Issue 3
June 2018
Houston Fire's Rescue 11 Prepares for Hurricane Season
By: Sheldra Brigham

The Houston Fire Department is heading into hurricane season with more flood response assets.  HFD has almost double the amount of evacuation boats than last year along with additional high water vehicles.  There has also been additional training for personnel.

The crew at Rescue 11 recently completed swift water rescue training and say while they are prepared for water rescues year-round, extra focus is placed on hurricane season.  

Operations Update
By: Assistant Chief Herbert Griffin

The Houston Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Division has developed the HFD Marine Group that incorporates rescue boats, evacuation boats, high water rescue vehicles, wave runners, unmanned aircraft system (Drones), and a Water Strike Team

HFD  also has new communication equipment.  Deployment began May 2018 and includes masks, SCBA, hoods, and radios. 

The Purpose of HFD Marine Group is to help communities that have been overwhelmed by the effects of natural or manmade flood disasters by providing them with specialized resources to assist local jurisdictions with search and rescue operations.

Not having enough equipment or trained personnel could lead to citizens waiting for long periods of time for rescue/ evacuation. By incorporating Water Strike Team assets, a push package of watercraft/High Water Vehicles as well as operators could be deployed into disaster district in a timely manner.

The Water Strike Team Drone will be used for mapping, search and rescue, live situational awareness (real-time stream to multiple devices), and point of interest survey.

Houston Fire Department Host Texas Brotherhood Ride 

The Texas Brotherhood Ride consists of Firefighters, Police Officers and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor emergency responders who died in the line of duty. Their mission is to provide emotional and financial support to their families and co-workers.

This year the group honored 11 Brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Their journey began in New Orleans, Louisiana and then to San Antonio Texas, traveling over 650 miles, averaging 80-100 miles each day. Those being honored this year include: Mike Louviere – Westwego Police Department, Spencer Chauvin – St. John Fire Department, Shawn Anderson – East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Shannon Brown – Fenton Police Department, Clint Greenwood – Harris County Precinct 3, Endy Nddiobong Ekpanya – Pearland Police Department, Bill “Iron Bill” Dowling – Houston Fire Department, Steven Whitfield – Houston Fire Department, Steve Perez – Houston Police Department, Scott Deem – San Antonio Fire Department, Miguel Moreno – San Antonio Police Department.

During the ride the group stayed one night at the Houston Fire Department Academy where a prayer and moment of silence was held. Thanks to District Chief Tim Dunn and District Chief Curtis Hill for coordination of HFD's participation.

Community Visits

Houston Fire Department Public Affairs at Sands Point Apartment for their annual Child Safety event.

Good Cause

Houston Fire riding with wounded warriors for a good cause.

100 Club Awards
Astros Player Has Several Connections to Houston Fire Station 

Astros player Chris Devenski spent an afternoon with the crew of HFD Station 47.  The visit it part of a continuing effort. Gardner Denver, in partnership with the Astros Foundation and Astros players, are sponsoring the Adopt-A-Fire Station initiative, which seeks to support local first responders and the work they do in the Houston community. The program connects Houston fire stations and Astros players by their corresponding jersey numbers. Devenski’s Jersey is 47 and he

presented Station 47 with a very nice keepsake. In addition, the mascot for station 47 is a dragon. The crew found out during his visit that "Dragon" is Devenski's nickname!

Human Resources Update
By: Assistant Chief Michelle Bentley

Service Awards: Celebrating Our Members

Congratulations to our members celebrating a significant anniversary of employment with the Houston Fire Department!  Clearly, reaching this milestone is a very special occasion for you. It is also a very special occasion for our department, the community and the citizens of Houston.

The successful growth of the Houston Fire Department is the direct result of you, our members. Your continued contributions are vital for the Department to continue to be successful in meeting our stated Mission, Goals and Values. Your dedication and commitment serve as a vital link in the chain which drives our operation. In recognition of that commitment it is our practice to present you with a certificate of appreciation and a pin.

 Please keep in mind that the City runs a year behind, so we are currently working on 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years of service for 2017. The certificates and pins received for 2017 will be appropriated by district and/or immediate supervisor, so that they may distributed accordingly.

Again, thank you for your hard work and dedication. The Department looks forward to your ongoing contributions and a bright and successful future together. Any questions or concerns may be sent to Sylvia Almazan via email at sylvia.almazan@houstontx.gov.

Upcoming Classified Promotional Examinations:

  • District Chief – May 30th

  • Senior Captain – Assessment on July 31st, Written Exam on August 28th

  • Captain – Assessment on August 1st, Written Exam on August 29th

  • Engineer Operator – October 10th (pending Civil Service Commission approval of the exam announcement)

 

Position Vacancies (as of May 24, 2018)

  • District Chief – 3 vacancies

  • Senior Captain – 1 vacancy

  • Captain – 4 vacancies

Congratulations to our members who were recently honored by the 100 Club Houston, TX.

Retired HFD Public Information Officer and Retired Houston Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jay Evans who has provided more than 60 years of service to the Houston Community! Chief Evans was honored with the Jay Jahnke Memorial Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.

For their efforts in rescuing a citizen trapped behind burglar bars in the burning home in May of last year: Engineer Operator Rogelio Rivas and Firefighter Marquise Elder received Firefighter of the Year and Firefighter Eddie Acosta received Rookie Firefighter of the Year.

For stopping a dangerous individual who was wielding a knife towards a citizen in July of last year, Firefighter Sergio Porrata received Firefighter of the Year.

For their efforts during a house fire during the weekend of Hurricane Harvey, faced with flooded streets and limited access: Captain Nathan Lilley, Engineer Operator Brandon Hernandez, and Firefighters Dustin Davis, Brian Dea, Michael DeLeon and Carlos Gallegos received Firefighter of the Year.

These are just a few examples of the dedicated service and heroic acts our members preform every day, without mention.

Firefighter for a Day

The crew of ladder 16 visited a 3-year-old patient named Edison Clinger. Edison  recently underwent spinal nerve surgery to treat muscle spasticity. The procedure required him to lay flat for 24 hours post-op. During that time, he played non-stop with firetruck toys and watched videos of firefighters. He even has his own fire helmet. The staff at Children’s Memorial reached out to firefighters and HFD made Edison a firefighter for a day! 

HFD Defeats HPD in Battle of the Branch Softball Game

Battle of the Branch was held at the Springspirit Baseball Field.  Hosted by CM Brenda Stardig, the softball game had the Houston Police Department playing the Houston Fire Department. The final score was HFD 19-HPD 10.  

OEC Update
By: Deputy Chief Communications John W. Syzdek Sr.
  • The Fire Dispatch Steering Committee forwarded recommendations to Emergency Response to roll out a change in policy on Automatic Alarm and Elevator responses. Changes to be announced and take effect soon.

  • During the month of April 2018 - 83 Psychiatric calls were transferred to Crisis Call Diversion counsellors. HFD is on track to match and/or surpass the 1st quarter total of 269 diversions. The CCD program is proving to conserve HFD resources.  

HFD Golf Tournament Breaks Records
By Paul Box

The 14th Annual Houston Firefighters Charity Golf Classic held on May 21at Pine Forest Country Club was a great success. The rains held off just long enough for the players to finish their round. Over $15,000 was raised at the tournament for the Houston Firefighters Protection Fund to help firefighters and their families. Sponsor and player entry fees, raffle ticket and mulligan sales, an incredible silent auction and first-ever live auction all combined to raise a record amount for the protection fund.

Over 130 players registered to play and trophies were awarded for first, second and third place along with great prizes for many hole challenges on the course. 

First Place Team: Steve Treat, David Doyle, Chuck Clark, Steve Landry

Second Place Team: Mark Cusic, Jarrett Phillips, Justin Cervantes, Frank Cervantes

Third Place Team: Izzy Gomez, Manuel Caballero Jr., Manuel Caballero Sr., Jerry De La Rosa

Closest to the Pin Challenge: Blake White, Pat Bergman

Longest Drive: Jason Washington, Owen Massey

Thanks to all who participated and volunteered.

Wounded Warrior Ride Honors Two from HFD

HFD took to the streets of Houston along with injured veterans for the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride. This educational multi-day bicycling program introduces adaptive cycling into warriors' fitness routines to help them with physical and mental recovery. 

 

Soldier Ride takes warriors across the nation - visiting dozens of American cities, including New York City; Chicago; San Diego; Portland; Pittsburgh; and Washington, DC

 

This ride is unique as the first day kicks off at the Johnson Space Center, where approximately 40 NASA employees will join injured veterans for a 15-mile bike ride around the space center property.  

 

While the location of each ride changes, one thing remains the same: Soldier Ride helps injured veterans overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds through adaptive exercise and reintroduces the unique bonds of military service to the recovery process.

HFD Team Climbs 50 Flights for Cancer Cures 
A Note from Risk Managenent

HFD Important Numbers for Workers Compensation:

 

Felicia Douglas

Administration Manager 832-394-6603

Sofie Chea HR Specialist 832-394-6626

Angel Barnhart Administrative Coordinator 832-393-6171

Tri Star Important Numbers:

Lost Time Adjuster- Monica Oviedo 832-710-4444 x 3618

Medical Only Adjuster: Deneishia Washington 832-710-4444 x 3614

 

• The updated Supervisor Accident Packet (HFD Form 51) is located on HFD Desktop - Forms

 

• If a member is losing time (unable to report to work), there must be medical documentation taking them off work. Verbal statements are not accepted.  The Workers Compensation DWC-73 Form is the preferred documentation; however, other written statements from the medical provider are acceptable for work-related injuries/illnesses.  

 

• Approved City of Houston Drug Testing Facilities (Including location and day/hours of operation) are attached to the Drug Notification Form 269 on HFD Desk Top - Forms

 

• Once members have completed any form of drug testing (Return to Work, Random, For Cause), they must call Felicia Douglas, and provide or leave a voice message with the Specimen ID information.

 

• Members returning to work after being off more than 30 consecutive calendar days (regardless of the reason) MUST be drug tested and SHALL remain a “house mouse” until a negative result is issued. This normally takes 72 hours. The Drug Test Coordinator (DTC) will send an email to the member’s shift and debit day shift District Chief or equivalent ranking supervisor in support areas informing them of the results once received.

Saying Thanks!

I’d like to thank Houston Fire and in particular Firefighters/Engineer Jackson and Washington for their assistance and professionalism on May 12, 2018, moving a patient onto a Gulfstream jet. Being a small flight crew, we don’t always have the resources to move a large patient up the narrow stairs to the patient berthing area for transport. In this case we were moving the patient to Qatar in the Middle East. We appreciate your generosity sharing these fine strong firefighters to assist us. 

 

Gene Houghtaling RN (retired firefighter Paramedic/Engineer) AC Global Medical Transports 

School Visits
Coming Up

June 13 at 5pm- 6pm Hunt. Fish. Feed Event

Fire Station 8 1919 Louisiana St. Houston, TX 77002

June 14 at 5:30pm

First Responder Express Train Ride BNSF Pearland Location

HR Reminders

HFD took part in  BIG Climb Houston on May 19. 

It’s a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. It’s 50 floors to the rooftop of Three Allen Center in downtown Houston. Registration was paid for by is planet fitness for first responders.

Sr. Captain Joshua Vogel - Marine Group

How long have you been with the department?

 

I have been in since Jan 5 2004.

 

The water strike team will consist of firefighters from suppression that will be trained in water rescue, high water vehicles as well as boat operations. The team will be called in pre-hurricane to stage and or staff additional equipment that will be used to reinforce areas that have a high number of rescues. 

 

How will the Marine Strike Team operate? 

 

This team will give HFD the ability to cover areas that are well know to flood with pre-staged equipment and the water strike team will have the ability to reinforce those areas or deploy to areas that were not expected to flood. This team gives HFD more flexibility in how it is able to deploy assets to effect a better outcome.

What are your goals for the unit?

 

My hope is that this team will receive a well rounded education in water rescue operations and we will be able to increase the quality as well as quantity of rescues we provide to the citizens of Houston. I would also like to see our team reach out to our neighboring communities in times of need with well trained personnel and equipment. I believe that our primary mission is to help those in need through providing our members with training and equipment so that we can effect the greatest positive impact on our community.

What are you thoughts on being picked for this new position?

Being given the opportunity to run the Marine Group means a lot to me. After working all 3 of the last major floods in District 21 with limited resources it has become my passion to help acquire equipment as well as training for our firefighters in order to help our citizens. I do not want to ever be in the position where I am limited in my ability to help due to a lack of resources and training. Having been given the opportunity to head this group is giving me the ability to have a direct impact in achieving this goal. 

Shrink Wrap

Your Guide to Better Sleep

By Christine Pao, Psychology Intern

“I can sleep when I’m dead”. “Sleep is for the weak”. These are common mantras that many people, including first responders, live by. Between making time for side jobs, family, friends, exercise, and everything else you’ve got going on in your life, oftentimes a good night’s sleep becomes the last priority. And on top of it all, even if you’ve resolved to make sleep your top priority, responding to back-to-back, high stress calls during 24-hour shifts sometimes makes it nearly impossible to get any shut eye.

Research has shown that 73% of firefighters report poor sleep quality. (In our most recent research here at HFD, 45% of our firefighters reported clinically disturbed sleep.) However, humans (yes, that includes you) need an average of 8 hours of sleep per day. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Broadly speaking, our bodies go through 4 different stages of sleep, and each cycle repeats itself roughly every 90 minutes.

➢ WELLNESS benefit leave expires on August 31st!  This time does not carry over into the next benefit year, so now is the time to schedule any needed health check-up appointments.  Remember to bring a Form 48 “Verification of Physician Visit” – available on HFD Desktop – Forms.

➢ Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st!  If you have not already done so, login to the Employee Self Service (ESS) website accessible from HFD Desk Top – Quick Links and update your contact information under the Personal Profile tab.  Click on the “pencil” icon to edit/update information.

➢ The City of Houston has awarded all COH employees who completed the entire 2017-2018 Wellness Program (online health assessment and one wellness engagement option) with a Cigna Healthy Awards Account in the amount of $35.

 

Employees may utilize these funds for medical services such as:

 

✓ Physician visit copays

✓ Pharmacy claims

✓ Inpatient/Outpatient hospital facilities

 

Funds will expire April 30, 2019, so employees must utilize them prior to this date or the funds will be forfeited.

To access your Healthy Awards Account, check balances, and track transactions, login to MyCigna.com, hover over “Manage Claims & Balances” and click on “Balances & Account Transactions”.

HFD Statistics

Each stage is important, but we need to reach the latter two stages—deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—in order to reap the most benefits.

 When we constantly wake up, we have to start a new cycle all over from the beginning. Similarly, when we don’t make rest a priority, we may not get enough full cycles of sleep. Not getting enough sleep one or two days a week might make you feel groggy or less energetic. But chronic lack of sleep can wreak more havoc on us than we might know. Some of the hidden side effects of sleep deprivation include:

  • Slowed reaction times.

  • Increased eating during the day.

  • Higher blood pressure.

  • Poor memory performance.

  • Decreased ability to learn new things.

  • Increased irritability.

  • Higher stress levels.

But between handling all of your responsibilities and commitments, how can you balance taking care of yourself and getting enough sleep? Here are some tips to get you on your way to a full night’s rest:

 

  • Find a routine. Our bodies love routine. Even though your schedule might be different everyday, find a weekly sleep routine that works for you, and stick with it.

  • Get your family on board. It can be easy to sacrifice sleep to meet family demands. But having an honest conversation with your family about your sleep needs can help establish boundaries that will allow you uninterrupted time for rest. Bonus: You’ll be more alert and engaged with them later on when you’re well-rested.

  • Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Turn off all electronic devices at least 20 minutes before bedtime. The light from your smartphones and TV can disrupt your sleep cycle. If you have trouble winding down without some kind of distraction, try reading a book or writing your thoughts down in a journal.

  • Skip the nightcap. Although having a drink (or two, or three) may initially help you fall asleep, alcohol has been shown to interfere with our ability to reach deep sleep.

  • Get outside when you wake up. Natural sunlight cues your body that it’s time to be alert and helps realign your biological clock. Even 5 minutes outside can be a refreshing wake-up call.

  • Use technology to your advantage. Fitness trackers such as Fitbit or various apps can help track your sleep patterns, allowing you to get some feedback on how much you’re sleeping (or not sleeping). Use this information to get a sense of your body’s natural clock.

  • Sleep deprivation is a very real issue, particularly with firefighters, that needs to be taken seriously. If you’ve tried everything and you’re still having trouble getting enough sleep, remember that behavioral health services are offered to you for FREE at HFD. To get connected, please contact: (281) 901-4341 or (281) 799-8032.

Christine Pao is an HFD Psychology Intern working with Dr. Sam Buser and Dr. Jana Tran, HFD Staff Psychologists. Christine is a doctoral student in the UH Counseling Psychology program.

Houston Fire Department Promotional Ceremony

In May, HFD responded to 29,515 incidents – 3,731 Fires and 25,784 EMS

 

Busiest Stations for May

 

Station 8 –   total of 1,731 responses

Station 46 – total of 1,520 responses

 

Station 28 – total of 1,498 responses

 

Station 73 – total of 1,450 responses

 

Station 55 – total of 1,361 responses

 

Busiest Units for May

 

Ambulance 7 - 510 responses

District Chief 68 - 85 responses

Ambulance Supervisor 30 - 281 responses

Engine 46 – 414 responses

Hazmat Unit 1 – 85 responses

Ladder 28 – 218 responses

 

Medic 60 – 350 responses

 

Medical Safety Unit 92

 

(ARFF) – 222 responses

Heavy Rescue 11 – 155 responses

 

Safety Officer 24 – 160 responses

 

Squad 8 and 68 – both had 433 responses

 

Sr EMS Supervisor 33 – 37 responses

 

Tower 6 – 89 responses

Those who were recently promoted (only those in attendance pictured), included:

 

District Chief Andrew Haygood, Sr. Captain: Michael Caric, Gregory Obert, Christine Langas, George Nicasio , Billy    Fly, Captain: Jesus Rodriguez, Brandon Hatton, Matt Drum,Jason Gober, Jeremiah Barnes, Bryan Grantom, Richard Romolo, Mitchell Bosarge, John Nanninga, Investigator: Kit Corcorcan, Michael Foucheux, Chase Culpepper, Kenneth Dudley, Inspector: Jeannice Mitchell, Derrick Lewis, Scott Biehl, Communications Captain: Harrison Phillips, Geralynn Semien

Gabriel Lozano, Renley Torres, Engineer Operator: Shawn Allen, Jason Hill, Thomas Pierrel, Rogelio Salinas, Wayne Richards, Lance Winkler, Austin Zoch, Edgar Rios, Robert Schulze, Brandon Lewis, John Heydle, Travis Seynaeve, Jason Rodriguez, AnthonyFloyd, Joshua Marston, Brandon, LeeFaulk, Kevin Labelle, Michael Anderson, Christopher Clugy, Henry Rodriguez, Eduardo Garza, Kyle Woodrome, Matthew Lawrence, Xavier Moreno, Justin Brown, Ryan Bubela, Travis Neumann, Michael Grissom, Stephen Pate, Dustin Hill, Mark Keelen

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