Firefighters Receive Additional Equipment and Training for Active Attack Incidents
Gear Cleaning Extractors Update
By: Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano
The Houston Fire Department has embarked on an aggressive Health and Safety Initiative to provide extractors to all fire stations so that member can wash their personal protective ensemble, as needed, following an incident. The HFD, working through the Fire Fighters Foundation of Houston, has been approaching private industries and Council Members to assist in providing our firefighters with extractors. The Department has already installed 29 with 27 waiting to be installed. Instillations are ongoing with station modification needed to ensure proper installation. Many fire stations require modifications and upgrades to electrical and plumbing to ensure proper utilization of extractors. Following complete installations, all shift will be trained to ensure proper operating knowledge of extractors. There may also be occasions when an extractor will be delivered with installation to be completed on a later date. Due to surge in purchases there may be lag between delivery and installation. Do not attempt to use the extractor until the installation is complete and training has been performed. If you have any questions, please contact Sr. Capt. Isaac O’neal at Isaac.O'Neal@houstontx.gov.
One of a Kind Shipboard Prop Now Complete at HFD Training Academy and Efforts Made to Renovate HFD's Burn Building Continue
By Assistant Chief Michael Mire
The 1.6 million Shipboard Prop is now complete. This three-and-a-half-year project was funded by a $1 million Port Security grant, with the City of Houston and HFD meeting the additional financial obligations.
The ship is the largest and most technologically advanced ship prop in the world, rivaling FDNY and TEEX’s ship prop. Constructed by LION®, it has four burn rooms and a leaking tank simulator. One burn room utilizes the Smart Class A™ fire technology by LION® that provides a realistic, yet environmentally friendly training evolution. They feature dual combustion technology to create fire using both gas and wood. Instructors can control the burns according to the training scenario without worrying about the environmental effects. Fire behavior, ventilation, and heat is manipulated by the instructor via remote control. The system comes with many safety features. Emergency actuation is done either by the instructor or sensors detecting extreme temperatures. The system’s safety actions include: (a) shutting off the fuel supplying the fire; (b) opening the deluge system; (c) mechanically ventilating the burn area; and (d) turning on emergency lighting.
The ship is not limited to firefighting or confined space rescue. Law enforcement agencies and the United States Coast Guard are partnering with Professional Development’s Regional Training Division to utilize the ship for practicing boarding procedures and other practices.
Burn Building Renovation. The Burn Building is an original structure of the academy and has gone through several renovations over 50 years. Efforts continue toward maintaining the structure because of the allowances given for legacy burns. The renovation is the most intense the building has received and is complete this year within a $2.2 million budget.
The building was stripped to its structural members, which were then repaired or reinforced in areas of weakening. Proprietary tile is placed throughout the structure in areas designed for Smart Class A™ and legacy burns. The renovation features the Smart Class A™ fire technology by LION® on the first and second floor, giving instructors the same abilities the ship provides. The ease of ignition makes it possible for instructors to have trainees reset fires and move interior for fire attack. The basement is repaired and steps to prevent flooding are complete. A maze is featured with movable walls and doors to avert students’ ability to memorize the burn building’s layout. The roof is renovated to meet OSHA and NFPA standards.
Trauma Exposure as a Risk Factor for Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Brooke Bartlett, M.A., HFD Psychology Intern
The alarming rates of suicide among military veterans have recently been widespread among the media. Would you believe it if you were told that firefighters experience similar rates of suicide in comparison to military veterans? In fact, according to recent research, firefighters report higher rates of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts in comparison to both the general and military populations!
What about our firefighters here at HFD? Recent data collected from a sample of over 100 HFD firefighters indicated that nearly 20% reported having thoughts about harming or killing themselves in the past year, and that nearly 10% met criteria for being at high risk for suicide.
So why might firefighters, specifically, be at higher risk for suicide? Well, as you may know, a career in firefighting comes with a lot of unique occupational stressors. These include 24+ hour shifts on the job, a less-than-ideal sleep schedule, being separated from loved ones for long stretches of time, and of course, constant exposure to trauma.
Yes, believe it or not, any time you directly experience or witness actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence, you are experiencing trauma. While many firefighters think they are generally unaffected by this aspect of their job, the trauma-related symptoms that arise from this constant exposure can come out in sneaky ways. For example, you might notice you are more irritable and quick-to-anger than usual. You might also notice you are feeling more disconnected from friends and family, which may lead you to isolate yourself from others while at home or on shift. These feelings of disconnectedness and alienation may also lead to you feeling like your issues are, or would be, a burden on others, so you might decide to hold everything in and keep it to yourself. All of these feelings and behaviors are risk factors for the development of suicidal thoughts.
Moreover, constant exposure to trauma may desensitize some firefighters to the point that they have a decreased fear of death, generally, and an increased capability to tolerate physical discomfort and pain; both of which are major risk factors for suicide attempts, specifically.
It is the combination of all of these feelings and behaviors that put some firefighters at highest risk for suicide. So, what does all of this mean? First off, if you are experiencing any of these feelings or thoughts, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. While you may worry that you are the only person in the department struggling with these feelings, I assure you, you are one of many. It is highly encouraged that you reach out for help. For example, talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. The power of positive feedback and support is highly underestimated; you might even find out that the individual you reach out to is currently experiencing, or has experienced in the past, some of the same feelings. If you notice a fellow crew member in the department displaying some of these behaviors, reach out to them and have a conversation with them. Tell them about your concern. Provide them with whatever support they need. Do not “leave them be” because you do not want to bother or disturb them, or because you fear that they will lash out or get mad.
Lastly, you are always encouraged to reach out to psychological services at HFD. Psychology services are free to you and your immediate family members. To get connected, please contact:
Dr. Tran: (281) 901-4341
Dr. Buser: (281) 799-8032
Brooke Bartlett, M.A.: (619) 839-9318
Water Strike Team Training
Firefighters from (District 14) Deployable Operations Division's Water Strike Team conducted training today at T.C. Jester Pool. Members got familiar with their new equipment conducting rescues while wearing it. This equipment represents $300k of the nearly 2M approved by Mayor Turner and City Council for flood response equipment and additional training in swift water rescue.
Words are not enough to let you all know how grateful I am for all HFD and other fire/EMS departments in the Houston Area. Thank you for your brave hearts of service to help us all in the community during this drastic time while being away from your families. May you all be safe & God bless. -Luna
I'm really smart and put a ring on my finger that was much too small. After trying everything I could think of to get it off without success, I drove the mile to Ladder 28. They got it off and I got to keep my finger. These guys don't just save lives, they also help fix the little things THANKS!! - David
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.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces federal civil rights laws, conscience and religious freedom laws, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules, and the Patient Safety Act and Rule, which together protect your fundamental rights of nondiscrimination, conscience, religious freedom, and health information privacy. OCR protects your rights by:
• Teaching health and social service workers about civil rights laws, conscience and religious freedom laws, health information privacy, and patient safety confidentiality laws.
• Educating communities about civil rights, conscience and religious freedom rights, and health information privacy rights.
• Investigating civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, health information privacy, and patient safety confidentiality complaints to identify discrimination or violation of the law and taking action to correct problems.
• Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 509F, HHH Building
Washington, D.C. 20201
• Additionally, you may contact us at:
• Toll-free: (800) 368-1019
TDD toll-free: (800) 537-7697
Note: This information was taken from [HHS.gov] Office for Civil Rights page.
HFD HIPAA Compliance Officer:
Kenneth W. Payne