President’s Letter: Fighting Fire Through Research

Firefighting and Health
May 26, 2016
FSTAR Training Course: Increased Thermal Hazards in Wind-Driven Fires
June 2, 2016
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President’s Letter: Fighting Fire Through Research

Since the bygone era of Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade in Philadelphia, our number-one job in the communities we serve is to put the fire out as quickly and safely as possible. Ben, with his many inventions, including the Franklin Stove, may very well have understood flow path.

But the structure fires of the 1700s or even of 50 years ago weren’t the same as fires today. Today’s fires burn hotter, travel faster and produce more dangerous chemicals.

As a fire chief, I need every tool at my disposal to support my firefighters and move my department forward through times of change and stress. As a firefighter, I know my job has risks, and I have to do whatever I can to minimize those risks to my personal health and wellness.

Adapting our strategies and tactics to the modern fireground is no different; we must use science and research to educate every firefighter about the risks we face.

The Firefighter Safety Through Advanced Research (FSTAR) program was developed to translate research into practice. FSTAR currently houses more than 400 peer-reviewed research studies, articles, videos and other materials specific to the fire service. Since research is often written in technical language, it can be hard to decipher. The IAFC built FSTAR to help translate the information and answer the fire service’s need for knowledge.

Have you taken advantage of these resources?

  • FSTAR Fact Sheets: Short, translated materials focused on providing the fire service-specific outcomes of research projects. The complete collection is available in the Featured Studies section.
  • Increased Thermal Hazards in Wind-Driven Fires training: FSTAR and the IAFC have produced a free, 1.5 hour, web-based course that reviews research-based tactics, including flow path, size-up, the effects of wind on flow path, the thermal hazards associated with structure fires and how wind effects influence the development of an incident action plan. The course is based on the NIST study One-Story Ranch Wind-Driven Fire, April 12, 2009, Houston, Texas. Register on the website to take this course.
  • Infographics: Hang these visual materials in your stations to help your firefighters understand the true risks to their long-term health. See all of our infographics by choosing “infographic” as your filter in the FSTAR search.

I encourage you to visit and to take advantage of these free resources designed with your needs in mind.

President’s Letter: Fighting Fire Through Research
By: Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, President and Chair of the Board
First published in IAFC On Scene, on May 19, 2016.
Reprinted with permission of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.