Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Station 5 Receives Wildlife Habitat Designation

Station 5 recently became the first station to obtain wildlife habitat status under the City's new program that was initiated earlier this year. It joins Stations 39 and 43, which were previously in the designation process. The effort at Station 5 was spearheaded by C-shift Lt. David Lundstedt and accomplished using donated items, along with the $150 allowance from the department. The station was challenged last year to get the certification by former 5-C firefighter Mayor Pro-tem Mike Martinez, and Lundstedt, who had recently had his home designated, took on the challenge.

“I brought up an old pond liner and pump I wasn’t using at home and that served as the required water source,” says Lundstedt. “I handed my then-probie T.J. Rogers a shovel and told him to dig which made the entire process much easier.”

HEB Central Market then pitched in with mulch, a bird feeder, and bird seed for one of the required food sources. Lundstedt then spent the city allowance purchasing native plants, goldfish, more mulch and a hummingbird feeder. He also installed a compost pile in the rear of the station to reduce the amount of trash deposited and to someday use as fertilizer for the native plants.

“Using natives makes the entire area virtually maintenance free,” says Lundstedt. “I installed a misting nozzle on a garden hose which keeps the pond full so all I do now is fill the bird feeder and the rest takes care of itself.”

Alice Nance with Austin Parks and Recreation Department's Wildlife Austin program paid a visit to Station 5 and after making some suggestions, declared the project a success. What was once a weed-infested flowerbed by the front door has been transformed into an urban oasis, teeming with birds and other wildlife, which come to enjoy the new area on a daily basis.

"I would encourage every station to take this on,” says Rogers who has since transferred to Station 15. “If we can do this right in the heart of east Austin, then any station should be able to do it.”

(Many thanks to Lt. Lundstedt for the story and pictures, below.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pass the Torch Basketball Camp

It's that time again! The annual Pass the Torch basketball camp, hosted by the Austin African American Firefighters' Association begins today, July 27 and runs through July 29. It will be held at the Virginia Brown Rec Center, 7500 Blessing Avenue. If you get a chance, stop by and show the kids what they can aspire to!

Monday, July 26, 2010

AFD Wins Prestigious Safety Award

We were recently notified that AFD has won the Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award for our outstanding Wellness program! This program is the result of an initiative by both management and labor to provide medical and fitness screening on an annual basis, and to provide a safety net to assist firefighters in addressing health issues so that they can have full careers while providing the highest quality service to the citizens of Austin.

The award will be presented at the IAFC Fire-Rescue International Conference in Chicago at the end of August. Major kudos to Battalion Chief Tom Dodds, who oversees the Wellness program (and who provided the nomination) as well as to all of the Wellness staff for their tireless dedication to our personnel's health and well being.

The Goldfeder Award is presented annually to fire service organizations (of any size or composition) which have demonstrated an outstanding commitment or significant contribution in the area of fire service health and safety. Fire departments, public agencies, private companies, or other organizations that are affiliated with or sponsors of the IAFC may be considered for this award.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Diesel Exhaust Extraction Update

The diesel exhaust contract has been finalized and work is ready to begin. The first stations that will have the new diesel extraction system installed will be 17, 28-33, 35-37, and 41. Greg Hager will handle the project planning and contract administration, and Battalion Chief Bruce Staton will work directly with the affected stations and personnel. We'll keep you posted as things progress, but this is a huge step forward in the right direction! Kudos to all who have worked long and hard to bring these much-needed systems to AFD.

Editor's Note: We don't have a work schedule yet, but BC Bruce Staton, who oversees Facilities Maintenance for AFD, will notify the affected stations as soon as we do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Echelon Article in Fire Engineering Magazine

Assistant Chief George Blackmore’s after-action analysis of the Echelon incident was published in last month’s Fire Engineering magazine; you can read the full article here:

Additionally, several members of the department will be traveling to Chicago at the end of August for the FRI conference to make a presentation to the attendees regarding this incident.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Training at Taylor Hall

The Captains' complements located around the UT campus (L3, Q19, L17, L8) were able to do some very realistic training recently thanks to some observant eyes and imaginative officers. The old Taylor Hall is slated to be demolished in August, but still provided an excellent venue for forcible entry training and a great locale for practicing hand-line deployments from standpipes. Lt. Josh Portie (E2C) first noticed the abandoned building when responding in his still alarm territory. After several conversations with UT facilitators, Josh started the ball rolling. Battalion Chief Chris Watson (B1A) then provided further oversight and supervision to get all the pieces in place to host such an event.

How do we "stumble" onto these gems? Through members who: (1) Pay attention to their territory 2) Know their response partners like UT Prevention and UT Police and 3) Show personal initiative to recognize a rare find and then pursue that opportunity.

(Special thanks to DC David Bailey and Captain Mike Williams for the info and the pics!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

And the winner is...

First, the bad news: APD beat us in the Boots vs. Badges blood drive by just four pints! They had 107 donated in their name to our 103.

Now, the good news! The Blood and Tissue Center has 210 pints of blood for the summer, a time when donations are typically very low. So a big round of applause to all of you who donated (and to your friends and family as well)! We'll get 'em next year.

Station 9 was on hand for the trophy presentation this morning and got a chance to visit with Chief Kerr for a bit. Now that's a fine looking bunch!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Day for Boots vs. Badges Blood Drive

Today is the LAST day for you, your friends, and your family to make a donation to the Blood and Tissue Center in honor of AFD. As of this morning, we were down 10 pints—81 to the cops’ 91. If we want to keep the trophy—and bragging rights—be sure to donate TODAY. A list of donation centers can be found here:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deployment to Rio Grande Valley

There they go again! Austin firefighters are again deployed as part of a State response plan to the Rio Grande Valley to assist local jurisdictions with the predicted flooding. A six-person Boat Squad will be staged in Laredo, along with two members who serve as members of an Incident Management Team.

As is the case with all our state deployments, the member’s salary and that of the backfill, are 100 percent reimbursed by the State agency that requests our help. This deployment is scheduled to run approximately five days. What a great opportunity for professional development!

AFD provides trained, skilled, emergency professionals in the following areas of expertise: Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Water/Boat Rescue, Helicopter Rescue Swimmers, TIFMAS firefighters and officers, Incident Management Personnel and Communication Specialists.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boots vs. Badges Blood Drive Update

As of this morning, APD was ahead in the Boots vs. Badges Blood Drive by just two pints! The totals right now stand at APD with 74 and AFD with 72. We got bragging rights last year, so we need one final push from everyone to ensure we get to keep the trophy!

The drive to donate ends this Friday, July 16. You can donate for your local hero at any Donor Center location (see a list of locations here:

Remember: blood runs red, not blue! Donate in honor of AFD today!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sprinkled Vs. Non-Sprinkled Demonstration

On July 3, the State Fire Marshal conducted a side-by-side burn demonstration at The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. This event was designed to show the power of fire in a sprinkled vs. non-sprinkled room. The results were astounding—in a little more than 8 minutes, the non-sprinkled room was fully engulfed in fire. In the sprinkled room, the fire burned for just 43 seconds before being extinguished by the sprinklers.

Some of AFD's finest were on hand to help with the demonstration, as you can see from the photo below. The Legislature is due back in session January 2011 and we're hoping that they will consider giving municipalities the power to decide if requiring sprinklers in new construction of single-family homes is appropriate.

The Austin Fire Department is grateful to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for conducting this most important demonstration, for asking us to participate, and for letting the citizens see for themselves just how valuable sprinklers in their homes could be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Support Services Day at Ed Services

Check out some of the fun our Support Services folks had at Ed Services recently when that section hosted a "get to know the Fire Department" day. This piece will be shown on the City's TV station, Channel 6, tomorrow, July 8.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They Grow Up So Fast

We don't usually post this sort of thing here, but this photo was just too funny to pass up. Happy 35th Birthday, Randy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tom Thies Profile

Check out the brief profile of Battalion Chief Tom Thies, who is now overseeing our operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Chief Thies was featured in the latest issue of flyAustin, ABIA's newsletter. You can see it for yourself by clicking here:

Demobilization Update

All of our folks who were deployed for Hurricane Alex have returned home, save for the 13 folks who are members of the Quick Response Force and Water teams. They are continuing to recon some potential problems in the valley, so they are staying put for now.

Please continue to keep them in your thoughts.