BURN, the Detroit Fire Film

BURN Trailer from BURN on Vimeo.

BURN is an action-packed and inspiring documentary about Detroit, told through the eyes of the men and women of the Detroit Fire Department, who are charged with saving a city that many have written off as dead. It’s a story that resonates in many American cities, as heroic first responders soldier on in the face of severe budget cuts.  Learn more at

You can take pat in the making of this film by helping to fund it!

Donate to the film now on Kickstarter at (funding ends Thurs., Dec. 1)

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No Vacancy

Preventing Dust Explosions

I was recently contacted by a reader from India.  The reader stated that he was part of one of the largest fireworks manufacturing plants in India, and that his plant had suffered from dust explosions. He was seeking some safety advice on preventing these kinds of fires.  I offered him the below advice from NFPA 654.

This standard should serve as a starting point for addressing fire prevention issues at your facility. Some requirements that this standard gives include:

Segregation (654:6.2.1) – separate the area containing the combustible dusts from all other occupancies, and occupancy types

Fire Doors (654: – install self-closing fire rated doors in all door openings

Electrical Safety (654:6.6)NFPA 70, Articles 502 and 503 specifically address wiring, and electrical safety in areas with combustible dust hazards

Risk Evaluation (654:7.1.1) - have a risk evaluation conducted at your facility to determine exactly what fire/life safety risks are present and how to best prevent or abate these risks

Explosion Protection (654:7.1.2) – the design of explosion protection for equipment should be in compliance with NFPA 69 Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems

Dust Control (654:8.1) – explains methods of control and cleaning up excess dust, and preventing it from accumulating

Ignition Sources (654:9.1) – eliminate sources that could possibly ignite these dust particles

Fire Protection Systems (654:10) – there is no greater protection than that offered by automatic sprinkler systems, spark/ember detection and suppression systems, automatic fire alarm systems, and fire extinguishers

Employee Training (654:11) – all employees should be regularly trained in operations and maintenance procedures, as well as, emergency plans. This training should ensure that all employees are knowledgeable in the following: hazards of the workplace, plant safety rules, process description, equipment operation (startup, shutdown, troubleshooting), necessity of properly functioning fire detection and suppression systems, equipment maintenance requirements and practices, housekeeping requirements, and emergency response plans.

A good resource for more information on preventing dust explosions and industrial fires, is the Industrial Fire Prevention blog.
For further guidance on using the codes from check out this instructional blog post --> Code Violation?


Serve Up Safety

Family, food, football, parades, and naps all staples of the American holiday we call Thanksgiving.  It's a great time for families to just be together, and enjoy one another (or not?).  However, house fires are three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving day than on any other day of the year.  Below are some tips to keep you cooking safely this holiday season.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and know how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is UL Listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Read the directions carefully before an actual emergency occurs. The acronym P.A.S.S. can help make sure you use it properly.
    • Pull the pin; Aim the spray nozzle low at the base of the fire; Squeeze the nozzle to spray the contents;Sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.
  • Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy while cooking. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on a flame-resistant oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the food has cooled.
    • When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam. If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back.
  • Keep smoke alarms connected while cooking. Smoke alarms can save lives. Make sure smoke alarms are installed and working.
  • Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended.
  • Turn pot handles away. Make sure that young children cannot reach a cooking pot by turning handles toward the back of the stove.
  • Unplug small appliances that aren’t in use. Not only will you save the energy, but you will also avoid the potential dangers if they were to be turned on accidentally.

See these tips and more at Safety At Home - UL.

If you will be using a turkey fryer this year, here is a must see video.

Rhinoceros Success

Don't Be Like the Living Dead

Be happy at work.  Have you ever gone into a civil service building and noticed the employees?  They are the living dead!  Yesterday, I went downtown to file my fictitious business name statement and I couldn't believe the cows at the windows.  They all acted as though they had knives stuck in their backs!  They spoke in a monotone and never showed any emotion.  It was chilling!  I thought that I had entered the twilight zone!

Be a rhinoceros and show your personality.  Smile and act as if you are alive.  Put some spring in your step and some warmth in your handshake.  Put some feeling behind your words and show an eagerness to help. You will not only like yourself much more, but you will create a warmer, friendlier, more productive work environment and everyone will love you for that, especially the boss.

If you want more from your job, show up tomorrow as a full time rhinoceros.  Don't worry about the rumors that you have been drinking or that you dropped our of bed on your head.  Remember your two inch thick skin and your audacity.

Cows hat to work with rhinos because rhinos make them look bad.  Cows are lazy and unproductive.  They will try to pull you down to their level.  Don't let them.  There is a loose rhinoceros in the place now!  Watch out!  There's no telling what will happen!  One rhinoceros can really wake a place up.  Decide to be that rhino and watch good things start to happen to you.

-from Rhinoceros Success, by Scott Alexander  

Unreasonable Demands

We all have those business owners/politicians/citizens in our community that are often times hard to deal with, or constantly have unreasonable demands.  If these were our customers in a private industry we could "fire" them, or refuse to offer them service. However, being public servants we do not have the luxury of choosing our customers.

Seth Godin, recently published a blog article addressing the unreasonable customer.  His insight to how and why to handle these people, proves valuable even to the fire service/fire prevention.

Reasons to tolerate the customer/citizen with unreasonable demands:

You promised you would - as employees in the fire service our main job description is that of public servant.  By taking this job, and choosing this career, we have promised to take care of and meet the needs of these citizens. It is our duty. It is our responsibility

She helps you raise your gamethe citizen with seemingly unreasonable demands, make us better, and causes our level of service to rise.  The customer that request something outside of our normal operations, or above and beyond our perceived capacity, stretches us.  In attempting to accomplish the unreasonable task we realize that it actually is possible, and sometimes this unreasonable task, becomes a new normal operating procedure.

Her word of mouth is very powerful - Perception is reality.  In these economic times (for every community), when the powers that be are looking for places to make cuts,  the unreasonable citizen is of a high value.  The negative perceptions of the fire department, can be quickly wahsed over by the positive word-of-mouth of the citizen whose unreasonable demand was met in a timely and excellent fashion.

There are, however, unreasonable customers that should not be tolerated.  We all have those contractors/business owners/citizens that constantly have the same issues, same demands, and time and time again we bend over backwards to help them, but they never quite get it.   These customers/citizens should be ones we spend less of our time being involved with.  Godin says, these customers prevent your employees from doing their best work in the long run,  their word of mouth can't be changed (or their word of mouth just doesn't matter),  and they distract us from delighting the reasonable customers.

In fire prevention we must consistently be going above and beyond for our custom
ers/citizens, even the ones with unreasonable demands. 

Writing Winning Grants


Official AFG and Fire Grants website -->

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