Winter 2016 Welcome to Community Fire Protection News...
Welcome to Community Fire Protection News, our online newsletter for the fire service, insurers, building officials, water professionals, and emergency responders. We provide concise and topical community mitigation and insurance news and more.
CFP News is a joint publication of Verisk Insurance Solutions and its ISO Community Hazard Mitigation business. In this issue, we focus on resilience, a vital topic for communities and municipalities looking to mitigate the effects of disasters, both natural and man-made. We start with an interview with Leslie Chapman-Henderson, the CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®), in which we discuss the national movement toward resilience. In another article, we analyze the trends in building code adoption and enforcement, including improvements in the nation’s building codes as reflected in a ten-year review of our BCEGS® program. Guest reporter Jim Crawford talks about Vision 20/20, the plan for the future of the fire service. We highlight a fire station in Fort Lauderdale that was named the nation’s busiest and the San Antonio building department that achieved a BCEGS® classification of 1.
This issue includes many industry updates and insights. We hope you’ll find our latest information useful in your own efforts to keep people and property safe against fire and other catastrophes.
Robert L. Andrews Vice President and Chief Field Operations Officer Verisk Insurance Solutions
Despite being assaulted by many massive tornadoes, hurricanes, superstorms, wildfires, and other major disasters over the last several decades, communities throughout America continue to battle back to life.
For 2015, Fort Lauderdale Fire Station 2 was recognized by Firehouse magazine as the “busiest station,” with 33,270 responses providing services to the city and its residents, businesses, and visitors.
In September 2016, the City of San Antonio became the first community in Texas to earn a classification of 1 from ISO Community Hazard Mitigation’s Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS®).
Vision 20/20 is a project that grew out of a national planning process intended to create a vision of what fire safety, prevention, and protection efforts in the United States should look like in the year 2020.
According to our October analysis, building code adoption and enforcement have improved in more than 70 percent of the states tracked.
FLASH®: Fighting for safe homes
An interview with FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®) is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 100 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disaster-resistant nation, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the International Code Council (ICC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Weather Service (NWS). Community Fire Protection News spoke with FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson to learn more about FLASH and its efforts.
In addition to her long years with FLASH, Chapman-Henderson has served as co-chair of the My Safe Florida Home Advisory Council, board trustee for Florida International University–International Hurricane Research Center, Advisory Council member for the Florida State University Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, and many other positions. She was a guest lecturer at Florida State University and the University of Florida–School of Construction, and she has worked with many task forces and reform committees for the insurance industry.
Community Fire Protection News (CFP): For any of our readers who might not know, can you explain what FLASH is and describe its mission?
Leslie Chapman-Henderson (LCH): The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 after Hurricane Andrew struck Florida. Today, it’s the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters. Our mission is to promote life safety, property protection, and resilience by empowering communities with knowledge and resources to make homes and families as safe as possible from all disasters.
FLASH has three core values:
Innovation — We design and develop effective, easy-to-use tools and techniques to foster mitigation behavior change.
Integrity — FLASH delivers consistently reliable, useful, and technically accurate information and services.
Collaboration — We forge strategic partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations that share a commitment to the disaster safety movement.
On May 15, The Weather Channel dedicated an episode of its popular show Weather Geeks to the “Story of FLASH.” Hosted by Dr. Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program and a full professor in the Department of Geography, the 30-minute program provides an excellent overview of our unique organization.
CFP: FLASH partners with an impressive group of public, private, and academic organizations. Can you talk about some of them?
LCH: The FLASH partnership is made up of more than 120 individuals, companies, and organizations across public, private, and nonprofit sectors that share our mission to make America a more disaster-resilient nation. Together, we work to promote awareness and behavior change through education programs targeting kindergarten to postdoctoral studies. We also conduct creative public outreach campaigns, such as the recently completed edutainment project StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes® at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. We have continual public dialogue with leaders.
Our organization is possible through our partners’ contributions of board service, expertise, financial resources, and relationships.
Recent initiatives include collaboration with FEMA to create and advance QuakeSmart, an earthquake resilience program for businesses and organizations that has reached more than 450 top U.S. companies and their employees. In May, FLASH presented the quadrennial 2016 National Earthquake Conference (NEC), which brought together the globe’s leading scientists and practitioners and garnered worldwide attention. NEC news coverage included the Los Angeles Times, BBC, Time magazine, and many other outlets. As a result, ten days after the conference, California Governor Jerry Brown provided a $10 million investment into earthquake early-warning research and development. He cited NEC as the motivator.
FLASH and FEMA’s Private Sector Division has created a suite of new ready-business workshops and toolkits focused on inland flooding, high winds, hurricanes, and power outages. The resources are modeled after QuakeSmart, and we’ll continue to offer them digitally and through in-person workshops.
We’ve also worked with NOAA and the National Weather Service since 1998, creating the well-known “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” life safety effort and a new national hurricane resilience initiative entitled #HurricaneStrong.
In Texas, FLASH, FEMA, and State Farm created and convened the Texas State Collaborative (TSC) to advance the cause of building codes, especially in counties where residential building codes are not in place. ISO has been an essential partner in the success of TSC by providing critical local building code data and information.
CFP: FLASH advocates for the adoption of building codes at the state and local level. What are the biggest obstacles communities face to the adoption and rigorous enforcement of resilient building codes?
LCH: While we believe that leadership awareness of the value of model building codes has increased during the past decade, we remain deeply concerned by some of the trends at the state and local level. Disaster-exposed states like North Carolina have decided to skip the typical three-year code cycle, choosing instead to update every six years. South Carolina has chosen to ignore the American Society of Civil Engineers science-derived maps of wind-borne debris and instead created its own. And while Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee, finally updated its out-of-date codes, it severely diluted the residential seismic provisions immediately after doing so.
Those adverse actions point to a consistent challenge at the state and local level. Leadership often fails to understand and appreciate the critical importance of a strong and effective building code system as the foundation for disaster resilience. Because of this, we dedicate a significant and growing portion of our analysis, time, and program efforts to help elected and appointed officials appreciate the value of codes. We do this through commentary papers, cost-benefit analyses, information, and other insight that supports building codes as a policy priority.
CFP: How does FLASH help community governments recognize the potential natural hazards they face and how they can better mitigate against natural disasters?
LCH: This year, we created a new effort to advance our dialogue on building codes with elected and appointed officials. The program is called DisasterSmart and includes both written policy commentary and special events in key cities and communities where building codes are falling behind. This program formalizes much of our informal efforts during the past decade.
CFP: As firefighting community leaders, what can CFP News readers do in their communities to advocate for the adoption and enforcement of resilient building codes?
LCH: We’ve partnered with the firefighting community in the past to promote smoke alarms and other protective devices. We’ve created wildfire mitigation programs, including training and workshops for The Home Depot to use throughout the nation. We’re proud to work with this important leadership community and welcome its engagement in DisasterSmart to help share the message that “Building Codes Save Lives.”
On May 1, 2017, we’ll join forces with the International Code Council and many of our other partners in Washington, D.C., to launch the 2017 Building Safety Month. We want the firefighting community to join us there and across the nation with events that raise awareness with city, county, and town leaders. We want constituents to understand that investment in building codes and building officials is a top priority for safe families, strong homes, and resilient communities.
CFP: Do the efforts from FLASH have an impact on structural stability and firefighting efforts?
LCH: Yes. Two areas of focus in particular come to mind. First, we focus on wildfire. We target this hazard and work to spread understanding that fire needs air, heat, and fuel. The only element we can control is fuel, so we’ve developed the mantra #NoFuelNoFire.
Another key focus is in the realm of cascading disasters, such as fires following earthquakes, storms, and so forth. Through FEMA, we have a program in California with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Hayward Fire Department where we team up to deliver QuakeSmart inspections for small businesses during annual fire marshal inspections. The project aligns us directly with fire departments, and we’re looking to expand it in the future because it’s an excellent, mutually beneficial collaboration.
CFP: The FLASH #HurricaneStrong movement is really gaining momentum. Can you tell us about the program?
LCH: This year, we joined forces with NOAA and FEMA to create #HurricaneStrong as a national hurricane resilience initiative to save lives and homes through collaboration with leading organizations in the disaster safety movement. Essential partners in this effort are National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, our private sector partners such as USAA and The Home Depot, and our leadership partner Jim Cantore and the entire team at The Weather Channel.
We created #HurricaneStrong because public awareness about hurricane readiness was declining due to fewer land-falling Atlantic storms. We’ll continue #HurricaneStrong because this year’s storms revealed that we still have a lot to do to help Americans get and remain ready for these deadly occurrences. Campaign elements include events such as the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour, targeted leadership messaging through the presidentially declared National Hurricane Preparedness Week, high-energy social media outreach, business summits, digital information, home improvement store workshops, news media outreach, school lesson plans, and a social media campaign featuring the now official #HurricaneStrong “pose.”
In this first year, #HurricaneStrong garnered widespread success with national television programming, national public service announcements, 695 Home Depot workshops, 15,000 tweets, 4,400 contributors on Twitter, and an audience reach exceeding 22.5 million.
CFP: What can you tell us about what FLASH will be doing in 2017?
LCH: In 2017, we’ll continue all of the programs described above and will host our 2017 National Disaster Resilience Conference in October in Atlanta. We keep a busy agenda, but we succeed because our partners are on board and engaged. Collaboration is the key at FLASH. We’d be delighted to work with any of your readers who share our passion for strengthening homes and safeguarding families.
Resilience: An American underdog story
By Jason G. Taylor
America loves a good underdog story. Maybe it’s because our country started out as one, or maybe it’s just human nature. Perhaps the iconic movie character who epitomizes the spirit of the underdog is Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies. This undersized everyman fighter from working-class Philadelphia competed without the benefit of modern training or support and still achieved his full potential. No matter how many times he was beaten down, Rocky always rose to his feet, looked his opponent in the eye, determined he wasn’t done, and kept on fighting.
Communities throughout America are just like Rocky Balboa. Despite being assaulted by many massive tornadoes, hurricanes, superstorms, wildfires, and other major disasters over the last several decades, they continue to battle back to life. They’ve overcome disasters with names like Katrina, Sandy, Ivan, Francis, and Charley—as well as numerous unnamed floods and tornadoes—that have battered them and tested their resolve to rebuild. Some disasters have taken longer to recover from, and many have left scars. But each time, Americans rally and rebuild to see our communities come alive again with activity, commerce, recreation, and growth.
As with Rocky’s opponents, our natural disaster foes seem to get bigger and more devastating with each fight. Climate studies, including the 2014 National Climate Assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), have shown that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events have increased in the last several decades. The assessment summarizes the effects of climate change on the United States now and predicts what the future will bring. Three hundred experts guided by a 60-member federal advisory committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public, other experts, federal agencies, and a panel from the National Academy of Sciences. See www.globalchange.gov for more details.
The assessment reported that the measured global average temperature increased between 1 and 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. It’s expected to rise another 0.5 degrees over the next few decades as the best-case scenario. This global rise has been linked to observations about increased weather events. Global average sea level has risen 8 inches since reliable record keeping began and is expected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by the year 2100. The debate on the causes of the increases is a topic for another forum. However, for city and county planners and responders, the important message is that extreme weather is expected to continue—and potentially worsen.
Climate studies and predictions about future climate conditions have sparked discussions in recent years about building more resilient communities. Presidential Policy Directive 8, issued in 2011, introduced the National Preparedness Goal and worked to coordinate emergency preparedness efforts at the national, state, and local levels. The National Preparedness Goal is “a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.” According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website, the risks include natural disasters, disease pandemics, chemical spills, other man-made hazards, terrorist attacks, and cyber attacks.
In the past, terrorist and cyber attacks were thought about differently than natural disasters. Today, considerations of overall community resilience promote holistic thinking about preparedness, with both man-made and natural disasters included in the same discussions. When it comes to responding to the needs of our citizens, why separate events as man-made or natural? The National Emergency Management Association is the professional group where many state and local emergency managers meet to talk with each other and FEMA officials about the issues they face and best practices to address them. Topics have focused on weather events, but recent meetings have included a broader range of threats. This year’s annual forum included a breakout session on “The Emerging Breadth of Emergencies and Disasters: Is the Role of Emergency Management Changing?” Emergency managers were told they should plan for events such as power disruptions, other infrastructure attacks, terrorist attacks, cyber attacks, and even financial market attacks.
Conversations about overall community resilience are more prevalent for a number of industries, including emergency management, construction, retail, insurance, and others. For emergency management, FEMA may introduce a disaster deductible for public assistance. It would require states to fund a certain amount of disaster response first before federal aid becomes available for public assistance. There’s discussion about states, and by extension local communities, being able to decrease their individual disaster deductible through preparation and resilience efforts. This is similar to how the Community Rating System works today for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can read an article about states reducing the deductible through preparedness investments.
The criteria haven’t been determined for qualifying for the disaster deductible, but the measures a community takes toward resilience will likely become an important part of local planning if they’re directly tied to a reduced deductible. In the building and construction industry, the U.S. Resiliency Council offers certifications for buildings based on their ability to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters, and many organizations within the building industry have made statements about resilience. The retail industry is joining the conversation, too.
The insurance and reinsurance industries are talking about how measuring individual building and overall community resilience would factor into insurance discounts. This would be similar to the ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC™) ratings. The National Association of Counties (NACo), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®), the National League of Cities, and many other associations focused on community strength are hosting meetings or having discussions about resilience. It seems the resilience trend is sweeping the country, just as the green trend did several years ago. Whether or not the phrase is a buzzword, the concept of communities being prepared to get up and running quickly after a disaster will continue to be an important topic for local governments, builders, business bureaus, retailers, and emergency response teams. Verisk participates in several conversations about resilience with regard to our Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS®), PPC, and other products that are part of the preparations that local communities have taken toward resilience before it was such a popular topic.
You might already think none of this is new, and you’d be right. “Build it back better,” “future proofing,” “weather-resistant,” and other terms used in the past address the same concept: learning from the weaknesses that past disasters have exposed to make communities stronger against future events. The difference now is that the national focus around resilience may lead to increased financial incentives—or negative reinforcements, depending on how you look at it—tied to products and programs that affect our communities. These include emergency response funding, insurance rates, building permits, inspections, mortgage and real estate transactions, and recreational planning.
Along with the discussions and general agreement that communities need to focus more on resilience, there’s a fair amount of difference in what resilience means. Some organizations want a single resilience index or score for a community that describes an all-encompassing rating against any potential disaster, natural or man-made. Other organizations look to measure various systems separately, such as power supply, transportation, emergency communications, emergency supplies distribution, hospital capacity, and a myriad of others. They feel a community’s weather history, geography, or culture may promote different types of investments in resilience. Still others want resilience measured against each type of possible event so that a community could have different ratings—for example, a strong rating against flood but not as strong against cyber attack.
You’ll continue to hear about community resilience in the future. If you’re already exchanging concerns and ideas with any national or local groups, you’re ahead of the game. Conversations are still emerging, and the country is still trying to define what resilience means and how it’s measured. We also need to learn how the new administration in Washington will handle this issue. The previous administration dedicated significant resources toward climate resilience. Will that continue?
Like Rocky, we need to prepare for the challenges the future sends our way. We don’t know what is ahead of us, but everyone should be part of the conversation about how our communities can be better prepared for the punches that will come.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Station 2: The nation’s busiest
By Tom Weber, CFO, EFO, MPA, MiFireE
For 35 years, Firehouse magazine has published an annual national survey of fire department responses. And for years, Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Fire Rescue has been in the top ranks of the survey, with busy stations, engines, ladders, and special response companies. For 2015, Fort Lauderdale Fire Station 2 was recognized by Firehouse magazine as the “busiest station,” with 33,270 responses providing services to the city and its residents, businesses, and visitors.
The Fort Lauderdale Fire Department was established on June 7, 1912, after a fire destroyed a major portion of the city’s downtown. The department has grown from a few volunteer firefighters with a hand-drawn, hand-operated pump and chemical extinguisher mounted on carriage wheels to a fully paid department with 11 stations, 40 apparatus, and more than 400 personnel—who respond to almost 54,400 calls for service annually.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue is an internationally accredited agency by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and an ISO Class 1 department. It provides fire suppression services including marine and aircraft firefighting, emergency paramedic ambulance services, community risk reduction through public safety education and fire prevention services, technical rescue, hazardous material response, marine rescue such as lifeguard services, and urban search and rescue services as part of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Florida Task Force 2.
Fort Lauderdale has grown to more than 180,000 full-time residents, and its population increases significantly during the winter months. The city is in the center of the Miami–Palm Beach metropolitan area, where more than 6 million people make it the eighth most populated metro area in the nation.
That growth has created the demand for services that Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue is experiencing. Station 2 consists of two engine companies (EN-2, EN-8), Tower Ladder 2, three rescue/ambulances (RE-2, RE-8, RE-202), a battalion chief (BC-2), and a division chief (DC-2). Together, those companies produced 33,270 unit responses during 2015.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Station 2, 2015 Busiest Station—33,270 Runs
ISO Community Hazard Mitigation and CFP News congratulate Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue for achieving the recognition it deserves—and for all the service it provides to its community.
ISO Community Hazard Mitigation actively works with fire departments, building departments, water suppliers, and municipalities with our Public Protection Classification (PPC™), Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS®), water outreach, and emergency communication center review programs. With your participation and cooperation, we will attain our ultimate goal: safer communities.
Municipal officials, administrators, and fire chiefs need to know how their fire department compares to their peers. Now, Emergency Service Consulting International (ESCI), the consulting arm of the International Fire Chiefs Association (IAFC), teams with ISO to produce peer-review benchmark analyses. Learn more>>
Fire Suppression Rating Schedule
ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), evaluates four primary categories of fire suppression — fire department, emergency communications, water supply, and community risk reduction. The FSRS includes standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Click here to see the standards and registration instructions. Learn more about the FSRS and obtain the latest edition.
Chief Thomas Weber CFO, EFO, MPA, MiFireE
National Director, ISO Community Hazard Mitigation