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9 Posts authored by: econlin Employee

 

The hazards that firefighters face on the job continue to expand. In recent years, responders have been asked to learn more about handling incidents involving energy storage systems (ESS), alternative fuel vehicles, natural disasters, and active shooters. They’ve been forced to learn, oftentimes the hard way, about occupational exposure and behavioral health issues. Some have taken proactive approaches to better understand these new threats, and embrace new training, research, resources and data.

 

As we enter a new year and a new decade – it's important that we take the time to learn about a new potential threat on the horizon. If history repeats itself, firefighters may very well see it as a non-issue at first – that is until an incident occurs like we saw with ESS last April. Despite NFPA offering (the world’s first) online ESS training for the fire service since 2015 – it, sadly, took eight first responders getting seriously injured when a grid battery exploded in Arizona for members of the fire service to want to learn more about ESS risks and response.

 

So, what’s the newest challenge on the radar? Flammable refrigerants.

 

More than 200 countries begin ushering in low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants this year – including the US. The new technology will be in residential and commercial refrigeration units and air conditioning systems – driving the need for firefighters to learn all they can about flammability and toxicity risks, asphyxiation concerns, jet stream fires, transportation issues, and other life safety considerations.

 

FEMA provided funding to NFPA so that an approximately one-hour, free online curriculum could be developed. The program provides an overview of the GWP transition and highlights specific dangers that firefighters may encounter when responding to incidents where new flammable refrigerants are present. At its core, the training emphasizes strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), PPE and SCBA protocol, and decontamination practices. Four modules feature videos, animations, simulations, and review missions so that students can:

 

  • Describe why the new generation of refrigerants has been developed
  • Identify where flammable refrigerants are likely to be found in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation contexts
  • Describe the main hazards presented by the new generation of refrigerants (flammability, toxicity, pressure release)
  • Relate the refrigerant charge size to the level of risk
  • Evaluate the hazards present in a particular situation involving flammable refrigerants
  • Adapt response tactics to mitigate consequences from refrigerants in different types of emergencies

 

Those that successfully take the training – the convenient online course or the instructor-led curriculum that’s available – will receive a certificate of completion and be better prepared for incidents involving flammable refrigerants. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to start off 2020?

NFPA 1000 Standard for Fire Service Professional Qualifications Accreditation and Certification Systems has just begun the next revision cycle. Several Public Inputs (recommended changes) were submitted for the next edition of NFPA 1000 by the stated closing date of November 15, 2019.


All recommended changes from the public will now be reviewed by the Technical Committee at their First Draft Meeting to be held January 27-28 in Orlando, Florida. Only at that point, during the First Draft meeting, will any proposed changes to NFPA 1000 be developed by the Technical Committee. Proposed changes to NFPA 1000 that pass ballot by the Technical Committee will then be open for public review and comment. The Technical Committee will ultimately meet in November 2020 to review and act on all submitted Public Comments during the Second Draft Meeting. It is anticipated that the next edition of NFPA 1000 will be the 2022 edition, which will be released in late 2021.


To stay up to date on all activities related to NFPA 1000, visit nfpa.org/1000. Click on the “Receive Email Alerts”. To review the Public Inputs that were submitted for NFPA 1000, click on the “Next Edition” tab, then click “View Public Inputs”. This will provide you with access to all the recommended document changes that were submitted by the public. Additional information, including where the document is in the process, and pertinent dates can also be accessed by clicking on that Next Edition tab. You will also find the link to the First Draft Meeting details on that page.


NFPA technical meetings are always open to the public. Any individual can attend. In fact, active participation in our process is the best way for you to ensure that your voice is heard. It also provides you with the greatest opportunity to effect change that will enhance the firefighting profession, as it moves forward. If you would like your voice to be heard on this topic, or any NFPA standard, please participate in the standards development process. As always, we are here to help if you have any questions or we can be of any assistance – simply email us at stds_admin@nfpa.org.


The Research Foundation also undertook a project on the topic of maintaining proficiencies for the fire service that entailed two deliverables – a research report and workshop proceedings which are available on the Research Foundation’s website.

Earlier this week, NFPA was contacted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) Division, as the agency has made a change in the system platform they use to monitor the location of electricity dependent DME (ventilators, oxygen concentrators, powered suction pumps) populations that reside independently in their communities. The HHS/ASPR program is known as emPOWER; a main part of its function is to give first responders - fire, EMS, law enforcement, and USAR - awareness of where individuals who rely on electricity dependent DME are located.  This can help prioritize resources during natural disasters such as wildfire, floods and wind events, where electrical power may be lost for hours or days, thereby endangering those individuals.

 

Effective February 12, 2019, the first responder and private sector partners who have been using the HHS emPOWER Program’s Representational State Transfer (REST) Service now need to switch over and register on the new platform, HHS emPOWER REST Service_Public.

 

The new system will continue to allow the DME information to be overlaid on a community’s own GIS platform.  The data layer displays the total number of at-risk Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare beneficiaries that rely upon life-maintaining and saving electricity-dependent medical equipment and cardiac devices in a geographic area, down to the zip code.  In doing so, partners will be able to continue to gain population-level situational awareness of electricity-dependent populations in their own GIS applications.

 

Please send any questions you may have to EMPOWER@HHS.GOV and GeoHEALTH@hhs.gov.

 

 

Background Information

Over 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, such as ventilators, to live independently in their homes. Severe weather and other emergencies, especially those with long power outages, can be life-threatening for these individuals.

 

The HHS emPOWER Map is updated monthly and displays the total number of at-risk electricity-dependent Medicare beneficiaries in a geographic area, down to the zip code.

 

The HHS emPOWER Map gives every public health official, emergency manager, hospital, first responder, electric company, and community member the power to discover the electricity-dependent Medicare population in their state, territory, county, and ZIP Code. When combined with real-time severe weather and hazard maps, communities can easily anticipate and plan for the needs of this population during an emergency.

 

Learn more about the challenges of independent living and home health care, including the role of ASPR, from the FPRF/NFPA 2015 Summit on Safe, Independent Living: Home Health Care, Aging Populations and the Residential Environment 

 

The NFPA Standards Council has received a New Project Initiation Request from the fire service asking NFPA consider developing an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish the minimum requirements for the effective contamination control of fire department personal, their personal protective equipment (PPE), accessories, and equipment. 

 

Firefighter health risks associated with PPE contaminant exposure reflects one of the most pressing concerns within the fire service. A number of organizations, including the Fire Protection Research Foundation, continue working to identify methods for adequately cleaning firefighter gear and mitigating those risks.

 

As a result of multiple efforts, including “Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control” – a one-year project conducted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that’s nearing its completion – we now have some answers. The next step is identifying how to best deliver those requirements, guidelines and recommendations in our codes and standards.

 

Two options are currently on the table: NFPA can develop an all-new contamination control standard, which identifies best practices for cleaning PPE, as well as how gear should be handled after possible exposure to contaminants.  Alternatively, the information could be rolled into our existing standard, NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program.

 

To make the decision that best reflects the fire service’s needs and preferences, we need to hear from you! Tell us if you think this issue warrants its own standard or should be addressed in NFPA 1581. Feel free to share your thoughts in this blog, but remember it is important that you provide your feedback through our technical process so that your voice is heard and officially weighed into the Standards Council’s final decision.

The Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance (Alliance) has created the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Toolkit to provide comprehensive guidance regarding the risk and prevention of cancers caused by fire service occupational exposures. 

 

In January of 2015, over 50 fire service leaders, physicians, government officials, and scientists met in Washington, D.C. to address occupational cancer in the fire service. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) facilitated the meeting; and the Alliance was formed.

 

One Alliance recommendation was to develop and distribute a firefighter cancer toolkit, which was modeled after the successful Fire Service-Based EMS Electronic Toolkit. The new Fire Service Occupational Toolkit provides comprehensive guidance to firefighters and command staff about on-the-job hazards and strategies for preventing exposure to carcinogens.

fire fighter in truck with computer

 

According to an NFPA survey on data, the fire service recognizes the value of data but is not satisfied with the way that data is handled today. Feedback from fire chiefs, officers, administrators, firefighters, analysts, fire marshals, inspectors and investigators shows that current fire data systems store large amounts of data but the quality, accuracy, and access to useful data is limited.  

 

NFPA was awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) last August to develop a new national fire data system that will help improve emergency response and community risk reduction activities in the U.S. To gauge data capabilities, needs and aspirations, NFPA commissioned a survey earlier this year.

 

These days, fire departments are looking to paint a full picture of their duties, responsibilities and the information they need to do their job successfully. The survey revealed that:

 

•    organizations are collecting and maintaining data related to response, tactics, operations, patient care, fire inspection, training, public education, building occupancies, and other relevant community information;
•    there is very little fire service data uniformity or universal record-keeping;
•    collection has surpassed the capabilities of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS);
•    and more fire departments are analyzing data for local decision-making.

 

The survey focused on the collection of data, analytics and information-sharing, and included:
•    questions about CAD systems, records management systems, and NFIRS;
•    a section on fire department conversion of numbers into knowledge and benchmarking;
•    and an area about internal and external stakeholder collaboration.

 

The bottom line of the survey is that fire data is rapidly changing. There is not one overall problem or solution. Fire departments are moving away from simply creating records, for the sake of record-keeping. They are using a host of digital resources to effectively manage fire emergencies, organizational processes, and fire mitigation. Increasingly, the fire service is capturing, analyzing and sharing data during budgeting, contract negotiations, community outreach, and procurement discussions with local and national authorities.

 

The NFPA data survey is an important yardstick for the 18-month National Fire Data System project. Information gleaned via the survey will help develop the groundwork for a horizontally and vertically scalable system to collect data from fire departments. NFPA’s goal is to develop, build and test an infrastructure that will ingest, store and export data that conforms to existing and emerging industry data standards. An Executive Advisory Group and Technical Working Group made up of key stakeholders is working with NFPA to design a data framework for the fire service with a focus on incident, operations, and health and wellness data.  

Hose Bulletin

An attack fire hose safety bulletin was issued today by NFPA to remind fire departments about the importance of purchasing, maintaining, inspecting, removing and repairing fire hose in accordance with NFPA 1961: Standard on Fire Hose and NFPA 1962: Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Service Testing, and Replacement of Fire Hose, Couplings, Nozzles, and Fire Hose Appliances

 

In recent years, fire hose thermal degradation has been cited as a concern during fire hose failure incidents.  Following a tragic incident in Boston that took the lives of two firefighters in 2015, NIOSH issued a report that called for more research, dialogue, review of fireground tactics, and responsiveness from fire service research organizations, equipment manufacturers, standard-makers, and fire departments.

 

Scrutiny about fire hose characteristics and capabilities comes at a time when fires are burning more intensely than ever. Today’s open floor plans, construction materials and modern furnishings are causing flashover and structural collapse to occur faster.  Firefighters have less time to fight fires and safely escape. It’s important that they have equipment that is in excellent working order, per the code, to withstand the intense fire environment.

 

NFPA and others are looking at whether fire hose can be improved. The Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted a workshop on Fire Hose in Support of the Technical Committee in 2016, and recommendations were shared for consideration in the next edition of the code to be released in 2019. Another report will be released next month on firefighter equipment and thermal conditions.

 

Post and share this bulletin.

nfpa firefighter hood bulletin

Download the full bulletin by clicking on the image.

 

NFPA has issued a firefighter protective hood safety bulletin as the fire service grapples with PPE contaminants and increases in job-related cancer.


Firefighters and their PPE are exposed to a wide range of toxins. According to a study by the CDC and NIOSH, firefighters have a higher chance of developing more than a dozen different cancers than the general population.

 

Firefighter thermal/flame protective hoods do not stop soot and chemicals from depositing on areas that are extremely vulnerable to dermal exposure. The hoods are designed to protect a firefighter’s head and neck, but they are not built to prevent toxins from being absorbed into a firefighter’s skin. The greatest number of carcinogens enter a firefighter’s body through the lungs; with the skin being the second most concerning access route. Furthermore, if the hoods are not properly cleaned, the toxins will linger in the hoods and rub against the firefighter’s skin.


NFPA is currently working on three research projects related to contamination, PPE and cancer. In the meantime, the protective hood bulletin recommends that fire departments educate personnel on PPE care and maintenance in accordance with NFPA 1851, the Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.

 

Post and share this bulletin to keep firefighters safer from carcinogens and hazardous substances. For additional information, visit NFPA’s PPE cleaning page.

The 2016 Edition of 1710 — Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments — has been published.  The new edition includes  3 new suggested minimum staffing levels for different types of occupancies. 

 

In addition to single family dwellings, staffing levels for Open Air Strip Malls, Garden Style Apartment Occupancies and High Rise Occupancies have been added.  These changes affect fireground staffing levels, but do not change  any of the requirements previously listed in sections 5.2.2.2.1; 5.2.3 or 5.2.4.  Please see the attachment for details.

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