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A summer camp on Long Island suffered serious damage as a lightning strike set several buildings on fire. Just after celebrating its 50th anniversary, Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts had two art studios destroyed by the fire, while other buildings nearby were also affected. Emergency vehicles navigated the narrow roads of a predominantly wooded campus just after 7:15 pm, requiring about 75 first responders to bring the fire under control, according to Newsday.


When responders first arrived on the scene they found a burnt out electrical transformer that had been struck by lightning. It wasn’t until later that they returned to the camp to find an art building ablaze. A firefighter and camp employee were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.


The camp estimates at least $250,000 worth of damage, and a representative told NFPA that a campaign called the Reimagine Fund has been launched to help rebuild the Visual Art Department and upgrade overall infrastructure.


Executive Director, Lauren Brandt Schloss, wrote on the camp’s website "I want to express my extreme gratitude to the Melville Fire Department and Suffolk County Police Department. Their quick and efficient work ensured minimal impact on our campus. Additionally, I am so thankful for the support of the Usdan community. This summer, nearly 2000 students and staff, along with their families, brought these grounds to life. Together, we can, and will, weather any storm."


An NFPA report states that lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening. Check out these safety tips for more information.


The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) released a comprehensive report providing key steps to reduce risk factors in the fire service. The Lavender Ribbon Report, named after the symbol for general cancer awareness, highlights best practices to ensure that the risk of occupational cancer is minimized for first responders.


The Firefighter Cancer Alliance reports that cancer is the second leading cause of deaths for firefighters in the U.S.; while NIOSH statistics show that firefighters have both a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. To help reduce these numbers and stimulate cultural, behavioral shifts in the fire service, VCOS and NVFC have identified the following key actions.


  1. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn throughout the entire incident, including a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during salvage and overhaul. 
    Since 1973, NFPA has worked to ensure that  firefighter protective clothing and equipment is shielded from thermal, physical, and environmental hazards they may encounter via NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting  and NFPA 1977 Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting
  2. A second hood should be provide to all entry-certified personnel in the department. 
    Protective hoods are designed to protect a firefighter’s head and neck. Use this safety bulletin to drive the point home in your firehouse.
  3. Following exit from an immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) incident and while still on air, you should begin immediate gross decontamination of PPE using soapy water and a brush if weather conditions allow. PPE should then be placed into a sealed plastic bag and placed in an exterior compartment of the apparatus, or, if responding in personally owned vehicles, placed in a large storage tote, thus keeping the off-gassing PPE away from passengers and self.
  4. While still on scene, the exposed areas of the body (neck, face, arms and hands) should be wiped off immediately using wipes, removing as much soot as possible from exposed areas. 
    Wipes should not be used in lieu of a shower, but can prevent carcinogens from entering the skin immediately. 
  5. Change your clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion or other contaminants. 
    NFPA 1851 Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting offers great insight on PPE.  
  6. “Shower within the hour.” 
    Let’s hope this slogan catches on in fire departments around the globe.
  7. PPE, especially turnout pants, must be prohibited in areas outside the apparatus floor (i.e., kitchen, sleeping areas, etc.) and should never be in the living quarters.
  8. Wipes, or soap and water, should also be used to decontaminate and clean apparatus seats, SCBA and interior crew areas regularly, especially after incidents where personnel were exposed to products of combustion. 
    New vehicle enhancements including air filtration systems to remove contaminated particles from vehicles and non-SCBA seats to help prevent contamination from air packs entering the cab may also help minimize risk. 
  9. Get an annual physical, as early detection is key to survival. 
    The American Cancer Society also suggests regular physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and knowing your family history and potential risks.
  10. Tobacco products of any variety, including dip and e-cigarettes, should never be used at any time, on or off duty. 
    It’s not surprising that the likelihood of getting cancer is significantly higher for firefighters using tobacco products.
  11. Fully document all fire or chemical exposures on incident reports and personal exposure reports.
    Documentation is essential to establish clear correlation between a firefighter’s work and his/her health. Record-keeping helps others to see the extent of exposure that a firefighter experiences in his/her career.


It’s time to reverse occupational exposure in the fire service, and The Lavender Report offers career and volunteer departments bite size safety morsels that could vastly improve health and wellness in the fire service.

NFPA appointed Andrea Vastis as senior director of Public Education, responsible for overseeing NFPA’s well-respected home fire education and wildfire programs.


Vastis joins us from CVS Health, where she oversaw product development and promoted the role of the pharmacist in the healthcare industry. She spent six years as an assistant professor and program coordinator for Community Health Education at Rhode Island College, and orchestrated educational outreach for the Rhode Island Department of Health and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Her ability to oversee strategic, purposeful planning, and management of interdisciplinary teams make her a great fit to lead NFPA’s well-known public education and wildfire mitigation advocacy teams.


“The energy, insight and expertise that Andrea brings to the table is exactly what NFPA is seeking to further our efforts to reach the public with lifesaving information.” NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy Lorraine Carli said. “The public is more complacent about fire and overloaded with lots of messages in lots of formats, it is critical that we develop innovative strategies and collaborate with others to deliver fire safety messages that resonate with the public and proactively reduce risk.”


Vastis is currently overseeing this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the theme of which is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The campaign works to educate individuals and communities about three basic, but essential, steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of having a fire – and to escape safely in the event of one. Vastis will also direct NFPA’s wildfire efforts including NFPA's Firewise USA® program which teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action to prevent losses.


“NFPA is the go-to authority for fire and life safety educational content, tools, and resources. I am excited to work with the public education and wildfire teams and organizations that share NFPA’s mission so that we can collectively save lives and reduce loss,” Vastis said. “My primary goal is to “engage, inform, and activate the public.”


NFPA collaborated with fire and life safety officials in two high-risk states this week to raise awareness of fire safety best practices and persistent community hazards. Fire safety summits were held in both Mississippi and Alabama, two Southern states that respectively had the first and fourth highest fire death rates per million population from 2011 to 2015 in the country, according to a 2017 NFPA research report.


The “Fire Is Everyone’s Fight™: MS Community Risk Reduction Summit” in Pearl, Mississippi was hosted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Mississippi Fire Chief’s Association, State Farm Insurance, Vision 20/20, and NFPA staff. Nearly 100 public educators, code enforcers, and safety personnel attended the full day program. 


Mississippi has the unfortunate title of being the highest-fire-risk state in the country with 57 unintentional residential fire deaths in 2017, and 42 fatalities so far in 2018. In 19 of these cases, smoke alarms were lacking. During the Mississippi session, the State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney highlighted the importance of smoke alarms, saying, “Any fire death is a death too many, people need to take extra fire safety precautions when it comes to protecting their homes and family. I believe this training will help accomplish our goal of reducing fire deaths in Mississippi.”


 Alabama is another state with significant fire deaths. This trend prompted the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office, Alabama Fire Chiefs Association, City of Hoover Fire Department, Alabama Fire College and NFPA to host a third fire safety summit in Hoover this week. The “Turn Your Attention to Fire Prevention” program brought together over 130 fire prevention advocates.


Alabama experienced a particularly devastating year in 2010 when 122 people perished in fires. While the number of lives lost to fire in Alabama dropped to 79 in 2017, the state average has been approximately 90 in recent years – far too many.


For more than 120 years, NFPA has worked to make the world a safer place by educating audiences about how and why fires start. Our website is filled with consumer-friendly fact sheets on a wide range of timely and important topics that will help to keep you, your family, and your neighbors safe from fire and related hazards. Throughout the year, NFPA helps you and your community stay safe through partnerships like those experienced this week in Mississippi and Alabama.

NFPA Regional Director Russ Sanders was honored with the 2018 Everett Hudiburg Award by the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Executive Board. The prestigious award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the training of firefighters, and is named after IFSTA publications Editor Everett Hudiburg. Sanders accepted the distinguished honor at the 2018 IFSTA Validation Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma this past weekend.

   As NFPA’s regional manager for the central states, Sanders represents NFPA in Illinois,    Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Additionally,    he is the executive director of NFPA's Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, and serves as    the President of the United States Delegation to the International Association of Fire and    Rescue Services, an organization that represents fire professionals in more than 50    countries.


   The University of Louisville alumnus is well-known for being a subject matter expert (SME)    for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and their partner organizations and educational institutions, on structural firefighting and high-rise firefighting scientific research projects.. This work has guided response training and deployment decisions for fire departments throughout the United States. Prior to joining NFPA, Sanders was Chief of the Louisville Fire Department in Louisville, Kentucky.


On behalf of NFPA’s staff, heartfelt congratulations to Sanders for being recognized for his    unwavering commitment to improving and expanding training, and the enforcement of codes    and    performance standards.   


IFSTA could not have picked a better guy!    

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