Monday, September 10

Internships, Jobs and Kittenwars

Sorry for the delayed post. My home computer melted down on Friday when the dog (yes I am blaming the dog for this one) spilled my Diet Coke on the keyboard. I am sure it was the dog because she left her ball on the keyboard in the middle of the puddle. I know you are wondering why my dog was drinking a Diet Code and using the computer. Let’s just say she has a strange fascination with and is watching her weight.

Since the “mishap”, my computer will only type the letter n as in nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and it does it by itself. I guess it would be worse if it was actually typing out messages to me. Now I will need to figure out if it is cheaper to fix it or get a new one. In the meantime, I will only be online during the day- when I’m not in class. I will try to answer all emails within 24 hours.
This is week 3 of the semester, and today is the last day to withdraw from a class without having it appear on your transcript. If you need to adjust your schedule, do it TODAY- there are now penalties for too many Ws Fs & Ds (like the loss of priority registration!)

I want to thank those of you that called me during my office hours last week to introduce yourself. I do enjoy talking with you and learning more about you. I will be available this week Mon. 10-12; Wed 12-2 and Thurs 10-12. My number during that time is 714-564-6860.

I wanted to let you know that we have a new internship available with OCFA in their Fire Prevention Division for current SAC Fire Tech students. We will be accepting resumes and statements of interest until noon on Thursday Sept 13. Six (6)to Eight (8) candidates with be chosen by the Fire Tech Office, and sent on to OCFA to make the final selection to fill approximately 4 positions. Here is the official information:

The Planning & Development front counter position would provide a learning experience in dealing with a multitude of different types of customers who are submitting plans for fire code review. This position would involve waiting on those customers, answering their questions, answering busy phones and data entry. Additionally, they would assist our plan analysts, new construction inspectors and the assistant & deputy fire marshals. This position would provide some “real world” applications of Fire Code in a Plan Review & Inspection setting. Opportunities for riding with a “new construction” inspector or sitting with a plan review analyst will be provided on a when available basis. (THIS STATEMENT OUTLINES THE POSITION(S) FOR PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT SECTION)

The Planning and Development Services Section is working to improve customer service, section efficiency and impact on community risk. Staff is actively participating in Fire Prevention’s transformation to a risk-based focus in order to improve the ability to link resources with targeted community risks. The effort will have a positive impact on community safety once fully implemented over the next several years. Several key initiatives supported during the year include: Aligning Programs to Risk; Ready, Set, Go!; Smoke Alarm Program; and Cooking Fire Prevention Program. These projects and programs are either well into development and testing or in the case of the Smoke Alarm Program, already launched and implemented with ongoing staff support. (THIS STATEMENT OUTLINES THE POSITION THAT WOULD ASSIST WITH THE SMOKE ALARM PROGRAM 4-8 HRS/ WEEK)

Additional criteria applicable to both assignments:
• Good communication skills
• Flexible
• Wants to learn, experience new things
• Enthusiastic
• Understand that assignments may not always be exciting but we can promise them that their work will be valuable to OCFA and others.
Other evaluation criteria that we prefer:
• Any student referred to OCFA must provide a resume along with a statement outlining their interest and qualifications ( no more than 1 page)
• prefer students willing to provide us with a 2 semester commitment
• Second semester students are highly desired
• OK if bi-lingual, but not required ( let us know if they are via resume)
• Prefer fire prevention students (no problem if they have not had 1A/1B)

All resumes and interest statements should be emailed to me at with OCFA INTERNSHIP as the subject and documents (resume & statement of interest and qualifications attached as either .docx or .pdf (preferred). Emailed documents will be printed exactly as sent. (Make sure they are formatted properly! If I can’t open it, I can’t submit it!)

Selected students will also be required to complete an application and 30 min. orientation with SAC’s Service Learning Program. This is really a wonderful opportunity for anyone with an interest in Fire Prevention.

Other departments with internship opportunities in Fire Prevention include (this is by no means a complete list!)
• Garden Grove Fire Department
• The city of Orange Fire Department
• Anaheim\

Almost all fire departments have CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) and/or Fire Corps. These are worth becoming a part of in your own community. Here are a few from around the county. You can do your own search by entering the name of the city followed by CERT.
• Garden Grove
• Huntington Beach
• Costa Mesa
• San Clemente
• Brea
• OCFA Fire Corps

Some of you might be wondering about paying jobs…
• NASA is looking for an Assistant Fire Prevention Officer in Mountain View.
• Chapman University is hiring a Fire Safety Officer.
• A temp-hire Fire Alarm Inspector position is available in Cypress.
• The Garden Grove Fire Department is currently accepting interest cards for the position of firefighter and firefighter/paramedic.

For more jobs openings in the fire service, check out my twitter feed at for the majority, some are also posted on my Facebook page
That is it for today. I promise a second post this week to make up for last!
Remember: "Stop, Drop, and Roll" is not only an effective safety technique, but also a way out of a boring conversation"
Have a safe week!

Friday, August 31

Back to school- did you feel it?

Hello everyone,

Well the first week of classes is over and we are celebrating with a holiday weekend. Nothing like easing into the new semester!

Did you feel the any of the earthquakes this week? I was in my office on campus Wednesday and felt the 4.1 that occurred in Yorba Linda. I was talking with a student when we heard a bit of a bang, the walls and ceiling shook and then we experienced some slight rolling. Of course everyone wanted to continue just going about their business. In fact some classrooms didn’t even evacuate! 
Earthquake Poster

I was at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg MD last May, which is also home to FEMA. While I was there we were evacuated into the basement due to a Tornado Warning. The second Tornado warning, an hour or so later, we stayed above ground, away from the windows (but close enough to look out). The third time, about 7 pm that evening, we moved our beer from the glass walled “garden room” into the masonry pool hall. The fourth time, 11 pm, - we had moved back into the bar- we decided to stay where we were and watch the FEMA Trailers through the glass walls, agreeing that if they flew away we would move. And these were some of the highest trained emergency responders in the country, as well as your humble professor. Embarrassing but true.  Actually I kept my eye on both the FEMA trailers for lift-off and the graveyard next door for…movement. There was lots of lightning and would have been a perfect setting for some zombie action. Just saying. Risks.


We had two cohorts that took shelter for each alarm. They told us they had seen to many victims who said “If only….”, and they didn’t want to be in that position.

The attitude “it won’t happen to me” is persistent in our culture. We are very good at giving up responsibility for our own safety and taking risks based upon false assumptions, “Chimpanzees make awesome pets.”;  Google Navigator doesn’t make mistakes.” “Physics does not apply to fire apparatus or school busses” ”Safety restraints on amusement rides are designed to hold everyone.” “Cats like babies.”   

I was on an airport shuttle when two women, both Professors from a college in Oklahoma entered the van and settled in. One of the ladies turned to the other and said “Mary, be sure to buckle your seatbelt”

“Um, ok, why?”  I kid you not, that was Mary’s response. 

I expected her answer to be “the laws of physics are different in California”, which would have made sense. I would have accepted “because your ricocheting body, in the event of a bad thing, would hurt me- and that odd woman with the dropped jaw sitting behind us and eavesdropping on our conversation.” It was neither.
“Because they have very strict seat belt laws here.”  was her reply.  (“And excellent brain surgeons” was what I thought in my head, because I am quietly sarcastic like that.)

Anyway, my point is that we interpret risk is a little bit warped.  Which is more dangerous- Swimming Poos or Guns? Drunk driving or drunk walking?


The book (and movie) Freakanomics does a good job of illustrating this. (Let me know if you want to read the book or watch the movie for extra credit

Why do you think that is?

The first week of school is always busy and this semester is no exception.

Class enrollment is down, believe it or not. That means smaller class sizes for you. The college has also added new class sections, full semester and 8-week classes, that do not appear on the printed schedule. If you or someone you know need more units take a look online. 

I have heard that the first Physical Ability Test in September has a lot of openings. This is a really good opportunity to a) get it done if you are finishing your core classes or b) give it a try to find out where you are currently performing at.

There are also still openings in FAC 008B the Physical Ability preparation class. It is an 8 week class that meets 2 hrs each week (Wed night or Friday morning) at the Central Net Training Ground (behind the HBFD station on Gothard between Talbert & Ellis). It is only .3 units, so it is cheap. Get added Tuesday (call the fire tech office) and you can work out Wednesday!

If you are currently volunteering your time, as an explorer, CERT member, or – whatever- get with our Service Learning Program and receive recognition for you work. Participants receive a Presidential Certificate for 100 hours of community service.

The Fire Tech Club will be meeting in room W101 on Tues, Sept 4 at 3:00 pm. We will be registering members, selecting future meeting times and dates, nominating leadership roles, discussing the club constitution and selecting projects and goals for the semester.

Leadership roles that need to be filled include President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Publicist; Interclub Council Representative; Interclub Council Representative Alternate; Project managers. Projects already under consideration include the Hero’s to the Top stair climb, Zombie Run, Small group EMT tutoring, Small Group Cross Fit Training, “Mini-Biddle” relay, movie night, resume workshop, mock oral board.

We will also have club T-Shirts & shorts ($15 each) as well as wristbands ($2) for sale.

 If you can’t make the meeting you can sign up in the Fire Tech Office. Members need to have a current Student Services sticker ($5).

I will be using this blog to share with you my thoughts and observations as we move through the semester. At least once a week, a new post will be added. These posts will include a look at what has been happening at Santa Ana College, opportunities and “breaking news”, current events, real stories, as well as your questions and comments answered.  

I am dedicated to helping you, our Fire Tech students, to understand more about what we do… and when I can, helping your experience at Santa Ana College be as rewarding as possible.

I hope you enjoy it.     



Thursday, May 3

ATF: The Death of a Firefighter-Critical Video (The Secret List)

In January 2011, Firefighter Mark Falkenhan of Baltimore County's Lutherville VFD, a highly respected veteran career and volunteer Firefighter, died in the Line of Duty at a fire in a multi-family dwelling on Dowling Circle.

Now-in addition to the previously published internal report and recommendations (link below) ....the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has published a MUST SEE FIRE MODEL VIDEO with audio and related minute by minute detail.

The Fire Protection Engineers from the ATF Fire Research Laboratory worked with the Baltimore County FD to create a computer model of the fire that resulted in the Line of Duty Death of FF Mark Falkenhan on January 19th, 2011. The following 36 minute video details the entire incident, beginning with the 911 call and ending after the firefighter MAYDAY. The statements of each firefighter were reviewed and their individual actions (breaking windows, opening doors, etc.) and observations (fire size, smoke conditions, etc.) were recorded on floor diagrams. The actions and observations of the firefighters were then associated with specific times in the fireground audio to generate an overall event timeline. All events in the model are based on this master timeline of events. In addition, all photographs were time stamped and synchronized with the model and scene audio.
Several alternative fire modeling scenarios were also including as part of the engineering analysis and are included in the video. The purpose of the alternative fire modeling runs were to explore how the ventilation flows paths through the apartment building would differ if apartment entrance doors were shut during suppression/search efforts. The video is intended to be used as an educational tool that provides insight on potential methods for preventing similar tragedies in the future.

The following three conclusions result from the analysis:
1. Unidirectional flow of 600 degree Fahrenheit gases in excess of 6 mph up the stairs resulted in a high rate of convective heat transfer to the firefighters, making initial fire attack down the stairs very difficult.
2. The open apartment entry doors allowed the main stairwell to act as an open channel for fire and smoke spread between the 2nd and 3rd levels, resulting in flashover of the 3rd floor approximately 30 seconds after the 2nd level.
3. The model supported the scene observations and indicated that shutting the entrance doors blocked the flow of buoyancy driven fire gases, ultimately preventing fire extension to the 3rd level apartment via the stairwell.

===Again-please don't miss the opportunity to use this outstanding above linked video information for use and discussion in your firehouse.


As pointed out in the reports, this fire, like many other LODD's, this Lin e of Duty Death was not the result of one specific issue within the event-but numerous issues that lead up to the tragic loss. 
A detailed timeline of the fire, leading up to the loss, from the time the initial call went out until Falkenhan was removed from the third floor of the building, is included in the below report. The timeline also includes transcripts of the radio transmissions between FF Falkenhan and others as he sought assistance in escaping the building. We have also included an edited link to the RADIO TRAFFIC below.

In summary, FFFalkenhan and his partner entered and made their way into the building to search for victims, without a hoseline. The apartment, like ANY dwelling any FF operates in today-is filled with plastics and other petro-chemical based consumer items (carpeting/flooring, furniture, TV's etc) that create a gas filled and subsequent fire environment of explosive potential. Firefighters searching saw fire in the corner of the apartment shortly before coming across a victim-but those conditions were not communicated via radio. At 1841 hours, crews were ordered to evacuate the building and about a minute later Falkenhan called a MAYDAY. At 1850 hours, Firefighters found Falkenhan unconscious and eventually removed him from the building.

Some of the main recommendations in the report include:

Company officers shall ensure that crew integrity is maintained at all times by all personnel operating in an IDLH environment. Falkenhan and his partner separated while searching the third floor-and his partner was forced to bail due to the conditions.
=No personnel should operate in an "immediately dangerous to life or health" environment without a portable radio. Falkenhan's partner did not have a portable radio.
=Develop ways of reducing inadvertent radio interference, including developing a rubberized cover for the push to talk buttons on radios which would reduce the chances of accidentally pushing it.
=While performing operations above the fire, notify command of changing conditions, and immediately request resources to support your function. The Firefighters conducting search and rescue operations saw fire in the corner of the apartment shortly before coming across a victim-but never communicated the fire conditions to command. The room flashed as they were exiting the apartment.

The report concludes that while Falkenhan's death was tragic, there is little need for massive changes to the department's related protocols. As you and we have all read in previous Line of Duty Death reports, if current policies and procedures were/are adhered to, the opportunity for tragic outcomes may be reduced.

In a statement from the report: "It would be easy if one particular failure of the system could be identified as the cause of this tragedy.
"We could fix it and move on. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. No incident is 'routine.' Mark's death and this report reinforce that fact."
Once again-the above NEW information, the previous report, radio traffic etc is an excellent opportunity to learn, and HONOR the memory of FF Mark Falkenhan.
The Secret List 5-3-12 / 1500 Hours


Friday, February 3

Redondo FF need a new kitchen- Vote now!

The firehouse with the most votes will receive a truly heroic kitchen renovation valued at $25,000. 
2 reasons why I am voting for Redondo Beach Fire:
  1. Their kitchen really is hopeless
  2. Their synchronized pan dancing abilities. Who knew?

Here is The Official Music Video for the REDONDO BEACH FIRE DEPT..."We Cook Our Food In This Hopeless Place"... Please Vote They Desperately need a new kitchen... 

Thursday, February 2

The Choking Game- Do You Know?

 Students Report Playing Dangerous 'Choking Game'. One in seven at a Texas university tried it, survey finds.  
FRIDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The "choking game" has been played by nearly one in seven students who were surveyed at a Texas university, a new study finds. This so-called 'game' is played individually or in groups and involves deliberately cutting off blood flow to the brain in order to achieve a high. This is done by choking oneself or others, applying a ligature around the neck, placing a plastic bag over the head, placing heavy objects on the chest, or hyperventilating.

It is true. Not everyone that plays the game, dies. Meet some of the survivors:

From the Dangerous Behavior Foundation (DBF):
Since it's conception in 2006, DBF has been tracking this high risk teen behavior and leading the fight for effective education and awareness.

Every child is at risk of being tempted to 'play' this 'game'.  Many tween and teens engaging in this activity perceive no risk, often stating "No one ever dies from fainting"  Education of the very real, potentially fatal, risks associated with participating is the essential element to risk reduction and prevention.

Oxygen deprivation practices are not new. What is new is the speed at which the information transfer occurs. Children growing up with current technology learn about risky behaviors through friends, mutual friends and video sharing website at warp speed.
 The Official Choking Game Awareness Website has educational and advocacy materials at 

A little education goes a long way. Click the link below to add your support

There is an alarming wave of deaths among our country’s youth; a wave that continues to go unnoticed by mainstream media. Adolescents across the nation are victims of unintentional fatalities caused by their participation in the “choking game” and though known by many names, the intent is to pass out purposely for amusement or for a “buzz”. This silent epidemic that focuses the most brutal results on our very young middle schoolers, remains hidden from public attention because currently there is no way to accurately track and report the number of cases. This lack of statistical proof also limits prevention efforts promoted by the grass-roots organization of the thousands of grieving families who have lost a child to this insidious “game”. 
As your constituent, I have signed my name below to ask that you help us help our children by doing the following:
1. Call the CDC and request to be briefed on the issue of the “choking game”.
2. Support the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services by requesting that the World Health Organization add a sub code that includes the “choking game” as a cause of death.
3. Include the “choking game” among the health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth in the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and make the YRBS affordable and accessible for all states.
4. Support the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) model of education as the means to disseminate information regarding the “choking game”.

Enduring the death of a child is heartbreaking. As my representative to Congress, I ask that you help me prevent other families from this heartache by showing your support in establishing statistical evidence of the “choking game,” Your efforts will assist us in heightening awareness among teens and their parents, teachers, and health care providers.`


Anti-Sprinkler Legislation- Because our Families & Firefighters are an Acceptable Loss?

80% of all structure fires in the US occur in 1 & 2 family dwellings.  That is also where the majority of fire deaths occur. People are not dying by the 100s in public assemblies, they are dying by 2s and 3s in their own homes.  We (the US) have one of the highest fire death rates of all industrialized countries. And our LODD rates for firefighter...well, you know. And if not here you go 

Today, home fires flash over much quicker than ever before

Synthetic Materials in Homes Turn to Toxic Gases in Fire, Families May Not Have As Much Time As Expected To Escape House

Watch this short video and see for yourself:

And Yet, the Lawmakers are passing ANTI Fire Sprinkler Legislation- PROHIBITING the adoption of building codes requiring sprinklers in NEW one-and-two family homes.

Tenn; Hawaii, and Colorado are all in the process of passing ANTI fire sprinkler legislation.
This is because the model building codes (beginning Jan of 2012) now require sprinklers in all new homes. The building codes are not effective however, until they are adopted by a jurisdiction, thus the legislation trying to block the adoption. This article " Home Fire Sprinklers will Save Lives and Won't Kill the Housing Recovery" does a good job of explaining it.

Another benefit home fire sprinklers, is they won't kill firefighters.

You will find a rich collection of resources at including videos and lesson plans supporting the Life Safety Initiatives in general, and Initiative #15 Code Enforcement and Sprinklers, in particular.

The code change was not a quick process.Here is a resolution supporting the legislation from 2008.

National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Resolution
A Resolution Supporting a Change to the International Residential Code to Require Fire Sprinklers in One - and Two-Family Dwellings and Townhouses
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is an organization created through Public Law by the United States Congress to honor and remember America's fallen heroes, to provide necessary resources to assist their survivors in the rebuilding of their lives, and to work within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has worked since 2004 to implement a national blueprint to reduce firefighter line-of-duty deaths through its "Everyone Goes Home" Program, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation considers it unacceptable that in the 21st century, more than 3,000 people in the United States are killed and thousands more suffer burns and injuries in fires each year, with an overwhelming number of these deaths occurring in homes, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation recognizes that many fire deaths and injuries occur in the most vulnerable populations-the young and the elderly, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is working to have a positive and consequential impact on reducing the nation's losses due to fire, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation recognizes that fire sprinklers represent a proven, reliable, efficient and effective method of protecting life and property in both commercial and residential occupancies, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has incorporated within its vision that advocacy must be strengthened for the installation of home fire sprinklers, and
WHEREAS The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation supports the concept that the widespread use of residential sprinklers will improve fire occurrence outcomes for civilians and decrease firefighter injuries and deaths due to firefighting.
  1. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation supports the installation of fire sprinkler systems in all residential structures, and
  2. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hereby encourages jurisdictions to adopt legislation that further strengthens the installation of these life saving devices, and
  3. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation advocates for firefighters nationwide to stand in support of these efforts.

Ronald J. Siarnicki
Executive Director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
August 1, 2008

Here are the most common   myths about home fire sprinklers - busted. (Average cost in new construction is $1.61 per square ft. ).

The Fire Sprinkler Initiative has many other resources, reports and presentation materials for advocates.
What uses the most water? An fire hose or  fire sprinklers? Try putting out a fire with each one at the City of Franklin's web site.and then you can check out these interactive videos  and games.

Here are some more videos and interactive materials from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.  including fire and sprinkler burn demonstrations, facts about home fires and construction information.

NFPA has a variety of videos available at YouTube including their "Faces of Fire" series which tell the personal stories of people who have survived a fire.

Anne Mazzola was working in her home while her new floor received its last coat of sealant. The combustible product ignited an intense fire that was extinguished nearly as quickly as it started, thanks to her home's sprinkler system.

A former operating room nurse, Princella underwent numerous painful and time-consuming surgeries followed by frequent hospital stays following a devastating home fire. She believes it all could have been avoided had her home been equipped with fire sprinklers

My all time favorite argument for home fire sprinklers however is what Fresno FD said:

It's like having a firefighter in your home 24/7, only


The Interactive Heart

This interactive infographic explains the anatomy and function of the human heart. Find out how the blood flows through the different chambers and valves, and visualize the blood flow using the scroll bar.

The Human Heart - Explania