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Michele Gay is all too familiar with the heartbreak of active shooter incidents. Gay’s daughter Josephine Grace was among the 20 children and six staff members killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.

 

One of two co-founders of Safe and Sound Schools, Gay’s current role and mission to “support school crisis prevention and protect every school and every student, every day” brought her to NFPA’s headquarters for the first of three Massachusetts School Active Shooter Symposiums this month. The mother-turned-advocate hailed organizers for setting the bar for other policymakers across the country to hold similar programs and support efforts that will reduce risk in schools.

 

 

"Without strong leadership and leaders putting money where their mouth is, it’s like pushing a giant boulder uphill,” Gay said. "Safety is something we all say we want. The mission statement for every single school in America says something about providing a safe and secure environment but when it comes down to the realities of what it takes to keep people safe, we often turn away because it’s uncomfortable, expensive, or may cause us to get into arguments. We need community leaders to work together, and our policymakers to champion, endorse and support collaboration.”

 

The Massachusetts School Active Shooter Symposium was developed at the request of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and co-hosted by State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and NFPA President/CEO Jim Pauley. Following the release of NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, Baker asked the fire marshal, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and the Undersecretary of Homeland Security for the State of Massachusetts to bring together school, police, fire and EMS officials to discuss the unified planning, response and recovery strategies outlined in NFPA 3000. It is believed that Governor Baker is the first governor in the country to convene such a summit on school active shooter protocol. Two additional summits will be held later in the month. In total more than 500 first responders and educators are expected to participate.

 

 

NFPA 3000, the first standard of its kind, provides the framework for entire communities to organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event program. NFPA’s Jim Pauley told the full-to-capacity crowd, “What brings us here today is a whole different level of concern. Without question, schools and campuses have been the most engaged audience since we released NFPA 3000; this is not surprising, considering the lives you are entrusted to care for.”

 

 

The state fire marshal underscored the importance of developing and reviewing comprehensive school emergency plans annually before school starts – a requirement that has been in place in Massachusetts since 2002. “We’ve worked together to develop medical emergency response plans, protocol for bomb threats, and to place defibrillators in schools. These joint efforts, and the dialogue today, are the building blocks that we can use to address this next major school safety issue," Peter Ostroskey said.


Rounding out the program were presentations from:

 

  • the Department of Fire Services Fire Safety Division about maintaining building and fire safety while addressing new threats
  • Town of Needham fire, police and school leaders highlighting the rescue task force concept they employ for a variety of school emergencies
  • Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) members sharing what they are doing to help communities identify at-risk students to prevent incidents from happening in the first place

 

For more information on NFPA 3000, visit www.nfpa.org/3000news.

London, England had recently gotten over a plague outbreak that had killed 68 people in the previous two years. (1) The city was primarily constructed with wood and the structures were very close together which made them susceptible to fire. There was no fire service. (2)

 

 

This oil painting by artist, Rita Greer, depicts the third day of the fire (Sept. 4th) - Such Such terrifying destruction is on a par with the firestorms after World War II bombings. The narrow streets, timber-framed, thatched houses would later be replaced by brick, stone and tiled buildings to prevent such a tragedy happening again.


Sequence of Events:


September 2, 1666:


The fire began on the early morning of September 2, 1666 at the house of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker, on Pudding Lane. The baker and his workers woke up to the smell of smoke at 2:00 am. The narrow streets and wooden structures allowed the fire to spread rapidly. The Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, did not take the news seriously when he was woken up. (3)


Samuel Pepys saw the fire and told the king and the Duke of York. The King ordered the mayor to create a fire break by destroying houses in the fire's path. However, the strong wind enabled the fire to travel over the gaps created by the firebreaks. By morning, the fire was heading north and west towards a wealthy area of the city.


September 3, 1666:


The next day, the King and the Duke of York were helping efforts to extinguish the fire. They had the fire contained for a short period, but then it began burning again in Cheapside, the wealthiest street in London. People continued demolishing houses attempting to stop the fire but it continued burning destroying houses, prisons, and even St. Paul's Cathedral.


September 4, 1666:


The fire stopped burning when the wind changed course and it encountered the Middle Temple, a brick structure, at Fetter Lane.


September 5, 1666:


The fire was finally extinguished completely and attention turned to finding out who started the fire.


Damage:

 

The fire destroyed 373 acres of the city:

  • 13,200 houses
  • 84 churches
  • 44 company halls

 

Resources:

 

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 

The NFPA Research Library & Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.

 

Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.

 

*Special thanks to Caitlin Walker for her work in researching and writing this synopsis of The Great London Fire.

The September/October issue of NFPA Journal features a cover story on how colleges and universities are addressing the threat of active shooters and other hostile events.

 

In his story, “The New Normal,” associate editor Jesse Roman looks at how campuses are using a range of strategies, from elaborate simulation drills to increasingly sophisticated technology, to prepare for hostile events.

 

Schools are also turning to the new NFPA 3000™ (PS), Active Shooter and Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, for guidance.

 

Among the voices in the story is that of David Hall, a former fire chief who is now the emergency manager at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. “Universities have always had to prepare for many different threats, some more central than others,” he told NFPA Journal, “and active shooting preparedness is definitely becoming one of those central issues.”

 

The issue also includes a feature story on protection challenges related to old courthouse buildings, which many communities seek to preserve.

 

Elsewhere, the issue includes the 2017 reports on U.S. fire loss and catastrophic multiple-death fires; a compelling “Perspectives” conversation on the challenge of recovery following a hostile event; a “Dispatches” article on the controversy surrounding inmate wildland firefighters in California; and much more.

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