the blog posts

firefighting for a new age

This article in The New York Times at the beginning of July, As Furniture Burns Quicker, Firefighters Reconsider Tactics, is rivetting reading. In it, firefighters discuss the changes in furniture manufacture - different materials, mainly - which impact the way they fight fires today. 

For example, standard procedure in a fire is to open up a window or roof to get air flowing into the building, the theory being that hot gases can escape through the holes. However, smokey fires that look like they are going out may just be waiting for that burst of fresh air before burning, in earnest, faster than ever. That they are faster now is due factors such as the fill material use for sofas and chairs, which, these days, is plastic and not old-fashioned cotton.

image: librado romero, new york times

In response to the changes, the New York Fire Department is conducting fire experiments to assess the effectiveness of traditional firefighting methods in a row of abandonned buildings stuffed with modern furniture.

You've got to admire the New York Fire Department's recognition of the need to investigate and the prompt attention paid to the matter. 

In Bermuda, by contrast, I'm still waiting for the Bermuda Fire Service - which fulfils a firefighting and first response function - to recognise and investigate the manner in which the vehicles they purchase are larger than a disturbing number of the roads they need to negotiate for access. It may be that said investigation is already completed and a solution is at hand but, for some reason, the results are not widely known. I don't know. But every time I drive down a narrow Tribe Road or other right of way, with or without sharp bends, I hope I don't need our first responders before I've finished my visit.