In Brief

FAA moves to require drone registration

After a spate of high-profile incidents, including several near run-ins with fire suppression aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has moved to require recreational drone operators to register their aircraft. The hope is that the increased transparency, coupled with the threat of fine or prosecution, will dissuade novice drone pilots from flying in places they shouldn’t, such as over wildfire operations.

“There can be no accountability if the person breaking the rules can’t be identified,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who oversees the FAA, said at a recent news conference.

The agency hopes to have a registration process set up for drone owners by November 20, ahead of the holiday season, when about 1 million drones could be sold, the FAA has said.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, drones have interfered with fire suppression aircraft at least 13 times across five states in 2015. Recreational drones generally fly at the same altitude as planes and helicopters deployed to drop water and fire retardant on wildfires. If a drone is spotted near a wildfire, all fire-related aircraft are grounded to avoid a collision, which could be catastrophic for aircraft crews as well as fire crews and the public on the ground below, fire officials have said.

Bliss named vice president of international fire board

Don Bliss, NFPA’s vice president of field operations, has been elected vice president of the international fire organization CTIF.

The organization’s full name, Comité Technique Internationale de Prévention et d’Extinction du Feu, roughly translates in English as the International Technical Committee for the Prevention and Suppression of Fire. It was formed in 1900 to encourage international cooperation among fire experts.

Bliss, who is only the forth American in modern times to serve as vice president of the organization, called his election “a great honor.”

“I am committed to furthering fire prevention and suppression efforts worldwide, and look forward to sharing the information and knowledge that NFPA has developed through more than 100 years of research, analysis, and collaboration, as well as learning much from this esteemed group,” he said.

Urban Fire Forum chiefs endorse three position papers

Chiefs from big-city fire departments across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom met in September at NFPA headquarters and unanimously endorsed position papers on warehouses and two new powerful computer tools.

The group, called the Urban Fire Forum, is a selected subsection of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association Executive Board.

The chiefs urged fire departments to undergo thorough pre-fire planning for warehouses, which are becoming bigger and are used to store a range of combustible goods.

In addition, they also endorsed the use of two new data-driven tools for fire departments. The first, the Fire Community Assessment Response Evaluation System (FireCARES), uses available data, including census and incident reporting, to evaluate community risk and fire department capabilities. Fire departments can log in to find community-specific information that can assist chiefs and other decision makers in evaluating options and/or solutions to decrease overall community risks and vulnerability.

Finally, the chiefs endorsed the use of the National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS), new software that departments can use to easily import and track important data. In the position paper, the chiefs encouraged local departments to use NFORS “to measure and optimize their response availability, their capability to mitigate an incident, and the effectiveness of their on-scene performance, and thereby the outcome of the event for firefighters, civilians, and the property involved.” The goal is for the software to be “a supplemental tool for local fire departments to use to learn, improve, and optimize fire department operations.”

Read the position statements and to learn more about FireCARES and NFORS.