AUTHOR: Cathy Longley

John Denhardt announced as new Fire Protection Research Foundation trustee

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF or Foundation), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has appointed John Denhardt to a three-year trustee term. Denhardt, P.E., ET, FSFPE, CWBSP, is a Professional Engineer (P.E.) registered in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The Maryland native works as vice president of engineering and technical services for the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) and is responsible for strengthening engineering and technical approaches for the benefit of AFSA members, the industry, and operational priorities. Denhardt is an NICET Level III in Water-Based Systems Layout and in Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems; an NFPA Certified Water-Based Systems Professional (CWBSP); and a member of the NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Sprinkler Discharge Committee. He is also a fellow in the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE); sits on the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering Board of Visitors; and is a member of the SFPE Board of Directors. The new FPRF trustee holds a Bachelor of Science degree in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland. The Foundation is a separate, independent, nongovernmental organization with its own officers and nine trustees. Over the last 40 years, FPRF research reports have been downloaded by safety-focused practitioners in more than 160 countries. Projects cover everything from fire suppression systems, emergency response, public policy, public education, detection and signaling, industrial hazards, wildfire, electrical, and building safety.

Fifteen female fire and life safety influencers reflect on what International Women’s Day means to them

Top row (L-R) Stacy Welch, Linda Little, Lori Moore-Merrell, Dana Kamal, Lorraine Carli. Middle row (L-R) Olga Caledonia, Amy Acton, Tiffany Green, Birgitte Messerschmidt, Yuanjing Liu. Lower row (L-R) Christina Francis, Sofia Poehls, Sarah Lee, Sawsan Dahham, Inma Zeind Today, as women in every corner of the globe consider what International Women’s Day (IWD) means to them, their families, their friends, their profession, their communities, and the future – we asked 15 fire and life safety influencers about the relevancy of  IWD. Their quotes underscore the importance of reflection, collaboration, inspiration, and gumption as women work collaboratively with others to make our world safer and better. Olga Caledonia, director of International Development, NFPA “This day presents an incredible opportunity to shine the spotlight on talented women across cultures who are creating circles of trust where language is not a barrier. It is a day to remember and connect with the women who inspire us to lead from within and contribute to making the world a safer place. Today, I am reminded of the spectacular woman that raised me, the young-strong willed woman I’m raising, and all the women in both my professional and personal life who believe that elevating each other is how we gain true strength – not to mention have fun along the way!” Christina F. Francis, PE, FSFPE, Tesla, Inc., senior staff fire & regulatory specialist  “International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate advances in opportunities for women and to focus on improvements that can lead to further positive changes on a global basis.”   Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPH, MPH, U.S. Fire Administrator “As a woman from the fire and emergency services, I join women leaders across the globe to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s Changing Climates: Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow theme means we have more work to do to expand opportunities and transform our culture to one where women who lead from top positions are not the exception, but the norm. I believe that when women lead, they do so with character, intellect, competence, and kindness. They instill trust and we move forward. I challenge other women leaders to join me as role models for the little girls who come after us. Together, we can change the landscape of our profession, our nation, and our world.” Dr. Linda Little, assistant director of training, St. Louis (MO) Electrical JATC and chair of National Electrical Code® CMP 13 “International Women’s Day is a day to recognize and be inspired by all the fabulous women who have erased the boundaries that separate us from occupations not formerly accessible to women. It is a day that we can offer inspiration to women still searching for who they will become.” Sawsan Dahham, head of fire and life safety, FLS expert, Dar Al Handasah, Lebanon  “It is a day to celebrate every woman who spends her time multitasking to fulfill her ambitions, reach her goals, exceed male expectations, and be her family’s idol. It is a day to appreciate the efforts we undertake to face the world with a powerful mind and a tender heart; to stay independent, strong, kind, and beautiful.” Birgitte Messerschmidt, director of research, NFPA “On International Women’s Day, I give thanks to all the women before me who have made it possible for me to be where I am today. I promise to pay it forward by supporting the next generation of female leaders. Working together, we can make great strides in fire, electrical, building, and life safety.”   Amy Acton, CEO of Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and NFPA Board of Directors Chair “International Women’s Day 2022 represents a significant moment to recognize and challenge ourselves as a collective in the fire service and prevention industries to recommit to sustainable change for the future. As CEO of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, that means doubling down on our commitment to scale our resources, expand our digital delivery, diversify our Board, and strengthen our strategic partners to reach survivors everywhere. As we strive for these changes, I remain grounded and grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated team of professionals who share this vision. Together, we can realize the power of community.” Dana Kamal, NFPA advisor for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, life safety and healthcare management  “International Women’s Day makes every woman proud. Women have vision and missions. We face challenges and pave roads to achieve our dreams every day. International Women Day looks at various aspects in society including economics, politics, healthcare, and more so that we can support women around the globe and inspire all members of society to continue innovating and advancing.” Tiffany Green, fire chief, Prince Georges County (MD) “When it comes to women in the fire service - we’re underrepresented; it’s a male-dominated field. And without women in these visible and pivotal roles, an entire generation’s idea of who can be a firefighter/EMT is limited - because you can’t be what you can’t see. That’s why I was honored to become the first female fire chief in Prince George’s County. But my achievement is just the beginning of the work we need to do - it’s important to ensure that I am not the county’s last female fire chief. I am proud to say that now - thanks to our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion - the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has seen the most diverse pool of applicants in its history. That’s what International Women’s Day means to me - making space and creating opportunities for all women to rise and reshape the norms that hold us back.” Stacy Welch, PE, vice president, fire protection & life safety, Marriott International “To me International Women’s Day is a celebration of the amazing contributions women make all around the world, but it is also a call to do more. Everyone, regardless of gender, has a role to play to ensure women reach their full potential and then we all win!” Yuanjing Liu, NFPA representative in Beijing, China “Women are the mothers of mankind. They are the backbone of the family, the main body of social life, and an important force for social development. Broad masses of women have made indelible contributions to our world. International Women’s Day is not only a time to highlight the achievements and innovation of women, but also to bring attention to the issues that still divide us.” Sarah Lee, CEO, National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) “International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate all women who have taken chances, forged new paths, and created new futures. I am reminded daily that women still make up just a small percentage of the fire service – we have work to do to ensure women know their place is in the firehouse, in the boardroom, in leadership roles, or wherever they want to be. I salute the many women who have broken down barriers to follow their passion, opening doors for the women and girls who will come behind them and who will dream even bigger dreams because of them.” Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach & Advocacy, NFPA “International Women’s Day is recognition, support, and advancement of the growing and significant contributions of women everywhere in every field. When it comes to fire and life safety, that means more lives and property better protected.” Ing. Sofia Poehls, risk engineering director, Leza, Escriña y Asociados S.A. “Today is a reflection day. It reminds us to seize the opportunity to grow better as a society in each aspect of our lives. It encourages us to champion equal opportunities for everyone. This is our time to look into ourselves, to listen, to make injustices visible, and to embrace and foster opportunities for positive change.” Inma Zeind, industry solutions account manager, NFPA “To all the women from different countries and cultures: yes, we are making this world a better place. Thanks to our kindness, determination, and caring hearts. Cheers to all of us!” Today, and throughout the coming year, consider what it means to be a woman in the workplace and in the world. Be inspired by International Women’s Day and the 15 women quoted here and help #BreakTheBias.
Fire and command staff

This June’s Safety Stand Down campaign will center around situational awareness

“Situational Awareness: The Foundation for Good Decision-Making” is the theme of the 2022 Safety Stand Down campaign which will take place June 19-25.  Situational awareness helps firefighters solve problems, prevent bad outcomes, and make better decisions in high stress environments. To help departments across the country highlight situational awareness during the Safety Stand Down week, related content, training videos, and a PowerPoint presentation will be periodically added to the program website ( This year’s campaign has been broken into five focus areas – structure fires, EMS calls, wildland incidents, roadway response, and acts of violence – so that safety officers, training leads, command staff, and others can plan and implement situational awareness education and activities. Each year, responder agencies are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activities during a designated week in June and focus on a particular aspect of work that could have serious safety implications, if not reinforced with training and new insights. Safety Stand Down is a joint initiative of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA). To help raise awareness of this year’s theme and foster a greater understanding of situational awareness considerations and scenarios, NFPA will once again host the Fire Service Safety Stand Down Quiz this spring. Everyone who completes the online quiz will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes drawing to win one of 200 commemorative Safety Stand Down challenge coins. Keep an eye on social media for the launch of the Safety Stand Down quiz and be sure to visit in the coming months to learn more about related resources.
Emergency responder panel

Recent catastrophic fires may have a silver lining, if they prompt more awareness and action, particularly among policymakers and the public

A few weeks ago, top tier fire and life safety leaders had a virtual discussion about the nation’s fire problem. The deaths of three Baltimore firefighters in an abandoned Baltimore house fire the day before and 29 more dying in two high-profile residential fires during the first two weeks of the new year served as the catalyst for the forum – and hopefully for some much-needed changes in our communities and among elected officials. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley facilitated the timely exchange with U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell; Fire Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia Adam Thiel; and Joseph Jardin, an assistant chief with the New York City Fire Department who leads FDNY’s fire prevention efforts.  The recording of that live session, along with nine other thought-provoking education tracks that were part of the FREE NFPA Leadership for Emergency Responders conference, can be accessed here until January 2023. If you did not attend the conference on the January event date, you will simply need to register to access the session recordings. We need to talk “Tragic fires in Philadelphia and the Bronx this month grabbed people’s attention and heightened interest in fire safety,” NFPA’s Pauley said at the outset of the recent discussion. “That may, in fact, have a silver lining if it prompts more awareness and needed action, particularly among policymakers and the public. Our conversation this morning will center around the proactive steps we and you as leaders can take to connect the dots and enhance safety.” In less than 50-minutes, the dialogue proceeded effortlessly with participants touching on everything from fire prevention strategies, emergency response funding, home fire sprinklers, community risk reduction, new safety threats, code compliance, housing inequities, public and policymaker accountability, and the all-hazards roles that firefighters play today. Rather than recap the robust conversation in writing, let me highlight a few soundbites and encourage you to access the full recording to hear what these four safety bellwethers had to say. Resourcing and outreach     USFA’s Moore-Merrell touched on fire department challenges saying, in part, “When budgets are hit, we have to maintain our capability to respond.” In that same section of the program, the new U.S. Fire Administrator reminded the audience that, “We can communicate as much as we like, but if it is not received and heeded, communication has not taken place.” Code enforcement and housing disparity     Commissioner Thiel highlighted code enforcement woes and housing inequities. “Until the built environment is safer because the entire system has been uplifted, because folks have what they need to get safe and affordable housing - equity is an important component that’s often forgotten including by those of us in the fire service - we’re going to continue to need a robust fire service,” Thiel said. Addressing emerging hazards     Culling questions from the audience, Pauley saw a thread about lithium-ion batteries and e-bikes and asked Fire Prevention Chief Jardin his thoughts. Jardin explained that that there will always be fire challenges, but work can still be done to reduce loss. He then said, “I add to that list of hazards, lithium-ion battery powered devices. In New York City, we see this as a tidal wave that’s coming. We documented 100-plus incidents last year involving lithium battery devices in structures, 79 injuries, and four deaths.” Call to action     Closing out the program, Pauley said, “I think we can all agree that there is a fire problem in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, despite the progress we’ve seen in recent decades.” He then posed two simple strategic questions to the three fire leaders and the more than 1400 that were listening in at the time. “Ask yourself, what can I do and who do I need to work with to do it?” Visit the FREE NFPA Leadership for Emergency Responders conference site to see the entire conversation.

NFPA makes student and apprentice membership FREE and releases NFPA Community - Xchange app

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has enhanced its membership offerings for those just starting their professional journey and for more than 40,000 busy life safety members on the go. Encouraging lifelong learning Students and apprentices currently studying for careers in engineering, fire protection, electrical services, building and life safety, industrial hazards, emergency response, or other roles that require safety insights are eligible for FREE NFPA student and apprentice membership benefits. Part-time, full-time, or graduate/doctoral students taking a minimum of six credit hours (undergraduate degree) or three credit hours (graduate degree) per semester or comparable credits in a quarter system can take advantage of the complimentary membership offer. Apprentices enrolled in nationally recognized degree or certificate program with a minimum of 1,000 combined on-the-job/classroom training hours can too. NFPA created the FREE NFPA Student and Apprentice Membership model so that future life safety professionals can connect with industry peers during their formative years and access important job-related information. Up-and-comers will be immediately notified about their student/apprentice application status so that they can tap into professional resources and NFPA member benefits, including: 10% discount on most NFPA products and solutions (cannot be combined with any other offer or used with certification programs) Access to NFPA Xchange™ Free NFPA ConferenceAdvantage™ pass to the NFPA Conference & Expo® (transportation not included) Job board The opportunity to submit articles to NFPA Journal®, with the chance to have your work appear in the publication Taking the community on the go NFPA also launched an NFPA Community - Xchange app for Apple and Android phones. The new app is free and allows all NFPA Xchange users to have access to the valuable industry insights and resources that can be found on the desktop version at NFPA Community - Xchange app users can now collaborate with colleagues and like-minded workers; ask relevant, real-world questions in various forums; and see what is trending in the NFPA news feed from the palms of their hands. They can also import profile information from their LinkedIn account or customize their bios within the community; search career opportunities; and find out about industry events on their mobile devices. To learn more about the NFPA Community – Xchange app, watch the one-minute video on the membership landing page.
Firefighter fatalities in Baltimore house fire

Not even four weeks into the new year, number of high-profile fires and firefighter deaths is concerning

Fires continue to make headline news in the month of January, underscoring the painful impact that fire continues to have on our communities and on the dedicated men and women who have answered the call to serve as first responders. Yesterday, three firefighters in Baltimore were killed while battling a two-alarm blaze in an abandoned building in West Baltimore. Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) responders were trapped inside the house along with a fourth firefighter who remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The deceased include Lt. Paul Butrim, a 16-year veteran; firefighter paramedic Kelsey Sadler with BCFD 15 years; and 7-year firefighter paramedic Kenneth Lacayo. EMT firefighter John McMaster remains at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. NFPA data regarding incidents with three or more firefighter deaths, shows that the Baltimore firefighter fatalities are the most that we have seen since three firefighters perished in a rowhouse fire in Delaware a little more than 5 years ago. In that September 2016 incident, a 41-year-old Wilmington Fire Department lieutenant and a 51-year-old senior firefighter died when a floor collapsed during a structure fire. Two other firefighters were critically injured - one succumbed to her injuries months later and another spent 40 days in a hospital. Three more suffered less severe injuries.  For members of the fire service and anyone who loves them or works with them, yesterday’s tragedy in Baltimore is particularly palpable. Those personally connected to first responders know the incredible sacrifices that they make each day in the interest of saving people and property. And yet, just 25 days into the new year, it bears noting that yesterday’s deaths were not the first firefighter fatalities in 2022. In fact, they weren’t even the first line of duty (LOD) deaths that occurred inside an abandoned building fire this year. Last week, firefighter Ben Polson, a member of the St. Louis Fire Department for two years, was killed when his department responded to a midday fire at a two-story abandoned brick building. He and another firefighter were buried under debris when the roof collapsed. Sadly, the four lives lost in abandoned building blazes this month, were preceded by other on the job losses. On January 6, Los Angeles County firefighter Jonathan Flagler became trapped and then overcome by fire conditions while working inside a structure fire in Rancho Palos Verdes. The same day, two firefighters from Wisconsin died when their apparatus was struck by a semi on U.S. Highway 151 as they responded to a call that came into the Mineral Point Fire Department. Fire Captain Brian Busch and firefighter James Ludlum were killed when their firetruck was hit from behind by a semi, causing the 2,000-gallon tanker to burst into flames. And less than ten days later, Billy Steinberg, an Assistant Chief for Sullivan County’s Forestburgh Fire Department in New York suffered sudden cardiac death while responding to a mutual aid call in Monticello. It will come as no surprise to anyone that firefighting is a dangerous job; NFPA statistics bear that somber reality. In 2020, there were 140 on-duty firefighter deaths. Seventy-eight were due to COVID. Of the 62 non-COVID deaths: Twenty-seven were volunteer firefighters, 23 were career firefighters, eight were contractors to state and federal land management agencies, two were employees of a federal land management agency, and two were members of the military. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating at fires or explosions (20 deaths). Overexertion, stress, and medical issues accounted for more than half of the deaths (34 deaths). Fifteen firefighters died in vehicle-related incidents, including 14 firefighters who died in vehicle crashes (six of them in five aircraft crashes) and one who was struck by a vehicle. NFPA has been keeping track of firefighter deaths for decades. As the year progresses, we all need to take proactive and prescriptive steps to prevent fires so that we don’t have to add to these numbers. The nation’s 1,115,000 career and volunteer firefighters deserve our undaunted support now and moving forward. Firefighters are dealing with insurmountable challenges today including fires that burn hotter and faster due to modern construction, open floor plans, and highly combustible contents, not to mention all the new concerns and considerations that come with their all-hazards response roles. We all must do our part to be fire-smart and to reduce risks so that there is less need for response and so our first responders go home safely each night.
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