Safety Matters Newsletter               September 1, 2016 Edition
The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author. They do not reflect in any way those of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association unless specifically stated.
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President's Update

The Florida Association of Fire and Life Safety Educators and Florida Fire (FAFLSE) and Explosion Investigator Association (FFEIA) combined forces this year and presented a successful conference in Orlando.  The June conference had many highlights including, the Fire and Life Safety Educator or the Year and the Fire Investigator of the Year, SFMO Workshops, and the kickoff of the Florida Home Sprinkler Coalition. 

Congratulation to Brock Dietz of the State Fire Marshal's Office for receiving this year's Fire Investigator of the Year Award.

Congratulations to Fire Inspector Robert Lemons from Boca Raton Fire Rescue for receiving this year's Fire and Life Safety Education of the year award.

During the conference, NFPA awarded the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition $10,000 aimed at furthering education on home fire sprinklers within the state. The coalition received the check and announced its formation at the 2016 Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association Conference in Lake Buena Vista.  Let the education start with you, do you know the benefits of a residential fire sprinkler system?  Are you defending the need for residential sprinklers?  Vote to defend home sprinklers by knowing the benefits of residential fire sprinkler systems.  Go to for additional information.

The schedule for the 68th Annual Conference November 7th - 10th is almost set.  There are three tracks every day with a full day on Thursday.  The conference hotel reservation deadline for our room block is October 16th.  Come join us for the best education experience as well as fellowship at the conference. 

Florida Fire Sprinkler Initiative

In an article that was entitled, "Home Builder Attack Residential Sprinklers."  It was a timely read and I renamed the article "Home Builders Attack Resident and Firefighter Safety."  Residential fire sprinkler systems is again a growing topic as the article gave rise to the organized effort to defeat Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems throughout this country.  It is interesting that we, in the fire service know anecdotally that fire sprinklers systems (water) minimizes and/or stops a fire immediately.  The Commission on Fire Prevention and Control in 1972 in their report "American Burning" addressed the issue of fire sprinkler systems as a life saving system that would minimize injury and death due to fires.  This was increasingly true as materials used for construction was changing to lighter fast burning materials, fuel loads were increasing within homes, and fabric materials would stick to a person's skin becoming disastrous to the wearer in a fire.  The requirement for residential fire sprinkler system has long been in the national fire code but the requirement has only been enacted in a few states.  The State of Florida Statute 633.202 makes it very difficult for local government to pass a sprinkler ordinance even if the local government believed that it was in the best interest of its citizens.  The City of Estero last year went thru the arduous process and enacted a sprinkler ordinance only to repell the ordinance under the threat of lawsuit by the Home Builders and similar groups.

On the medical side of the Fire Service, we learn about early warning, early recognition, and early interventions save lives, but that process has not translated to the fire side.  The smoke detector provides early recognition, the fire alarm provides early notification and the missing component (fire sprinkler system) can provide early intervention but is still missing.  Why is that?  Money and Special Interest.  In this case the interest of money (and not a lot of it) on the construction industry and home builders outweighs the voices of a few.

The fire service has taken an active role in raising funds for survivors of burns.  Interestingly, a lot of the home builders even contribute to those fund-raising efforts.  However, the real victims are the survivors of the fire insult, which are fire fighters that are injured or die in residential fires.  I would challenge those same opponents of fire sprinkler system to evaluate the cost of health care for a victim of the fire compared to the cost of placing a fire sprinkler system in new homes being constructed.  I would additionally challenge them to put a cost on the many years of reconstructive surgery a victim goes thru and the associated pain and suffering.  The ultimate loser is the homeowner. 

The article went on to cite the City of Scottsdale (Arizona) as a shining example of effective residential fire sprinkler requirements. The article stated, "For over 20 years the city (Scottsdale) has required fire sprinklers in every home and history has shown an impressive record of fire safety and declining costs of system installation."

In an effort to change the voices in the debate, as well as to highlight the need and requirements for residential fire sprinkler system, the Florida Sprinkler Coalition has been formed.  The Coalition's mission is to increase awareness of the devastation of fire and the residential fire death problem while emphasizing the role that fire sprinkler play in saving lives, preventing injuries of citizens and firefighters and protecting property.

Even as this is occurring, there is another move within the ICC community to have the residential sprinkler requirement moved to the Appendix section of the code.  Many have commented on the FFMIA chat group, that this is a fire service issue and I agree that it is.  We must be involved, educated, and engage in the process.  First, if you are not an ICC governmental member, become one.  Second, have your voting members validated by September 19, 2016.  Third, when the vote comes up, vote against the removal of the sprinkler requirement to the appendix section of the code.

David Woodside
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From the Executive Director's Desk

Greetings! Here is hoping this finds all of you well and preparing for the coming season. Yes it is football season, but what I am referring to is the migration season. This is the time of year when things change in the northern states and those changes have a direct influence on our lives in Florida. A warmer fall and winter up north means a slow migration of our winter guests. However, a harsh winter brings a quick influx and suddenly we are overwhelmed with visitors and roads are congested and more importantly many lives are now placed in our hands to assure safe keeping.
Many changing issues have impacted our industry recently, but one that has taken on the life of an entire generation is the hi-rise retrofit provision for fire sprinklers. Realizing I am preaching to the choir so to speak, keep in mind the risk is lower when the population is lower. Higher risk with higher occupancy. My point is please be aware of the requirements and do not be complacent in your community. There are a number of resources available to assist you in reaching the communities that are required to be in compliance and you should be working with them every step of the way to get there. Don't wait until December 31, 2016 to reach out.
Sign up now for the 68th Annual Florida Fire Prevention conference. Did you know this is the longest continuous fire prevention conference in the United Sates? This year we will be in Daytona Beach and the lineup is bigger than ever. We have extended the conference to four (4) full days (with a bonus Sunday pre-conference class) so that you can get maximum benefit out of this experience and a bigger return on your registration fee investment. Friday November 11, 2016 is a holiday for most of us so why not take advantage of the extra day and Join us for the whole week in Daytona Beach. Registration is on-line at Click on the link for the conference.
There are a number of free membership classes on the Upcoming Events section of our Wild Apricot link. These are updated routinely so check back often. Click here or copy and paste to take you directly to our events calendar . One class that should be of great interest will be the Legislative 101 in Tallahassee. This will be a behind the scenes tour and inner-workings of state government; along with a few contributions by lobbyists and a general "how to" approach to dealing with the legislature in Tallahassee. If you have never been to testify before a House of Senate committee, this class is a must. Registration is limited so be sure to sign up soon.
Great news! Our audit results are in and we anticipate sharing in the very near future. I am proud to say we have no negative issues to report.
Finally please be watching for those renewal notices. The first notice will be e-mailed during the first part of October. Membership dues are good through December 31, 2016. All memberships are due for renewal on January 1, 2017.
Thank you for your continued support of FFMIA and we look forward to seeing you at our next event.
Sincerely yours in a fire safe State of Florida,

Jon W. Pasqualone
Executive Director
Procrastination and the CEU

Pretty routinely we will hear from people all around the state and country asking things like, "when will this class be offered, I need it to recertify in a week", or "when will those CEUs be posted, I need the hours to recertify and I'm due". Worst of all is the student who is taking a class on a Monday because they need to renew on Thursday. Given the process that will be described below, and the time needed to complete it, it is unlikely that can be accomplished in time as the laws of time and space do apply equally to everyone. Routinely, however, routinely people ask us for just that. Without getting into the process to much to start with, let's tackle the true issue here and talk about procrastination.

If you're like most people, we are willing to bet you know exactly what is required of you to keep your job. This means you know what classes you need to take, by when, for how many hours, and what the consequences are if you don't succeed at getting this done. Having the certifications that you do, is also a likely condition of your employment. Given this, we can also safely guess that your job leads to a degree of financial stability. So your certificate (with its continuing education requirements) leads to financial stability for you, and whomever depends on you (family, pets, significant others). So why risk having it lapse simply because you didn't take one or two classes? A side note here, I've seen locations where people renew their hunting licenses (with the mandatory safety class) quicker and more timely than their professional certification. Without laying any blame, is that necessarily setting the right priorities?

So often people wait until the last minute to do something that can have a very profound impact on their life. How about this idea, why not get your CEU requirements out of the way early in the process? Then you can take other classes you really want to take, not just the absolute requirements, and maybe you can have some fun while learning something. Also, your recertification process is likely to be smooth, timely and less stressful. Lastly, your overall stress is reduced as this is one less thing to worry about, and those who depend upon you can truly depend on you.

Now we understand things can happen, but let me put this scenario to you. A class is needed, a request is made, and so the decision is made to host it. Here are just some of the things that need to happen. A course topic, instructor, location, and all the logistics for the course are organized. Course outlines, proper paperwork, instructor bios, dates, location and a whole host of information is submitted to get the course delivery approved. Once the approval is given to the course, then the individual class delivery itself must also be sent in for approval. Once that is done, final logistics are completed, advertising begins, and registrations are accepted. The class is then held, and all paperwork completed. All that information is then given to the correct people so credit can be issued as appropriate. If everything goes off, without a hitch, from start to finish, the process can easily take 90 to 120 days or more, and there are likely 20 or more steps left out of the description above. So the sooner you get your continuing education done the better. After all your job, livelihood and likely your family depend upon it.

Of course we here always help where we can and look to aid you as much as possible. With that I would direct your attention to the 68th Annual Fire Prevention Conference coming up in Daytona Beach. With an expanded format this year, and more course being offered, students have the potential of obtaining more than 30 hours of continuing education credit. Don't procrastinate, because who needs that stress in their life. Sign up today. We will see you there.

Article submitted by:
Philip Oakes
FFMIA Training Coordinator

The Power of a Proper Set Up

Everyday fire inspectors, fire investigators, public fire educators, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and a whole host of other emergency responders hear about more and more requirements, which mean more and more training. NFPA regulations, Fire College requirements, CEUs, and a whole lot of items on a big list of topics keep getting piled on. To an extent we can understand the frustration many feel in this fast-paced, time crunched, "McSociety" we have created, but let's try and look at this another way.

How about we look at this issue from the stand point of how we can use these requirements to help ourselves, our communities, and our brothers and sisters who put their lives on the line every day? While you do this, think about it this way, are you setting yourself up for success or failure?

First of all, we all know (or should know) the time requirements and continuing education requirements of the jobs we do. With that, when new people join your organization, or your particular specialty, are these requirements explained, and shown to them? So often volunteers will quit when they really learn of the time commitment needed of the "job".   Were they set up for success or failure? Without sitting people down and having the talk about this issue before they ever join, you actually set them up for failure right out of the gate.

Secondly, let's talk about continuing education. Is your career a job or a profession? I think most of us would say firefighting, fire inspection, fire investigation, and such are professions (no one I've met calls them self an amateur firefighter). Someone in a profession is a professional. A professional is trained and educated and keeps current. So when you joined this profession, you didn't think there would be a need to get education and maintain that education? Set yourself and your mind right. If you are a professional in emergency services, you have educational requirements. Doctors do, lawyers do, teachers do, so why not you? Do you want a heart surgeon working on you who has not been to a class in 10 years? So why an inspector looking at a building who is in the same boat? Better educated inspectors, educators, and investigators lead to safer communities. Also, think about this, continuing education and learning can also be accomplished by earning a degree. That leads to better job opportunities, better income, and probably a better life style. So continuing education helps set you up, long-term for some really good things.

Third, many people don't like the volume, or topics of what is required for continuing education. To those I say, how are you setting yourself up? Is it to be a bitter complainer, or to be someone who does something about it? If you don't like the process or necessarily agree with the requirements, get involved in the change process. By actively participating, and providing input, you can help set yourself, and others up in the future with what is really important. So often you hear people arguing over codes that were changed or rules that impact them they didn't know about. Get involved, and set yourself up right. Be in the know. On-line voting for fire codes makes it easy for anyone to be involved, at least peripherally. Remember, however, that every proposal, code, rule, or statute is there for a reason, and you may not know what that reason is? So when you do get involved, know the background of what you want changed and why, so you can be set up for good success.

Know yourself, know your topic, get involved, take the time to do it right and set yourself up for that future success.

Article submitted by:
Philip Oakes
FFMIA Training Coordinator
Backpack Safety: It's Time to Lighten the Load

When you move your child's backpack after he or she drops it at the door, does it feel like it contains 40 pounds of rocks? Maybe you've noticed your child struggling to put it on, bending forward while carrying it, or complaining of tingling or numbness.

If you've been concerned about the effects that extra weight might have on your child's still-growing body, your instincts are correct.

Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture. The problem has grabbed the attention of lawmakers in some states, who have pushed for legislation requiring school districts to lighten the load.

While we wait for solutions like digital textbooks to become widespread, there are things you can do to help prevent injury. While it's common these days to see children carrying as much as a quarter of their body weight, the American Chiropractic Association recommends
a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child's weight.

When selecting a backpack, look for:
  • An ergonomic design
  • The correct size: never wider or longer than your child's torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist
  • Padded back and shoulder straps
  • Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso
  • Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
  • Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents
  • Reflective material
Remember: A roomy backpack may seem like a good idea, but the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it. Make sure your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack. Using one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems.

Help your child determine what is absolutely necessary to carry. If it's not essential, leave it at home.

What About Backpacks on Wheels?

They are so common these days, they're almost cool. But, the ACA is not giving them a strong endorsement.

Rolling backpacks should be used "cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack," the ACA website reads. The reason? They clutter school corridors, replacing a potential back injury hazard with a tripping hazard.
So, pick up that pack from time to time, and let your children know you've got their back.

 Article written by the National Safety Council

Other Sources:
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Lee County Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association Helps Make A Trip to the Hospital a Little Less Scary

The Lee County Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (LCFMIA) recently helped to make a trip to the hospital for pediatric patients a little less scary. The LCFMIA collected donations of plastic fire helmets from members' departments to donate to the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida. Currently the Hospital utilizes an x-ray machine named Freddy, who looks like a fire truck, with their pediatric patients. Through the donation, each child who has an x-ray taken by Freddy the Fire Truck will get a plastic fire helmet to take home with them.
LCFMIA President James Tanner said "It is through great community partnerships like ours with the Golisano Children's Hospital that we are able to establish additional avenues to assist our residents in their time of need." In total over 400 plastic fire helmets were donated with the promise of more when those run out.
Article submitted by:
Alexis Rothring, M.S., CHES
Public Education Specialist/
Public Information Officer
San Carlos Park Fire & Rescue

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