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Through a jointly sponsored initiative – Put a Freeze on Winter Fires – the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are working collaboratively to tell the public about ways to stay fire-safe this winter. The effort targets home heating and cooking, which represent the two leading causes of U.S. home fires. Both types of fires peak in the winter months.
NFPA and USFA recommend these safety tips to prevent winter home fires
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period, turn off the stove.
- Space heaters need space; keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from each heater.
- Check electrical cords often and replace cracked or damaged electrical or extension cords. Do not try to repair them.
- Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. They are not designed for this purpose and can be a fire hazard. In addition, carbon monoxide (CO) gas might kill people and pets.
Lutz awarded $90,000 grant to study firefighter safety
Eric Lutz, PhD, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Arizona (UA) Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, received a $90,000 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to determine which air purifying respirator is most effective for firefighters. Lutz is well known for his expertise in industrial hygiene, occupational exposure research, chemistry and aerosol detection.
The new study will focus on overhaul activities, the phase during a structure fire where hidden fires, hot embers and combustion sources are identified and completely extinguished. During overhaul, firefighters must determine carbon monoxide concentration, protect the area of origin, establish final smoke damage and fire perimeter, protect neighboring properties from fire debris and locate any hidden fire – a process that can be extremely harmful to unprotected firefighters. Firefighters do not typically wear respiratory protection during overhaul.
“Exposure to smoke during overhaul can lead to decreased effectiveness of lungs as well as long-term consequences to cardio and pulmonary function as firefighters risk breathing in carbon monoxide, carcinogenic smoke and chemical gases,” said Lutz.
The study will also compare the effectiveness of filter canisters versus cartridges at removing harmful gases and particulates during overhaul in a live fire environment, a first for this type of study. From this work, recommendations of the most effective cartridge or canister based on which one most efficiently filters particulates, removes the highest concentration of chemicals and lasts the longest during overhaul, can be made. This work is a collaborative between UA and the Tucson Fire Department.
“We want to understand more fully the risks to firefighters during overhaul, and use the outcomes of the study to recommend the best strategy for overhaul respiratory protection,” said Lutz.
Six emergency personnel have recently died in the line of duty. One career firefighter, two volunteer firefighters and three civilian employees died in six separate incidents. Four deaths were health related, and two deaths were the result of an accidents.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN KEITH CHIPEPO, 30, an employee of Grand Medical Transportation Ambulance Service in Irvington, NJ, died on Nov. 19. Chipepo was the attendant in an ambulance that was involved in a multi-vehicle accident. The ambulance was struck by another vehicle and overturned. Chipepo was reportedly ejected from the rear of the ambulance. He was transported to a hospital, where he died. The ambulance driver and the patient were injured in the accident. The driver of the vehicle that struck the ambulance was charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving with a suspended license and eluding police after fleeing the scene of the accident.
CAPTAIN CHRIS GOOD, 36, of the Good Will Fire Company in West Chester, PA, died on Nov. 22. The previous day, Good operated at the scene of a working house fire in West Goshen. While at home, the next morning, his wife found him unresponsive in cardiac arrest. CPR was initiated and EMS responded, but Good could not be revived. Good was a 10-year veteran of the fire service.