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June 15, 2015 Previous day Next day

In today’s fire service, when we hear about finding a creative solution, it usually refers to one of two things: money cut from the budget for services we still have to provide, or making a new, creatively outrageous tool. However, as the fire service becomes more adept at an ever increasing skill set, even our creativity has started to expand. We partner with other agencies to form coalitions; we join with community leaders to adapt our public education strategies; we find avenues to get things done that have not been used before.


For example, St. Paul, MN, in late 2011, was faced with a unique problem. A new light rail service was snarling traffic and impeding their response. Working with a local recycling plant, they were able to find a temporary location to respond from. See their Recycling fire station solution.


If you’re faced with this situation, NFPA does offer some guidance. From office space to mechanic shops and sleeping quarters, NFPA standards can assist in making those decisions so you can achieve balance between safety and functionality.


Facility safety, NFPA 1500, ch. 9

Communications, NFPA 1221

Life safety code, NFPA 101, NFPA 1

Infection control, NFPA 1581


Speaking of functionality, a man in south Florida found an interesting way to reuse an old ladder truck. Anyone looking for a second job?

Chris Farrell

Wildfire and GIS

Posted by Chris Farrell Employee Jun 15, 2015

Anyone who’s seen the massive destruction wrought by wildfire across the western United States this season has no doubt about its potential for disaster. The tragic loss of so many firefighters in Arizona reminds us of the devastation left in its wake.


So what is being done to improve how wildfires are fought and prevented? Well, lots of things. NFPA’s Firewise program works with communities to mitigate the dangers of wildfires. NFPA 1143 addresses preparedness for wildland incidents and mitigation efforts.


Also, GIS is being used in a forecasting tool to model wildfire using a variety of inputs. It is interesting to compare these three approaches to fire modeling that have sprung up to deal with the threat.


Israel’s fire forecasting model




Canadian fire growth model


NFPA 950 and 951 address the interoperability of data across exchanges in an all-hazards response.

NFPA 1936 is the standard to which powered rescue equipment is tested to assure the end user has safe tools to perform rescue operations.


Only manufacturers whose rescue tools have been certified to the rigorous requirements of NFPA 1936 can receive conformity documentation and adhere an NFPA compliance label.


NFPA 1936 is the only certification standard for rescue tools in North America. The standard specifies the minimum requirements for the design, performance, testing, and certification of powered rescue tool systems and the individual components of spreaders, rams, cutters, combination tools, power units, and power transmission cables, conduit, or hose. 


Approved rescue tools to NPFA 1936 use NFPA standards that are developed through a consensus standards development process approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This process brings together volunteers representing fire service personnel, insurance, special experts and industry professionals to achieve consensus on fire and other safety issues.


For rescue tools certified to NFPA 1936, product conformance verification is required to be performed by a product conformance verification organization, such as UL, SEI and TUV. The product conformance verification program requires manufacturers to establish and maintain a quality assurance program that meets the requirements of NFPA 1936. In addition, continued product conformance verification shall be maintained by a product conformance organization by means of random inspections.


For further information, and to read the entire document, please go to


Chris Farrell

Data collection

Posted by Chris Farrell Employee Jun 15, 2015

Data and the collection of data are big topics around the fire service. We are collecting more data than we ever have, and it will only keep growing. Much of it comes in the form of the reports we complete after an incident. The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has recently published a report on the “unknowns” in incident data as well as a training video stressing the importance of obtaining good data.

Consider that for a moment, an all-hazards response. One important aspect of that is the applicability of GIS as an extremely useful tool in the field. An excellent recent article in Fire Engineering used a case study from West Liberty Fire Department in Ohio to assess rural water supply. GIS analysis enables users to have important information at their fingertips with a little bit of planning and organization.


A recent article in Fire Chief provides another great use of GIS, one we may not immediately think of. The Vulnerability Impact Protocol for Environmental Resources, or VIPER, is a tool to help contain and mitigate runoff from fire-suppression efforts. It was developed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Environmental Sustainability Committee. It uses GIS to aid in prevention of contamination of the water supply from fire fighting operations.


Take a moment and think about how your department could use GIS to enhance response and provide responders with more information – I bet you can come up with a great idea!