I want to introduce you to a valuable resource,  Live Safe is a non-profit that is all about educating and training the public in fire/life safety. There purpose and mission is:

The mission of Live Safe is to help YOU prepare for, train and improve the effectiveness of saving your life in the event of a fire. The Live Safe Foundation is a non-profit organization (501c3), and leading grassroots movement, devoted to making fire and life safety education, awareness initiatives and life saving tools available on a broad basis to communities, campuses, and institutions in an effort to reduce national fire fatalities and fire losses. While the Live Safe Foundation is not exclusively fire oriented, through our “voice” on this blog we will work to build public awareness, advocacy, and incorporate the usage of important messaging development to create “Fans” interested in helping everyone become a more responsive society to life and fire safety needs. Live Safe exists to provide training and awareness for those who are uniformed.

They also maintain a blog that offers many fire safety tips and practices.

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

A Prevention Primer

In these economic times it seems that fire prevention is getting the short end of the stick. With vacant properties, stripped businesses, and neglected utilities and systems it is in these very circumstances that fire prevention is more needed than ever

In his article, "Preemptive Strike" (Fire Chief, May 2011), Gerald Hughes describes the purpose of fire prevention and how fire prevention interrelates to the day-to-day operations of the entire fire organization.  Utilizing the well-known fire triangle, Hughes inserts three points of prevention and how they can break up that fire triangle called, the Fire Prevention Triangle.

1.  Engineering Principles - What is fire? How does the fire triangle work?
     1.  Active suppression - onsite equipment that suppresses/extinguishes fire
     2.  Passive resistance - structural elements created to separate occupants from fire
     3.  Early detection - installed systems that provide advance warning of fire

2.  Human Responsibility  -  support of fire prevention and firefighting
     1.  Fire inspections - to determine compliance with fire codes, and create pre-plans
     2.  Code enforcement - to enforce the correction of violations
     3.  Firefighting - to suppress fires, and investigate to determine cause and origin

3.  Fire Safety Education - center of an effective fire prevention program
     1.  Public education - disseminates fire/life safety messages to the public, creates awareness
     2.  Training - technical training providing fire inspectors with the skills needed for effective job performance

Hughes closes his article with this, "Fire departments are being asked to do more with less these days and fire chiefs are charged with the responsibility to provide fire protection in a fiscally responsible manner. Remaining open to new possibilities is a good way to move forward in an economy that has many of us standing still."

All Things Summer

Summer elicits images of heat, lemonade, pools, beach, vacations, theme parks, and cookouts. Kids, and teachers look forward, with great anticipation, to these three months, parents, plan their vacations, get togethers, and family reunions around this time. Summer’s great!

In the hustle and bustle of activity that summer brings, it is easy to forget about maintaining safety.  The greatest fire hazards that summer brings involving grilling, fireworks, and too much free time.

Before Webber, Coleman, and CharmGlow, near the beginning of time men have undertaken the incredibly masculine task of grilling. Archaeologists recently discovered a few thousand year old outdoor kitchen and barbeque pit. In the pit, they found the remains of mammoth, reindeer, horse, wolverine, and bear. This kind of makes us look silly standing behind our hamburgers, hot dogs, or even worse, turkey burgers.

Grilling, summer and fun go hand in hand. It doesn’t seem that you can have one without the other.

• Fire departments across the US, respond to nearly 7,700 grill related fires per year.

o 13 deaths (annual average)

o 120 injuries (annual average)

o $70 million property damage (annual average

• The latest statistics, from 2009, show that 17,700 patients were transported to emergency rooms due to grill related injuries

o 9,400 injuries were from thermal burns

o ¼ of these injuries were to children under 5 from contact burns

o 1/3 of these injuries were incurred during the lighting of the grill

o Gasoline or lighter fluid was a factor in nearly ¼ of grill burns

There are a few safety practices, that if followed, can keep you grilling, partying, and out of the ER.

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

• The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

• Never leave your grill unattended.

• Use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

• Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

• When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

• Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using, if it has been stored for a while. Repair any leaks found.

One of the most frequent phone calls, and questions that we get is from apartment/condo associations concerned with the use of grills on their residents patios and balconies.

The Florida Fire Prevention Code states that:

1:10.11.7For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, gas-fired grill, charcoal grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose, shall be used or kindled on any balcony or under any overhanging portion or within 10 ft. of any structure. Listed electric ranges, grills, or similar electrical apparatus shall be permitted.

Nearly a thousand years ago, in China, a chef was busy cooking. As he was cooking he accidentally dropped his ingredients, called saltpeter into the cooking fire. When he did this the fire lit up brilliantly, so he began experimenting. He found that when saltpeter mixed with charcoal and sulfur it made brilliant, colorful flames. When these ingredients were stuffed into bamboo tubes and thrown into a fire they not only made beautiful flame colors but also a loud bang. Thus, the firework was invented.

More fires are reported on July 4th than on any other day of the year. The most recent statistics we have, from 2008 show:

• fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 reported fires, including 1,400 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 20,600 outside and other fires.

• These fires resulted in an estimated 1 civilian death, 40 civilian injuries and, $42 million in direct property damage.

• an estimated 7,000 people are treated for fireworks related injuries.

People assume that if a firework is not illegal then it must be safe. However, the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns; sparklers, fountains, and novelties alone accounted for 32% of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2008.

Due to the high number of fireworks related injuries, our primary safety message is to only enjoy fireworks that are put on public display by trained professionals. Stay away from consumer fireworks, and after any fireworks displays children should never pick up fireworks or casings that may be left over as they could still be active.

Summer gives kids lots of free time, often unsupervised free time. It seems that all kids are fascinated with flame and fire. The combination of boredom and easily obtainable fire starting devices (matches, lighters, etc.) can potentially be disastrous.

Fires set by children account for more than 250,000 fires per year and are the largest cause of home deaths among children. Children mistakenly believe that they can control the fires that they set. However, once a fire is set it only takes about two minutes for the flame from a single match to set an entire room on fire, and less than five minutes for that fire to overtake an entire house. Children who start fires, do so, due in a large part o lack of fire safety education.

To remedy the juvenile fire setting problem we have a program called the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program. If your child has an interest in fire, or you have caught them playing with lighters/matches, or other fire devices then we highly recommend that you sign them up for this program. This is a voluntary program, until your child is convicted of arson then it is required by the court system. The goal of the juvenile fire setter program is to educate children and teenagers on the responsibilities, effects, and consequences of fire setting.

After taking several kids through the program, we realized that they were learning about fire, but they really were not learning that they needed to make better decisions, how to make wise decisions, or the impact that decision-making has on their life, both now, and into the future. So, what we have done is integrated, into the fire safety education, a curriculum called “Success for Teens” which is all about making right and wise decisions. Now when a child leaves the program they have an enhance understanding of the dangers of fire, as well as, the knowledge that will not only prevent them from making wrong choices in the future, but will empower them to make those wise decisions that will allow them to lead successful lives.

The program is a multiple week event. The students meet one night per week, where they receive instruction, they connect with others, and take part in learning these “success” principles. The students also receive assignments and activities to do throughout the length of the program.

We all know the saying, “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”, so this may be the perfect summer activity for your child.

Use your grill safely, keep it away from combustibles, never leave it unattended. Skip the consumer fireworks and sparklers this year, only attend public fireworks displays that are presented by trained professionals. If your child or a child you know has an interest in fire and is complaining of boredom, then get them involved in the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program.

Enjoy a safe summer!

Receiving Awards

This past weekend I was honored to be awarded the Martin County Fire Rescue Employee of the Year award.  As I graciously received this award I had several thoughts regarding the accolades, rewards, and awards that we are given throughout our lives and careers.

Awards offer two things, value and validation.

1.  Value

In these economic times, finances are tight, raises are not as freely given out as they once were, we need something else that shows an employee's value to the organization or department.  As employees we enjoy the value that we feel from monetary gain and raises.  But, many of us would also say that money is low on our list of reasons to work.  However, we all want to know that we play a valuable part in our organization, and that our hard work and effort is noticed and valued.  Awards show that we, and the work we do, has value.

2.  Validation

As employees we should never wait for validation to make something happen.  We  do not need somebody else to tell us that we are good enough, smart enough, or capable enough to start and pursue the work we love.  However, awards from our bosses/chiefs/employers/peers validate us, not by giving us permission, but by confirming that we are on the right track, were headed in the right direction.

The most meaningful awards to receive meet three criteria:

1. They are in line with our passions and natural abilities.

The most meaningful awards seem to come as a surprise.  They are not awards that we have specifically worked toward achieving.  These awards come easily as we have worked toward a greater goal, the greater good, and it feels as though we have not had to work extremely hard or perform unrealistically to achieve them.  These awards come as a natural by-product of simply following our passions and doing the work we love.

2.  They are not won alone.

The most meaningful awards are not achieved by the work of one single person.  These awards only come as a result of the leadership that we have worked under, and the people we have surrounded our self with.  Leadership expert, Dr. John Maxwell, says everything rises and falls on leadership. All leaders know that they are only as successful as the teams they surround themselves with.

3.  They do not come as a result of positioning.

The most meaningful awards are not gained by political positioning, status, or eating lunch with the right people.  They are gained by the people experiencing the impact of the work you do.

Get Help

Have you seen our 'Contact Me' page? 

The 'Contact Me' page is your direct link to the Code Coach.  Any questions, concerns, or requests can be sent through one of the various contact methods on the 'Contact Me' page.

From the 'Contact Me' page you have the option to:

  • E-mail the Code Coach
  • Call the Code Coach
  • Poke, message or write on the Code Coach's wall via Facebook
  • Tweet the Code Coach via Twitter

CFL Bulb Fires

CFL bulbs are the spiral shaped compact fluorescent lamps that have taken the place of the incandescent light bulb.  These CFL's are said to be more energy efficient and longer lasting.  

A recent blog on entitled, Shedding Light on Another Potential Fire Hazard, explains how the author, Glenn Bischoff, personally spotted these bulbs catching fire/creating flames in his own home.

A Google search will return several results stating that this is a myth.  However, even the National Fire Protection Association, claims that they have received several of these cases.  

This CFL hazard is something that all need to be aware of:

For fire service personnel,  this is something that should be considered as a fire origin and cause, and may be an important item to mention in public education sessions.

For the consumer, this is a danger to be aware of in your own home.  Many sources state that these types of bulbs are not intended for use on lights with dimmer switches and should be swapped out for incandescent bulbs.

Florida Firewise Resources

With the active wild fire season (especially here, in Florida) upon us, many people are concerned about protecting there lives and property.  The National Fire Protection Association created the Firewise Communities Program to address these very concerns. 

The NFPA gives the following general safety guidelines:
  • If you're moving to a new home in a rural area or buying land to build a new home, do a thorough outdoor fire safety check before you proceed. Locate the home on the lot with adequate setback from downhill slopes. Wildland fire travels uphill rapidly – make sure that your home won't be in its path.
  • Make sure that the area has adequate public fire protection available. Will emergency vehicles have easy access to the house? Is your address clearly visible from the road? Will firefighters have access to a water supply to put out a fire?
  • Make your roof fire safe. Untreated wood shake roofs are the leading cause of wildland fire losses. A roof made of fire-resistant or non-combustible materials can make your home safer. Also, use non-combustible (metal) screening in eave vents and for windows.
  • Sweep gutters, roofs, and eaves regularly and remove dead branches from around or near chimneys. Burning firebrands or embers can collect in the same space that leaves and pine needles do. Remove leaves and needles from cellar window walls and from corners and crevices around the outside of your home.
  • Create a survivable space, safety zone or "fire break" around your home. Flammable (highly resinous) plants, woodpiles, and debris should be kept as far away from the exterior walls of the home as possible. Fences, decks, or outbuildings connected to the house must be considered part of the house; construct them out of non-combustible materials and keep them clear of pine needles, dead leaves, etc

    Here is a list of resources for Florida wildfire protection:

    Schedule a Firewise workshop, get a community Wildfire Risk Assessment, or get local wildfire information: Florida Division of Forestry Wildfire Mitigation Specialists: 

    •  General Firewise Communities Information: h

    •  Wildfire Risk Reduction in 
    Florida- Home, Neighborhood, and Community Best Practices: 

    •  Fire in Florida’s Ecosystems fire education curriculum and resources for grades 3-12:

    •  Florida Wildfire Prevention online education for grades 3-12:  

Grill Fire Kills 6

Last week, in Ohio, a early morning fire killed 6 people, including 4 children all under the age of 13.  It has been determined that heat from an unattended grill ignited the homes vinyl siding, causing fire to spread into the upstairs bedrooms of the home. 

From the article "Grills use, position key in fatal blaze" we read, 

"The charcoal grill may have been used as late as 3a.m.," Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said yesterday, adding that the grill was touching the vinyl siding on the back of the house.
Investigators said they think the grill ignited the vinyl siding it was touching and led to fire moving up a nearby wooden fence and the back of the house.The most significant fire damage was done to the Cape Cod-style house's top floor, where the bodies of four children were found.
Nussle said it's not hard to imagine that a charcoal grill used at 3 a.m. that was left near vinyl siding could have caused the fire because vinyl siding is a petroleum-based product, and it can burn rapidly.

The home did not have a working smoke detector. Nussle said a smoke detector might have alerted the victims to the fire in time to save them.
"It would have increased the chance of survival greatly," Nussle said. "They would have been alerted much more quickly."
The tragedy, the largest single loss of life in any fire in Warren history, already has reminded several people of the importance of smoke detectors, Nussle said."

This tragedy should serve as a poignant reminder to follow grilling safety practices:
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoor.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area. 
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. 

...and to ensure that smoke detectors are installed (and working) throughout the home.  Smoke detectors should be installed just inside and just outside of each sleeping room.

Leadership Failure

Many leaders who fail in their leadership have common traits.  Below is a list of ten leadership weaknesses.    As you read this list, what are some of the listed weakness that you lean toward? How do you keep these in check? How can you turn them into strengths?

  1. Inability to organize details.
  2. Unwillingness to render humble service.
  3. Expectation of pay for what they "know" instead of what they do with that which they know.
  4. Fear of competition from followers.
  5. Lack of imagination.
  6. Selfishness.
  7. Intemperance.
  8. Disloyalty.
  9. Emphasis of the "authority" of leadership.
  10. Emphasis of the title.
Any single one of these faults is suffiient to induce leadership failure.  For the person who aspires to leadership, it would do you well, to make sure that you remain free of these faults.

-Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

Fathers Day - 2011

 Happy Father's Day from the Code Coach.  Enjoy these two video clips on being a man and fatherhood.

Fire Prevention Advocacy

Vision 20/20 has created the Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit that gives local fire departments the tools they need to prove the value of fire prevention in saving lives and reducing the impact of fire on a community and its economy. The program is available at

“In this economy, community officials and fire chiefs are confronted with tough decisions when it comes to what services to save and what services to cut,” said Perdue. “We all know that fire prevention saves lives and money, but it’s been somewhat difficult to justify these programs economically. Every day, a fire department responds to a fire every 23 seconds, someone is injured every 31 minutes, and every three hours someone dies. Annually, across the nation, fires cause $15.5 billion in property damage and these new tools can demonstrate the terrible impact that a fire can have at a local level on people, a community and its economy. A catastrophic fire can not only cause injuries and deaths, but it may also mean that businesses close their doors, resulting in losing both jobs and tax revenue. It’s really quite simple - prevention pays.”

Resources in this toolkit, include…

• Fire prevention advocacy strategies

• Community investment in fire prevention

• Implementing an advocacy program

• Working with the local media

• Evaluating your program’s impact

• Reaching audiences

The Vision 20/20 Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit can be found at You can also learn more by following us on Twitter @strategicfire and Facebook at

Electrical Safety

The fire code offers very specific regulations regarding extension cords, surge protectors, and wiring in commercial structures.

NFPA 1:11.1 Electrical Fire Safety
Multiplug adapters shall not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring or receptacles.
The relocatable power taps shall be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle.
Relocatable power tap cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, or floors; under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage.
Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter and shall, except for approved multiplug extension cords, serve only one portable appliance.
The extension cords shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration, or damage.
Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures; extend through walls, ceilings, or floors, or under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage.
Extension cords shall not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.

Check out this great post concerning electrical safety at the office, from All Business.


Rhythm Night Club Fire

The November 2010 issue of Firehouse Magazine drew our attention to the little known and rarely discussed fire of the Rhythm Night Club.

On April 23, 1940, in Natchez, Mississippi, 700 people crammed into the Rhythm Night Club to experience the live performance of Walter Barnes and his Royal Creolians.  The exact cause of this fire, that claimed 290 lives, was never determined.

Factors contributing to this tragedy include:
  • decorative spanish moss doused in petroleum based insecticide
  • boarded up windows and doors
  • single entrance/exit

Check out The Rhythm Club Fire documentary, produced by Bryan Burch.

The National Fire Protection Association offers several reports and safety tips concerning nightclub fires.

Fire Fighter Training Show

Here is another valuable public education tool.  Kids (and adults) are entertained while receiving valuable and life saving education.

This is at traveling show that allows kids to become firefighter trainee's.  As kids take part in "running calls", extinguishing fires, and competing with one another they are given the fire safety messages of, "Get Out and Stay Out", "Don't Hide, Get Outside", "Crawl Low Under Smoke".

Visit the website at

No Vacancy

I was reading the May 2011 issue of GQ magazine.  A particular article of interest was entitled, Destroying Detroit.  The article describes that due to the failing Detroit economy thousands of homes have been abandoned and have become a danger.  They have become a danger to surrounding properties, due to their structural deterioration, and to the fact that these abandoned properties become home to squatters, and other uninvited "guests".

The author, Tim Hetherington, follows several demolitions crews as they systematically destroy abandoned properties.  These crews tell stories of their unique experiences.   Many of the stories they tell include tales of vagrants rushing out of the houses as the first grapple tears through the roof, or of druggies rushing in to retrieve their hidden "goods", they tell of bones and animals beign uncovered in the demolition process.

In these times of fire prevention understaffing and multiple job assignments/functions, it is important that we do not forget the vacant structures in our communities.  Due to the economy, many jurisdictions have been faced with a drastic reduction of commercial activity, resulting in a rise of vacant and abandoned properties.

However, we owe it to our communities to ensure that these vacant properties are properly abandoned.  Not only are we faced with the threat of an easy arson target, but also the added danger of unknown people in these properties when the time comes to destroy or re-inhabit these building.

NFPA 1:10.13 Vacant Buildings -

1:10.13.1 - Every person owning or having charge or control of any vacant building or premises shall remove all combustible storage, waste, refusse, and vegetation and shall lock, barricade, or otherwise secure all windows, doors, and other openings to prohibit entry by unauthorized persons.

1:10.13.2 - All fire protection systems shall be maintained in service in vacant buildings.

What are some unique situations, regarding vacant structures, have you been part of?  What other codes/issues/concerns might one face when dealing with abandoned buildings?

Hospital or Business?

Virginia pro-life advocates are overjoyed at the passage of a legislation that allows the state’s abortion clinics to be regulated like a hospital rather than a physician’s office. Read complete story at the Christian Post.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) classifies general offices, doctors offices, and outpatient clinics as business occupancies (101:*).

Business occupancy fire/life safety requirements are relatively simple.  The regulations include basic exit signage/emergency lighting, typically no sprinkler coverage is required, and often times, the size of these spaces lets them have only one exit access. 

Health care occupancies, per NFPA 101:, include hospitals, limited care facilities, and nursing homes. These have many stricter codes/standards/regulations that must be adhered to.

According to the NFPA these existing facilities, would have to be brought up to the health care facilities standards, and meet all new minimum construction requirements, as this change would constitute a change of occupancy (101:  Changes to be anticipated will include:
  • Arrangement of doors, exits, and corridors would potentially need to change.
  • Fire alarms will be required (101:18.3.4)
  • Fire sprinkler protection required (101:18.3.5)
  • Separation between other occupancies may need to be increased
  • Facility fire safety plan will be required (to be reviewed/approved annually)
These regulations just scratch the surface.  As a health care facility many other agencies will now be involved (federal/state/local departments of health, and hospital regulatory agencies, etc.), each with there own set of standards that must be met. Health care facilities will also be required to meet the provisions of NFPA 99  Standard for Health Care Facilities.

What other codes/standards will apply?  How would this change affect your state? How would this change affect your local jurisdiction?

Knock 'em Dead - for Career Advancement

I would like to make all those certified firefighters, or those looking forward to career advancement, aware of an invaluable career resource, Knock 'em Dead, by Martin Yates.  I have personally utilized this resource and highly recommend it.

Knock 'em Dead claims to be the "ultimate job search guide". And it is just that.  This book is meant to be utilized as a reference, rather than read from cover to cover.  It contains all the most current information, concerning job search, resume banks, and online tools. 

In it's efforts to be a complete job search resource it effectively covers all aspects of the job search, from resumes to negotiating the job offer.

Divided into the following 5 parts:

  • The Well-Stocked Briefcase
    • covers the successful job search, resume writing, and networking
  • Get The Word Out
    • initial contact, dressing for success, understanding body language, and successful interviewing
  • Great Answers to Tough Questions
    • what the employer is looking for in questions asked, how to answer these correctly
  • Finishing Touches
    • interiew follow-up, overcoming rejection to gain employment, negotiating the job offer
  • Where the Jobs Are
    • thirty fastest growing occupations, future job prospects
This book is perfect, not only for the new employee, but for those consider a career change or advancement.  

Two of the most valuable sections are the sections on resume preparation and answering the interview questions.  Knock 'em Dead covers all the questions that are typically asked in any kind of job interview, and provides the correct answer that tells the employer what he wants to hear.

The resume preparation section provides great insight for those seeking career advancement, by walking the reader through the following steps:
  1. decide on a specific target job.
  2. collect job postings
  3. look at your job from the other side of the desk
  4. identify what you bring to the table for each requirement
  5. critical thinking
  6. identify behavioral profile for success
  7. identify behavioral profile for failure
By closely following the outlined steps, one will be well on there way to job success!

For more information visit