A Message From Marshal Hussey

Quite abruptly, the heating season is upon us again. I was recently watching the evening news and saw a story about a Columbus family nearly becoming victims of carbon monoxide (CO) in their apartment. Fortunately, the family realized the symptoms, called 911, received treatment and fully recovered. Unfortunately, this past spring, a Delaware County family of four died in their home as they were overcome by carbon monoxide due to faulty venting of a gas water heater.

It is important for Ohioans to understand the common causes of CO in their homes. Furnaces can be prone to heat exchanger cracks and improper venting of combustion gasses. Similarly, water heaters can leak CO when their venting systems are compromised. Gas ovens and ranges also produce CO and can emit dangerous levels when not operating correctly. Gas and wood fueled fireplaces can also be a source of CO, especially when chimneys are blocked or not drafting correctly. Finally, a car running in the garage, even for a few minutes, can cause dangerous levels of CO in a home living space.

Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is a colorless, odorless gas. Many victims believe they have the flu. Headaches, nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of CO poisoning. While CO is odorless, a malfunctioning appliance may emit a slight odor of flue gases, which smells like burned natural gas. Local fire departments are well equipped to check homes for carbon monoxide by using CO and gas monitors. If you suspect possible CO in your residence, please contact the local fire department or gas provider to conduct an investigation of your home.

In early 2018, provisions of the 2017 Ohio Fire Code went into effect requiring the installation of CO alarms in all apartments, schools and health care facilities where a carbon monoxide source exists. I want to emphasize the requirement for CO detection in apartments, which is a retroactive provision requiring apartment owners to install CO alarms in any occupancy where gas-fired appliances are in use. If a tenant is occupying an apartment unit with a gas-fired furnace, water heater, cooking appliance, or fireplace, at least one CO alarm is required in each unit. Tenants living in these units where no CO detection is present should contact their landlord as soon as possible and make them aware of the Ohio Fire Code requirements.

Finally, I urge all homeowners across Ohio to purchase at least one CO alarm for their home. They are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive. Combination smoke alarm/ CO alarms have become common, so it is simple to replace a smoke alarm with a device that will also protect your family from CO. If you are unable to install your own alarm, please contact your local fire department for assistance. Most will be more than happy to help install these life saving devices; and, in some communities, the fire department may actually have a supply of CO alarms they are willing to give you. 

Please take this simple action to provide protection for your family. Let’s put an end to these tragic CO poisonings and make sure our residents are safe from this silent killer.
Jeff Hussey, State Fire Marshal
SFM, Division of EMS Present Ohio Fire Service Awards
Each year, the State Fire Marshal’s office teams up with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Division of EMS to award the fire service’s highest honors at the Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame & Fire Awards ceremony.

The ceremony recognizes the bravery, commitment and the sacrifice Ohio’s fire personnel, and even some citizens, make on behalf of the communities they serve each and every day. 

This year, 16 awards were presented, including awards recognizing the one fallen firefighter who died in the line of duty within the past year.

The full list of awardees, along with descriptions of their honor, can be found   here .
FEIB: Combating Arson and Keeping Ohioans Safe
The State Fire Marshal's Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau (FEIB) has experienced an intense year of fire, explosion and illegal fireworks investigations so far in 2019, resulting in numerous high-profile arrests and prosecutions.

Continued collaboration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF), the U.S. Marshal Service, Ohio Attorney General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on several of these demanding investigations has resulted in great strides toward accomplishing our mission of keeping Ohioans safe.

Additionally, FEIB staff has been working to transition to a new software system — known as BATS (Bomb and Arson Tracking System) — which is designed to share criminal data on a nationwide level. This will greatly enhance Ohio’s efforts in the fight against arson and related offenses.

FEIB investigators continue to participate in yearly continued education through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA), International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), and the National Association of Fire Investigations (NAFI) to maintain prosecution credibility.

As the State Fire Marshal's office wraps up 2019, FEIB will hosting two Judges and Prosecutor Seminars — one in Cleveland and one on the grounds of the State Fire Marshal's office — on Nov. 15 and Dec. 5, respectively.
Medical Marijuana in Ohio:
Improving the Customer Experience
When former Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 523 into law on June 8, 2016, the Ohio Department of Commerce became responsible for establishing a sound framework for the regulation of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program.

The Department worked alongside the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and State Medical Board of Ohio to ensure the safety of the public by regulating the licensees making up Ohio’s medical marijuana industry. This includes setting rules, issuing licenses and inspecting licensees for compliance with rules.

Due to the sensitivities surrounding the industry, and the need for consistency statewide, the State Fire Marshal’s (SFM) Code Enforcement Bureau was tasked with forming a small task force to ensure all cultivators and processors are in compliance with the 2017 Ohio Fire Code before a licensure inspection takes place. This includes inspecting fire alarm systems, emergency evacuation lights, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, exit signage, and more. Once a license is obtained, cultivators can elect to have a yearly inspection conducted by the local authority having jurisdiction. Processors are required to have SFM code inspectors complete initial and annual inspections.

Earlier this year, State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey hosted an informational session with all processor stakeholders, code enforcement inspectors (assigned to medical marijuana facilities), Medical Marijuana Control Program staff and members of the Commerce administration. There was an open forum Q&A session during the event that allowed for questions, clarifications and distribution of rule 39 of the Ohio Fire Code, which was well attended and appreciated by those who participated.

SFM’s Code Enforcement Bureau continues to provide support and guidance to all stakeholders – from construction through licensure – to preserve professional excellence and enhance the customer experience.
Where to Learn About Community Risk Reduction?

by Richard Palmer, CPM
Assistant Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau

The series of articles in previous editions of this newsletter about Community Risk Reduction (CRR) have focused on the basic concepts, why strong evaluation is important, and who should facilitate CRR in your agency. This article will explain how a person can become more knowledgeable and where they can receive training.

To view the most recent article on CRR, click here.
The State Fire Marshal's Fire Prevention Bureau can provide an introductory presentation for officer staff or a one-day course on Community Risk Reduction for mid-level managers at fire departments throughout Ohio. There is also a course available to volunteer agencies. To schedule, call 855-715-7790.
The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) USA Branch Vision 20/20 Project offers several self-guided opportunities. The project website, strategicfire.org, offers a multitude of resources, including guides for developing a Community Risk Assessment and the new guide for measuring outcome, developed in partnership with the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). There is also a free self-guided course for CRR from Vision 20/20 at the IFSTA Resource One portal.
For more advanced training, the National Fire Academy offers two-day, six-day and 10-day courses, including Best Practices in Community Risk Reduction , Station Based Risk Reduction , Leadership Strategies for Community Risk Reduction, and Executive Analysis of Community Risk Reduction . For those who would like to evaluate their agency’s fire and injury prevention programs, Demonstrating Your Fire Prevention Program’s Worth is highly recommended.

Don’t forget, your data is important to helping understand the risk behaviors and ultimate hazards in your community. Be diligent in documenting your agency’s activities so you can better understand the challenges you face or anticipate those to come by analyzing changing trends. The Fire Prevention Bureau can help you better understand how to document accurate data, as well as provide OFIRS/NFIRS training.
Heating Tips to Share With Your Communities
As temperatures begin to fall, fire safety educators should start thinking about how best to communicate safe heating practices to those in our communities.

When crafting safety messaging for our communities, consistency is key! Using standard messaging from organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Administration and your State Fire Marshal's office ensures the most helpful tips are communicated more clearly.

To help get started, below are some of the most common, life-saving tips for heating homes safely this fall and winter:

  • All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heaters.
  • Never use ovens and stoves to heat your home.
  • Always turn off space heaters when leaving a room or going to bed.
  • Space heaters should be plugged directly into the wall. Power strips and extension cords will overheat too quickly when a heater is plugged in to them.
  • When using a fuel-burning space heater, open a window to reduce carbon monoxide exposure and ensure proper ventilation.
  • Know your community’s regulations for the use of kerosene heaters. These are illegal in some jurisdictions.
  • Always use the correct fuel for your heating appliance. NEVER add a fuel that is not meant for that equipment.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood in your wood-burning stove or fireplace. It is cleaner for the environment and reduces flammable buildup in the chimney.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them inspected each year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember: burning any fuel, including wood, creates carbon monoxide. Install carbon monoxide alarms that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Installing them to manufacturer instructions will help provide early warning to related dangers.

For more free fire safety tips year round, follow the State Fire Marshal's office on Facebook and Twitter !
T&R Modernizes Its Testing Process
July marked one year since the State Fire Marshal’s Testing and Registration (T&R) Bureau modernized its testing process – making it quicker and easier for fire protection professionals and fireworks exhibitors to become certified in Ohio.

Since staff began offering electronic exams through a partnership with PSI Testing Services on July 26, 2018, 2,100 exams have been proctored with 20 out-of-state exams taking place around the country. This allows applicants to utilize any of PSI’s eight exam sites throughout Ohio – Monday through Saturday – as well as locations all throughout the United States.

The added availability PSI brings to the testing process is a major advancement from years prior. Previously, T&R offered exams once or twice a month at the Reynoldsburg campus, as well as a few times a year in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and once a year in other major Ohio cities. Additionally, exam results were only provided by U.S. mail.

Once an applicant is approved to take an exam, he or she can contact PSI the same day and schedule their exam as early as the next day if slots are available. Applicants walk out with their exam score in hand; and If an applicant does not pass their exam, retaking a test is simple – applicants can schedule retakes the next day if they are still within their 90-day eligibility period.

This initiative was widely supported by stakeholders in the State Fire Marshal’s regulated industries and was done in response to their requests for more testing opportunities in more locations. It’s expected nearly 3,000 licensees will benefit from this effort each year going forward.
Columbia Gas Hosting Firefighter Video Contest
Columbia Gas of Ohio has launched its Stop. Leave. Call. Firefighter Video Contest with $5,000 at stake for the winning video.

The contest challenges fire departments throughout the Columbia Gas service territory to create a short, fun video educating the public on how to identify natural gas, properly evacuate and report it, all in the name of keeping communities safe.

To participate, grab a camera or phone and a crew, and make a 60-second-or-less video following the criteria on the Contest Facebook page. The video with the most votes during the voting period, Nov. 4–15, will win $5,000.

Columbia Gas is accepting entries now through Oct. 31. To enter or learn more, visit the Contest Facebook page.

For any questions about the contest, entering or uploading a video, contact Jasmine Smith at jasmine.smith@fahlgren.com .
2020 Ohio Fire Academy Catalog Now Available!
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