Thursday, August 25, 2011

Citizen's Fire Academy Part 4

Last evening in the citizen’s fire academy, we learned about the life of a fire. The stages include:
1. Incipient – ignition
2. Growth – fire load and oxygen
3. Fully developed – all combustible materials have been ignited
4. Decay – largest stage as fire burns down

Terms I’ve heard before that were discussed:
1. Flashover – material reaches auto ignition temperature and bursts into flames
2. Backdraft – hot unburned fire gases collect in unventilated space and when oxygen is added explode

For structure fires response includes: 3 engines with 9-12 firefighters, 1 truck with 4 people, 1 assistant chief and 1 ambulance with 2 crew members for a total of 14-17 people. Having experienced a fire in our home in January, I can attest to the speed with which the fire department responded and contained a fire.

A fire truck was set on its outriggers in the parking lot and we had a chance to go up close to 100 feet in the bucket attached to the end of an extended ladder.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Citizen's Fire Academy Part 3

Yesterday I attended the third session of the citizen’s fire academy, learning about fire prevention. We were given a checklist and then wandered through the fire station finding violations of fire codes that had been staged for us to find. Examples: two extension cords plugged into each other, blocked exit ways, combustibles stored close to a heater, uncovered electrical outlets, rugs over extension cords, portable space heaters within 3 feet of combustible material. The fire department conducts much education, having spoken to over 10,000 residents over the last year. Some interesting statistics cited: over 60% of smoke alarms in apartments don’t work; in 2009 in the US there were 3010 fire-related deaths, over 17,000 injuries with 86% of the deaths in residences, 1.3 million fires and $12.5 billion of damage. Then we had a chance to escape from a Fire Safety House, getting out through stage smoke. After having a fire in our house earlier in the year that was quickly extinguished, I really appreciate what fire departments do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Senior Law Day

On Saturday I went to the second annual Boulder County Senior Law Day. The keynote address by Dr. Jay Want provided some excellent insights into the subject of health care reform. United States medical costs are higher and growing faster than other developing countries, even when expressed as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. Jay stated that we got in this mess by paying people to do more rather than paying for better results. For people under Medicare, one in five comes back to the hospital within thirty days. By monitoring a patient after hospital release and providing in home assistance, many of these return admissions can be mitigated. The key is to reward improved health outcomes. In another session I attended, a physician described how he is now providing house call services to seniors. He can treat only half the patients of a doctor in an office, but he can improve the patients outcome particularly for older patients who may become worse by going through the trauma of going to a doctor’s office, waiting and then getting back home. Under Medicare 10% of the patients account for 50% of the cost, and these are primarily the frail and elderly. By looking at creative approaches, better service can be provided for a reduced cost. I also attended sessions on dementia (I have to keep up on this since the protagonist in my mystery series, Paul Jacobson, suffers from short-term memory loss). Paul suffers from vascular dementia, which, according to the presentation, accounts for only 17% of all dementia (dominated by Alzheimer’s at 70%). I also attended a session on scams, which ties in to another mystery I’ve written titled, Death of a Scam Artist. A day of learning that has given me new ideas for my writing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Citizen's Fire Academy Part 2

This week at the citizen's fire academy we learned about urban search and rescue. The Longmont, Colorado, Fire Department is part of one of twenty-six teams in the United States that can respond to local or national disasters. They have participated in the aftermath of 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. These teams were originally formed to address natural disasters but after the Oklahoma City bombing adjusted their mission to include human-caused disasters as well. During our class, the team demonstrated cutting through steel, breaching concrete, lifting two tons of material with inflatable air bags, repelling down a building to rescue a stuck window washer and stabilizing an overturned automobile. Particularly impressive with their equipment: 117 pound per square inch air pressure can be used to inflate a bag to lift up to seventy-two tons.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Citizen’s Fire Academy

I’ve attended both a police department and sheriff’s department citizen’s academy to learn more about law enforcement. Last night I attended the first session of an academy put on by a fire department. Some of the things I learned:
- The fire triangle of heat, fuel and oxygen—you need to eliminate at least one to put out a fire.
- This fire department works shift of 48 hours on and 96 hours off. They feel that this schedule is more efficient and leads to less sleep deprivation that 24 hour shifts.
- 73% of their calls are medical and only 5% actual fires.
- If a family member has a Do Not Resuscitate legal document, you need to show this to paramedics otherwise they will take all actions to resuscitate when called.
- Getting a fire fighting job is extremely competitive and once hired requires an extensive amount of ongoing training.
- A fitness exam must to be passed every year to continue as a fire fighter, so there is an emphasis on constant physical conditioning.
More next week.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

Here’s what happens when you wake up in the middle of the night with a strange idea and then expand upon it in the morning. I’m sure I’ve heard some of these before but here goes:

She was a podiatrist who put her soul into her work.
He was a carpenter since being a little shaver.
She was a doctor with no patience.
He was an electrician who showed a spark from an early age.
She was a very structured architect.
He was a lawyer with attractive suits.
She was an author of few words.
He was an executive who knew how to execute.
She was a programmer who followed a strict code.
He was a plumber who showed much aplomb.
She was a teacher with large pupils.
He was a trucker who kept on truckin’.
She was a dentist pulled to her profession.
He was a principled principal.

You can add your own to this.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mystery Writer Learns More

I use any opportunity I can to learn more about law enforcement for my mystery writing. Today I attended a dedication ceremony and tour of the new sheriff’s department building in our county. Some interesting tidbits I picked up include the following: There is a soft interview room for friendly discussions with witnesses. It is truly soft with comfortable couches in a cozy setting. Across the hall is a hard interrogation room with hard chairs and an institutional table. Both rooms do have one-way glass and video capability. There are also two sleep rooms where sheriff’s personnel can crash if they need a few hours sleep after all night duty and have to appear in court in the morning or if there is bad weather and they would have a long commute home. Compared to the old facility, this is spacious with a large number of meeting rooms. It definitely provides an improved atmosphere for the people working there. All the evidence had to be moved from the old building to the new, maintaining the chain of custody for every single item of evidence. This took months to complete.