Sunday, June 27, 2010

27 Years -- Looking forward to many more!

On the 27th anniversary of my career in Fire-EMS, I’d like to thank some of the men and women who have influenced me over the years: Chief Sean Mulhern, Capt. Ed Hojnicki, Sr., Chief Jerry Donahue, John Smith, Jamie Turner, Lou Amabili, Dr. Ben Corbalis, Battalion Chief James O. Paige (deceased), Battalion Chief Allen J. Huelsenbeck, Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn (FDNY-ret – my mentor), “the 343,” Dennis Smith (Firehouse Magazine), Chief Frank Schaper (St. Louis), Les Warrick, Bill Walton, Lawrence Mergenthaler, Michelle Fox, Deputy Chief Ray Downey (FDNY Special Ops – deceased), Capt. Terry Hatton (FDNY Rescue-1 - deceased), Uncle Joe Angelini, Sr. (Rescue-1 – deceased), Cousin Joe Angelini, Jr. (Ladder 4 – deceased), Paramedic Bonnie Siegfried (FDNY), EMT Reggie Cervantes (NYC), St Bernard Parish (LA) Fire Department (pictured), Joe Leonetti, Sr., Chuck Snyder, FF/EMT Michelle Smith (deceased), and most recently, Cathleen Rossi-McLaughlin (AI), Dr. Steve Murphy, (AI), the crew of Rescue-Engine 126, Chief Brian Reeder and Capt. Sean Byron. Thank you.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Fundraiser for Firefighter John Glaser

Shawnee (KS) Firefighter John Glaser, 33, died from injuries he suffered while fighting a large house fire on May 22, 2010. His death affected towns in and around Shawnee, but also a community 1500 miles away, Claymont, Delaware..

Claymont, DE (June 25, 2010) -- A little over a month ago, John Glaser, a 6 year veteran firefighter, perished while fighting a house fire in Shawnee, KS. Early on in the firefight, a mayday signal went out for a firefighter down. RIT Teams immediately searched the home and found the 33-year-old man unresponsive at the rear of the home. He died a short time later in the hospital.

Normally, firefighters from distant states would have acknowledged John's passing by commenting on various websites and paying their respects via emails. But Claymont, Delaware firefighters learned that John Glaser was a Delawarean, born and raised in their fire district north of Wilmington. And they responded as if he were one of their own.

Today, Station 13 firefighters along with Jakes Hamburgers conducted a fundraiser, in support of John's wife and 2 children. Why? Firefighters worldwide are family -- and even though Glaser served nearly 1500 miles from Claymont, DE, the Shawnee KS firefighter was remembered as if he was still a resident of the community.

The young volunteer firefighters from Claymont who organized the fundraiser are to be commended for their actions and hard work. And special kudos to local restaurants like Jakes Hamburgers and Moe's Grill for understanding the importance of helping out in the community in which they're located.

Posted here are some photos from the event:

photos by: Lou Angeli

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot Fun in the Summertime

SOPs and Protocol for Warm Weather Firefighter Rehab
By Lou Angeli

Simply stated Firefighter Rehab is designed to ensure that the physical and mental well being of members operating at the scene of an emergency (or a training exercise) don't deteriorate to the point where it affects the safety of any other members. After all, "stressed out" is not a good thing when you're working at America's most dangerous job.

Back in 1993, the US Coast Guard conducted a study dealing with the effects of interior firefighting on the human body. The results of the study are posted in the Coast Guard's Firefighting Initiative, but in short, researchers noted that our body core temperature (even for short exposures), often reaches 104 degrees (F) during the firefight.

(1) Primary Mission

The primary mission for fire command is to identify, examine and evaluate the physical and mental status of fire-rescue personnel who have been working during the emergency incident or a training exercise. Following a proper survey (see below), it should be determined what additional treatment, if any, may be required.

According to FEMA, "Any activity/incident that is large in size, long in duration, and/or labor intensive will rapidly deplete the energy and strength of personnel and thus merits consideration for rehabilitation."

2. Launching The Rehab Operation

A specially designated Rehab Area, (or Group) remote from the fire or emergency incident, should be established at the discretion of the Incident Commander in consult with the senior Safety Officer. If the Incident Commander determines that Rehab is necessary, qualified EMT-Ps or EMT-Bs (assigned to the first alarm response) should be assigned to manage the Rehab Sector under the command of a fire or EMS officer or supervisor.

Note the emphasis of the "first alarm response."

EMS personnel must be on scene and available to provide treatment to fireground personnel at a moment's notice. If EMS does not respond as part of the initial turnout, consideration should be given to the fact that OSHA will certainly ask why they weren't... especially if anyone is injured.

Because they work side by side with the front line troops, company officers play an important role in Rehab. In fact, the federal government suggests that the safety of the fireground rests here, at the supervisor level. If a company member shows signs of fatigue or illness, the company officer will likely be the first to recognize the problem.

Anticipate Rehab needs early in the incident. During large-scale operations, Incident Command should consider augmenting existing resources by requesting additional EMS personnel or even another engine company or squad, to assist in the operation of the Rehab Sector.

(3) Locating the Rehab Sector

It is crucial for Command to establish The Rehab Sector away from any environmental hazards, or by-products of the fire, such as smoke, gases or fumes. During hot months, the ideal location might include a shady, cool area distant from the incident. In winter, a warm, dry area is preferred.

Regardless of the season, the area should be readily accessible to EMS-Rescue personnel and their equipment, so they may restock the sector with supplies, or in the event that emergency transport is required.

Rehab sites can also be established in the lobbies of nearby buildings, parking facilities, or even inside municipal buses. Misting/cooling systems, heating systems, SCBA refilling and canteen service should be stationed in or around this area as well. During large-scale incidents, like multi-alarm fires, Command should consider establishing Multiple Rehab Areas as the situation warrants.

(4) Coordination and Staffing

Command of the Rehab Area should be assigned to a chief or company level officer, who is designated as the Rehab Officer under most Incident Command structures. The incident itself will determine just how many people you'll need to do the job, however a minimum of two trained EMS personnel should initially be assigned to monitor and assist firefighters in the Rehab Sector. Utilize volunteer canteen or auxiliary members to assist EMS personnel in making "working" members as comfortable as possible.

(5) Evaluation of Fire-Rescue Personnel

It is important for command and company level officers to continually monitor personnel for telltale signs of exhaustion, stress, and or physical injury. Individual members are encouraged to report to the Rehab Sector at any time that he or she feels the need to do so. Symptoms may include weakness, dizziness, chest pain, muscle cramps, nausea, altered mental status, difficulty breathing, and others. Regardless of physical well being, all fireground personnel should report to the Rehab Sector immediately following:

- Strenuous Activity
- Forcible Entry, Advancing Hoselines, Ventilation, etc
- The use and depletion of two SCBA bottles
- Thirty (30) minutes of operation within a hazardous/dangerous environment
- Failure of SCBA

(6) Examination of Personnel

Arriving personnel should be examined by qualified EMS personnel, who should check and evaluate vital signs, and make proper disposition, i.e. return to duty, continued rehabilitation, or transport to medical facility for treatment. The workup should include:.

- Scoring for Glasgow trauma scale.
- Checking Pupils
- Checking Vital Signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate
- Checking lung sounds
- Administration of a 2-lead EKG, when chest pain or irregular heartbeat is presented
- Skin condition and color Body core temperature
- Heart rate should be measured as early as possible in the rest period.

If the firefighter's heart rate exceeds 110 beats per minute, it is recommended that an oral temperature be taken. If body core temperature exceeds 100.6F, the firefighter should not be permitted to wear protective equipment or re-enter the active work environment, until temperature has been reduced and heart rate decreased.

It is recommended that re-examination occur at ten minute intervals. Using standing orders or existing protocol, Rehab Team Members should record examination results on medical evaluation forms as indicated by the local jurisdiction.

(7) Treatment During Rehab

Upon completing the physical examination, the following steps should be taken to minimize further risk to fire-rescue personnel: Turnout gear, helmets, masks and hoods should be removed immediately. Prior to ingesting anything orally, fluid or solid, it is recommended that the firefighter clean his/her hands and face with water and a cleaning agent, as provided by Rehab Sector personnel.

- The firefighter should rehydrate
- Oral rehydration and nutrition is recommended in the form of 1-2 quarts of fluids
- Body core temperature should be reduced by cooling the body
- Cool body temperatures gradually using misting systems, fans, etc
- Individuals should be offered Oxygen therapy via nasal canulla or O2 mask.
- Standing rest before reporting for further assignment

The firefighter will only report to manpower staging when presentation is deemed normal by the attending EMS personnel. Note: According to FEMA and the NFPA, Water is the best rehydration agent, however some agencies suggest a rehydration solution of 50 / 50 mixture of water and a commercially prepared activity beverage administered at about 40F. Avoid cooling the body using ice packs or hose streams. Cooling should be gradual, limiting further shock to the body.

In the event that presentation appears abnormal, the Firefighter should immediately receive additional treatment, especially if conditions persist following fifteen minutes of rest. As is appropriate in most locales, those complaining of chest pain, difficulty breathing and altered mental status must receive immediate ALS treatment and transport to definitive health care. Follow your local jurisdiction's ALS protocols in this event.

(8) Accountability

Members reporting to the Rehab Sector / Group should enter and exit the Area as a team. Their company designation, number of personnel, and the times of entry to and exit from the Rehab Area should be documented. This can be done either by the Rehab Officer or his / her designee on a Company Check-In / Out Sheet. Keep crews together, and don't allow overanxious members to freelance the event.

(9) The Vital Importance Of Firefighter Rehab

Very few firefighters who wear the badge are athletes. But, from the moment the alarm is sounded, and that first surge of adrenaline reaches the heart, we're asking our bodies to work triple overtime. Couple that with 55 pounds of business suit, 1200 degree temperatures and another 50 pounds of hand tools and equipment, and the importance of effective rehabilitation at the fire scene becomes crystal clear.


Originally published in Fire Chief Magazine -- written by Lou Angeli
for printed copies contact @Lou

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back to Firefighting Basics

10 Firefighting Phrases You Need to Know
(Fire Science Colleges)

Like any industry, firefighters also have their own phrases, terms and lingo to communicate with each other while on the job. Using short phrases and specific terminology allows firefighters to reach their destination prepared and ready to tackle the flames in a quick and efficient manner. Here are 10 firefighting phrases and terms you need to know:

  1. Two-In, Two-Out
    The phrase, “two-in, two-out” refers to firefighting in teams of two, so that firefighters are never left alone during dangerous tasks. There must be at least two firefighters together when entering and exiting a structure. While inside, they must have direct visual or voice contact with one another, as well as voice or radio contact with the firefighters outside.
  2. Sides A, B, C, D
    Sides A, B, C and D are labels that help firefighters distinguish each side of a building. From the outside of a building and going in a clockwise direction, side A or Alpha is the front of the structure. The left side is B or Bravo, the rear side is C or Charlie and the right side is D or Delta.
  3. Size-Up
    A size-up is a term for the initial evaluation of an incident. Firefighters size-up an incident by reporting the extent of the fire and potential hazards they may face, such as occupancy, location and path of fire, type of smoke, resources needed and additional information that will make the search and rescue process more efficient.
  4. Fully Involved
    Fully involved is a size-up term that means fire, heat and smoke are blowing out of every entrance in a structure. When a fire is fully involved, firefighters must apply fire streams before they can enter the burning building.
  5. Flashover
    A flashover is the simultaneous ignition of combustible materials in an enclosed space, and is the most dangerous stage of a fire. A flashover occurs when certain materials become heated and release flammable gases that reach an auto-ignition temperature, causing the materials to combust and the room to burst into flames. The average temperature of a room that flashes over is anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Strike The Box
    The phrase, “strike the box,” was used in early firefighting, when firefighters would strike a bell or box on the wall to signal an emergency call. Some of today’s stations still say, “strike the box,” to alert their dispatch center to send more fire engines.
  7. First Due
    The phrase, “first due,” signifies the first fire engine at the scene of the emergency. This engine group will typically size-up the fire, prepare for extinguishing and call for back up if they need the second due fire engine.
  8. Code-1
    Code-1 is a low priority emergency call for fire fighters to respond as soon as possible, without lights and sirens.
  9. Code-2
    Code-2 is a medium priority emergency call that means to respond now, using lights and sirens if necessary.
  10. Code-3
    Code-3 is a top priority emergency call that tells firefighters to respond right away, using their lights and sirens and expediting.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Italy's Rescue Volunteers

protezione civile modena
Originally uploaded by Sara e il mondo del soccorso

When it comes to developing CERT teams, FEMA should take a lesson from its Italian counterpart Protezione Civile. During the past 10 years, thousands of volunteer responders have been trained to serve during major emergencies, like the Earthquake that shook the province of L'Aquila last year.

The First Responder Teams are locally based and can be deployed within hours of a major emergency. If the disaster escalates, teams from surrounding communities and regions are dispatched under Italy's Incident Command System which is run by the National Fire Service, the Vigili del Fuoco.

Each members is trained in a variety of disciplines and nationally certified. Because it is a nationalized system, self deployment is not tolerated, and convergent civilian volunteers are not permitted on the disaster site.

To learn more about Italy's Protezione Civile visit