WFC News

Posted: Apr 28, 2017

FDIC International 2017 Class: Firefighter Suicide Prevention Approach

Dena Ali outlined the factors involved in the fire service’s “dark secret”─firefighter suicide─and strategies for detection and prevention. The Raleigh (NC) Fire Department officer presented her classroom session “Fire Service Suicide Prevention Approach” on Thursday, April 27 at FDIC International 2017. 

She said suicide can be prevented if the risk factors are recognized. Ali noted that in a given year, generally, the firefighter risk of death by suicide is three times that of death in the line of duty. The fire service must focus the same attention on preventing firefighter suicides as it does on preventing firefighter line of duty deaths. 

Ali shared her own struggle and several case studies that pointed to common factors in this issue. Although a firefighter may appear to be happy and contented on the outside, that is often just a mask to conceal that person’s true feelings.

The precise reasons behind a suicide are often a mystery, since the person with all the answers is gone. However, factors common to a suicidal mentality include a feeling of disconnectedness, a thwarted desire to belong, and the feeling of being a burden to family, friends, and colleagues. These are among the strongest predictors for a potential suicide, Ali said.

Firefighters in this situation may avoid sharing their feelings with others because they perceive it as a sign of weakness. Ali said firefighters perceive their role as “pillars of society”; the strong ones who save others. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from continual exposure to the tragic circumstances in emergency response is another factor in suicide, she said. Possible indicators of PTSD include depression, drug/alcohol abuse, and recklessness. Ali said while each factor can be dangerous itself, if two are combined, such as depression and substance abuse, it can have a synergistic effect. 

In creating a suicide outreach and prevention program, Ali recommended following National Fire Protection Association 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program (NFPA 1500, 2013 ed.) This latest edition particularly addresses critical incident stress as a part of overall firefighter health. She also noted there are several suicide prevention education initiatives are available from fire service organizations such as the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the National Volunteer Fire Council. Also, the Rosecrance Florian Program offers behavioral health treatment specifically geared to emergency responders. 

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Posted: Apr 28, 2017

Live from FDIC, Day 5

We’re broadcasting the Fire Engineering Radio Show LIVE every day from the Indiana Convention Center during the week of FDIC International 2017.

Today’s hangout features the following groups:

1:00 - 1:35pm EDT – Tailboard Talk
1:35 - 2:10pm EDT – Mikey G & Mikey D
2:10 - 2:45pm EDT - 1st Due Battalion Chief
2:45 - 3:20pm EDT - Tom Merrill
3:20 - 4:00pm EDT – Chris Willis

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Posted: Apr 28, 2017

VIDEO: Susanne Klatt on "LODDs and Safety Standards in the German Fire Service"

By Derek Rosenfeld

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, Essen (Germany) Fire Department Battalion Chief Susanne Klatt arrived at the Indianapolis (IN) Convention Center from the other side of the world to talk to FDIC International students about the differences between the German and U.S. fire services.

"The subject of firefighter safety is an integral part of every training you can receive in Germany, Klatt said.

Here, Klatt talks about the fitness standards and medical examinations prospective volunteer firefighters go through in Germany.

"I have been an instructor in the fire service since 2003, and that's how long I've been concerned with this topic. Atlhough it's the first time I am presenting something like this subject at an international conference an try to compare the trainings in two different countries."

Klatt called differences between the United States and German fire services "An interesting and important subject."


Here, Klatt talks about training and equipment standards in the German fire service.

"Firefighter safety should always be paramount. During some conversations with fellow U.S. fire officers and firefighters, I thought that it might be an interesting topic for FDIC. Also, being a safety engineer, all safety aspects are interesting to me."

Here, Klatt talks about German training regulations and their decision-making processes.

"This is my first FDIC. I heard a lot about this conference from friends but never managed to attend. I always enjoy the networking and the exchange of views as the most interesting things at conferences. My guess would be that this happens a lot during FDIC International."


If FDIC International students could take away one piece of information from her class, Klatt said, "Stay interested and curious."


"I'm really looking forward to attending FDIC and meeting some old friends and, hopefully, making some new ones."

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Posted: Apr 28, 2017

FDIC International 2017 Class: Fireground Deconstructed

Regarding new and different ideas about fireground strategy and tactics, Firefighter/Paramedic Nick Ledin of the Eau Claire (WI) Fire Department emphasized the importance of listening, keeping an open mind, and critical thinking. At his Thursday, April 27 classroom session, “Fireground Deconstructed,” he told students that although fire departments around the United States and around the world may employ a variety of fireground techniques differing from those in one’s own department, this does not mean they are necessarily wrong.

Ledin reviewed laboratory research on fire dynamics such as the time to flashover in rooms with legacy vs. modern furnishings and the importance of door control in ventilation. The divide between the laboratory research on fire dynamics vs. practical fireground experience is illustrated by common phrases such as “science vs. the street,” and “the lab coat vs. the bunker coat.” But it need not be an either/or consideration, he said. The conclusions reached through laboratory research and through practical experience can both be correct in their own context.

For example, Ledin noted the importance of coordinated ventilation on the fireground. Fire incident videos shown illustrated the difference in outcomes of coordinated vs. uncoordinated ventilation. Interior suppression and exterior venitilation personnel must communicate before ventilation is carried out. Formerly, firefighters were taught to “ventilate early and often” and “ventilate as you go.” However, this uncoordinated ventilation may have just fed the fire more air and allowed it to extend into uninvolved areas and also endanger firefighters. Door control is another important factor in ventilation. The importance of keeping a structure’s doors shut before water is applied to the fire was recognized 150 years ago. 

The fireground is constantly evolving, he noted. In 1979, the year he was born, Ledin said, the average home size was 1,400 square feet, whereas in 2017, it is now 2,700 square feet. Moreover, fires are reaching higher temperatures more quickly. According to research, in 2009, a fire in a compartment could reach 600°F in under six minutes, in 2011, 900°F in less than five minutes, and in 2014, 1,600°F in less than four minutes. This emphasizes the importance of speed on the fireground in accomplishing entry, search, and laddering. 

In understanding the fireground of today, firefighters must exercise cognitive discipline and learn all they can about current research on such topics as fire dynamics, water dynamics, building construction, and reading smoke, among others.  

Ledin offered the following quote from the late Tom Brennan, one-time editor of Fire Engineering, “You can never know enough about something that can kill you.”

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Posted: Apr 28, 2017

New national police and fire chaplain training academy in Spokane graduates chaplains

Chaplains from across the United States have been making their way through 60 hours of training in five days this week as part of the first class of students in the National Police and Fire Chaplain Academy in Spokane. The 32 chaplains from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, California, Texas and Tennessee gathered Thursday night at the Valley Bible Church for a graduation ceremony.
- PUB DATE: 4/28/2017 9:08:06 AM - SOURCE: Spokane Spokesman-Review
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