August 2017
Published by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
Here comes the eclipse
W e are about three weeks away from the solar eclipse and by all accounts it is shaping up to be an historic event for Oregon and the many other states that the eclipse will pass through.

If the Kentucky Derby bills itself as the most exciting two minutes in sports, we could say that this upcoming total solar eclipse could be the most exciting two minutes in astronomy, or at least the most exciting two minutes in Oregon.

By now, you’ve probably heard that various estimates put the number of visitors coming to Oregon near the 1 million mark by the day of the eclipse on August 21st.

Worst-case scenarios depict roadway gridlock, shortages of food, water, and fuel, and increased wildfire risk.

Even with worst-case scenarios, I have a high level of confidence that Oregon is equally, or more prepared, than all other affected states.

All incidents start locally, and individual communities and counties have their own plans in place to keep the impact of this event to a minimum. Many local, county, and state agencies have initiated readiness activities and developed event action plans.

The OSFM is involved in planning and coordination efforts with other state agencies including the Oregon State Police, Oregon Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Forestry, Keep Oregon Green, and the Oregon Health Authority.

OSFM deputy state fire marshals have also been supporting local emergency planning activities and assisting with inspections of assembly and residential (hotel and motel) occupancies.

Our Agency Operations Center will maintain an overall readiness position from Wednesday, August 16th through Wednesday, August 23rd, monitoring fire conditions and gathering situational intelligence. Beginning Friday, August 18th, the AOC will be staffed and open 24 hours a day through Tuesday, August 22nd.

There are certainly many 'unknowns' with this event, but I do know that our planning and partnerships have set the groundwork for being able to respond efficiently and effectively to nearly any situation that may arise.

My hope is that all this will have been just that – a planning exercise – but one that will result in better partnerships and collaboration for possible future large-scale incidents.

If we all maintain our patience and common sense, we’re sure to have a safe and fun event.
Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker

OSFM's 100 years of service :
Highlights from 1980 to 1989
This is the eighth of 12 monthly articles highlighting interesting facts and significant events from each decade of OSFM's 100 years of service and an OSFM deputy state fire marshal region.

  • Olin Greene appointed State Fire Marshal.

  • First personal computer system installed in OSFM offices.

  • Oregon Legislature passes the Oregon Community Right to Know and Protection Act.
  • The OSFM and the Fire Standards and Accreditation Board were merged.


  • The Oregon Life Safety Skills Curriculum was adopted by the State Board of Education.
  • State Fire Marshal Olin Greene departs OSFM.
  • Legislature transfers the OSFM to the Executive Department effective 1988.


  • Everett Hall appointed State Fire Marshal.


  • Legislation creating the OSFM Hazardous Materials Response Teams Program is passed and signed by the governor.
  • Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program established.
Spotlight on:
OSFM deputy district 10

Counties: Klamath and Lake.

  • Deputy State Fire Marshal: Scott Rice
  • Population: 73,730
  • Fire Agencies: 21
  • Approximately 82% volunteer firefighters
  • CR2K facilities: 487
  • Extremely hazardous substance facilities: 94
  • Conflagrations hosted in the last 15 years: 2
  • Annual calls (5 year avg): 7,026
  • Annual reported fires (5 year avg): 325
  • Annual Hazmat calls (5 year avg): 41
  • Annual dollar loss (5 year avg): $4,841,710
Did you know:

  • The Lone Pine Fire started on a hot afternoon in August 1992, about ten miles east of Chiloquin, in the Winema National Forest in south-central Oregon. The cause has never been confirmed. Within hours, the blaze spread over more than 3,000 acres of a forest once described in a 1950s federal study as "the finest stand of ponderosa pine in the world." 

    The fire destroyed at least five homes and forced more than 350 residents to flee. Firefighters could do little more than watch as the firestorm roared southeast until, after consuming nearly 31,000 acres (including 4,700 acres of old growth), the fire finally ran out of fuel and was contained. Lone Pine was the largest wildfire in Oregon during the long hot summer of 1992.
Spotlight: Hazmat Team 04
Hazmat Team 04 became functional in November 1991, initially created from a few staff from Klamath County Fire District #1 (KCFD#1). It is currently based out of KCFD#1's station #2, serving Klamath and Lake counties.

The history of responses from HM04 over the past 26 years consists of highway tankers overturned and/or leaking fuel, oil or anhydrous ammonia releases and leaks, as well as sulfuric acid spills, meth labs, exploded transformers leaking PCBs, mercury spills, and LPG leaks on a rail car.

One of the more significant incidents HM04 has mitigated consisted of an overturned tanker that required hot taping the tank to off-load the product. The temperatures for that day in July 2006 were mid 90s creating a difficult work environment for hot taping the tank, off-loading the product, and mitigating spilled fuel.

HM04 currently consists of 14 individuals led by Team Coordinator Captain Helge McGee. Other team members include: Battalion Commanders Toni Brimmer and Andy Hoskins, Captains Greg Cunningham and Kyle Schultz, and Firefighters  David Chung, Lucas Cronin, Ryan Dickerson, Brandon Friend, Ryan Meyer, Nick Randall, Dave Sonneman, Jake Weems, and Gary Weitzel. 

HM04’s response area encompasses Klamath and Lake counties and the Winema and Fremont National Forests. Klamath County (6135 sq. miles) includes Klamath Falls, Chiloquin, Bonanza, Sprague River, Crater Lake, Fort Klamath, Chemult, Odell Lake, Willamette Pass Ski area, Gilchrist, and Keno. Lake County (8275 sq. miles) includes Lakeview, Summer Lake, Fort Rock, Christmas Valley, Paisley, New Pine Creek. As a whole, the geographical area is typically rural, high desert, and forest lands.

High traffic highways and railways wind through these rural and urban areas. This rail traffic impacts HM04’s entire area by the broad spectrum of the chemicals transported on these routes. Large waterways and remote areas make mitigation a challenge. Add to that, limited cell phone service and travel time and you have the potential for making response an extra challenge.

As a team, HM04 trains on the area's known high risks, as well as general hazmat incident potentials. General scene management operations are also practiced, including decontamination, damning and diking, communications, resource management, chemical identification, donning and doffing PPE, equipment familiarization, and more.

The greatest potential for hazmat incidents include railway incidents involving crude oil, acids, anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, LPG, and random chemicals. Highway 97 is a heavy shipping highway for goods as a cheaper alternative for trucking companies bypassing I-5. Klamath Falls and Lakeview are large highway intersecting locations including Hwy. 97, 140, 39, 395, 20, and more. These highways are loaded with release potential of radioactive materials, large volume fuel containers, random chemicals, and mixed loads. Large waterways and rivers can provide challenges in themselves, and Klamath Lake is the largest lake in Oregon by surface area.

“Klamath/Lake HM04 is a team that I have enjoyed being on for the last 15 years,” said Team Leader Toni Brimmer. “As many teams have experienced, membership is something that constantly waxes and wanes. Our team has recently been through approximately a 60% change in the membership from recent retirements and members moving on to other departments."

"I am excited to see the continued development of HM04 with all the new members. We are in a ‘team re-build’ phase with many motivated new members that will make it their own team and I am confident that they will continue to make HM04 better than before. Training is an integral component of any team and we will continue to bring in and offer training to our members to help them be prepared for any potential situation they may encounter.” 

For outreach, contact Klamath County Fire Dist. #1 at 541-885-2059 and ask for Captain Helge McGee or Firefighter David Chung.
Code Corner
by Deputy State Fire Marshal Glen Geiger
Electrical part one: Electrical Appliances

During the course of most inspections, fire inspectors are likely to encounter a vast array of electrical appliances and tools; some old, some new, but all in various levels of maintenance and serviceability. How can we discern which are safe and which need to be repaired or replaced?

An analysis of the causes of certain fires conducted by the U.S. Consumers Products Safety Commission suggests that misuse of electrical equipment is a leading cause of many types of fires. It makes sense then that poorly maintained electrical equipment and appliances are also a contributor to personal injuries and life safety as well. 

(2014) Oregon Fire Code section 605.1 requires us to identify these electrical hazards and ensure equipment and appliances that constitute either a fire hazard or risk of electrical shock not be used. 

It may be useful to the fire inspector to better understand these hazards with the knowledge of how these devices are grounded and insulated.

Generally speaking, electrical devices are either grounded or double-insulated, but not both.

A grounded power tool has a plug on it with a bullet-nosed 'ground' pin which, when plugged into a properly grounded outlet, connects with a wire which is physically connected to the ground circuit (see below photo). This circuit helps protect people and property by providing an easier alternate path for current to flow from the enclosure back to its source.

In double-insulated tools, exposed metals are separated from electrically live components by supplementary or reinforced insulation, thus protecting the user from any electrical faults. In other words, if the appliance casing is completely non-conducting it does not need to be ‘earthed.’

Double-insulated appliances can be identified by the double square symbol on its label (see below photo).

Used properly, either option can protect a user from electric shock and help prevent an electricity related fire.

Additional reading is available in the (2014) NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code) Article 250.114.

Next month:  Electrical part two: Relocatable Power Taps

NFPA interviews homebuilder who supports home fire sprinklers, stating it's a "disservice" not offering technology to homeowners
Reprinted with permission from NFPA Journal® (Vol. 111, #3) copyright © 2017, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA. All rights reserved. NFPA Journal® is a registered trademark of the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA 02169.

Member of the Oregon Fire Sprinkle Coalition have found a gem of a homebuilder. With 40-plus years experience in the building business, Steve Asher's forte is custom homebuilding and remodeling. Another astounding tidbit about this Oregon-based builder and president of Asher Homes Inc.: roughly 75 percent of his homes are equipped with home fire sprinklers.

Why, in a nation with anti-sprinkler opponents mainly from the homebuilding industry, does Asher take a different tone? The answer stems from a critical fire service partnership and the reality that, as Asher puts it, fire sprinklers in new homes "are easier than you think."

In an exclusive interview with NFPA, Asher discusses his support for this technology and why he's dumbfounded about his industry's sentiment on sprinklers.

NFPA: Describe your introduction to home fire sprinklers. 

I grew up with my family working in the U.S. Forest Service. Forest fires have been in my life since I was born. I live on rural property and always wondered why people aren't doing more around their homes to make them fire safe. Many rely on the fire department. Also, in Ashland [Oregon] it’s very steep. Fire trucks can have issues getting into certain areas.

I'd do quite a few upper-end custom homes. When you start building larger homes in my area, it's mandatory to install fire sprinklers. But I also got into building houses for retired fire marshals moving here. They would tell me, "We’re putting in fire sprinklers." We're going through everything we need to do to build a house and I’m going, “Why am I not doing this for everybody?”

Are you always mentioning fire sprinklers as an option to home buyers?

Yes. While I don't install them in all of my homes, I suggest it and try to convince them to do so. While working with my customers and designing the home with them, it’s always been an option to bring up. People initially seemed against it. One, they’re afraid their whole house will flood. We have to mention that's not going to happen. Two: "I don’t like the look of fire sprinkler heads." I tell them there are now concealed heads. You have to convince people, so I take them into [sprinklered] houses to show them, and they forget they’re looking for fire sprinkler heads. They go, “This is nice.”

With my clients, I do a line item cost breakdown. I go through every one one of those items, and fire sprinklers are one of those line items. I ask them how they feel about fire sprinklers. Are they familiar with them? Understand them? We have a conversation about that. In certain situations we tell them that they should put in fire sprinklers. The technology is very simple. 

Has installation costs been an issue for you or your clients? 

The Ashford/Medford region has stopped charging commercial water rates for water [used for fire sprinklers].That was one of the biggest deterrents for my clients. I would tell them, "Then there’s $2,500 for a meter, and you’ll be paying 18 percent more for your water even though you’re not using it." I've worked with Marguerrite [Hickman, former division chief and fire marshal of Ashland Fire & Rescue] to address this. I’ve been adamant for years that if you get rid of this issue, you’re going see a whole different attitude towards fire sprinklers. And we are. [Changing the cost structure] was paramount in changing some of the resistance I had as a builder. 

Where else do you think the homebuilder resistance to fire sprinklers stems from? 

I can only think that for a lot of builders forced into [installations], it’s another pain-in-the-butt thing they have to deal with.  I’m not your typical builder on that end of it because I’ve been involved in forest fires around my property. I know how dangerous fire is. 

What do your clients tell you about living in a sprinklered home?

We do have conversations about that. I do follow-ups with all my customers. Most comments come from their friends who moved to the area in a home not built by me and say, "I can’t believe the builder didn’t bring [fire sprinklers] up. Why didn’t we get one?"

Since you have such a rich history of fire sprinkler installations, what would you say to the opponents out there?

It's a disservice not to offer sprinklers to a customer. We’re building a home. Everything should be about fire and life safety. We care about making sure our ingress/egress are the right size. Here we have a component of home construction that offers the most safety to its occupants. Why would you not offer it? I don’t really get the opposition, to tell you the truth. 

Watch a public service announcement on fire sprinklers featuring Asher currently being televised throughout Oregon. 

Campus Fire Safety Month in Oregon
Governor Kate Brown has signed a proclamation declaring September as Campus Fire Safety Month in Oregon.

According to The Center for Campus Fire Safety, August and September are typically the worst time of year for fatal campus-related housing fires. Unfortunately, some students do not realize how quickly a fire can occur, and most have not received fire safety education since elementary school.

The goal of Campus Fire Safety Month is to educate students that they are not invincible, that fires do happen in campus-related settings, and that students should take steps to protect themselves no matter where they live.

For more information and education resources, visit
OSFM Structural Protection Plan Revision
The OSFM has revised the Structural Protection Plan to include Temporary Refuge Areas (TRAs). We ask that all fire agencies and operations personnel re-familiarize themselves with the document and review the definitions of Safety Zones & TRAs added to the end. View the Structural Protection Plan.

What is a TRA?
A TRA is a preplanned area where firefighters can immediately take refuge shelter and find short-term relief in the event that emergency egress to an established Safety Zone is compromised. Examples include the lee side of a structure, inside a structure, a large lawn or parking area, or inside an apparatus.

Isn’t that a Safety Zone?
Safety Zones have to be calculated to ensure they are the appropriate size. Please visit this Safety Zone Calculations link. The top chart shows the current calculation, on page 8 in the IRPG. A new IRPG will be issued in October with the second chart as a revised calculation formula.

What does the addition of TRAs change?
Tactically speaking, nothing. IMTs and responding agencies have been operating with TRAs; they just weren’t always using the same terminology. As with much of the work related to the Structural Protection Plan, the OSFM is trying to define operations currently conducted to ensure all agencies and individuals are speaking the same language.

If you or your department have this document printed to bring to an incident, please reprint and replace with the new version.

The OSFM appreciates the Incident Management Team Safety Officers and Operations personnel for making the revision possible.

Please reach out to if you have any questions about this document or the changes.
NWCG Training System
Assessment & Improvement
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group is working to improve their training system. They are currently soliciting feedback on:
  • the formatting of position task books
  • the specific tasks included in PTBs for the Operations Section from FFT1/ICT5 through DIVS/ICT3
  • tasks for aviation positions

You can find all of the proposed changes here:

Feedback is accepted until September 15, and it is anticipated that the revised task books will be available in October.

One of the overarching goals of this project is to remove roadblocks which are preventing individuals from getting qualified, and some of the proposed changes will be especially beneficial for structural firefighters working toward wildland qualifications.
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