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Nov. 29, 2011

Memorial Grant Aims to Keep First Responders Safe

Bentley Systems, Inc. has awarded a research grant to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Scientific and Educational Foundation named in memory of FDNY Assistant Chief Donald J. Burns. Chief Burns died in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001, while setting up his command post to direct the evacuation.

Through its partnership with SFPE, Bentley Systems is awarding $25,000 annually in grant funds over a period of five years. The purpose of the Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant is to integrate information modeling as a means of improving infrastructure safety and first-responder preparedness.

“The goal is to promote research and education in fire protection engineering using information modeling to minimize the impact of fire and other catastrophic events on life and property – including providing our first responders with the infrastructure knowledge they need to do their jobs safely,” said Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley.

“Because of this grant we have the opportunity to improve the science and technology that is used to keep firefighters safer during building emergencies,” said SFPE Engineering Program Manager Chris Jelenewicz. “Specifically, this grant will incorporate the principles of fire protection engineering into building information management to provide tools that can be used by first responders.”

Boston Gets New Chief

Steve E. Abraira is the new Chief of the Boston Fire Department. He succeeds Ronald Keating, who retired in October after 41 years of service. Chief Abraira will report to Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser and will serve as the highest ranking uniformed officer in the 1,439 member Boston Fire Department, the oldest professional fire service organization in the nation. 

“I am thrilled and humbled to become a part of the distinctive and proud history of the men and women of the Boston Fire Department,” said Chief Abraira. “I pledge to work with the Commissioner’s office, the staff of the department and the public to provide the highest quality services possible to the citizens of Boston.”

Chief Abraira previously served the Miami, FL, Fire-Rescue Department for more than 26 years, retiring as an Assistant Fire Chief in 2000 when he was appointed Fire Chief of the City of Dallas, TX, Fire-Rescue Department. He served the City of Dallas for more than five years before retiring and returning to Florida. In 2007, Abraira came out of retirement to assume the position of Fire Chief in Palm Bay, FL. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Barry University and recently graduated with a dual Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Management and Leadership from Webster University. Abraira also holds the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing and is a member of the Institution of Fire Engineers.

Nigeria Comes to Newark

On Monday, November 21, 2011, a delegation from the Lagos Fire Service, of Lagos, Nigeria, toured the Newark Fire Department and City Hall. Newark was one of five cities nationwide that the Nigerians were visiting to study best American fire practices and establish mutual collaboration between Nigerian and American fire departments. “We have a Fire Department that goes above and beyond every day,” said Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement Margarita Muñiz. “Newark is a great place for learning and gaining experience, and we hope to combine our strength to make both Lagos and Newark safer cities.”

Ambulance Crash Data Report

Motor vehicle crashes involving ambulances pose a serious risk to both crew and patients. Recognizing the magnitude and severity of this risk, the Fire Protection Research Foundation recently released a report, “Analysis of Ambulance Crash Data.” The foundation is the research affiliate for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The report focuses on the collection of ambulance crash data, including fatalities and injuries from all 50 states, and the methods used to collect this data. The project stems from NFPA’s recent series of Emergency Management Services (EMS)-related efforts to develop a national standard for ambulance safety that addresses EMS responder health and protection and improved vehicle design and maintenance. Information on ambulance accidents was requested by the NFPA 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances Technical Committee to assist in identifying efforts that would have a positive impact on responder safety. The report was conducted with guidance provided by a Project Technical Panel of emergency medical service providers, data collection professionals, and other subject-matter experts.

A copy of the report can be found at Foundation/RFAmbulanceCrash.pdf.

NVFC and CSU Announce Scholarship Winners

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 CSU scholarships. Peter Rucinski of Reno, NV, and Dan Federico of Pittsburgh, PA, will each receive up to two years of tuition towards the degree of their choice from CSU. This is the third year that CSU has offered scholarships to NVFC members.

“We are grateful to Columbia Southern University for offering this outstanding opportunity to members of the NVFC,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “Congratulations to Chief Rucinski and firefighter Federico, who have demonstrated their dedication to the fire service, commitment to furthering their education, and their drive to achieve their goals through this scholarship opportunity.”

CSU, one of the nation’s first completely online universities, offers degree programs that are designed for busy individuals. Both Rucinski and Federico plan to use their two-year scholarship towards a bachelor’s degree in fire science.

Rucinski has been a volunteer firefighter since 1976 and currently serves as chief of the Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department in Nevada. He is certified as a Nevada Fire Instructor I and II, has an American Heart BLS instructor’s card for CPR and First Aid, and has earned his Nevada EMT-B Instructors certification. As chief, he trains new firefighters as well as makes sure experienced firefighters are up-to-date with the latest techniques and information.

Federico is currently a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania as well as a career EMT and rescue technician. “They say you never stop learning, and in fire science you can’t stop learning without becoming obsolete,” Federico said.

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