Scuttlebutt 4/14

Extreme Run to Benefit Fallen Heroes

On May 17 and 18, runners from around the country will gather in Santa Barbara, CA, to take part in the American Hotshots Extreme Run, a 10+ mile obstacle course in the heart of California’s Wine Country. The event will include live bands, fine food from area restaurants and beverages from the wineries and beer sponsors. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. To register for the run, or to donate to the cause, please visit


Nevada Fire Fighters Support Red Cross

On January 23, at the Henderson Fire Training Center in Henderson, NV, the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada (PFFN) made a financial contribution of $20,000 to the American Red Cross “Fire Hurts. Red Cross Helps.” campaign, which provides assistance to victims who have been displaced from their homes due to fires throughout Nevada.

“It is an honor to be part of such an impactful campaign, and we hope to provide the best assistance possible to those whose lives have been disrupted by house fires,” said Rusty McAllister, president of the PFFN. “Though we are grateful to be able to donate $20,000 to this worthy cause, we are reaching out to the community to help us meet the financial goal and create awareness on fire safety.”

The campaign is a joint effort by the American Red Cross and PFFN, with the goal of raising $350,000 to fund emergency assistance to local families. On the average, the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross responds to a residential fire every 18 hours. 


Newark Firefighters Receive Surface Ice Rescue Training

The Newark Fire Department Special Operations Division conducted intensive surface ice rescue training in late February. Based on work schedules and assignments, Newark fire companies rotated through the training, in which they simulated the rescue of persons who have fallen through ice, using dummies and rescue gear.

Funding for the drill equipment came from a $91,000 federal Port Security grant. Firefighter One LLC Inc., an emergency training company, conducted the classes. Companies chosen for the drills were those who were identified as being likely first responders to an ice rescue incident, due to their proximity to parks and waterways in the City of Newark.

“The Newark Fire Department is most effective when its members are constantly trained and prepared for the incidents we have to respond to,” said Fire Chief John G. Centanni. “The training we did was realistic, hands-on, and comprehensive.”

The training put rotated firefighters through various positions in rescue scenarios, with them playing victims floating in the water and rescuers alike. Using rubber rafts, tethers, cables, ropes and teamwork, the firefighters pulled the “victims” out of the water, under close supervision, to ensure safety.

All the firefighters who completed the training received certificates certifying them as “ice surface rescuers.”


Houston Fire Station to Receive City’s First “Green” HVAC

When construction plans for Fire Station 84 were announced, they included: five drive-thru bays; maintenance and EMT areas; fueling island; living quarters with kitchen, lounge, exercise area, locker rooms and bathrooms; and a GeoExchange heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Wait, a what?

A GeoExchange HVAC features GeoExchange technology, which uses a series of sealed piping loops buried in the ground to tap the renewable energy of the earth. In the winter, heat that accumulates in the soil is absorbed by a system of pipes buried within the earth and then used to provide heating to a building. In the summer, the process is reversed – excess heat from the building is collected and transferred to the earth.

These buried loops transfer energy by means of circulating water and create a better heat transfer medium than traditional air source systems. They are reported to be an average of 48% more efficient than gas furnaces on a source fuel basis, and over 75% more efficient than oil furnaces. In fact, GeoExchange systems are said to outperform the best gas technology, gas heat pumps, by an average of 36% in heating mode and 43% in cooling mode.

Since the Houston City Council adopted the Green Building Resolution in 2004, all new construction with more than 10,000 square feet of occupied space must be LEED Certified. As part of this initiative to build more efficient, sustainable buildings, this is the first system of its kind on a project funded by the city.

The 14,000-square-foot Fire Station 84, which will be located in the 300 block of Gears Road, near Ella Boulevard and Beltway 8, will relieve over-extended resources within the city. Currently, the nearest fire station is more than 4.5 miles away.


Ocala Welcomes Irish Contingent

The city of Ocala and Newbridge, Ireland signed a Twinning agreement in 2009 and the friendship has grown every year since. The concept of Twinning cities promotes the sharing of culture, education and economic opportunity. This year, 14 delegates from Newbridge traveled to spend a week in Ocala. (See Firehouse August 2011 for a story on Ocala's visit to Newbridge.)

A tour for the group was hosted by Ocala Fire Rescue. The delegation learned about fire service practices in the United States, and a few brave willing visitors enjoyed the view of downtown Ocala from the top a fire department ladder truck.

“It is certainly wonderful to meet and learn about the commonalities of people in this world, especially from a beautiful country such as Ireland,” stated Ocala Fire Chief Bradd Clark during a visit at the fire station.


Pizza Program Saves Lives in Bridgeport

Danielle Walker was understandably perplexed when her cheese pizza order arrived in the hands of city firefighters. There was no emergency, but the crew was nonetheless there to save her family’s life. Over the last eight years, the Bridgeport, CT, Fire Department has installed more than 40,000 smoke detectors in city homes for free in a unique program.

“I don’t know of any fire department our size in the country that undertakes such an aggressive smoke detector program,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We have installed tens of thousands of them. Not just handed out, but actually came to people’s houses and installed them. I have no doubt that this program has saved lives.”

The program, called Safe Asleep, was launched in 2005, the same year a mother and three children died in a devastating fire in Bridgeport. Only the father survived. The investigation later revealed that the house didn’t have working smoke detectors.

Many fire departments have free smoke alarm programs, often subsidized by private donations and the insurance industry, but Bridgeport Fire wanted to launch a more aggressive campaign.

Once a year, as a way of promoting fire safety, the fire department partners with a local pizza shop. When orders come in, customers find a group of firefighters at their door with their pie.

The pizza is free – with one provision. The firefighters ask to come into the house to check if their fire alarms are working…if they are not, one or two will be installed on the spot. News coverage of the event typically will spark a significant numbers of requests from throughout the city.

The pizza program, however, is only a small part of the department’s efforts. Every week, companies canvas neighborhoods and speak to people about fire safety and hang door hangers with information about the program. Firefighters will install units themselves or help residents set up an appointment. The city pays for wrapped public-transit buses that promote the program.

The department also has created a more robust educational branch to tap into the 14,000 children who attends pre-K to eighth grade in the city.

“The key is reaching the children,” Mayor Finch added. “We want them to learn about fire safety in school, go home and ask their parents whether their smoke detectors work. If they don’t, the children even have a phone number to pass along so their parents can have free ones installed. “

The department has paid for public service announcements on Spanish-speaking radio stations in the city. “We have probably knocked on every single door in the City of Bridgeport,” said Rooney.

 While city department heads have been instructed to reduce non-essential spending in recent years, the consensus at Bridgeport Fire is this program is too important to the community.

“Whenever we formulate our budget and think to ourselves, ‘Can we afford to do this anymore?’ we come back to the same answer,” said Fire Chief Brian Rooney. “We can’t afford not to do this.”


This Month in Fire History


April 1, 1853, Cincinnati, OH – First salaried fire department established


April 4, 1949, Effingham, IL – St. Anthony’s Hospital fire kills 74


April 10, 1917, Eddystone, PA – Eddystone Ammunition Company explosion kills 133


April 18, 1906, San Francisco, CA – The Great San Francisco Earthquake fire kills more than 315


April 19, 1993, Waco, TX – Religious group complex fire kills 47


April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City, OK – Alfred P. Murrah Federal building bombing kills 168


April 21, 1878, New York, NY – First firehouse pole installed


April 23, 1940, Natchez, MS – Rhythm Club fire kills 207


April 29, 1992, Los Angeles, CA – Civil disturbance fire cause $567 million in damages


Courtesy of NFPA


For details on fires that occurred 100 years ago this month, turn to Paul Hashagen’s “Rekindles” on page XXX.