Did you know that since the days of the bucket brigade and the horse-drawn fire wagons a whole industry has developed to make sophisticated equipment to detect and fight fires? We’ve come a long way since the Chicago fire of 1878, considered the greatest disaster of the 19th century.
Here’s what happened. After a long dry spell, high winds fanned a small fire into a raging inferno that caught the city of Chicago completely by surprise.
The city had only 200 firefighters, 17 fire engines and 18 ladder trucks. With this equipment, they had to protect 651 miles of wooden sidewalks and 60,000 buildings, most of which were wood as well. It was a huge task.
The fire soon raged out of control, rampaging across a city of 350,000 terrified residents. The 34-hour calamity took the lives of 250 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left 90,000 people homeless.
Incredibly, that very same day, a massive forest fire roared out of control in eastern Wisconsin, wiping out the town of Peshtigo. Some 1,500 residents died and 4 million acres of prairie land were destroyed.
These and other tragic fires led to new products, new building codes and a new industry dedicated to detection and prevention.
Today we have sophisticated systems with heat sensors, smoke detectors, voice evacuation systems and other devices to protect hotels, office towers and other buildings. Specially designed fire suppression systems have halon gas to extinguish fires without damaging vulnerable computer centers, telephone switching equipment and other sensitive devices.
But this technology doesn’t mean we can let down our guard. We still need to rely on one of the best fire prevention systems ever-alert workers who look for and report fire hazards. Always remember to…
*Practice good housekeeping and store flammable materials a safe distance from heating equipment or electrical units.
*Inspect and maintain electrical equipment properly.
*Take care in handling flammable material.
*Eliminate careless smoking, oily rags, static electricity, grease, and other substances that can cause fires.
To prevent fires, you need to make sure your work area is clear of hazards. Any fire can easily lead to a tragedy and any activity that is a fire risk requires special precautions. Be aware of the dangers around you, report anything you think could lead to a fire and remember attention is prevention.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT FIRE PREVENTION?
*Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety B219
Don’t Get Burned
House fires injure or kill thousands each year. If a house fire happens to you, it’s critical to know what to do and to act fast. Here’s some potentially life-saving information.
In a serious house fire, you may have as little as five minutes to escape and survive. A manufacturer of home safety products has done extensive research on what happens when a home catches on fire. Some of the findings may surprise you.
For example, you can’t count on the smell of smoke to wake you if you are asleep. In fact, toxic fumes from a fire are more likely to put you into an even deeper sleep. The family dog has a much more sensitive smell than humans, but even that warning system might not work. The truth is, there’s no substitute for a system of well- maintained smoke detectors throughout the house.
Fire inside a house tends to be black, not bright red or orange as it would be outdoors where the fire can get plenty of oxygen. This means it will be difficult to see when you’re trying to escape. Depending on the fire’s source of fuel, a house can become an inferno in a matter of minutes.
More than 35,000 people are killed or injured in house fires each year. Your chances of surviving are double if you have a smoke detector on every floor. If the alarm sounds, get out fast and call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. Whatever you do, don’t go back in. Many are killed when they go back into the house to retrieve treasured objects.
At home and at work, the best plan is to stop fires before they start. On the job, stay aware, look for and report any hazards that might cause a fire. Good housekeeping is essential too. Be sure to dispose of oily rags, paper or scraps of wood. Trash, sawdust or almost any collection of waste can be a dangerous source of fuel for a fire. Also, carefully check to make sure that flammables are safely stored away from ant heat source. Don’t put off regular inspections of smoke detectors, heating units, wiring and fire extinguishers. Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers are kept and how to use them. If you do, you can stop a small fire from turning into a major disaster.
True, a good warning system is important to guard against fire, but the best protection is prevention and that means no fire at all.
DON’T GET BURNED! FIGHT FIRE WITH PREVENTION
*Copyright Harkins Safety 2008 B249
A Stunt With a Shark
You’ve heard it in conversation. You’ve probably even said it yourself—someone or something has “jumped the shark.” It’s a common expression, but where did it come from? It’s a fascinating story.
It all began, strangely enough with the popular TV show Happy Days. The show’s first episode aired in January 1974 and the series ran for a full ten years.
Happy Days was pure Americana as it told the story of Midwestern teenager Richie Cunningham, his family and his friends, Potsie Weber and Ralph Malph. But the character who really stood out was Arthur Fonzarelli-The Fonz. Wearing his trademark black leather jacket, the good natured greaser befriends Richie and becomes a friend of the family.
The fateful episode came in the fifth season. In it, the Cunninghams take a vacation to Hollywood with The Fonz. While there, Fonzi accepts a dare to don a pair of water skis and jump over a tank filled with man-eating sharks-while wearing a swimsuit and his black leather jacket of course.
The episode was so contrived and the special effects depicting Fonzie’s jump were so poorly done that it became the low-water mark of the series. As a result, the expression “jump the shark” has come to describe the point at which a sense of routine has set in and quality has begun to decline.
As the now infamous episode shows, complacency can turn up in unexpected places. But when it happens on the job, the consequences are anything but entertaining.
Complacency happens when you think you have all the job experience you need and know all the hazards just because you’ve done a task many times before without getting hurt. That’s dangerous thinking and it leaves you open to injury.
It’s vital to approach every task, no matter how familiar with fresh eyes. Stop and think before you start. Double check the safety procedures. Consider all the possible hazards. As you work, keep your awareness sharp at all times.
After Happy Days jumped the shark, it went on for another five years in decline. But we can’t afford to be in decline on the job. We can’t afford to be complacent, not even for one day, not even in one task. There’s too much at stake—your livelihood, your health, your safety, not to mention your self-respect as a pro. Don’t let your job experience lull you into complacency. Better to bring all your experience to bear on staying safe.
HAZARDS LURK IN COMPLACENT WORK
Stay Alert-Make Caution Your Routine
*Copyright 2011 Harkins Safety (B278)
Your Family Tree
If you’ve ever wondered what country your ancestors came from, what your family name means or who makes up your family tree, then you have an interest in genealogy. It’s a fascinating world filled with stories and characters, and it’s all about you! Here are a few tips to get started.
To uncover your family history, you can start by looking through your attic and basement to gather everything you can find-papers, photos, documents, family heirlooms and so on. This alone will reveal a great deal.
You can also interview your relatives, asking questions about their childhood, their jobs and their activities. A good approach is to ask a few general questions and just let the person talk. Your interest will flatter them and chances are you’ll hear spellbinding stories of eccentric characters, upstanding citizens and maybe even a few scoundrels. It’s all part of the fun because this is your story, the history of your family, a history that you and your own family are living right now.
Another way to trace your family history is to take one surname, or last name and focus your research on it. You can do searches on the Internet. You can visit the Family History Center in your city. You can find wills, birth, death and marriage records, land deeds, immigration records and all kinds of documents in local government offices, courthouses and libraries.
Once you’ve collected plenty of information, you can start building your family tree. A good way to do this is to begin listing your ancestors on a family tree chart, which you can get on the Internet or perhaps at your local library.
It’s all of value, just like your safety on the job.
As you learn more about your family history, you’ll realize the importance of your role. No one but you can play your part in the ongoing story of your family, so make it a long and happy one by always staying alert and safe on the job. Safety is a family value. Don’t work carelessly or take risks, instead think of your family and always…
*Follow all safety rules to the letter. They are there for your protection.
*Keep your work area clean. Slips, trips and falls can cause devastating injuries.
*Take responsibility to prevent fires. They injure and kill workers each year.
*Lock out and tag out. Unchecked electricity can be deadly.
These are just some smart safety strategies you can put into action today. There are many more. Why not take the time to learn them and use them? Remember, you’re doing it for you and your family. Safety is not only a company value and a personal value…
SAFETY IS A FAMILY VALUE
*Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety B215
The Gift of Giving
Did you know that the holiday tradition of collecting donations in the Salvation Army’s red kettles was started by a man who wanted to give a free holiday meal to the poor? Here’s the story.
In 1891 Salvation Army captain, Joseph McFee wanted to give a free Christmas dinner to the San Francisco area’s poor, but he had limited resources and needed a creative solution. McFee remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England where he recalled a large pot being displayed on the stage landing. This pot was called a “Simpson’s Pot” and passers-by would toss in donations of a coin or two to help the poor.
With the city’s permission, McFee placed a similar kettle at the Oakland ferry landing at the foot of San Francisco’s Market Place with the sign ”Keep the Pot Boiling”. In this busy spot, the kettle drew attention from the people going to and from the ferryboats. In no time at all, McFee had the funds to provide a free meal for the needy and a holiday tradition was born.
By 1895 some 30 Salvation Army Corps on the West Coast had adopted the practice. When two Army officers, McIntyre and Lewis were transferred to the East Coast they took the idea with them. Initially they were met with a lack of enthusiasm. Some of their fellow officers feared they would be “making a spectacle of themselves” and refused to support the idea.
Undaunted, William McIntyre, his wife and his sister set up three kettles at Washington Street in the heart of the city. The idea was a success. That year in Boston and other cities nationwide 150,000 holiday dinners were served for the needy.
In 1901, contributions in New York City funded the first great sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a tradition that continued for many years.
Today the needy are still invited to share holiday dinners at the thousands of Salvation Army centers throughout the country. In addition, many poor families are given grocery vouchers so they can prepare their own dinners at home.
Those familiar red kettles remind us of the spirit of giving we associate with the holidays. The best gift you can give your family is your safety every day of the year.
As the holidays draw near, don’t become distracted on the job thinking about holiday parties, spending time with family and friends, buying gifts and putting up decorations. That moment of inattention could lead to an accident. Remember to take extra precautions when driving too. The long hours of darkness, bad weather conditions and drivers who may have had too much to drink require special attention. At home, look for possible fire hazards and use common sense when it comes to candles, fireplaces and holiday decorations. Keep your holidays happy by staying safe on and off the job.
SAFE WORK DAYS BRING HAPPY HOLIDAYS
*COPYRIGHT 2004 HARKINS SAFETY (B190)
In a state know for wildfires, this one was off the charts. It caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. It was responsible for millions in property damage. It threatened entire cities. It endangered over 6,000 firefighters.
The fire was first spotted on a Wednesday in a forest south of Prescott, Arizona. Strong winds and dry terrain stoked the blaze as firefighters and forest crews sprang into action. The fire raged and within days it consumed 1,000 acres spreading to within three miles of downtown Prescott. Over 1,500 residents evacuated as the fire waged war on southern Arizona.
Meanwhile in eastern Arizona another wildfire rose up in Show Low. It roared across a 330,000 acre area. As firefighters and forest workers battled the blaze, their worst fear seemed unavoidable. The two separate wildfires were heading toward each other and within eight days, they merged into one fearsome conflagration of flame, ash and smoke.
Devastation reigned. The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to displaced residents. The President came to witness the destruction and the federal government designated the site a disaster area as firefighters battled the blaze. More voracious than ever, the fire continued its rampage of destruction.
Cooler weather and the firebreaks eventually began to have an effect. Five weeks after it began, the wildfire was starting to be contained. But the toll was sobering. This fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history, decimated 517 square miles, an area larger than Los Angeles. It reduced 423 homes to ash and cinder. It caused 30,000 evacuations.
Whether in a forest, at work or even in your own home, the power and fury of fire can destroy in minutes what took months or years to build. Your best plan is to fight back with prevention.
*Dispose of trash, flammable fluids, oily rags and other waste properly.
*Handle extension cords and electrical equipment with care.
*Remove frayed cords, replace damaged plugs and don’t overload electrical circuits.
*Smoke only in designated areas, and make sure cigarettes, etc., are completely extinguished.
*Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
EXTINGUISH THE CAUSES OF FIRE
*Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety B157