Needville Fire Department Dedicates New Rescue Truck

25 03 2016

Recent article from the Fort Bend Herald, published on March 5, 2016:

 

Fire Chief Keith Thumann and members of the Needville Fire Department received the department’s newest fire rescue vehicle on Friday, March 4, during a dedication ceremony at the Fire Department’s Station No. 1 on Richmond Street.

The fire/rescue truck will replace several apparatus the department has phased out over the last three years with the proceeds of those sales helping to make it possible to purchase the new rescue truck. The new Rescue 71 will respond to emergencies in all areas of the NFD service area, approx. 172 square miles, as needed. The last time the volunteer department purchased a new fire truck was in 2007.

“In Needville, we are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated group of firefighters who have taken the oath to enter harm’s way in order to keep our community safe,” said Chief Keith Thumann.

“It is only deserving then that these brave men and women who volunteer have access to the safest, most reliable, and most advanced fire fighting equipment that’s available. When an emergency strikes, it is essential that our firefighters can act with precision and this state of the art rescue truck is a tool to help with doing just that.”

“Our Needville firefighters do an excellent job in fighting fires but we are also recognized for providing medical response for our citizens,” said Assistant Chief Craig Radar.

Needville firefighters gather around their new rescue truck

Needville firefighters gather around their new rescue truck

“This new rescue truck will help them arrive with first responder tools to begin basic medical needs,” added Radar. Needville Fire Department was recently recognized by Fort Bend County Emergency Medical Services as a First Responder Organization.

Only organizations who have maintained current medical training with EMT level response qualify. The fire department is a non-profit organization whose board members worked for several years to save funds needed to buy a custom made apparatus to meet the diverse needs in the department’s service area.

“We want to thank our supporters for donating at various events, fundraisers, BBQ sales, and private donations to help make this day happen”, said Assistant Chief and Treasurer Michael Richter.

In recent weeks, the NFD service area (a major portion of southeast Fort Bend County) has experienced several residential and grass fires, and major motor vehicle accidents. The weather is still a major factor in both situations. The dryer conditions and high winds can make it easier for a simple brush fire to get out of control.
And with more traffic on the roads through the Needville service area slick road conditions and fog have played a contributing factor in the severity of the accidents the department has had to respond to., he said.

“The Needville Fire Department wants to once again remind residents to be vigilant this spring and summer season—a time that traditionally sees a spike in fire and medical calls to our department,” added Chief Thumann.

For additional details on the new fire truck contact Fire Chief Keith Thumann at 832-474-0143 or PIO Dwayne “Sparky” Anderson at 979-793-4262.





Katy Hire New Fire Chief

21 03 2016

Article by Dennis Spellman, published on March 16, 2016 in Covering Katy:

 

City of Katy LogoRussell Wilson was named City of Katy fire chief by the city council earlier this week. Wilson currently serves as an assistant fire chief with the City of Irving. He will start his new post on May 2.

Wilson holds a Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Management Administration and has been in the fire service industry for 27 years. He is certified through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a master firefighter, fire instructor master, hazardous materials response technician and field examiner. Wilson is also a graduate of the Fire Service Chief Executive Officer Program through the business school at Texas A&M University.

The hiring of Katy’s new fire chief concludes what was a 5 month selection process.

Wilson will take over for interim Fire Chief Rufus Summers, who has lead the department for more than two years. During his time at the helm he led the restructuring of the fire department.

The Katy Fire Department began with a group of volunteers in 1947. According to the City of Katy website, 14 men met in a schoolroom and established the city’s fire protection service. The department’s equipment consisted of an Army surplus crash truck purchased from Ellington Field with money donated by the residents of Katy. The Katy Volunteer Fire Department gradually increased in size as the city grew and developed.

Today, the department has grown from an all-volunteer department to a professional department with paid personnel. Still, the department encourages volunteerism, according to the city’s website.

In addition to providing fire and emergency medical services, the department also oversees the city’s Office of Emergency Management, which handles natural and manmade disasters.





City Fire & Rescue Services Improves ISO Rating to Highest Level

15 02 2016

Below, please find information from a News Release issued by the City of Missouri City today:

Earlier this month, Missouri City was notified by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) that effective Aug. 1, 2016, it will have a Public Protection Class rating of 1/1Y, the highest rating awarded by ISO. Currently, only 26 cities in Texas and 97 cities nationwide have achieved a Class 1 rating, a prestigious group that Missouri City will soon join thanks to the many staff members, elected officials and stakeholder partners that assisted in improving public safety needs for the “Show Me City”.

ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program (PPC) plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Most U.S. insurers use the PPC information as part of their decision making when deciding what businesses to underwrite, coverages to offer or prices to charge for residential or commercial property insurance. Communities that improve their PPC rating may get lower insurance premiums.

“Receiving an ISO Class 1 is a huge achievement for a Fire Department. In the fire service world, it is a very high honor to have this designation,” Fire Chief Russell Sander said. “An ISO Class 1 public protection rating is the highest a fire department and community can receive. We are proud to join the ranks of other local, state and nationwide municipalities who have achieved a similar rating. ”

Missouri City & Rescue Services Chief Russell Sander poses in front of Fire Station 5

Missouri City & Rescue Services Chief Russell Sander poses in front of Fire Station 5

Missouri City’s Fire & Rescue Services Department put a plan in action after it received its most recent ISO rating in 2006, which at the time was an ISO Class 3 Public Protection Rating. The Department’s multi-year plan included enacting the Quint concept, improving and increasing the training of firefighters, and improving the fire education and prevention activities, such as adopting the 2015 Fire Code.

In 2014, the department had a contractor evaluate the City’s status and suggest improvements before the actual grading process began in 2015. ISO rates communities periodically based on the last PPC score. Improvements were made based on this study that were within the budgetary limits.

“The opening of Fire Station 5 was also crucial to helping the City achieve the ISO rating and ensured that residents in our ETJ received the same rating,” Chief Sander said. “Additionally, the operation of the squad full-time provided additional staff on duty. It also reduced the calls the Quint responded to out of station 1, leaving it available for fire calls.”

Property owners within five miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant could save a possible 9 percent on residential buildings and 4 percent on commercial properties. A Class 1 also assists as an economic development tool. Missouri City’s Class 1 rating will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2016 and, afterward, residents will be able to ask their insurance providers how the new rating may impact premiums.

ISO evaluates a community’s Fire Department’s response capabilities, training, and equipment. It also evaluates the 911 dispatch center’s ability to handle emergency calls. Municipal water systems are also evaluated.

More information on the program can be found on the Texas State Fire Marshal website: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/fmppcfaq.html.

For more information about Missouri City, please watch the City website: http://www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter and Instagram—@MissouriCityTX and watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse).





Missouri City Opens New Fire Station Tomorrow

30 06 2015

On tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1, 2015, Missouri City Fire Station 5, located at 190 Waters Lake Blvd., will officially open its doors and begin serving the southern portion of Sienna Plantation. Officers and drivers for the new station were sworn in on Thursday, June 25, at a special ceremony at the City Centre at Quail Valley, 2880 La Quinta Dr. A grand opening ceremony for the public is being planned for Saturday, Aug. 15; please watch the City’s website: www.missouricitytx.gov for details.

“The opening of Fire Station 5 has been greatly anticipated by City Council, staff and Sienna residents who will be served by the new station. The hiring of new Fire and Rescue Services staff to man the station and drive fire and rescue vehicles will also alleviate the City’s other fire stations, benefiting residents across all districts,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said. “The new fire station will now open thanks to the agreement the City made with Sienna Plantation Municipal Utility District No. 1 for its funding and future operations.”

Missouri City Fire Station 5The new station is 7,848-square-feet and was designed to add a third bay in the future. The third bay can be used to house an ambulance or other resources depending on the resource needs of the area as the community reaches full build out.

“While the interior of the station provides the same functions as Fire Station 4, the layout is different to facilitate additional firefighters in the future, improve functionality of the facility and to provide a more open living area,” Fire and Rescue Services Chief Russell Sander said. “The exterior design is similar to the Sienna theme of the commercial development along Highway 6. The addition of the station will decrease response times in Sienna South by half, bringing it within national standards of five minutes and 20 seconds for the majority of the area.”

For more information about Missouri City, please visit the City website: http://www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse) and follow us on Twitter and Instagram—@MissouriCityTX.





Katy Plans to Begin Construction on New Fire Station by April

29 12 2014

Katy city officials are preparing to sell bonds to pay for a new fire station (as seen in accompanying artist’s rendering) to serve residents and businesses south of Interstate 10. Voters approved a $5 million bond proposal in November to pay for capital improvements, including a new fire station.

New Katy Fire Station

The new facility will feature three apparatus bays and an additional apparatus area, dormitory for fire and emergency medical services personnel, a kitchen, dining room and living area, a fitness and exercise room and a training tower, noted City Administrator Byron Hebert.

Construction on the city’s second fire station should begin in March or April, Hebert said. The timing is right to sell bonds as interest rates are low and the city’s credit rating was just upgraded, Hebert noted.





Meadows Place Receives Rare National Distinction

13 12 2014

The following article was posted on fortbendstar.com by Michael Sudhalter on October 31, 2014.

JPG, Logo, Meadows Place

The City of Meadows Place welcomed Deputy State Fire Marshall Jesse Williams and Insurance Services Office (ISO) Manager Phillip Bradley to their October council meeting to award a rare distinction on the City of Meadows Place and their fire department.

The ISO utilizes a statewide classification system that ranks and scores cities based on their ability to service their community for fire suppression. The ranking system takes into account the fire alarm facilities, quality of equipment (maintenance as well as their capabilities), planned water distribution methods and effectiveness. Cities are broken down in to a Public Protection Classification (PPC), which provides tiers ranked 1 to 10, with 1 being the best. Larger cities are traditionally well financed and usually are rated between 3-4. Smaller, and more rural communities tend to have higher ranking results.

Meadows Place has been award the rare honor of a PPC top ranking of 1. To put that in context, the ISO grades over 48,000 cities / communities nationwide. Of that, 80 have received the ranking of 1 nationwide. Texas leads the nation with 23 of those communities, however in Fort Bend County, only Stafford joins the City of Meadows Place with the distinction of being ranked 1.

“It takes the entire leadership of a city to achieve this distinction. This award is truly a statement to the willingness of the city to prioritize their resident’s safety,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jesse Williams.

Having a top ranked Fire Department assists in peace of mind for residents, but the ranking can also have financial implications. Most homeowner insurance rates are influenced by the specific community’s claim experience. The PPC rating also influences the rate. A report by the Texas Department of Insurance noted “The premium on a brick veneer house is 39 percent higher in an area rated 10 (worst) than one rated 1 (best).” They went on to show that the range is even greater for frame houses.

Mayor Charles Jessup was awarded the honor on behalf of the city, “Earning an ISO Class 1 rating is a great accomplishment, and one to be proud of. I applaud the efforts of all involved, for this was no easy feat. It took drive, determination and the political will to achieve, but most of all, it took the desire to be the best.”





San Francisco Jet Crash Puts Focus on Rescue Perils

9 08 2013

Fire-AirportsThis item is reprinted from the August 8th edition of the New York Times.  The article was written by Matthew L. Wald and gives a glimpse of the challenges fighting fires at airports.  The recent crash of the Asiana Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport on July 6th brought much attention to airport firefighting and rescue operations, especially after the facts seemed to point to one of the passengers being run over by a responding airport fire truck.  As in much of today’s firefighting, approximately 70% of the calls handled by airport fire crews are for medical-related calls for assistance.  But, in addition to being emergency medical technicians, airport firefighting crews also spend time being drilled on the proper firefighting techniques for each of the many models of airplanes.  In the article below, Mr. Wald gives you a glimpse into some of the complexities of emergency response at airports.

The firehouse near the end of Logan Airport’s Runway 14 is home to the pride and joy of the airport’s rescue and firefighting team: Engine 3, a 1,000-horsepower, four-wheel-drive behemoth with thermal imaging and a radar screen, its body painted a special color, Boston Lime Green.

Acquired in 2010 for $1.3 million, Engine 3 will soon be joined by two more high-tech trucks as Logan plays catch-up with the challenges of fighting fires on today’s bigger and more sophisticated planes.

“When the bell rings, you’ve got to be ready,” said Edward C. Freni, Logan’s director of aviation.

But fire trucks can present their own dangers, fire experts say. The crash of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International on July 6, and the fact that one of the three passengers who died was run over by a fire truck, has drawn new attention to airport firefighting like the kind at Logan.

Although there will not be a definitive explanation of how the passenger died until an investigation is completed by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is reviewing onboard videos, reports circulating among firefighters indicate that at San Francisco, one fire truck pulled up near the airplane’s nose and started spraying foam. A second truck arrived later, forward of the right wing, and ran over the passenger, who was likely covered in foam.

“They’re responding with very large trucks capable of delivering 3,000 gallons of water with fire suppressant in a matter of a few seconds,” said George Doughty, a former airport manager and former official at the Federal Aviation Administration. A passenger flat on the pavement could quickly be obscured by foam, he said, and “the risk of hitting a survivor is very real.” A passenger could even be drowned, he said.

Officials in San Francisco have not said whether the passenger, a 16-year-old Chinese girl, was still living at the time she was struck. Two other passengers on that Asiana flight were also killed.

Presuming that trucks reach a burning plane without mishap, there are other snap judgments to be made, firefighters said. For example, some trucks carry a boom with a tip resembling a giant hypodermic needle that can penetrate the fuselage and squirt the fire-suppressing foam. The most likely use is on a cargo plane, but they could be used on a passenger plane, perhaps even before firefighters are sure that all the passengers have gotten out. Firefighters are trained to punch a hole near the crown of the fuselage, avoiding the overhead luggage bins and entering at an angle to reduce the chance of spearing a passenger.

Quick action is essential, fire experts say, because modern planes like the Boeing 787 are increasingly made of carbon fiber, which burns faster than the traditional aluminum and produces more toxic smoke.

In big crashes, firefighters have to handle multiple levels of chaos. “There is an active fire, debris on the runway and persons evacuating the aircraft,” said Duane Kann, the fire chief at the Orlando airport. The driver might be alone, and the trucks have extra equipment, including a Forward-Looking Infra-Red camera, known as Flir, for finding fires in poor visibility.

“There’s the Flir, looking for hot spots, and he’s listening to the radio,” Chief Kann said. “There’s a lot of things happening in the cab of that vehicle.”

Airport firefighters are drilled on different models of airplanes and sometimes travel to distant airports to do so. Manufacturers like Boeing issue special instructions for each model and give the locations of critical items like batteries.

Firefighting strategies also differ by the size of the plane. Larger aircraft are usually taller, with longer evacuation slides, so firefighters are trained to park their trucks further away to avoid interference.

The F.A.A. requires fire equipment appropriate to the types of planes at an airport, but it does not specify staffing levels. In 2009, a United Nations aviation organization and the National Fire Protection Association began a campaign to impose such standards and require that crews be able to reach a crash scene in two minutes.

But a National Academy of Sciences panel that studied the idea said that it would cost $2.8 billion to set up and $1.3 billion a year thereafter. Reviewing government reports of accidents from January 1997 to December 2007, the study found that the tougher standards “may have made a difference in the outcome for at most one individual.”

Fire-Airports-AsianaThe philosophy at Logan is to be prepared for the worst but to respond proportionately. In January after an American Airlines MD-80 landed with a wheel on fire, the rescue crew, using thermal imaging and communicating with the cockpit crew over a special channel, persuaded the captain not to use the emergency chutes and to wait for a truck with attached stairs to pull up.

“We averted a needless evacuation,” said Robert J. Donahue Jr., the fire chief. Whenever the slides are used, he said, “at least 10 percent of the passenger load is going to be injured, some very seriously.”

The accidents do not have to be dramatic to require high-tech tools. Again, in January at Logan, a mechanic smelled smoke on a Japan Airlines 787 parked at a gate. Firefighters went quickly to the electronics bay, but it was so filled with smoke that they had to use a thermal imaging camera to find the source, a lithium-ion battery that had caught fire.

Much of the work of airport firefighters remains everyday calls. At the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., Robert W. Benstein, the public safety and operations director, said that the firefighters were also emergency medical technicians.

“Seventy percent of our calls are probably medical-related,” Mr. Benstein said. “Somebody tips over luggage in the terminal, or spills hot coffee on themselves, or there’s a car accident.”

The San Francisco accident and Engine 3 notwithstanding, crashes at airports are still so rare that firefighters say they try to prepare themselves for the real thing by watching crash videos on YouTube.