AUTHOR: LisaMarie Sinatra

The Human Toll: Understanding the Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Issues Associated with Electrical Burn Injuries

NFPA has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness and helping educate workers, employers, and the public about the hazards associated with electricity both on the job and at home so that one day no one will have to suffer the effects of electrical burn injuries. Supporting ESFI and its annual Electrical Safety Month campaign provides an important platform for us to remind people about these hazards, but it is also an opportunity to share critical information about the physical, emotional, and psychological toll electrical injuries can take on a person and his/her families for months and years to come. NFPA created a video campaign series in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors called Faces of Fire/Electrical that is devoted to telling the personal stories of people affected by electrical injuries. Survivors like Don Johnson, who suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck, and arms due to an arc flash event that happened at work and who spent years recovering from his injuries; and Pam Elliott who shares her personal story of resilience after suffering major burns over 50 percent of her body after a fire ignited by a damaged lighting fixture destroyed her family home when she was just a young girl. Electrical hazards can affect anyone at any time if we are not careful. These stories and many more highlighted in the campaign serve as powerful reminders about the need for more recognition and understanding of the electrical hazards that exist in our daily lives. Here are a few additional resources we are highlighting this month that feature stories from survivors and the doctors who treat them: NFPA has a podcast called the Mysteries of Electrical Injuries. In the interview, we speak with three renowned doctors from the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute about what an electrical shock can do to the human body, the treatments available, and how our understanding of the resulting injuries continues to evolve. It’s a discussion you definitely don’t want to miss. One of the doctors featured in the “Mysteries” podcast, Dr. Neil Pliskin, is part of a lineup of experts in the “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” program as part of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series. Dr. Pliskin discusses his work with electrical injury patients and the research associated with neuropsychological issues that can arise following electrical shock injuries. The program is available on demand through the end of May.  In a separate video, and as part of the Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign, we interviewed Dr. Victor Joe who works at UCI Health Regional Burn Center and sits on the Phoenix Society’s Board. In his interview, Dr. Joe discusses his passionate work to treat the complete physical and emotional healing of patients suffering from burn injuries. Join us during Electrical Safety Month in sharing this crucial information and spreading the word on how we can all reduce the risk of electrical injuries and create a safer world for all. You can find these resources and more like videos, checklists, and tip sheets, on our website.
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Relaxing safely at home animated picture

Nominate Your Favorite Home Fire Sprinkler Safety Advocate for the NFPA/HFSC “Bringing Safety Home Award”

Research shows home fire sprinklers play a key role in saving lives and property; the benefits of this life-saving technology are witnessed everyday across the country. And behind the scenes are many individuals who, armed with data and numbers, stories, and experiences work tirelessly in their communities to advance this all-important safety message. If you know someone whose work includes the promotion of the benefits of home fire sprinklers, then we encourage you to nominate him/her for this year’s Bringing Safety Home Award. The award, supported by NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), honors members of the fire service and other fire sprinkler advocates in North America who use HFSC educational materials, NFPA data, and NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources to educate decision-makers on home fire sprinklers. Such efforts include things like educating the public and policymakers to increase the use of home fire sprinklers in new homes. The great news is that the award winner will receive a $1,000 grant to help further his/her fire sprinkler advocacy and educational efforts in their area. We’re also excited to be able to announce the winner during Home Fire Sprinkler Week, May 15–21, 2022. A big congratulations to the 2021 Bringing Safety Home Award recipient, Paul Eichler, who is the Operations Battalion Chief of Anne Arundel County Fire Department in Maryland. Paul is also a volunteer member of the Dover Fire Department in Delaware, and he chairs the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Described as a constant advocate for home fire sprinklers, Paul has been credited for his work with the Coalition in achieving the lone home fire sprinkler requirement in Newark, Delaware, his varied public education efforts such as live fire sprinkler demonstrations, and his ongoing public awareness outreach. So don’t delay. The deadline to nominate your favorite home fire sprinkler advocate for this year’s award is Friday, April 8, 2022. Get additional information about the process and use our online form to submit your choice. We look forward to hearing from you! Need information about home fire sprinklers? Visit the HFSC website to learn more.
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Leading Wildfire Management Groups Honor 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Award Winners

Thank you to all the individuals and organizations who were nominated for this year’s Wildfire Mitigation Awards. Each project submitted is a testament to the hard work and commitment of people across the country who are making a real difference in the safety of their communities against wildfire. The decision to name the finalists is never easy given all the great submissions! Congratulations to the following recipients who were chosen to receive an award: Paul Cada, Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Vail, Colorado As the Wildland Program Administrator for the Town of Vail's Fire and Emergency Services, Paul Cada has led fuels reduction projects on over 250 acres and completed wildfire risk assessments on every property in Vail. Paul’s Fire Adapted Vail program earned his town Fire Adapted Community status, and more recently, his social media campaign "Vail Wildfire Ready" resulted in 88 new resident registrations with the Vail Fire Community Connect program and a 100% increase in registrations for the county-wide emergency notification program "EC Alert." Thanks to Paul’s tireless community outreach efforts, he has inspired awareness not only among permanent residents of Vail, but also among vacation homeowners and thousands of annual visitors. William "Danny" Blevins, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Morehead, Kentucky William “Danny” Blevins is well known in eastern Kentucky for promoting wildfire preparedness and mitigation. A volunteer firefighter, fire and rescue instructor, and regional director for the Kentucky Firefighters Association, Danny was instrumental in the development of the Kentucky Fire Commission’s Wildland Firefighter Awareness program, which is now a required course for all Kentucky firefighters. Through his work with the Northeast Rowan County Fire Council (NRCFC), Danny helped Lake Lewman become one of the first Firewise USA communities in the state. Additionally, in 2014, a Triplett Creek Watershed mitigation project co-developed by NRCFC was chosen to receive grant funding by the USDA Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. Ultimately, the project accomplished wildfire risk assessments on 1,000 homes within the watershed’s wildland-urban interface. In 2018, Danny teamed up with the Kentucky Division of Forestry to plan Kentucky’s first Wildfire Preparedness Day celebration, an event that garnered more than 500 attendees. Jonathan Riley, Chelan Fire District 1, Wenatchee, Washington In the last five years serving as the Chelan Fire District's first Community Wildfire Liaison, Jon Riley has cultivated the district's Community Wildfire Program and expanded its role within the community by offering virtual and in-person information sessions, securing grant funding, utilizing new mitigation tools for home assessments, implementing seasonal fuels reduction projects, and partnering with local organizations. Jon forged one such partnership with the non-profit CAFÉ in order to host bilingual presentations on wildfire mitigation for underserved Spanish-speaking community members. He also helped to train CAFÉ staff in providing wildfire risk assessments. Jon's out-of-the-box thinking—which most recently brought goats to Wenatchee for hazardous fuels reduction—has inspired others, both regionally and nationally, to take action to protect their communities. Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, Lake Tahoe Basin, Nevada and California The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT)—comprised of 21 federal, state, local, tribal, and non-profit entities—was formed after the Angora Fire of 2007 to tackle wildfire prevention, fuels reduction, and community preparedness in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Since 2008, TFFT has treated 65,000 acres in the Basin’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) for hazardous fuels. Those efforts paid off during the 2021 Caldor Fire. Without them, the fire would have caused massive destruction to homes and businesses in Meyers and South Lake Tahoe, killed firefighters and residents, and burned thousands of additional acres of forestland. TFFT is now the primary coordinator of wildfire mitigation work in the Basin. TFFT has helped 59 Basin communities become Firewise USA recognized and, through its "Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities" effort, hosted events and workshops that have reached over 18,000 people in-person and another 3,800 people through social media. Mike Mathis & Chris Colburn, Florida Forest Service, Southport and Tallahassee, Florida The work of Mike Mathis and Chris Colburn is a shining example of how to quickly mitigate wildfire risk following natural disasters. In October 2018, a category 5 hurricane hit Florida’s Panhandle, leaving 72 million tons of trees broken or uprooted and prime for burning. The Florida Forest Service tasked Mathis and Colburn with developing a plan to address wildfire risk imposed by Hurricane Michael. They hit the ground running, forming emergency strike teams that cleared 574 miles of forest debris on 314 private properties across eight counties. Both Mathis and Colburn were displaced by the storm like so many Floridians, but they continued to work tirelessly, inspiring county administrators to develop wildfire mitigation plans and landowners to participate in wildfire risk property assessments and clearing projects. They helped over 500 residents receive prescribed burn training, held prescribed burn classes for the public, and waged a wildfire prevention campaign to educate residents about dangerous fuel loading. Mathis and Colburn were also instrumental in getting Timber Recovery Block Grant relief to affected forestland owners. Schelly Olson, Grand Fire Protection District 1, Granby, Colorado Schelly Olson, the Assistant Chief of Administration and Community Risk Reduction for the Grand Fire Protection District, founded the all-volunteer Grand County Wildfire Council (GCWC) in 2015 to establish crucial partnerships across local, regional, state, and federal boundaries. The GCWC has since held 26 free chipping service events with over 999 participants, developed a fuels reduction cost-share program that has treated over 1,000 acres of private land, created and sold reflective signs that first responders use to navigate smoke-filled properties, and helped several HOAs identify water supplies for wildfire response. With Schelly's expertise and initiative, her organizations have implemented wildfire mitigation programs across the entirety of Grand County, an area of 1,870 square miles with 15,000 residents. Co-sponsored by NFPA, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS), the Wildfire Mitigation Awards demonstrate the tremendous societal value wildfire mitigation efforts provide and celebrates those who have earned the highest commendation for innovation and leadership in wildfire mitigation. The awards will be presented at the IAFC Wildland Urban Interface Conference (WUI) in Reno, Nevada on March 22, 2022. If you’d like to learn more about the Awards, visit the NASF website where you’ll find information about the criteria, see interviews, and read about past awardees.
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