Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Tools for the Firefighters’ Skill Toolbox

Positive Pressure Attack – many departments have used this strategy for years while others have not. It involves directing a high velocity air flow at the entrance to a building involved in fire to facilitate initial fire attack. It’s a technique that dramatically improves visibility and cools the temperatures in a house fire which would enhance the chances of survival of any trapped residents and help firefighters locate them more quickly. That’s why Hillsboro Fire and Rescue trained on the technique this week at a make-shift burn house at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The instructors for this week’s training were veteran battalion chiefs formerly from Salt Lake City Fire Department. Chief Kriss Garcia is now the Fire Chief at American Fork Fire & Rescue in Utah and Reinhard Kauffmann is now retired.

The trainers build fires from wooden pallets and hay one at a time in each of the rooms and crews rotate through these evolutions until all had the experience of conducting the initial attack on the fire. Crews monitor the temperatures in the rooms using a Thermal Imaging Camera and report the difference in the conditions inside. Using the positive pressure ventilation in coordination with the initial fire attack allows firefighters to wait a few moments to ensure conditions are improving, enter and find the seat of the fire more quickly, and operate in much cooler temperatures than when attacking a fire without the ventilation.

There are, of course, certain conditions when this tactic is not to be used. Chiefs Garcia and Kauffmann outlined those circumstances clearly in a classroom portion of this drill prior to the live fire evolutions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When a Birth Day Turns into an Emergency

From Birth Class

The birth of a child is traditionally a joyous occasion. And, if all goes well, the mother-to-be makes it to the hospital in time for a normal delivery of the bundle of joy. In some cases, the child arrives early and firefighter/medics get the thrill of helping to deliver a healthy child into this world. However, in a few cases, whether from a medical problem or a traumatic event, complications occur in those critical hours just before birth. That’s when emergency medical personnel may have to deal with problem pregnancies and deliveries.

Firefighters from Hillsboro Fire & Rescue attended classes this week on imminent childbirth where complications were presented. Those complications ranged from infections and abnormal pain to stillbirths and situations which threaten the lives of both the child and mother. Just another way in which our firefighters continue to engage in life-long learning and provide excellent service to the citizens of Hillsboro—especially the newest citizens!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How do you rescue a stranded worker, such as a window washer, who is high above the ground and unable to help himself? You call in firefighters trained in high-angle rope rescue. Hillsboro Fire and Rescue has been conducting high angle rope rescue drills this week at the 5-story public parking garage at First and Washington Streets. The firefighters practiced setting the rigging and executing the rescue of a practice dummy from the side of the parking structure.

Tuesday’s drill allowed Hillsboro Fire Department's veteran rope rescue technicians to teach newer firefighters techniques for handing the ropes and for being the rescuer. Often the most difficult part of a high angle rescue is getting over the edge without suffering an injury. In this drill, firefighters used a tripod to elevate the point from which the rescuer is lowered allowing a easier and safer move over the edge. Once the firefighter reached the “patient,” he moved the patient from the patient's rigging to the rescue rigging and lowered the patient to the next garage level down to be unhooked. Firefighters drill regularly on skills that are high risk/low frequency to ensure that they can be done quickly and safely.

Winter Heating Safety

From Winter Heating Safety

Post holiday bills and high heating costs sometimes drive citizens to heat their homes with alternative sources. This time of year we see a spike in home heating fires caused by wood burning stoves, fireplaces and space heaters. You can reduce your chances of a heating-related fire by following these tips:

  • Ensure space heaters are kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn. They should also have a tip-over shutoff switch.

  • Have chimneys professionally inspected and cleaned each year.

  • Dispose of fireplace and wood stove ashes in a metal container–never use a paper bag or cardboard box.

  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting drapes, furniture and carpets.

  • Ensure wood stoves are properly installed.

  • Never use a range or oven to heat your home.

And, we can never mention it enough -- ensure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home, outside sleeping areas and, for maximum protection, one in each bedroom!