A Message From Marshal Reardon
As I embark on month four as Ohio’s 39th state fire marshal, I find myself in a state of amazement with respect to how much work is getting done by our amazing team – in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Looking back to where we were operationally in March to where we are today, I see so many people working hard to make sure we can accomplish our mission of promoting prosperity by protecting what matters most to every Ohioan.

Due to good planning done in March and moving forward to today, a great majority of our daily work is being successfully completed in a remote working environment. Field staff in our seven bureaus are working safely and securely as they begin to transition back in the code and tank inspection environments, and our investigators are extremely busy as we experience a surge in requests for their services.

Many of our other bureaus have made necessary changes to work as efficiently as possible in the remote environment and have kept a positive “business as usual” attitude. Our various business processes such as testing and registration have performed flawlessly and have kept pace with constant requests for service and assistance. In today’s world, this work is very notable, and it makes me proud to work with such fine people.

Working in our current environment is a challenge for the Ohio Fire Academy and the Fire Prevention Bureau because so much of their work involves face-to-face contact. To overcome this challenge, both bureaus have worked to create online training opportunities to provide the same quality education we always have. In addition, our fire safety educators have flexed their own creative muscles to develop a host of virtual trainings for the health care industry. They have also greatly expanded our online library of resources for local agencies to fashion their own fire safety programs.

As we move deeper into the fall and winter months, it goes without saying that fires will increase throughout Ohio. And while the number of fatalities has fallen drastically compared to this time last year, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent these tragedies from spiking during the home heating season. Now is a great time to remind our friends and neighbors about the importance of working smoke alarms and having a plan to escape a house fire.

With the holidays just around the corner, this is also the perfect opportunity to review some kitchen fire safety tips with your friends and family, as well as to address the need to have your furnace, fireplace and heating sources inspected for proper operation. Carbon monoxide remains a silent killer, so please make sure those alarms work properly, as well. All of these small actions can and will save lives if WE take time and lead by example.

I am truly blessed to serve as your 39th state fire marshal and I am extremely proud of the entire staff at our office. I see their dedication, professionalism and commitment every day, and their passion to keep Ohioans safe is the driving force behind everything they do.
From our family to yours, all of us at the State Fire Marshal’s office want to wish you a very happy remainder of the year and extend our appreciation or your continued support.

Kevin S. Reardon
Ohio State Fire Marshal
SFM Kicks Off Unorthodox Hall of Fame Awards in Historic 40th Year of Annual Event
By Brian Bohnert
Public Information Officer

While COVID-19 has put many plans on hold for 2020, it hasn’t stopped the State Fire Marshal’s (SFM) office from honoring the heroism and dedication of some of Ohio’s premier first responders and selfless citizens.

The 40th annual Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame and Fire Awards kicked off this fall as a traveling roadshow, of sorts, where this year’s honorees are recognized individually at smaller, more intimate ceremonies or online — instead of the traditional ceremony in Reynoldsburg.

State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon kicked off SFM’s Hall of Fame Awards presentations on Oct. 5 with a trip to Cleveland to present Deputy U.S. Marshal Josh Robertson with the Ohio Fire Service First Responder Award. Robertson, then a Cleveland Heights police officer, saved a young boy from a burning home in July 2019.

On Oct. 7, Marshal Reardon joined a virtual meeting of the Plain Township Board of Trustees to recognize longtime friend Jack Rupp with the Ohio Fire Service Distinguished Service Award. Rupp, chief of the Plain Township Fire Department, was selected to receive the award due to his numerous accomplishments and nearly 50 years in the fire service.

Marshal Reardon then presented another friend, retired chief Scott Skeldon, with the year’s second Distinguished Service Award on Oct. 17. Skeldon, who retired as chief of the Jerome Township Fire Department in 2017, was honored for 40 years of service.

The fourth Hall of Fame presentation of 2020 took place on Oct. 20 when Marshal Reardon presented Euclid City Schools Superintendent Chris Papouras with an Ohio Fire Service Citizen’s Award. Papouras, of Gates Mills, rescued a woman from a burning vehicle following a crash outside his home on March 1.

Marshal Reardon will present two more Hall of Fame Awards this year — an Ohio Fire Service Valor Award to Ryan Sprunger of the East Wayne Joint Fire District on Nov. 4 and an Ohio Fire Service Citizen’s Award to Brookpark resident Steve Pozniak on Nov. 12.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Division of EMS, which partners with SFM on the event each year, began recognizing its five Hall of Fame Awards recipients in August.

This year’s class of 12 honorees will join the hundreds of first responders and citizens who have been recognized for their selfless and heroic acts throughout the last four decades. Each year, SFM's awardees are chosen by the Ohio State Fire Council.

Detailed information on all of this year’s awardees, along with descriptions of their honors, may be found here.
Central Ohio Investigator Stemen, K9 Rena
See Increase in Mission Requests
By Josh Hobbs
Chief, Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau

A recent increase in violent crime throughout Ohio has led to an uptick in mission requests for the State Fire Marshal’s explosive detection canine.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decrease in the need for routine preventative sweeps of events such as conventions and football games, investigator Ron Stemen and his K9 partner Rena have stayed busy this year by taking requests for more specific search missions.

Together, Stemen and Rena conducted 16 successful searches of crime scenes in Columbus this year, leading to the discovery of crucial evidence such as weapons and spent shell casings found at the sites of various shootings.

In addition, the duo also utilized Rena’s advanced trace evidence training by taking part in 30 explosive detection sweeps at many of the various protests that took place throughout the state this past spring and summer.
Burn Injury Reports Key to Tracking Injuries
By Brian Bohnert
Public Information Officer

The State Fire Marshal's (SFM) office wants to encourage Ohio's fire departments to remind their local hospitals of the importance of complying with the state's burn injury reporting law.

Under the law, all of Ohio's hospital systems must document burn injuries and submit the Ohio Suspicious Burn Injury Report to SFM's Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau (FEIB) within three business days of treating the victim. The report can be found here.

Currently, many of Ohio's hospitals still do not comply with the requirement, which prevents FEIB from accurately tracking injuries and preventing future incidents, most notably from fireworks and other potentially concerning trends.
FEIB's Own Peterman Appointed to NFPA Committee on Fire Investigation Standards
By Brian Bohnert
Public Information Officer

A veteran with the State Fire Marshal's Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau (FEIB) was recently selected to sit on a newly formed committee on fire investigation standards.

On Aug. 11, FEIB Investigator Brian Peterman was officially appointed to the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) technical committee on the NFPA 1321 Standard for Fire Investigation Units. This standard will specify the minimum requirements for units like FEIB.

"Having an SFM-FEIB Investigator on this committee will greatly benefit us as it will provide a unique insight into the upcoming trends and potential requirements of established fire investigation units," said FEIB Chief Josh Hobbs. "It is a great honor to have one of our own selected to such a prestigious committee."

To learn more about the new standard, click here.
OFA Responds to COVID-19 with Innovation,
Trains 612 Firefighters in Virtual Environment
By Jack Smith
Superintendent, Ohio Fire Academy

In response to the disruptions COVID-19 has had on face-to-face training, the Ohio Fire Academy (OFA) has continued to work diligently to move our high-quality training programs to the virtual environment. As a result of these efforts, we have trained 612 firefighters in 39 separate virtual courses to date.

Rather than opting to simply switch on the camera and start talking, the OFA training staff took the first couple of months to research and identify best practices for delivering instructor-led courses in the virtual environment. On June 1, our dedicated team began offering these courses and, in the months since, we've even successfully brought firefighter and EMT students back on campus.

In addition to the “nuts and bolts” of producing and delivering a training course virtually, our staff is committed to maintaining high levels of student engagement as well as the level of quality Ohio’s firefighters have come to expect from our courses.
Paperless License Delivery Now Available
By Brian Bohnert
Public Information Officer

The State Fire Marshal's office recently launched a convenient new feature that makes obtaining a license as simple as opening an email.

Whether renewing your license or requesting a new one, you will no longer have to wait for a printed copy to arrive in the mail — we're paperless! All licenses issued by SFM's Testing and Registration Bureau (T&R) will now be sent directly via email.
This will serve as your actual license, which can be downloaded and printed, or saved to a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. This new process allows us to more efficiently leverage technology to better serve you our customers!
To update your email address with our office, contact T&R at webfmtr@com.state.oh.us.
SFM Gets Creative During Fire Prevention Week
By Ken Klouda
Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau

Another Fire Prevention Week has come and gone, and while COVID-19 likely created as many challenges for your fire department's outreach efforts as it did for ours, it also led to many new and creative partnership opportunities.

Back in February, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) donated a side-by-side burn trailer to our office to demonstrate the life-saving benefits of residential fire sprinklers. While the pandemic prevented us from sharing this asset throughout the year as originally planned, we had the privilege of partnering with the NFSA on Oct. 8 for a live burn demonstration at our Reynoldsburg campus.

The exercise, broadcast over Facebook Live, showed just how quickly sprinklers activate to protect both life and property, and how damaging fire is in a residence without them. To watch the demonstration, click here.

For the first time ever, my talented team at the Fire Prevention Bureau also created a 2020 Fire Prevention Week resources page to help fire safety educators, teachers and parents alike educate their friends, families and neighbors about fire safety.

We also continued our aggressive fire prevention outreach strategy on social media. Every day throughout Fire Prevention Week, both our Facebook and Twitter accounts featured safety tips and resources centered on this year's theme. – "Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen."
Remember: CRR is Not Safety Education
By Rich Palmer, CPM
Assistant Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau

Does this title cause confusion? It likely causes no more confusion than may already exist in fire service practices.

Throughout this past year, many departments have struggled to find ways to reach their communities in a virtual environment. However, the restriction of activities created by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth many opportunities to creatively reaching the general public with safety skills and approaches. Many of those have been realized through the efforts of safety education initiatives.
It is appropriate to remind all fire service leaders, staff and advocate agencies that true success in Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is seen when integrated management strategies are used to target risks. Though education is one strategy, it is not THE strategy. It is still important to conduct an analysis of your community and develop a targeted plan to address the findings.

It is a balancing act, requiring all facets of an agency’s services AND the partners included in the plan. Don’t make light of the “Five Es” — emergency response, engineering, enforcement, economic incentives, and of course, education.
It seems easiest to throw the efforts of community outreach and risk reduction-related activities over to those handling safety education. Even the educators are confused. Many of the groups that have formed label their activities as CRR. Yes, the education activities are a component of CRR, but they are not the only activity that should take place. Without a plan that includes full documentation and evaluation of the efforts, one may simply be turning a wheel that never arrives at its destination.
CRR is not easy, but when done correctly it helps fire departments become more efficient and effective. It helps fire departments better understand their neighborhoods and associated risk factors. It reduces agency spending, increases resources, and often helps increase budget funding. It builds a more resilient community.
There is a wealth of training resources available to help build knowledge in CRR practice, many of which are free and available online. Highly recommended: Start with Introduction to Strategic Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Q0841 from the National Fire Academy here.

Additionally, the IFE Vision 20/20 Project has a series of courses and guides to help you better understand CRR. These can be found here.
Click the image above to visit us on social media!
Know additional people who would like to receive this email? Subscribe HERE
or send their email address to brian.bohnert@com.ohio.gov.