WFC News

Posted: May 24, 2019

Fire Truck Photo of the Day-KME Rear-Mount Quint

Salisbury (MA) Fire Department, 103-foot four section AerialCat™ aerial ladder quint. Severe Service cab and chassis; galvanized frame rails; Cummins ISX12 500-hp engine; Hale Qmax XS 1,500-gpm pump.

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Posted: May 23, 2019

Rurally Speaking: Spotters, Blockers, and the Checkered Flag

By Carl J. Haddon

With this being the weekend of the Indianapolis 500 race, and my background of having spent some 30 years as a Motorsports Fire Safety Chief/Director, I thought it fitting to comingle subjects.

Safety is focus number one when dealing with 200+ mph race cars. The dangers associated with being a Superspeedway firefighter are very real. We work on high banked race tracks at the same time as having super horsepowered vehicles “idle” past our firefighters at 80+ miles per hour. This kind of work (rescue/firefighting/clean-up) requires an elevated level of situational awareness and crew preservation safety practices. But, what do you think I mean when I say it “requires an elevated level….?” Elevated from what?

It is literally gut wrenching to me to hear and see the incessant notifications of line-of-duty deaths related to firefighters getting struck and killed at vehicle accident scenes. The most recent incident that comes to mind is that of a firefighter being struck and killed by another vehicle “as he stepped off of his apparatus.” This type of incident happens in urban and rural settings alike. “Fire” doesn’t care if you’re a career or volunteer firefighter. Unfortunately, neither does traffic.

In the racing business, when we roll out to a wreck or a fire, we too use our apparatus as blockers or as physical barriers between working fire crews and race traffic. We have a VERY important rule in super speedway fire/rescue: NEVER turn your back on the race track. We also have a member of each crew designated as a spotter. The spotter announces when it’s safe to exit the crash truck and gives alerts of threats or dangers. Sound kinda like a Safety officer?

Please know that I have no illusion of similarity between speedway crash trucks and large municipal engines, trucks, and aerials. Although the extrication equipment that we carry is the same, the size and scope of the apparatus is night-and-day different. But, what about the idea of blockers and spotters? In my travels to departments around the country and beyond, I regularly see and experience department policy that does NOT routinely use apparatus as blockers for calls on roads or highways (as opposed to urban freeways). Remember, “traffic”—either urban, suburban, or rural—doesn’t care. We are all getting hurt and killed at accident scenes regardless of the state or location.

My suggestion, or even question, is if we might be able to incorporate some level of superspeedway situational awareness into our highway traffic incident responses? I understand that when we spec our trucks and engines, we typically do so with specific compartments designed for specific tools and equipment. Insomuch as vehicle crashes (and now much longer scene time for vehicle fire responses) are typically the things we are dispatched to most often (EMS calls not withstanding), might we want to take another look at where we spec compartmenting for rescue tools, cribbing, airbag, and other vehicle rescue equipment so as to make accessing these tools safer for our crews while in traffic?

In the big-track racing world, we wear Nomex driver’s suits, much like the ones worn by the racers themselves. In our municipal firefighting world, we wear turnout gear with lots of reflective taping. We wear high-visibility colored vests with lots of reflective taping. We put out flares, cones, and new LED lighted flashing marker lights to warn other drivers of an incident ahead. We use our big heavy fire apparatus as blockers between us and traffic. Yet, with all of these devices that we deploy, we still have what seems like weekly notifications of someone losing thei

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Posted: May 23, 2019

Tuscumbia (AL) Fire Department Getting New Fire Equipment

The list of equipment McAnally provided during Monday's meeting includes firehose, couplings, adapters, hose rollers, pike poles, plaster hooks, hose bed covers, low frequency sirens, a rope rescue kit, stokes baskets and wheel chocks.  

The list includes 12 100-foot sections of 5-inch diameter hose, nine with couplings and three without couplings, 36 50-foot sections of 3-inch hose, and 21 50-foot sections of 1¾-inch hose.  

"It will outlast the truck and outlast the people," McAnally said said of the more than 3,000 feet of hose he plans to purchase. It will last a long time if you take care of it."

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Posted: May 23, 2019

Columbus (NC) Needs New Fire Equipment After Zinc Fire

The fallout is far-reaching for the department; state law mandates firefighters need to have proper, updated gear. But the gear CFD uses was damaged after the fire, leaving fire chief Tony Priester's department with a $40,000 price tag on new gear and equipment.  

“The seven sets of gear that we’re having replaced is boots, pants, coats, flash hood, SCBA masks, gloves, helmet," he says. Just one set usually has an asking price of more than $2,000, and that's before factoring in other equipment.

It's not as simple as cutting a check to get the new equipment. Priester says “We have to first file it with our insurance, VFIS. And that’s all the departments that were down there. 20 plus departments.”

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Posted: May 23, 2019

Monastery Blesses Ellwood City (PA) Fire Apparatus


“Thank you for what you do. We appreciate you and we wanted to do something for you,” she said. “A special service that our church offers is blessing the vehicles of special responders. It is a beautiful blessing. What we do here at the monastery is live and pray, and we pray for you and your safety and for your families.”  

The Rev. Michael Hatrak, retired Orthodox priest, presided over the blessing service with a number of the sisters singing responses. Hatrak prayed for them and their families in their daily lives and for them as they serve their communities as firefighters and the dangerous situations they encounter.

After the brief service, the men and women gathered in front of their respective vehicles in the parking lot next to the gazebo.

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