Monday, March 1, 2010

Fire death discrepencies; FFD Kudos; Loss of a legend

Media Reports vs. Reality
In the latest example of how fire deaths are not considered "newsworthy", an article appeared out of Memphis, stating that they have had 10 fire deaths already in 2010. Obviously, this appears high, as the MFD reports that the City averages 15.3 fire deaths per year.

A quick review of the headlines from January & February reveal that only 6 of those 10 deaths registered on the news radar. This is where the fire service needs to step it up, and make sure that this information reaches the media outlets, along with a message of how important it is to ensure that it is communicated to the citizens. If John Q. Public only hears about 60% of the fire problem, it may not seem like much of a problem. This can affect not only the public's attitude toward fire safety in their day-to-day activities, but may also affect the FD's efforts to secure support for increases in service, public education and prevention activities, etc.

Kudos to Franklin Fire Department and Fire & Life Safety Educator Jamie Mooney for their press release detailing one citizen's decision to retrofit his home with a residential fire sprinkler system. Real-world examples of people like Mr. Crosby will only foster smart decision-making in the future. The complete release is on the website.

The Tennessee Fire Service lost a legend on February 28th, with the passing
of Mr. Lewis Baker. The following text from an email sent by Gary West of
MTAS says it well:
Lewis was most known for his ability to inspire others about becoming great fire apparatus operators. His teaching skills were outstanding and he kept so many of us students at the old Tennessee Fire School on the edge of our seats to answer his not so tricky questions. One of those he was famous for was asking, “How long is a rope?”. When I went through pumper school in the mid-80’s I was so impressed that he knew every apparatus that every fire department had anywhere in the state and he could always tell you something you didn’t know about your own fire apparatus.

Lewis was a great teacher but also a former fire chief, a partner in a fire apparatus dealership, and instrumental in making many positive changes in the fire service. One example was his concept of stacking hand-lines on engines (commonly referred to as the “Baker Load” in Tennessee) was quite common in Tennessee before it was first introduced at the FDIC in Memphis. This concept changed the fire service as a whole as it later became the “Triple-stack Hose Load” which is used by almost every fire department in the United States. Lewis had may influences on us Tennesseans but also fire service professionals around the country. It has been great knowing Lewis both as an instructor and friend. He will truly be missed by many.

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