Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Uncategorized

Be Wildfire Safe this Summer

Insurance designThe National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. According to news reports, this season promises to be one of the worst potential wild fire seasons of record. And even though we all know that weather forecasters aren’t exactly 100% accurate, it is true that the combination of dry weather and high winds lead to increased danger.

Here are 11 facts about wildfires:

  1. The number one cause of wildfires in the U.S. is mankind. Man-made combustions from arson, human carelessness, or lack of fire safety cause wildfire disasters every year. I take pride in the fact that canines aren’t even mentioned in this statistic. We hardly ever start fires.
  2. More than 80 percent of all wildfires are started by humans. See-more proof that dogs aren’t pyromaniacs.
  3. Wildfires (AKA forest or peat fires) are uncontrolled fires which often occur in wild, unpopulated areas. However, they can occur anywhere-destroying homes, other buildings, agriculture, humans, and animals in their path.
  4. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, running crown fires, spot fires, and ground fires. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, “running crown fires,” spot fires, and ground fires. A ‘running crown fire’ is a forest fire that advances with great speed jumping from crown to crown ahead of the ground fire. Whatever they are called-all of us hate fires and work hard to prevent them.
  5. “Running crown fires” are a firefighter’s worst nightmare because they burn extremely hot, travel rapidly, and can change direction quickly.
  6. The most dangerous aspect of “running crown fires” are the convection currents which produce massive fire storms and tornadoes. These subsequent storms can send embers well ahead of the main fire front, causing spot fires that in turn can start new fires in other directions.
  7. Weather conditions can directly contribute to the occurrence of wildfires through lightning strikes or indirectly by an extended dry spell or drought.
  8. Wildfires can be started by an accumulation of dead matter (leaves, twigs, and trees) that can create enough heat in some instances to spontaneously combust and ignite the surrounding area.
  9. Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. Ten to 20 percent of these lightning strikes can cause fire.
  10. An average of 1.2 million acres of U.S. woodland burn every year.
  11. A large wildfire-or conflagration-is capable of modifying the local weather conditions (AKA producing its own weather). That is pretty spooky. Huh?

Firedog 7-10-14A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. And a tiny cat can cause a huge mess. Just sayin’. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.

The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. During heightened fire danger, additional firefighters are generally added to active duty, more engines are on standby and more equipment is at the ready 24 hours a day, to be able to respond to new fires. It is important that everyone takes steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.

Here are tips for preventing wildfires:

While you are enjoying summer activities, make sure you take steps to #BeSafe. When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

 

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, Fires

Loss of Life in Yarnell Wildfire Brings Fire Safety to Mind

no bomb

Out of respect for the families and friends of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are dispensing with my usual firedog-isms. Our hearts go out to all who were impacted by the wildfires.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

We at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of the brave firefighters whose lives have been lost or altered dramatically by these wildfires.

Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward said they have been getting a tremendous outpouring of help from other fire departments locally and nationally. Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said merchants from the community have been donating food and supplies to the families of the fallen firefighters. Also of note, on June 30, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a Fire Management Assistance Grant, which makes FEMA funding available to reimburse 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to all the family, colleagues and friends of the professional Arizona firefighters who lost their lives to protect lives and property,” said Nancy Ward FEMA IX Regional Administrator. “It is a truly heartbreaking loss.”

At the time federal assistance was requested, the fire threatened 578 homes in and around the community of Yarnell, Peeple’s Valley, and Model Creek/Double A Bar Ranch with a combined population of over 1,220. The State of Arizona further reported that the fire at one point burned in excess of 800 and 1000 acres of state, and private land, and also threatened a rail line 3 miles west of the fire and State Highway 89.

While the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, the Yarnell Fire Department reports that the cause was “likely lightning.” In honor of the fallen firefighters, we would like to devote the next two weeks’ blog posts to summer safety, to encourage our subscribers and readers to BE FIRESAFE this holiday week as well as the rest of the summer. This week, we will focus on safety before, during and after the 4th of July. Next week, we will cover additional outdoor fire safety tips.

How to Prevent Outdoor Fires

4th of July

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports:

  • More fires are reported on the Fourth of July than on any other day.
  • Fireworks are the cause of half of those fires.
  • In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structures, 400 vehicles, and 16,300 outside and other fires.
  • In total, these fires resulted in an estimated $32 million in direct property damage.
  • Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often kids & teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
  • The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19 and adults 25-44, with one-quarter (26 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in 2011 under age 15.
  • Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.
  • According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 200 fireworks injuries a day during the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended.

To BE SAFE on the 4th of July:

  1. Leave fireworks to the professionals! Do not use consumer fireworks! The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
  2. After a fireworks display, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, they may still be active.
  3. Don’t give sparklers to children. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
  4. If a public fireworks’ display is not available in your area, find other ways to safely celebrate Independence Day.
  5. If you insist on buying and lighting your own fireworks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some extremely important tips. Please spend some time reviewing their fireworks’ safety suggestions.

Check back next week, when we will cover some additional summer safety and fire prevention tips. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires

All About Wildfire Safety

The Waldo Canyon Fire has been declared the worst in Colorado state history. With flames raging out of control, at the time of this writing, the fire has destroyed 346 homes in Colorado Springs, killed at least one person and burned an estimated 18,500 acres of land. Meanwhile, the High Park Fire in Fort Collins has charred countless pine forests. Nevertheless, (as hard to believe as this is,) these blazes are small compared to the storied history of U.S. fires which have scorched millions of acres in the 19thand 20th Centuries:

  • In 1825, when the Great Miramichi Fire broke out, it burned 3 million acres in Maine and New Brunswick and killed at least 160 people.
  • Two decades later, Oregon’s Great Fire of 1845 blazed for weeks and downed 1.5 million acres of timber.
  • The Great Fire of 1910 occurred in Idaho and Montana, as a result of severe winds, small fires and dry forests combining to unleash fiery havoc over a two-day period. The wildfire destroyed some 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) and took the lives of 86 people. So great was its destruction—in loss of land and human life—that it prompted Congress to begin setting aside money to help the National Forest Service suppress fires.
  • The recent California Wildfires in 2003 and 2007 claimed 1,500 lives and 1.3 million acres. Nine people died as a direct result of the fires and 85 others were injured, including at least 61 firefighters. The fires were so pervasive, they were visible from space.

Wildfires break out for a myriad of reasons…arson, overgrown brush, careless campers, welders’ and machinery sparks, fireworks, tossed lit cigarettes, spilled chemicals, improper trash burning, to name a few. Unfortunately, wildfires are incredibly easy to start and extremely difficult to stop.

While we at RJWestmore, Inc. usually concentrate both of our blogs to preparing for disasters and managing emergencies in urban settings and high rise buildings, where most of our clients do business, we consider it worthwhile to advise our members and friends about fire safety away from home and office. After all; our mission is to “Save Lives through Training.” And our motto is: “BE SAFE.” We want you to be safe at home, work or play!

There are lots of great free resources to help citizens and their pets prepare for wildfires. Among available materials is a downloadable PDF booklet produced by FEMA called “Wildfires: Are you prepared?” The booklet reminds us to take steps because, intentionally or accidentally, most wildfires are started by people, which is why Smokey the Bear’s mantra is: “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.” I’ve always been a fan of Smokey…even before he became a celebrity.

Here is an overview of how you can practice wildfire safety:

  • Contact local authorities to obtain information about fire laws in your region.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark driveway entrances with your street address.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could lead to wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it. And while you’re at it, I’d suggest you install your own fire hydrant. Your dog will thank you for it.
  • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of your dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking, doghouses, or trim with fire-retardant chemicals.
  • Create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your structure. And you might want to let man’s best friend mark the territory. Just an idea.
  • Plan your water needs. For example, is there an outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant? If not, make sure the garden hose is long enough to reach any area of the property. This is critical for dog bowls, too!
  • If you’re sure you have time, take steps to protect your home.
  • If advised to evacuate, DO SO IMMEDIATELY!
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home—by car, by foot or by paw.
  • Run fire drills. (Fire drills are not just for schools.)
  • For comprehensive planning, take advantage of free information offered by Firewise.org, which is a service of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Share fire safety information with your neighbors.
  • This is by no means a comprehensive list. For more about wildfire safety and preparation, check out resources provided by NFPA, FEMA, Ready.Gov, the American Red Cross, the CDC and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IIBHS).

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.