Safety Matters
May 2011
In This Issue
*Salutations from Leslie...
*Greetings from the Fire Investigators Section...
*Conference Corner...
*Save Haven for Newborns Sends...
*Take Your Child to Work Day at the Fire Department...
*Eating Your Own Cooking...
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Salutations from Leslie

  As we watch the evening news these pastFAFLSE months, we have witnessed a tremendous tragedy unfold in Japan.  The horrifying scenes caught on cell phones and security camera provide an instant platform for the world to see the destruction and devastation of an earthquake and tsunami.  This part of the natural disaster was uncontrollable.  The citizens took cover as the earth trembled and then sought out higher ground when the sirens alerted them of the incoming tsunami.  Many lives were lost and yet many were waved because they had a plan.


 Disaster Planning plays a large role in what we do in the communities we service.  Last month we talked about "Fire Wise Communities" and plans of making homes safe from wild land fires in rural areas.  Soon we will be discussing "Hurricane Survival Kits" and how our residents need a plan to prepare for the 2011 Hurricane Season. We speak endlessly to the community about "Escape Plans" and EDITH.  Asking them to go home, make a plan and practice the plan.  Nothing could be more important than having a plan.


This year the Annual Fire and Life Safety Educators Conference is being held in conjunction with the 6th Annual Palm Beach County Fire Prevention Conference at the Marriott Hotel in West Palm Beach.  The dates for the conference are June 20th through June 23rd.  This is a great opportunity for our public educators across the state to learn and expand their knowledge of issues that concern the citizens we serve.  It gives each educator the ability to network and revive the enthusiasm for what we work for each day - Public Safety.


Please make plans to attend our annual conference and meet some of the best "planners" from around the state.  For more information, check the FFMIA website.  I plan to see you there!


Respectfully Submitted,

Leslie Adent

FAFLSE Chair         





Greetings from the Fire Investigators Section



During the late hours of March 21st of this year Osceola County and City of Kissimmee fire suppressi


on units responded to a commercial structure fire from an automatic fire alarm notification that was initiated by the water flow switch from the automatic fire sprinkler system.  The involved structure was a 34,000 sq. ft. assembly occupancy that was not active with a public event at the time of the fire and was only occupied by a limited employee staff.  Fire operations personnel found the room of fire origin in a kitchen storage room where the fire was extinguished by the activation of a single sprinkler head.  A County Fire Investigator responded to the scene and conducted an origin and cause investigation.  His investigation determined that the fire originated on a storage shelf inside a cardboard box containing cotton towels that were recently laundered and removed from a dryer.  The first material ignited was the cotton fabric toweling.  The source of ignition was from the chemical reaction from the heating of cotton fibers that were saturated with an oxidizer (concentrated commercial laundry detergent) and place into an insulated container.  The ignition factor was spontaneous combustion.  The fire was classified as accidental.


Twenty-some years ago on a Saturday evening of an Easter weekend, I investigated a similar fire involving a 10,000 sq. ft. un-sprinkled building without any fire alarm initiation devices.  The structure housed the engineering shop and a commercial laundry within a large hotel resort complex.  The fire caused a total loss of the structure.  The interviews with employees discovered the laundry had closed around 9:30 pm that evening.  A housekeeping manager first noticed a strong smoke odor when he entered t


he laundry portion of the structure around 10:30-11:00 pm, to retrieve some towels.   After 11:00 pm two engineers entered the Engineering section of the building and noticed a very strong burning odor.  The odor became stronger in their search into the laundry.  After turning on the lights and opening the doors they searched through the area of the heaviest smoke odor but did not find any smoke or active fire.  They notified the hotel's Manager On Duty (MOD) and reported what they found in their search of a possible fire in the laundry.  The MOD told them he would send a security officer to the laundry to investigate and ordered them to go to a guest room and change out a broken television.  The security officer never responded to the area and when one of the engineers returned at midnight to punch out he discovered heavy fire and smoke inside the laundry.  The fire department arrived on the scene of a working fire and called for a second alarm.  The roof assembly failed shortly after and the fire resulted in a total loss. 


The fire was determined to be caused from spontaneous combustion of laundry products involving cotton toweling removed from commercial dryers before the cool down cycle and placed into non-breathing canvass laundry hoppers where ignition occurred in the lower third of the container.  The pile of towels on the top filtered the visible smoke and insulated the heat within the body allowing a chemical exothermic chain reaction (also known as "hot body effect") prior to active fire


During the next few months the Fire Investigation Bureau conducted two more origin and cause investigations that determined spontaneous combustion of cotton toweling within hotel occupancies with commercial laundry service.  Further research using resources from NFPA and national Fire academy  found data from several spontaneous combustion fires involving commercial fires throughout the United States.  We were approached by the commercial laundry industry when they found out about our research and dialogue resulted in articles of research in the "Laundry News" trade publicati


on, a video production sold internationally and adoption of Federal regulation on commercial dryer manufacturing in safeguards not to bypass the cool-down cycle.


This is an example of a fire service agency pro-actively attacking a fire problem to find solutions using the "Three E's" of Fire Prevention (Engineering, Enforcement & Education).  These are the keys of a professional fire investigator who is particularly successful in providing Education of the following recipients


1)    The Investigator (from his research & experience)

2)    The fire service

3)    Design Engineers

4)    Tradesmen

5)    The public

6)    The government

During a previous Florida Arson Seminar a few years ago these findings were presented in the class "Unique Fire Causes".  One of the attendees was the County Fire Investigator who conducted the investigation described in the first fire incident of March 21stwhich was presented at the beginning of this article.  He remembered the class and the topic of the "Hot-Body Phenomena" which helped him in his hypothesis and determination. 

During a previous Florida Arson Seminar a few years ago these findings were presented in the class "Unique Fire Causes".  One of the attendees was the County Fire Investigator who conducted the investigation described in the first fire incident of March 21st which was presented at the beginning of this article.  He remembered the class and the topic of the "Hot-Body Phenomena" which helped him in his hypothesis and determination. 

This is just one example of why it is important for you to make plans now to attend this year's 66th Annual Florida Arson Seminar, which will be held October 19th - 21st, at the West Palm Beach County Fire Department Training Facility.   





David Ream Hollenbach, Jr.



Conference Corner

The program is on the website for the combined Florida Association of Fire and Life Safety Educatiors/Fire Marshals Association of Palm Beach County.  Be sure to go to  for your copy.


This year's conference is going to be packed with great programs and workshops.  You won't want to miss it.


Remember your auction items.  Each year FAFLSE has an auction that benefits scholarships to the next year's conference.  J. D. Hunter, auctioneer will be there again to be sure we all have a teriffic time.


See you there!




               If you are half a century old, give or take a few years your morning rituals may include listening to talk radio as my daily rituals include.


During a recent daily commute I was listening to an AM talk radio show when the host stated that bipartisanship amongst the United States political parties was at an all time low. He went on to explain that bipartisanship was at an all time high until Newt Gingrich the 58th speaker of the United States House of Representatives took office. He then went on to articulate how Mr. Gingrich made a policy that once the members of the house completed their business for their session the parties would go back to their respective states. They could not remain in Washington to network with the other political party on Uncle Sam's dime.                                     

 Mr. Gingrich thought his policy was sure to save American tax dollars and that it was the responsible thing to do. What he did not figure into the equation was the power of relationship building or trust. Trust is formed over time with relationship building. Creating a relationship is hard to do if one does not put out effort into face to face time with others.                                                

Under past leadership the two main political parties would stay in Washington a few days and have dinner with each other, including their families. No doubt exchanging ideas and gaining a better understanding of the other party's agenda occurred.  This face to face time also created trust and forged stronger relationships over party lines.

When this relationship building process was severed bipartisanship began to grow into two solitary parties with increasingly different ideologies. In this radio hosts' opinion this separation created a strain on team work and resulted in a stalemate with many national decisions.

So what does bipartisanship have to do with fire prevention? Mr. Webster defines bipartisanship as consisting of, or supported by members of two parties trying to find common ground. Although fire prevention and fire operations are on the same team and have the same objectives they haggle and barter over budgetary issues, staffing and capital items.                

Over my near quarter of century in the fire service I have seen fire prevention working with line personnel on more routine schedule. It has not always been this way for me.

For my first decade in the fire service I was unaware of what these strange characters called fire prevention professionals actually did. I would see them after a fire and on occasion in their office. I was scared to say hello because I did not want to catch what they had!!I had little contact with them and had no idea what information that I noted in the field would be beneficial to their goals. There was in my opinion little information passed between us about unique building problems and fire prevention issues.

So what has changed? In this last decade I have been privileged to work with fire administrators and fire prevention personnel that understand the value of a strong fire prevention program. They also understood how interactions between these two groups are paramount.

In the recent past our fire inspector and fire marshal actually ate lunch with the line crews. I realized during this time I would not catch what they had. Although now the dormant fire prevention bug eventually caught up with me and I inspect on a part time basis. My fire inspector would actually ask the crews "what I can do for you." The fire marshal made the mistake of stating "call me any time for any reason." This statement has increased his workload exponentially. The point being that these fire prevention professions were and still are very much engaged with their line personnel. Ideas are exchanged and all members of both groups learn something. We may be in different bureaus but we are working together for common ground. These two fire prevention individuals mentor me as a newly appointed fire inspector today.

 Here are some examples how we as fire prevention professionals can build trust and exchange important information for common ground with line personnel.

1.       Safety meetings: make sure to attend your departments' scheduled safety meeting as directed by NFPA 1500 chapter 4.  Share all relevant safety issues. Be prepared to share information on unique buildings and possible hazards directly to the line personnel. Utilize this time to explain what building fire safety issues they should look for while on routine fire alarms and medical calls. Clarify what information you can use as a fire prevention professional.

2.       Be diligent with sharing new information via email or face to face. This information can include buildings with fire protection systems down, routine system maintenance or any new systems being installed. Building renovations are also of importance to the line crews. This information will give the line crews an opportunity to take a look at these fire safety issues and update their prefire plans.

3.       Pictures are worth a thousand words. Document any unusual hazards or buildings with a photo and share them in a safety meeting or via email. Create a power point presentation with these unique photos so any shift can view them on a rainy day. Remember you are out there every day. The average fire fighter may not have the opportunity to see these buildings. This is especially true for departments that do not have line personnel performing building inspections. 

4.       Create a file of photos and explanations on buildings with standpipes and fire pumps in your area. Large buildings without suppression systems are also worthy of documentation.  This information is extremely important for the first arriving unit's size up and the IC overall strategy. As Frank Brannigan would say "the building is the fireman's enemy, Know your enemy."

5.       The simple act of stopping by a station for a cup of coffee or eating lunch with a crew is a sure way to hear firsthand what dangers the line crews have recently encountered. Once again this is another opportunity for fire prevention to share valuable updated information.

6.       Take new hires on a field trip. Does your department offer new hires the opportunity to spend a day or two in the fire prevention field?  The fire service needs young inspectors that will dedicate their career to fire prevention. Your department may have a new hire that is suited better for prevention and may get a spark of interest during this type of orientation.

7.       Maintain a photo file of new construction. This is one way new hires and veterans alike can see what type's of construction is being used for new buildings from the ground up. This is an excellent way to show line personnel the inherent void spaces in ordinary construction that are so dangerous to all fire fighters.

8.       Be innovative with projects and presentations. Make sure your information is easy to understand and easy to find. An example of being innovative could be to send out an email of the "Building of the Month." This can include any target building or unique fire protection system. A brief description and picture will be a valuable additional to fire prevention training for line personnel. This will have a lasting effect and take only a minute of your time.

9.       Ask other fire prevention professionals how they deliver vital information to their line personnel. All professionals love to share their information. Networking is a sure way to find an answer to a unique question. Be sure to hand out business cards at all seminar and conferences.

If you want to increase your value to your department and improve your department's fire prevention bureau participate in bipartisanship. Share what you know and work toward common ground.


Article Provided By:

Timothy M. Hoyt


Lieutenant/ Fire Inspector

Casselberry Fire Department




Save Haven for Newborns Sends  News and Thanks


A Safe Haven for Babies 

 Dear Friends of "Safe Haven",

"Safe Haven" babies -

 Five (5) precious lives have been saved this year and now have a future to be all they can be. We also are very thankful to report no newborns have been abandoned or left in unsafe places.


o   These little ones are now  growing up...

  Gloria Hope is almost eight years old, Kristopher is seven years old and Miligros is six years old.

They are very happy, well-adjusted children who are truly loved by their parents..


"Safe Haven" song -

   "Safe Haven" has ventured into the world of music to further our message. We now have available "Imagine me as I imagine you" on CD. It is sung by a very young girl to her biological mother. The music is performed by a talented band,  led by a Firefighter. It also includes very moving testimonies. Everyone's contribution was from the heart.

Please help us to continue our mission by purchasing a CD for a $15.00 donation. Click here to hear the first verse, then click again to place an order.


o   Please join us on Facebook, and Twitter and tell your Friends.


Our mission continues.... Saving one life at time, but we need your help.

I thank you on behalf of every little life saved and pregnant girl/mother assisted in her time of crisis.




Nick Silverio, Founder

Gloria M. Silverio Foundation, 501 ( C ) 3

A Safe Haven for Newborns

[email protected]

Take Your Child to Work Day at the Fire Department


 St. PeteSaint Petersburg Fire & Rescue invited children between the ages of 8 and 14 to the annual Take Your Child to Work Day on April 28, 2011. We are pleased to report that more than 36 children experienced a bird's eye view inside the daily operations of the department.


Designed to be more than a career day, the program goes beyond simply shadowing an adult. The girls and boys get to appreciate the vital aspects of what their parent or mentor experience during a work day, the importance of their position in the department and the value of their education. Saint Petersburg Fire & Rescue implements a hands-on, interactive environment to help the children discover the power and possibilities associated with a career in Fire & Rescue. They are offered an opportunity to share how they envision their future and are educated on the steps in achieving those goals.


Each year, St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue offers new interactive activities to engage the children. This year's activities included the Fire Chief's Ironman Challenge and our take on the Amazing Race. Take Your Child to Work Day reminds us that our children are the new generation coming into the workforce.  Our hope is to inspire them by example, encouraging them to embrace their future with a healthy balance of work and family.


Article Provided By:

Lt. Joel Granta, PIO


  Eating Your Own Cooking



A few months ago, I had the occasion to attend a pension board meeting relative to my department's pension plan and it turned out to be quite an experience.  That experience resulted in a more useful application than I ever imagined, starting with the words used by the investment managers making up the board.  Those words are the subject title of this article - 'Eating Your Own Cooking'.

CookingHaving never heard them before that night, as it turns out, that phrase is quite the business mantra.  Do an internet search and see for yourselves.  During the meeting, I learned from the investment people attending our meeting, it meant that the recommendations being made to our pension board were recommendations that these very people were also applying to their own situations.  And then it hit me; does our industry "Eat our own cooking"?


To answer that question, we must first recognize the rhetorical nature of the question as well as recognizing what my late father was known to observe when he suggested, "In every piece of truth there is some rhetoric and in every piece of rhetoric there is some truth."  To illustrate how these two ideas relate to one another, we need only look to the things we do each day as we carry out our fire service responsibilities. 


As managers it has long been said that we have the proverbial 'open-door' policy which means we want disclosure of information so that we can best operate our various organizations.  But alas, every time an employee invokes that allegorical open door opportunity, fire administration drops the hammer on them.  The result - eventually people stop coming through the door, the door that turns out not to be quite so open.  Have you eaten your own cooking when that happens?  Arguably, not.


What about the rhetoric and truth you ask?  Well, the rhetoric here is in the truth that while there is actually an open door policy, it's really not in truth open, but masquerading as such; hence, that's in reality rhetoric; symbolic only, ergo of no real use.


Another way of understanding this concept about eating our own cooking might be to Open-doorrecognize it from the parental posture; you know it all too well.  Mom and dad have been adamant about their children not smoking and as they admonish the children not to smoke, they light up their own.  We kind of do that in the fire service too, do we not?  As my Operations Chief Kimberly Neisler notes in one email signature line, "Leaders lead by example, whether they intend to or not."  If we say one thing and do another, we're not eating our own cooking.  Rhetorically, do you admonish personnel one way and then not apply it yourselves?  (compare Romans 2:21)


We admonish our personnel to treat people decently and with respect, and yet when given the situation for us to actually do that, we do not.  In fire operations that may well be about a performance issue, in our life safety services divisions, it may involve a property owner, architect, or developer.  Instead of demonstrating deference to the other person and this business mantra, we sit and we sit hard on them forcing them to an unfair labor practice (ULP) claim or to a third party board of overseers (DEC statement as an example) to settle what might well have been settled without such trumpet blast. 


Whenever we as industry officials and managers force a matter to go outside our own spans of control, we're not 'eating our own cooking'.  Why is that?  Because in review, resolution was all too clear, yet not applied.  Why not?  In part, because that resolution did not uphold the findings of the superior ranking individual involved.


When a subordinate comes in with a remedy through that symbolically established open door, why not take in what they bring?  Why does it have to be the Chief's way?  Why can't it be the subordinates?  When a property owner, developer, designer, or engineer brings in a resolution, can't that work or does it actually not work because it came from them?  We need to be circumspect here, it is all too critical for an appropriate outcome.  There are three kinds of people (managers in this concern) in this life; which one are you?


The person that makes things happen,

The person that watched things happen, or

The person that wondered what just happened?Wondering




So as we go about our daily activities, can we not do a better job at eating our own cooking and not make our roles as difficult as many have.  Frankly, it's simply not that tough - Let's do a better job of eating our own cooking.


Article Provided by:

Bart Wright, CFPA

Asst. Chief, Maitland Fire Department


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