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Protecting self brings a new concern to fire service

Foreword:

A real valid issue is being raised in our fire departments among our front line first responders..carrying concealed weapons.  Depending on where you live, this is a protected right under the current laws. But, this law can create a whirlwind of liability for on-duty or off-duty public servants.  Whether we agree or disagree with CCW, we must be proactive in these discussions and in developing policies to protect our teams, our departments and our citizens.

Taking the Heat

by Steven “Doc” Bernard

 

You  arrive  to  a  reported  structure  fire  and  it  is  fully  involved.    Fire  is  through  the   roof.      The  first  thing  you  do  is  send  all  available  personnel  into  the  fire  on  interior   attack  mode………     No?        Why  not?      Is  there  some  written  guide  or  training  on  how  it  is  to  be  done?      Of   course  there  is.      We  size  up  the  scene.      We  follow  guidelines  our  department  has   adopted.      We  follow  our  training.    That’s  how  we  do  things.     We  have  bookcases  full  of  regulations,  manuals,  operating  guidelines,  policies,  and   operating  procedures.      NFPA  alone  takes  up  a  couple  of  those  shelves.      The  more   complex  or  potentially  injurious  an  item  is,  the  more  manuals  and  information  there   is  on  how  it  is  to  be  used.      But  we  are  used  to  that,  because  they  are  meant  to  help   us  do  a  dangerous  job  with  some  potentially  dangerous  tools.

Lately  though,  it  seems  the  job  has  gotten  even  more  perilous.      This  is  not  due  to the   fire,  but  from  a  section  of  the  public  that  has  been  making  threats  against our departments,  and  in  some  cases  where  units  have  been  struck  by  gunfire.    And   logically,  our  personnel  want  to  be  protected  from  these  assaults.      We  see   departments  issuing  bullet-­‐resistant  vests  and  helmets,  and  some  organizations   have  been  calling  for  or  allowing  their  personnel  to  be  armed  while  on  duty.

But  in  polling  a  number  of  departments  that  I  have  some  connections  with  across   the  country,  I  asked  two  questions  of  them. First,  “Does  your  department  allow  concealed  or  open  carry  of  a  firearm  on-­‐duty  or   on  scene?” And  secondly,  “Does  your  department  have  a  written  policy  about  it?”     What  I  found,  in  my  unscientific  poll,  was  that  if  the  answer  was  “No,  it  is  not   allowed”,  there  was  a  written  policy  in  place.        But,  if  the  answer  was   “Yes…well…only  certain  calls…”  “Only  certain  people  can”,  or  “If  the  Chief  says   okay”,  I  found  that  there  was  usually  no  written  policy  associated  with  it  or  only  a   verbal/assumed  policy,  if  that.     This  article  is  NOT  being  written  to  promote  or  prohibit  our  personnel  from  being   allowed  to  carry.      That  is  for  the  individual  department  to  decide,  in  my  mind.      But   for  there  to  be  an  allowance  to  carry  this  new  potentially  life-­‐threatening  equipment   in  our  workspace,  there  must  be  a  policy  in  place  that  sets  out  how,  where,  and  what   level  of  training  must  be  achieved.      Otherwise,  those  departments  could  very  well   be  setting  themselves  up  for  a  lawsuit  and  sorrow.     Personally,  I  have  my  CCW  permit  and  the  blessing  from  my  state  to  carry  as  a   private  citizen  and  I  want  to  protect  that  right.      But  on  a  fire  department,  whether   career  or  volunteer,  we  are  not  private  citizens  while  we  are  doing  the  job.      We  are   invited  into  people’s  homes,  and  sometimes  we  don’t  even  wait  for  permission  to   enter  private  property.    John  Q.  Public  does  not  have  those  same  privileges.

We   represent  the  department/agency/county/city/township  that  has  hired  us.    We  are   now  held  to  a  higher  and  stricter  standard  than  Joe  Citizen  with  his  carry  permit.     So  I  ask  all  of  you,  what  is  your  department’s  policy  on  the  carry  of  firearms  while  on   a  call  and/or  at  the  firehouse?    If  you  have  them  established,  then  this  question  is   already  answered.      But  if  you  haven’t,  this  article  is  addressed  to  you.    We  are   looking  at  major  liabilities  if  we  do  not  seriously  address  this  within  our   departments.

I  am  not  against  protecting  ourselves,  but  I  am  also  not  ignorant  to   the  fact  that  both  the  department  and  the  individual  could  face  severe  civil  and  legal   penalties  if  there  was  no  policy  regarding  it.     You  see,  now  we  need  talk  about  responsibility  and  liability.

There  are  some  laws   that  might  defend  a  person’s  actions  but  that  does  not  mean  the  departments  are   immune  from  a  case  being  brought  forward  and  need  to  be  defended  to  prevent  it   from  going  further  if  someone  is  shot  by  a  department  employee  while  on  duty/call.     A  case  being  sought  incurs  attorney  fees,  and  if  they  name  the  individual  as  well  as   the  department…and  should  there  be  a  motion  to  sever  the  case…the  individual  may   be  left  holding  the  proverbial  “bag”  if  there  was  no  written  policy  that  the  individual   was  to  follow,  and  if  there  was  any  hint  of  impropriety,  negligence  or  acting  without   authorization.      Or  the  department  could  be  held  liable  for  not  having  regulations  in   place  that  addressed  this  issue  for  that  employee.        And  yes,  a  volunteer,  while   representing  a  department  is  still  an  employee  and  an  agent  of  that  department.     How  many  departments  accept  that  Ricky  Rescue,  new  on  the  department,  can   properly  and  adequately  get  on  the  pump  and  get  us  water…when  his  experience  is   just  playing  with  his  sump  pump  in  the  backyard?  No,  we  put  him  through  Pump Operations  Class  and  we  can  verify  he  can  do  the  job  properly.      We  won’t  even  talk   about  driving  the  rig…     How  about  something  more  lethal  that  we  see  nearly  everyday,  a   defibrillator/monitor?      Will  we  allow  Freddy  the  New  Fireman  run  around  with  the   paddles  without  confirming  he  is  certified  and  trained  how  to  use  them?           The  spreaders?       But  yet  we  are  allowing  our  personnel  to  bring  personal  equipment  on  to  scene  and   to  the  station  that  has  lethal  implications  and  yet  we  have  no  policy  governing  it’s   carry  or  use  while  on  the  job.    We  have  no  record  of  their  training  with  this   equipment,  other  than  a  CCW  permit,  which  is  fairly  easy  to  get  in  many  states,  and   some  states  don’t  require  any  actual  education  or  training  to  carry  a  firearm  legally.

So  I  have  been  becoming  more  and  more  concerned  with  the  calls  to  allow   firefighters  and  EMS  personnel  to  be  allowed  to  carry  while  on  duty,  yet  not  seeing  any  written  guidelines  or  policies  about  it.      Some  departments  just  allow  it  to   happen  and  don’t  think  anything  about  it  and  have  set  no  policy  as  they  are  afraid  of   Constitutional  issues.

We  must  remember  that  we  can  set  standards  for  the  use  of   equipment  when  it  is  used  in  the  line  of  duty.      A  choice  by  the  employee  has  to  be   made:  adhere  to  the  policy,  or  seek  employment  elsewhere  if  they  feel  the  standards   are  too  strict.

We  have  to  protect  our  departments  by  setting  policy  and  standard.       But  not  having  that  policy  to  be  able  to  benchmark  off  of,  is  opening  us  to  high  levels   of  liability.     Firearms  and  their  place  at  the  station  and  on  a  scene  need  to  be  addressed,  and   department  policy  needs  to  be  written  as  to  who  can  carry  and  when  they  can  carry   a  firearm  while  on  duty.

Mind  you,  I  am  on  the  range  at  least  2-­‐3  times  a  month,  have  extensive  firearms   training,  and  a  veteran.      So,  to  even  hint  that  I  am  anti-­‐firearm  or  anti-­‐self   protection  is  a  non-­‐starter.        I  just  want  to  see  any  department  that  does  not  have  a   policy  about  carrying  while  on  duty  to  establish  one.

Whether  it  is  accepting  of  it, or  forbidding of  it, let’s  make  sure  everyone on  our  department  knows  what the policy  is  and  what  the  requirements are should they be allowed.

Steven Bernard is a firefighter, conributing author, writer, video and photo journalist. 

 

 

Chief Bruno was on “fire” in Pflugerville

Chief Alan Brunacini is perhaps the most iconic figure in the American fire service.  From his beginning as a firefighter in Phoenix, AZ he has taken his knowledge and experiences on the road, for a 2nd time beginning in 2016 with Command Symposium 2016.

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Chief Brunacini, Chief Rubin and Bobby Halton at CS2017

February 9 & 10 Chief Bruno along with a host of expert instructors brought this new series of incident command to Plfugerville for Command Symposium 2017.  The list of instructors included Chief Dennis Rubin, Captain Richard Miller, Chief Cecil Clay, Chief Scott Kerwood and Captain Michael Anderson.  We also had a special join the panel, Mr. Bobby Halton of Fire Engineering Magazine.

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Special Bruno & Bobby “unplugged” session

The attendees learned about the functions of command and organizational structure.  The class is very interactive and all instructors encourage students to ask questions. Chief Brunacini is also known for coining the phrase BE NICE, and follows this philosophy throughout the 2-day program.

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Chief Scott Kerwood of Hutto Fire & Rescue; Captain Michael Anderson of Pflugerville Fire co-hosted the event as well as provided training sessions

Chief Kerwood lead an afternoon session on the importance of Standardized Operating Procedures (SOP).  He has been recognized by numerous organizations for the implementation of SOP’s within his own department and Williamson County Emergency Services Division.

Captain Richard Miller of IAFC’s FSTAR Project discussed the importance of the work done through FSTAR  (Firefighter Safety Through Advanced Research)  A large part of keeping our firefighters safety is consistency in fire ground and incident command. FSTAR also fights for legislation such as firefighter physicals.

Chief Cecil Clay (ret) City of Oklahoma City also joined Captain Miller with another segment involving firefighter safety and statistics.

 

 

Pflugerville, TX has already confirmed to host next year’s first class of Command Symposium 2018!  Dates February 8 & 9.  Details to follow

Leadership Academy receiving excellent reviews 

SWFCA recently launched their 6 month leadership training coaching and mentoring program at the Oklahoma City Fire Training Center.  The class was filled to near capacity for this inaugural class of 2017. 

Participants traveled from other regions to take advantage of this remarkable training program. 

State Fire Marshal Robert Doke welcomed the class to Oklahoma and emphasized the importance of leadership skills and training in all aspects of community. Also President Tom Bradley, Fire Chief of Stillwater Oklahoma and current President of the division spoke on behalf of the board of directors and state of Oklahoma about the decision to bring this unique opportunity to the IAFC-SW membership.  

As your division elected leadership, we are committed to offering you the benefits you’ve asked for and deserve as a member of the IAFC.

Here is some feedback that we have already received after the initial 2-day classroom group: 

The course was great.  Honestly better than I expected

Training officer & volunteer fire chief – Oklahoma

 I am looking forward to the online classes to see how they turn out and what the interaction is like. 

 Oklahoma volunteer officer 

First time I’ve worked on my personal skills and I look forward to the follow-up classes

Fire officer, Lexington, SC 
We want to thank Chief Richard Kelley, OCFD for hosting this class!

There will be a wrap-up session and graduation ceremony in October in conjunction with the division’s executive leadership conference in Houston, TX

If you or your department would like to host a class, please contact Lisa Moatts lmoatts@swd-iafc.org or call 843-694-2768


Firehouse Station Design coming to TX

Discount offered to Southwestern Division Members!!! Register now and save $60

We’re excited and honored the 4th Annual Station Design Conference will be held in the historic, 80-acre Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth, Texas, May 3–5, 2017.

This renovated 500,000 sq. ft. complex is shared by Fort Worth fire and police headquarters and expansive training venues.

Located in one of two pre-WWII warehouses, the Fort Worth Fire Department has repurposed the historic facility into modern offices, auditoriums, classrooms and offers extensive training scenarios—a  must-see facility!

This year’s program has expanded to provide three days of immersive education on fire station design presented by award-winning architects and project managers of fire stations and public safety facilities to guide you through the journey to your new fire station. 

  • Meet one-on-one with expert architects for an objective review and discussion of your department’s plans.
  • Gain insights into the bidding/construction process.
  • Learn about the newest technology and innovations designed to boost performance and response times.
  • Become knowledgeable about the latest design trends in security, safety, firefighter health and more!
  • Network with fire chiefs, officers, public safety officials, award-winning architects and project planners from across the country.

Special Discount for Southwestern Fire Chiefs Assoc. members!
Register now and save an extra $60 on top of Early Bird pricing—That’s $160 off on-site pricing!  Use promo code: SWFCA  (Early Bird pricing ends on 3/15/17)

Whether you’re thinking about your next fire station, or already in the process, you won’t want to miss this event!

 

Fund has been set up for first responders from Gatlinburg, TN

The Gatlinburg Firefighters Association has established the Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund to aid those Gatlinburg Firefighters and Police Officers who lost their homes and contents in the fire, which in part spread from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into the eastern Tennessee resort city of Gatlinburg. The fire burned about 1,000 buildings in Sevier County, including hundreds in Gatlinburg, killed 13 people and injured about 85 people.

Donations should be made payable to The Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund, Account # 1090021864. Donations may be mailed to Smartbank,  ATTN:  Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund, PO Box 1910, Pigeon Forge Tennessee 37868. Electronic transfers may be sent to Smartbank. The routing number for this fund is 064209216.

For additional information contact Kandra McCarter Phone: (865) 936-7130; Daniel Lindbert (865) 430-8687 or David Puckett (865) 712-0726

Chief Brunacini is back with ICS 2017

Thanks to our local sponsors for making this class possible!

williamson-county-fire-chiefs

Don’t miss the first class of 2017!

Special introductory pricing to attend this interactive training class

Registration:  $199 for members , $225 non-members  

Register now

COMMAND SYMPOSIUM 2017: The Basics of Incident Command by Chief Bruno & Friends

Who Should Attend: Fire Command Officers, Company Officers, and Firefighters that have Incident Command decision-making responsibilities.

This is a 16 hour course that will provide the attendees with several new leading edge must know command lectures, case study and scenarios, from one of the American leading ICS pioneers, Alan Brunacini. Topics include critical decision making under stress; improving hazard zone communications and a review of several pivotal case studies.


Incident Command essentials include: Functions of Command; Case Studies; Managing Large Events… learn this and so much more 

 Command Symposium 2017 Agenda

 


Chief Alan Brunacini

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Chief Brunacini is one of the most highly respected figures in the fire industry. He has served as fire chief of the Phoenix Fire Department and as the Chairman of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 Technical Committee for Fire Service Organization and Deployment Projects. He was the first active fire service member to hold the position of chairman of the Board of Directors of the NFPA. His impact on the fire industry is widespread. Brunacini has authored or co-authored a total of nine books and has been referred to as “The Godfather” of Fire Service by those who he has mentored.

After serving as a firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief at the Phoenix Fire Department, Brunacini was named chief in 1978 after more than 20 years in the fire industry. Brunacini is a graduate of the Fire Protection Technology program at Oklahoma State University and a graduate of Arizona State University where he earned a degree in political science. He completed the Urban Executives Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a master’s in public administration from Arizona State University.

Chief Brunacini has authored Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service, Fire Command, Timeless Tactical Truths, and Command Safety.”


Chief Dennis Rubin

dennis-rubin

Dennis L. Rubin was first appointed as a Fire Chief in December of 1996.  Chief Rubin’s experience spans more than 35 years.  He has served as a line firefighter, company officer, command officer, and chief of the department in several major U. S. Cities.

In 1994, Rubin was the President of the State Fire Chiefs Association of Virginia.  Chief Rubin hosted the 1999 Southeastern Fire Chiefs Association Conference held in Dothan, Alabama.  He was appointed to several committees with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, including a two-year term as theSafety Committee and Program Committee Chair.  Rubin is the Ad Hoc Chair for the Wingspread VI Conference.

Chief Rubin’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Administration from the University of Maryland and Associates in Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Management from the Northern Virginia Community College.  Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) and the Naval Post Graduate School’s Executive Leadership Course in Homeland Security.  Rubin is a certified emergency manager (CEM); and a certified incident safety officer as well has obtained the Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD) and Chief Medical Officer Designation (CMOD) bestowed by the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

Rubin’s teaching credentials are significant.  Rubin is an adjunct faculty member with several state fire-rescue training agencies and at the        National Fire Academy.  Rubin is a popular lecturer at local, state, national and international venues.  Rubin has been a member of seven National Fire Academy course development teams.  Included among the development teams that Rubin has served on are: Incident Command, Infection Control for the Fire Service, and Tactical Operations


Chief Bobby Halton

Please read bio here


Chief Cecil B. Clay (ret)

Chief Cecil Clay served 28 years on the Oklahoma City Fire Department, and retired as the Deputy Fire Chief of Operation.

Chief Clay holds a B.S. in Fire Science and A.A.S. in Municipal Fire Protection. He worked his way through the ranks in the Operational Services Division, Suppression.

Chief Clay serves as a Commissioner on the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal Commission.


Captain Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson began in the fire service in 1998 and has been employed with Travis Co. ESD#2- Pflugerville Fire Dept since 2000. Michael currently holds the rank of Captain assigned as a Training Officer. As a fire service instructor, he specializes in Incident Command, hazardous materials, and driver operator classes. Michael has an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology and holds Instructor III and Fire Officer IV certifications.

Michael currently serves as the Western Advocate Manager for the NFFF EGH program managing the Advocate and training programs of the NFFF for FEMA regions 6 -10.

Michael currently resides in Hutto Texas, outside of Austin. He and his wife Gena have two children, Jocelyn (9) and Luke (5). Michael continues hard work to have a lasting impact on firefighter safety and the reduction of line of duty deaths and injuries.


Chief Nick Perkins

Nick Perkins is an 18 year veteran of the fire service beginning his fire service career as a volunteer fire fighter in the San Antonio area at age 18.  He began his professional career with Travis County ESD#2, Pflugerville Fire Department and progressively rose through the ranks to his current position as a Battalion Chief supervising the Training and Safety Division.  He serves as National Fallen Fire Fighter Foundation Advocate in Texas.  Additionally, he works part time as a Lead Instructor for the LBJ Fire Academy, and an assistant instructor with Texas Rope Rescue.  He holds a bachelors degree in occupational education, and an associate’s degree in fire protection technology. He hold certifications as a master fire fighter, master instructor III, and fire officer III/IV from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.  He served for seven years as a Staff Sergeant and a medic in the Texas State Guard.


2017 Executive Leadership Exhibit Info

ATTN:  EXHIBITORS OR SPONSORS:
PLEASE COMPLETE THE CONTACT FORM BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION 
 OR REGISTER ELECTRONICALLY >>>Vendor Registration
hilton-hotel

Hilton- Clear Lake

2017 Executive Leadership Conference

 October 5-7 Houston Clear Lake

 For Discounted Online Reservations  www.hilton.com/group/iafcswgrp

Special group rate: $109/night


 

Command Symposium 2017

Save the Date!!

This exclusive 2-day training symposium led by

Chief Alan Brunacini  known as the Godfather of the American Fire Service

February 9 & 10, 2017

Reserve your seat today!

cs2017pflugerville


Chemical Safety Board to Convene September 28, 2016 Public Meeting in Charleston, WV to Release Final Report and Safety Recommendations Resulting from Freedom Industries Investigation

Washington, DC, September, 15, 2016 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will convene a public meeting on, September 28, 2016, at 6:00 pm EDT at the Four Points by Sheraton located in Charleston, WV, to release its final report and safety recommendations into the January 9, 2014, chemical storage tank leak that contaminated the drinking water of up to 300,000 residents of nine West Virginia Counties.

At the meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from the investigative staff on their draft investigation report and related safety recommendations. The Board will also hear comments from the community.  At the conclusion of the staff presentation, the Board may vote on the final report.

Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Protecting people and the environment is the cornerstone of our mission. The CSB is focused on the completion of the investigation into this incident which affected hundreds of thousands of residents in West Virginia.  By sharing the lessons learned from the Freedom Industries investigations, we will raise communities’ awareness about the possible impact of a similar event. The Board looks forward to sharing its findings and hearing from the public.”

The meeting is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but to assure adequate seating attendees are strongly encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to meeting@csb.gov.

The meeting will also be webcast live and free of charge. Details about the webcast will be available at www.csb.govcloser to the time of the meeting.

The CSB is an independent Federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s Board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA and others. Please visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, please contact the CSB’s Office of Public Affairs at pubic@csb.gov.

Important legislation at stake, validate your vote before September 19

Earlier this year, International Code Council (ICC) members voted down a proposal to place the requirement to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes into the annex of the 2018 edition of ICC’s International Residential Code (IRC). However, public comments on this proposal have been submitted and will be heard at ICC public comment hearings in October. ICC’s governmental voting members will get the chance to vote on keeping this requirement intact.

 

What’s at Stake?

 

The future of home fire safety in America hinges on winning this vote. Home fire sprinklers represent our best chance of striking at the heart of America’s fire problem, since they reduce the risk of dying in home fires by an astounding 80 percent. Sprinkler requirements have made it into the 2009, 2012, and 2015 editions of the IRC. Placing this requirement into the code’s annex—thereby making it an option for states and local municipalities—would be a huge setback for home fire safety.

 

Take Action Today

 

ICC primary representatives must validate their governmental member voting representatives by Sept. 19to vote at the 2016 Annual Business Meeting public comment hearings, or the online governmental consensus vote that follows the hearings. The electronic voter validation site will remain open through Sept. 19. Please make sure your state’s governmental voting representatives are validated by this crucial date and vote in support of safer homes.

 

Please contact NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative team with any questions.

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