Archive for the ‘commentary articles’ Category

EMS Needs Help

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

by Jack McLoughlin

Over the past 40 years, there have been vast improvements in fire apparatus!! I’m an old timer, who rode on the tail board of a ’53 FWD, getting an air pack on while barely hanging on. (Talk about dumb)!!

Just take a moment and think about the apparatus changes that affect our safety: closed cabsĀ  – secured equipment – seat belts – better pump – aerial and driving controls – communications – lighting – warnings. I’m sure you could add a few more.

These changes were demanded by the fire fighting community because of the needless deaths and injuries to our brothers. There has been some hard in-fighting because of both the dollars involved in the upgrade, and the macho attitude of a few (it’s definitely more manly and tougher looking to be hanging on the back step than sitting down inside with a seat belt on).

These changes have been required on all apparatus that meet NFPA 1901. It is hard to say how many lives have been helped or saved by these changes – but you know in your gut, – it has been many.

The next area that is crying out for help is the EMS arena. Take a look at some of the following videos and you will see what happens to both patients and EMS personnel in a crash. It’s not pretty – as a matter of fact you can almost hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace for everyone in the back of the bus.

(Click the link below for more video links and the rest of the article)


Bridge Collapse After Thoughts

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

by Walt Lee

Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) covers 59.7 square miles with a population of 382,618. It has a budget of 50 million, 424 sworn members, and 19 stations that consists of 19 engines, 5 ladders and 2 heavy rescues trucks.

The function of the MFD Engineering Officer is to be a liaison between city departments. One of these departments is the Minneapolis Public Works where the Fire Repair Shop is staffed. The facility is located near downtown. It has five bays for fire with five full time mechanics, one travels station to station to perform quick repairs while the other four work at the shop on longer term repairs and major Preventive Maintenance (PM) work. The shop is managed by an Equipment Repair Foreman. The Engineering Officer position involves working with the Fire Shop Foreman on such things as rig specifications and acceptance of new rigs, modifications, installation of tools, officer vehicle build, repairs, maintenance, etc. The two different city departments work well together.

What makes this relationship work so well is that the Engineering Officer relies on the Shop Foreman to know not only the maintenance of the rigs, but also the operation of the equipment and the department. In turn the Shop Foreman relies on the Engineering Officer to know the shop functions and have a keen understanding of the operation, maintenance and repairs of the fire equipment. Minneapolis Public Works, Fleet Services Division views Fire, Police and support of snow removal equipment as their main functions and responsibilities; and in that order.

This relationship proved itself the evening that the 35W Bridge collapsed…..


Cab “Stuff”

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

by Robert Tutterow

A considerable amount has been spoken and written about seat belt usage and the lack thereof. However, loose bodies inside the cab of a fire apparatus in the midst of a collision or rollover are only part of the problem. All the other “stuff” inside the cab will become projectiles unless they are securely fastened.

Maybe you have seen the graphic footage from a video camera mounted inside a cab during a rollover at one of the crash test facilities. The good folks at CAPE (Center for Advanced Product Evaluation), a brand of IMMI (Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc.), just outside of Indianapolis have made such videos for fire apparatus cabs. One of the most “wow” moments if viewing their videos is to watch the unbelted firefighter slam against the belted firefighter. It’s the body blow blitzing linebackers can only dream about.

NFPA releases new Apparatus Maintenance and Testing Standard

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

by Tom Stalnaker
What’s new in fire apparatus standards? There are over 200 committees of volunteers that help the NFPA develop standards for many subjects relating to fire safety. One of those committees deals with standards for Fire Department Apparatus. Almost 10 years ago this committee realized that the existing standards for pump testing (NFPA 1911), aerial testing (NFPA 1914) and preventative maintenance (NFPA 1915) did not comprehensively cover all the issues related to testing and maintenance of in-service apparatus. We began a process to pull together the existing standards with new material developed to cover the gaps, in order to create a new standard. Out of this process came NFPA 1911 Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus 2007 Edition which is now available.


Thunder Road

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

by David White

Imagine a remake of the 1958 classic “Thunder Road” in which Robert Mitchum sped around in a souped-up hot rod complete with a custom tank for transporting illegal moonshine. Today, the Mitchum character might be tempted to pour that moonshine in the gas tank instead.

Ethanol is known by many names. To chemists, it is ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, made by fermenting almost any material that contains starch or sugar. Most ethanol today comes from corn, wheat or switchgrass. Connoisseurs of mountain-made bootleg liquor will know ethanol best as moonshine, white lightning, fire water or old stump hole. At 190 proof, ethanol packs quite a wallop.

Law officers destroying a moonshine still, Gordon County, GA 1922

Law officers destroying a moonshine still, Gordon County, GA 1922 (Image courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia collection, gor115)