A Message From Marshal Spurgeon

Greetings,

It is my sincere hope this letter finds you, your families, your departments, and your communities well. As we continue to confront this unprecedented challenge together, I’d like to share some of the measures taken to ensure your state fire marshal’s office will continue to provide core services to you – our customer. With steadfast commitment, I am confident we will come out of this better than before.

If you’re like me, I’d bet the magnitude of our current circumstance took a bit of time to set in. Changing one’s own way of thinking is tough, more so for an entire agency. However, I’m pleased to report we have been able to quickly adapt; we are here for you

When first made aware of our statewide strategy to stop the community spread of COVID-19, we quickly assembled our leadership team to determine mission-critical services. Although very proud of all of our offerings, I was convinced that we have to investigate fires, analyze debris, issue licenses, and conduct inspections to those facilities which provide for critical needs. The question arose; how do we do this while participating in our civic duty to stop the spread?

The first challenge faced during implementation was teleworking; we are committed to the safeguards in place . With help from our partnering agencies and commitment by our internal customers, we’ve now become very familiar with this new arena. We’ve adapted our model to embrace the digital environment and are well positioned to meet your needs.
To be fully transparent, there are services I determined to not be mission critical; those requiring a great deal of personal contact. I do recognize the effects of putting some offers on hold are most unpleasant, but I promise we are using this time to better leverage technology, so your experience is improved and our government operates more efficiently.

I am excited for the work being done at your Ohio Fire Academy and Fire Prevention Bureau. We have a vision which is less impactful to your time, as learners will be able to consume a host of offerings in the comfort of their own home or station.

As always, I offer my sincerest thanks for your patience and your trust as we navigate these uncharted waters. All of us here at your state fire marshal's office very much look forward to continuing our service to you and the communities you serve.

Thank you,
Bill Spurgeon, Interim State Fire Marshal
Community Risk Reduction During COVID-19

by Richard Palmer, CPM
Assistant Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau
In a recent blog post on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Xchange, Karen Berard-Reed, Community Risk Reduction (CRR) strategist, noted that departments entering the challenge of COVID-19 with a Community Risk Analysis (CRA) in hand already had a wealth of data to inform their mitigation efforts.

Was your department prepared with information on your most at-risk residents? Did you know which neighborhoods were most vulnerable? Were you aware of the demographics in specific areas of your response district that should be prioritized with messaging on how to protect themselves or how best to resist the dangers of the pandemic? How about buildings in your community that can serve as temporary medical sites; where you familiar with them already because you had built a good CRA from the data you’ve collected?

Those of you familiar with the State Fire Marshal's Fire Prevention Bureau already know we do more than teach fire safety; we are responsible for collecting data every day from fire departments in Ohio. We don’t put that data into a file and wait for the dust to collect. We look for ways to reduce errors in reporting so your agency can better facilitate risk reduction efforts in your community. We look for opportunities to improve fire and life safety messaging so we are teaching to the needs of a community, rather than simply repeating the same safety messages that have been exhausted over time. We look at opportunities to find key partners in risk reduction efforts, which is one of the foundations of a good CRR Plan.

If you did not prepare a CRA before COVID-19 became reality, it is not too late. There are ways to use the new data coming in every day. You can understand more about your community and can align your Five E’s (Emergency Response, Engineering, Enforcement, Education and Economic Incentives) to serve your community. Berard-Reed recommends a look at the NFPA 1300 Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development . In this standard, you will learn about the nine community profiles. You can use this to build a chart or spreadsheet to collect information related to both hazards and capacity as it becomes known.

You can also track activities in a special study related to COVID-19 now found in your NFIRS software. Our office recently sent out information about the USFA National Fire Data Center’s attempt to learn more about how COVID-19 has affected your responses and how it may be contributing to risk behaviors or incidents. Look for Special Study ID#9244 in your reporting software. Contact Assistant Chief Anita Metheny at 888-243-0305 with any questions you might have.

Finally, if you are looking for resources other agencies may have developed to assist with COVID-19 issues, the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) USA-Branch Vision 20/20 project has been collecting from departments around the globe. They provide an ever-growing Coronavirus Shared Resource Library at strategicfire.org. If you have something to contribute, please do.
Vision 20/20 Symposium Highlights Importance of Collaboration in CRR Efforts
By Ken Klouda
Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau
 
Vision 20/20. What does that mean to you? Is it having perfect vision? Is it hindsight? In the world of fire prevention, and even greater – emergency service as a whole – this takes on an entirely different, incredibly important meaning.
 
Vision 20/20 is a project hosted by the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) designed to show that when groups collaborate, communicate, and commit to data-based solutions, lives and property can be saved. This is the basis of Community Risk Reduction – working together across all public services to help those we serve lead better lives.
 
I recently attended the Vision 20/20 Model Performance in Community Risk Reduction Symposium 6 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with more than 200 fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel to discuss and share programs proven to reduce impacts on these services – whether financially, organizationally, or even emotionally. Presentation topics ranged from showing how collaboration between local fire departments and assisted living facilities could reduce call volume and free resources, to recruiting volunteers in ways most agencies do not think of (what other talents and influences these recruits might have, not just manpower on the fire and/or EMS scene).
 
These insightful presentations all have a similar theme. The greatest impact is when local service agencies work together to address a concern or need by completing a Community Risk Assessment using local data, historical knowledge, and teamwork. These partnerships bring down the walls dividing each agency and provide targeted programs to address a need and have great impact on the community. These collaborations also bring a great sense of public pride. When the people we serve know we have their backs, a greater trust is instilled among members of the community.
 
I encourage you to visit the Vision 20/20 website and look at the Symposium 6 presentations , which address concerns you may currently be addressing and give potential solutions/alternate viewpoints. Other presentations may spark your own thoughts on how to start a risk reduction program in your area.
 
The Fire Prevention Bureau at the State Fire Marshal’s (SFM) office is ready to assist with resources to help you with your department’s Community Risk Reduction efforts.
 
Please reach out to the SFM fire safety educator in your county, send us an email at sfmprevention@com.state.oh.us or give a call at 614-752-7115.
Fire Prevention Bureau Chief Ken Klouda (center) and Assistant Chief Rich Palmer (far right) were among the nine members of the Ohio delegate at the most recent Vision 20/20 Model Performance
in Community Risk Reduction Symposium 6, which took place from Feb. 17-20.
SFM's BUSTR Aids Property Restoration
in Ohio Through Brownfield Program
The State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR) plays an integral role in helping communities throughout Ohio reclaim and improve contaminated properties through the Brownfield Fund.

A Brownfield is a property complicated by the presence of contaminants, such as hazardous substances, asbestos, lead-based paint, and petroleum. BUSTR regulates the operation and mitigation of underground storage tank sites – particularly gas stations. Before any Brownfield funding is approved, BUSTR is consulted regarding any contamination that resulted from underground storage tanks. BUSTR reviews any potentially contaminated sites and determines eligibility for the Brownfield Fund.

Ohio has storied success utilizing the Brownfield Fund. The Franklin County metro parks created the Scioto Audubon, a 71-acre park located on the banks of the Scioto River on the Whittier peninsula in downtown Columbus. The metro parks created seven wetland cells, totaling about five acres, to enhance wildlife habitat. In addition to birding, people can enjoy fishing, boating, hiking and jogging at the parks.

The Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Program acquired a former auto repair shop through involuntary tax foreclosure. The property is located within an urban agricultural innovation zone and was slated to be cleaned up and turned into a hydroponics green house. BUSTR conducted a review of the property and determined the site was eligible for Brownfield money to mitigate petroleum contamination and redevelop the site for its current use, feeding members of the community.

There are many more examples of success with the Brownfield Fund here in Ohio, as well as across the country, as various state and local agencies work together to create a safer living environment for everyone in their communities.
Fire Safety Spring Cleaning Tips
With people all across Ohio staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19, now is the perfect time to urge our friends and neighbors to do a little fire safety spring cleaning!

If you're looking to put together a fire safety program for the communities you serve this spring, check out the graphic below for a few of the most common, helpful tips for both inside and outside the home.

For more free fire safety tips year round, follow us on Facebook and Twitter !
Online Renewals Convenient for Licensees
Did you know most licenses processed by the State Fire Marshal’s Testing and Registration (T&R) Bureau can be renewed online?

T&R staff encourages all licensees to take advantage of this convenient feature when the time comes to renew their license. When licensees receive their renewal reminder via email, they can use the provided username to access the online database here .

To reset or recover a forgotten password, click the “forgot password” link.

To ensure the renewal process moves as smoothly as possible, licensees are asked to keep their contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses current by emailing webfmtr@com.state.oh.us .

All fire protection licensees, underground storage tank (UST) installers and explosive magazine permit holders can renew online here .

UST facilities can now renew their registrations online here .
Meet Hannah, FEIB's Newest Friendly Face!
Chances are, if you’re with one of Ohio’s 1,186 fire departments, you’ve gotten to know any one of the 21 investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau (FEIB).

But as of Feb. 18, there’s a friendly new face in the FEIB offices – Hannah Ison.

Learn a little bit about FEIB’s new administrative professional, her work and what she enjoys most about the job below!

1.     Tell us a little bit about what you do for SFM?
Inventory, ordering, filing/records organization, vehicle reports, burn reports, and other basic office duties.
2.     What about this job inspired you to pursue the position?
I’ve always been interested in learning more about the investigative process. I love watching shows like Forensic Files , Cold Case Files , and other similar crime dramas. It has been so cool to see how an investigation progresses in “real life.” It makes every day a little different, in a good way.
3.     Tell us about your background? Have you ever worked with the fire service/law enforcement before?
I have never worked with fire service/law enforcement before. I was the Student & Career Services coordinator at a nursing college before making the jump over to SFM-FEIB. My previous administrative experience has allowed for a fairly smooth transition so far, as the duties are pretty similar. I have been amazed at how kind and helpful everyone is at SFM. It truly makes a difference with the onboarding process when everyone is so open to showing newcomers “the ropes.” I have appreciated getting to know everyone very much!

4.     What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I am enjoying all my job duties. The best parts of the job are my awesome coworkers in FEIB and getting to see and pet the dogs every day, of course!
5.     What are some of the biggest challenges you face on the job?
One of the largest challenges I have faced so far is learning the differences between working in the public and private sectors. I worked in the private sector, so navigating how the state functions compared to privately owned businesses has been the main challenge to date.
 
6.     What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to spend time with loved ones, read, workout, and volunteer at my church in my free time.
7.     Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m grateful for this opportunity and I hope to meet everyone I have not met yet once we return.

To reach Hannah, or anyone else with FEIB, call 614-752-7106 or email sfm.investigations@com.state.oh.us.
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