Month: January 2018

New Year, New Ride: Apparatus Trends for 2018

fire engine trends 2018

We’ve all seen car ads boasting of the latest features in comfort, safety, and technology – automatic brakes, WiFi hotspots, and so on. By and large, these are nice things that make car travel a safer, more comfortable experience. While fire apparatus aren’t necessarily concerned with comfort, there are some interesting innovations and trends coming in the next year that will enhance safety and operational efficiency.

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Common Challenges Volunteer Firefighters and their Leaders Face

The National Fire Department Registry (NFDR) published a report in April 2017 detailing the number and type of personnel who man the firehouses throughout the US.  The NFDR published that there are 27,192 fire departments that staff about 1,215,300 firefighting personnel.  One striking and surprising result of the NFDR study is that of the active firefighting personnel, 32 percent were career firefighters, 56 percent were volunteer firefighters, and 12 percent were paid-per-call firefighters.

The statistics compiled by the NFDR highlight a challenge faced by fire departments and the cities, towns, and municipalities they are sworn to protect.  The fact is that when you call for help or have an emergency, five out of ten firefighters who show up to render aid are volunteering. Volunteer fire departments cover vast sections of the country that are not serviced by paid fire services.  Traditionally these departments existed primarily to respond mainly to structure and wildland fires.  However, as funding for EMS services is reduced, volunteers are finding themselves responding to accidents, technical rescue, and other life-threatening emergencies.  The new administration’s unprecedented cuts have also befallen onto volunteer fire station budgets.  The budget cuts and reduced funding are raising concerns about the state of department readiness and the ability to respond with near obsolete equipment. In order for the volunteer agencies to succeed they must keep up with the needs, growth, and changes of their community and society.  Simply put, you simply cannot use 1960 technologies to service 2018 problems.

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California’s “New Normal” Demands New Staff and New Strategies in 2018

Some of the biggest headlines of late show that California has been on fire near continuously over the past couple of months. Agencies such as CAL Fire and the Forestry Service have beefed up their staffing in the face of these unprecedented blazes.

The staffing increase is especially underway in Southern California in the face of strong winds and continuous dry conditions throughout the recent fire season. Coupled with the extent of the burnt scrub and bushes from past fires, these blazes have already chewed up hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed thousands of structures. In response to these fires, as well as in handling the aftermath with recent flooding and mudslides, various fire and forestry agencies have stepped up their hiring efforts. As these intense blazes become more aggressive, sufficient personnel will be needed to respond to these emergencies with equal aggression.

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Repairing the Damage: Female Arizona Inmates Serving as Firefighters

Building and maintaining a sufficient crew is an ongoing challenge for many fire companies, and several of these groups struggle to meet that challenge. It isn’t at all uncommon for fire companies to recruit and retain volunteers by drawing from the communities these organizations serve. However, for many areas and municipalities throughout the country, the need for qualified personnel is a bigger problem than the more traditional recruitment strategies can solve.

Arizona has discovered one innovative solution that has been implemented to great effect. Women inmates from the Perryville prison complex have been responding to wildfires for a number of years now, and the successful program is finally gaining the recognition it deserves.

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Thomas Fire Caps an Unprecedented Fire Season

Thomas Fire

The final California wildfire of the year, Thomas Fire has been decimating much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since early December, 2017. In terms of acreage, this final inferno is the largest in the history of the state. In terms of how the fire has spread and behaved, many veterans claim they’ve never seen anything like it.

All up and down the state this season, battling one devastating blaze after another, California has just suffered one of the most destructive fires in its history. The Thomas fire has reached the top of the list of history’s most destructive fires to ever chew through California.

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Privatized Firefighters Aid Insurance Companies

In the wake of the increase in wildfires throughout the American West, insurance companies are taking the proactive step of hiring and utilizing private fire crews to assist homeowners in more fire-prone areas. While the practice has been in place since the 1970s, these measures have understandably been taken more frequently as of late.

Firms such as Pure Insurance and Chubbs Limited have implemented this service for their policyholders over the last decade, and given the nature of these fires over the past few seasons, it’s proving useful across 13 states. Its benefits are enjoyed most strongly in California, as development stretches its fingers further into fire-prone areas where the fire season is essentially year round.

These privatized firefighters don’t necessarily work alongside government agencies in active fire suppression. However, they are with companies contracted by the insurance companies to patrol the neighborhoods of policy holders, and they take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of damage should a fire approach the home.

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