JAN 2017

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Page 59 of 83

The Power of Jane Q. Public It's time to bridge the informational divide between the fire service and Jane I sat in total bewilderment as I read a June 2016 article in the Huffington Post stating that my governor here in South Carolina, Nikki Haley, openly opposed residential sprinkler systems. The article, "How Nikki Haley Helped Fuel The Homebuilding Industry's War On Fire Sprinklers," also discussed the dismissal of two state fire marshals, John Reich and Adolf Zubia, both of whom were gaining traction in South Carolina for sprinkler system mandates in all construction. Fighting lobbyists How could this possibly be the case in a state consistently in the top 10 percent for fire deaths, according to NFPA and CDC reports? How could this be when, according to the NFPA, South Carolina places in the top 10 locations for the largest firefighter LODD incidents after nine Charleston firefighters perished in a furniture store that should have had a sprinkler system? How could this be when South Carolina places in the top 10 states for the most "at-risk" categories for fire deaths in education and poverty? Surely sprinkler systems would be a given in South Carolina! After years of lobbying attempts by the South Carolina Fire Marshal's Office and the South Carolina Firefighters Asso- ciation—including luncheons and dinners, side-by-side burns and testifying before state lawmakers—the push for sprinkler mandates have largely come to a halt. The reasoning has remained in debate, accord- ing to the Huffington Post article. In South Carolina, it appears that the voice of the fire service is no match against the dol- lars of the lobbyists or the soundproofed legislative hallways at the state capital. It was a gallant fight but one that was lost for similar reasons nationwide. The South Carolina fire service fought this fight as the nation's fire service stub- bornly fights all of its fights, including on the fireground—head on. We need to real- ize that we simply can no longer operate this way. Just as the ignition to flashover timeframe is now occurring faster than our on-scene arrival times, often leav- ing us precious little to save with a direct fire attack, the political climate has also changed. Taking our fight straight to law- makers at the capital also leaves us little to influence. We need to change our strategy and tactics. Not only does an aggressive fire prevention and education/relations pro- gram help in combating the ignition to flashover times, so too is this strategy and tactic effective in our political battles by getting ahead of the lobbyists. South Caro- lina lost this fight because it continued a head-on battle at the state capital where it could not compete against powerful homebuilder lobbyists entrenched with money and influence. South Carolina still hasn't adjusted its battle plan to include the power of Jane Q. Public in local communi- ties throughout the state. Who is Jane? Jane is a local teacher whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last few years. Jane has been teaching in the public school system for more than 26 years, with 19 of those years in South Car- olina, and she has taught mostly in Title I schools that service "at-risk" communities. Jane is highly educated with undergradu- ate and graduate degrees in education and technology, and is a state-certified mentor for new teachers. She has been active in her church and community, and has the respect and the ear of many friends, com- munity members, peers and administrators in the school system. Jane remembers hav- ing firefighters come to her classroom to speak with her students about fire safety and knows the importance of smoke detec- tors; however, it was what Jane did not know that should be a very big concern for all of us, and around whom our new battle plan should center. After many years of living and working in Beaufort County, SC, Jane was unaware: • That in Beaufor t County, the fire department and EMS are separate organizations • That only one ambulance services her growing retirement-age community • Some fire apparatus are only staffed with two firefighters • What the leading cause of fire in her community is or how many fires her department responds to FIRE PREVENTION By Daniel Byrne DANIEL BYRNE is an Engineer/Paramedic and Community Support Officer for the Burton Fire District, Beaufort County, SC, and an Assistant Chief of Training for the Georgia Air National Guard 165th Fire Department. Byrne is a third generation firefighter and holds both an associates and bachelors degree in Fire Science, and a Fire Officer and Fire Instructor III certified. Byrne has received state and local awards for public relations and educational programs as well as community partnerships; and has been both a conference presenter and keynote speaker. DByrne Fire Service 360 Daniel Byrne @FireService360 Connect with Dan Just as the ignition to flashover timeframe is now occurring faster than our on-scene arrival times, the political climate has also changed. 60 l Firehouse l January 2017

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