July 2020
Published by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
Prioritizing Safety for Every Situation

A s we head into summer after a cooler and wetter June, the Oregon fire service continues its preparations to serve our communities and our state when the call comes.

The safety of our personnel will always remain our number one concern. Ensuring our professionals are properly trained, protected, and equipped means they can respond more efficiently in protecting property and saving lives.

Consistent and high-quality training ensures our personnel competently serve our residents and communities. We also do that by assuring all life-safety risks are addressed well in advance.

Wildland firefighting has long used 10 standard firefighting orders to work safely and 18 watch-out situations, in order to avoid injuries and fatalities. This year, we’ll are adding another — to protect against spread of COVID-19 in every situation, including any response to wildland fire.

Every day, the Oregon fire service faces the additional complexity of preventing the spread of COVID-19 among its workforce as it serves the public statewide, 24-7.

For its part, the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has created a Coronavirus Response Team, with quarantine and best-practices guidance for the fire service to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to personnel and public.

Members of the fire service, through OSFM’s Incident Management Teams (IMTs), also supported the state’s coordinated response to the coronavirus by staffing and taking leadership roles in the Emergency Coordination Center.

With our state and federal partners in the Pacific Northwest Coordinating Center and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), OSFM staff helped develop Best Management Practices that have been shared with our Fire Defense Board Chiefs and fire service partners. This will serve as our plan when the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS) is deployed and responds to a conflagration or any other type of incident.

We are working with the ODF to develop exposure, quarantine, and isolation guidelines to prepare for the reality of COVID-19 risks in fire camps.

Regionally, all fire camps will be configured differently to reduce risks of communal spread. Camp life and logistics also will be adjusted, and appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the health of any firefighter, including daily screens, the presence of a health liaison, and collaboration with county and state health officials.

The OSFM has spent the month of June rolling out our plans and conducting trainings virtually. We are confident the fire service, through the OFMAS, will be able to respond to fires this summer if called upon.

The bottom line is our fire service will be ready.

I want to thank everyone in the fire service for their leadership supporting their agencies with the new challenges of COVID-19 and for helping to prepare for the summer wildfire season. Your continuous commitment to the safety of your crews and Oregonians will ensure we protect our communities and help save lives.

Have a safe and enjoyable July 4, and please continue to be safe in everything you do.
Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker
Fireworks Retail Season Continues through July 6:
The 2020 Oregon fireworks retail sales season opened on June 23 and will end on July 6. The Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has been working with state agencies and fire services partners to help promote the legal and safe use of fireworks in the weeks before Independence Day.  
 
"In Oregon, consumer legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted fireworks retailers and stands," says State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. "State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Starting in July, risks for wildfire in many parts of Oregon will be high. Fireworks can also start structural fires that threaten lives and property, as we have seen in past years. In addition, fireworks also cause thousands of preventable injuries each year around the country in the weeks around Fourth of July, particularly to young people."
 
The July 4 holiday is a time when tens of thousands of Oregonians enjoy and visit public lands. All visitors to public lands are advised to leave all fireworks at home. The use of fireworks is prohibited on all national forestland, Oregon state parks, and beaches.
 
With many officially sponsored community events cancelled this year, the OSFM is asking Oregonians to consider activities that don’t involve consumer legal fireworks . This also reduces risks of fireworks-related injuries, accidental fires, and wildfires.
 
Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground, without a permit issued by the OSFM. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon, without a permit.
 
Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per violation and a civil penalty of up to $500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. 
 
"We all share a responsibility to use only Oregon consumer legal fireworks and use them carefully," adds Walker. "Please also consider your neighbors and their pets before deciding on when and where you choose to light legal fireworks."
 
To learn more, see the OSFM’s FAQs for commonly answered questions about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, permits for the retail sale of fireworks, and state rules for their use and enforcement activities. The OSFM’s fireworks education materials for sharing on social media also can be found on its website .
OSFM Prepares for Fire Camp with COVID-19 Safety Measures
As the 2020 wildland fire year begins in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS) is armed with new plans and tools to mitigate exposure to and impacts of COVID-19 during a state mobilization.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Mobilization Coordinator worked closely with our interagency partners in developing the Northwest Incident Management Teams Recommended Best Management Practices , the guiding document for all Incident Management Teams (IMTs) and suppression agencies in Oregon and Washington. The Best Management Practices (BMPs) provide clear guidance and suggestions for teams to ensure the safety of all mobilized personnel. This document serves as a framework for response and touches on logistics, personal protective equipment, symptom screening, physical distancing, and other relevant topics. 
 
During June, the OSFM presented this information virtually to the State Fire Defense Board, to OSFM IMT leadership, to Oregon’s Task Force Leader personnel, and to the Incident Management Teams as a whole. The presentation to Task Force Leaders is available online and provides a good overview of the BMPs and the vision for 2020 mobilizations. 

Information regarding the COVID-19 environment can be found on two places on OSFM’s website. The Oregon State Police’s COVID-19 page includes links to all relevant documents and bulletins specific to COVID-19 OSFM’s Emergency Mobilization page includes an updated 2020 Task Force Leader Guidebook and associated checklists, a document about apparatus cleaning, and the Wildland Fire COVID-19 Screening Tool.

Geographic areas that have already seen large wildfires this season have shared a common lesson on the importance of responding with a physical distancing mindset and asking ourselves the question, “How can we accomplish this task while minimizing human contact or contact where humans have recently been?”  With the health and safety of our responders foremost in our minds, everyone should plan to be more methodical and thoughtful in their daily actions, even outside of firefighting.

OSFM appreciates the dedication and patience of the fire service and feels confident that with a methodical approach we can minimize risk to all personnel.

If you have any questions or needs relative to mobilization, please contact OSFM Mobilization Coordinator Mariah Rawlins: Mariah.Rawlins@osp.oregon.gov
HazMat by Rail Program
Mid-Year Report, Part II
The Oregon Emergency Response System (OERS) is the primary point of contact for any public agency to notify the state of an emergency or disaster, or to request access to state or federal resources. The system is housed within the Oregon State Police.

When an emergency incident occurs along a railroad, OERS notifies the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), whose Hazardous Material (HazMat) by Rail Program tracks such incidents. The program, in partnership with the railroad industry, also assists local communities with training and planning for rail incidents involving hazardous materials.

Incidents in Oregon have ranged from a single car derailment in a rail yard without any release of hazardous materials to a multi-car derailment resulting in the release of commodities and their subsequent ignition.

The rail industry makes significant investments in hazmat by rail safety through the use of positive train control, grade separation, and speed reduction to prevent derailments from occurring. However, because incidents have occurred, the OSFM — through the HazMat by Rail Program — prepares the Oregon fire service for responding to these emergencies.
Incident Data for 2020

As we approach the halfway point this year, there have been more than 52 OERS reports involving incidents along Class 1 railroads. Of these incidents, 31 occurred in a rail yard, while 22 occurred while the train cars were in transit. Nineteen of these incidents involved a derailment, and 15 incidents involved the release of petroleum products.

Although none of these incidents met Oregon’s reportable quantity for a hazardous materials spill (42 gallons), three of these incidents did meet the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reporting requirements.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, accident and incident counts have decreased for Class 1 railroads, including the two companies that operate in Oregon. There were fewer incidents nationally for the first quarter of 2020 over 2019. BNSF has observed a 15 percent decrease in overall incidents and 31 percent decrease in derailments. Union Pacific has noted a 22 percent decrease in overall incidents and 37 percent decrease in derailments. Differing mandatory reporting requirements set by state and federal agencies can lead to variability between state and national reporting.
Prioritizing Training for the Oregon Fire Service

As these incidents continue to occur in Oregon, the Oregon fire service remains prepared to respond, with support from the OSFM.

Through the HazMat by Rail Program, certain training and equipment are provided to fire departments at no cost. A recent investment by OSFM paid for the installation of an ammonia training housing on a rail car used for training at the Department of Public Safety Standards & Training. An ammonia housing is the entry and exit point on a rail car for ammonia product.

This housing device installation allows hazmat technicians to practice capping and leak mitigation tactics with specialized equipment. Please contact our office to learn more about how your community and local responders can be better prepared to respond to a rail incident.
OSFM Shines Spotlight on Cooking Fire Safety
COVID-19 has led to many Oregonians spending more time at home, creating additional opportunities for accidental fire starts where they live and now where many also are working and studying — and cooking more often.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Red Cross, and local Oregon fire service agencies have reached out to the public since early March to alert residents of fire-safety risks in home settings, including cooking fires.

According to the most recent national data from the NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and the top cause of kitchen fires is cooking left unattended. Households with parents and children dealing with new routines also create more opportunities for unsupervised and distracted cooking, including by young people who are staying indoors.

According to reports received by the OSFM, data collected in Oregon show cooking was the leading known cause of residential structure fires over a five-year period. Though information is still being collected on fire starts in Oregon attributed to cooking fires in home settings in 2020, the Office of State Fire Marshal is working with members of the Oregon Life Safety Team (OLST) to promote greater awareness of home cooking fire risks to prevent accidental fires and injuries.

Social media and cooking fire safety information has been shared with fire agencies, to promote awareness statewide. Visit the OSFM  cooking fire safety webpage to download and share your favorite meme, from "keep on eye on what you fry" to "watch what you heat."

Printable resources on cooking fire safety can also be found on the OSFM website:  cooking fire safety brochure (English/Spanish) and cooking fire safety flyer . Please encourage Oregon residents to enjoy their time cooking with family, but help prevent unwanted cooking fires.
Code Corner
By OSFM Code Deputy David Mills 

Ensuring Fire Safety while Protecting Patrons and Employees from COVID-19
As Oregon’s drinking and dining establishments begin their phased re-openings, many restaurant owners will be seeking ways to provide social distancing within their dining areas while maximizing their seating capacity. One way of accomplishing this is by setting up outdoor dining areas under temporary tents or membrane structures, perhaps on certain streets, sidewalks, or in their parking lots. Here are a few key items for all to consider.

The Trend: Let restaurants and other retail establishments expand service and keep tables six feet apart, while still complying with the governor’s guidelines announced in a Phase I reopening for in-person gatherings of up to 25 people.
 
The general operating guidelines will necessitate the spacing of groups, limiting concentration of people, strict use of PPE, and frequent sanitizing.

Fire Safety: Tents are constructed of diverse materials, usually fabrics, textiles, and films. Though they do not happen often, fires occurring in tents have historically caused significant loss of life. It is for this reason an operational permit is authorized under 2019 Oregon Fire Code (OFC), Section 105.6.47 for temporary tents and membrane structures greater than 400 square feet. Notwithstanding the exceptions, the OFC, Section 3103 sets the minimum size structure that requires approval. The approval process allows the fire code official to exercise control to achieve compliance with the requirements of OFC Chapter 31. Section 3103.5 defines that temporary is for only 180 days in any 12-month period at a single location. When erected for a longer period of time, it is deemed permanent, and would be subject to all additional requirements as set forth in Sections 105.7.25, 3104, and the Oregon Structural Specialty Code. If this occurs, we urge both fire and building code officials to work together to determine whether additional fire and life safety elements are needed.
 
Flame propagation of the tents, membrane structures, and their appurtenances are outlined in OFC Section 3104.2. Ensuring that the structure and as much of its contents are either noncombustible or treated to make them less prone to flame propagation is an important fire safety step. A certificate that the material is in compliance with NFPA 701 is the requirement. Often the certificate is supported and is confirmed by a label permanently affixed to the tent material bearing the information.

Fire apparatus access shall be provided and maintained. The same access rules of OFC Section 503 apply to tents and membrane structures too. Tent separation distances can be reduced for smaller tents with proper fire department access. Having secure anchorage to prevent damage or loss caused by wind or precipitation makes good economic sense and is outlined in Section 3103.9.

Because of the unique nature of these structures, it is vital that their means of egress be specifically reviewed. Travel distances to an exterior must not exceed 100 feet, and exits are to be equally spaced and located to minimize such distances. The number and size of exits are outlined in OFC Table 3103.12.2, and when curtains are provided, they are to be of a contrasting color making the exits readily identifiable even at a distance. Egress illumination and exit signage, visible and available for evacuation, is required as outlined in OFC Section 3103.12.6. All electrical components are to be installed in accordance with the Oregon Electrical Specialty Code. All fireworks, even ones designed to explode at ground level, are not to be used within 100 feet of tents and membrane structures.

The OFC specifically regulates portable, outdoor, gas-fired heating appliances, commonly known as patio heaters. Typically configured as a free-standing pole, fashioned with a heater and reflector dome/shield at the top, they have a broad base arranged for the storage of a 20-pound LP-gas (propane) cylinder. In accordance with OFC Section 603.4.2.1, these portable, outdoor, gas-fired heating appliances shall not be located inside of tents, canopies, and membrane structures. When heating is desired utilizing propane, listed LPG heaters and cylinders shall be located outside in accordance with OFC Table 6104.3, and the cylinder pressure relief device shall be pointed away from the tent or membrane structure.

The Goal: By utilizing these safety standards, it will enable more restaurants to offer outdoor possibilities until in-house dining becomes available again.  
Changes Coming to the HMEP Grant this October
In 1990, Congress amended the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of 1975, and it created the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA). The amendment includes a provision requiring the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to make grants available to states, territories, and Native American tribes. The goal of the grants is to assist in improving planning and training for transportation-related hazardous material releases.

One of the grants, the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grant , gives grantees the flexibility to implement training and planning programs that address differing needs for each location based on demographics, emergency response capabilities and information obtained through commodity flow studies, and hazard analysis.

For Oregon, the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is the identified recipient of the HMEP grant. The OSFM utilizes a sub-recipient agreement process to “pass through” a minimum of 75 percent of the funding received to local first responders and planners.

Historically, local agencies would submit an application for funding between January through March of each year. Recently, PHMSA changed its grant schedule, putting it more in line with other federal funding schedules.

Starting this year, the application period for the HMEP grant will begin in October and conclude at the end of December. A reminder will be sent out in September, and the sub-recipient application will be posted to the OSFM web site on Oct. 1, with a due date of Dec. 31. Applicants will only have those months to submit a proposal for funding. No extensions can be provided.

Next month, the OSFM will provide another article covering more details about the grant, the amount of funding available, and the types of projects typically supported. For questions about the grant or the application process, contact Terry Wolfe at (503) 934-8245 or terry.wolfe@osp.oregon.gov .
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