Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Year End Reading List

Here is the listing of the books I have read this year, hope you enjoy!

Executricks, by Stanley Bing - a tonge-in-cheek look at how executives get paid big buck to not show up at work, and how you can apply these executive tactics to your own work situation.










Counterfeit Revival, by Hank Hanegraaff - uncovers the tricks and gimmicks that the church and televengelists utilize to work up a crowd, appear to perform miracles, and proclaim "spiritual revival".








The Marriage You've Always Wanted, by Gary Chapman - one of the best books on marriage that I have read.  Chapman answers the questions that both sexes have about marriage, and why their spouse is/does what they are/do.








Damage Control, by Eric Dezenhall - how to manage corporate crises.










All Pro Dad, by Mark Merrill - great resource on how to be the father you were meant to be, and that your kids need you to be. Read a complete review here.









Revolution, by George Barna - outlines what is required for the church to become what God wants it to be. It all starts with you becoming a spiritual revolutionary.








Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer - entertainingly written, this is must read for every business, and public service agency.  Gitomer describes in detail how to create loyal customers who freely tell others about your business/service, creating more loyal customers. The best customer service read out there!





The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau - follow your dreams, do what you love, don't go broke in the process.










The Power of the Prophetic Blessing, by John Hagee - see how Israel has become a blessed nation, pray the same blessing over your children and family that the Jewish people have been praying over there's since the beginning.  Watch an interview with the author, and read a full review, here.






Fire Monks, by Colleen Morton Busch - the harrowing true story of how 5 Buddhist monks successfully defended their community from a raging California wildfire.  Read the full review, here.








Wisdom Meets Passion, by Dan Miller - do what you love without sacrificing the things that you don't.  Great resource for those that are unsatisfied with their current career situation, and are looking for guidance on pursuing something they are passionate about.  Read a full review, here.






Who Needs a Superhero? , by H. Michael Brewer - finding God in the comics.  Brewer successfully links common comic book super hero figures, to our relationship with Christ.









The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn - reads like a novel, however, this is a factual book concerning 9/11 and the spiritual curse that has been brought upon our nation.  See an interview with the author, here.









Golf for Weekend Warriors, by Randy Howe - an introduction to the game of golf.  Written in a fun, commical tone.  Perfect for those just starting or planning to take up the game of golf (or for a spouse who just doesn't "get it").








Top magazines I subscribed to this year include, Forbes, GQ, Christianity Today, Outreach, and Inc.

Hope you have a great year in 2013! 

What are some books you read in 2012? What book(s) have had the greatest impact on your life? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Advocates for Year Round Eggnog

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Check out this PSA from the Advocates for Year Round Eggnog...




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

House Fires - Infographic

From the 1970’s till now, smoke detectors have contributed to a 50% decrease in fire deaths. Statistics from 2000-2004 show that 65% of reported home fire deaths occurred in homes that had no working smoke detectors or no smoke detectors installed.  The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 890 lives per year would be saved if every home had working smoke alarms. To save lives, more is required than to simply have an installed smoke detector; they must be in proper working condition. As daylight savings time ends, and time falls back, remember to test and change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Here is a helpful infographic to illustrate home fire and smoke alarm statistics:

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Survive a Corn Maze



Haunted houses, hay rides, costume parties, are all part of a fun Halloween season. But only the bravest of souls dare to enter the haunted corn maze, with its twists, turns, false leads, and dead ends.


As a patron of the local corn maze the responsibility for your safety and well being while in the maze lies with the owner or operator of the maize maze. By following these guidelines (from the National Fire Protection Association), you can be assured a safe exit at the other end of the maze.

1. All maze employees shall be properly notified of fire and life safety rules, regulations, and responsibilities.

2. The operator of the maze should provide safety instructions to all maze participants, patrons, and customers, prior to anyone entering the maze.

3. The maze is to be monitored by at least 2 employees. One employee should be located on a raised platform at least 10’ above the maze.

4. All motorized vehicles are to be kept at a minimum of 75’ from the corn maze.

5. A minimum of 20’ cleared area shall be maintained between any vehicles or vegetation outside of the maze.

6. A public address system, bull horn, or loud speaker shall be available for making announcements in the event of an emergency.

7. The entrance and exit of the maze is to remain unobstructed.

8. A maximum of 200 people per acre are allowed to occupy the maze at any one time.

9. No smoking or open flames are allowed within the crop maze at any time. “No Smoking” signs should be clearly posted.

10. Fireworks are not to be discharged within 300’ of any corn maze.

Have a happy and safe Halloween holiday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Firefighter Code of Ethics



Ethics, comes from the Greek word meaning "character", and is a philosophy of determining what is right and wrong.  Based on this definition, ethics can differ from person to person based on many factors (background, family, history, experiences, etc.).  Although, personal ethics may differ, when you put on the firefighter's uniform and go to work, everyone should know what is expected in regard to right and wrong and everyone's ethics should be uniform.  In a culture that denies absolutes, a written document stating such was required.

This week, the United States Fire Administration released this:

EMMITSBURG, MD – Today’s fire service leaders face a variety of challenges managing budgets, personnel, and programs. Occasionally, ethical issues emerge for which there are no easy answers. To provide guidance to address these complex questions, the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO) and Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) jointly have released a firefighter code of ethics that can be adopted by local fire and emergency medical service organizations. The ethics statement is the result of almost two years of effort by the Board of Directors of NSEFO.

In acknowledgement of the importance of this first of its kind fire service ethics statement, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has posted the statement throughout the National Fire Academy’s (NFA) facilities and will now include the statement in all course materials distributed to NFA students.

To download a copy for the NSEFO statement for posting within fire department facilities and distribution, visit the USFA website at: www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/.


Firefighter Code of Ethics



I understand that I have the responsibility to conduct myself in a manner that reflects proper ethical behavior and integrity. In so doing, I will help foster a continuing positive public perception of the fire serrvice. Therefore, I pledge the following…

• Always conduct myself, on and off duty, in a manner that reflects positively on myself, my department and the fire service in general.

• Accept responsibility for my actions and for the consequences of my actions.

• Support the concept of fairness and the value of diverse thoughts and opinions.

• Avoid situations that would adversely affect the credibility or public perception of the fire service profession.

• Be truthful and honest at all times and report instances of cheating or other dishonest acts that compromise the integrity of the fire service.

• Conduct my personal affairs in a manner that does not improperly influence the performance of my duties, or bring discredit to my organization.

• Be respectful and conscious of each member’s safety and welfare.

• Recognize that I serve in a position of public trust that requires stewardship in the honest and efficient use of publicly owned resources, including uniforms, facilities, vehicles and equipment and that these are protected from misuse and theft.

• Exercise professionalism, competence, respect and loyalty in the performance of my duties and use information, confidential or otherwise, gained by virtue of my position, only to benefit those I am entrusted to serve.

• Avoid financial investments, outside employment, outside business interests or activities that conflict with or are enhanced by my official position or have the potential to create the perception of impropriety.

• Never propose or accept personal rewards, special privileges, benefits, advancement, honors or gifts that may create a conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.

• Never engage in activities involving alcohol or other substance use or abuse that can impair my mental state or the performance of my duties and compromise safety.

• Never discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, age, marital status, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual preference, medical condition or handicap.

• Never harass, intimidate or threaten fellow members of the service or the public and stop or report the actions of other firefighters who engage in such behaviors.

• Responsibly use social networking, electronic communications, or other media technology opportunities in a manner that does not discredit, dishonor or embarrass my organization, the fire service and the public. I also understand that failure to resolve or report inappropriate use of this media equates to condoning this behavior.

Developed by the National Society of Executive Fire Officers

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Codes and Standards [TRAINING]

Next month I will be teaching Codes and Standards class.  This 40 hour course covers a thorough study of codes applicable to fire protection and prevention, their application in various types of building construction and design with emphasis on fire protection features.  For those of you in the state of Florida, this course is required for the Fire Safety Inspector Certification, and meets the CEU requirements for Fire Inspector renewal.


For more information or to register visit, Essential Medical Training.





Thursday, September 13, 2012

The High Cost of Non-Compliance - Comayagua Prison

In February of this year, 361 people were killed in a prison fire in Comayagua, Honduras.  This is the deadliest fire of this type in recent years.  The National Fire Protection Association visited the site and created a report based on the lessons learned.  Read the article here, Lessons from Comayagua.

Fire prevention and life safety requirements for detention and correctional facilities can be found in NFPA 101:23.  This standard covers new construction and classification, sprinkler protection, smoke detection, fire alarm systems, combustible contents, and separation of modules.

OnlineCriminalJusticeDegree.com has created this infographic detailing American prison spending and incarceration rates.

No Justice For All
Created by: OnlineCriminalJusticeDegree.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fire Monks

 
 
Fire is simply fire. It has no sense of morality, has no persona, does not wish to do good or bad, is neither deliberately enemy nor friend. - Douglas Gatenbein
 
 
In June of 2008 two thousand wildfires were burning througout the state of California.  Tassajara, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States, found itself surrounded and its existence threatened by these fires.
 
Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire, is the story of this fire and the the 5 monks who stayed to defend this community.  Tassajara is a place where people can come and focus on attaining the Zen mind and enlightenment.  Every year people come from all over and stay on site, there is staff year round at this location. 
 
In June 2008 as the California wildfires drew closer and closer to the Tassajara community, a mandatory evacuation was ordered.  All the guests were evacuated, and all the monks were told to leave.  As they were all leaving, 5 turned back. The US Forest Service and Cal Fire had decided not to stay and defend Tassajara, 5 monks could not let this place be destroyed.  The outcome, 5 untrained people with a passion successfuly defend this community from total destruction.
 
I do not typically read a lot of fire based stories and books.  However, I have been doing more research lately for a project I am working on related to heroism.  While looking up information I came across this story and had to purchase this book.  The author, Colleen Morton Busch, gives a vivd account of the Tassajara community, the events and preparation leading up to the fire, and the firefight itself.  She aptly outlines 4 lessons taken from this fire:
  1. the importance of preparation
  2. rediscovering our relationship with wildfire
  3. finding a way through instead of a way out (and being one's own authority)
  4. the effort and courage it takes to just pay attention
 
These 5 untrained (in firefighting skills) monks, fully embody the 8 points of the firefighters cross.  The points of loyalty, piety, frankness, bravery, honor, contempt of death, assistance to the weak, and respect for their faith.  This book should serve, especially for us in the fire service, as a call to return to these points, a call to once again, be a hero. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Time To Burn - Inside California Wildfire ICS

Take a rare look inside the strategy sessions between the California Emergency Management Agency, California National Guard and CAL FIRE during the beginning of the 2012 wildfire season.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Campus Fire Safety Month

As college dormitories are filling up, and classes are going full-throttle, September is Campus Fire Safety Month.  Campus Firewatch is providing free resources for schools and fire departments to utilize in order to educate students are fire prevention and life safety. Resources provided include:
  1.  9 Fires Documentary
  2. Tip-a-Day Twitter program
  3. Current information sheet
  4. Campus related fire-deaths (spreadsheet and map)
  5. Campus fatal firelog
  6. RA safety guide, presentations, and posters
  7. Live burn demonstrations and plans to conduct your own
  8. Fire safety for students with disabilities
All these resources can be found at http://www.campus-firewatch.com/resources/ncfsmresources/.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

7 Ways to Die In a Nightclub



A couple of weeks ago, a fire at a nightclub in Thailand killed 4 people.  And just a few years ago, at the Santika nightclub in Bangkok 66 people were killed.  People enjoy going out and having a good time, and although life safety responsibility should fall on the club owner (the Station nightclub owners learned this at a cost of $176,000,000), ultimately you are responsible for your own safety.

When entering a club, or to ensure the safety of your favorite watering hole, here are 7 things to look out for to ensure that you come out alive. I call these, "The 7 Deadly Sins of Life Safety."
  1. Fire protection systems: this include fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems.  Look at the ceiling.  Do you see sprinkler heads?  Look around do you see hornstrobes on the walls or pull stations near the door you just entered?  Having these required systems in place are the first line of defense in fire prevention and life safety.
  2. Overcrowding: nightclubs (and similar establishments) are given a specific occupant load by the local fire authority (typically 7 square feet per person), this occupant load numberis to be posted in a conspicuous location.  Does the club feel too crowded? Is it problematic to just stand without getting knocked over? Can you get from where you are to where you want to be with reasonable ease? An overcrowded club can presents multiple dangers to yourself.
  3. Exits: when you first arrive locate all exits.  Are they clearly visible and accessible? Is the path to the exit clear of obstructions? In case of emergency, most people will exit through the way they came in, it is important to locate alternate exits and plan for their use.
  4. Interior finish:  this includes all papers and coverings that must meet a certain flammability rate.  You will not be able to know this, however, you can look around to see if there are open flames (tiki torches) inside, lots of vegatation, hangings/material/cloth strung throughout the ceiling, or carpet and foam on the walls.  These are potential warning signs, of unapproved interior finishes.
  5. Electric: are there many extension cords strung together/interconnected throughout the facility or attached to the ceiling? Can you spot exposed wiring and open outlets/switches/junction boxes?  These are electrical hazards, and are in violation of the National Electric Code.
  6. Pyrotechnics: all pyrotechnics are to be permitted through the local fire authority.  A properly permitted pyrotechnic display will have evident safety features, and often time official personnel on standby.  Always use your goat.  If something does not look right, or feels unsafe, you should probably leave, because you could be putting yourself at risk.
  7. Emergency plan:  all nightclubs are to have an emergency plan in place, that the employees are trained on.  This plan should outline potential emergency situations, and actions to be taken.  You will not know this plan.  The next best thing is to always have a plan of your own. Identify a person to contact in case of emergency, have a meeting place, if alarms sound or sprinklers activate exit the facility immediately.
These are just a few things to look out for.  Implementing a quick look around every time you enter these places of assembly can be your best plan of protection and ensure that the good times keep on rolling!

For more information and safety sheets check out the National Fire Protection Association.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Protecting the Cloud



Cloud ceiling: a suspended ceiling that covers only a portion of a room or space below


These cloud ceilings present unique challenges to fire sprinkler installation. The solution to these challenges are not always easily found clearly in the pages of NFPA 13. However, by applying the obstruction and clearance principles the solution will make itself clear.

• Sprinklers are to be located within 12 inches of ceiling

• 18 inch clearance is to be maintained below the sprinkler head and vertically to.

Typically, cloud ceilings will be greater than 12 inches below the ceiling, requiring sprinkler protection above. Usually, the size of these create an obstruction preventing the spray pattern from reaching the floor, thus requiring sprinkler protection beneath.

Sprinkler protection below may be omitted if the cloud is less than 4’ wide, and configured in such a way that spray pattern obstructions are not created. Sprinkler protection above the cloud may be omitted if the sprinkler deflector below the cloud is within 12 inches of the main ceiling.

For more information check out the article in the July/August 2012 edition of the NFPA Journal, I Really Do Know Clouds, by Matt Klaus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Understanding Pre-Action Sprinkler Systems

When installing a fire sprinkler system there are three general types, wet-pipe, dry-pipe, and pre-action. A wet-pipe system contains water under pressure at all times and utilized closed sprinkler heads. A dry-pipe system is used in areas where temperatures drop to less than 40 degrees Farenheit, contains no water in the above ground piping prior to system activation, and is charged with air under pressure. The pre-action system, similar to the dry-pipe, is charged with air under pressure.




In a pre-action system the water supply is held back by a pre-action valve. This valve is connected to a supplemental detection system. Water will not enter the pipe until the detection system is activated. Once activated, the valve is released and allows water into the sprinkler piping. Water will not come from the system, until sufficient heat causes the individual sprinkler head to activate (after the pre-action valve activates, the system functions the same as a wet-pipe system). This type of operation is known as a standard or single-interlock system.


The air pressure on the pre-action valve is constantly monitored. If the pressure changes (due to leak in pipe or other issue) an alarm will sound, however, the system will not activate under this condition. The valve will remain closed, preventing water running into the system until the detection system is activated.

Another type of pre-action system known as a double-interlock system will only operate when both the supplemental detection system and a sprinkler head is activated.


These systems are commonly found in high value areas such as computer rooms, communications centers, and museums.

These systems are to be installed per the requirements of NFPA 13 and NFPA 72. The following inspections are required for system acceptance:

1. Standard hydrostatic test at 200psi for 2 hours.

2. Air pressure leakage test at 40psi for 24 hours.

3. Signage and labeling of all controls and valves to be posted.

4. Alarms monitoring the supervisory air pressure shall be tested.

5. Flow switch and water flow alarm are to be tested.

6. Operational test shall be performed, requiring the pre-action valve to trip.

7. The supplemental detection system shall be tested without operating the pre-action valve.

8. Full fire alarm system function test to be conducted.





Want to learn more about fire protection systems?  Check out:







Thursday, August 9, 2012

2 Headed Rescue Vehicle

In the early 1900's the children's story character, Dr. Doolittle, introduced us to the pushmi-pullyu.  This was a gazelle-unicorn like animal having two heads each pulling in its own direction. A more contemporary example might be that of Nickelodeon's CatDog, an animal with two heads on each end, one a cat, and the other a dog.

Now the fire service has it's two headed "animal".  It is a tunnel rescue vehicle, being used in Croatia, called "Merkur".



The Merkur solves a unique set of problems found only in vehicle tunnel situations.  These problems include:
  • poor visibility due to smoke in fire events
  • little room for vehicle maneuvering
  • lack of oxygen (needed to keep combustion engines running)


The Merkur has two cabs, allowing drive in both operations. It runs on electric, therefore, requiring no oxygen for operation.  This vehicle is reported to be extremely simple to operate.  There is no gearbox required, merely a lever indicating 'forward' and 'reverse'.  Only one cab can be in operation at a time. The driver can simply walk through to the other side for operation. The Merkur is equipped with thermal imaging cameras allowing operation even under extremely low visibility conditions.

The driver gets oxygen through a personal breathing apparatus, however, the Merkur is equipped with a fresh air breathing unit, supplying oxygen to those in the vehicle.  This vehicle can evacuate up to 12 people at one time, each spot has its own oxygen mask connected to the vehicles system.  For firefighting, the Merkur puts out a fine water fog from the base of the vehicle and around all the tires, allowing access to the source of the fire.

This vehicle is an amazing testament to the power of creativity in the fire service.  We must become more accustomed to utilizing our creative capacity in solving the problems that are unique to our departments and communities.  As much as we must exercise creativity when it comes to fire ground strategy and rescue tactics, we also must utilized it in administration.  We must exercise creativity in the marketing of our fire departments, and in the finances of our departments (to not just make cuts, but to create new revenues).

For more on the Merkur tunnel rescue vehicle check out Hemming Fire.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

3 Skills To Unlearn for More Powerful Presentations

In this short video from youth speaker, Josh Shipp, he shares 3 skills that every public speaker, teacher, or trainer needs to unlearn in order to present a powerful presentation.  Unlearn these skills to be more effective, and leave a lasting impact in your public education presentations.


  1. Stop speaking to the audience; start speaking to the individual.
  2. Stop caring so much about audience feedback.
  3. Stop thinking that you are changing lives.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London's Olympic Fire Protection



The 2012 summer Olympics in London are in full swing. The Games are taking place over 24 venues divided into 3 zones, The Olympic Park, The River Zone, and The Central Zone.  Four firms  (Arup, Buro Happold, Jeremy Gardner Assoc., Tenos) were contracted to provide fire protection/life safety consulting to these major developments.  Each of these firms brought there own engineering approach and code interpretations and applications to the table.

The venues fall into 3 categories for fire protection considerations:
  • New Permanent Venues
    •  built for the long term
    •  may require specific modifications for the Games
  • New Temporary Venues
    • built specifically for the duration of the Games (in place 1 year before, to be remove after)
  • Existing Venues
    • require specific modifications and change of use during the Games
The layout, site design, and construction of the Olympic venues are governed by the International Olympic Committee's specific guidelines.  In addition to the main 24 venues, there are also support structures and additional facilities required to run the Games and broadcast them around the world.  These facilities and equipment will be rented or contracted out and includes temporary structures, technical facilities, A/V cable runs, and specific required Olympic signage.  Other temporary elements contributing to the Games include tents, fencing, cabins, modular structure, scaffolding, and temporary power supplies.  Each of these need to be looked at separately, and as part of the whole, when evaluation fire protection/life safety hazards and code compliance.

As the site is governed by the IOC guidelines and standards, issues arise regarding meeting their standard and meeting fire/life safety compliance.  Some of these differences concern:
  • venue designs and layouts
  • access routes and entry/exit guidelines
  • distances to venues and seating locations
  • security and access control
  • queuing, loading, and exit times for various groups
Here, in America fire prevention and regard for life safety would have been an afterthought compared to response planning, however, in the home of Big Ben fire prevention and life safety is a primary concern.  The London Fire Brigade's Fire Engineers have been embedded in the planning stages for 2 years leading up to now.  A Central Fire Engineering Support Group maintained oversight of all planning applications and fire safety issues of major projects.  Fire safety support teams throughout the London area and associated boroughs provided input, advice, and guidance on everyday fire safety and protection concerns and issues.  Protection and prevention work stream groups were set up within the main structure of the London Fire Brigade Olympics Project work plan.

Fire protection and life safety is just one small part of the successful planning, preparation, and production of the Olympic Games.  Just this small part is made up of many groups and people, yet all working toward the same goal.  There is much to be garnered from observing this process of ensuring a fire safe Olympic community. We see a priority placed on proactive fire prevention rather than reactive response (though incorporated), a variegated command structure that required the creation of multiple groups for consistent oversight (a skeleton of the ICS structures that we are familiar with), every one with their own interests working together to do what needs to be done to ensure that the Games are successful. 

To read more, and see a breakdown of fire protection measures for each facility check out this presentation from Hemming Fire.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

World's Fastest Pumper



Created for the Nurburgring race track in Germany, this Nissan GT-R can reach speeds of 193 miles per hour, and can lap the 13 mile track in less than 8 minutes.  Traditional fire engines were taking too long to respond to accidents on the track, so this car was especially outfitted for the job.



Features include:
  • 13 gallon water/foam tank (2 minutes of firefighting capability)
  • 65 foot hose, with reel
  • emergency radio communications system
  • equipment bay area

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fire Service Sun Tzu [Part 1]


Photo courtesy of Om Imaging
 In his landmark work on battlefield strategies, The Art of War , Sun Tzu aptly outlines his strategy for victory in battle.  These strategies, when properly applied, will guarantee certain victory.  Sun Tzu discusses the process of war from "laying plans", to "attack by strategem" and "tactical dispositions", to exploiting the enemies weaknesses.


The principles of  The Art of War,although written for battlefield purposes, can just as powerfully be applied to the fire service. Through a series of posts, I want to demonstrate how these tactics can be applied to achieve success in the fire service.


Sun Tzu opens by stating that the art of war is governed by five constant factors.  These five factors should be taken into consideration when "seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field".
  1. The Moral Law
  2. Heaven
  3. Earth
  4. The Commander
  5. Method and Discipline
Sun Tzu says, "the MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by danger".

This is the first essential that must be in place to ensure victory. If the firefighter is being led into "battle" by a chief that they do not trust, they will go there own way and experience loss.  Or, a new leader will rise up, one without the title, but others will follow him, then you have internal division, which will ultimately lead to destruction.  A firefighter who experiences a chief not acting in the best interest of his people will not be in accord with him. 

A community that is not in accord with their fire department (or its leadership) will not support it.  In fire prevention, our primary enemy is education.  We can talk all we want to attempt to educate - on fire safety, purpose of inspections, building construction, fire department practices - however, if there is no trust, if the community is not in "accord" with its public officials, the education battle will be lost.

However, as a community, sees its department and official going to bat for them, standing up for them, listening to them, trust will be built.  As this trust is built then the community will follow.

HEAVEN "signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons."  When Sun Tzu wrote of the heavens he was  considering  the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), the four seasons, the winds, and temperatures.    As a firefighter the "heavens" play a large role in containing and extinguishing a fire.  Knowing what is burning (wood, metal, plastics, etc.),  the wind direction, humidity, temperature, and time of day is essential in forming a plan of attack for fire extinguishment.

In prevention, knowing the political climate, or understanding where people are coming from, or where there mentality is based plays a huge role in forming a plan of education and outreach.

The EARTH is comprised of distance, danger, security, open ground, and the chances of life and death.  These are the things which are palpable.  That which is real and solid.  This is the firefighters equivalent to risk versus reward.  What are the risks involved? Does the potential reward outweigh the risks?

In overcoming fire prevention hurdles, the challenge (in order to be victorious), is to make the risk real to the community.  Make the community see the loss, and therefore, take action to prevent it.

Closely related to the moral law is the COMMANDER.  This has all to do with the character of the leader. The commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and self-control.  These are charactersitics that any fire service leader, should stand for, and strive to instill in his subordinates.  Check yourself.  Which of these are you weakest in?  Which of these are you strongest in?  Cultivate these characteristics in order to be the leader of a victorious crew.

The physical logistics of a department are summed up in METHOD AND DISCIPLINE.  This is understanding the proper rank structure, and chain of command, maintaining supplies and equipment, and controlling finances.  Without proper tools (and there maintenance) any army or fire crew will fail in its fight.  In order to stay ahead of the game, it is of utmost importance to control finances.  Without finances equipment falls into disarray, newest technology cannot be purchased, proper training is not affected,  and personnel are not appropriately compensated.  Beyond simply managing the available finances, a victorious leader must create new, constant, and evolving streams of income.

"These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail." - Sun Tzu

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pursuing Hobbies


It's important to have hobbies.  Most members of the fire service that I have talked to, do this job because they thoroughly enjoy it. They enjoy the camaraderie, the schedule, and even the actual work itself.  However, at times, this job can become stressful or worrisome.

It is important to pursue hobbies, and the things you enjoy as a way to relieve the stress, and forget about 'work' for a while.  Get a hobby - weightlifting, kayaking, photography, golf, boating, basket weaving - whatever you choose, pick something you love to do and pursue it passionately.

When I am not at work I enjoy creating, whether that be through writing (thecodecoach.com; seasonsofrefreshing.wordpress.com), teaching, or videography.  Here is my most recent project, this is a music video we created for Linkin Park's "Burn It Down", this was produced for a Genero.tv video contest.



*see more of my video work at aaronjtv.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Building a Car Wash



I recently was tasked with a plan review of an automatic car wash. This seems simple enough, however, there are some questions that need to be answered. What is the occupancy type? What are the hazards involved? How does the equipment work? What kind of chemicals are being used?



To start any review, one must first identify the occupancy type. The occupancy type is often listed on the plans, but the occupancy type might be different as related to the fire codes, based on occupancy use and what type of activities are going to occur there.


A car wash does not necessarily fit neatly into one of the occupancy categories of NFPA 101. However, it most closely identifies with a special-purpose industrial occupancy (101:40.1.4.1.2):

Special-purpose industrial occupancies shall include all of the following:

(1)Industrial occupancies that conduct ordinary and low hazard industrial operations in buildings designed for, and that are usable only for, particular types of operations

(2)Industrial occupancies that are characterized by a relatively low density of employee population, with much of the area occupied by machinery or equipment

The key construction factors that this occupancy designation will affect include:


Number of means of egress (101:40.2.4)


Arrangement of egress (101:40.2.5/Table)


Industrial equipment access (101:40.2.5.2/Table)


Emergency lighting (101:40.2.9)


Since this occupancy does not completely fit into this category, it will be necessary to apply some of the principles of performance-based design (NFPA 1:5), primarily:


MSDS sheets for all chemicals used


Operations and Maintenance Manual (1:5.1.8)


Industrial occupancies allow a single means of egress “provided that the exit can be reached within the distance permitted as a common path of travel” (101:40.2.4.1.2). The table in NFPA 101:40.2.5 provides those common travel distances:




*Florida specific code only allows 20 ft. of travel distance for a dead-end corridor


The code allows for vertical rolling doors to be used as a means of egress (potentially eliminating the need for an additional side-hinged man-door), provided the space has an occupant load of less than 10 and the following is met:

(a)Such grilles or door assemblies shall remain secured in the fully open position during the period of occupancy by the general public.

(b)On or adjacent to the grille or door opening, there shall be a readily visible, durable sign in letters not less than 1 in. (25 mm) high on a contrasting background that reads as follows: THIS DOOR TO REMAIN OPEN WHEN THE BUILDING IS OCCUPIED.

(c)Door leaves or grilles shall not be brought to the closed position when the space is occupied.

(d)Door leaves or grilles shall be operable from within the space without the use of any special knowledge or effort.

(e)Where two or more means of egress are required, not more than half of the means of egress shall be equipped with horizontal-sliding or vertical-rolling grilles or door assemblies. [101:7.2.1.4.1(3)]


Most of the space for an automatic car wash (besides the car drive through) is taken up by equipment, tanks, and machinery. If any of this equipment is part of the means of egress (usually it is) it shall meet the clearance requirements of the table found in NFPA 101:40.2.5.2.1.

 Emergency lighting is generally required, however, it can be omitted from areas “without routine human habitation”, and “structures occupied only during daylight hours with skylights or windows “ that are properly arranged to provide adequate illumination to exits and exit pathways. The annex of this section, 101:40.2.9, states that the authority having jurisdiction shall review the facility, and will specifically designate where emergency lighting is required.

MSDS sheets should be submitted for review so that the proper hazard is assigned to the space and proper NFPA 704 labeling is provided.


The operations and maintenance manual, will provide the authority having jurisdiction, the information needed regarding operational hours, employees/occupant load, and any special considerations for equipment.


It is a good practice for any architect, owner, or contractor to establish a good working relationship with their local fire marshal. Contact your local fire authority prior to submittal to find out if there are any specific local ordinances or other requirements. It is also advisable to have your plan previewed by a third party to insure compliance with all federal/state/local requirements.