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CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE STUDY: Staffing Affects Efficiency

August 13, 2010 -- A study conducted by San Diego State University on wildfire fire fighting and staffing shows that lower levels of staffing result in higher physical stress and significantly lower efficiencies for initial attack effectiveness.  The most dramatic gains in efficiency - by as much as 50 percent - occurred when the number of personnel on a hose lay was increased from two to three fire fighters.  Additional increases were observed when comparing three to four person crews.

Since the 1970s, there has been a nationwide increase in wildfire intensity, rising from an average of three million to seven million acres burned each year, with further increases projected.  In California, half of the 20 largest documented in the states history occurred since 2000.  This trend has placed a considerable demand on emergency responses.

The availability of adequate resources and staffing to combat wildfires also has a direct impact on meeting fire suppression goals.  Suppression failures generally happen when the resources available for an initial response are ineffective or insufficient at controlling the fire.

What this study suggests is that the efficiency and safety of fire fighters requires a minimum increase in year-round staffing from three to four.

Earlier this year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) completed a similar staffing study focused in residential  structure fires.  This study also demonstrates that four-person crews operate 25-30 percent faster than lesser staffed crews.

Both studies conclude the two-person crews are simply inefficient and dangerous when compared to higher staffing levels.

To read the full report  



April 1, 2008 -- A Model Contract Clause Database developed as the second resource of the IAFF Labor Information Database is now available online.  The Model Contract Clause Database is searchable by clause type and links to the mail Collective Bargaining Agreement/Wage Schedule Library for easy reference from model clauses to full collective agreement language where applicable.  This Model Contract Clause Database in an invaluable recource for local affiliates interested in improving or obtaining benefits at the bargaining table.



March 25, 2008 – The U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed and launched a new web site that outlines the Institute’s efforts to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards to better understand fire behavior, control and prevention and to improve operations, equipment, fire suppression, fire investigations and disaster response.

In addition to investigation reports and research summaries, the
site offers an overview video of all of its available training videos, including CDs and DVDs of flashovers, ignition propensities of materials and other challenges. Users can also subscribe to a quarterly newsletter.

Other areas of the
web site address specific topics, including turnout gear, Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices, thermal imaging, structural collapse and fire fighter training. For each topical area, the NIST site explains projects, lists research report citations and links to software tools. NIST also continues to develop computer-based tools to improve training opportunities while lowering the cost and risk of death and injury. These resources, NIST Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) and Smokeview, will be used as a basis for developing irtual reality-based fire fighting training tools.

Visit the web site for up-to-date information about NIST research methods and technologies intended to save responder lives, inform physical asset procurement decisions, and improve operations.



May 4, 2007 -- Information provided by the IAFF helped convince federal government officials to increase the federal firefighter uniform allowance by $400 - double the previous allowance.  The new U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - issued rule becomes effective May 29, 2007.

New NFPA standards call for more flame-retardant uniforms, which are more expensive than previous uniforms. Therefore, the IAFF and 16th District Vice President Jim Johnson began talks with OPM, emphasizing the need for a uniform allowance increase. The government office responded by offering a $100 increase.

“One hundred dollars was not sufficient,” says Johnson. “To that end, the IAFF provided supporting data during the federal register comment period.” He also communicated directly with the Department of Defense (DoD) on the issue.

“Since the DoD has the authority to increase the amount on its own, and knowing that the proposed OPM increase was not enough, I was hopeful that DoD would be receptive to pursuing a substantial increase,” explains Johnson. “The DoD began reviewing the matter and collecting information. As the DoD moved forward with the issue, our data and DoD’s data clearly demonstrated that a more substantial increase was justified.”

Uniform needs vary, depending on location. Some require full-scale dress and some only need station uniforms.  Miramar Fire has yet to see an increase in uniform allowance since the ruling.



Our nation's federal fire fighters have some of the most hazardous jobs in the fire service, but unlike many states, the federal government does not presume that illnesses associated with fire fighting are job-related. As a result, to qualify for disability retirement, a federal fire fighter who suffers from an occupational illness must specify the precise exposure that caused his or her illness -- an almost insurmountable burden.

The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act would alleviate this burden by creating a rebuttable presumption that cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and certain infectious diseases contracted by federal fire fighters are job-related for purposes of workers' compensation and disability retirement. The bill was recently introduced in the House by Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) as H.R. 1142.  In the Senate, the bill was introduced by  Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and John Warner (R-VA) a mes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"> s S. 1924.

To read a copy of the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, click here:  Fairness Act

For more information about presumptive disability laws and the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, click here:  Fact Sheet

Learn more about the need to enact a disability presumption for federal fire fighters:  Key Points



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