Tag Archives: Fire

Fire Death in Philadelphia:Smoke Detectors the only answer?


On February 24th, 2013 at around 11:30 PM  Firefighters from the city of Philadelphia responded to an alarm in the Southwest part of the city.  They were met with heavy fire showing on the first floor of a row home.  As always they acted quickly to douse the flames and save anyone inside.  Tragically one man on the second floor died in the fire and two escaped with injuries.  Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers took to the airwaves to tell the story and predictably he came up with the most obvious answer.

If there had been smoke detectors this man would be alive today.  Bravo Commissioner for stating the obvious.  But what about the cause of the fire.  Before you can claim that a working smoke detector could have saved a life there were so many other factors that led up to this tragedy.

The home had been divided up into five separate apartments, described in the news video from NBC 10 as a boarding house. Was this compartmentalization legally done? If there a record of this being an apartment building?  Remember that potentially five or more people could have roomed here. The owner of this building also let the heater, which according to the news reports was an oil heater, stop working.  Another negative to the situation.

As reported by the news the electrical box was “a mess”.  So what we may have here is an overloaded electrical service device bought on by the renters having to use portable electric heaters.  Just one heater requires a 15 Amp breaker.  If all five tenants had one heater we are talking 75% of the total load on a 100 Amp box.  Unless this home was upgraded to a larger box to accommodate the multiple tenants the die was cast long before  the failure to put smoke detectors in each unit.

To make matters worse the Smoke detector system (actually Fire Detection) in an apartment building is required to be integrated to alert all residence.  Individual smoke alarms would not be enough or legal.

The Fire Commissioner should be talking about ensuring proper living conditions for residents and quit blaming the lack of smoke detectors.  The problems of the poor in the city go way beyond the presence of a device.

Eight fire deaths this year already.  The city is on it’s way to 48.  That would be tragic as is each untimely fire death.

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Filed under Philadelphia Fire Department

Police vs Fire: It’s Tone!


In the interest of furthering the argument that the Fire Administration in the city of Philadelphia is focused solely on controlling the argument about the treatment of its members, the following should add perspective.  I will now post the Directive issued by Police Chief Ramsey and the GM from Commissioner Ayers.  Red through and be amazed at the difference.

First the Police

PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT DIRECTIVE 119
(05-26-11)
SUBJECT: SOCIAL MEDIA AND NETWORKING
______________________________________________________________________________
I. PURPOSE
A. To establish a policy regarding use of social media and social networking by sworn and unsworn members of the Philadelphia Police Department.
B. The Philadelphia Police Department endorses the secure use of social media to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange; streamline processes; and  foster productivity. This policy establishes this department’s position on the utility and management of social media and provides guidance on its management, administration, and oversight.
C. In so doing, this policy sets forth expectations of police department employees with respect to their use of social media and social networking, and the direct effect such use has upon the reputation, perception and interests of the Philadelphia Police Department
and its employees.
D. As advances in technology are constantly emerging, this policy is intended to address social media in general, rather than singular form of social media or networking.
______________________________________________________________________________
II. BACKGROUND
A. Social media provides a contemporary and potentially valuable means of assisting the department and its personnel in meeting several police strategies, including, but not limited to, community outreach, problem-solving, investigations and crime prevention.
Social media also plays a significant role in the personal lives of numerous department employees. However, it must be formally and universally recognized that the personal use of social media has the potential to impact the department as a whole, as well as individual members serving in their official capacity. As such, this policy provides information of a precautionary nature as well as prohibitions on the use of social media by department personnel.
B. As members of the Philadelphia Police Department, employees are embodiments of its mission. It is, thus, essential that each member accept his or her role as an ambassador of the department. In doing so, each member must strive to maintain public trust and
confidence, not only in his or her professional capacity, but also in his or her personal and on-line activities. Moreover, as police personnel are necessarily held to a higher
DIRECTIVE 119 – 1
DIRECTIVE 119 – 2
standard than general members of the public, the on-line activities of employees of the police department shall reflect such professional expectations and standards.
______________________________________________________________________________
III. DEFINITIONS
A. For the purpose of this policy, the following definitions apply:
1. Social Media: On-line sources that allow people to communicate, share, and/or exchange information with others via some form of on-line or cellular network platform. Information may include, but is not limited to, text, photographs, video, audio, and other multimedia files.
2. Social Networking: Involves using such Internet or mobile formats as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Usenet groups, message or on-line bulletin boards, blog and other similarly developed formats, to communicate with others using the same groups while also networking with other users based upon similar interests, geographical location, skills, occupation, ideology, beliefs, etc.
3. Internet: A computer network consisting of a worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP / IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange.
4. Post (noun): An item inserted into a blog, or an entry to any type of computerized bulletin board, forum or social media site.
5. Post (verb): The act of creating, uploading, editing or adding to any social media outlet. This includes text, photographs, audio, video or any other multimedia file.
6. Blog: A series of entries, written by either one person or a group of people, in an online journal, usually posted in chronological order, like a diary. Blogs can allow or disallow comments on entries.
7. Comments: Responses to a blog post, news article, social media entry or other social networking post.
______________________________________________________________________________
IV. POLICY
A. It is the policy of the Philadelphia Police Department that all existing laws, rules, regulations, and directives that govern on- and off-duty conduct are applicable to conduct associated with social media and networking.
DIRECTIVE 119 – 3
B. When engaging in social networking, employees will strictly adhere to any and all of the following:
1. Existing federal, state, and local laws.
2. Policies of the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department.
3. Laws regarding public information on arrests, investigations, and personnel data.
C. Employees are prohibited from using their status as members of the police department to endorse any product or service without prior written permission from the Police Commissioner or his/her designee.
D. Employees are prohibited from posting images of police personnel working in an undercover capacity or identifying such personnel as law enforcement officers.
E. Employees are prohibited from using City of Philadelphia or Philadelphia Police Department property (on- or off-duty) to engage in personal use of social media.
1. For the purpose of this policy, City and Police Department property includes, but is not limited to, desk-top computers, lap-top computers, cell phones, hand-held digital or electronic devices (e.g., Blackberry phones), and digital storage media.
F. While in on-duty status, employees are prohibited from using privately-owned property to engage in personal use of social media.
G. Employees who are off-duty, and using privately-owned property to engage in the personal use of social media, do not represent the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, or any official position maintained by either entity. Under such
conditions, employees represent only themselves and their personal interests.
H. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when engaging in social networking online. As such, the content of social networking websites may be obtained for use in criminal trials, civil proceedings, and departmental investigations.
______________________________________________________________________________
V. GENERAL CATEGORIES OF SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE
A. The Philadelphia Police Department recognizes two general categories of social media usage among employees:
1. Department-Authorized Use of Social Media.
2. Personal Use of Social Media.
DIRECTIVE 119 – 4
B. Department-Authorized Use of Social Media:
1. Department-authorized use of social media is defined as the employment of such instruments for the specific purpose of assisting the department and its personnel in community outreach, problem-solving, investigation, crime prevention, and other department-related objectives.
2. In addition to the rules and regulations set forth in Section IV of this directive, the following provisions shall apply to department-authorized use of social media.
a. Police department employees seeking to represent the department via social media outlets (e.g., individual or unit web page, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) shall obtain express permission from the Police Commissioner or his/ her designee, prior to engaging in such activity.
b. Upon obtaining authorization, when engaging in social media networking, employees shall:
i. Properly identify themselves as a member of the department.
NOTE: In instances whereby proper identification poses a risk to officer safety or may impede the progress of a criminal  investigation, employees, with permission from the Police Commissioner or his/her designee may exclude department membership from their profiles.
ii. At all times, conduct themselves as representatives of the department and, accordingly, adhere to all department policies and standards of conduct, and observe conventionally accepted protocols and proper decorum.
iii. Observe and abide by all copyright, trademark, and service mark restrictions in posting materials to electronic media.
iv. Observe and abide by all existing City of Philadelphia information systems policies, including, but not limited to, “Internet Use and Access” and “Electronic Mail and Messaging.”
c. When engaging in department-authorized social media networking, department employees shall not under any circumstances:
i. Make statements about the guilt or innocence of any suspect or arrestee, or comments concerning pending prosecutions.
DIRECTIVE 119 – 5
ii. Post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate confidential information, including photographs or videos related to department training, activities, investigations, or any other work-related assignment, without specific and express written permission from the Police Commissioner or his/her designee.
iii. Conduct political activities or private business.
C. Personal Use of Social Media:
1. Personal use of social media is defined as engagement or participation in any personal social networking platform, including but not limited to, personally-owned sites, the sites of others (both known and unknown to the employee), news media pages, professional sites unaffiliated with the Philadelphia Police Department, or other information exchange forums.
2. In addition to the rules and regulations set forth in Section IV of this directive, the following provisions shall apply to personal use of social media while off-duty and using privately-owned property.
a. Employees shall neither express nor imply that they are; – speaking or acting on behalf of the police department.
– representing or presenting the interests of the police department.
b. Employees shall not use their rank, title, or position in a manner that would suggest that they are representing the interests or official position of the police department.
c. Employees shall not post any depiction or illustration of the Official Seal of the City of Philadelphia, or the Philadelphia Police Department name, badge, logo, patch, or patrol vehicle, so as to give the appearance of an official site of the City of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia Police Department.
d. In addition to the above provisions, when engaging in personal use of social media, employees shall not post any text, photograph, audio, video, illustration, or any other multimedia file related to, or depicting, any of the following:
i. Current, past, or pending departmental investigation.
ii. Criminal or civil proceeding pertaining to or arising from any matter
involving the department, including allegations of misconduct.
DIRECTIVE 119 – 6
iii. Brandishing of any weaponry (city-owned or privately-owned; actual or simulated), or any contraband (actual or simulated).
iv. Brandishing of tactical instruments (both city-owned and privately-owned), including but not limited to firearm, ASP, baton, OC spray, Electronic Control Weapon (ECW), and mechanical restraints.
______________________________________________________________________________
BY COMMAND OF THE POLICE COMMISSIONER

That is pretty clear and was issued in May.  Funny there are parts of the PFD memo that do not appear in this one.  Now on to the screed from Commissioner Ayers.

PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT
HEADQUARTERS
August 1, 2012
GENERAL MEMORANDUM # 12 -80
TO : All Officers and Members
REF/AUTHORITY : Special Investigations Officer/Fire Commissioner
SUBJECT : SOCIAL MEDIA AND NETWORKING GUIDELINES
The use of Social Media and electronic transmissions has become challenging for fire departments and their personnel throughout the country (e.g., Facebook, My Space, Twitter, YouTube, online blogs, email, texting etc.). The proper use of Social Media can be beneficial to the department, employees, and the public. However, improper use can potentially undermine the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Fire Department and its employees. There is no presumption of privacy when information is posted on Social Media websites and/or transmitted electronically. As per Directive #25, Discipline Policy, uniformed members of all ranks are expected to conduct themselves in a credible manner at all times, both on and off duty.
The Philadelphia Fire Department has recently developed a comprehensive Social Media Policy, which will be forthcoming in the near future. In the meantime, it is necessary to provide guidelines on the use of Social Media and electronic transmissions, and remind members of current department polices.
Effective immediately, all officers and members will adhere to the guidelines listed below on the use of Social Media and electronic transmissions both on and off duty.
Social Media Guidelines
• Employees are prohibited from using City of Philadelphia or Philadelphia Fire Department property to engage in personal use of social media.
• While in on-duty status, employees are prohibited from using privately-owned property to engage in personal use of social media. The only exception will be to engage in reasonable and necessary emailing or texting (e.g., text or email from a teacher/child care provider, or family member regarding an emergency).
• Employees shall not identify themselves as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department on any Social Media and Networking site without prior approval of the Fire Commissioner. The only exception will be a professional networking site (e.g. LinkedIn). Postings will only pertain to professional networking and development.
• The use of cellular/mobile phones is prohibited while driving any department apparatus, responding to or operating on any incident scene, performing official duties, and during training (practical or classroom). The only exception will be for
official communication (e.g., to contact Fire Communications, chain of command or medical command).
• The use of recording devices—camera, video recorder, audio recorder, cell phone or any device with audio and video recorder applications—is prohibited while on-duty and/or at any incident scene without prior approval from the Fire Commissioner. The only exceptions are those persons/units (Visual Communications Unit, Prevention, and Fire Marshal’s Office etc.) authorized to do so. Under no circumstances will photo images, video, or audio of any incident scene, patients, bystanders, or first responders be posted on line.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting any information regarding the transport, treatment, or condition of any patient. This includes employees/members who were provided care and or transportation to a medical facility.
• Employees shall not post on any Social Media site or electronically transmit any electronic recordings (photo images, video, or audio) of Philadelphia Fire Department property or on-duty responses/activities without written approval from the Fire Commissioner.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons displaying threatening or sexually-explicit material, epithets or slurs based on race, ethnic or national origin, gender, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation, and harassing, offensive, discriminatory, or defamatory comments.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons that foster or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.
• Employees shall not post any material on the internet or via electronic transmission that may adversely affect the efficiency or effective operation of the department.
• Employees shall not post on any Social Media site or electronically transmit any information that is inconsistent with the duties, ethics and Oath of Office of a firefighter or paramedic, such as racist or sexist comments, inaccurate information, personal attacks, or rumors.
• Employees shall not post any information or images involving off-duty activities that may bring a member’s or the department’s reputation into question.
• Employees shall not post any photo, image, or video of themselves wearing any part of the official Fire Department uniform or displaying any City equipment without approval from the Fire Commissioner. The only exception will be a professional networking site (e.g. LinkedIn).
• Employees shall not post on any Social Media site any depiction or illustration of the Official Seal of the City of Philadelphia, or the Philadelphia Fire Department name, badge, logo, patch, or vehicle, so as to give the appearance of an official site of the City of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia Fire Department.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting any information regarding a Fire Department incident, ongoing investigation, or pending litigation (both criminal and civil actions).
Responsibility
Division Chiefs will meet with their respective Battalion Chiefs to develop and implement a plan for Company Officers to conduct station exercises reviewing the policies listed below. Battalion Chiefs will coordinate with Company Officers to facilitate the review of policies, and ensure a roster sheet is prepared for each company indicating member has reviewed the listed policies. Platoon “D” Division Chiefs will consolidate all memos and forward to FPSC Jeremiah Laster, Special Investigations Officer by October 1, 2012. Unit Heads will follow the same procedure for their assigned members.
• City of Philadelphia Social Media Use Policy located on the “T” drive, Social Media Policy folder
• Directive #57, Fire Department Wide Area Network
• HIPPA Web Training PowerPoint presentation located on the “P” drive, “H” folder, HIPPA Central and Web Training folder.
• Directive # 25, Discipline Policy
Failure to comply with Social Media and Networking Guidelines may lead to disciplinary action being taken against a member/employee.
LLOYD AYERS
FIRE COMMISSIONER
______________________________________________________________________

The difference in tone is amazing.  Right down to the last line where Commissioner Ayers feels it important to not e that failure to comply with his opinions will result in Disciplinary action.  There are glaring additions to the PFD GM that have no place in a “guideline”.  Why did the police not feel it important to address race and other ethnic and social behaviors?

Both policies restrict the use of department insignias and to have prior permission to set up a social media site for units.  Yet somehow when you read through the two documents you get the feeling that Ramsey will allow units to run sites and if a fire company asks permission to run a site the scrutiny from Fire Commissioner Ayers (if he does not deny it outright) will be intense.

There you have it.  The difference between leadership and oppression.  Oh and if you are a member of the Fire Service in Philadelphia Please don’t like this blog.  I would hate to be responsible for you being punished for your opinion.  Which is what Ayers has set up.

One more important point, Ayers sites Directive #25 and then follows that with the statement that all members must conduct themselves in a credible manner.  It seems to me that Ayers is in violation of Directive #25 himself as his credibility is in the trash.

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FIRE: Seconds Count


This story is for the citizens of the City of Philadelphia.  The Firefighters of Philadelphia go to work everyday hoping that they will not have to come to your house and either save you or put a fire out.  But the reality is that there are fires and lately they have been many.  It seems like January was a series of news reports about fires, injured civilians and firefighters.  But this is about you and what can happen in a fire.  The video below was put together by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  This will demonstrate how fast fire can grow.

As you can see a dry Christmas tree can engulf a room in flames and smoke in seconds.  The couch scenario is comparable to a cigarette on a couch while the fire takes longer to develop the result is the same.  But consider the time it takes to grow.  If you are sleeping this could put you in a very bad position.

Now add to that a delayed response by the very people who are supposed to save your life.  To be clear the City of Philadelphia is randomly placing companies out of service to cut overtime within the department overtime caused by the city not hiring more firefighters.  Already this year people have been hurt and it leaves us to wonder if it was because of the actions of the Mayor and the Fire Administration.  This next video is of a fire in Northeast Philadelphia that injured one civilian and a couple of firefighters.  Watch closely between 6 seconds and 17 seconds as the firefighters exit the burning house.  Watch the last firefighter very closely.

That last man is on fire. here is a screen capture of the moment.

That firefighter is smoking and I don’t mean a cigarette. Read an insider’s view of this story you can go here.

Here is another story about delayed responses and the potential dangers as told by my blog mentor Captain America.  More civilians and firefighters injured, one critically.

Remember seconds count.  The City is gambling with your safety.  Risking your lives and the firefighters that protect you.

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