Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety

How to #BeSafe in 2015 

new-years-resolutions firedogNew Year’s Resolutions. Most people write a few down, even if they have no intention of ever following through. That could be the reason dogs don’t participate in the practice. Well, it could also be because we don’t have opposable thumbs. But, whatever the reason, according to USA.Gov, the 10 most popular resolutions (for people) are to:

  • Lose weight
  • Volunteer to help others
  • Quit smoking
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Save money
  • Get fit
  • Eat healthier
  • Manage stress
  • Manage debt

BeeSafeAs good as those aspirations are, we propose they fail to incorporate one of the most important goals anyone could make—to #BeSafe! So, as our gift to you for 2015, we have prepared a list of our suggestions for 10 New Year’s Safety Resolutions:

  1. Create/update home and workplace emergency preparedness kits. The contents of your kit will vary depending on individual needs. Set aside a three-days-per-person supply of foodwater and other essentials. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. Help could arrive in hours or it could take days for relief workers to get to you. So take responsibility for yourself. This is good advice even outside the arena of safety.
  1. Develop and practice an emergency preparedness plan. The Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps encourages households, businesses and communities to prepare for emergencies by making plans to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services. If you own or manage a facility, make sure tenants and employees are well-informed of emergency procedures. Develop a plan and run periodic drills. Practice makes perfect. I love running drills…or running anything, for that matter.
  1. Don’t play with fire. When fires break out, the potential for loss is high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. So take precautions to make sure you are fire safe, whether you are located in an area with a high risk of wildfire; visiting, living or working inside a high rise building; or just hanging out at home. We can’t really emphasize this enough. Fire is dangerous stuff. Be careful.
  1. Learn CPR. Sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death in adults, accounts for 325,000 annual adult deaths in the United States. Prompt, effective administration of CPR/AED and first aid can mean the difference between life and death. Did you know you can’t call the Heimlich maneuver the Heimlich maneuver anymore? I guess Heimlich’s family got mad they weren’t making any money off of the deal. So now it’s called the Abdominal Thrust. Not quite as catchy.
  1. Take advantage of available vaccines. Because people are starting to second-guess the wisdom of vaccinating their children, once eradicated diseases such as polio and TB are reemerging. Do your due diligence, researching booster shots your pediatrician suggests. But refusing every vaccination could put the rest of the population at risk. I don’t know why people refuse to get shots. We give JR boosters all of the time and he doesn’t even cry.
  1. Learn how to determine whether any given disaster would be best handled by evacuation or sheltering in place. Since every natural or manmade disaster is unique, you won’t be able to predict the best course of action. But, you can educate yourself about the various types of emergencies and how to respond most appropriately in any given situation. Safe Room
  1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer to prevent spreading germs. During flu season, this is especially important! The CDC likens hand washing to a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Effective hand washing involves five simple and effective steps, including wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Regular hand washing, particularly before and after certain activities, is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. I try to keep my paws as clean as possible.
  1. Be mindful of safety risks associated with natural disasters. Extreme heat, mudslides, flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes pose significant and very specific safety-related issues. So the best way to prepare is to research the risks that pertain to your geographic location.
  1. Eat better and move more. Why are these suggestions on a list of safety tips? Because many health-related issues are brought on by lack of exercise and poor diet. So, eat right and keep moving to beef up your immune system. Doing so will help you avoid contagious bugs such as Influenza, and prevent you from developing serious health conditions like Diabetes. I can always get behind anything that has to do with eating or exercise.
  1. Be careful when you travel. This is important for several reasons:
  • Remain alert at the airport to help circumvent terrorist activity. When you fly, pay attention to suspicious activity and refuse to watch bags for anyone you don’t know.
  • Research the potential health risks associated with your destination (West Africa, relative to Ebola), and take proper precautions.
  • Don’t drink and drive!
  • Do not text while driving. Did you know that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than those who resist the urge to pick up their cellphones while driving? More than 1.6 million automobile accidents that occurred last year in the U.S. were related to texting while driving (National Safety Council). Put the phone down or pull over to use it. It can wait.

We hope that this blog post will help you make safe choices in 2015 and beyond. One convenient and affordable way to do so is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Prepare for a Terrorist Attack: 10 Lessons we’ve learned in the10 years since 9/11

American flag wrapped around the Twin Towers
Lessons we've learned in the 10 years since 9/11

First in a series about 9/11

Given the serious and sensitive nature of the somber events of September 11, 2001, this week’s blog post does not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we would like to take the next five weeks to discuss the lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack.

Remembering 9/11:

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands of people working in the buildings.

Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon. Hijackers redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House, but were diverted when passengers tried to retake control. The airliner crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, leaving no survivors.

Nearly 3,000 victims and 19 hijackers died in the attacks. Among the 2,753 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, there were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority, and 8 private EMTs and paramedics. Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of more than 70 countries.

Ten things we’ve learned from 9/11:

  1. We can’t afford to take our safety for granted. The aftermath of 911 will likely be with us in perpetuity. The plus side to this is that many people now realize they should take steps to protect themselves and prepare for potential future attacks.
  2. Terrorism can cause thousands of casualties and/or extensive damage to buildings as well as infrastructure. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost nearly $2 trillion.
  3. Security-related incidents will impact transportation. The 9/11 attacks affected public transit, commuter rail, commercial vehicles and ferries, and resulted in the need for significant road repairs. Further, restrictions could be placed on domestic and international travel and citizens may be asked to evacuate and avoid certain roads or areas for their safety.
  4. Law enforcement involvement is necessary at local, state and federal levels due to the criminal nature of any and all terrorist attacks.
  5. Resources for physical and mental health in affected communities will likely be overwhelmed.
  6. Public fear, fed by extensive media coverage, may continue for a prolonged period of time.
  7. Workplaces, government offices and schools might be closed.
  8. Terrorism has many faces. Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, a female suicide bomber…terrorism has many faces. And, as MSNBC travel columnist James Wysong notes: “We must never judge a book by its cover.”
  9. Clean-up could take many months and cost millions.
  10. As a people, we share what Time Magazine writer Nancy Gibbs called, “a sharp resolve to just be better, bigger, to shed the nonsense, rise to the occasion.”

What You Can Do to Prepare

Referring to these ten lessons, in our next several blog posts, we’ll examine specific steps you can take so you and your loved ones will BE SAFE. Once you have determined the possible events and their potential affects to your community, you’ll want to discuss them with your family, friends and coworkers.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The CDC, Emergency Kits, and …..Zombies?!


cartoon zombie
Prepare for: Zombies?!

When you think about preparing for an emergency, you likely worry about threats that occur in your area. Californians contend with fires, mudslides and the specter of big quakes. East Coasters have hurricanes, floods, and damaging thunderstorms. But one threat can affect everyone from San Francisco through Topeka and beyond to Jacksonville. Zombies. Yep, brain-eating zombies who are bent on destruction. Ummm…what? Did you think I was going to say tabby cats?

Few scary scenarios capture popular culture quite like zombies. Well, for me it would be this ranking.

#1 fear – running out of teeth-cleaning treats.

#2 – the pig ear bank has a run and a shortage.

#3 – well, ZOMBIES!!!

In real life, some individuals such as this man profiled by National Geographic Television view zombies and a possible outbreak as real scenarios that deserve proper planning. There even exists a book called “The Zombie Survival Guide.”

Wait. Isn’t this blog about disaster planning? Well, the CDC has a current campaign that warns of the coming “Zombie Apocalypse.” Citizens are encouraged to plan for “zombies” by taking certain initiatives. My main tactic would be “playing dead,” which I think would be incredibly effective. While the premise is silly, the CDC is using thoughts of a zombie takeover to get people really thinking about how to plan and manage big disasters.

For businesses that want to promote the zombie campaign, the CDC offers various images such as this one that look like the poster art for the newest zombie scare fest.

To prepare for the coming hordes of zombies, the CDC recommends some planning tips:

Create a disaster plan:

  • Discuss a disaster plan in advance to allow cooler heads to prevail (and not be eaten…) during an emergency.
  • Establish two emergency meeting places. A primary spot and a distant alternate to be used in case the first one is inaccessible.

Stock your disaster kit:

  • Include some of the basics, such as light, food, and water. You need multiple flashlights with extra batteries, some canned or dried meals, and up to one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Don’t forget such essentials as duct tape, plastic tarps, radios, and a whistle allow you to be prepared or reenact an episode of MacGyver.
  • Throw in 15 pounds of beef jerky for person. 75 pounds of dry dog food. A portable tummy scratcher.
  • Collect and organize important family documents such as passports, insurance papers, and other essentials.
  • Include land mines or bats which would truly be useful in a real zombie pandemic. Wait, zombies aren’t real? No fun!

It’s refreshing to see such a serious organization as the CDC employing some humor like “Zombie Apocalypse” to get its point across. Let’s be honest, any section of the government having a sense of humor is simply shocking. The campaign was also perfectly timed, coming days before the “end of the world” that thankfully did not come to pass. The zombie blog was so popular that it crashed the campaign’s site (not the CDC’s main site). I put a video on YouTube once called “Dog digs a hole in the yard.” Last time I checked, it had 1.2 million hits.

So what exactly is the point of the “Zombie Apocalypse?” Do those nerdy CDC folks know something we don’t? Are they stockpiling the zombie vaccine? (Sorry, I spend too much time on the interwebs looking at conspiracy forums…) For any type of disaster, preparation is the key. If you over prepare for the worst case scenario (it doesn’t get worse than flesh-eating zombies), then you will be able to handle any emergency.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires, Version 2.0

Practice Makes Safety

Fire Drills aren't not just for elementary school anymore.

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Flashing lights! Flashing lights! Are you at a concert? No, it’s a fire drill! While your tenants might view these periodic run-throughs as unavoidable hassles that interrupt the normal business routine, fire drills are vital preparation for emergencies. In fact, fire drills might bring back memories of school where they were a welcome break from classes that gave you an opportunity to laugh with friends. (Although they weren’t mandatory at puppy kindergarten or dog obedience school, I always love an excuse to take a biscuit-break,)  In an office setting, properly executed fire drills can save lives.

Why do you need fire drills in your building?

  • Tenants enter and exit buildings through the same locations every day. In fire drills, people move through seldom used routes such as back stairwells. Workers are creatures of habit who, just like pooches, benefit from frequent drills, which make them more likely to remember proper evacuation routes.
  • Several building codes mandate fire drill participation such as the NFPA’s Life Safety Code, which features a grid detailing the recommended frequency for and the types of businesses that should conduct drills. Building owners can always choose to run more than the code-mandated number of drills to ensure that new tenants understand evacuation procedures.  The guys at the station like to think they have trained me with drills, but it’s really the other way around.
  • Drills provide a great opportunity to discover safety issues that need to be corrected such as locked stairwell doors or the necessity of developing alternate routes for specific tenants.

A fire at an office building in 1989 in Atlanta caused the deaths of five workers. Through investigation, the U.S. Fire Administration determined that federal employees who worked in the building were required to participate in fire drills, while most private sector employees were not. The fatalities and most of the injured were, unfortunately, among the private sector tenants. What’s more, the report indicated a high level of chaos among the private sector employees. Fire drills were identified as a contributing factor for saving lives.

Tips for performing fire drills:

  • Ensure that the sound of alarm systems can reach all sections of the building including storage areas, maintenance rooms, restrooms and elevators. Instruct Floor Wardens and other designated safety volunteers to keep watch for any problems observed during the drill, such as employees who don’t exit the building immediately or who take non-approved exit routes.
  • Remind tenants to exit the building briskly and to leave behind unnecessary personal items, computers or any office paperwork that might hinder evacuation. Make sure they bring Fido, in case a fire breaks out on “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.”
  • Before drills begin, ensure that all exit signs are clearly visible and meet all code requirements.
  • Involve local fire departments to coordinate their mock drills, so you can work together to speed up evacuation times.

With all types of safety exercises, it’s important to receive training from a qualified source. This short video shows you what happens when you mix fire safety training with an unqualified “trainer.” Wow. This guy should not be allowed near anything flammable ever again.

Visit us again next week for the second blog post in our series about fire safety and prevention. We will be discussing flammable materials and how building owners can mitigate fire risks by making sound choices in building materials and furnishings. I wanted to do a post that debated the merits of both wet and dry food, but my editor shot it down.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare

Floor Warden Fire Dog Facts

Floor Wardens help during emergency evacuations

All of our training emphasizes how tenants and building management need to work together as a unit to ensure safety. In the event of fire or other emergencies, a fast and orderly evacuation can save lives.

Although our dog house evacuation is simple…grab the bone and run, buildings with tenants of 10 or more employees are required by OSHA to have an emergency action plan to help ensure tenant safety during disasters. The selection and training of Floor Wardens is an important part of any action plan.

Typical Duties of Floor Wardens:

  • Wardens and Alternative Wardens need to be familiar with every tenant and associated workspace location to ensure that no one is left behind in cases of emergency.
  • A clear understanding of the proper evacuation route and gathering place are essential for preventing panic. Your tenant’s Floor Wardens should practice walking the primary and backup emergency routes to avoid any mistakes that could result from stress. This is not unlike some of my canine companions who run around in circles chasing their tails when they’re stressed.
  • Floor Wardens will work with the building’s fire safety director to check off names of present employees and to note any who are missing following an evacuation.
  • Your tenant’s receptionists should keep logs of absent employees and visitors who are present and share the information with the proper Floor Warden.

Floor Warden Training:

  • Cross training of several tenant employees is important to account for Floor Wardens who may be absent during any given emergency or permanently leave their position with the company.
  • Special training or equipment should be given to Wardens who have tenant employees with disabilities that will require additional evacuation assistance. Your four-legged companions might find it difficult to descend escalators, for example. I’m not a fan of the things, myself, as my claws get caught in the tiny grooves.
  • Instructions should be given to Wardens on the location and usage of necessary equipment such as—flashlights, radios, whistles and rawhide treats.
  • Some tenants in large buildings might want to designate additional employees as stairwell and/or elevator monitors who will supervise safe and orderly evacuations. Floor Wardens should work closely with these monitors to keep track of employees and ensure they take the proper exit routes.

Benefits of the RJ Westmore Training System:

  • Our system offers real-time updates to Floor Warden lists, which can be viewed by building management
  • We send automatic annual reminders to each Warden for training renewal
  • Our system is fully integrated with the fire department to ensure Wardens, Fire Safety Directors and the local departments have the same occupancy data for every building
  • We record user training and testing for future reference.

While you can count on your pooch to bark before certain disasters like earthquakes and break-ins, fires and other emergencies often strike quickly and without warning. Through repetition of training and certification with our system, Floor Wardens will play an integral part in tenant safety by making sure no one is left behind in times of danger.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Announcing Version 2.0 of the RJ Westmore Training System

Version 2.0 is available to RJ Wesmore clients at no additional charge.

The new RJ Westmore Training System is here! Version 2.0 is packed great features which include even more integration and automation that brings together property/ facility managers, fire safety directors , floor wardens, occupants and local fire departments. (Now, if only it came with some rawhide bones and chew toys…)

Version 2.0 Features:

  • Real-time reporting with just one click—
    • Identify tenants that need special assistance to evacuate in the case of emergency
    • Have ready access to lists of primary and alternate floor wardens organized by floor
    • Building-specific information is ready available to building management as well as local fire departments
      • Automatic email notification to property management and the fire safety director each time either the special assistance or floor warden list is updated by users.
  • Improved Fire Department access—
    • Access to all RJ Westmore Online Training System companies in the city through one home page (This is my favorite features because I love keeping all of the other Dalmatians informed!)
    • Monitoring of individual building testing and training for all building occupants, including floor wardens and fire safety directors
    • Fire Department approved across the United States and compliant with FDNY LL26, LAFD 57.33.19, as well as Federal OSHA and individual State fire codes.
  • Automated features—
    • Automatically creates and sends certificates of completion to each user
    • Sends employee compliance reports for each tenant
    • Sends annual renewal reminders to each user (I usually just bark loudly when I want to send out a reminder.)
  • Improved confidentiality and system control—
    • Controls information distribution with multiple tiers of system access
    • Grants access to confidential info such as maps and emergency plans

The RJ Westmore Inc. Safety Training System Version 2.0 gives building owners a complete picture of their emergency preparedness. We map out your exterior refuge map with a satellite picture of your building. We map out the lobby of your building and work out the best exit routes. Elevator banks and stairwells are graphed, to show a comprehensive picture of accessibility and egress.

More info about the Version 2.0 rollout

  • 30-day implementation with a simple monthly fee
  • All updates, training, and other resources are provided at no additional charge
  • Training and procedures are available for any kind of disaster, whether it be manmade or natural

If you own or manage a building, or know someone who does, do them a favor. Let them know about the RJWestmore Training System. Choosing our service provides a value added tenant service that limits property management and individual tenant liability. Furthermore, it cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives. BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires

Is Your Pack Prepared?

Family Preparedness is Critical for Any Pack

Planning for an emergency is a project for every family member. Get your pups or children involved in preparedness to help them understand how important it is to be prepared and encourage them to remain calm under stress. Emergencies could happen when you are away and the rest of your pack is at home. So be sure the babysitter knows your emergency plans, too.

Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. Not fun things to talk about. But, if one of these emergencies strike, will your family be prepared?

The first step is to figure out what types of events might occur. Fire happens no matter where you live. Working at the firehouse, I know this all too well. Earthquakes are more regional; but remember, earthquakes have hit in some unexpected places. Floods are more common in some areas than others. So, if your home or doghouse is located in a floodplain, be sure you establish emergency plans to share with your relatives and neighbors. Sharing the information with cats is optional.

So how exactly can you get your kids involved?

  • Do a home hazard scavenger hunt to teach our brood about dangerous objects. Have them check every large piece of furniture to make sure everything is secured to a wall. What about paintings and other loose items? Imagine an earthquake. What could, potentially happen to prized possessions like bones or food bowls?
  • Make an emergency kit! FEMA has a great online matching game that helps kids picture the key contents of emergency kit. And don’t forget flashlights and canned goods. Alpo and Pedigree are my personal favorites.
  • After you put together your kit, it is time to plan! Get your kids involved. And, if you have hands instead of paws, write out the plan. Also, consider including some simple designs, clip art or pictures to make it easy for younger kids to understand.

Here are some key points to cover:

  • Notes  about each family member
  • Phone numbers. Don’t forget to include the names of folks who live far away in case the emergency knocks out local communications. Put copies of photos in the plan, too, so they can be easily distributed if anyone goes missing.
  • Make sure everyone understands escape routes and the group meeting area.
  • Large families can get older kids to watch over the younger ones
  • has a good emergency plan template

After a disaster, you will need to make sure all of your family members are present and accounted for. Then, its contact agencies such as your local Red Cross and to keep watch on alerts from FEMA

With proper planning, you can help make sure your family stays safe in if and when a real emergency strikes. The most important thing is to make sure everyone is involved. BE SAFE.

Posted in Uncategorized
Robot black background
PS-Prep will help the private sector BE SAFE.

Disaster preparedness is a main priority for any fire dog, or anyone else who cares about being safe. At the fire station, we get plenty of calls to assist in horrible disasters which might have been prevented with simple routine safety checks and adjustments

I’ve seen entire buildings condemned, and employees lose their jobs, all due to faulty wiring. Private and publically held companies, such as hospitals, universities, stadiums, non-profit organizations, and others that fail to establish and maintain safety standards face disasters.

Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has recently announced a new program called PS-Prep which introduces safety standards for these types of businesses as well as non-profit organizations. With PS-Prep, a third-party assessor evaluates organizations to determine preparedness. He or she checks out the current safety provisions and then certifies the company if it’s up to par.

With certification comes a certain degree of confidence that employers and employees have taken necessary steps to eliminate potential disasters. This is a good thing, because it means more tragedies can be averted.

With PS-Prep, everybody wins, because the fewer the number of dismembered bodies my crew and I have to drag out of a terrorist-targeted pile of rubble, the better. I’m kidding, of course. But the reality is that preparation and prevention are the best ways to handle any emergency.

For more tips on how to be prepared so you can be safe in the event of an emergency, visit RJWestmore, Inc. Another helpful resource is provided by the National Fire Protection Association, which is making their standards available at no cost. Regardless of whether your company decides to take advantage of the new PS-Prep Program, it’s important that you do whatever it takes to BE SAFE!