Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vacation

The blog will be on vacation this week due to the Christmas and New Year's holidays. We'll return next week after the first. Have a safe and prosperous New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thanks AFD!

"Austin Fire Department,

"Once again, Operation Blue Santa was a huge success this year. I would like to mention some of the things that AFD was a part of and (at the risk of leaving someone out) list some of the folks who volunteered to make things work:
  • Thanks to the Executive Team members, AFD Honor Guard, ESPADA, Public Education, Quint 1-A, Engine 13-A and other AFD personnel that participated in the Chuy’s Parade on 11/27;
  • Thanks to the Executive Team members that went to the KVET breakfast on 12/3;
  • Thanks to Hilary Higdon for helping me on 12/6 to select the deliveries that our units would complete;
  • Thanks to the Executive Team members that went to the warehouse to sort and wrap presents on 12/10;
  • Thanks to Hilary (again), Tim LaFuente, Aaron Brooks, and Bruce Odems for delivering the toy packages to the staging stations on 12/15;
  • Thanks to Rob Vires and Mandy Ray for helping me deliver the turkeys and chickens to the staging stations on 12/18 (starting at 0530 hours!);
  • Thanks to the Executive Team and the crews of Engine 9-A and Quint 27-A for helping at the warehouse on the 18th. The help handing out turkeys and chickens was great. I think we also got some great publicity just by being out there handing out coffee, hot chocolate, and doughnuts.
"Also, thanks to the following A-Shift companies that took the time to deliver five or more packages to families (we completed over 200 deliveries):

Quint 17

Engine 17

Engine 11

Engine 6

Rescue 20

Engine 20

Engine 37

Ladder 36

Engine 36

Quint 35

Engine 24

Engine 22

Engine 66

Ladder 15

Engine 15

Engine 5

Engine 42

Quint 1

Engine 1

Engine 13

Engine 7

Rescue 14

Engine 14

Quint 18

Engine 18

Quint 40

Engine 40

Engine 26

Engine 41

Rescue 28

Engine 28

Ladder 8

Engine 8

Engine 16

Engine 23

Engine 30

Quint 38

Engine 25

Engine 21

Quint 27

"If any of the folks listed above work for you, please take a moment and thank them for helping provide Christmas for 14,000 children in Austin this year. Please also let me know if I have accidentally left anyone out (I want everyone to get their props!)."

Ken Crooks
Assistant Chief
Austin Fire Department

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chief Kerr Takes the Stage as "Mother Ginger"

Chief Kerr made her stage debut this past Saturday as "Mother Ginger" during one of Ballet Austin's performances of The Nutcracker. If you didn't get to see her live and in person, here's a few photos.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Annual Senior Holiday Lunch a Rousing Success!

Once again, Tim LaFuente and Eli Santiago, along with a whole host of volunteers, pulled off an amazing holiday lunch for the seniors at the Conley-Guerrero Activity Center in east Austin last week. More than 525 plates of food were handed out! Here's a few photos so you can see what you missed.








Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Employment Process Update

The application deadline for the 2011 Employment Process was Sunday, December 12, 2010. We received 5,108 applications for Fire Cadet (traditional) and 485 applications for Fire Cadet Senior (lateral). During the next few weeks, we will be reviewing applications to ensure they meet the criteria for a "proper application." We will be updating the employment process website with timely information as we move through the process: http://www.cityofaustin.org/fire/hiring.htm. This will include FAQs, CPAT tools, study guide, test day fact sheet, etc.

The written exams will be held on January 11 for Fire Cadet Senior and January 26 for Fire Cadet. For questions not answered on the website, applicants should submit their detailed question(s) to FireEmployment@ci.austin.tx.us. Due to the volume of applicants, please do not call the employment staff directly.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wildlife Habitat Projects at Fire HQ and Station 20

After months of planning and fundraising, employees of Fire and the other City departments at 4201 Ed Bluestein held three workdays recently, and have almost completed a wildlife habitat garden in the courtyard adjacent to the employee entrance. Nine trees were planted (made possible with a grant from Austin Energy’s Urban Heat Island Mitigation project) and many smaller plants. Still to come are a water feature, benches, and a mosaic.

Also, Firefighters at Station 20 participated in a very successful habitat project at their station. Congratulations to FF Steve Hope (E20/B) and the habitat steward volunteers who helped make it happen. Follow the link www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/wildlifehabitatprojects.htm for more.

Check out the photos from one of the HQ workdays below.




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kudos to BC Bob Nicks

"Dear Chief Kerr:

"It is with great pleasure that I'm sending this to recognize one of the many dedicated City of Austin Firefighters.

"On the morning of November 5, our facility started our heaters due to cold weather. Once the heater systems engaged, 3 of them went into alarm mode which I might add, and as you are probably aware, is a very high ear-piercing alarm. Coincidentally, Battalion Chief Robert Nicks was receiving treatment in our facility and offered to help me resolve the alarms. He was very thorough having found each of the heating systems we have in our facility and resolving those systems w/an activated alarm indicator. After having completed his treatment, he asked to review the systems one more time before he departed to ensure that we we wouldn't have any more problems.

"Battalion Chief Nicks acted professionally providing me direction/instruction on the heating systems. What he did may not seem significant in the grand scheme of firefighting, but as the new administrator of the group without foreknowledge of the above systems, I can tell you without prejudice that his assistance was greatly appreciated by me, our staff and the other patients in the facility.

"Please convey our thanks and gratitude to Battalion Chief Nicks for his actions."

Sincerely,
Mark Young
Administrator
Southwest Orthopaedic Group

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

After-Incident Community Engagement

Not only do our folks do a great job during an emergency, they do terrific follow-up after the fact! You might recall the fire on Astor Place last week that sent an 88-year-old woman to BAMC. The following shift, Battalion 5 (under the leadership of BC Doug Kusey) went door-to-door in the affected neighborhood for approximately four hours. They installed 51 smoke alarms and replaced 45 batteries. Additionally, personnel delivered fire safety messages and left door hangers for those residents not at home. Kudos to BC Kusey and the personnel from Engines 5, 7, 15, and Ladder 15 for their initiative and efforts to further the "Do Your Part--Zero Fire Deaths" message!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turnout for a Cause

The Waco Professional Firefighters' Association is challenging firefighting crews from across the state to take part in the "Turnout for a Cause" race. It's a 26.2 marathon broken into four unique segments, each designed to suit a variety of strengths within your company. Official attire includes structural PPE ensemble (liners optional) or bunker gear.

The race is Sunday, January 30, 2011 at Indian Springs Park in Waco. For more information, call (254) 405-2518 or visit mmm.sw.org.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chuy's "Children Giving to Children" Parade Photos

Check out some of the photos from the Chuy's "Children Giving to Children" parade last weekend. A great time was had by all!







Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kudos to Jill Craig

"Good Morning Dr. Parrish and Chief Dodds,

"I am writing to commend one of your truly exceptional employees, Ms. Jill Craig at the Austin Fire & EMS Wellness Center. Jill has provided outstanding physical fitness assistance to myself and several other National Guard Soldiers who are deployed to Afghanistan.

"Under normal circumstances, I am a Paramedic with the Austin-Travis EMS System and I have been called to active duty deployed to Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard. During our pre-deployment training Jill gave freely of her time in helping me develop and maintain a fitness program in preparation for this physically demanding mobilization.

"Even though I am now overseas, Jill has maintained contact via email and has answered fitness related questions for both myself and some of our Soldiers. She was especially helpful in answering questions about training at altitude, as our base is at 7100 feet in a rugged mountainous environment. Her inputs have helped us tailor our fitness program and answer the many questions about training at this altitude.

"It is reassuring to know that there are people such as Jill who go the extra distance to support our employees and Soldiers during a deployment. We are fortunate indeed to have her on the team at the Wellness Center and I very much want you to be aware of this exceptionally dedicated and gifted employee.

"Please give her my best regards, and if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me."

Many thanks,
Anthony P. Flood
MAJ, IN, TXARNG
Executive Officer, Ghazni ADT

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How NOT to Fry a Turkey

AFD and HEB conducted a demonstration yesterday on how not to fry a turkey; the results were pretty spectacular! See for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4E_JhONpHg

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dillard's Civil Service Discount

It's that time again--Dillard's is offering a special discout for two days to firefighters and police officers. (Unfortunately, this discount does not apply to civilians who work for the department.) See details below.

Discount Days: December 1 and December 2, 2010
Discount Amount: 20 percent
Who's Eligible: Sworn firefighters who are in active service and their immediate families (spouse and/or dependents living in the same household)
Process: Save your sales receipts! When you have completed your shopping, take your receipts for those two days to the Dillard's customer service area and show your firefighter I.D. They will deduct the discount from your total purchases in the same form of payment you chose to use for those purchases.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chief Kerr As "Mother Ginger"

Chief Kerr has been asked to serve as one of this year's celebrity "Mother Ginger" players in Ballet Austin's annual production of The Nutcracker. If you'd like to purchase tickets to her performance--which will be on Saturday, December 18 at 2:00 p.m. nat the Long Center--you can do so AND get a 20 percent discount! All of the information is noted below.

Purchase tickets online here: https://www.tickets.balletaustin.org/public/
Promo code for 20 percent discount: kerr
If you want to call and order tickets, you can do so at 512-476-2163, but please note there is a phone fee charged for ordering tickets this way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Walk to Defeat ALS: November 14, 2010

Dear Austin Firefighters,

Austin Firefighters are rallying a team to walk in the 2010 Austin Area Walk to Defeat ALS!!! ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is an always-fatal neuromuscular disease for which there is no treatment or cure. We do know that military veterans have a 1.6 - 2 times greater incidence of diagnosis of ALS than those who have not served in the military. As many of you may remember, the Austin Fire Department has lost two firefighters to this awful disease: David Peppler and Jerry Nutt.

How can you get involved? First, log onto http://www.alsasotx.org/, click on the Walk to Defeat ASL logo, and join the Austin Firefighter Team online! Then, come out to the walk, and/or make a tax-deductible donation. It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause; you can register online and make your donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. You can also donate through the Combined Charities Campaign; the ALS Association is Code #1701.

The walk will be held at the Dell Diamond on November 14. Registration starts at noon, and the walk will kickoff at 1:30. We will have live music, snacks and drinks, childcare and entertainment, and a post-walk barbecue. Come on out to the walk and bring your family and friends!

Your participation in the walk will make a very real difference in the lives of those affected by ALS. The ALS Association is the only non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. The ALS Association leads the way in global research, coordinates multidisciplinary certified clinical care centers, supports the people and families of those affected by ALS and fosters government partnerships. The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.

If you have questions, please contact Parr Brookover or Kathryn Alexander. Thank you, and we hope to see you out at the walk!

Parr Brookover
Austin Firefighter team captain
parrbrookover@gmail.com

Kathryn Alexander
2010 Austin Walk to Defeat ALS Coordinator
alexander.kathrynmarie@gmail.com
337-515-0303


877.ALS.HOPE (toll free)
210.733.5206 (fax)
Register for the WALK TO DEFEAT ALS and make a difference TODAY!
Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SouthTexasALSA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honoring AFD Veterans

Allen Bergeron, the city's Military Omsbudsman, and Dwain James, executive director of the Texas chapter of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (EGSR) were on hand at AFD HQ yesterday. They were there to recognize AFD's support of its veterans and to present Chief of Staff Harry Evans with a Department of Defense award.

Tomorrow is Veterans' Day. Please take a moment to think about those who are overseas far from home, and to all the veterans who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chief Evans Goes "Over the Edge" for Special Olympics

AFD Chief of Staff Harry Evans went "over the edge" of the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel (that's 15 stories, folks!) in downtown Austin this morning as part of a Special Olympics rappelling fundraiser! Chief Evans has raised more than $1,300 so far (more than APD Chief Art Acevedo!) for Special Olympics. You can still contribute by clicking here: http://www.firstgiving.com/harryevans. Check out a few of the photos below!





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flu Shot Make Ups

We're holding flu shot make ups for any City of Austin employee or their immediate family member (age 18 years and up) who wants one...for free! They're available on a walk-in basis at the AFD Wellness Center, 517 S. Pleasant Valley now through November 12 (Monday - Friday), 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Get inoculated TODAY!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AFD FF Presents at Fire & EMS Expo

FF Dave Williams (E31/C) made a presentation, "Fireground Medical Considerations," at the recent Fire & EMS Expo in Dallas that was covered on EMS1.com. You can read the full article here: http://www.ems1.com/health-and-wellness/articles/888408-Firefighter-health-issues-tackled-at-EMS-Expo


Photo: Jamie Thompson
Dave Williams discusses responder health and wellness during the session at EMS Expo.

And Dave will be making a similar presentation at the Texas EMS conference in Austin next month that AFD will be sponsoring. You can learn more about that conference here: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/emstraumasystems/PreconClasses2010.pdf 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fireground Survival Training

This quarter’s multi-company drill delivered by AFD Education Services is Fireground Survival training, part of a series of FGS training that Ed Services has been delivering to Operations firefighters during the last year. The pictures below are of Central and Statoin 14 (C shift) personnel going through the H.O.T. this past Monday morning, October 18. Firefighters are taught correct techniques to breach through a wall, and two ways to safely maneuver themselves to a clear space into the adjoining room between the wall studs while wearing full PPE (including their airpack). The second part of the drill is how to remove yourself to safety through "snag" obstructions (wires), if necessary, removing the airpack while on air and putting it in a "defensible" space so the firefighter can clear the obstructions. The other major part of the training is proper radio traffic and Emergency ID activation while going through the drill; two training channels were utilized.

Many thanks to Ed Services for this info and to BC Randell Nations for the photos!







Friday, October 22, 2010

Learn How To Handle Electric Vehicle Rescues

Fire, 9-1-1, EMS and law enforcement leaders and trainers are invited to a three-and-a-half-hour, multifaceted training session on how to respond to the Chevrolet Volt in emergency situations. This training is being offered free of charge to all attendees. To register for a session or ask questions about this training event, please e-mail us at voltfirstrespondertraining@rhdevents.com or call 248-860-7552 during standard EST business hours.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
8:00 a.m. registration/light breakfast, 8:30 a.m.—12:00 p.m. training session
12:30 p.m. registration/light lunch, 1:00 p.m.—4:30 p.m. training session
5:00 p.m. registration/light dinner, 5:30 p.m.—9:00 p.m. training session

Thursday, October 28, 2010
8:00 a.m. registration/light breakfast, 8:30 a.m.—12:00 p.m. training session
12:30 p.m. registration/light lunch, 1:00 p.m.—4:30 p.m. training session

Location
Austin Joint Training Facility
4800 B Shaw Lane
Austin, TX 78744

Attire
Duty uniform or civilian equivalent.

TLC Casting Call Deadline Extended!

TLC has extended its casting call to all female AFD firefighters through next Friday, October 29. Please see the previous post below for all of the details, including contact information.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recruiting Recognition

"Chief Kerr: I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you that the recruiting efforts of Suzanne La Follette, working in coordination with the Lone Star Roller Derby, has prompted a request from iWomen, the International Women’s Firefighting Organization, for Suzanne to write an article for their publication. Word has spread quickly throughout the U.S. of AFD networking with the organization in our efforts to obtain exceptional female candidates.

"For every recognition of effort there are many equally as impressive that go unnoticed. However, I thought this was certainly a spotlight deserving of kudos."

Lt. Andrew Reyes
Recruiting

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vaccinations Kudos

"I want to take a moment to thank AFD for doing a superb job at St. Elmo this morning providing flu vaccinations. I was impressed this year, just as I was last year, at what a great job this team did. Everyone who attended echoed that same appreciation.

"Thanks for taking care of us so quickly, efficiently, and with such great spirit! Everyone was so comfortable with you all that they did just fine with the injections. I guarantee you have saved numerous employees from suffering through a really bad flu episode (whether it’s H1 or normal flu….both are bad).

"My vote is with AFD for any immunizations we have in the future. We had about 118 shots provided in the short time you all were here…bravo!"

Max Eby
Organizational Development & Training Specialist Austin Transportation
Contract & Land Mgmt, and Public Works Departments

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Calling All Female AFD Firefighters

TLC is putting together a new documentary-style show about female firefighters and has chosen the Austin Fire Department as their department of choice! The Executive Team has given their initial approval for the department to participate, so check out all the information below for the casting call and apply if you're interested.

https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B2Z8jcI6iHM-YzIzODRkMzctNzU0MS00OGFkLWI0ZDgtNmVmYzE1ZWNkNGU1&hl=en&authkey=CK7br74F

Friday, October 15, 2010

Congratulations Elizabeth Gray!

The City of Austin recently announced the first class of the Executive Academy, the latest in a series of leadership development programs for the organization. The purpose of the Academy is to develop high-potential City employees so they can compete for future executive vacancies. More than 140 people applied to the Academy for the inaugural class and 43 were selected to participate, including our own Elizabeth Gray! The Executive Academy begins this month and runs through May 2011.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

National Night Out

We had a great time during National Night Out (Tuesday, October 5) this year; 36 companies were involved, 257 addresses were on the master list/128 AFD interactions, and we reached approximately 2,400 citizens! Way to go, AFD!

FF Pat Holman, Lt. Ricky Moore, FS Tim Bosma, and FF Mark Saldana (E37/C) enjoy some snacks at a Neighborhood Night Out gathering.

Photo: Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman

Photo: Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman

Everyone say, "I love my neighbors!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

AFD's Cave Rescue Team Featured in Firehouse Magazine Supplement

First, the good news: AFD's cave rescue team is featured in this month's Advanced Rescue Technology, a supplement to Firehouse magazine! Now, the bad news: for some reason, all of the quotes that should have been atttributed to FS DJ Walker were attributed to our PIO, Michelle DeCrane, instead. (Many thanks to BC Palmer Buck for bringing this to our attention!). FS Walker deserves all the credit, as he worked very closely with the reporter on providing information, as well as photos from his personal collection.

As such, the following e-mail was sent to the publisher of Firehouse and we expect it to run as a "Letter to the Editor" in the next issue. Following that is a link to the story, which other than the incorrect attributions, is an excellent piece about the outstanding work done by our folks on the cave rescue team. Just substitute DJ's name everywhere you see Michelle's!

"I just finished reading your piece in the Advanced Rescue supplement of last month’s issue of Firehouse. First, let me say again how much we appreciate the opportunity to work with you on this story; it shows AFD in a great light.

"However, I was quite disturbed to see the quotes in your article attributed to me; all I did was get DJ involved, who is the real expert. It was his answers to your questions so it should have been his name attributed to the quotes. He is, understandably, quite upset. I would respectfully request that you issue a correction both in the next print issue and online immediately clarifying this. DJ was very excited about the opportunity to highlight the great work AFD does in this area in a national publication and he, as well as I and the Fire Chief, are very disappointed.

"Additionally, the pictures should not have been attributed to the Austin Fire Department, but to DJ Walker from AFD; as you know, he provided these pictures to you from his personal collection and again, he should have been recognized for that.

"I fully expect that you will do what’s right to rectify these oversights immediately. --Michelle DeCrane, Public Information and Marketing Manager, Austin Fire Department"

Link to the story (go to pages 10/11): http://advancedrt.epubxpress.com/wps/portal/adrt/c1/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3iLkCAPEzcPIwML_1AnA6MQI4tAJwsnA39_c6B8JE55dy9DArrDQfbh1w-SN8ABHA30_Tzyc1P1C3IjDLJMHBUBEQJcUg!!/dl2/d1/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnB3LzZfOFRSSDRGSDIwOE9VQjAyVDI4UUI4QjBPTzc!/

Friday, October 1, 2010

AFD's Social Media Policy Featured in Fire Rescue Magazine

As one of the first fire departments in the country to develop a social media policy, we were recently asked by Fire Rescue magazine to write a story on this topic. You can read the full article here: http://fire.epubxpress.com/

Since the issue hit the stands, we have been contacted by fire departments across the country asking for copies of our policy, including DeSoto, TX; Aurora, MO; Northwest Fire (AZ); San Diego, CA; and Oxnard, CA.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AFD Has Great Showing in Silicon Labs Marathon Relay

AFD had a very good showing for the September 25 Silicon Labs Austin Marathon Relay benefitting Junior Achievement of Austin. More than 500 teams of five members each ran various segments of a full 26.2 mile marathon (12k, 10k, 10k, 5k, 5k). City of Austin teams were eligible to register free and AFD had seven teams participate. One AFD team of elite runners, "Team Benny" (in honor of FF Benny Balderrama), placed second overall with a total time of 2:39:30. That group was led by FF Lance Parker (E20/C) who led off the 12k loop with a fine time of 41:17. Other team members were FS Nathan Childress (E8/A), FF Patrick Healey (E9/B), FS Tyler Eads (E6/A), and FS Larry Clowry (E8/C).

There was also an AFD Women’s Team, an AFD Over 50 Team, and several other Station 18 “Benny Balderama” teams.

Way to go AFD runners!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

QlikView Award

Congratulations to Elizabeth Gray, Reggie Williams, and DC Doug Fowler, who submitted AFD for a "Best Practices in Business Intelligence and Analytics" award from Computer World magazine; they accepted our "Finalist" award from the publication last week. Nominations in our category (Running the Business on BI) use predictive analytics to pinpoint opportunities, and have enabled broad information access and delivery for strategic decision-making. Almost 90 entries were submitted from all over the country.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Never Too Early For Fire Safety

Check out the article (below) that appeared in Saturday's Statesman about teaching children fire safety. This is the second in a two-parter that started on the "Mama Drama" blog. Special thanks to FF Tim LaFuente and the crew from Station 30 (A shift) for representing AFD so well!

Never too early to consider fire safety
Tara Trower, Raising Austin
September 25, 2010

My husband, Dave, is the kind of guy who prepares for the unexpected. He's the one who double-checks the car seats, and he refuses to live in a house at the bottom of a hill (lest it flood). He's also thought of every possible escape route in the house in case of fire.

Recently, Dave wondered how our daughters, who are 1 and 3 and sleep in the same room, would get out of the house during an emergency. They are too young to do it on their own, I warned, and asserted that they were probably better off staying put until we or a firefighter came to get them. That's when we realized that the only way into the room from the outside was by breaking the window directly over Elizabeth's crib. Not good.

"Do not put the crib under a window," says Tim LaFuente, who is in charge of fire education for the Austin Fire Department. "It might not look nice, but it is definitely safer" to place it on a window-free wall. Beds, though, are fine under the window because older children can move freely.

I had called LaFuente the day after our conversation about exit routes, mostly because I wanted to know what else I had neglected to consider.

His No. 1 recommendation: Teach kids to sleep with their doors closed. Fires rarely start in bedrooms, and those that do are largely because of cigarettes and candles. So the chances of an actual fire starting in the baby's room are slim, he said. A closed door gives extra time for rescuers.

"You should be sleeping with your door closed, too, for the same reason," he said. "I know it might take some time, because kids like the security of having the door cracked. But tell them they are safer with the door closed."

Kids younger than 5 can learn an exit plan with a lot of practice, but they can't be relied upon to test the door with the back of their hand. They also might not even hear the fire alarm. (Studies show that kids younger than 12 often do not hear alarms because they sleep more deeply than adults. LaFuente recommends smoke alarms that allow parents to record a personal warning message, but those models can be tough to find in stores or online. For more on this, see our Mama Drama blog, www.statesman.com/mamadrama.)

So what should parents do? Make sure there are working smoke detectors throughout the house. Practice your exit plans with your children. Show them how to touch the backs of doors before opening them. In case of fire or suspected fire, get everyone out, then call 911 from another home; don't waste time tracking down your cell phone. And once you get out, stay out. Half of people who go back into a burning house don't come back out, LaFuente says.

What's the 30-year veteran's other biggest piece of advice?

Make sure kids know not to be afraid of firefighters. "When they are dressed in all that gear, a firefighter can be intimidating. Kids will hide, making rescuing them difficult," he says.
The Austin Fire Department makes dozens of visits to area preschools and day-care facilities, just so kids have a chance to see firefighters up close, touch the equipment and try on the air masks. If your kid isn't in day-care or might be too skittish for the group presentation, just take them to your local station. If the firefighters aren't on call, they will give him or her a demonstration. (They will also check those car seats for you.)

LaFuente invited me to sit in on one of the presentations at Little Munchkins Learning Center in North Austin. The kids were excited about the fire truck from Station 30 at a distance, but up close and personal, you could see the concern in their eyes, especially the younger ones. There were some tears, although not as many as during some visits, the firefighters assured me.

Each kid who did melt down got a personal pep talk from Fire Specialist Matt Heck.

"It's OK to be scared. All that stuff looks pretty strange," he said as he knelt down to console one tearful 3-year-old. "But if we come to your house, even if you are scared, don't hide. Please. Can you promise me?"

The little boy sniffles and nods but is still emphatic about not approaching the fire truck. Maybe next year.

But in the meantime, Heck and his colleagues are happy that at least the preschooler knows who they are now.

Next steps for us? Moving that crib and a family field trip to our local fire station.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mama Drama

Check out this post from the "Mama Drama" blog, part of the Austin American-Statesman. Kudos to FF Tim LaFuente and the crew from Station 30 who assisted the reporter with her story.

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/mamadrama/entries/2010/09/22/fighting_fires_and_fear.html?cxntfid=blogs_mama_drama

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Hodge Podge of Stuff to Share

  1. Congratulations to Fire Specialist J.J. (Janpalach) Gonzalez (Eng20/C). This Friday, September 24, he is being sworn in as a U.S. citizen at the Joe C. Thompson center on the UT Campus. The ceremony time is 2:00 p.m. for anyone who'd like to go and support him.
  2. Chief Kerr was invited to address the UT football team after practice last week and presented Coach Brown with an AFD Challenge Coin (see photos below)!


3. In case you haven't heard, the Public Safety Hockey Benefit game on September 11--which benefited FF Brien Brown's (Eng20/A) son--was a huge success! Almost $8,000 was raised so hats off to all of you who gave and supported this family in their time of need.

4. Engine 8/C was recently called to the cardiac cath lab at NAMC to use their Lucas device on a patient there. Dr. Hinchey sent the following note to Chief of Staff Harry Evans recognizing the crew and their efforts:

"I explained to the crew that they had taken part in a very significant 1st step for the system. As far as I know this was the first attempt in Austin to use the device. I am hoping this paves the way to increased use in the future. I told the crew that to my knowledge the use of a Lucas device during cardiac catheterization had only been reported 20-40 times in the world. As it turns out this may have been erroneous. I was looking up some literature to send the cardiologist (to keep him enthusiastic about it) and I came across some articles that indicated a study published in June that had 43 patients in it. This proves you can't look away from the literature for a minute without something changing...If you speak with the crew please send them my thanks again. They were part of what I hope will be an historic moment for the system, even if it has been done more times than I told them."

5. Todd Bircher, a member of the Austin Police Department's Pipe and Drum Corps, sent the following note to Chief Kerr in recognition of the efforts of several of our members at a recent funeral. Read on:

"Due to the tragic death of Cedar Park Police Officer Leonard Reed, the Austin Police Pipe and Drum Corps (PDC) was asked to perform at his funeral services held on Wednesday, August 25th. The PDC would have been unable to properly fulfill its role without the participation of three of your firefighters and musicians: Fire Specialist Andre De La Reza, Fire Specialist Don Caldwell, and Firefighter Coitt Kessler. Their dedication to duty, as well as the honor they brought to Officer Reed and the Austin Fire Department, was beyond reproach. We have one chance to provide the proper tribute and reverence befitting our fallen brothers and sisters. Your firefighters ensured those honors will endure in the hearts and minds of Officer Reed’s wife, two sons, family, and friends forever. For that reason, I cannot thank them enough or you for allowing them to assist us in this effort."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Also This Weekend...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 11, 2010 Events

  • 7:30 a.m.: Annual memorial service to remember those firefighters who lost their lives on September 11. Buford Fire Tower on Lady Bird Lake, Cesar Chavez and Congress (open to the public).
  • 10:00 a.m.: Austin firefighters will climb the Pleasant Valley Drill Tower in full turnout gear, an air pack, and a hose bundle. Firefighters will make the number of up and down flights which equals roughly the height of the World Trade Center. All done in complete silence and it takes about an hour (open to the public).
  • 6:00 p.m.: AFD will participate in a ceremony at the UT vs. Wyoming game whereby 500 first responders from the Austin area will be recognized at halftime (you must have a game ticket to be present).
Please keep all public safety first responders in your thoughts on this day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chief Kerr Wins Critics' Choice Award from Austin Chronicle

This week, the Austin Chronicle published its annual "Best of" awards list. Chief Kerr won an award from the critics in the "Politics and Personalities" category (see below). Congratulations Chief Kerr!

Best Uniform on a City Official: Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr

This is a woman who knows how to take the heat, as well as give off some sparks of her own whenever she appears in uniform. And it's not just any uniform. As chief of the Austin Fire Department, Rhoda Mae Kerr presents an authoritative figure in her crisp white shirt embellished with her status and provenance, paired with perfectly tailored slacks that keep your eyes glued to her even as she glides from a room, blond hair swinging. And don't mistake the nature of our focus: There is absolutely nothing frivolous about this woman's job or the woman herself. Definitely one of Austin's best, Chief Kerr exemplifies great leadership peppered with sparkling wit and abundant charm.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kat Casey Featured in L Style/G Style Magazine

Our very own FF Kat Casey (Q35/B) is this month's cover girl and feature story in L Style/G Style magazine, the city's leading publication for the gay and lesbian community. You can check it out here: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/7c1a32a7#/7c1a32a7/1

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Benefit Hockey Game for FF Brien Brown's Son

The Public Safety Hockey Team will be holding a benefit on Saturday, September 11 at 6:00 p.m. at Chapparal Ice (14200 IH-35) for Braden Brown, son of FF Brien Brown (E20/A). Please see the flyer for more information on how you can donate either at the game or online:
https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B2Z8jcI6iHM-MTE4M2U3MzEtMGUyYi00ZjNjLTg4YjctMmRmYjg5ZjA4Mjc2&hl=en&authkey=CJ2TuagO

AFD Receives Goldfeder Award

While in Chicago last week at the annual Fire-Rescue International conference, Chief Kerr picked up the Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award, presented by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. You might recall that BC Tom Dodds and the Wellness staff nominated AFD for this prestigious award.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Drawing for University of Texas/Wyoming Game Tickets

In honor of September 11th the University of Texas has provided Austin Fire Department with 100 tickets for first responders. This is the game between UT and Wyoming at 6:00 pm. Chief Kerr will be an honorary team captain and will be on the field for the coin toss; the Austin Fire Department Challenge coin will be used for the coin toss. Other first responders and guests from law enforcement and EMS will be attending as well. All first responders will be sitting together in the north east section of the stadium.

At halftime, the first responders and their guests will be ushered onto the field to stand in the receiving line as the UT football team enters the field for the second half. Uniforms are not necessary and probably won't be worn by any other agency. In fact you’re encouraged to wear the AFD 9-11 T-shirt, your Texas Hook ‘em Horns shirt, or the orange UT shirts available from Local 975.

We will conduct a drawing for the tickets on Friday, September 3. To be eligible, you must be an AFD first responder, you must be off duty, and you must be available to attend. Please do not sign up for the drawing unless you are certain you’ll be able to go. If your name is drawn, you will receive a ticket for you and one guest. To enter the drawing, send an email to mandy.ray@ci.austin.tx.us no later than midnight Thursday, September 2. Be sure to include how you’d like to be contacted if you are selected.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FY2008-2009 Statistics

Just posted on our web site: stats for the FY08-09 year. We promise to be more timely for the FY09-10 year, which closes September 30! Until then, here's a link to the FY08-09 stat sheet:

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/fire/downloads/stats0809.pdf

Monday, August 23, 2010

AFD Firefighters Featured in IAFF Magazine

In this month’s issue of Fire Fighter magazine that is sent out by the IAFF (the cover has a photo of a firefighter holding a rackline, facing away from the camera) you can find our very own FF Coitt Kessler (Q18/C) on the inside of the front cover. It’s a photo of someone doffing their airpack while going through to Fireground Survival Course (a course that Coitt helped develop, by the way!) while Coitt oversees his progress. Later in the magazine, there is a quick blurb about the program that Coitt and Lt. Kevin Kalmus (E16/C) have been working so hard on for several years. They even mention Austin, Texas as one of the locations where the program has been tested.

Check it out for yourself here: http://www.iaff.org/mag/2010/4.Jul-Aug/index.html (Page 2 and Page 54)


Pretty cool stuff! These guys have spent a significant part of their personal time working on a project that will eventually be taught to thousands of US and international firefighters. We're sure proud of them! (Special thanks to FF Lyzz Donelson at Ed Services for bringing this to our attention!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

FF James Glass Headstone Dedication

From this week's memorial dedication and honor ceremony. Special thanks to Lt. Pete Constantine (E12/C) who shot some of these pictures. Kudos to the Austin Fire Museum and AFD Historical Society for putting together such a moving tribute, especially FS Jerry Cohen (E30/A) and Lt. Josh Miller (E40/C).