Sunday, March 30, 2014

W. Pa. Vol. Firefighter Dies during search for missing woman near railroad Tracks more questions than answers.

Young Wood Pa. is  an old railroad town in Westmoreland County   it even has a railroad museum. But it is also known for its volunteer fire depts K9 Search and Rescue Team .
They where recently called to a search for a missing woman in East Pittsburgh Pa. in Allegheny County  another town with 2  railroads passing thru it  the Norfolk and Southerns old PA Railroad  Main Line which goes up thru the Turtle Creek Valley to Trafford where there is a major inter-modal truck facility and the Union Railroad which serves the nearby US Steel Edgar Thompson Plant  in next door Braddock.
and ironically a railroad train would take the life of a 57 year old father of 2  volunteer firefighter. N&S
Trains come thru this valley at about 40 MPH  on three different tracks past whats left of the old Westinghouse Electric complex now an industrial park  so any search in this area it is imperative to be aware of and stay away from the tracks at all cost.there can be a train on any of the and running in opposite directions.
Man line Norfolk Southern

A snarl of tracks bridges and trains

With this in mind how this volunteer was struck and killed is still a mystery and plenty of questions will need to also be answered  and investigated such as was N&S notified a search was going on so trains would be slowed down and give extra warning signals.
Where volunteers given full instructions on how trains run in the valley and where they given  full safety instructions  and  reflective vests and warning flares/beacons  etc.  to warn approaching trains when it came to crossing tracks if they had to.
Well it appears we already know railroad was not notified of Saturday search according to railroad.

On KDKA radio the chief running the incident came on and even admitted  he did not double check had call been made he relied on Police telling him they did and that some trains had slowed down he thought.

Why did he not double check and even better not moved on the search till a railroad supervisor was on site with radios to communicate directly with the trains.  especially in fact you could have trains coming from opposite directions at same time which appears to be a factor in this tragic accident which did not have to happen.

When the investigation is done and all is said in the reports will anything change ? No because people including chiefs are not held accountable for there actions. After all he is a volunteer here to help like everyone else . Bull Shit.
Like I always  say the " Fire Service is its own worst enemy" when are we going to start holding people accountable for there actions and banning them from holding further offices in Fire Service  and charging them with negligence  instead of just writing up reports which get published into study's ?
How many more firefighter's need to die for no good reason?

Let me tell you this had this been a industrial plant and a supervisor told workers its OK to work on tracks train is called off and he had not done his job properly he would be cited and penalized by OSHA with possible loss of job and any certifications he holds and he could face criminal  and civil negligence charges why is it different for fighters. ?

Update : it appears missing woman had already drowned before the search started that day

Why in this modern age are we fighting fires with just water and seeing good men lose there lives fighting them.

Yes it happens all too often Firefighters dying at the scene of a fire but why?
Today firefighters have a tremendous amount of resources available to fight fires and extinguish them.
Including Class A  Foam and other cooling chemicals which quickly knock down fires and put them out fast including emergency grenade type units which explode with powder and puts out fires fast
So why are they still just using water in so many locations ?
It comes down to some very pathetic facts including  stupidity , ignorance and macho we fight fires caveman attitudes

Yes I have heard it time and again Foam costs money water is free. But Volunteer depts have money to spend putting chrome wheels and diamond plate  on there shiny fire trucks so they can take them to parades  so whats the real priority's when it comes to firefighting .The amount of money spent on fire trucks not needed and money to customize them also not needed could more than easily offset the costs of putting Class A Foam to use.
Why Insurance Company's are not insisting on its use also is a mystery as well.
Not only does Class A Foam put out fires faster it saves the environment from all the smoke a fire generates
plus diesel fumes firetrucks put off at fire scenes etc. and it allows a structure to be saved  a win win but No
Firefighters want to be the Hero and Slay the Fire Breathing  Dragon  and it is getting them killed by the hundreds every year.I am not the only one saying it as well

This attitude and excuses need to stop we have the technology to put fires out faster and save lives and the fire service is not doing it.
they would rather your house burn to ground while they play around with straight nozzle fire streams than put it on fog and put a room out faster because the dangers of steam.. Well if a fog nozzle pattern is used properly the steam is minimal and there is no danger but no we will stay there and fight the fire as long as it takes .
I saw several firefighters hurt at a fire in eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh fighting a room fire  when it got out of control instead of getting out and setting the nozzle on fog and putting it thru the open window and let the fog do the job no they had to stay in the house and get hurt.
There was a gigantic car tire fire in Washington County  Pa. about 20 years ago
dramatic news coverage and as the fire was going hot the Firefighters in Greensburg where ready and willing to run there high expansion  Class B foam units to the scene to put out the tire fire with foam. No local firefighters would not let them said it could not be done and instead it took them a month to put out the fire after they brought in bulldozers to break up the piles so they could be attacked. 30 days of heavy dark dangerous acrid smoke for no reason other than wanting to be Macho and fight the dragon.

So when is it going to stop ?
with less and less volunteers available and light weight construction  its going to have to be very soon
because there will not be enough firefighters to handle calls and maybe then insurance company's and codes will start mandating it. till them when you see firefighter deaths and injury's on TV know that many of them where avoidable had the slay the fire breathing  dragon mentality been put to rest long ago and modern techniques and technology put to use.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Allegheny County Pa. Once again fails to follow thru with Life Safety proposal as another town prepares for Tornadoes

When a tornado came thru Pittsburgh in the late  90's and then several severe storms which produced small micro-bursts it was all over the papers how Allegheny County Emergency management was going to work with local fire depts to use there sirens  for tornado warnings.
At the time I wrote the county office and offered my expertise with sirens and electric to see the program work but one big problem was not all fire depts had back up power generators the one I belonged to in Penn hills #224  did not .
It would have been rather easy to convert the sirens to do a fire siren tone for fire fighters and tornado tone for about $4500.00 per station at the time . Well the whole proposal as usual with Allegheny county along with county wide identification cards for firefighters to identify them went no where also . While surrounding depts in nearby countys have  one just this moth updated there system to do tornado calls as you can see in link below.

 If Allegheny county wants to ever go forward  with this proposal it is now way to late as many depts have shut down there sirens all together and  have removed them because neighbors do not like the noise. 
So once again here sits Allegheny County with no way to notify residents except by there cell phones ,TV ,radio and other gadgets when they remember they can actually do that and how to use it.  All of these devices power dependent and need to be turned on.
So we are no better off than we where in late 90's when another batch of tornadoes goes thru and even less prepared to get a warning out. inst that just great but this is what happens when you let Neanderthals into government.  

What where these Pa. Fire Officials thinking when they Designed and Approved Fire System in this Apartment Building ?

I do work for other alarm installers who are small independents like me helping them out with programming etc. since I am all setup with computers and cables and certified to work on certain brands.
One called me to a building up  Butler County about 50 miles  North of Pittsburgh   where he had just installed a Silent Knight 5700 - 50 point addressable panel
Very nice small addressable panel for this 12 unit building.
There had been a fire in one of the apartments and building owner hired my friend to put in a a fire system the fire officials wanted and my friend did an excellent job putting it in. Only problem the Fire Officials did not want smoke detectors in common hall ways and stairways areas just a smoke detector in bedroom and hall way  with accessory sounder bases  in the individual apartments even after my friend tried to convince them otherwise .
Which is a very bad decision  on the officials as many fires start in hallways and if it does it can block the way to escape. The faster a fire in a hallway is detected  the greater chance occupants could escape and in this case they could not get out windows they are too small or non existent in many rooms. When I talked to the official who came to inspect he said he did not want the false alarms caused by kids loitering around the building?   Clearly the  Pa. State Fire & Panic  codes in effect  at time  and the new State wide code which was just coming into law called for a full fire system that means hallways  and stairways but that's not what they wanted .they also did not want all the pull stations as well so you could notify all the tenants theirs a problem if you did discover a fire .
So shame on them for approving it this way which was completely against code but they get away with it all the time .I filed a complaint with state fire official but he has no powers to enforce and can only suggest things and labor & industry let it pass the way it was done .
Hopefully there never comes a time where the system will be put to test and there is a hallway fire and it goes undetected till it is too late .
But this is what you put up with In Pa. some protection ,no protection  or full protection  some times inspected some times not inspected. and if something goes wrong its cover your ass .
 Until Pa. gets serous about fire protection and following codes correctly the state will continue to lead the nation in fire deaths and firefighter deaths.
Like I keep saying " the Fire service is its own worse enemy" and in this case it proves it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wilson's new " Sleek " Smart Phone Booster a Winner

I have written about cell phone boosters in the past but using one with a smart phone has been trying to say the least well Wilson Electronics has come up with a fantastic solution I used this week while traveling thru rural Pa. and W. Va.  and its under $100.00 for 3 G and under $200 for 4 G version
Called the Sleek you slide your smart phone into it  set antenna on roof and  plug into cigarette lighter and away you go it even has a holder which allows hand free use of your phones display and best of all you can plug it into a USB charger and use it in you home or office which helps when you need to get that emergency 911 call out  or do not have a land line .

It claims it can boost your signal up to 20 times and more than appears to do so. Even back in valleys  and switch backs I never lost call .

It works with all carriers except for Nextel iden service which is slowly going away anyways .I am using it with a Motorola Droid X2
and has the new FCC required  carrier protection circuit which huts down the amplifier should it cause harm to carriers network in my book its a winner.  Wilson makes all kind of antennas and boosters for cellular as well as the famous K-40 CB Antenna.
So try one out if you can .

Friday, March 14, 2014

Firefighters do not wear safety harnesses on roofs but construction Workers must . Why is Fire Service not following this safety Practice ?

Like I always say " The Fire Service is its own Worst Enemy"
We have again another double standard where firefighters conduct operations on roofs and are not required to have on safety harness to prevent them falling off or thru the roof . Yet this same firefighter if he also works as a roofer must wear one . Do you see a problem with this ? I do.
How many firefighters lives could be saved and injury prevented if they wore a harness which was easily enough detached if they had to yet make a run for it yet  fire resistant enough to allow them to use it in daily work.
You can see in a link below where a firefighter slides off a metal roof clearly this situation called for harnesses

But instead a firefighter gets hurt and it is seen as a danger of the job. 

If this was a construction site OSHA would be all over them and a $25,000 +penalty would be accessed. 

Above  shows a typical harness made by  MSA  you must wear on roofs  a firefighters harness he uses to carry a air tank could be easily adapted to work just like this. Yet no one has done it. 
A firefighter needs to get away fast from scene etc etc. bull shit same thing if your working on a roof so I ask why have harnesses  not become mandatory on roofs for firefighters ? especially when there doing rescues and other tasks where fire is not involved.  I have done both jobs Firefighter and Construction and have tied off while doing firefighter stuff on roofs etc. and got criticized for it. Myself and many other firefighters who have worked in construction know for a fact a lot less firefighters would be getting hurt and dying on the job if the followed and knew the way buildings are constructed and took the safety precautions we do when putting up tearing down or modifying a building .
Instead of making up there own rules which gets them hurt because they are out of there league and do not know what goes on around them. That's why there are specialized private Industrial Fire Forces 
 for gas wells and hazmat situations and the fire service would do well to start realizing they are not equipped and trained to handle every situation and know when to back out and let professionals handle it. 

What do you think. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Solar Panels Posing Big Dangers to Firefighters why you may not want to install them on your home or business

Yes Solar Panels are becoming popular but they pose an Extremely Dangerous Condition to Firefighters
due to several factors

First - they can be Electrocuted by them due to DC Current running thru them or be entrapped in the wiring .

Secondly- they pose a major risk of roof collapse during a fire  due to there weight they put on the roof

Thirdly - a roof fire can not be gotten to under the panels allowing the fire to spread.

Which is what happened at a massive warehouse blaze at Dietz & Watson in Delanco NJ

The danger solar panels pose is so great that some states now require a very clearly marked plaque
be placed on the outside front of homes and business warning firefighters of the danger and systems be registered with local officials .

So what is the option. Solar panels can be placed in open areas on the ground if there is space where they can be safely watched and maintained. But this is not always an option but if you go on the roof know what you could face in the future and I see this becoming a big problem with code officials and Insurance company's in  the next few years where roof top installs will be banned.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

ADA Compliant Products the Total Pricing Scam being pulled on Buildings Owners and you ultimately pay for it.

The ADA American with Disabilities Act was put into law in the 90's  to make it easier for the Handicapped and disabled to be able to move about the community and make things more accessible to them including being able to work.

$269.00  my dealer cost for this sign 
One of the items covered by ADA is the ability of the disabled to be safe while at work or worship ,going to doctor  etc so if the accessible building is multi floored and has an elevator to accommodate the disabled . There needs to be an area of rescue assistance  set aside to allow them to stay safely during an emergency so they can be rescued as they may not be able to get to or be able to use the elevator to escape.
 It can be a small fire proofed room or a landing in a fire proof stairway. The disabled individual goes to the area where they can close door behind them and then there is a special intercom button they push which activates an alarm usually in lobby area which alerts the First Responders some one needs help they can talk from master station to the safe area or if person can not communicate a light comes on at station to show there call for help  has been received,
Of course these areas need special signs like the one above so they know where to escape to.
  It is nothing more than a standard lighted
exit sign  which if it said Exit would cost about $ 85.00 each  but because it says Area of Rescue Assistance    instead of Exit its $269.00  Why? good question because there are only couple company's who make them  and the market is locked up . This is ridicules and just one of many  high scam costs associated with the ADA code as only certain company's make certain products ,and yes you the consumer end up paying for it down the road because the person owning the building charges more rent etc to Dr. , Lawyer etc your going to see to cover all the costs of making a building code compliant.
That rescue intercom which is nothing more than a beefed up Intercom which normally costs $300. ends up costing $2800.00+  that special little room that bigger stall in restroom all take up leasable  real estate so  this also adds to more costs  in running a building and even thou its not space that can be leased the building owner still gets real estate taxed on it .All in all to add ADA features and keep and ADA compliant building it adds 30%-40 to the cost .If the scammers who make ADA approved products where brought under control and architects and designers where held to proper ADA  design specs instead of building ADA restroom stalls much bigger than they need to be  so you only have one stall not 2 so some one with irritable bowel suffers when they can not get to a stall in time and the architects and designers get paid by what they spec so the  more expensive products they demand the more floor space they take the more they make  . These costs could be only 10% for a building owner if it was not for all the scamming going on. .
But instead its the wild west out there with costs which are constantly rising and in many cases the only ones really benefiting from ADA are the lawyers who sue and scammers who provide products. Those who are disabled like me the law was designed to protect are forgotten.