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5 Posts authored by: nfriehs Employee
In cities and towns across America, streets are being divided into three sections: the sidewalk for the pedestrians, the travel lanes for the automobiles including emergency response vehicles, and increasingly the bike lane for the cyclists. 
Research has shown that in cities with a safe cycling infrastructure more people are going to choose biking to work then if there weren’t. That means less cars on the road, healthier populations, and most importantly citizens that can’t afford cars are given a reliable way to get to and from work. Similar studies have shown the same results for pedestrians and expanded sidewalks. 
However, fitting all of these elements into one street can be difficult with the limited space available. According to an NFPA report, Fire Department Roadway and Vehicle Incidents, fire department emergency vehicles were involved in an estimated 16,600 collisions while responding to or returning from incidents in 2015. Moreover, the Fire Service responded to 4,461,000 incidents on roadway properties in 2014, 41 percent of which were on streets in residential or commercial areas. This data highlights that having the appropriate street space is crucial.  
Already dealing with double parking, round-a-bouts, and other drivers, the first responders have to be able to get from the fire station to the scene of the fire in as little time as possible. Adding a protected bike lane or expanding the sidewalks can only serve to take away from that vital space, right? Not necessarily.
In a recent case in Baltimore, there was the possibility that a newly implemented bike lane would have to be removed in order to meet requirements for the fire apparatus. Through much deliberation, it was decided that the residential parking spaces that were also on the street next to the bike lanes would be recreated at an angle instead of parallel to the sidewalk. This out-of-the-box thinking actually allowed for more parking spaces, as well as enough space for the protected bike lane and fire apparatus to co-exist.  
In San Francisco, a similar problem persisted in that the streets were simply too congested for fire apparatus to most effectively get to the scene of a fire. The solution in Europe, where the roads are smaller due to their being created in medieval times, is to simply have smaller vehicles. The problem with using the European vehicles in the U.S., however, is that the fires in the U.S. require far more water to put out due to the wood construction of buildings today. In San Francisco specifically, there is also the concern of being able to make it up the hills the city is famous for. That does not mean, however, that there is no smaller apparatus that could be effective in the U.S. and that’s exactly what the city has recently acquired. Utilizing an apparatus that is ten inches shorter and two inches more narrow, and a turn radius 8 feet smaller, the new truck is a great innovation and shows exactly what the pressure of the modern city street can create.  
With 91% of cities around the U.S. responding to a recent survey saying they are either implementing or planning improved conditions for bikers, these are just a few examples of how these three transportation methods can work together to make cities and citizens healthier and safer.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, time spent with family and friends, and bellies full of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and a plethora of pies, most typically come to mind. What far fewer people know is that the November holiday lays claim to being the leading day of the year for U.S. home cooking fires.


In 2015, Thanksgiving had almost four times the average daily number of reported home structure fires caused by cooking with 1,760 incidents reported. That number reflects a 259% jump over the average number of fires per day. The day before Thanksgiving ranked as the second worst day for cooking fires with 75% more fires (860 incidents) than typically seen on an average day.


Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment, which resulted in 510 civilian fire deaths, 5,470 civilian fire injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unattended cooking was, by far, the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire fatalities.


With so much going on around us, it’s important to keep these simple tips in mind when cooking, sautéing or baking:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the food, especially when frying and sautéing with oil.
  • Use a timer to keep track of cooking times, most notably when cooking a meal that takes a long time like roasting a turkey, baking a roast or simmering. Check the stove or oven frequently. Consider putting timers in different rooms so that you can hear them over music, football games, and party chatter.
  • Stay alert and focused when cooking. To help minimize the risk of injury, avoid cooking when drinking alcohol or if you’re sleepy.
  • Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area. 
  • Kids should stay 3 feet away from stovetops, as well as from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, or gravy could cause serious burns.  


Although frying turkeys at Thanksgiving have become a popular trend, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages turkey fryers because the hot oil used can often lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property. If you would like to enjoy fried turkey, the NFPA recommends that you turn to grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants.


Additional tips and resources can be found on NFPA’s Thanksgiving webpage. General cooking safety information including safety tip sheets, infographics, videos and more can be found on NFPA’s Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage. Enjoy time with your loved ones and delicious food this Thanksgiving, and take the necessary steps to be safe!

 

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it, the rush to find the perfect costume, that great pumpkin, and just the right decorations to cover your house. Hidden within all this fun and excitement are potential fire hazards, and NFPA wants to remind everyone about some simple Halloween safety tips to help avoid seasonal hazards.

 

During the years 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires  annually that began with decorations. These fires caused an average of 2 civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries, and $11.4 million in direct property damage per year. Almost half (45%) of these fires were tied to decorations being too close to some type of heat source, such as a candle. A fire can start when candles are too close to decorations or when long, trailing costumes come into contact with candles.


To help others safely enjoy fall festivities, NFPA has created a Halloween safety video and a Halloween fire safety tip graphic that you can share with family and friends. The following tips can help ensure a harm-free holiday season:

 

  • Candles - Refrain from having an open flame. Use battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in your jack-o-lanterns.
  • Costumes - Choose the right costume. Stay away from long or flowing fabric, and skip extraneous costume pieces.
  • Decorations - Avoid flammable decorations including dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper that are highly flammable. Keep decorations away from open flames and other heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Exits - Remember to keep all decorations away from doors so that they are not blocking any exits or escape routes.
  • Smoke alarms - Make sure all of your smoke alarms are working and up to date.
  • Visibility - Provide flashlights to children or have them carry glow sticks as part of their costumes. Make sure if a child is wearing a mask that the eye holes are large enough to see out of them.

 

Have a great Halloween!

A recent news story in WREG highlighted HERo Day, an annual program, in its third year now, founded by the Memphis Fire Department and the Girl Scouts Heart of the South. The program aims to give nearly 200 young girls in the Memphis, Tennessee community, from grades 6-12, the opportunity to showcase their abilities by training with the men and women in their fire service. This year, training included working with fire hoses and rappelling down the side of a two-story tower; In addition to the training, the girls are also able to watch a search and rescue dog in action, as well as compete in a life-saving obstacle course, and be timed putting on the personal protective equipment used by firefighters as fast as they can. This effort is championed by MFD Fire Director Gina Sweat who told WREG, "I just can’t describe how emotional it is to see these young ladies excited and the possibility of doing something maybe they never thought about before." The MFD’s first female fire director believes that this opportunity will allow girls to realize what they are capable of, and may join the fire department themselves one day. The motto, “If she can see it, she can be it” echoes this sentiment. 
While researching and writing about HERo Day, I couldn’t help but to think about the women who were firefighters throughout history. After extensive searching, I discovered that the history of women in the fire service, while may have been a rich one, has not been well documented. Women have always been in the fire service, however, not historically in a fire suppression role. However, occasional glimpses of these experienced women occur throughout the course of history; it’s not until World War II that women took on the roles traditionally given to their male peers. As the men were off fighting the war, the women at times were making up entire fire departments. As the war came to a close, the women who were tasked with fighting fires remained in the service. From this moment forward, the women of the fire service and their efforts began to be recorded. However, ill-fitting equipment along with resentment from their male counter-parts, made things difficult for these women. Despite these challenges, by the 1970’s women were becoming career firefighters. The NFPA library has manuals dating back to 1993 on the early standards regarding the treatment of women in firefighting. 
Progress continues to be made, as according to an NFPA report “Firefighting Occupations by Women and Race” the annual average number of career women firefighters from 2011-2015, 13,750 or 4.6% of all career firefighters, has doubled since 2000. These girls are given opportunity to follow in the footsteps of parents, grandparents, and their heroes. Women currently make up about 7 percent of all firefighters (volunteer and career), and with the help from communities this number can continue to grow.
Interested in getting your community involved with NFPA? Don’t forget this year’s Fire Prevention Week is coming up! From October 8-12, you and your community can celebrate the fire service and Plan 2 Ways Out!  http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/campaigns/fire-prevention-week

Drones were once viewed as tech toys only purchased for the novelty of taking pictures and videos from new angles. The uses for drones, however, have changed and so too have perceptions about them.

 

In recent weeks, we have seen drones effectively employed during recovery efforts in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Drones can be used in disaster areas long before its safe for humans to get there. They work in tandem with helicopters flying overhead to give authorities a better sense of what they will need to prioritize in the rebuilding process. Companies are also using small UAS to survey devastated areas so they can strategize rebuilding efforts. For example, drones may capture images of infrastructure like railroads or roadways to determine how they can transport necessities and building supplies to the affected areas.

 

The concept behind small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) is simple, but their systems can be complex. They are generally comprised of four propellers attached to a body in the middle (a quadcopter). Typically, they carry a camera on-board, and can range in size from less than a pound to 60 pounds.

 

The topic of drones have spurred countless conversations and endless possibilities, typically tinged with elements of fear, regulatory considerations, privacy issues, hope, and innovation. NFPA is currently working on NFPA 2400 Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) used for Public Safety Operations. The proposed standard will cover the minimum requirements for operation, deployment, and implementation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for public safety operations.

 

Companies are also using drones to assess damage to their buildings and real estate in Texas. Helicopters may be unable to see structural problems from afar. Companies like AT&T can use drones to assess damages to cell towers early in the game so that cell service can be preserved or restored; and the oil and gas industries can use sUAS to determine if there has been any damage to refineries or storage facilities in the wake of natural disasters.

 

Drones not only give their human pilots an aerial view, but can also document history. Insurance companies are assessing home damage with drones by taking before and after photos of devastation. The pictures taken help companies know what the properties in the affected areas looked like before Harvey. High definition drone photographs save time, allow for immediate damage to be documented, and can speed up the overall number of claims that adjusters can handle. This information exchange expedites the insurance process, helps homeowners to tackle home repairs quickly, and move on with their lives.

 

Whether you are excited for what the future might hold for drones, or remain skeptical about the idea of a sUAS flying overhead, they certainly have shown that they can be beneficial in assessing damages to properties, especially during natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey. 

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