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Firefighting

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Firefighting And The Fire Classifications

Within the world of firefighting, fire is classified under five classes. This
gives a better system of understanding the many types of fire that fire
personnel face each day. Each class of fire is fought differently and requires
a different tactic and strategy for controlling it. Each classification of fire
is listed under wither an A class, B class, C class, D class, or K class. In the
United Kingdom, Class k fires are also known as Class F.

Class A fires are the fires that are more common in today's world of
firefighting. These fires are caused by combustible materials such as wood.
More commonly known fires in this class are candle fires, campfires, fires
resulting from a match ignition, and also lighter ignitions. A fire triangle is
what causes these fires to remain hot and consist of heat, oxygen, and a fuel
source. A Class A fire requires all three to be at the right consistency or a
fire can not continue. When the material becomes hot enough to cause combustion
or an open flame usual.ly caused by a match or lighter, then the fire spreads to
other materials around it. Oxygen is available to the flames and allows it to
grow more and more dangerous. Campfires are usually a contained fire but with
eh right ingredients such as a wind gust and surrounding brush, will leave the
confines of the area and can spread through the forest at a fast rate.
Firefighters know that with a Class A fire; the simplest way to put it out is
by removing the oxygen and heat from the fire. Water is the common ingredient
that does both. Some of the time a fire of this nature can be put out by using
a chemical that will ultimately smother the fire.

Class B fires fall under the same fire triangle but gasoline and the like are
the choice of fuel and not a wood product. Class B fires do not require the use
of water and need a foam or CO2 based product to extinguish it. The K Class or F
class as known to the United Kingdom is really a subheading under the B Class of
fires. This class deals with the use of cooking oils as a source. Fire specially
designed fire extinguishers are used for this. Class C fires are fires caused by
electrical devices such as defective appliances. The fire triangle in this
classification is fueled by the electrical current applied to it. Water can not
be used under any circumstances because the firefighters are at risk of
electrocution. Many firefighters have been killed by this type of fire and the
electricity traveling up the path of the water to the hose. To fight a Class C
fire, the oxygen part of the fire triangle must be cut off. Firefighters use
foam consisting of protein and by removing the source of electricity from the
fire. Fire extinguishers have been developed to also combat this class of fire.

Class D fires are known as fires dealing with metals. These metals may be in
the form of magnesium, calcium, uranium, potassium, sodium, titanium, and
plutonium. These metals themselves are not the main cause of the ignition but
Class A fire is ignited causing the wood around it to heat to the metal.
Magnesium and other metals are known to be very hot and can become as hot as
1200 degrees. Under no circumstances can these fires because the water will
actually make the fire hotter. Dry powder is used to extinguish Class D fires
and to smother the source of oxygen to the fire.

The Art Of Firefighting Around the World

Firefighting, the term brings images of martial arts and fire to mind. The fire
part is correct, but there is no place for martial arts in the world of
firefighting. It is definitely an art, and a skilled accomplishment for those
that choose to attempt it, succeed, and are full fledged, certified
firefighters. Simply put, these are the men and women that are called to put
out fires, rescue people and sometimes animals. Most of us have a broad, even
generalized idea of what their jobs and training entail, few of us realize the
details or difficulties they must champion through on a day to day, and week to
week basis.

The profession of firefighting is known world wide, ranging in areas from urban
and outback to cities and towns. Wherever the possibility arises for a fire to
break out is where they will be. Some of them are paid for their service as
professional firefighters, and some are not. Volunteers are not usually paid
firefighters, but those that are referred to as "call" or "retained" are paid
for the times they are called to respond to an emergency. They are not employed
full time as firefighters, and most usually work other jobs. Many countries
around the world use much the same system for firefighters. They have some that
are full time who live at and run the fire stations, and retained firefighters
that man the fire stations in emergencies. These retained and "call"
firefighters have the ability and the authority to assume command at the scene
of the fire if they are first responders, and may run the local career Brigade
due to their training. All firemen are trained at the same levels as
professional firemen.

Germany is one country that takes firefighting seriously. They have volunteer
fire department in every town, and although they do have career fire services,
which are professional firefighters that are paid for their services. There are
far fewer of these types of fire departments, though, and the volunteer fire
departments most usually handle the fires everywhere. Even in the cities that
have the professional firefighters, the volunteers assist them and are more
than equal in their knowledge and skills. They are perhaps the most important
of emergency workers, and more often than not outnumber the career
firefighters; however they are still referred to as volunteer fire servicemen
and women.

University Firefighters are an added label to some firefighters in Venezuela.
These firefighters are specifically for the universities and campuses in this
country. They specifically fight fires and handle crises within the campus
boundaries and certain surrounding zones that are relevant to the university.
This country takes education quite seriously, both on campus and within the
fire departments. They are expected to also develop new firefighting
technologies and ideas, which is encouraged by their governing bodies. Almost
80% of the members of the university firefighting squads possess a degree from
the university, or are currently working toward one. This alone, promises a
higher level of intelligence and ability, and proves that higher education
applies to all walks of life.

Australian firefighters are broken into mainly two groups: volunteer brigades
and career brigades. The volunteer brigades are trained similarly to those in
the career brigades and are able to assume command if they arrive at the scene
of a crisis first. This would involve assuming command over the local fire
brigade as well, whether it is a volunteer brigade or a career brigade. These
volunteer firefighters are most usually paid by their employers when called
during the course of a work day. The volunteer firefighters are also able to
run career fire stations in the even of an emergency. The art and profession of
firefighting is much the same the world over, but one thing stands to reason --
it is far more difficult than it seems, and it is not a game.

Fire Safety under the Fire Code

We have all learned about fire safety, either when we were in grade school, or
as adults. Some things are simply good common sense, others are not quite so
obvious. What exactly do you know about fire safety? Do you know enough to save
your life or those of your family members? Educating yourself and your family
concerning fire safety could be the difference between life and death. Even in
public buildings, being aware of the codes and laws that govern fire safety,
can benefit you as well as increase the level of your safety.

The local fire department most usually handles the inspection of public
buildings to insure they are following the guidelines for proper fire
protection measures. These members of the local fire departments are Fire
Prevention Officers. They often give presentations in schools and other
organized meetings to educate the public, specifically children, about fire
safety. The chief FP officer is responsible for training newcomers to the
division, and conducting the regulated inspections. These inspections are
scheduled at certain dates and times concurrent with the age of the building
being taken into consideration. Any violations of the fire code are punishable
by a number of ways, and must be corrected or the building risks being shut
down. This fire code is a set of rules that have been adopted by lawmakers to
suit the region or area they are in, and the primary enforcers of these rules
are the fire prevention officers. The fire code should not be confused with the
building code. The building code is relevant to the fire code, and must build to
fit occupancy rates, fire exits, etc. as specified by the fire code for that
size/design building. The fire code covers the ins and outs of the design, as
far as how many people may occupy the building, and even what activities may be
pursued in said building. Hazards are listed by the fire code, as to which kind/
amounts are allowed and the rules for their disposal or containment as well. Any
recreational exhibitions involving fire (fireworks) most usually require an
additional application to be filed with the fire department and town hall for a
license, either temporary or standing.

The following are some of the stipulations stated in the fire codes for the
average building. The maximum occupancy listing is not to be exceeded for any
reason. All exits must be lit or labeled with proper signs in the event of a
power outage. Fire alarms and extinguishers are mandatory not a choice.
Proper/safe storage of flammable materials is also required. Flammable
materials are to be stored in designated areas ONLY! Control panels for fire
alarms need to be installed to allow quick detection of fires. Educate building
occupants on fire safety to give these individuals the knowledge to protect
themselves. Conduct mandatory fire drills randomly throughout each year to
ensure everyone is on the same page with what to do in the event of a fire.

These are only a small number of the rules and regulations that are to be
followed in public and private buildings. The fire department is responsible
for random checks to ensure that all fire codes are being followed. Due to
there being so many buildings in one town, let alone an entire city or state,
you can imagine how busy it keeps the Fire Inspector. Most towns now have
offices that house the Fire Inspector and his or her staff, where they are
easily accessible by the public concerning fire safety, fire codes, and
regulations. Following the fire code for each building is not only for the
safety of everyone, but also the law. Failure to follow these rules can result
in stiff fines as well as having the building closed down for business either
temporarily, or permanently. Because the lawmakers have our best interests at
heart, they have worked to set up the fire code to best ensure the safety of
everyone that enters any building anywhere. Doing our part to help would be
following simple rules that are most often posted in each building. Teach your
children by example, and help them possibly save their lives.

Planning A Successful Fire Escape For Your Home

One of the ways to ensure fire safety is at the top of your list of importance,
is by planning a successful fire escape route for your home, and having fire
drills to practice, at least 3-4 times a year. Well over 4,000 people die in
home fires, according to statistics, and this calls for extreme measures.
Educating your children in fire safety is beneficial to them for their entire
lives, and helps them to gain confidence that they are able to control some of
their actions if a fire should break out. By including them in the planning,
they are more aware of the route to use, as well as all of the exit points and
safe points.

There are some key factors you need to keep in mind when planning your fire
escape route, most importantly, is time. Time is your biggest enemy in a fire.
Always remember to get out as quickly as possible. Leave no room for error, and
keep moving at all times. Do not take time to grab for things around you, you
life is more important, and most things can be replaced -- your life cannot be.
When planning your escape route, keep in mind you will need to include every
room in the house. Fires are not choosy; they can break out at any place at any
time. By covering each room in your escape plan, you and your children will be
more familiar with the layout of the house, which will enable them to react
more quickly. Teach them how to remove the screens to get out of the windows,
or how to use a collapsible ladder if your home is multi-story. You may want to
consider small stepping stools or moveable toy boxes that smaller children are
able to move to use for easier exit through a window. Make certain that any
windows or doors with safety bars have quick release handles on them.

Teach your children to crawl on their hands and knees when exiting the home.
All practice drills should be carried out this way also. A house you have lived
in for years and years will look dramatically different through a layer of thick
smoke, and from the viewpoint of your hands and knees. Explain to your children
that the smoke could contain noxious gasses that may disorient you or worse
yet, kill you. Remembering to feel any closed doors before opening them is
another important point to keep in mind. Teach your family the rule of doors.
Always feel them before opening the knob. If the door feels hot, there could be
a fire on the other side. Try the knob as well, if it is hot, there is more
likely than not a fire on the other side of the door. Keep moving to the next
planned fire exit.

Once you have covered all the possible fire exits inside the home, and you have
made it clear on the route as to where everyone should exit depending on the
location of the fire or their location if they are separated from you, you must
all decide on the safest designated meeting spot outside. There can be NO
exceptions to this. Everyone must realize the importance of meeting at the same
spot of they have made it out of the home. The reason for this being, too many
people have lost their lives re-entering a burning home/building to search for
a loved one they thought was still inside. By making this imperative action,
the children, and you take it as a fact and act on it as fact after repeatedly
practicing it. Now you have your fire escape route planned, and you have your
designated meeting spot, all you need to do is practice, practice, and practice
-- after all, practice makes permanent, make fire safety a permanent fixture in
your home.

House Fires And The Morning After

For anyone who has suffered the traumatic experience of a house fire, can fully
understand the ramifications of total devastation to their lives. Your entire
life suffers an upheaval, over which you seemingly have no control what so ever
-- key word being seemingly. It is definitely a life changing situation, but do
not allow it to be life shattering. There are some actions you can take,
following the fire to ensure your stability, and gather a semblance of order,
even if only a small one.

Directly following the fire, if you and your loved ones have not suffered any
injuries or health issues, then be grateful, and merely rest. The shock needs
to wear off, and your nerves need to straighten out before attempting to deal
with anything extremely traumatic. During the first 24 hours following the
fire, the most immediate needs you must consider are where you can stay
temporarily, what medicines you may need to obtain, clothes to wear,
replacement eyeglasses if you have lost yours, food, and other necessities that
may arise. Contacting your local American Red Cross or Salvation Army could
prove useful to obtaining these necessities. They are helpful disaster relief
organizations, and definitely help those that need it. Be aware, that it is
highly unsafe, and not recommended that you enter your home anymore during the
next 24 hours. This is due in part to structure instability, as well as fires
being hidden in smoldering remains. All it takes is a spark, and the fire could
rekindle. Any food, drink, or medications that were exposed to the elements
(smoke, water, soot, or heat) should no longer be considered useable, and
should be disposed of properly if able to at that time.

Upon leaving your home, if there are openings that allow access, you may want
to consider boarding these up to deter trespassers from entering, as well as
contacting your local police department to inform them that your home will be
unoccupied for an unknown amount of time. Retain each and every receipt for any
money you spend from this point on, as proof to the insurance company of the
money you have had to spend as a result of the fire. This will also help you
later when you are filling out your income tax forms and you are required to
verify the losses you will claim. IF you are able to re-enter your home, plan
out in advance, if possible, where the items are located, and try to set up an
order to your walk through the house. This lets those outside know where you
will be as well as save you time while minimizing your presence in the un-safe
environment. The most important items you will need are any forms of
identification, such as your driver's license and social security cards, any
insurance information you have, as well as medication information. Either
refill or prescription information. If you or anyone in your family has lost
their eyeglasses, try to find them and any other hearing or other ambulatory
devices that are used in your family. Try to gather the most valuable of
jewelry, any bank books, cash, or credit cards as well.

Keep in mind that you will need to notify certain people of your relocation,
even if it is only temporary. Your family and friends will, of course, be
worried about you and will need to be notified, as well as your employer and
the school your children attend. If you have delivery services for anything,
you will need to inform them of your new address, or put the deliveries on hold
for an indefinite period of time. The post office and utility companies need to
be given your new address followed by the police department and fire department
in case there are any questions or situations that arise from the fire.
Following the fire, the hardest part is trying to remember it will all be
organized, it just takes time.

Fighting Fire With A Smoke Alarm

You might call in a smoke alarm or a smoke detector, either way; it is a
necessary item for your home. Having smoke alarms will ensure you are alerted
to a possible fire and can get in contact with the fire department faster.
Smoke alarms will also let you know of danger while you sleep. Fire deaths of
sleeping individuals are one of the main reasons fire death statistics are so
high. Some fire departments can provide you with working smoke detectors. They
can also provide you with the proper information on installation and usage of
the new smoke alarm. You can also purchase smoke alarms at most hardware stores
and general merchandise stores.

Smoke is the leading cause of death in a fire. Most individuals die as a result
of being overcome with smoke. They literally suffocate because smoke removes the
oxygen from a space. While you sleep, you have a greater risk of death
associated with smoke inhalation because of the risk of not waking up in time
to get out of the house. The more smoke that accumulates in a room, the darker
the room becomes and the harder it is to find your way out. The best defense in
a smoky room is to stay as low to the floor as you can. This is where the most
oxygen is at the time. Some individuals have been found right in front of the
door leading to the outside but got so disoriented, they never realized it.

Smoke detectors give a change of early warning in a fire if they are installed
and cared for properly. This means that the smoke alarm should be tested at
least once a month to ensure the battery is still strong enough to work
correctly. Some smoke alarms are connected to the homes electrical current and
this is fine for those emergencies before the fire starts to become large.
Battery operated alarms give an added protection when the power is cut or out
due to storms or other reasons and allows the alarm to continue functioning.
Always take a smoke alarm warning seriously. If your alarm is malfunctioning
and going off on a frequent basis, you may want to change the device out for a
new one. Death due to not being warned of a fire is no joke. How sad to think
this could happen to you or someone you love.

A smoke alarm is a life saving device to give proper warning in the even of a
fire. This means that the fire department can be notified in enough time to
prevent a large amount of damage to your home. Not only is it a necessity in
saving property but will also make your family aware of an emergency so they
can get out to safety in time. Most smoke alarms only cost about $15 each but
think of the cost you would incur without one. By having a smoke alarm above
each bedroom and also in your kitchen and living room, you are adding an extra
sense of security to your home. Why would you want to do anything less than
protect your home from all emergencies? Purchase your smoke alarm today and
become an important part of the fight against fire.




Children And Fire Are A Deadly Combination

Local fire departments and governing authorities are trying once again to
educate people on the deadly risks they face from fire outbreaks in their own
homes. A fire has the ability to start from almost anything, and can turn in to
a raging inferno in no time at all. Fire proofing your home is one way of
keeping yourself and your children safe.

Can you name the number one cause of in-home fires caused by children? Yes, you
guessed it right; matches and lighters are in fact the number one cause of
fires. Far too many children have learned to light matches and to ignite
lighters and find them completely irresistible. Much too often these instances
are deadly and one or more children are hurt badly or killed. If your child
begins showing interest in fires or setting them, at an early age, there is
counseling available to help them find better outlets for their emotions or
desires. Most of the juveniles that are considered "fire starters" are found to
have played with matches and lighters, often, when they were children. To remove
any hazards or temptations, keep matches and lighters in high places or locked
cabinets.

It is imperative that you educate your child on fire safety and how to leave a
room or house if one starts. Although they are naturally inquisitive about
fires, they more often than not hide when faced with the reality of one. Sadly,
most of the deaths that occur of young children are those that are found too
late, hiding under beds and in closets. When frightened, they have a tendency
to get easily confused, or if they were responsible for having started the
fire, they may hide out of fear of consequences. Practicing fire drills in your
home, at least on an average of 3 - 4 times a year, will enable them to become
familiar with their surroundings and to feel more confident in the event of an
emergency.

Another top ranking cause of fire injuries among children is clothing fires.
These occur when children get too close to open flames, heaters, burners,
matches, etc. and their clothing catches fire. Teaching your children about
fire and the possible damage that it can do, allows them to learn a healthy
respect for fire. Fire safety on this topic includes teaching them the basics
of what to do if their clothes catch on fire, that would be the well known
phrase, "Stop, Drop, and Roll". Even though their natural inclination is to
run, teach them to stop immediately, drop to the ground, cover their face, and
roll repeatedly until the flames are extinguished. This is such a simple
action, but can lead to saving your child's life. The safest course of action
would be to always ensure that a responsible adult or teenager is always around
your child. They should not ever be left unattended, since this is most often
when serious accidents occur.

In the 1970's, a law was passed concerning children's sleep wear that it had to
be flame retardant. Before this law went into effect, the deaths of children in
fires was at an all time high, but after the law was passed, the rate of child
deaths by fire lowered by over 90%. This helped to heighten the general
awareness of the danger of fires, and resulted in a big step toward better fire
safety practices. The statistics are shocking at best, and cause people to take
notice of the simple things that could end up being the death of your child.
Most fire inspectors today are trying to warn parents everywhere that some of
the sleeping garments they are choosing for their children, such as t-shirts
and shorts, are not flame retardant material. For the safety of your child,
read the label and get the facts. It could be a matter of life and death --
literally.

Saving The Next Generation From Fire

It is so important for not only the local fire department to teach the children
about the dangers of fire but it is also necessary for parents and family to
also stress it at home. Fire in the home is a serious matter and should be
taken into consideration. There should be a fire plan in place and regular fire
drills conducted so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire. This is
especially important to children who live in the home. Making sure your home
has the best fire proofing items and your children are educated on the hazards
of fire is the first step in protection. Adults should also know all they can
on the hazards that exist in their home.

Children are very curious by nature and have been known to be attracted to
matches and lighters. This being said; Is it any big surprise that they have
also been the cause of home fires? Unfortunately, some of these fires have been
the cause of death and the loss of large amounts of property. Making sure any
items capable of starting a fire is under security is the best way to remedy
this problem. If you have lighters and matches lying around your home, it is
very easy for a child to play with them. If these items are put in a cabinet or
box that can be locked, there is a larger chance they will not even be
interested in them. Talking to you children about fire and the bad things it
can do. Make sure they know that under no circumstances should they play with
matches or lighters as these are very dangerous. For children to be safe, they
must respect fire.

When you choose clothing items for your children, make sure the material is
fire retardant material. This is especially important for the nighttime sleep
clothing they wear. This may be pajamas or nightgowns and also blankets and
sheets used in a crib or toddler bed. These clothes are treated so they will
not ignite easily when exposed to a flame, a burner, heater, or other hot
surface. Children should also be taught what to do in case they do have
clothing on that catches fire. Their first instinct is to run away but this
will only make the fire worse. They need to stop where they are, drop to the
ground, and roll around to put the fire out. Once they learn this, the reaction
to run won't be the first thing they do. This technique also applies to the
adults and older individuals in the home.

Take a trip to your local fire department and see if they can recommend any
other advice on keeping your home safe. Also place widow decals on the outside
of the windows where your children sleep. This allows firefighters to identify
the rooms faster and also that there are children in the home at all. You may
even want to take the time to have a fire official take a look at your home and
show you first hand what items you need to help make your home a safer place.
Taking the little bit of time and effort now can make a difference to your
families safety later on.

Supporting Your Local Fire Department

Who are those men and women that respond to our 911 calls? Do we really know
them? Probably not personally, but as another human being, yes, we know them.
They are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters and perhaps some of the bravest
men and women of all. We need to familiarize ourselves with our local
firefighters, and with today's decline in certified firefighters, this is not
very difficult to do. All it takes is a short trip to your local fire
department. Take some form of baked goods and simply introduce yourself, then
listen. They have more stories they could tell you than most people have in a
life time.

A lack of community support for the fire department, makes them feel slightly
ostracized or cut off from the rest of the town. They really are no different
from you and me, except that they have been trained in life saving skills, and
fire suppression/prevention. More often than not, most fire departments attempt
to reach out to the community by having fish fry's or other money raising
events, but these are no the only ones. Holidays are special for everyone,
including the firefighters of your community. They often have fun get-together
for members of the community, in an attempt to also educate people about fire
safety.

Many fire departments have a specified member or officer that visits the
schools to assist in educating younger children on fire safety, and how to
react in the even of a fire. The famous saying "Stop, Drop, and Roll" has been
made into a song, a rhyme, and many other things. While it is a catchy phrase
to say, it is ultimately true, and by teaching this to the children, it enables
them to react properly should they find themselves caught in a fire. Many
children are also learning that fire fighters are important members of our
community, and as such, should be learned from and treated with respect.

Are you looking for ways to assist your local fire department? Want to show
them that many members of the community support them and think highly of them?
It is always good to volunteer; however, you need to keep a few important
points in mind when engaging in activities of this sort. Start slowly! Try not
to steam roll the fire chief or mayor about your plans or goals. It may be best
if you talk to them, make them aware of your ideas, but follow them on where
they "need" volunteers, which may not be where you would like to be, but it is
where you are needed.

When recruiting other volunteers, you must maintain control of the group as a
whole, as well as personally. The fire department does not need additional work
added to their already full load. Keep the volunteer group that you will manage,
to a controllable number, or consisting of people that genuinely wish to help,
not control/change the fire department.

Perhaps the most important key is communication. Keep open lines between
yourself, the fire chief, and the mayor. By communicating openly, you are
allowing them to feel as if the group of volunteers is actually volunteering
help, not more problems. Be sure what you have understood to be said is what
was actually said. This will enable you and the others to help where you are
needed, and keep problems to a minimum.

Supporting your local fire department can be a fun and rewarding experience so
if you have ideas of ways to support them without trying to "fix" it or
"change" it, approach the proper officials in a respectful, open manner. Give
them your ideas, and actually listen to what they say. Supporting them could be
as simple as cooking a special meal for them, to running a charity drive for
raising funds. Work together -- after all, it is how a community stays together.

The Fire Act Of 1972: Ignorance Or Defiance

While most of us were too young to remember 1972, many changes to the fire
service were being started. Republican President Nixon took a very unheard of
step to change the fire services. He created a special group to take a look
into the issues within the fire service and come up with ways to correct these
issues. This special group was made up of those individuals who were at the top
of the fire service and who had a drive to complete the task given to them. It
sounds simple enough but unfortunately what sometimes seems easy is the hardest
thing you may ever do. This was not something that was small indeed.

This group or commission encountered some issues that were controversial in
nature. It really shook up the fire service. The issues were not just at
surface level but were delving into a depth of the fire department that some
felt was better left alone. When they started questioning the deaths of
citizens, preventing fires, changing things to provide more safety for those
fighting fire, and dealing with the new types of high rise buildings coming up,
some feathers got ruffled. Their conclusion was given in a very rude and in your
face view of the problems with the fire services of that day. Nothing was left
to the imagination in the report and it seemed that not one inference could be
made in ones mind because of the frankness of the report. It seemed to the
commission that even though America was at its peak for being a country of
technology and advancement, it was also the worst for the amount of deaths
caused by fire and money lost because of those fires. It seems that because of
this commission's boldness, the fire service has become what it is today and
that seems to be a good thing.

The future has brought not only good changes but issues in the fire service
still exist. America is facing what it did back when the commission was first
formed. Is this the fault of the fire service or those citizens it has sworn to
protect? It seems that the new report is saying that with all the new
advancements and training available to the general public, many choose not to
follow it and by the time a fire happens to them, it is too late. Americans are
allowing their smoke detectors to go without battery changes and testing on a
regular basis. Taking precautions with chemicals and electronic devices is also
leading to a higher rate of deaths due to fire related situations. This is a sad
fact that seems to be ignored.

Simple things can be done to bring about changes in the next report. If we, as
responsible citizens of this great United States of America will start taking
interest and learn the essentials of fire safety, death and destruction can
start to be reduced. By taking the time to make sure you have a fire
extinguisher where it is needed and to learn how to deal with everyday objects
in our home properly, the life of our family could be spared. A few seconds is
all it takes to push the button on your smoke detector to see if it is still
working. A second of inconvenience could be years you have to enjoy those you
love!

Fighting Fire from The Air

Fighting fire from the air is better known as aerial firefighting. This type of
firefighting method was developed to help with wildfires because of the fires
occurring in difficult areas to reach. Aerial firefighting uses many types of
aircrafts such as helicopters and planes each carrying regular water or a
special fire retardant material. Along with these special aircrafts for
fighting fire from the sky, there is also a special group of firefighters known
as Smokejumpers who parachute in tot he difficult areas and fight the fire from
the ground level. They are very special firefighters indeed because of the
dangerous situations they face and the locations in which they are landing in.
The death rate for these firefighters is no laughing matter.

The helicopters carry the water or other materials to extinguish the fire in a
tank or bucket especially designed for this job. The bucket is filled with
water from a pond or lake nearby and then flown and dumped on the fire. The
Bambi Bucket is one of the better known buckets used. Those helicopters using
tanks receive the water from a nearby water source also. The difference is that
they siphon the water through a straw-like snorkel. A few special helicopters
can actually be filled while they are in the air by this same type of snorkel
device. Aircraft carry tanks that are filled while they are on the ground by
special filling areas but can also skim across the water to fill them if needed.

The particular chemicals used in these tanks vary but the majority of the
aerial firefighting is done with ammonium sulfate. The chemicals remove the
heat from the fire and cover it so no oxygen can get in. In the past a Borat
salt mixture was used but was found to not only be toxic to the animals but
would cause the soil to become barren and not produce any greenery. The new
ammonium sulfate mixture is combined with a clay and guar gum to make it
thicker and a red coloring is also added. This mixture also prevents rust
deposits from occurring because of the clay and gum it contains. The thickness
provides a lower chance of the material running off the original location it
was intended for and the coloring shows where it has been applied. This
produces a safer chemical and will actually help to fertilize the ground to
grow vegetation back faster. Any of the ammonium sulfate mixture that gets into
the water and has excessive sunlight will be harmful to the fish in that water.
By using aerial firefighting for these fires, more land can be saved than with
a regular ground attack. They give a defensive line to those fires that are not
reachable by human firefighters. As seen on the many television broadcasts
showing wild fires, it is obvious that it takes a long period of time to
extinguish these types of fires. It may take as long as a week to a few months
to stop the fires from burning out of control. Imagine what it would be like if
it were not for the aerial firefighters and vehicles that aided in the fight. We
might loose a larger amount of our forests were it not for this great
firefighting equipment and personnel.

Resistance To Change In The Fire Service

In the old days, firefighters were there to help when the call came in. The
only thing between them and the fire was a thin helmet and a hose pumping a
weak amount of water as compared to the hoses of today. The smoke and flames
were not something that were a concern to the "leather lung" firefighter who
threw caution to the wind and just did what he loved to do. This perception of
the firefighter may still be in the minds of some who are living in today's
world. Unfortunately, this is not the way it really is now. Firefighting has
become a skilled art and science making fighting fire more precise and safe. No
more will they go in to a fire without special breathing equipment to give them
a safe journey in and out and the latest gear adorning ever inch of them.

In the past, fighting the fire was done with little knowledge of any of the new
things known today. Most men went in with only a small amount, if any, training.
Todays, men and women are not only trained in the finer art of fighting fire,
many of them have been introduced on an intimate level to the beast. When they
go inside the burning structure, it is now a struggle to control the beast and
them to take it out completely. Strategy and planning goes into each fire fight
because, as it was back in the day, life is at risk in all situations. Training
into the new arts is mandatory. Hours and hours are spent in training each
individual in every possible scenario and part of the fire fighting experience.
If the training classes were voluntary, many fire service professionals may tell
you that it is not something they would choose to undertake on their own.

Since the 1970's the death rate has been lowered drastically because of the new
safety measures and gear that has come into the fire services as standard issue.
Even so, the death rate is still a real part of the job. Since, the 1950's the
type of person who chooses to be a firefighter has changed also. While those
from the past chose not to protect themselves, the firefighter of today are
completely protected with the many choices in protective gear. Turn Out gear is
not only a piece of clothing but has undergone every type of scientific
development to make it as good as it can be. Technology has been a positive
asset for the fire service and changes are still coming but, are they being
accepted as fast? Customs are set and altering them is something that does not
happen often. Aren't customs what has made this profession last as long as it
has?

It is true that firefighting is an ancient profession with many staying in for
the duration giving ten, twenty, thirty, or more years of service. The
firefighters make up a tight group and change is not something looked for or
even wanted no matter what form it comes in. Old habits die hard and this is no
exception for fire fighting veterans and probies' alike. Change and new
technologies are coming and can be a good thing for those involved but those
changes are slow in being accepted and implemented. The old ways worked back in
the day so why does it need to change now? Personal preference can only be the
right explanation. I guess some things are better left alone!





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