Today’s Responder is focused on the needs of all first responders regardless of uniform or badge. This blog is produced by NFPA’s Public Fire Protection Division, staffed by fire fighters, paramedics, fire marshals, emergency managers and safety professionals. Together, they work on more than 90 NFPA documents, standards and guides ranging from personnel protective equipment and professional qualifications to emergency management and public safety communications centers.
The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA, established in 1896, is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.
Obesity is still a problem in the fire service.According to a recent study, at an even greater rate than the general public. This article highlights the problem and offers some suggestions to combat it.
At the end of July, NFPA’s Senior Statistician Mike Karter will be retiring from NFPA and heading up to Maine after four decades with NFPA. Mike created, oversaw and analyzed results from NFPA’s fire department experience survey to provide estimates of number of fires and other incidents handles by local fire departments, as well as civilian fire deaths and injuries, and firefighter injuries from all types of incidents. Every year, the results are published in Fire Loss in the United States. His first survey was for calendar year 1977. The trend tables based on these annual reports have helped us measure the progress we are making. These results are also used with the USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) to provide national estimates of specific fire problems.
Mike’s reports on firefighter injuries and fire department profiles for the US and Canada and his report on US Fires by Region have helped local fire departments compare themselves with other departments and to identify what types of injuries were most common. In collaboration with John Hall, the recently retired Director of NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division, Mike crunched the numbers for the national and state reports of the three Needs Assessments of the US fire service. These assessments, published in 2004, 2007 and 2011, provided details on resource and training needs.
Mike demonstrated a clear commitment to best statistical practices while making necessary adjustments to a world with declining survey response rates. He provided advice on statistical methodology to others in the division. In anticipation of his departure, he’s left lots of detailed notes. Over the years, we've also enjoyed many conversations about sports, politics and movies.
His contributions will last even longer than his tenure. We want to say “Thank you” for all his accomplishments and his dedication and wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.
NFPA just released an updated report on the total cost of fire in the U.S. which showed that the total cost of fire in 2011 was estimated at $329 billion, or roughly 2.1% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Adjusted for inflation, the total cost represents a 34% increase over 1980, while its proportion of U.S. gross domestic product has declined by about one-third.
However, both the total cost of fire and its associated percentage of GDP have been roughly steady for the past decade and a half.
Although the core total cost of fire has increased by 40 percent from 1980 to 2011 to a total of $108.4 billion, the economic loss due to fire decreased by 31 percent, totaling $14.9 billion, with all figures adjusted for inflation.
Fires in 2011 caused $13.3 billion in direct property damage (reported or unreported), which represented 89 percent of economic loss that year. The other 11 percent was indirect loss, such as temporary housing and business interruption.
New building construction for fire protection was estimated to cost $31 billion in 2011.
Each year thousands of fire fighters are injured during training, and occasionally some are fatally injured. Live fire training evolution is an effective and popular training method, but it’s also one that exposes the trainees to significant hazards. One common cause of fire fighter death and injury is a lack of understanding of the hazard assessment of live fires used for training.
A new report was just published, authored by Chad M. Lannon and James A. Milke of the University of Maryland on this topic. This research effort is intended to further clarify the hazards of live fire training evolutions and provide data and information to support a fire hazard assessment methodology for fire training officers and fire fighters. The goal is to analyze specific fuel configurations in certain training fire evolutions and to supplement currently available practical guidance for use by training instructors based on the hazards associated with live fire training evolutions.
This project is intended to directly supplement an earlier project on a "Hazard Assessment for Fire Service Training Fires" that was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, AFG Fire Prevention & Safety Grants. This latest effort was funded by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) through the NFPA Annual Code Fund.
A few months ago we had a blog about Google Glass and its possible applications for the fire service. Although I assumed in time we would have a story about someone using them in the fire service I did not think it would take just a couple months. In the video above fire fighter Patrick Jackson of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has developed and used apps for Google Glass that could potentially spark a technological revolution in firefighting. Check out the video and see for yourself.
February 11, 2014 12:30 – 2:00 pm EST Responding to Electrical Vehicle Battery Fires Sponsored Webinar This Webinar reviews the results of a recent research program to develop the technical basis for best practices for emergency response procedures for electric drive vehicle battery incidents, with consideration for certain details including: suppression methods; personal protective equipment (PPE); and clean-up/overhaul operations. This research program was based on full-scale testing of large format Li-ion batteries used in these electric vehicles, and the presentation will summarize these tests and includes discussion on the key findings relating to best practices for emergency response procedures for electric drive vehicle battery incidents.
Marty Ahrens from the NFPA Fire Analysis and Research department recently published the "Brush, Grass and Forest Fires" report. This report uses National Fire Incident Reporting Data from 2007-2011 and is a reflection on how often local (municipal or county) fire departments around the county are called to smaller brush, grass and forest fires. According to the report local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 334,200 brush, grass and forest fire per year. this translates to 915 such fires per day.
In three-quarters (76%) of the brush, grass, and forest fires handled by local fire departments, less than an acre burned. Only 4% burned more than ten acres. Fires in forests tended to be larger than other vegetation fires. Only three-fifths (59%) of the forest fires were less than an acre, while 9% consumed more than ten acres.
The U.S. Fire Department Profile is my go-to report for information on firefighters and fire departments in the U.S. The report includes statistics on the numbers and characteristics of the U.S. fire departments and firefighters (career and volunteer). It also includes information on the number of fire stations, pumpers and ladders nationwide.
For example, there were approximately 1,129,250 firefighters in the U.S. in 2012. Of the total number of firefighters, 345,950 were career firefighters and 783,300 were volunteers.
For fire departments, there are an estimated 30,100 fire departments in the U.S. Fifteen percent of all departments are all career or mostly career while 85% of the departments are mostly volunteer or all volunteer. Two-thirds of the U.S. population is protected by all career or mostly career fire departments.
"I burn things for a living," says Dan Madrzykowski in a recent article for The Washington Post website. The statement is quite the understatement, since Madrzykowski, leader of the Firefighting Technology Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has an array of responsibilities, many of which are relevant to NFPA's mission. (He also sits on NFPA's Fire Investigations Committee and Fire Service Training Committee.)
Earlier this month, Madrzykowski was honored as one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal recipients for his extensive analysis on fire behavior that aims to improve everything from fire suppression tactics to firefighter gear. “His science-based recommendations are critical for the fire service,
where many firefighters do not have an understanding of fire dynamics,” Anthony Hamins, chief of NIST’s Fire Research Division, tells The Washington Post. “He is
leading a transformational change in fire service thinking.”
Check out a recent article in NFPA Journal describing Madrzykowski's involvement in cooking fire prevention, and this video featuring him:
The 2013 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists for the citizen services category include from left: Michael Craig and Todd Weber, Dave Broomell, Martha Dorris, Terence Milholland and Daniel Madrzykowski.
There are countless
unsung civil servants working behind the scenes to ensure our government
effectively provides critical services that meet the many needs of the American
On October 3, the
nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service will present the
prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for Citizen Services to
one of the previously named five finalists. These individuals improved customer
service at the Social Security Administration, developed new firefighting
techniques to save lives, employed technology to speed tax refunds, headed a
rapid response to a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis, and used
technology to help agencies provide better service and information.
One of the finalists is Daniel Madrzykowski, a fire protection engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a great contributor to all areas of NFPA. Daniel has been nominated for "improving firefighting practices and saving lives," an amazing achievement for Daniel and the fire protection community.
Madrzykowski has spent a good portion of his 28 years in government burning
down buildings to study how fire behaves, resulting in radical changes in
firefighting practices around the country that are saving lives and protecting
with fire departments across the country, Madrzykowski finds buildings that are
scheduled for demolition and recreates previous fires in which firefighters
were injured or lost their lives. He uses sophisticated research tools and
fire-modeling software that help him analyze the blazes and then spreads the
word to firefighters on what he has learned.
and his team have improved everything from ventilation and fire-suppression
tactics to the protective equipment firefighters wear. He has had a major
impact on understanding, documenting and mitigating the dangerous problem of
fire driven by wind, which occurs frequently on the upper floors of tall
He is currently a member of the NFPA Fire Investigations Committee (appointed 7/04) and the Fire Service Training
Committee (appointed 7/08). His previous committee appointments include:
Automatic Sprinklers Systems
Correlating Committee (1/92-8/06)
Means of Egress (91-99)
Mercantile & Business
Safety to Life Correlating
Forest & Rural Fire
Residential Sprinkler Systems
(10/97-7/06; served as chair)