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I received a note today from the IAFF informing us that Tom Carr, currently the fire chief in Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue, has accepted the job as fire chief for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. I'd like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the city of Charleston, the Charleston firefighters, and to my good friend, Tom Carr. Tom has been and continues to be a firefighter's firefighter and will do a great job as the chief in Charleston. As it is with any new chief coming from the outside, Tom will need a little time to get familiar with his new city and assignment.

I know that the firefighters in Charleston will give Tom a world-class reception and the dignified respect that they are so well known for. Tom Carr will bring to the city of Charleston his unbridled passion, his deep and extensive knowledge of the American fire service, and a strong and unwavering sense of duty.

Many will hope that Tom will make sudden and abrupt changes, but Tom knows that sudden and abrupt are rarely meaningful and more often than not simply destructive. Tom, together with the brave and dedicated men and women of the Charleston (SC) Fire Department, will determine how to improve on the 95 percent of work that is currently being done to the highest standards and raise it to 99 or 100 percent.

By working together with everyone concerned with the safety and welfare of the citizens and firefighters of Charleston, a city of unparalleled beauty and deep historical and social significance to America, Tom will work with deliberate purpose to affect change on the 5 percent that truly requires change. It's not easy determining what those things are, and that is why selecting a man like Tom Carr was so important to Charleston.

On behalf of Fire Engineering, myself and thousands of other firefighters who have grown to know, love, and respect Tom Carr, our deepest congratulations and best wishes to your future. We all look forward to visiting with you soon in your new offices in Charleston, South Carolina.


posted by Bobby Halton
9/29/2008 03:17:00 PM

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Blogger Robert J. Schappert III said...

Good morning fellow colleagues:

I would like to weigh in on the appointment of Tommy Carr to the Charleston Fire Chief's position. I am passing on my comments to the men and women of the Charleston Fire Department, to give you a "heads up" on one hell of a guy!

Tommy Carr is a fire chief's fire chief. They don't come any better believe me. I have known Tommy professionally for the 25 years I was with the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and worked closely with him in the design, development, and content of a new rescue text for the fire service in Maryland.

In my opinion, Tommy Carr is the Brunicini of the east. His professionalism, command presence, mentoring ability, and organizational skills are enviable and revered on a national level. He will bring a new era in positive organizational and operational change in due time to the Charleston Fire Department. Whether you realize it or not, the Charleston Fire Department's status just climbed off the scales when news spread of his appointment.

The men and women of the Charleston Fire Department are in for pleasant surprises with his leadership style and interpersonal skills with the troops. He is a chief that looks out for his people and does not micro manage daily activities. He is a big fan of allowing his subordinate officers to be officers and leaders. He never passes up an opportunity to mentor those that need a little nudging in the right direction.

Your new fire chief is a five starr "keeper" folks. His management style is open door, visitations with the troops and officers, and engaging anyone that steps up to the plate with.. "what have you got new and exciting for the Charleston Fire Department today". Never fear bringing something to the table with Tommy Carr that will benefit the organization overall. He is an intent listener, does not like red tape, and is not afraid to make a decision based on information you provide.

No fire chief rides in on a white horse and certainly Tommy is no exception, however, if you relish working for a guy who will showcase his people and the organization he represents, promote training, specialty teams, and rescue response operations, and interacting with the NFPA, public at large, and community organizations...Tommy Carr is your guy! He knows the politics of leading a fire service organization and will work very hard to effect positive change that will promote the pride and prestige of the Charleston Fire Department.

You don't know it yet but Montgomery County's loss is going to be Charleston Fire Department's huge gain on the national scene. So sit back, listen attentively, watch for results, and support one dynamic individual! Good luck Tommy in your new career with are just what the doctor ordered my friend.

Robert J. Schappert III
Chief - Emergency Operations Center
US Department of Commerce

Wed Oct 01, 11:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger John Buckman said...

Chief Tom Carr is the ultimate gentleman who is a GREAT Chief of the Fire Service. He will move methodically and quickly to gather input and suggestions from the rank and file. Make no mistakes Chief Tom Carr is a mover.

Wed Oct 01, 09:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger rridgeway said...

I have known Tommy Carr for over 30 years both personally and professionally, and Charleston could not have made a better choice. To my brother and sister Firefighters in Charleston, I would say to welcome him and to work with him, and he will take the department where it needs to go. To City Administration, I would say to just let him run the department, and to give him the level of support that he needs to do that without undue interference or politics. Charleston has hired a true class act as its new Fire Chief; now just support him and let him do his job. Best regards,
Robert L. Ridgeway

Sat Oct 04, 08:45:00 AM EDT  

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The American fire service is celebrating a tremendous advancement with the recent success of code proposal RB 64 at the ICC hearings on the residential sparkler issue. Clearly there is much to celebrate, but for this tremendous vote to be meaningful it's going to require that we all stay focused and remain dedicated to this lifesaving initiative. There are many firefighters who spent hundreds of hours to get us to this point. Let's not allow their work go in vain. Let's continue to push this issue locally, because locally is where the war will be won.

A great resource produced by the NFPA on home fire sprinkler cost assessments can be found on the NFPA website at Now that the ICC is going to be putting residential sprinklers in the code for one- and two-family homes, every firefighter must orient himself to what the real costs are for installation. Every firefighter must be able to articulate the tremendous benefits not only in firefighter safety, but more importantly in public safety. This report by the Newport partners is a comprehensive look at the factors that influence the cost of residential sprinklers. Also reviewed were a wide range of insurance premiums and discounts that are going to be available to those folks who put residential sprinklers into their communities new construction private residences.

The report looked at homes in many different communities and various living spaces ranging from around 2000 ft.² of to as much as 6000 ft.² The cost per square foot of insulation of residential sprinkler systems ranged from a high of around $3.40 to a low of around $1.00 dollar per square foot. Combine the relatively low cost of installation with the insurance benefits and this is an easy sell.

We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the firefighters who have worked so hard to make this dream a reality. Special thanks has to be extended to the IRC fire sprinkler coalition, led by chief Ronnie Coleman. Over the last 18 months this group has worked tirelessly to make this happen. For more information on the IRC fire sprinkler coalition, go to


posted by Bobby Halton
9/22/2008 06:54:00 PM

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Blogger Chief Mark Finocchio said...


You're absolutely right, the battle is won. In order for true acceptance to occur, firefighters themselves will have to "pound the ground" to get this issue in the eyes of governing bodies across the US. I can guarantee one thing, HBA's nationwide will be on every code hearing from now till eternity to get this requirement amended out. It will be up to us to lift the the mantle of awareness to the eyes of every city council member, fire board member, county judge or commissioner and state legislator. Then and only then, will we win the war.

Chief Mark Finocchio
Pleasant Hill Fire Protection District
Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Wed Sep 24, 01:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger D. Bain said...

So how do you propose the required inspections be done on these "residential sprinklers systems"? They will be installed in PRIVATE homes. How will you gain access to these systems to enforce the required inspections? If the homeowner refuses access and the system goes uninspected and unmaintained what good does installing such a system do in the first place? Gaining acess to a public place to inspect sprinkler systems is one thing. It is done under the guise of public safety and commerce which can pass the "legal test" of need. Gaining access to a PRIVATE home is a whole different story. It poses a serious constitional challenge. Placing liability on the homeowner for not allowing inspection will also pose a legal challenge as well, one which will not allow the "enforcing agency" off the hook in the event of failure. Besides all that, this will be a bitter pill for the tax paying public to swallow! Historically the public views the fire service in a favorable light.When we show up people are glad to see us, (unlike our bretheren in blue who need a warrant to breach the threshold of a private home). Turning us into "fire cops" will change our image and public support base. In my state, in the last 10 years, more people died in vehicle fires than private residential fires. Almost 5 times more! The data just isnt there. (I know I was the one who tracked it) . In 2 counties in this state these ordinances have been legally challenged and shot down after they were passed. Ironically the opposition used the fire services own data to do it and a major player was the fire service's inability to enforce inspection and maintainence of the systems their newly adopted code required. The intention is grand, but the approach is flawed. I fear the result of this "war" will be that everyone loses. There are better ways to accomplish this goal.

Wed Sep 24, 08:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger RHEIMER said...

Congrats, this is a major stepping stone for North America, hopefully Canada follows suit.

Thu Sep 25, 06:43:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Chad Lawry said...

Regarding the right to inspect…
In the City of Vancouver Washington we have no right of entry to occupied single family dwellings unless we have evidence of criminal activity and can obtain a warrant.
Sorry for the long winded explanation to follow.
• Dwellings constructed under the International Residential Code (IRC) are not classified as “IBC group R-3”; rather, as stated in IRC section R101.2 SCOPE they are classified as “one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than 3 stories in height”.
• The IFC (and IBC) defines group R occupancies on page 22 with “when not regulated by the International Residential Code” The 2006 edition of the IFC section 102 APPLICABILITY references the building code as the IBC.
• IRC Appendix P SPRINKLERING states, “An approved automatic fire sprinkler system shall be installed in new one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses in accordance with section 903.3.1 of the International Building Code.” These are adoptable requirements for the installation only, not the ongoing inspection and maintenance.
• NFPA 25 is not referenced as an applicable standard in Appendix IX of the IRC. Therefore the authority to apply NFPA 25 for ongoing confidence testing of SFR 13-D isn’t provided for.
This indicates that structures constructed under the residential building code are not subject to the regulatory authority of the fire code (unless of course they are conducting an illegal IFC regulated activity in which case we work with the City’s Code Enforcement Division and Police Department to bring that activity to an end).

If a 13-D system is installed so that the only way to turn off the water to the sprinkler is to turn off the water to the house at the meter, this is reasonable assurance that the sprinklers will remain active while the building is occupied. By tying the system to a remote toilet, it keeps the water in the 13-D system moving and can address the water purveyors’ concerns about water quality and check valves.
Our water purveyor does not charge increased system development charges (SDCs) when the increased meter size is required solely to accommodate fire sprinklers on a residential system.
I hope that helps,
Chad Lawry
Deputy Fire Marshal
Vancouver Fire Department
[email protected]

Thu Sep 25, 11:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger ny fireman said...

How about pushing for a ban on leightweight construction instead of wasting OUR time with this. As a fireman I really could care less about sprinkler installation in pd's which as someone already suggested will pose enforcement and maintenance issues. Not to mention--i want the govt. to stay the heck out of my house. I can only wonder what influence contractors and trade unions have on pushing for this legislation. Does it really help US? Why not push for bans on poor construction/lightweight trusses, laminated wood I beams and basicly all buildings that seem to be put together with sticks and glue. This is what is going to be killing US this next century. Oh but they are protected by sprinklers you might say. I guess arsonists don't know how to disable them. I guess everyone properly maintains said systems, and of course no one ever stacks stock or furniture within 18" of them---ever. I guess no one stands to gain from what I am saying accept us dumb fireman. WAKE UP IAFF and the fire service!!!

Fri Sep 26, 03:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger George said...


The intent is really on the line, but as D. Bain and Chad Lawry have commented, the constitutional rights to privacy are far and above the public safety benefits that residential sprinklers would produce. It's sad but true. Residential sprinklers would surely reduce civilian deaths AND firefighter casualties.

Possibly the only true solution to the residential fire problem is the use of noncombustible building materials. I have commented on this fact many, many times. The continued use of wood and wood derivities as the principal components of homes and small business premisis will continue to be the major contibutor to these fires. Look at the statistics and compare the number of major destructive fires an all brick and concrete buildings compared with fires in wood buildings. I think the results would speak for themselves.

I'm not knocking sprinklers in any way. They are a proven means for reducing life and property losses.
If ways can be found to be able to legally inspect and supervise the systems, then, as Chief Finocchio says, the battle will be won.

Sat Sep 27, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

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Thanks to the efforts of the fire service, the Residential Sprinkler Code (RB64) Proposal for 1 & 2 family homes passed yesterday at ICC final code hearings in Minneapolis. The fire service members in attendance along with building officials and the sprinkler coalition were able to override a committee decision to Disapprove. By a 2/3 majority vote off the floor was so moved as to modify the committee's decision so as to install sprinklers in new one and two-family (R3) homes. This herculean act is the single most important life safety code proposal that has passed and will be effective in reducing death and injuries for generations to come in our country's most deadly living environment, the home. Having said this, the sprinkler issue will be battled at the local level for years to come. In the meantime, they will continue to construct these houses with no protection.

The sprinkler code approval was one of many building, fire, and other code actions in which the fire service plays an important role. Although the passage of RB64 will impact our society, the importance of the fire service's full participation is much needed at this final code hearing and with each subsequent code cycle. Soon after the RB64 vote, we missed another code proposal measure to reduce firefighter death and injury by supporting the fire-rating protection for lightweight construction (RB68) which came to the floor. We had 500 voters leave right after the sprinkler vote and the vote on (RB68) was 703 voted for the proposal with 380 missing the 2/3 voting margin by 58 votes. Many of the fire service members spoken to later in the evening said they had no idea about the impact of RB 68.

All the life safety code efforts accomplished this past week must be continually monitored by the fire service if we are to achieve the greater public good and improve upon fireground safety.

Here are some other ICC Final Code Winners & Losers (click to enlarge chart):



FS54 & 55* (D) disapproved the ICC committee action to remove the elevator enclosure from the building code that was previously APPROVED as an enclosed elevator lobby above the 1st floor in 2007.

Go to the Web site. On the main page, click on Final Action Hearing Results to review all the final code updates.

Be safe out there,
Jack Murphy
Sean DeCrane
From the "Taming the Fire Environment" Radio Podcast Show



posted by Peter Prochilo
9/22/2008 03:10:00 PM

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Jack Murphy and Sean DeCrane for Taming the Fire Environment report on the ICC code hearings in Minneapolis:

For the past two days, the fire code hearings have pasted the following key proposals for the 2009 IFC Code:

Emergency Responder Radio Coverage (F87), which will require approved radio coverage for emergency responders within the building. This will apply for both new and existing buildings.

Sprinkler Riser Redundancy and Isolation (G46), which came out of the ICC Terrorism Resistant Buildings (TRB) committee, will require for buildings 420 feet an interconnected system with two water supply risers, etc.

Inspection, Testing and Operation (F105) of passive fire systems for visually inspecting annually, etc.

Group M - Occupancy (F135) for an automatic sprinkler system for the occupancy use that is primarily for the display and sale for upholstered furniture, etc.

Installation of photo-luminous exit path markings (F211) in existing building groups A, B, E, I and M, etc.

Liquid Oxygen stored or used in home care in Groups I-1, I-4 and R occupancies, etc.

Jack and Sean will have a full update on the results hearings on a future radio program. CLICK HERE to listen to their latest program regarding these hearings.



posted by Peter Prochilo
9/18/2008 09:42:00 AM

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The Times reports on the John Galt Corporation, the contractor hired to demolish the Deutsche Bank building, in which two firefighters died in 2007:

Some of [Galt's] top executives, it turned out, had worked at another company, the Safeway Environmental Corporation, which officials in the city’s Department of Investigation said had a history of problems with integrity, competence and financial issues.

Read the full story HERE.


posted by Peter Prochilo
9/16/2008 08:47:00 AM

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This week of September 11 proved to be a very challenging one for the fire service. We all remembered 9/11 in our own ways--the heroes, our friends, the tragedy, the horror of losing so much human treasure in one day. We all relived the pain again when so many Americans fell in one murderous act, and for the seventh time found time to pray for our fallen.

But the mission and work of the American firefighter goes on. How we do that work, and how well we do that work, will continue to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day. We must never disgrace their memories; we can never forget that we represent them in our work. We can never forget that what we do every day and the dedication we bring to this beautiful profession reflects on the lessons that their bravery, sacrifice, and honor has taught us.

The mission of the American fire service this week was to face yet another hurricane. The country again needed firefighters to put themselves in harm's way. Without hesitation the USAR teams went Texas. They joined Texas Task Force One and began the job of cleaning up after Ike. More importantly, they went to accomplish the dangerous task of rescuing those who were unable or chose not to evacuate.

We are waiting to hear reports back from several of our friends who were deployed initially for Fay and were reassigned to Ike. We know they're working hard. We know they're doing what they need to do and we hope they all return safely. Being deployed into regions which have been flooded can be extremely dangerous. We were very pleased to see the authorities in Galveston and Houston take aggressive efforts in getting those cities evacuated, but again there were those who refused to evacuate.

While USAR teams around the country were being deployed by FEMA for Ike; firefighters from L.A. city, aided by their fire their brothers and sisters from L.A. County, we dealing with another tragedy. Two rail cars collided and at last report the death toll was 25. Hundreds were successfully rescued. The work of the L.A. city and L.A. County firefighters in rescuing those people was captured on live television. The pictures were very dramatic and the professionalism of those departments was very apparent. We'll be getting a detailed report from several firefighters from L.A. city who were on scene.

Every department that has a rail line nearby needs to be ready to respond to these challenging responses. Fire Engineering will continue to report on the lessons learned and on the challenges met in rail incidents. We will also continue to bring rail emergency education to our conference at FDIC every year. This is an area that requires constant attention--we must not let our guard down.

It was clear from the videos and from reports from the scene that the L.A. firefighters were prepared, that they were ready, and that the challenge was met.


posted by Bobby Halton
9/15/2008 12:03:00 AM

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I spent a very interesting day on Wednesday at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) fire research lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The mission of NIST is to conduct basic and applied research for the purpose of understanding fire behavior and hopefully reduce losses from fire. NIST was founded by the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974.

At NIST are all kinds of extremely talented and highly educated fire service and science-oriented researchers who are constantly looking at building construction, building materials, and fire behavior. Tests are conducted on an almost daily basis on every kind of material and setting you can imagine. When it came to the World Trade Center, NIST got involved to tell us what really happened. When it comes to why Mrs. Smith's kitchen burns the way it burns, you can bet NIST is involved in helping us understand how.

Wednesday NIST researchers were presenting information from recent and previous studies they had done. We were extremely lucky to have two of my close friends and leading experts in fire behavior, Daniel Madrzykowski and Steve Kerber, share with us their most recent work regarding fire behavior and the use of positive pressure ventilation in high-rise fires.

When we think about studying fire behavior, you would think that we would spend an extraordinary amount of time and trying to understand our enemy. However, when we look at fire behavior training in the fire service today, we discover that only three hours of firefighter behavior study is required for Firefighter I. No fire behavior at all is required for Firefighter II or Fire Officer I and II. What are we teaching in these programs if not fire behavior?

Much of the research presented was the result of some recent testing done in Toledo, Ohio through the efforts of Skip Coleman, Jerry Tracey, Steve, and Dan. Beginning in Toledo, live fire high-rise experiments began a little over two years ago using acquired structures. Under the direction of NIST, dozens of fires were set and measured. During this time firefighters from Chicago, Illinois also became involved after the Cook County building fire . The Chicago (IL) Fire Department, from the commissioner to probationary firefighters, stepped up to the plate with a second location for additional testing. Testing then moved to New York City, where the FDNY conducted a series of tests along with NIST and all of the other departments and personnel who had been participating.

Under FDNY Battalion Chief Jerry Tracey's direction and leadership, wind-driven flames fronts were studied with greater depth than ever before. Combining the expertise of the FDNY and the scientific know-how and research capabilities of NIST, data was collected to be released in the near future in a comprehensive, landmark report.

The final set of tests came home to Toledo: A school building was used to determine how best to use fans to clear smoke and to contain fire in large structures. The gymnasium yielded incredible results regarding fire behavior, smoke movement, and fire growth and development.

As the fire service moves forward, we have to realize that our problems continue to evolve as technology continues to produce new materials and new configurations for buildings, thereby create new challenges to be studied. The evolution of our tactical capability will only be enhanced by the evolution of our mental agility. We have many questions to still answer about positive pressure and there are many concerns. NIST is beginning testing on the use of this tool in residential settings. The use of positive pressure residential fires is not without controversy and clearly not the choice for ventilation and every fire. Like every other tool, however, it has its appropriate time and place.

By working with our partners at NIST and UL and the other research facilities, we will find better and more effective ways to do our work, thereby minimizing the amount of risk and danger that we have to accept in the performance of our duties. Not all answers will be technological, and not all answers will be easy, but easy never prevented the fire service from doing its job.

Look for Dan and Steve to be presenting more information from NIST at this year's FDIC. And remember, be careful out there.


posted by Bobby Halton
9/05/2008 06:05:00 PM

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