 10 minutes. We’re now finding flashover occurring at the six minute mark or sooner,” says Willette. He advocates installing sprinklers in residential homes, where the majority of firefighter deaths occur, but says many homeowners and builders are resistant due to cost.

“There are tools to make the firefighters job safer and people safer, we have to wait for the public to accept that.”

Read the full article to find out more about what has been happening in the industry to reduce the numbers, including the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation's “Everyone Goes Home” program. Also detailed are some of the reasons behind the deaths that still are occuring, including health and safety issues that continue to be a focus point in reducing these numbers even further. 

Speaking of health and safety, today is the final day for fire service members to take the NFPA, NVFC and IAFC quiz on that very subject, earning them an entry in our sweepstakes. 125 randomly selected winners will be announced tomorrow. 

NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, has requirements for installations in areas with heavy snowfall, which were first added in a TIA in the 1992 edition and then added to the 1995 edition. The requirements were the result of fatalities due to unusually heavy snow in Lake Tahoe, CA
area during the winter of 1992-93 where the snowfall was sufficient to cover propone tanks, move tanks, and break piping systems.

 The Foundation is initiating a project to develop the technical substantiation for threshold values for heavy snowload criteria for the NFPA 58 Technical Committee.

If you have information to share, or are interested in serving on the Technical Panel for the Project, please respond.


Thank you.

Foundation reportVarious water additives are available in today’s marketplace that claim to provide advantageous performance characteristics for fire control and vapor mitigation. Of particular interest are additives that report to provide superior fire suppression capabilities through emulsification or encapsulation.

However, a scientific assessment of these various additives is lacking, and the fire protection community would benefit from an evaluation of the various available water additives for fire control and vapor mitigation. Therefore, the goal of this recent Foundation project was to provide a comprehensive evaluation of water additives used for fire control and vapor mitigation, with the intent to clarify the fire protection benefit of using water with additives for fire suppression versus water without additives. The project objectives to achieve this goal include providing a comprehensive review of the literature, identification of key performance characteristics, review of candidate test agents, and formulation of a detailed test plan that would be implemented in a potential second phase (not included in the scope of this effort).

The newly published report, "Evaluation of Water Additives for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation,” was authored by Joseph Scheffey, Eric Forssell, and Jarrod Childs of Hughes Associates, Inc.


!|border=0|src=|alt=Sparky Facebook|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Sparky Facebook|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017eea1bdb9a970d!Each week, we have fun with fire safety trivia on [Sparky the Fire Dog's Facebook page |]. We ask a trivia question early in the morning, take guesses all day long, and then post the correct answer by the end of the day - every Tuesday. 

Here's how you can participate! Head over to [Sparky's Facebook page |] and leave your guess to the following trivia question. Then be sure to check back later today to find out if you were right! (Hint: all of the correct answers can be found on our website as well!) Have fun and good luck!


An investigative report by NBC Chicago highlights a battle raging in Illinois as State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis is working to update the state fire code, unchanged for the past twelve years. According to the report “the one he's proposing is a big one: a first-ever requirement for fire sprinklers in all new single-family homes, including those built in Chicago.”

 "As far as I'm concerned, everyone in Illinois deserves safe housing," Matkaitis told NBC Chicago. "Every state fire marshal in the country is trying to do the same thing that I am, for the same reason."

The report also focused on the “testy relationship between Matkaitis and the City of Chicago” because the city insists, under home rule authority, it doesn't have to follow the state fire code at all. The largest sticking point: retrofitting residential high-rises with fire sprinkler systems.

"The statute applies all over the State of Illinois, whether it's Chicago or Cairo," Matkaitis said. "I want cooperation from everybody to save lives and property. Remember that. Save lives and property. That's the only thing that I do."

Interviewed for the report was NFPA President James Shannon who said; "There's no question that residential high-rises should have sprinklers…where sprinklers are involved, the chance that somebody's going to die in a fire in one of those buildings goes down dramatically."

The Illinois Fire Chief's Association has documented its support for the state fire marshals' effort to require fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.


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