April 2020
Published by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
The Oregon Fire Service Rises to Confront COVID-19
As I write this column, I am mindful that every Oregonian has been impacted by COVID-19.

As the State Fire Marshal, I also realize that every member of the fire service is being asked to confront this new challenge, to support a coordinated statewide response while protecting their communities and their fellow workers.

What’s more, all of us are doing this as we experience historic gyrations in financial markets and have seen friends, neighbors, and family lose jobs.

Some, including our most vulnerable residents such as the elderly, have already lost their lives. Many Oregonians will still face potential exposure for weeks, and even months to come, to the respiratory illness that has been labeled a global pandemic.

To address the expected impacts of the novel coronavirus on our public health, Gov. Kate Brown has issued a number of executive orders that have declared a state of emergency, mobilized the state’s Emergency Coordination Center, and required all but non-essential workers to stay home in order to save lives. These orders have a clear goal: to reduce the loss of life.

This is serious business. All of us — and I mean every single Oregonian — are now being asked to work together to tip the scale.

Our collective actions are needed to flatten the curve of infected persons, to reduce an expected surge on our health system so we can care for those most at risk when more patients arrive. We’ve all seen what has happened in Italy and to its healthcare system. That is what we need to avoid by following the state’s rules meant to protect everyone.
Guidance from our health experts remains clear.

We all have to act as if we already have COVID-19 and not expose other people. Please do what we know prevents its spread: wash your hands with soap and water, don’t touch your faces, avoid contacts with people who are sick, stay home if you’re ill, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing. If we have to go out for essential activities or a walk or exercise, keep six feet between yourself and others.

Having seen Oregonians during our times of crisis, when they have faced the worst days of their lives, I know we are up to this task. We will overcome this historic challenge. We all have the ability to help one another and stop the spread of COVID-19.

I could not be more proud how the Office of State Fire Marshal has led and served. We serve as the lead for emergency support function (ESF) 4, fire. Our staff have been at the Emergency Coordination Center since mid-March, including myself, supporting the state’s coordinated response.

We mobilized two Incident Management Teams on March 16. One, through a request from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to Gov. Brown, was sent to King County Public Health Department, supporting its Agency Operations Center to the local epidemic there. A second was sent to help manage the Oregon Health Authority’s Agency Operation Center and has coordinated closely with the ECC on its critical health response.

In early March, the OSFM created the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team with the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association and the Oregon State Firefighters Council to address the complex safety and health challenges facing our firefighters as first responders. The team has implemented systems ensuring the fire service has the best practices and safety protocols to protect its personnel and communities. The group also plays an essential role in supporting the state's coordinated COVID-19 response.

I can’t thank this group enough for their daily coordination, uncounted hours, and selfless dedication to get the most proven, up-to-date guidance to more than 300 fire agencies, in order to protect the entire Oregon fire service. The group has demonstrated the type of leadership needed in a true crisis, with calm, purpose, and teamwork.

As we continue our efforts to serve Oregon at this critical time, I want to remind all of you to be good to each other.

Step in if you see your colleagues not doing well.

Lead others when you see that is required.

Remember that disciplined and collective action, following the guidance of our health experts, will allow us to overcome the challenges ahead of us. We can do this, with compassion and the thought of others foremost in our mind.

Please stay healthy in the days and weeks ahead.
Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker
Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team  
In January 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States, outside of Seattle. In the ensuing weeks, the virus would spread to major centers across the country and would eventually end up in every state, including Oregon.

On March 2, the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team was formed with representatives from the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association, Oregon State Firefighters Council, and members of the Oregon fire service. This team was formed with the objective intent to guide the Oregon fire service regarding the preparation, mitigation, and response to COVID-19.

The team began meeting daily and quickly formed the Quarantine Research Team as a subcommittee. This group added members from the Special Districts Association of Oregon and was tasked with creating statewide guidance and recommendations for quarantine of fire and EMS responders.

The quarantine recommendations for fire and EMS responders were published on March 14, and they were quickly disseminated across the state and to neighboring states. The document is not specific to one pathogen; instead, it establishes best practice guidance for fire and EMS agencies.

Several requests were filled by the OSFM to support regional and statewide incident management needs. The Red Team, under the guidance of Incident Commander Ian Yocum, was deployed to the Oregon Health Authority in Portland. Additional members of the OSFM’s Incident Management Teams mobilized to King County, Washington, to support operations in the Seattle region.

A significant accomplishment of the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team was the establishment of an initial distribution chain for needed personal protective equipment and supplies. Requests were routed through local emergency managers to the state Emergency Coordination Center. The OSFM, through its responsibilities as the lead for ESF4 Fire in the state’s coordinated response, provided a robust plan to distribute these supplies to fire agencies. The process involved developing state-level guidance for prioritizing PPE needs to medical providers and prehospital EMS agencies, determining an equitable formula for deciding who would receive supplies, and a method for distribution.
Incident Management Teams Respond to COVID-19
In March, the Office of State Fire Marshal mobilized two all-hazard Incident Management Teams (IMTs) to respond to assist with the response to the spread of COVID-19 in the Northwest. Both teams began their missions on March 16.

The first team of five personnel (Red Team North) was deployed to Washington state through a state-to-state request from Gov. Jay Inslee to Gov. Kate Brown, to support King County Public Health’s Emergency Operations Center.

The second team (Red Team South) was assigned to the Oregon Health Authority’s Agency Operations Center, supporting OHA’s operations as the state’s lead health agency. OSFM’s team integrated with 270 OHA personnel and worked closely with the Governor’s Disaster Cabinet to implement a statewide strategy and set OHA and their cooperators up for success in the continuing operations.

Both teams worked to train their counterparts in how to utilize the Incident Command System (ICS) to define and meet their objectives — as independent agencies and part of the larger response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Says Red Team South’s Incident Commander Ian Yocum, "We brought fire service professionals with an expertise in ICS and organizational structure. Together with our health professionals and their expertise, we have built one team to educate, drive policy, and provide guidance to the entire state. We are truly serving the public and the health of all Oregonians."

In addition to the traditional IMTs, OSFM staff who are trained in ICS have deployed to various county Emergency Operations Centers over the past month to provide guidance and to assist with fitting into the larger response strategy.

OSFM is continually appreciative of our partners in the fire service for responding to assist those in need. OSFM teams and personnel are essentially serving as just-in-time trainers and all Oregonians will be well-served and impacted by their efforts. Thank you to those who responded and those at their home agencies who supported that response.
Addressing the Demand for Personal Protection Equipment
The impact of COVID-19 on the national stockpile and supply chains for personal protection equipment (PPE) has created challenges for firefighting personnel throughout the United States.

Oregon, like many states, has seen PPE supplies became scarce because demand has far outpaced available supplies for all customers, including EMS and fire service personnel.

The Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) partnered with Oregon’s Emergency Coordination Center and the Oregon State Fire Coronavirus Response Team to develop a PPE distribution methodology and a transportation plan to meet demands from the state’s more than 300 fire agencies.

From the start the goal was to deliver to the fire service PPE supplies that conform to state and federal infection control guidelines for COVID-19 and provide for the well-being of firefighters.

All told, during the latter half of March, the OSFM delivered nearly 28,000 pieces of PPE — N95 masks, face shields, gowns — to 25 counties. Supplies went to more than 120 departments, districts, and fire defense boards. The effort enlisted 14 Oregon State Police troopers, all deputy state fire marshals, and many OSFM staff to ensure safe and timely deliveries.

With the transition to a statewide strategy of "pushing" out supplies to county emergency managers, who will then allocate supplies to the fire agencies in their county, the OSFM will continue to educate and support the Oregon fire service with obtaining PPE through the current state distribution system.
Meet the OSFM's New Supervising Deputies

The Office of State Fire Marshal is proud to announce the hiring of two new Supervising Deputy State Fire Marshals, who may already be known to many of you.

Mike Shaw
Deputy State Fire Marshal Mike Shaw was promoted in mid-March to Supervising Deputy State Fire Marshal for the Southern Region. For the last three years, Shaw served District 7 as DSFM, covering Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties, based in Grants Pass.

Shaw joined the fire service in 1993. He served as Fire Marshal for Rural Metro Fire in Josephine County, Oregon, rising to the position of Battalion Chief for the last three years. As a DSFM, Shaw has been active educating the public about fire safety in their places of business and collaborating with local fire agencies on fire inspections and investigations. Some of his notable recent accomplishments with local partners include organizing a fire investigation class for the OSFM with the Roseburg Fire Department, involving multiple agencies, in 2018. He will be based out of Grants Pass.

Amber Cross
Amber Cross joined the Office of State Fire Marshal as Supervising Deputy State Fire Marshal, for the Technical Services Unit, in mid-March. Cross brings to OSFM more than 20 years of firefighting operations and fire-prevention experience, with more than 12 years serving at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R).

Cross last served as Division Chief-Fire Marshal at the Turner Fire District, where she worked after leaving TVF&R in 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Western Oregon University and an associates of applied science degree in fire prevention from Chemeketa Community College.

Cross also holds numerous certifications in public safety and prevention, including her OSFM Oregon Fire Marshal with Plans Examiner, National Fire Prevention Association Fire Investigator, and many more.

Many in the Oregon fire service may also know Cross as the owner and trainer of Probie, a comfort care dog for fire service and public safety professionals. Probie provides comfort and emotional support, helping reduce stress for firefighters before and after incidents.
Youth Fire Safety Program Reaching out on Instagram
The Office of State Fire Marshal’s Youth Fire Safety Program understands the unique hardship that COVID-19 and social distancing measures are causing for young people and their communities.

This age group is instinctually wired for connection, and many are in a phase of exploring new forms of independence. This makes the sudden shut down of frequent hangout spots and mandates to stay home and to avoid being in groups contradictory to their internal drive to be with their peers. Because of this, the YFS Program is attempting to meet youth where they are at — on social media.

For several months the YFS team at OSFM has worked on rolling out the @OregonFireSafeYouth Instagram page and feel that now, more than ever, is the best time to connect safety messaging with Oregon’s youth in any way possible.
Our underlying goal for using the platform is to provide fire prevention and safety education. However, current efforts will focus on increased encouragement to slow the spread of COVID-19. With the help of our friend in fire prevention, Bigfoot, this feed will include daily posts that encourage continued social distancing messages, as well as highlight best practices to manage the spread, such as hand washing and cleanliness efforts.

We will include Oregon’s youth in this process by asking them to send in or tag @OregonFireSafeYouth in their own videos and images where they are modelling accurate and appropriate COVID-19 prevention strategies.

Looking ahead, the YFS program’s Instagram engagement will cover the history of fire and fire service, as well as opportunities to explore the fire service as a future career. When school resumes, most high schools around the state will begin handing out stickers and cards, like those pictured, that will allow students to use the scan feature on their Instagram app to find and follow our feed.

We hope this will continue to be an avenue to engage Oregon’s youth in future emergency education and prevention efforts. For more information, please contact Youth Fire Safety Program Coordinator Sara Jasmin, at SJasmin@OSP.Oregon.Gov.
Fellis Promoted to Readiness Coordinator
The Office of State Fire Marshal has promoted Rachel Fellis to the serve as the agency’s readiness coordinator, in the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Emergency Response Services Division. Fellis started her now role on March 1.

Fellis joined the Oregon State Police in 2006, moving to the OSFM in 2014 and working in its Regulatory Services Division. Since 2016, Fellis has supported the Emergency Response Unit and provided program enhancements and efficiencies. These include developing an annual equipment repair plan for the gas detection devices used by all 13 hazmat teams, distributing workplace emergency preparedness materials, and supporting training events.

Fellis is a U.S. Army veteran and provides community leadership in her home town as a publicly-elected fire district board member.
Code Corner
By OSFM Code Deputy David Mills 

Fire Safety and Alcohol-Based Hand Rubs
Clean hands save lives. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on our hands. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use hand sanitizers, which are helpful in protecting against the spread of germs and viruses.
There are two main types of hand sanitizers: alcohol-based and alcohol-free. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain varying amounts and types of alcohol, often between 60 percent and 95 percent, and usually isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol. Alcohol is known to be able to kill most germs.
The Oregon Fire Code (OFC) in Section 5705.5 does have criteria on the proper location and placement wall mounted alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR), classified as Class I or II liquids. Alcohol-based hand rubs readily evaporates at room temperature into an ignitable vapor and is considered a flammable liquid. Although the incidence of fires related to ABHR is very low, it is vital that ABHRs are stored safely, and that bulk dispensers are installed and maintained correctly.
The OFC provisions are not occupancy specific because the code recognized that the use of alcohol-based hand rubs affects more than a single occupancy group. OFC Section 5001.1 also provides the necessary cross reference to these provisions to prevent the alcohol-based hand rub dispensers from being considered the same as other flammable liquids, thereby exempting them from the MAQs in OFC Table 5003.1.1(1).
Unfortunately, with the increase use of ABHR there’s has been an upsurge in poisonings. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning. Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitizers are safe when used as directed, but they can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple of mouthfuls. Children may be particularly likely to swallow hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged. Hand sanitizers should be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used with adult supervision. Child-resistant caps could also help reduce hand sanitizer-related poisonings among young children.
Cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or hand sanitizer is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to those around you.
Incident Management Teams Welcome New Members
In early March, the Office of State Fire Marshal welcomed nine new members to its Incident Management Teams after a successful recruitment. We are excited to have been able to bring such highly-qualified, highly-competent individuals into the program. Thank you to all our applicants and the organizations who sponsor and support their involvement.

Pictured right to left: Brian Richardson, City of Eugene; Sean Johnson, Halsey-Shedd RFPD; Rich Saalsaa, Philomath Fire; Carmen Westfall, Corvallis FD; Andrew Figini, Hoodland Fire; Dylan Webb, Crescent Fire; Chris Wolfard, Applegate Valley FD; Sean Cummings, Keizer Fire. Not pictured is Rob Davis, Mist-Birkenfeld Fire.
COVID-19-Related Event Cancellations
In response to the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon and executive orders issued by Gov. Kate Brown , the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has canceled courses, events, and conferences scheduled through May. The health and safety of our course attendees, presenters, and the communities hosting these events are our top priority.

Cancelled Events:
  • Competency Recognition for 2019 Oregon Fire Code classes: Bend (March 25), Tigard (April 8), La Grande (April 15), Newport (May 11)
  • 2020 Oregon Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams Conference, Pendleton (April 14 – 16)
  • 2020 ODF/OSFM Joint IMT Training Conference, Sunriver (March 31 – April 2)
  • Task Force Leader Symposium, Bend (May 11 – 12)

Other Postponed Fire Service Events ( not  OSFM)

As a premier public safety agency, the OSFM is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all Oregonians and visitors to Oregon. Currently, recommendations shared by state and federal public health experts are guiding our office's decisions to cancel such activities for the near future, in order to minimize exposure of all persons to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Oregon.

The decisions also follows guidelines issued by Gov. Kate Brown on March 12, which outlines rules addressing large gatherings of more than 250 people and social distancing. Subsequently on March 23, Gov. Brown issued an  executive order  directing everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible and added to the list of businesses that are temporarily closed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The order remains in effect until ended by Gov. Brown.

The OSFM appreciates your shared commitment to the well-being of Oregonians and our communities. We will provide updates on the OSFM website about future events and rescheduled classes.
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