CFJ Vol. 26.3 (Winter 2012)

HAZMAT - Meeting the ‘Toxic Twins’ CO and HCN

Hypoxia, asphyxia, cardiac arrest, and then death. Hopefully, I have your attention. Modern technology has changed the way we fight fires, and the ways fire burn. Due to the chemical make-up of manufactured materials, fires today burn hotter, flashovers occur more rapidly, and the smoke is much more toxic. As a result of these factors, firefighters have been dying at a greater rate than ever before from toxic chemical compounds like Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN).

In the mid 70s George Kimmerle listed eight major factors that can cause death in fires and to those that are involved in them.1 They are as follows:

  1. Direct consumption by the fire (flame contact)
  2. Very high temperature (thermal insult, burns)
  3. Oxygen deficiency
  4. The presence of CO


Read More »

Relevant Tags: hcn, firefighters, fire service, carbon monoxide, manufactured materials, cyanide hcn, todd shoebridge

ASK ERNIE: The Pros & Cons of Adding Zincs

What are the pros and cons of adding zincs to my apparatus and why aren’t they installed from the factory?

Sacrificial anodes are a long established corrective measure to slow or eliminate galvanic action within the apparatus plumbing system. Back in my day — when I was a puppy in this industry — all apparatus water tanks were made of steel and coated with some type of inner coating to prevent ‘corrosion.’ Tanks sprung leaks on an all too regular basis. Tank warranties required that the tanks be disassembled annually to restore corrosion protections and assure that none was occuring — like we were going to take the tanks apart annually, ya right, NOT. In the end, we ended up essentially with either stainless steel tanks, or poly tanks. Our specifications mandated a minimum 20 year warranty against leakage and cracking.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: Ask Ernie, apparatus, system, pump, service, coolant, cooling system, ask ernie, galvanic action, reserve apparatus, pros cons, attained maximum, nfpa 1911

Identity Theft: Prevent losing yourself

When my children were very young, our family was on vacation at the beach with friends. My friend’s youngest child Luke was busy at the water’s edge, happily jumping waves and chasing a beach ball. In no time at all, Luke was not within our sight. We scurried to find him, spotting him in the distance where he had obviously lost himself in play. When he realized that he could not see us, a visibly upset Luke came running up the beach, and exclaimed to his mother, “Where were you? I lost myself!”

Read More »

Relevant Tags: identity, theft, fire, credit, information, security, identity theft, social security, theft protection, security number, credit card, personal information, theft prevent

Building or renovating your fire station - what does it cost?

Most fire departments ask two questions when circumstances require that they either build a new station or renovate and/or build an addition to their existing facility. Those questions are, “What does it cost?” and “When can we move in?” If your department is in this position, this article will attempt to assist in answering the first question. Read More »

Relevant Tags: cost, fire, future, design, build, site, building, maintenance, initial cost, future maintenance, maintenance costs, life cycle, new station, design build

So, you’re being sued — where is your documentation

As part of my job duties I am required to travel across South Carolina and visit fire departments, EMS and rescue organizations — from the mountains to the sea —from the largest departments having all career personnel to the smallest volunteer agencies serving crossroad communities. On occasion, as I drive away from some of these agencies, I am gripped with a feeling of apprehension, or maybe a strange foreboding that “things ain’t right.”

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, training, emergency, documentation, insurance company, emergency service, management safeguards, fire apparatus, ems rescue, being sued, loss control, service organization, fire departments

Doing more with less in volunteer fire departments

It seems to me we are hearing a lot about the career fire departments that are dealing with budget cuts and having to deal with less. However, not a lot of publicity about the volunteer fire departments that are being affected by the budget cuts that are taken place across the country in just about every city and town.

My town and fire department did receive an increase this budget year which tells me our elected officials are listening to us and they get it. According to the ICMA (International City/County Managers Association) too many are doing with less. Most budgets for emergency services around the country are being affected and the elected officials are hearing very little or nothing from the leaders in the departments. Read More »

Relevant Tags: The Volunteer Department, fire, departments, volunteer, fire departments, volunteer fire, fire service, budget cuts, volunteer department, elected officials

Fire service technology — friend or foe?

As I write this column I sit at my desk wondering what technology will exist in the next 10, 20 or even 30 years? Over the last two decades the world has seen a tremendous change in the way we live our day-to-day lives because of advancements in technology.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, technology, devices, service, fire service, service technology, friend foe

Are you the weakest link in IMS?

“Incident Management Systems don’t work.” The words still rang in my ears as I felt my face become flushed and emotion begin to build in my chest. While attending a recent class, one of my classmates hit all of us with the statement above. I quickly thought of every fire and every motor vehicle collision to which I have responded in my career. Yes, some didn’t run like a Swiss clock but for the most part the Incident Management System (IMS) had run calls effectively and efficiently.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: ims, command, incident, management, incidents, weakest link, integrated communications, department organization, common terminology, incident management, management system, unified command

Raleigh Fire Department celebrates Centennial

This year the Raleigh Fire Department celebrates a milestone: their 100th anniversary as a career fire department. Special events are planned including a downtown birthday party on June 9, 2012. North Carolina’s Capitol City is protected by the second largest fire department in the state, but it started very small. Let’s turn the clock back 99 years.

In 1912, five volunteer fire companies and some 120 firemen protected Raleigh’s four square miles and nearly 20,000 residents. They operated five pieces of horse-drawn fire equipment: three hose wagons, one steam engine, and one service ladder truck. Fires were fought using hydrant pressure, though the steamer was used for major fires or calls outside the city. Alarms were sounded from Gamewell street boxes.

But insurance underwriters and city officials were seeing the need for an overhaul. Though the volunteer Raleigh Fire Department was 49 years strong-- next year also marks their 150th anniversary-- it was time for a change. It was time for a full-time fire chief, full-time firefighters, and motorized fire engines.

The reorganized Raleigh Fire Department started with two hose companies and 15 firefighters, plus Fire Chief Sherwood Brockwell and Assistant Fire Chief Charles Farmer. A third station and third hose company was placed in service within two months. The steamer and ladder truck were reserve apparatus.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, department, raleigh, station, american lafrance, department celebrates, fire station, birthday party, north carolina

Extrication Education - Watch for airbag smart systems

As I write this column we are celebrating Veteran’s Day. We should honor our Veterans every day for the sacrifices they have made for our freedoms. Those that have gone before and laid down their lives, those that serve us now, and those who will be serving us in the future, perhaps our children and grandchildren. They deserve our respect and gratitude more than one day a year. May they always be blessed, along with their families for the hardships they have faced. Read More »

Relevant Tags: Extrication Education, bags, frontal, airbag, seat, impact, extrication education, frontal bags, seat belt, smart systems, frontal impact

Concord High School Fire Academy dedicates World Trade Center artifact

The Concord High School (CHS) Fire Academy has unveiled and dedicated a piece of the World Trade Center for use in the Fire Academy in its Memorial Wall. This was one of two pieces that was requested by the Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety. The journey to acquire the two pieces was a process that took a little over one year.

The request was made by Concord Fire and Life Safety’s Deputy Chief of Operations, Ray Allen, to the New York and New Jersey Port Authority and the process was set into motion early in 2010. The request was granted and they arrived on May 22, 2011. The larger piece that was designated for the City of Concord, North Carolina was dedicated and unveiled on Sept. 11, 2011 at the 10th Anniversary Patriots Day ceremony held at Concord Fire and Life Safety Station 8.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, academy, concord, school, chief, fire academy, concord high, honor guard, high school, fire department

When it pays to refinance debt

The decision to take out a new loan is usually a pretty simple process driven by the need for a new truck, equipment, a station renovation or development, or a real estate purchase. The loan process is pretty straightforward, too. You select the best rate, terms and payments to fit your budget. The decision to refinance current debt, however, is often more complicated. The reasons and benefits may be unclear, and you may not fully understand how to go about it. The tendency is to stick with what you know. Instead, take some time to consider refinancing. It may be the perfect solution for your department.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: loan, payments, debt, refinance, costs, payment, new loan, real estate, annual payments, existing loans, loan officer, refinance debt, loan process

Local firefighter donates pet oxygen masks

In recent months we have all seen news stories of people being pulled from burning buildings though the heroic efforts of firefighters and revived with the aid of an oxygen mask.

But, how many of us have stopped to think about our “other family members” who may need to be rescued as well?

Christopher Young, owner of Sleeping Dog Sales and volunteer at Bayleaf, has been raising money to make sure North Carolina fire departments have “pet oxygen masks” ready to use as needed. Mr. Young recognized the need for more masks during his service as a firefighter.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, masks, oxygen, news, training, local firefighter, oxygen masks, pet oxygen, firefighter donates, firefighters revived, aid oxygen

Beyond Hoses and Helmets

Nash Community College is proud to sponsor “Beyond Hoses and Helmets” in January of 2012.

“Beyond Hoses and Helmets” is an educational training course designed by practicing chief officers that delivers real world expertise through an interactive educational experience. The United States Fire Administration and the National Emergency Training Center provided technical support in the development of course material and supporting documents.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: training, hoses, january, helmets, beyond hoses, community college, nash community, industry news, real world, chief officers

Fire Rescue EMS Industry News

Water Response Training Council Formed

In November, seven US-based public safety diving training associations came together in an unprecedented round-table meeting at the DEMA Show venue in Orlando, Florida, to form the Water Response Training Council. This new council’s charter is to improve the safety of public safety divers and consumers through development of minimum training standards.

The following associations: Dive Rescue International (DRI), Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI), International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD), Life Guard Systems (LGS), PADI, PSDA and US Water Rescue are founding members of the new council.

The next meeting of the Water Response Training Council will take place early 2012.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: Industry News, fire, training, safety, water, ems, public, training council, response training, water response, industry news, public safety, fitness guide

Hazmat teams from across North Carolina display their skills at Annual Hazmat Challenge

On Saturday, August 13th, seven hazardous materials teams from across the State met in Raleigh for fun, fellowship and competition in the Hazmat Challenge. The Hazmat Challenge is an annual event sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Hazardous Materials Responders (NCAHMR) and is held at the North Carolina Firemen’s Association Conference/South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo.

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Relevant Tags: challenge, hazmat, materials, hazardous, teams, carolina, safety, hazardous materials, hazmat challenge, north carolina, fire department

Daily Incident Log - 6/7/2012


One dead in New Bern apartment fire at assisted living facility

A New Bern man in his 60s is dead after a fire Wednesday night at Brunswick House assisted living facility on Colony Drive. The fire was called in around 7 p.m. by an automatic alarm. The fire was contained to one unit. No other injuries were reported. Foul play was not suspected, officials said Wednesday night. Police and fire officials c ontinued to investigate Thursday. A cause has not been determined.


Read More »

Relevant Tags: Article

Fire apparatus - Not just the big boys

Well brothers and sisters, let’s get started, this is the first of a four part series on how to spec a new piece of apparatus. These articles will give you insight and give you a few more things to think about other than what brand and what color. Each article will cover a different aspect of your process. I wanted to write this series because of some recent experiences I have had while in the field regarding some apparatus and items. These are things that should have been caught at the beginning of the spec process. Read More »

Relevant Tags: All About Trucks, apparatus, trucks, big boys

Is fire truck maintenance important?

Is your department doing the checks needed to make sure your apparatus is ready to respond to a call?

Most fire departments do not have a full time maintenance shop — most fire apparatus repairs are sent to a third-party fire apparatus repair facility. In these economic times we are facing financial challenges in our budgets, but there are several things that firefighters (career and or volunteer) can do on a regular basis in the fire station to head off issues early on and that will help to prevent the need for costly repairs.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: All About Trucks, fire, apparatus, maintenance, pump, tank, department, inspection, fire apparatus, fire department, ready respond

The power of positive thinking for firefighters

Unless you live in a cave, you have probably noticed these are pretty tough economic times. Your last raise in pay is probably a distant memory while most everything else has gone up in price. Conversely, emergency services resources are most likely not as plentiful as they were a few years back. As a result, current firehouse conversations most likely expound on what you don’t have, as opposed to what you do have. While this is normally construed as a natural reaction to an adverse situation, it is ultimately one’s words and our subsequent actions that distinguish who and what we are. Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, positive, fire department, fire service, emergency services, positive thinking, dave murphy

Interoperability: what it means to first responders

Communications in this modern age is something that we take for granted. Imagine what life was like when your grandparents relied on wind-up telephones and the telegraph to talk to family and friends, or to report a problem. Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, emergency, safety, communications, interoperability, public, agencies, management, public safety, first responders, deficit reduction, emergency management

Eastern Carolina Firefighters Association Scholarship Opportunities

The Eastern Carolina Firefighters Association is pleased to announce the application period for the 2012 scholarship awards. As you are aware, the cost of education has increased in recent years. The Association is very happy to be able to assist in the education of firefighters in Eastern North Carolina. We encourage all member departments to take advantage of this opportunity by submitting one application for each of the following scholarships: Read More »

Relevant Tags: Article

RAE Systems and Fire Smoke Coalition to Provide Training For North Carolina Emergency Responders

Indianapolis, IN – March 15, 2012 – RAE Systems Inc., a leading provider of toxic gas monitoring systems, is combining with the Fire Smoke Coalition to deliver the “Know Your Smoke” Symposium for emergency responders – including firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics – in North Carolina on July 20 and 21. Read More »

Relevant Tags: hazmat, firefighter training, emt, paramedic, RAE systems, north carolina, first responders, fire smoke coalition

The proactive Rapid Intervention Team

In an earlier column we discussed the organization of your rapid intervention team (RIT) and how to overcome several roadblocks early on. Having a well trained, equipped team of firefighters ready to deploy for a fireground emergency should be a necessity. Even though most of us understand the extreme importance of staffing this team, not many firefighters jump at the thought of filling the RIT assignment. For those that don’t usually have a positive outlook regarding this assignment, you are inherently placing yourself and other firefighters at risk. Read More »

Relevant Tags: rit, equipment, officer, rit officer, rapid intervention, incident commander, intervention team, radio traffic

The use of arson by gangs

The following is a subject discussed in an article I wrote in the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal in January 2010.

Have you ever wondered if suspected arson fires were committed by organized gangs? Crime trends continually change. The use of fire as a criminal tool of retribution is one of the trends law enforcement and the fire service are noting with regularity over the past decade.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: gang, fire, arson, carolina, ems, law, rescue, gang activity, gang members, south carolina, law enforcement, use arson

Public safety training - what is your motivation to train?

Sitting in a training class in Emmitsburg Maryland I overheard a fellow student ask another, “So, why are you here?” The answer he gave did not surprise me but it did make me think. His answer was short, to the point and honest, “Because chief told me to be here.” I asked some one else in the class the same question, and an answer I received was, “I will get a pay raise for completing this class.” We should all ask ourselves the same question when we participate in training, “Why am I here?” Read More »

Relevant Tags: EMS 2012, class, training, student, ems, fire rescue, emergency services, training session, rescue ems, public safety

Sweet’s vehicle extrication book an excellent resource tool

Last issue we looked at several items that could be used in search and rescue — the Coaxsher Pack and the Hennessy Hammock. Both proved to be excellent field gear for search. There is a new system coming out from Delorme that hopefully I will get to evaluate utilizing their PN-60 GPS unit. The GPS unit will be able to receive and send information and texts.

We are living in a time of rapid expanding technology that we have a hard time keeping up with. Between computers and iPhones, and the applications that continuously come out, it is almost impossible to keep up. As my folks tell me, I am still living in the stone age, as my cell phone is an older flip phone that is not text friendly. But then, I have a hard time reading the little numbers anyway. Whatever happened to the personal touch of actually talking to someone? How soon will we lose our abilities to communicate effectively with others and things become impersonal? Read More »

Relevant Tags: Tools of the Trade, book, excellent, rescue, resource tool, excellent resource, extrication book, tools trade

Associations announce co-location of 2012 South Carolina Fire Conference

The S.C. State Firefighters’ Association and the S.C. State Association of Fire Chiefs have announced, during the 2011 S.C. Fire Chief’s Conference in Anderson, the intended co-location of conferences for both of the Associations. Read More »

Relevant Tags: conference, rescue, state, training, ems, south carolina, carolina fire, fire conference, firefighters’ association, product reviews

NCSFA (Piedmont Region) Announces Focus Group Meeting

The North Carolina State Firemen’s Association (NCSFA) is coordinating with the Piedmont Association to hold three focus group meetings in the Piedmont region. The purpose of the focus group meetings is to give you and other fire chiefs in North Carolina the opportunity to tell the NCSFA how they are doing. They want to know what things are important to you and your members and would like suggestions on how the state association can better meet your needs. Read More »

Relevant Tags: Article

From dalmatians to decontamination — 40 years of fire station evolution

Stewart-Cooper-Newell Architects is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. During that time, we’ve been blessed to work on the design of over 200 stations and the pre-planning of over 700 stations. As I think back on all those station projects, I realize how much things have changed. A lot can change in 40 years! My shampoo of choice use to be Head and Shoulders ... now it’s Mop and Glo! But my appearance is not the only thing that’s changed during that time. Station design has changed even more. Read More »

Relevant Tags: station, design, fire, facility, departments, station design, cooper newell, newell architects, stewart cooper, public safety


I was reacquainted with an old friend recently. Most of you know my partner in crime, Gwen Shuford, and most of you know she’s the leader. She was asking our business neighbors where they were having their Christmas party, yes Christmas not holiday, and they told her the Palmer Building. They explained that it was a building renovated by the Charlotte Fire Department. Read More »

Relevant Tags: FROM THE EDITOR, winter, fire, charlotte, editor, palmer, from editor, palmer building

The art of politics in the fire service

As a state association director, I am fortunate enough to be a participant in a number of issues involving political decisions at the local, state, and federal level. My involvement, more frequently than any contribution, is to listen, learn, and affect communication. This role has afforded me the unique ability to observe qualities of political strivings that my brothers and sisters within the fire service must necessarily and frequently exercise. It is from these observations that I would wish to offer my profession a few of those notes as we prepare ourselves in these economically and socially challenging times to grasp the art of politics. Read More »

Relevant Tags: Forum, fire, political, art, art politics, fire service, elected official, level involvement, skill set

Caduceus versus Rod of Asclepius - the symbols of emergency services

We see them everywhere — on our uniforms, our ambulances, our equipment, and for some, tattooed on their body. Do you know why we use it or what it means? What is the difference in the Rod of Asclepius and a caduceus? While very similar in appearance, each has its own meaning and history tied to it. A caduceus is a winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it. The Rod of Asclepeus is a staff with a single snake wrapped around it. Read More »

Relevant Tags: EMS 2012, ems, caduceus, asclepius, medical, rod asclepius, army medical, red cross, emergency medical

Ambulance simulator gives EMS students real-world experience

“How’d you get that in here?”

That is the reaction of many people when they see what looks like an ambulance parked in the middle of a classroom on South Piedmont Community College’s (SPCC) Old Charlotte Highway Campus, said Dennis Baucom, SPCC’s director of Vocational Trades. Some have looked around the corner into the next room to see if the front of the ambulance is there.

“Several people have asked where the front of it was,” said SPCC Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Robby Smith. “The gas cap on the side really gives it some feel like it was driven in here.”

Read More »

Relevant Tags: EMS 2012, ambulance, simulator, students, ems, baucom, smith, ambulance simulator, piedmont community, vocational trades, south piedmont, world experience

Returning to the foundations - ventilation

Loss control — originally a civilian affair (in the city of New York until a few years ago) by the insurance companies of the day — is designed to assist fire companies in reducing damages to property before, during and after fires and other occurrences. Within this category are two specific tasks — salvage and overhaul. Salvage is a task that can be done during and/or after fire attack — usually an afterthought of command officers. Providing protection for one’s or a family’s personal property is, by far, the best way to enhance our reputation. Overhaul is seeking hidden fire and beginning to determine the cause of the fire. Both can actually begin in the pre-incident planning stages.

Read More »

Relevant Tags: fire, damage, water, loss control, pre incident, returning foundations, fire attack, foundations ventilation, after fires, salvage overhaul, incident planning, primary damage

Putting on your Sunday go to meeting clothes

It is said we all must face death and taxes. Neither are fun and here lately about the only way to escape more taxes seems to be death! Even then you don’t get away as your family is left behind to write those big estate tax checks. Read More »

Relevant Tags: Barnyard Management, family, funeral, sunday meeting, barnyard management

Back to the Basics of Hazmat

The question of “What in the heck is that?” will almost invariably arise regarding the new title of this section — “Sixty-One Delta One.” Sixty-One Delta One was selected as the title due to the fact that in the standardized Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD) protocols being adopted in many locations throughout the nation, 61-D-1 is the dispatch code corresponding to a hazardous materials incident that is uncontained or moving, which is basically the worst-case scenario of the hazmat dispatch series. The title also represents an attempt at tongue-in-cheek hazmat humor, to which I know most readers will answer “Is there such a thing as hazmat humor?”

Read More »

Relevant Tags: SIXTY ONE DELTA ONE, hazmat, tube, equipment, carbon dioxide, delta one, hazardous materials, back basics, oxygen deficient, colorimetric tube, hazmat responders

Fire on the Riverfront

On March 9, 1953, the Wilmington Fire Department faced one of its largest and costliest fires in the city’s history. The fire, which was located in a warehouse complex located on the Cape Fear River, pushed the fire department to its limits and then some. It seemed for a time that the city’s waterfront would be completely wiped out.

The fire occurred at the Wilmington Terminal and Warehouse Company, part of a large complex of seven warehouses located on the Cape Fear River. The warehouses were situated perpendicular to the river with slips between some of the buildings. Rail access was alongside each building. The following is a brief description of each warehouse and its contents at the time of the fire.

The buildings were heavy timber construction with a brick exterior.

Wilmington Terminal Nitrate Warehouse:

  • Equipped with a sprinkler system
  • Contained 25,000 tons of sodium nitrate
  • Contained 200 tons of fishmeal

Read More »

Relevant Tags: A Blast from the Past - MARCH 9, 1953, fire, warehouse, nitrate, explosion, fire department, chief croom, sodium nitrate, march 1953, wilmington terminal

Carbon Monoxide calls on the rise for fire departments

In January 2010, Columbia Fire Department’s Engine 6 was dispatched to an apartment to check for carbon monoxide (CO). Upon arrival the family was standing outside the apartment. They informed Engine 6 that their family member was admitted to the hospital a few hours prior with flu-like symptoms, but that the hospital had just informed them that the patient had CO poisoning. They were concerned that they too may be affected as they were spending a few days in the apartment while visiting the family member. Engine 6 was equipped with a standard four gas meter (O2, LEL, CO, and H2S) and immediately checked the apartment, but was unable to get any reading on the meter. They questioned the family members that were visiting and no one else felt ill. Read More »

Relevant Tags: Hazmat, gas, fire, detector, carbon monoxide, columbia fire

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About the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal

Welcome to the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal! We want to provide you with timely online information and breaking news that best equips you to meet today’s emergency challenges. Among our firefighting articles, you will find the latest in firefighter technology, firefighter training, leadership development and the newest products and services presented in an “Act Now” user friendly format.  We want to be your best online source for the fire and rescue information, resources and reviews you need.
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