TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Email your letters to, or mail them to Editor, NFPA Journal, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, Massachusetts, 02169. Please include your title, company or organization affiliation, and where you're based. NFPA Journal reserves the right to edit letters and comments for content and length.

Published on September 1, 2019.


Praise for Chief Hood 

To the editor:

I loved your recent article on San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood [“Front & Center,” May/June]. He’s an amazing man.

My son Damon (above) had osteosarcoma bone cancer and fought cancer for five years. In 2015 he had an idea—he wanted a bell for kids with cancer to ring when they finished chemotherapy. I reached out to the San Antonio Fire Department with the idea, and it was brought to the attention of Chief Hood, who loved the idea. Chief Hood got Damon his bell.

Damon was introduced to the SAFD’s Station #11. The firefighters there fell in love with Damon and used their own money to build an elaborate and beautiful Maltese cross to house the bell, which had once been part of an old fire truck. In August 2015, we donated the bell to University Hospital in San Antonio for cancer patients to ring upon completion of chemotherapy and to honor fallen firefighters who had passed away from occupational cancer. 

On April 3, 2018, Damon passed away. He was 13. Before he died, Damon had been invited by Chief Hood to go through a firefighter-for-a-day program, and at his death Chief Hood treated Damon as a fallen firefighter. He held a press conference as he would for any fallen firefighter. Damon had 13 fire trucks leading a three-and-a-half mile procession to his funeral and a full honor guard at his graveside, where Chief Hood spoke.

I say all this because I believe Chief Hood is a unique and remarkable leader. He never forgot Damon, he never forgot his fight, and he was willing to help Damon do all he could to raise cancer awareness. I am honored and proud to call him a friend. 

Brian A. Billeck 
San Antonio, Texas

Chemical hazards awareness 

To the editor:

I want to thank NFPA Journal and Kris Hauschildt for featuring her story [“Room 225,” May/June] about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) following the deaths of her parents in a CO incident. While I have not personally experienced or known anyone who has suffered such a tragic loss, I can relate to Ms. Hauschildt’s exhaustive efforts to educate the public about chemical hazards.

I live in rural California, and for the last five years I have had to live next to a business involved with swimming pool construction. The business also stores pool chemicals outdoors on an open parking lot in front of my home and all along my property line. The chemicals, bleach and hydrochloric acid, are constantly off-gassing. Despite my concerns, no corrective action has been taken by the city. The city of jurisdiction is still semi-rural and has no large industrial or business zone for hazardous materials sales or storage and no ordinance prohibiting outdoor storage of these chemicals next to a residence. As a result, it is very difficult to address this issue unless there is an incident, injury, or death resulting from what a fire chief in a nearby city calls “a sloppy practice.” I have already had to rush my dog to the vet hospital for inhalation of hydrochloric acid fumes, which I knelt down into myself when I found him choking on my walkway just feet from the stored chemicals.

What I am dealing with here is a lack of knowledge or understanding of community risk when it comes to the presence of hazardous materials. The local focus is on wildland fires and prevention, not hazardous materials, and there is little history here involving the transportation, handling, and storage of physical and health hazards in the form of liquid and dry oxidizers and corrosives.

Several years ago, I joined NFPA to find out everything I could about hazardous materials and received a great deal of help. I also purchased NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code, and, more recently, NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. I was able to meet with our county fire chief, and I recently met with the city of jurisdiction's new fire chief. I now await a response, as this land use/nuisance issue continues to present me with potential danger.

I grieve for Ms. Hauschildt’s loss of her beloved parents, and I applaud her determination to find answers and bring about preventive measures so that these tragedies do not happen again. Her story reaffirms my continuing fight to save my life and my home. 

Pamela L. Smyth 
Redlands, California 

Top Photograph: San Antonio Fire Department