Vital Firefighting Technology: HFD Stations Receive Additional Thermal Imaging Cameras
By: PIO Sheldra Brigham
When every second and lives count, firefighters need every tool possible to enhance their situational awareness. Recently, Council Member Greg Travis purchased 16 Thermal Imagers for stations in District 78. The cameras will also be distributed to other stations as needed. Crews are now being trained on the new equipment. TICs can detect or “see,” emitted heat energy through a variety of filters, including smoke and dust. TICs have many uses on the fireground including: Hazmat, trapped victims, missing persons, and hot spots. Thanks to Council Member Travis for this much needed equipment purchase.
HFD Updates Exit Locators - Also Known as "Firefighter's Friend"
The Houston Fire Department recently received a shipment of exit locators thanks to newly allocated funds from the City. These exit locators are called the “Fire Fighter’s Friend” and could save firefighter lives. The devices are rugged pieces of equipment and have proven very valuable on fire scenes and would replace the HFD's current devices. Exit locators are placed just to the right of a door or opening during a fire attack and/or primary search. The strobe light and siren can be immediately activated so if a firefighter gets lost in a structure they can see or hear the exit locator and use it as a guide to safety.
“These devices can make all the difference if a firefighter is lost or disoriented while inside a burning structure. A huge thank you to CM Knox and Mayor Turner’s administration for making taxpayer funds available for this purchase,” Sam Peña, Fire Chief.
The exit locators were purchased from Safety Lamp of Houston for $25,000. This purchase is in support of the HFD's Health and Safety Initiative spearheaded by Fire Chief Sam Peña.
Specialized Arson Vehicles Donated by Several Community Groups
The HPFFA Charitible Foundation, the Houston Automobile Dealers Association, the Cockrell Foundation, and Nancy Williams made a generous donation of two customized trucks to HFD’s Arson Division. The trucks will be used for the department’s K-9’s team. A huge thank you to all parities involved.
The new vehicles are climate-controlled and modified to hold a prefabricated cage to safely transport Canines Humpfrey and Lux . This resource, will greatly enhance the ability of the Arson Division to effectively respond and serve the citizens of Houston.
The Houston Fire Department Arson Bureau operates two Accelerant Detection Canines (ADC). Canines Humphrey and Lux were provided to the Houston Fire Department by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, National Canine Division. Humphry and Lux, and their Handlers, are two of approximately 54 ATF Accelerant Detection Canine teams operating across the United States. The Canines complete 12 weeks of training that includes 6 weeks of hands on training as a team with the canine and the handler together. The ATF evaluates and certifies each team yearly.
Water Strike Team Conducts Life-Saving Training
The Houston Fire Department conducted Water Strike Team training on high water vehicles and boats recently. HFD currently has 43 pieces of rescue equipment for water rescues including: 15 Evacuation Boats, 9 Rescue Boats, A Fire boat, 9 High Water Vehicles, 9 Wave Runners.
Firefighters Urge Caution with 4th of July Fireworks
The Houston Fire Department held a press conference to remind citizens of potential risks associated with the personal use of fireworks- including devastating burns, injuries, fires, and even deaths. Instead the HFD encouraged everyone to enjoy professional public firework displays such as the City’s signature tribute to patriotism - CITGO Freedom Over Texas Event. HFD Public Affairs attended the festivities.
Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using fireworks. Emergency rooms treat thousands of people for fireworks related injuries; 54% of those injuries were to the extremities and 36% were to the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2017 injuries.
In addition, it’s important to remember it is illegal to discharge fireworks in the City of Houston and parts of the county, with fines ranging from $500 - $2000 for each individual firework. If a minor is caught discharging fireworks, the parent or guardian will receive the fine even if they were unaware of the minor's possession and/or usage.
Station 86 Open House Reaches Dozens in Local Community
Houston Fire Department “Open House” Public Safety Awareness Campaigns help promote Fire Prevention and Safety. July’s event was held at Station 86. Firefighters were on hand to provide information about how residents can best protect their family from fire and to remind the public about common causes of home fires — such as cooking, heating units, and smoking — the importance of having working smoke detectors (and checking them frequently), and having a fire safety escape plan in place. There are two safety themes for the 2019 open houses...”Know the way out” and “cook with caution.”
Every year, the majority of fire deaths in North America happen at home. In a typical home, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Our open houses are a time for people to think ahead. You can help ensure your family’s safety by having a home fire escape plan, making sure your smoke alarms work well, and being careful with cooking and heating equipment.
HFD Reminds Citizens to Practice Summer Safety
HFD joined several City Departments and organizations to re-enforce summer safety in an effort to make this summer a fun one and not a tragic one.
“The summer months are a time of innocence and carefree fun for our children but we must keep a close eye on them because tragedy can happen in a blink of an eye when they are left unsupervised,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Mark and Christi Brown, who’s 3-year old son tragically drowned in an apartment pool, encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the dangers of water.
"It happened to us because we did not know how dangerous water could be, we didn't understand the risk,” says Mark Brown. “We must become aware of the dangers of water and how it can happen in 20-30 seconds and be silent.”
Their son, Judah, fell in the pool without his arm flotation devices which had given him the confidence that he could swim. Within 20-30 seconds he was spotted and pulled from the pool. His father immediately began CPR, however he passed away a few days later at the hospital.
With the help of Judah’s pre-school teacher, the “Judah Brown Project” was started and works to ensure parents and caregivers know the dangers of water. The organization, who has joined forces with the Houston Health Department, provides training for parents, safety pamphlets for pediatricians around the Nation, training in schools and CPR classes.
More information about this organization may be found at judahbrownproject.org
“We can save more lives and we can do it together,” says Christi Brown.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children ages 1 – 4, and this year, the greater Harris County Area has already seen at least 8 drowning related deaths with 39 in the State.
Not only does Texas lead the US in drownings, Harris County has the most drownings within Texas. In addition to pools, things like coolers, buckets, bathtubs and beaches are also sources of preventive drownings.
“Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them,” says City of Houston EMS Director Dr. David Persse. “Unlike it’s portrayed on TV, drowning is quick and silent.” The Houston Health department offers additional safety tips and resources on their website at
Every year there are preventable deaths with children left in hot vehicles. It does not take much for the temperature inside a vehicle to become lethal with the very young and the elderly not able to tolerate heat the way most adults do. Anything above 107 degrees can lead to heat stroke.
According to Child Safety Analyst Stephanie Malek, heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash car related deaths of children under the age 15. Since 1998 there have been 806 heat stroke deaths for children in hot cars, 119 of which were in Texas.
Malek says there are a couple of things we can do to prevent these tragic deaths including:
• Every time you get in your vehicle, place an item like your purse, wallet, or cell phone in the back seat so you must remember to look in the back seat when you reach your destination.
• Keep a stuffed toy in your child’s car seat and move it to the front of the car as a reminder when you place your child in their seat.
• Make sure you have clear communication with anyone you may be traveling with as to who has the responsibility of making sure the child is taken out of the car and don’t just assume.
• Have good communication with the daycare provider, so if child doesn’t arrive, they will contact you.
Children also have succumbed in hot cars due to curiosity in and around parked cars. “Teach children it is not safe to play in and around vehicles and make sure you lock vehicles when you get out,” says Malek.
The Pryer family lost their 3-year-old son RJ on a hot July day after he was left in a daycare van. “Not one moment would I have thought that taking him to a daycare would have been the end of his life,” says Dikeisha Whitlock Pryer. “We have to work together; we have to find a way to save our kids.”
RJ’s parents had no clue until the day he stopped breathing how many kids had passed away due to being left or being trapped in hot cars. Mrs. Pryer encourages parents to use the tips given by Malak including specific “apps” which help alert parents.
HFD's Water Strike Teams Gaining Interest from other Fire Departments
Several members from Boston Fire Department’s leadership visited HFD to learn more about our newly implemented Water Strike Team and High Water Vehicles. After learning about HFD's recent Water Strike Team training, the Boston Fire Department became interested in the HFD's marine group assets and how to implement something similar within their department.
New High Pressure Engine Brings Increased Capability to Fight High Rise Fires
The Houston Fire Department now has a brand new “high pressure” fire engine. Engine 8 was formally accepted June 26. The engine was placed in-service July 2nd. Engine 8 is similar to other HFD engines in that it can be used at all the same fire incidents: car fires, trash fires, house, apartment, warehouse and mid-rise fires. Where it differs is that it is also a "high pressure engine". This engine can generate the needed pump pressure to deliver required flow into high-rise buildings’ fire protection systems. It does this by having an additional auxiliary pump with double the pressure of a standard pump. Without the auxiliary pump, providing water to the top many Downtown Houston buildings would require using multiple engines. Because Engine 8 is a specialized engine it required firefighters to receive extra training before placing the unit in service to prevent operational or mechanical issues. This new fire apparatus is part of a multi-million dollar investment to update HFD's fleet approved by Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council.
“In the last 2 years, we have doubled the number of annual apparatus purchases and replaced approximately 26 frontline engine and aerial apparatus and approximately 30 frontline ambulances. This new high-pressure engine is a welcomed and much needed replacement unit and is part of a multi-million dollar investment to update HFD's fleet approved by Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council,” said Sam Peña, Fire Chief.
Once again the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston Honored Houston Firefighters during their annual luncheon
Houston Fire Department Appreciation Day at Dave & Buster's
For the seventh year, Dave & Buster's held an event honoring the members of the Houston and surrounding area fire departments as well as other first responders. They will provided a free buffet and soft drinks with unlimited video game play to firefighters and first responders with a valid ID.
HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
This monthly newsletter is to keep H.F.D. personnel informed of HIPAA news and regulations throughout the year in concomitance with the yearly Moodle class.
Medical Informatics Engineering, Inc. (MIE) has paid $100,000 to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has agreed take corrective action to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. MIE is an Indiana company that provides software and electronic medical record services to healthcare providers.
On July 23, 2015, MIE filed a breach report with OCR following discovery that hackers used a compromised user ID and password to access the electronic protected health information (ePHI) of approximately 3.5 million people. OCR’s investigation revealed that MIE did not conduct a comprehensive risk analysis prior to the breach. The HIPAA Rules require entities to perform an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an entity’s electronic protected health information.
“Entities entrusted with medical records must be on guard against hackers,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “The failure to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities to ePHI opens the door to breaches and violates HIPAA.” [Taken from the OCR-PRIVACY-LIST@LIST.NIH.GOV May 2019.]
HFD HIPAA Compliance Officer:
Kenneth W. Payne
For July 1 – 29, 2019 , HFD responded to 28,066 incidents (24,565 EMS service calls & 3,501 fire service calls)
Top responding units in for July 1 – 29, 2019:
· Ambulance 7 – 460 responses
· Ambulance Supervisor 30 – 250 responses
· District Chief 68 – 62 responses
· Engine 7 – 396 responses
· Ladder 7 – 175 responses
· Medic 8 – 395 responses
· Safety Officer 30 – 139 responses
· Senior Ambulance Supervisor 33 – 122 responses