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Monday, November 25, 2013

The Live Burn, Part 1: “The Collaboration”

Crews from nine departments trained together.
On a cold Thursday morning, firefighters from nine metro fire departments gathered on a residential street in Richfield. They were there for “live burn” training. The city of Richfield had obtained a block of homes for redevelopment and made the homes available for live burn training. 

Richfield Assistant Fire Chief Mike Dobesh was in charge. All of the homes were inspected and had hazardous materials removed prior to the start of training. The training was conducted over three evenings and one morning session.

It was a sea of cooperation. Chief Dale Speken from Hopkins gave the briefing, and that morning Minnetonka’s assistant chief, Kevin Fox, took the safety officer position and maintained the status board of who was where. Inside the house, “burn teams” made up instructors from Bloomington, Excelsior, Hopkins, and Minneapolis ignited the fires and positioned themselves to assist firefighters in need of coaching and to act as safety officers. Bloomington supplied the pumper, pump operator, and hoses. Three Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) response kits were laid out in case a crew or “company” got into trouble. None did.

Fire crews "mask up" before entering the house.

The fires were normal combustibles—or class A fires—and the ceiling temperatures were around 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the current residential “real” fires burn closer to 2,400 degrees due to the high amount of petroleum-based products that are in the contents of modern houses. The temperatures were reduced for safety and to allow more fires in each house, but the techniques were the same.

In addition to the departments already mentioned, fire crews from Saint Louis Park and Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) airport participated as well that morning. Chief Dobesh reports that more than 275 firefighters from 11 departments trained at the site during that week. Referring to the multiple departments on site, Dobesh said: “This is what we need to do more of.” He said more departments need to train together and know each other because they need each other’s assistance more than they have in the past.  

And one final point: there were no injuries.


                                              Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…The Live Burn, Part 2: “The Process”

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Updates and Links

SceneSafe Training Video

The “SceneSafe” training video is done, available, and it’s excellent. This 30-minute video blends real crash videos with the testimonials of crash survivors and high-quality animation to demonstrate how to make highway response scenes safer. In addition to instruction and considerations for properly responding to roadway incidents, it has critical tips and advice for setting up emergency traffic control scenes.

Copies of the video will be mailed to every law enforcement, fire, and EMS agency in Minnesota in the coming weeks. The video can be viewed online now at:

Congratulations to Inver Grove Heights Fire Chief Judy Thill, who headed up the project, and to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for funding and supporting this venture.  

IACP Reducing Officer Injuries Final Report

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has released its report on police officer injuries. The study analyzed volumes of data, and the report matches our overall injury experience in Minnesota. Here are some of the recommendations:

-Findings show that there are certain groups and types of officers who are more likely to experience injuries, including those in the first five years on the job and those who are overweight.

-Data reveals that those offenders who had prior contact with police caused more severe injuries to officers than those without prior contact.

-Officer training efforts in the areas of arrest procedure and use of force resulted in fewer injuries during officer encounters with suspects, and thus should be incorporated into academy and in-service training.

The report also addresses training injuries and proposes a “safety lecture” that is similar to the Training Safety Officer (TSO) program’s safety briefing. The study can be found online at:

Fire Attack Tactics

The International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) issued a press release on October 30, which was straightforward:

“Given the latest research in fire dynamics and the potential impact on firefighter safety, the ISFSI board of directors unanimously releases this position statement. The ISFSI encourages all fire departments to incorporate the fire dynamics research into their tactical operations through any and all means necessary.”

The bottom line is the research on fire dynamics is challenging many long-held beliefs and tactics. Here is a link to the press release:


                                               Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…A Live Burn

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.