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Today in fire history: wildfire destroys more than 76 homes

The Stephan Bridge Road Fire, which began on May 8, 1990, eventually spread across 5,916 acres of wildland/urban interface area near Crawford, Michigan.  The fire eventually destroyed more than 76 homes, and 125 other structures, plus 37 vehicles and boats.  Losses from the fire were estimated at $5.5 million, plus $700,000 in destroyed timber (all told, $10.8 million in today’s dollars).


The fire originated from a controlled burn which rekindled seven weeks after the initial ignition, and spread to nearby ground fuels.  The weather played a significant role in this fire: low rainfall, rising temperatures, and high winds combined to dry out the forest and ground fuels.  Then, during fire suppression, strong gusting winds sent the fire out of control in a new direction.


This wildfire represents just one example of the risks of building homes in the wildland urban interface.  NFPA members can read the full investigation report. Anyone interested in fire hazards and safety in the wildland urban interface can visit

Harnesses or fully enclosed personnel riding cages are commonly used during wildland firefighting operations, particularly in regions prone to wildland fires. While these devices and associated activity provide added mobility to firefighters, they're prohibited in the current edition of NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, as they pose safety risks to firefighters. The first draft of the 2018 edition of NFPA 1500 includes language that continues to prohibit the use of "fully enclosed personnel areas" and related activity.


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Meanwhile, the committee responsible for NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus, includes requirements for the design and testing of a fully enclosed riding position. These provisions work to ensure that firefighters are seated, properly belted and follow speed requirements when riding fully enclosed personnel areas.


Should NFPA 1500 also permit firefighters to use harnesses and/or fully enclosed personnel riding cages that provide added flexibility on apparatus during wildland fire operations? Where do you stand on this issue? Let the technical committee know by submitting a Public Comment on NFPA 1500 by the May 16 deadline - Your Voice Matters!

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