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PPV Fan Failure During Routine Check

Wednesday, January 21, 2009  On Wednesday January 21, 2009 while a  F.F. was performing morning check of the small engines on our departments Engine #5.  F.F. checked the PPV Tempest fan’s fluids and found them to be full.  After checking the fluids he started the fan motor to verify proper operation.  Immediately after starting the Tempest fan a loud noise along with pieces of black plastic came out of the fan.  He immediately turned the fan off to investigate the problem.  He placed the fan on the floor and discovered all of the fan blades inside had disintegrated from the center hub.  The composite blades hit the protective housing causing damage to the metal housing.  At one location the blade actually penetrated the housing completely.  Several pieces flew out of the protective grill. Tempest was contacted immediately and offered to repair the damage.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  If you have further questions or concerns please contact me.
The attached pictures show the point where the blade blew through the solid metal shroud.  The other pictures show that the blades are lying in the bottom of the protective grill.  Tempest asked us not to remove the grill prior to shipping it back to them. 




Survivair Mask Alert

Wednesday, January 7, 2009  We use Survivair (now Sperian) Panther SCBA's with TwentyTwenty Plus facepiece. After use, the masks are cleaned/disinfected, air dried, and then inspected before placing back in service. While inspecting the lenses, cracks were identified in some not easy to see locations. In fact, with the nozzle cover in place, most of the cracks are hidden from view. I have attached pictures of 5 different lenses that cracks were found in. Although the cracks did not affect the operation of the masks or the performance of the SCBA unit (prior to discovery), you don't need a crystal ball to see that problems could occur at the worst possible moment. Even the operation manual indicates that a crack can reduce the impact resistance of the lens. As an instructor, I have always taught students to check their equipment thoroughly on a regular basis at the station. That is the place to find problems and correct them - not at the incident scene!

This is my recommendation to users of the TwentyTwenty Plus facepiece to do a thorough inspection of the lens on a regular basis, and to remove any deficient mask from service. Be sure to remove the nozzle cover and check for cracks in the hidden areas of the lens (see page 7 of attached pdf).
On a positive note, our Sperian sales rep responded quickly, and has inspected the lenses and sent us replacements at their expense.




Unique Construction Method Found During Training

Thursday, December 25, 2008  We recently encountered this atypical construction method in an acquired structure.  The tongue & groove type roof & floors were very spongy, and beams were about 72" on center.  It took a full tank on the cutter edge to cut what is  pictured.  Afterward, we reviewed the indicators to this type of construction and the eaves






Monday, December 22, 2008  But a 4 STORY OFFICE BUILDING?!?
.....Ya Ready??
Contributed by Lt. Randall Hannifan
Attached is a PDF/PowerPoint with the photos and an explanation. I have added links to videos and websites that explain the process and characteristics of the construction as well.




Engine Block Fails During Vehicle Fire - CLOSE CALL

Sunday, December 21, 2008  A couple of weeks ago we had a Box Alarm for a car fire next to a building. As the BC, I was coming down the street and the first due engine was pulling off a line to extinguish the well involved car when there was a large fire ball from the engine compartment. Two guys went down , when I walked up the one fire fighter was burned on the side of his face and covered in fluid. We were speculating if it was oil from the oil pan, brake fluid or transmission fluid. After extinguishment a closer look revealed the engine block had failed in numerous places. It looked like some type of carbon fiber. It was a Dodge Charger and I contacted them and they said the block was made out of aluminum. 

This gives me concern because we are seeing a rise in new car fires for insurance purposes and our members need to take care if this is how aluminum will react in a fire situation. There were three holes where I could look right inside the engine block so we figured whent he block failed it erupted the oil which ignited and caused the fire ball. 

They are building houses and cars cheaper these days. We had a lot of guys with long years of experience there that evening and none of us had ever seen this before.





Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipped with Heads-up Display (HUD). NISOH Info

Wednesday, December 17, 2008  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) wishes to inform respirator users of a Safety Notice issued by Scott Health and Safety concerning HUD Quick Disconnect for SCOTTĀ® AIR-PAKĀ® 50, AIR-PAK 75, NxG2, and NxG7

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipped with Heads-up Display (HUD). 
Complete details can be found at





Extrication Tool Catastrophic Failure

Thursday, November 6, 2008  We had a TNT spreader fracture and spray mineral oil into the face of a firefighter.
We recently took delivery of a new rescue truck and many members were "checking it out" a firefighter had the spreaders out and opened and shut them under no load. This is when the case cracked and sprayed oil out under VERY high pressure.
The firefighter was wearing turnouts, including helmet with the visor down, but no goggles. The force of the explosion blew the helmet off his head. He received immediate aid and follow up we are expecting a full recovery.
TNT responded very quickly. They gave us a new spreader and loaned us a new power unit while they ran tests on our unit. I understand that they blamed the pressure relief valves, but they could not reproduce the failure.




Radiant Heat in Drywall Ceiling

Saturday, October 4, 2008  Vent crew was attempting vertical ventilation.  Chainsaw sliced thru the roof like butter.   They took the pikepole to knock the hole thru the ceiling and worked their butts off on what should have been fairly simple.
Upon investigation, found the ceiling had radiant heat built into the drywall.  Made busting thru the ceiling very difficult.  Then to add insult to injury, they found an area with cross bracing as well.
No one on scene (that day) had seen this type of heat before.   The structure was a modular home placed on a foundation. circa 1976




Another Home Made Hydrogen Generator

Thursday, September 25, 2008  With fuel prices reaching historical levels, several alternative fuel resources are available.  These alternative fuel resources have caused alarm in situations where their identification is difficult to determine for the responder.

Attached are pictures of a “Hydrogen Generator” that was recently found in a vehicle.  The vehicle was parked in a long stay parking lot near an airport.  The owner of the car left his car door ajar while hurrying to catch the shuttle bus to the terminal.
The parking lot attendant noticed the open door, looked in the car, and called for the Bomb Squad
The device was not disturbed, the owner was contacted, interviewed, and the vehicle was released back to him.
Please feel free to forward these photos and information to the others that have a need to know.
There are additional photos of this device available. If anyone is in need of these additional photos or has any questions they can contact the source of this information provided below.




Home Made Hydrogen Generaotors?

Friday, September 12, 2008  Check out a great presentation on home made hydrogen generators for vehicles.





Responding To Scenes of Violence

Monday, September 1, 2008  By Lt. Steven C. Hamilton
The fire service today does not provide yesterdays services. Hazardous materials, technical rescue, and emergency medical services comprise most of our run statistics over structural firefighting. Within that, EMS is the largest component for most jurisdictions. Whether your agency provides transport or first response it is essential that organizations train their personnel to operate safely in these environments. Take any new firefighter who has completed Firefighter I and ask them if they would conduct a search of a building with fire blowing out of every window and a partial collapse of the roof. All answers should equate to a “Hell No!” This is largely in part to how we train our personnel to recognize the hazards and make an informed decision on the proper actions to follow. Now, let us examine the following scenario. You respond to a residence for a report of a suicide attempt with no further information other than the individual lacerated their wrists. When your department arrives on the scene do you and your personnel:
Attempt to make contact with the occupant(s) and render aid orstage your apparatus a block away and await the arrival of law enforcement officers to deem the scene safe? Can the scene be hazardous and are there indicationsfrom the dispatch information that this is a scene of violence? 
Look at the average fully equipped firefighting ensemble. Notice that a firefighter is provided with the proper protection to face the hazards they may encounter during any given shift. Now, pay close attention to an average uniformed police officer.   A law enforcement officer is outfitted with a bullet proof vest, gun, peeper spray, taser, night stick, and hand cuffs. He or she uses this equipment to combat any hazards or threats during their tour of duty. Do you notice a vast difference between the two? In my department, on occasion, we have to chase a patrolman or two out of a building during a smoke investigation because they do not have the proper PPE to protect them from the hazards they may encounter. Who chases us out of a residence when the scene becomes or was violent? 
We are going to examine how to identify scenes that are, were, or potentially could become violent. This article will also identify response considerations, situational awareness, minimizing threats, and calling for help.
What is a scene of violence? 
Any medical emergency incident that resulted in the actual or attempted willful harm of ones self or another is a scene of violence. This includes suicide attempts. Just because an individual has decided to leave this world by their own hand does not mean that they will only harm themselves when encountered by emergency workers, loved ones, and bystanders. Most individuals that decide to commit suicide do so with a well thought out plan of action. As this plan begins to unfold any deviation can result in the individual becoming violent. You, as the emergency responder, represent that deviation. You are there to counter act the results of their actions. This might not be taken lightly from this patient and that frustration could be directed toward you. 
Domestic violence incidents pose a significant threat to responders. They occur all over the nation and they are not prejudice to jurisdiction. All of us have responded to some sort of domestic incident. These are the most dangerous incidents that we can encounter. This is due to the nature in which the incidents are reported. Responders can be called to homes for fall victims, lacerations, difficulty breathing, or a number of other categories that later become identified as domestic violence.   This type of response also has the most potential for becoming violent again. Have you ever seen a husband beat the tar out of his wife on the TV show COPS? As soon as the officers put the cuffs on the husband the still bleeding wife starts assaulting the responders yelling, “Don’t take him to Jail. I love him!” This type of response can be attributed to the victim fearing reprisal from their spouse. In some cases the attacker is the only or main financial contributor in the household and the victim can be afraid of paying the bills or putting food on the table. Use caution and remember that the victim can become the aggressor.  
Other scenes of violence are “no brainers.” Psychological patients, gunshot wounds, stabbings, and assaults will immediately send up red flags. Most of these incidents produce a trained response derived from departmental procedures and experience. Stage one block away, await law enforcement, and do not proceed until the scene is rendered safe, right? 
Response Considerations
There are precautions that you should consider and put into practice. Get into the habit of reducing your response by turning off your lights and sirens as you get near the scene. You may, based on how long the police response may be, proceed to the scene in a non-emergent mode. There is no point in rushing to wait. I went to an incident with my old New York department where a patient with psychological issues began screaming and throwing things at the Sheriff’s deputies every time she heard a siren wale. We discovered this when we arrived on scene, with a deputy yelling at us to turn of the damn wailer and a woman screaming hysterically. The lieutenant radioed the incoming ambulance to reduce their code prior to arrival. We ended up waiting at the scene for a long period of time while the deputies secured the patient and made the residence safe for us to enter. The incident ended with the patient remaining calm and docile while receiving the treatment she needed. 
Do not use four firefighters when one or two will do. When you flood a scene of violence with more personnel than is necessary you can increase the anxiety of the patient and the bystanders. Additionally, depending on the scene you stand a very good chance of contaminating a potential crime scene with too many personnel. I responded to a suicide by gunshot to the head some years ago. The patient had a single wound to the head by a rifle. The victim had shot himself approximately 7 hours prior. At one point there were 4 paramedics, two firefighters, one police investigator, and two patrolmen in a 10’x12’ bedroom with the victim all at the same time. Imagine that same amount of personnel at a domestic violence incident. The tension on the scene would be increased substantially. Use what resources you need to deliver the patient care required. Stage or release everyone else.
Situational Awareness
We can define situational awareness as understanding your environment and the influences affecting it now and in the future. We as firefighters maintain situational awareness at fires by conducting a good thorough size up that continues from arrival until you leave the scene. This should be conducted at EMS incidents as well. Pay particular attention to what bystanders and family members are doing. Don’t just focus on the patient. Read the environment. Take this scenario as an example. You respond to a residence for a fall victim. You arrive to find a woman on a couch with a swollen knot over her eye. A man is there telling you that she fell and hit her head on the coffee table. There are toys throughout the living room however you see and hear no children. There are four place settings with food on them sitting on the kitchen table. The patient is very quiet and will not look you in the eye but she confirms her husband’s story. You ask if there are children around and they both tell you no. The husband insists that his wife is fine and that you are not needed. What is the information that you are observing telling you? Hopefully you have the word, “CAUTION” repeatedly flashing through your mind. You should be asking yourself questions about what you are seeing and hearing, while developing a plan of action.
Minimizing Threats
Practice the following precautions, not just for the previous incident but on all medical calls that tell you something is not right. Maintain your path of egress. Never put anything or anyone between you and your exit. If possible try to separate the patient from everyone else. This can be tricky, especially in domestic violence situations. The aggressor doesn’t want the victim out of their sight for fear of what they may reveal. The back of the ambulance can solve this problem quite effectively. Ask the patient to accompany you to the rig to retrieve equipment or fill out paperwork. When you and the patient are alone and only when you are alone challenge their story if you have doubts.  Request a law enforcement officer as you deem necessary based on what you observe from the scene. Be sure to accomplish this without being over heard by the bystanders or the patient. When multiple bystanders or interested parties are within your scene try to put one responder on each person. If this cannot be done then ask people to leave to give the patient some space or remove the patient from the environment. Again, moving the patient to the back of the ambulance is a good spot. If at anytime you experience resistance from anyone you need to back off. Do not hesitate to leave the area and inform law enforcement if things start to go backwards. The true w... [ more ]  




Not Your Normal Saddle Tank

Tuesday, August 26, 2008  This is a 119 gallon liquid natural gas tank with a 72 gallon partner on the other side of this HEB Grocery truck. HEB has around 40 of these trucks on the streets of Houston. This adds a new problem to look out for on commercial vehicle accidents. HEB and Houston based SYSCO run these vehicles in our area. Here is a picture of the HEB tank and some pictures from the manufacture Sterling. As you can see there is not a lot of protection offered in the case of an accident. The valves are relatively well exposed only covered by a small metal grate.




Hose Blows During Testing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008  Nobody was hurt due to using a hose tester and everyone staying clear and wearing their helmets.




Ambulance Stretcher Safety Notice

Tuesday, August 12, 2008  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Emergency Medical Services has received information documenting several instances in which Ferno PROFlexx model 35-P stretchers (ambulance cots) have suffered metal fatigue and breakage of the telescoping legs. The area of highest concern is the X frame axle (where both telescoping legs connect).

All ambulance services using this model stretcher should immediately inspect all of these cots for signs of metal fatigue (shavings, bent support arms, cracks, etc,). If such signs are discovered, remove the cot from service immediately and arrange for inspection and maintenance by a factory authorized representative as soon as possible. Even if you do not discover any signs of metal fatigue, you should contact Ferno-Washington, or the dealer who provided your stretcher, for immediate inspection and/or maintenance.

Furthermore, EMTs should be reminded to keep both hands firmly on the cot AT ALL TIMES, since at least one cot leg break occurred as the EMTs wheeled a patient toward the ambulance. In addition, wheeling the patient at the lowest cot height is the safest method to minimize any potential harm to the patient, since catastrophic failure can occur without warning.

Finally, all patients must be firmly secured to the cot using the over the shoulder harness, hip and
leg straps. If your service has experienced failure of a Ferno PROFlexx cot, or any other medical device, please complete a Serious Incident Report Form and submit it to this (or your local State EMS office). For the form, go to, scroll down to “Forms,” then click on the “Ambulance Services” section).

In addition, ambulance services should also file a “Medical Devices Report” report with
the FDA at




WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES IN THE FIREHOUSE (No, not the 'mutts...see below!)

Friday, August 8, 2008  The Story - and Lessons Learned

  • the hose was left outside the engine bay overnight after returning from a late night fire assignment.
  • when the crewman went to move the hose he found the surprise.
  • three lessons learned:
    • don't leave fire hose out side the engine bay overnight.
    • always wear gloves.
    • always look at what you're doing first.
while the first lesson slipped by us, the other two were done correctly, avoiding a very serious injury!




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