Highlights of Citizens Firefighter Academy – Week 5

This week we had issues with the weather and changed the schedule.  I called Fire Station No. 3 and one of the firefighters indicated we would meet at Fire Station No. 2.  Instead of  Hose/Hose Evolutions and Driving a Fire Truck we would be doing Search & Rescue and Vehicle Extrication.

Search and Rescue

Firefighter Academy IR CameraWe first suited up in our bunker gear and split up in two groups.  My group did Search and Rescue first.   Our Search and Rescue mission was to find one of the firefighters in their living quarters of the fire station while in the dark. One of the biggest issues that firefighters face while combating interior structural fires is impaired vision.  With the fire burning it”s difficult to see through the thick smoke, no lights with the power off,  and complete darkness. One of the tools that firefighters use is an Infra-Red (IR) thermography camera.  The camera measures temperature difference and heat generated on the  camera screen in real time allowing the firefighter to identify people.

One of theFirefighters Academy firefighters led us through the doors of the fire station.  We  walked into the building with all the lights out…pitch black. He told us some of the pass and feel procedures during search and rescue and then turned on the IR camera. As we slowly walked through the living quarters we felt around and looked under beds. Our journey was quite short as we found our down firefighter in the dark laying on bed watching TV.

Hollywood does no justice to the fire service… its not lights, camera, action. Its more like, I can”t see and how can we make this work in the online casino darkness.

Vehicle Extrication

Firefighter Academy Vehicle ExtricationVehicle Extrication is the safe removal of vehicle parts around an accident victim when conventional methods are not possible.  A totaled car was donated to the Colony Fire Department.  We would be breaking windows and ripping doors off the car simulating rescue operations during vehicle extrication.  The basic vehicle extrication operations consist  of:

  1. Isolating the accident scene
  2. Assess the patients condition
  3. Stabilize the vehicle
  4. Provide an entryway for the first responder or EMT/Paramedic to attend the patient and provide protective blankets to shield the patient from  glass or debris
  5. Extricate the vehicle parts
  6. Remove the patient and transport for medical care
Each of us were given a chance to use a glass break/saw tool on the front and rear windshields. The tool has a carbide tip and saw, allowing to cut through glass.  Normally the fire department will also provide a protective adhesive to minimize glass from shattering onto the patient.
Firefighter Academy Jaws of LifeAnother common tool is the spreader also known as the “Jaws of Life” and patented by Hurst Performance Inc.  The spreaders are used to remove doors, roofs, and any other car parts.  The spreader uses a portable gas-fired motor with a hydraulic oil system.  The size of the spreader and motor vary.  The units are extremely heavy. Each of us had the opportunity to cut door hinges and wire harnessing, eventually removing the doors.  Removal time will vary as all cars are designed different.  One of the new challenges are electric cars; as the electrical power system must be shut-down before firefighters can start extrication.  Failure to shut down the electrical power could potentially electrocute the firefighter.   More reasons to appreciate the fire service.
Please visit next week as we practice with Fire Hose and drive a Fire Truck.   As always if you have any comments or questions please share.  Thanks for stopping by.

Highlights of Citizens Firefighter Academy – Week 4

Firefighter Academy Week 4 – EMS and Careflite Helicopter

Hey everyone!  This weeks class was cool. We started with a presentation of the emergency medical services (EMS) provided by the The Colony Fire Department. All firefighters in The Colony Fire Department are certified or licensed EMS paramedics and dispatched during every emergency call. Compared to other cities in the north Texas region,  The Colony offers some of the most comprehensive EMS Paramedic services. Texas law doesn”t allow non-licensed EMS personnel to practice independently.  The Colony EMS service works with a local medical director physician. The physician essentially extends his license to permit EMS services to provide pre-hospital medical care in the local community under their authorization. To be accepted to the program all Colony firefighter/EMS are required to take basic and advanced classes and must maintain continuing education once a month.

There are three medic bags for first responder medical calls.

  1. The red bag is used for trauma which has splints, bandages, medicine, cardiac medication for CPR,  and one round of medicine for pre-hospital treatment.
  2. The green bag is for airway and breathing including the laryngoscope and endotracheal tubes.
  3. The third bag has a cardiac monitor,defibrillator, 12 lead EKG, and blood pressure. This is very expensive equipment. (5 figures)

In The Colony every emergency call will dispatch an Ambulance with 2 firefighters/EMS plus fire truck with at least 3 personnel, for a total of 5 personnel on the scene.  Leading to the question  “Why is there a fire truck dispatched during a medical call?  The quick answer is “BACK-UP”.  At times if the scene of the accident is critical 3 personnel maybe required to transport the patient to the hospital, 1-driver and 2-attending.  At anytime even during the initial incident they could receive another fire or medical call and need to be ready to respond.

If a patient is in critical condition,  the designated attending paramedic will assess if the patient requires  “golden hour online casino response”. The golden hour is the time from the initial call to when the patient is on the operating table.  The patient has the best chance for recovery/survival if they can meet the golden hour. Type of injury dictates which hospital the patient would need to go.  Time is of essence and unfavorable traffic and road conditions would extend response time.  This is when the services of the Careflite Medical Helicopter would be required.

Careflite is a local medical helicopter transportation services organization in Dallas-Ft. Worth that began in 1979.  They now have five bases within DFW and air-lifted thousands of  patients.   The highlight of the class was the arrival of the Careflite helicopter. The helicopter made several circles around the fire station and landed in an open field behind Fire Station #3.  The landing was smooth and extremely windy.  The helicopter was impressive once on the ground.  This helicopter was based out of Frisco, Texas.  Local citizens also flocked by to check out the helicopter, take pictures, and ask the team questions.

A few things learned about the Careflite Helicopter:

  1. The team consists of a pilot, nurse, and paramedic.
  2. The helicopter is fully equipped with medical equipment and supplies and administered by the nurse and paramedic.
  3. The pilot needs to be aware of  overhead power lines, trees, and any other overhead obstructions.
  4. The nurse and paramedic also keep an eye out for obstructions like balloons,birds, or any other objects that could be in the flight path.
  5. The pilot and aircraft is subject to comply with FAA regulations.
  6. In the past birds have crashed through windshields with pilots managing to land safely.
  7. The helicopter trip from Frisco to The Colony is 5 minutes or less.
One other tip from a firefighter, if you”re sick, make sure to call them and let them come to you.  You”d be surprised the number of people going to he station not feeling well, while the firefighters/EMS are out on call.
Make sure to visit next week as we learn about Search and Rescue and Vehicle Extraction. Please leave a comment and add to the discussion.  Have a great week!!

Highlights of Citizens Firefighter Academy – Week 3


Firefighter Academy Bunker Gear

Week 3 – Protective equipment and self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) – This weeks class at the Citizens Firefighter Academy was going to be more hands on. We’d be fitted with our own gear and use for future classes. A firefighter gave a brief presentation of the protective equipment and self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). I was surprised to learn, the air tank is compressed air and not 100% oxygen. Did you know that oxygen normally makes up only 20-21% of atmospheric air and a minimum 16% oxygen is required to sustain fire? Any oxygen levels lower than 6% would be lethal. The issues with modern manual firefighting in structure fires is most everything we purchase for the home and business has some sort of plastic or composite material. These types of combustibles give off an extraordinary amount of heat and toxic black smoke. When room temperatures start to reach 900°F, a phenomenon known as “flashover” could occur, which is the simultaneous ignition of combustibles in the room. Flashover is lethal. Fire fighters are trained to watch for signs of flashover and must immediately get out of the room. Firefighters are also equipped with a personal alert safety system (PASS) devices. The device uses motion detection to alert if a firefighter is down, If the pass device doesn’t detect motion for 30 seconds an audible alarm would sound and a search and rescue team sent in.

After the presentation we were going to get our first hands on training.  Finally, bunker gear time!!!  There are 11 of us in the class.  Each of us was fitted and issued with boots, pants, jacket, mask, helmet and gloves.  One of the firefighters gave us a demonstration how to quickly suit up. During fire emergency firefighters need to be suited up and roll out of the station in 2 minutes or less.  We all took significantly more than 2 minutes to suit up. Don’t worry we wont be responding to any fire emergency calls. My first impression during the suit up: warm, heavy, sweaty, uncomfortable….., and we didn’t even have the air tanks on yet.  There were only two air tanks w/pass devices as we took forever switching out. My second impression with air tanks and mask: how the hell do they fight fires with all this equipment on?  Its got to be 10x harder in sweltering heat, high adrenaline, and limited visibility.  One could easily lose 5-10 lbs. during fire.  Today, I gained new perspective.   Thank you for your service, Mr. Firefighter.

Make sure to visit next week.  The topics will be emergency medical services (EMS) and a visit from the Careflite medical helicopter.  This will be interesting as the helicopter will land in a field behind the fire station.  Have a great week.

Highlights of Citizens Firefighter Academy – Weeks 1 and 2

The Colony Fire Department - Station 3

Week 1 

I was out of town and missed the first class of the Citizens Firefighter Academy. Great way to start things off. The class had a formal welcome from Fire Chief Scott Thompson with an introduction to fire service history and basic fire science. The primary objective is to educate the local public about the fire department and the services/benefits it provides to the community.

Firefighter Academy

Week 2

The second class I introduced myself and received a binder with course agenda, ID Badge, and t-shirt.  Assistant Chief Carl McMurphy gave a presentation about the fire department organization chart and his role in the fire department. He also indicated that we’d be able to participate in ride-outs with the firefighters. The ride-out would allow us to accompany the fire fighters during emergency calls.  This should be fun.  He advised some days you get multiple calls and some days the trucks never leave the station. It just depends but you need to be ready.  Hoping to schedule a day with some action.  There are three fire stations in the Colony and you could choose to your liking.  In the future, I’ll have a special post for the ride-out.

We had discussions about local fire issues in The Colony and residential sprinklers.  Currently legislation requiring fire sprinklers in new single and multi family residencies is a hot topic throughout the country. There are many benefits to support mandatory requirements for automatic sprinklers in new and multi-family homes however legislation in Texas has struck down the proposal.  The homebuilder and realtor industry have deeper pockets with lobbyists opposing legislation.

Chief McMurphy gave a long list of his responsibilities, they include code enforcement, fire inspections, plan review, maintaining apparatus/equipment, background checks, fire hydrant testing, raising funds, emergency management, and more.  This may not be representative of all fully paid fire departments but gives you an idea that fire department management keeps very busy.

Stay tuned for next week as we get suited up with full  bunker gear and self-contained-breathing-apparatus (SCBA).

If your really interested to become a firefighter, you can visit our friends at www.becomeafirefighterhq.net, they can provide you more details of pursuing a career in the fire service.

Tornado Fire Safety

To all property owners and emergency response personnel impacted by the recent tornadoes in the midwest and southern regions of the USA. Extra precautions should be taken to address fire hazards during the tornado rescue, recovery, and rebuild  efforts. Heres a quick breakdown of tips as posted from the Dept. of Homeland Security Website. http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/tornado.pdf

Fire Hazards

  • Leaky gas lines, gas tanks, propane tanks, and vehicle gas tanks could ignite or explode.   Identify and potential areas and address immediately.
  • Broken, severed electrical wire can ignite debris.  Maintain a safe distance away from electrical wire and outlets. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a minimum 3 ft. separation.
  • Appliance and standing water can be electrically charged.  Assume that they are electrically charged until confirmed otherwise.
  • Emergency generators should be operated and maintained  as required per manufacturer guidelines.
  • Repair or discard all appliances that can emit sparks,heat, or smoke.
Chemical Hazards
  • Clean all spills from combustible/flammable liquids (gas,paints,thinner,alcohol,etc.). Make sure all liquids are in safe containers and adequately ventilated.
  • Do not store any combustible/flammable liquids near any heat source or  potential ignition source (heaters,boilers,generators,appliances,electrical outlet,etc,.)
Electrical Hazards
  • Assume that all wires on the ground are electrically charged including tv cable.
  • Replace all loose, frayed, or severed wiring on appliances, electrical surge protectors, extension cords, etc.
  • Exposed wiring and outlets could be charged and a potential ignition source to start fire.  No combustibles/flammables should be stored nearby.
  • Appliance emitting smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.
  • A licensed electrician should be hired to check for damage and prior to occupancy.
Gas Hazards
  • Smell and listen for leaky gas connections.  If there are any signs of leaks immediately leave the premises and doors open.   Notify the utility company.
  • Do not strike matches. Do not turn on any lights or appliances, small sparks can cause explosions
  • Before turning on any gas systems have it checked by a licensed professional
Generator Safety
  • Follow all manufacturer guidelines as required
  • Do not use generators inside the home.  Carbon dioxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm occupants indoors.
  • Use adequately sized power cords for electric load.  Overloaded cords can heat up and be a potential ignition source for fires.
  • Do not run power cords under  rugs or carpets where Des tables de Roulette et blackjack sans oublier du baccarat sont accessibles a tout moment de la journee et de la nuit. heat can build up or cause damage to a cord.
  • Do not connect generators to another power line.  Reverse flow of electricity  (backfeed) can electrocute utility workers.
Heating Hazards
  • Kerosene heaters may not be legal in your area and should only be used when approved by local codes and ordinances.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat the home. In addition to a potential fire hazard it could be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Heaters need a minimum 3 ft. clearance away from any type of combustibles.
  • Heaters should have “tip” switches that automatically shut off when tipped over.
  • Only use fuel as recommended by the heater manufacturer.
  • Never refill a space heater during operation or when hot.
  • Refuel heaters outdoors only.
  • Wood stoves should be checked to be properly installed with a minimum 3 ft. clearance away from any combustibles.
  • Glass or metal screens should be used in front of fireplaces to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpet, furniture, or other combustibles.
Always remember the following:
  • Be careful using candles.  Keep flames away from combustible objects and children.
  • Check smoke alarms which could be dependent on your electrical service. Check batteries and install new at least once a year.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the house and inside and outside sleeping areas.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested monthly.
  • If you have a fire hydrant near your home, it should be kept clear of debris and landscaping

Alabama Tornado and Destruction

The recent tornadoes in Alabama and the surrounding region was one of the worst in the area since the Great Depression. This weekend, I spoke to one of the dads on my sons flag football team, whom is an airline pilot for American Airlines. Just to give me an idea of the magnitude of the event, they safely flew around the storm, the tornado weather front was as high as 50,000 ft. (close to 10 miles) in altitude. In comparison commercial airplanes normally fly 32-40,000 ft.  in altitude. He told the passengers on the left side of the plane they could get a view of the tornado weather front as lightning was flashing every 3 seconds.  Quite a terrifying scene.

Some tips from the American Red Cross for survivors returning to their property include:

  • Avoid downed power lines and smell for gas when entering the property. Wear protective clothing when cleaning your property.
  • Discard  food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after flooding.
  • Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until water supply is tested and found safe.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use the telephone only for emergencies.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.

If you would like to help, there are several ways that people can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief: Visit redcross.org to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.