Why Did Your System Fail?

In his book, Normal Accidents: Living With High Risk Technologies, Charles Perrow provides a framework for analyzing risk and argues that increasing system complexity makes failure inevitable.  

In this book he introduces the acronym DEPOSE, to investigate and explain conventional accident cause.  This tool can be applied to determine fire protection system and incident response failures.

D - design

Was this design appropriate? What design may have worked better? How could a different design prevented the incident or failure?

E - equipment

Did the equipment function as it should? How should the equipment have worked? What better equipment should have been employed?

P - procedures

Was a standard procedure in place? Was the operating procedure clearly communicated and understood? How can the procedure be improved on, less steps, easier to understand, etc.?

O - operators

What condition were the personnel in? Have they been properly trained? Do they have all the necessary equipment, tools, and support needed? 

S - supplies and materials

Is there an adequate inventory of supplies and materials? Are these the correct supplies, material, and parts for the system on-site?

E - environment 

What was the environment like at the time of the failure? Is it possible to protect against the adverse environment? Has the system or equipment been designed to work within this environment?

For more on understanding and solving fire protection problems you might be interested in, The Guide for Fire Protection Solutions.

Staffing for ARFF Departments

Osan airmen by DVIDSHUB

For those departments having airport rescue firefighting NFPA 1710 references NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services at Airports for minimum staffing requirements.

ARFF operations should be minimally staffed according to the index rating of the airport, as shown in these tables from NFPA 403.

Staffing above these minimums should be determined by the performance of a task analysis.  The task resource analysis is conducted in six stages and based on the needs and demands of the airport. The task and resource analysis model is outlined in Annex D of NFPA 403.

Stage 1: State the goals and objectives of ARFF services and tasks.

Stage 2: Identify potential incidents. These should be worst-case scenario based on event history, fire data, and facility statistics, and a risk assessment.

Stage 3: Identify types of aircraft most commonly used at the airport.

Stage 4: Identify worst-case scenario incident locations or possible areas of incident occurrence.

Stage 5: Combine Stages 2, 3, and 4 - correlate accident types with possible worst-case scenario locations.

Stage 6: Based on the scenario in Stage 5, conduct a task and resource analysis to determine minimum ARFF personnel. This analysis should be conducted as a table-top exercise in real time and in sequential order. Elements should include:
  1. Receive call, dispatch ARFF units.
  2. Respond to scene, operate ARFF vehicle.
  3. Apply extinguishing agents and deploy equipment.
  4. Assist passenger and crew evacuation.
  5. Access aircraft for firefighting, rescue, and other operations.
  6. Support and sustain continuing firefighting and rescue operations.
  7. Support and sustain water supply.
  8. Replenish foam supplies.

NFPA 1710 further requires that aircraft incidents have a dedicated incident commander.  Any airport fire department with structural fire protection requirements should meet the staffing requirements of NFPA 1710, section 5.2.2.

Fire Prevention Week 2017

The week of October 8-14 will be nationally recognized as Fire PreventionWeek. The theme this year is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out”. Having an escape plan can spare lives when seconds count.  This years theme reinforces the need for families to have, know, and practice a fire escape plan.

Fire Prevention Week has been observed every October (always the week of the 9th) since 1922. The NFPA established this week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This fire, rumored to have been started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, claimed more than 250 lives, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. 

Public education plays a critical role in a communities fire prevention plan.  Here are some resources to utilize with this weeks focus on fire prevention.

Our public education efforts should focus on programs that are interactive, engaging and provide maximum benefit to the community. Interpreting the data and identifying the risks will focus your attention on the programs that are most needed. Here’s how it’s done.

A key component for effective risk reduction is face-to-face interaction with community members. This can be achieved through public events, fire station visits, and, most effectively, home visits. Community risk reduction programs, and fire crews involvement in them, produces three distinct benefits.

The most important component of community risk reduction (CRR) is strategic contact with the public. A strategic contact consists or much more than handing out stickers or plastic hats at the mall.  The strategic contact is a contact made that meets the objectives of the communities CRR plan, and is immediately beneficial to the person contacted.  This can most effectively happen in fire department home visits

    Career, Combination, or Volunteer?

    NFPA 1710, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments

    NFPA 1720, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments

    These standards outline minimum staffing requirements for fire departments.  But which one should your department follow?  Is your department career, combination, or volunteer? For this answer we must look in the definition section of NFPA 1720.  Here we see the magic number, 85%.  

    If the department personnel is comprised of 85% or more volunteer members then the department is classified as volunteer. Fire departments composed of less than 85% majority of either volunteers or career personnel is classified as a combination department. Volunteer and combination department must comply with the staffing and organization requirements of NFPA 1720.  Departments having greater than 85% career personnel must comply with the staffing and organizational requirements of NFPA 1710.

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