Chiefs & Leadership – NFPA1851: Risk Assessment presentation


A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the two presentations that caught my attention at the ARFFWG Chiefs & Leadership conference: NTSB Hascom. This week I wanted to highlight the other presentation: NFPA 1851 – The Risk Assessment Flight Plan, as I believe it had an important point.

Senior Captain Ronald Krusleski and Assistant Fire Chief (Retired) Jessie Gentry presented on the topic of risk assessment as it relates to NFPA1851 and the decision of what to purchase for structural and proximity firefighting clothing for ARFF personnel.

“As Fire Service leaders, it is our responsibility to constantly scan the environment for the hazards our firefighters may be exposed to and provide them with the protection needed to return home safely.” -Krusleski & Gentry

An overview was given concerning NFPA1851, Chapter 5 and a review of literature that was related toward the assessments needed to be reviewed regarding such purchase.  5.1.1. of NFPA1851 states the following:

Prior to starting the selection process of structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements, the organization shall perform a risk assessment.  

The background of this topic was given via a review of USAF ARFF requirements of wearing proximity clothing and OSHA’s stance on such clothing. The USAF requested a formal interpretation of OSHA (1997) requirements in 2013 due to the change of the definition of proximity clothing in the NFPA1500 standards. As we should all know, OSHA responded that firefighters at any aircraft incident should wear proximity clothing IF they are performing proximity firefighting tasks.  They went on to state that any personnel who were not exposed to higher levels of “radiant, conductive, and convective heat” could wear structural clothing.

What caught my attention the most was that the presenters stressed the need for risk assessment by showcasing what they had done within their own organizations.  Additionally, they conducted substantial research to validate their discussion.

They collected response data from 1/1/2012-12/31/2014 for IAH and HOU ARFF and outlined primary objectives: firefighter safety, life safety & rescue, incident control/mitigation and property conservation & environmental concerns. Information on geographical location, climate, map of the actual physical area and the actual likelihood of responding to a CBRN incident was provided, as well.  In the presentation they also brought in the related sections of NFPA1971, 1250 and FAA A/Cs.

In addition, they surveyed Index E airports, in 2016, to find out what type of clothing these departments purchased.  The responses revealed that 3 had both types of gear, 20 have structural and none have proximity.

I saw many individuals speaking to both of the presenters afterwards in hope to gain more information/knowledge from what was learned and how they could do such an assessment at their department.   I was thrilled to see research was conducted that could be added to the ARFF literature.

While it may not seem exciting to those of you not dealing within this realm, it is important to know that there is VERY little published or research done in regards to ARFF.  It is important that we, as a group, move forward and add  legitimacy to the ongoings of  the industry.  That is the part I have taken within the group to some extent – I am a crusader within the academic area for ARFF – and so it was nice to see others coming to the dark side with me. After all, don’t they always say that the dark side has cookies?

I am happy to state that Captain Krusleski is taking this presentation a step further by writing an article outlining the “how to” conduct risk assessment and interrupt the results for a department. It will be published in a forthcoming edition of the ARFF News & I highly suggest that you be on the look out for this comprehensive communication.


Being a mentor & not a sponsor

While mentoring has been around for ages, it is vitally important within every industry. We all know that mentoring is a form of teaching a junior employee the ropes by way of experience and knowledge from a senior employee. I often find myself in discussions with friends of mine within the ARFF field concerning mentoring – what they have done as a mentor and the mentors who taught them.

However, a few months ago I had a different conversation about mentoring with a mentor of mine within the ARFF industry.   Our discussion centered around the makeup of a mentor themselves.  We agreed they are teachers, advisors and coaches all rolled into one person.  But, he said something that struck a cord with me: “A mentor does what he does and expect nothing in return.  A sponsor does what they do and expects something in return.”

Think about that for a second.

I have not actually been able to get that statement out of my head since he said it, because it left me with a big question: how could anyone want something in return for assisting someone else?

So I looked for definitions within the frame of business between the two and found the following: “Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Sponsors, in contrast, are much more vested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them (Sponsors vs. Mentors).”  The article went on to state that sponsors actually are a two-way street and that the sponsor expects return in investment, if you will.  Honestly, it is a quid pro quo relationship.

While there is a quite a bit of literature out there stating that a sponsor type relationship is beneficial, particularly for women, I would suggest that it depends more on the ethical/moral beliefs of the parties involved.

Personally, I was brought up with the Golden Rule engrained into my being.  You did undo others as you would want done to you; therefore, I do not want something from someone in order to give them guidance or assurance.  Why type of colleague/friend/mentor would I be?

Quite frankly, I wonder when did mentoring become bastardized into sponsorship so that a reward can be achieved? When did it become acceptable to assist someone so that a favor is owed and thus creating a follower?  Aren’t mentors suppose to pass their information on in order to allow people to move up – become leaders themselves?


I have been a mentor to many throughout my years and never thought to ask of anything in return.  I did it because I had something to teach someone that allowed them to become better. And that is when the light bulb went off for me.  Mentors do not act as if they know it all, but are open to learning from the person they are mentoring, just as that person is learning from them. It is a symbiotic relationship.  Are we not to continue to become the best that we can be? To better ourselves and to assist others where we can?

Many times just assisting a coworker on a project by providing input and support can be deemed as mentoring.  Sometimes you may not even realize that you are doing it.  That right there is the true meaning of mentorship. You do it because it is second nature and you want to assist.

I can say that the best compliment I ever received was when a faculty colleague of mine, whom I think of as a sister, informed me that she was my mentor in regards to aviation and I was hers in regards to higher education.  She was right with being my aviation mentor! I am 20 some years her junior and always felt that I was learning from her. She is just so amazing with all of her knowledge and experience with her careers and her life in general. I had no idea that she was learning from me, too! So, it needs to be noted that it is not just the “younger” generation to whom we mentor.

But, back to my point, mentoring needs to be fully embraced and this societal need of tit for tat needs to be ended.  We all have different experiences and viewpoints that lend themselves to the advancement of others.  It should be noted that the learning that occurs assists not only within that realm, but in other aspects of an individual’s life.  We need to do what we can to share our accumulated knowledge base without expectations.

To all of you out there that are mentors – THANK YOU & keep up the good work!  Tons of people appreciate what you do – not just those you are mentoring.

To my ARFF mentor (you know who you are) who spurred the topic of this blog –  I  am so very much appreciative of your guidance.  You are a true mentor, which honestly is good for my wallet, because I couldn’t afford to pay you back!!!!!!


ARFFWG Chiefs & Leadership- NTSB & Hanscom

I attended the ARFFWG Chiefs and Leadership conference last week in sunny and warm Florida.  Well, it wasn’t completely sunny and warm the whole week, but far better than the weather the rest of the country was experiencing at the time.

As you know, I have a few interests and the largest of those is ARFF.  I attended this conference out-of-pocket because I support the mission of the ARFF Working Group and because I am terribly nerdy.  Yes, I am sure you figured that last one out, but I really learn so very much by listening to the ARFF professionals speak formally and informally.  This knowledge assists me with research and with teaching, as well.  Plus, it helped me once during a game of trivia with some friends.

The conference itself was the highest attended Chiefs and Leadership conference to date and the presentations ranged from various interesting topics.  I am a policy junkie, no doubt engrained in me during my time in Public Administration, and so I gained a great deal of information from the NFPA, FAA and NTSB updates.  There were two other presentations that I found extremely interesting: NFPA 1851 – The Risk Assessment Flight Plan and NTSB Incident Updated (Hanscom).

I decided today to focus on the presentation given by Mr. Peter Wentz, NTSB Investigator, and Chief Ted Costa, Massport Fire: NTSB Incident Updated (Hanscom). This May 31, 2014 incident involved a Gulfstream aircraft that was destroyed after a “rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers were fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight destined for Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey. The business flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 (NTSB Incident Report).”


Picture from article: Safety steps ignored before Hanscom crash, NTSB report shows

Wentz outlined how during an investigation the NTSB invites the FAA and other organizations who can provide assistance concerning discussion and analysis on the crash.  Generally speaking this would include airline operators, manufactures, unions, airport ARFF, etc. Costa stated that during this incident, which occurred at a Massport airport, various other organizations were in attendance– state police, FBI, rescue companies, firefighters from airport and surrounding areas, etc.

It was highlighted that the NTSB has the ability to examine everything concerning the crash and sometimes this is not completely understood by the airport.  The speakers both emphasized the need for people to fully read the NTSB Investigation Party Agreement.

Chief Costa was identified as point of contact (POC) for Massport during this investigation.  He stressed that at times he needed to remind people on both sides of this decision and that even a 1 1/2 year later that commitment was still there with requests for interviews, attorney calls, etc. It was noted that this position is a true long commitment. Granted, it depends on how each airport wants to organize, but it was highly suggested to maintain one POC from the airport.  The NTSB operates in that manner by having a lead investigator for an incident in order to provide accuracy.

Also, touched upon was the fact that once an incident occurs it is too late to create policies, training, maps, documents, etc., because NTSB arrives quickly.  Mr. Jim Price, Airport Certification & Safety Inspector for the FAA, actually added to the discussion and suggested that it is best to keep all records updated – training records, maintenance records, etc.  –  in order to save NTSB time.  This will allow you to be prepared for not only the crash, but also after the crash.

This particular incident had an issue with water supply being exhausted after 25 minutes and being 1300 feet from the closest hydrant.  There was a total of 14 minutes without any ability for firefighting due to there was no resupply hose dropped at the hydrant. Also discovered was that the grid map did not have all gates or hydrants marked. This was a lesson learned that was stressed by the presenters.  It was suggested that the grid maps be reviewed more often and utilized more.

There was only one recommendation that came from this investigation, which dealt with frangibility.  “Aircraft hit lighting system localizer antenna, and perimeter fence outside runway safety area (RSA), fittings were not frangible, only structures inside RSA must be frangible” – from PPT (I will insert a link to the PPT once this is released by the ARFFWG). Wentz stated that the FAA is working on incorporating something into their information to address the recommendation.

This was a great overview of an NTSB investigation and reminder to everyone that it is always best to be prepared.  Stressed was also how very involved such investigations are, even when they are not dealing with larger aircrafts, such as the Asiana crash at SFO airport.  There is no better way to learn than to listen to someone who has first hand knowledge and experience from a topic – in this case, an NTSB investigation.

Remarks & Perception

I cannot believe that it has been 4 months since I last posted.  Granted, no one is probably reading this, but I feel as if I have failed.  I had full intentions of writing weekly about my experiences with ARFF, technophile wonderments, and whatever else fancied me.

I suppose I could blame it on the holidays.  Isn’t that what most people do in around this time of the year?

I did have a blog published before Christmas about my experience at the Orlando International Airport’s Full Scale Exercise: Professor Learns Invaluable Lesson from Airport Exercise.   I just found out it was published, though…but, it is exciting never-the-less.

The University posted it on their Facebook site, which caused me to share it and in turn a few of my ARFF colleagues shared it, as well.  This was extremely kind of them, but one of them had a response from someone that was rather interesting to me.

In my writing I stated that I quickly knew that what I was doing at the FSE was not something that could be learned from reading a textbook.  The response stated something along the lines of, “Duh! Not learn something from a textbook?! Typical teacher.”

While someone may have been easily offended by that remark, I was rather saddened by it.  If that was their only takeaway from my article to try to spotlight the ARFF personnel and the importance of preparedness by emergency personnel, then I had failed.  I responded that I believe we are all teachers and could all learn a lot from reading, but what I was saying was that not everything comes from books.  Sometimes academics forget that while it is good to teach, learn and cultivate knowledge from textbooks, we must also remember that we need to keep in touch with where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

Of course, then I reminded myself that negativity is so easy to provide and so prevalent in today’s society. The thought also crossed my mind everyone’s perception is different, but that doesn’t make it wrong from mine. Good quote that I like to remember:


Maybe this individual, who interestingly enough studied at the University at which I teach, had bad experiences with professors who thought that they were all-knowing beings. I am sorry if that happened to them.  I am sorry that my observations and the push for people to know more about ARFF missed this person.  I will strive to write my blogs and articles better next time. That is how one gets better at writing, after all. 

However, whether I receive a negative or positive comment, I am happy  people read what I wrote. I mean isn’t that the objective?

But, in order to achieve that then I shall have to post more.  That is a mighty fine idea, if I do say so myself.


Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting – you should know about these first responders

This past week, I was able to yet again attend the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Working Group’s (ARFFWG) international annual conference.  What an amazing time! Not only are the people a great group, but I learned so much more about hot topics within the field.

ARFFWG is an organization that represents a vitally important, but not very well known part of the emergency services industry. These people serve and protect the flying public at airports across the world. With the incident at Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a spotlight was yet again placed on the ARFF department.  This article focuses upon Las Vegas and what ARFF is & why it is important:

Firefighters’ stellar performance shows value of preparation, comforts all of us

I am so very fortunate to be involved with this group.  I am working on two academic papers with colleagues about ARFF and have written various articles for the ARFFWG News.  More to come on this fantastic organization…………

Memories of pre-hisotech times

We have all seen and read the reports about the negative issues that are associated with technology, but what about positives?

Of course, I can talk all about how email, texting and video conferencing allow us to be better connected.  Honestly, is this not a known basic truth by now?

Remember attempting to speak to your teacher after class with a horde of fellow classmates? All of you would lay in wait as if you were cats of prey on the Serengeti waiting for the instructor to ever so slowly back away from their podium…then POUNCE…you would ask your question.

You know you did it.  I did it!

This does not happen in the sheer numbers that it once did because instructors are readily available with their devices connecting them to their students, colleagues, University and classrooms.

Remember how much you enjoyed the beloved college rite-of-passage of group work?  Many hours were spent trying to simply coordinate days and times for members of a group to meet at the library to work on an assignment.  That wasted time is a thing of the past, as group areas can be created within online learning platforms for students to meet and work together with discussion boards and file sharing.

The instructors can also access the groups to see the progression of the group and activity level of members.  In turn, ending the delight of students who did absolutely nothing and received the same grades as their hard-working counterparts.

I absolutely detested those students!

Administratively speaking, there is less and less wasted time standing in line in regards to tutoring, advising, financial aid, Veteran’s affairs, etcetera. Students have up to date information at their fingertips at University/College websites.

Remember waiting for class schedule booklets to be distributed or waiting in lines for hours to get index cards representing class sections in an attempt to put together a schedule? Over are the days of collecting your “class” index cards to create a schedule, only to find out a class was cancelled and forcing you to begin standing in line all over again. Also history is the secret passing of the athlete’s phone registration line, which would guarantee that you got the classes you wanted before the thousands of other fellow college students registered. Class schedules are now provided online and far in advance. This not only allows for planning for next term, but for far reaching graduation preparation.

For we instructors, there are no more hours spent going through library microfilm and old periodicals to find supplemental materials for their students. (My eyes have really improved since I stopped doing that, by the way.) One method of enrichment now for instructors is to use online educational videos provided from Kaltura and Ted – just to name a few.

We spend more time in our “classrooms” than ever before due to some portion of them being in the online environment.  We can verify if students are active within the class , grasping the material at hand when teaching a hybrid or fully online course and provide quicker and more in-depth feedback on all activities and provide links to materials for assistance.

I believe the biggest crowning academic technology achievement is the ability of instructors to share our grade books with the whole class and not merely have it sitting on our desk in our office.  Ancient history are the days of students not knowing any of their grades during the term or waiting outside the lecture hall for their final grades to be posted by their Social Security number.

I could go on and on with positive impacts that technology has made on higher education.  I know there are some reading this blog who remember the way things use to be before the partnering of higher education and technology.

Ah, our memories of pre-histotech times are something to cherish.

We are just at the beginning of what technology can bring to higher education and this reminds me of a quote from a classic film, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”


Historical academic technology….perhaps?l

More writing!! The first line looks to us like “Mary Dear Mother”. Letter? Prayer? Can you help us decipher any of this? #digDOT #digBOS

Posted by City of Boston Archaeology Program on Thursday, August 27, 2015

I saw a piece this morning on CBS This Morning about the archaeological dig going on in Boston to find the oldest public school.  What a great thing to be working on and think of the treasures they could possibly find.  Okay, so they are really wanting to find stuff that I wouldn’t be excited about – mainly finding the outhouse for “household garbage and human waste” – see this article: Archaeological Dig Aims to Uncover Parts of America’s Oldest Public School.  Forgetting that portion of it, I was thinking how great it would be to find some old “academic technology.”  Granted, they probably didn’t think it as technology at the time, but writing on slate wasn’t always done.  Having books printed to read wasn’t always a given in schools either.  Heck, schools weren’t always a given.

What I love about technology is that it is ever present and changing.  It isn’t just computers, smart phones, and other electronic devices. It is advancements in order to make things more user friendly. In my mind that opens the term far and wide.

This whole thing only wants me to get to Boston sooner. It is one of two cities that I still need to check off my bucket list.  No, I am not that old.  I just believe in living life with adventures!