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
Can you think of a reason why anybody would want to parachute right into the middle of a raging forest fire? Most of us couldn’t.
But for the brave men and women, who work as smokejumpers, skydiving into forest fires is their job-and what’s more, they can’t wait for their next call!
It’s true. Highly trained and experienced, smokejumpers parachute into forest fires as self-sufficient firefighters who can arrive on the scene to provide a quick initial attack on the fire in rugged terrain. Fire-fighting tools, food and water are also dropped by parachute, allowing the smokejumpers to fight fires on their own for up to 48 hours at a stretch.
The smokejumper program began in 1939 as an experiment in the Pacific Northwest and the first fire jump took place in Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest in 1940. The first woman in the program completed her training in 1981.
Smokejumpers travel all over the country to fight fires and more than 270 smokejumpers work from Forest Service bases located in Idaho, California, Montana, Washington and Oregon.
As you can imagine, smokejumping is extremely hazardous. These highly trained professional must be in tip-top physical condition and must be experts in the specialized field of woodland firefighting.
While the demands on us aren’t as great as those for a smokejumper, we need to take fire every bit as seriously as they do. It’s vital that we always stay alert to possible fire-starters, such as solvents, electricity, mechanical equipment and even clutter in our work areas. And if a fire should occur, make sure you know the right action to take, including the location and proper use of fire extinguishers.
Despite their experience, smokejumpers never let up on their training. They constantly practice the basics, such as aircraft exiting procedures, parachute maneuvering, parachute- landing rolls, cargo retrieval and tree climbing. Some training sites even have virtual training simulators for real-life on the ground practice.
We shouldn’t let up on our training either. A hazard that’s overlooked due to inattention or a fire that rages out of control because someone didn’t take the time to learn the proper procedure can have devastating consequences-including the worst consequences of all, loss of life. Instead, when it comes to fire, we must always stay alert and stay informed to stay safe.
STOP FIRE BEFORE IT STARTS…PREVENTION IS THE KEY
*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B234
The Mind Of A Ninja
When you think of the ninja, you probably think of martial arts fury. But there’s something else about ninjas, it’s their steely mental focus. Yes, the ninja’s mind power is legendary, but where does this power come from?
The art of the ninja is called ninjutsu—a discipline that was developed 1,100 years ago on the Japanese island of Honshu. Ninjutsu involves martial arts training, of course, but even more important is training in mind power.
Ninjas get their mental focus from an esoteric mediation practice called Kuji Kiri or the Nine Hand Seals. When ninjas meditate, they don’t just wile away the time contemplating their navels. First they quiet their minds. Then enter into a deep state of deep relaxation and then they begin.
As they mediate, they make a series of symbolic hand gestures by crossing their fingers over one another in specific patterns. There are nine patterns in all. Each one serves to focus the ninja’s mind. The first hand position for example, focuses the ninja on developing strength in body and mind. The second one helps focus on directing the energy flow within the body. The third hand position directs the mind to complete awareness of the universe. And so on.
With this special form of meditation, ninjas focus their minds like laser beams. They are completely focused. Because they are so focused, their actions become powerful.
Attention. Focus. Mind power. That’s what we want on the job. No, you don’t have the discipline of a ninja, but you can make up your mind right now to approach every task with complete attention to safety.
You can start by taking a moment to focus your mind before you start a task to think about possible hazards and how to avoid them. Then as you are working remind yourself over and over to keep your mind on what you’re doing. If you face a situation that might be a safety risk, remember to stop and think. Simply acting out of instinct or reflex can leave you open to injury.
Your level of attention during your shift determines whether you’ll go home at the end of the day or get sidelined with an injury. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t let frustrations get the better of you. Stay in control. Stay on top of your game. Stay aware and you’ll stay safe.
KEEP MIND ON TASK!!
Your Job Demands It, Your Safety Depends On It!
*Copyright 2011 Harkins Safety B277
A Shocking Undersea Tale B-168
Did you know that the South American electric eel can grow to five feet long, weigh as much as 40 pounds and produce an electrical discharge that can stun a diver?
It’s a fact! The South American eel is not really an eel at all but a true fish that is related to the carp. It has three electric organs: a small one at the tip of its tail used for navigation and another small one used as a trigger for the third blockbuster organ that produces the lightning-like discharge that kills its prey.
This strange creature, one of more than 200 species of fish, uses electricity by generating and discharging currents either in bursts or steady electric fields around its body. Depending on the species, they may use this energy to find and attack their prey, for defense or for communication and navigation.
These skates, rays, eels and other unusual denizens of the deep live and die by the effectiveness of their in-house batteries. Scientists have discovered that sharks, porpoises and some other species have extremely sensitive electric receptors that help them detect and avoid their high- powered salt-water neighbors.
Just like the receptors that protect sharks against the South American eel, we have our own systems in place to keep electricity where it belongs.
*Always lock out and tag out. We have lock out systems that are virtually foolproof when everyone follows the proper procedure. Disregarding these systems can lead to injuries and fatalities.
*Look before you reach. You might not see energized parts, so don’t reach into machinery. Make sure there is adequate lightning and scan the area carefully before you put your hands there.
*Use protective shields, barriers and insulating materials. These safety precautions can help prevent accidental contact that could result in tragedy.
*Check power tools. Don’t use power tools with broken plugs or defective insulation and always make sure tools are properly grounded before you use them.
*Watch out for water. Never use electrical equipment or tools in a wet environment without the proper protection or an insulating mat.
Electricity can strike in a flash! Beware!
You risk shock, burns, explosions and fire.
*Copyright 2003 Harkins Safety (B168)
“Work Your Plan”
“Man makes or mars an organization.” So said B.C. Forbes, legendary founder of Forbes magazine, father to flamboyant tycoon Malcolm Forbes, and grandfather to current Forbes magazine editor and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes. B.C. Forbes was convinced that looking at an organization’s top man-the “head knocker,” as he called him-told you more about the business than the balance sheet ever could. Was he right? Here’s the story.
Born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1880, B.C. Forbes worked as a reporter and writer for a local newspaper. In 1901, he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, to start up the Rand Daily Main newspaper. Three years later, he immigrated to the United Sates, where he worked as a writer and editor at the Journal of Commerce. After a few other jobs as a financial journalist, Forbes became disenchanted with the dry numbers of business and finance.
So in September 1917, Forbes magazine was born. B.C. Forbes devoted his new publication to doers, telling the stories of the people who ran successful companies and capturing the human side of business and finance. Forbes said “The most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles-they won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”
That first issue of Forbes profiled Charles Mitchell, who formed National City; notorious speculator and stock manipulator Jay Gould; and oil baron John D. Rockefeller, then the richest man in the world. Beyond the profiles, there were pages of investment analysis, but also poetry and fiction, even a section on women in business, a first for a business magazine.
Forbes magazine and its namesake B.C. Forbes clearly succeeded. Part showman and part businessman like his son Malcolm, B.C. Forbes was known for his inspirational quotes. He famously said, “Real riches are the riches possessed inside.” But B.C. Forbes was above all practical, and his most widely quoted sentiment is “Plan your work and work your plan”—good advice for business and for safety.
So before you start any job, take time to lay out your plan. Check job references, such as pre-job briefs, SDSs, and safety alerts. Ask yourself: What could go wrong? What could cause a fire or a spill? Could someone trip and fall? What are the hazards? Remember, safety is as much a part of your job as the tools you use.
Then once you start the job, follow your plan—work calmly and intelligently until it’s completed.
For Safety’s Sake…Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
*Copyright 2004 Harkins Safety