Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Standpipe Operations

Picture a fire in a multistory building and the stairwell is already compromised by the blaze. How do you get firefighters into the upper stories to fight it? With a ladder, of course! But the task is complicated by having to bring hose along with you to fight the fire. That’s why Hillsboro firefighters this past week have been drilling on what’s called “standpipe operations.”
Standpipes are normally water pipes built into multi-story buildings to help supply firefighting water to the upper stories. In cases where they are installed in buildings or parking structures, firefighters bring hose bundles with them and attach to the pipes. The pipes are either fed by the municipal water supply or by the fire engine attaching to an “FDC” or fire department connection on the exterior of the building. Once attached to the standpipe, they can charge their hoses and advance on the fire.

In multi-story buildings where there are no standpipes, firefighters have to essentially create their own by bringing a larger diameter hose up the ladder to their floor of entry, attaching a gated “Y” valve to split the larger line into two smaller attack lines for maneuverability, and advancing to the fire’s location. The process is not complicated, but requires several critical steps to ensure a smooth fire attack, one of which includes securing the larger diameter hose to the ladder to ensure it doesn’t fall and pull the smaller lines down with it when the lines are charged with water.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Firefighters Are People, Too!

CISM Training by Chaplain Brodehl

Despite their image of America’s bravest, firefighters are human and subject to the emotional toll of seeing tragic and horrific events, sometimes on a daily basis. To ensure they don’t suffer long-term stress-related illness, Hillsboro Fire and Rescue provided training this week about Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).

Hillsboro Fire Chaplain Steve Brodehl provided the program that showed the old philosophy of “just deal with it” often resulted in emotional problems, family discord and addictions. Those add up to an untimely end to a promising career. Today’s concept of CISM is to “talk it out.” That means to discuss with fellow crew members the impact a particularly tragic call had. It could be that the child injured or killed looked like or was the same age as the firefighter’s own children that prompted the emotional impact. Whatever the reason, an open discussion around the dinner table after the call goes a long way toward alleviating the emotional impact a bad call has had.

Company officers can also organize an informal Defusing session within a few hours of the incident to help facilitate the frank and open discussion of the toll a tragic call has taken. These sessions are voluntary.

If more than a couple of crew members are still feeling impacted by a call for more than a day or two, a closed-session Debriefing can be ordered by the Chief. Attendance is mandatory. This session is led by a facilitator from outside the department who may be aided by chaplains, also from outside the department.

HFD invests heavily in training firefighters to provide the best possible service for our citizens. We want to ensure the firefighters retire mentally and physically healthy and capable of continuing to invest in their families and our community after their career as a firefighter ends.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fire Prevention Week Open House

Hillsboro Fire and Rescue kicked off National Fire Prevention Week with an open house at Fire Station 1 on Saturday, October 3rd. More than 300 people showed up to pick up safety information, tour the station, climb aboard fire engines, play games, and see demonstrations. Kids particularly liked the miniature fire engine built by HFD Engineer Mike Banta. There was a line most of the day waiting to crawl into the tiny cab and blow the siren. Take a look at our photos of the event.

Fire Prevention Week is organized each year to bring awareness to the most serious fire safety issues. This year's theme: Stay Fire Smart! Don't Get Burned. It points out the simple yet necessary habits to avoid tradegies: Test the bath water before putting a baby in it; use short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking on the stove top; set your hot water heater to no more than 120-degrees(F); and have a three-foot kid-free zone around your stove.

Additionally, this year's focus included adult burn prevention. One of the most common and preventable severe burns in Oregon is adult males using gasoline to start burn piles, barbeques or cleaning car parts. The unexpected explosion that occurs when an ignition source, such as a lit match, finds accumulating gas fumes has sent many men to the area's burn center. Please avoid using gasoline for anything other than a fuel for motorized equipment and vehicles.