Fire

Photos: McMahan sworn in as College Station Fire Chief

Judge Ed Spillane administers the oath to Chief McMahan.

Jonathan McMahan was sworn in Friday afternoon as College Station’s new fire chief in a ceremony at Fire Station No. 6.

Here are some photos:

Judge Ed Spillane administers the oath to Chief McMahan.

Judge Ed Spillane administers the oath to Chief McMahan.

Chief McMahan received his pin from Chief Michael Brandt of Arizona’s Northwest Fire District.

Chief McMahan received his pin from Chief Michael Brandt of Arizona’s Northwest Fire District.

City Manager Kelly Templin congratulates Chief McMahan.

City Manager Kelly Templin congratulates Chief McMahan.

(L-R) Councilman Jerome Rektorik, Mayor Karl Mooney, Councilwoman Linda Harvell, Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan, Police Chief Scott McCollum, Councilwoman Blanche Brick , and City Manager Kelly Templin.

(L-R) Councilman Jerome Rektorik, Mayor Karl Mooney, Councilwoman Linda Harvell, Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan, Police Chief Scott McCollum, Councilwoman Blanche Brick, and City Manager Kelly Templin.

College Station Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan.

College Station Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan.

Photos by Jon Carpenter

– Public Communications Office


Checking your smoke alarm’s age could save your life

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By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

Did you know that having a working smoke alarm in your home can increase your chance of surviving a fire by 50 percent? That makes smoke alarms your first line of defense in a fire.

But did you also know you should replace your smoke alarms every 10 years?

That’s the focus of Fire Prevention Week, which begins nationwide on Sunday, Oct. 9 and runs through Saturday, Oct. 15. The theme of “Don’t Wait: Check the Date!” is a reminder to check the age of your smoke alarms and replace them if necessary.

Types of smoke alarms

Photoelectrical alarms have a light source inside that shines onto a sensor. When smoke travels between the light and the sensor, the alarm goes off. These types of smoke alarms are better at detecting slow-moving, smoldering fires because the particulates it detects are bigger than those detected by other alarms. Over time, the sensor inside the detector builds up too much dust — even if it’s cleaned regularly – and it becomes harder for it to detect the smoke.

Ionization alarms can sense smaller particulates that the human eye can’t see. The americium inside the detector gives off an electrical charge, which changes when smoke enters and triggers the alarm. As its electronic components age, ionization alarms become less reliable.

That’s why the National Fire Protection Association recommends you replace smoke alarms not only when they fail tests, but also when they are more than a decade old.

This video shows you how to check the age of your alarms:

Fire Prevention Week Events

  • As part of Fire Prevention Week, your neighborhood can register to participate in the Smoke Alarm Blitz on Oct. 10-11 (Monday-Tuesday). CSFD staff will check smoke alarms in up to 12 homes per neighborhood and even replace batteries if needed. Click here to register your neighborhood by the Thursday, Oct. 6 deadline.
  • On Tuesday, Oct. 11, call either College Station Dominos location between 6-8 p.m. and you can have your pizza delivered by a CSFD crew. If the firefighters find all your smoke alarms in working order, your pizza is free! If any alarms aren’t working, you’ll have to pay for your pizza, but the firefighters will replace batteries or install new alarms free of charge. You can’t lose!
  • On Saturday, Oct. 15, the CSFD Home Safety Trailer will be at the College Station Lowe’s for Safety Day. Kids can meet firefighters and brush up on fire safety in a home-like environment. They can practice calling 9-1-1, hear what smoke alarms sound like, and learn how to escape a home fire safely.

Citizens Fire Academy

Fire Prevention Week also kicks off registration for CSFD’s Citizens Fire Academy program. The free, 12-week program begins Jan. 31 and is designed to provide citizens a fun, interactive and in-depth behind-the-scenes look at their fire department. For more details or to apply, go to cstx.gov/cfa. The registration deadline is Jan. 10.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week or Citziens Fire Academy, contact me at cseidel@cstx.gov or 979-764-3712.

Stay safe and remember – Don’t Wait, Check the Date!

 


SeidelAbout the Author

Christina Seidel has been the College Station Fire Department’s Public Education Officer since 2013. She previously served as executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley and was a teacher for several years in her hometown of Lockhart. Seidel earned a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from the University of Texas in 2001.


 

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Inspirational “After the Fire” program visits B-CS

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By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

Early one January morning in 2000, arsonists set fire to a dormitory at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. Roommates Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons crawled through the smoke in the direction they were used to going.

They didn’t know they were crawling right into the fire.

Simons suffered third-degree burns on his palms, second-degree burns on his head and face, and a significant amount of smoke inhalation. Llanos’ coat ignited, causing third-degree burns from his head to his torso.

Simons and Llanos, along with 56 other injured students, were transported to St. Barnabas Medical Burn Unit in nearby Livingston. Three classmates died, and a pair of freshmen were eventually charged with the crime. The fire started when they set a bulletin board banner on fire as a prank.

Simons and Llanos spent years recovering from their physical and emotional injuries. Since that tragic day, they have advocated fire safety and prevention and served as a voice for burn victims across the country through a free program called After the Fire.

The pair will be in Bryan-College Station Sept. 13-15 for a series of seven presentations about their experiences:

Tuesday, Sept. 13

  • Bryan and Rudder high schools, (students only)
  • Texas A&M’s Rudder Theater, 7 p.m. (public, college students)

Wednesday, Sept. 14

  • A&M Consolidated and College Station high schools (students only)
  • Texas A&M’s Rudder Theater, 7 p.m. (public, college students)

Thursday, Sept. 15

  • Texas A&M’s Rudder Theater, 1:30 p.m. (public, city staff, sponsors, guests)

Shawn and Alvaro will be introduced at each presentation by Bryan firefighter Ricky Mantey, Jr., who was severely burned in the tragic Knights of Columbus Hall fire in 2013.

The College Station Fire Department, Bryan Fire Department, and Texas A&M’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety are hosting the presentations, which are sponsored by Siemens and Standard Automatic Fire Enterprises.

For more information about the program, contact CSFD Public Education Officer Christina Seidel at cseidel@cstx.gov or 979-764-3712.


SeidelAbout the Author

Christina Seidel has been the College Station Fire Department’s Public Education Officer since 2013. She previously served as executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley and was a teacher for several years in her hometown of Lockhart. Seidel earned a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from the University of Texas in 2001.


 

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Podcast: CSFD’s swift-water rescue you might’ve missed

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By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

On May 26, torrential rainfall caused widespread flooding that required College Station Fire Department’s swift-water rescue team to be called into action. Among their missions was to save a law enforcement officer whose patrol car had been swept off a roadway and down a creek.

Our podcast guest, Lt. Chad Phillips, describes the challenges he and his team faced in reaching this stranded officer — clinging to a tree for more than two hours — while rain was falling, floodwaters were rushing and rising, and darkness was upon them.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to listen to the audio file from your system.

 


csf_jsocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


 

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Podcast: Retiring fire chief reflects on 35-year career

Podcast

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

When College Station Fire Chief Eric Hurt announced his upcoming retirement, we couldn’t let him slip out the door before he gave us an exit interview about his 35-year career with CSFD.

In this episode, Chief Hurt talks about the ranks he enjoyed most and least, what he considers his closest call as a firefighter, and how the fire services industry could evolve over the next 10 years.

Podcast Archive

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to listen to the audio file from your system.

 


csf_jsocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. Hes a native of Breckenridge.


 

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International accreditation meaningful for CSFD, citizens

(L-R): CFAI Peer Team Leader Scott Avery, Driver/Engineer Stuart Marrs, Assistant Chief Paul Gunnels, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, Fire Chief Eric Hurt, Public Education Officer Christina Seidel.
(L-R): CFAI Peer Team Leader Scott Avery, Driver/Engineer Stuart Marrs, Assistant Chief Paul Gunnels, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, Fire Chief Eric Hurt, Public Education Officer Christina Seidel.

(L-R): CFAI Peer Team Leader Scott Avery, Driver/Engineer Stuart Marrs, Assistant Chief Paul Gunnels, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, Fire Chief Eric Hurt, Public Education Officer Christina Seidel.

By Stuart Marrs, CSFD Driver/Engineer

To say College Station is a special place isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. Anybody who’s ever been here knows that, and we have an extensive list of national and state recognitions to prove it.

But what you might not know is that College Station recently joined Plano as the only two cities in Texas to have nationally accredited Fire, Police and Public Safety Communications departments.

This spring, the College Station Fire Department became an accredited agency through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). We’re one of only seven municipal fire departments in Texas – and 164 in the world — to attain this elite status.

To our firefighters, the recognition is meaningful because it’s bestowed by our peers. To our citizens, it’s clear evidence of our commitment to establish and maintain the highest standards as we strive to provide them with the best, most efficient services.

Accreditation also provides a framework for continually improving every aspect of our operations, which directly impacts the level of service we provide to our growing community.

A long, rigorous process

In 2013, the CSFD was challenged by our City Manager’s Office to renew our goal of international accreditation, a demanding process which requires evaluation in 254 performance areas. An 18-month internal self-assessment highlighted our strengths, exposed our weaknesses, and led to the creation of a strategic plan for continuous improvement.

In January, an independent peer assessment team of fire officers from around the country reviewed our self-assessment and strategic plan, then conducted four days of meticulous on-site inspections.

In March, Fire Chief Eric Hurt led our internal accreditation team to Orlando, Fla., to testify in front of the CFAI Commission. The 11-member panel asked questions regarding our emergency responses, time analysis, risk assessments, and plans for future growth before voting unanimously to grant accredited status to the CSFD.

A comprehensive team effort

Achieving accreditation is a result of the dedicated efforts of an overwhelming majority of our personnel from every level in our department. They were vital in providing data, developing community risk analyses, planning for future growth, researching and writing technical documents, and managing and tracking improvements in intradepartmental programs.

Other city departments – Finance, Human Resources, Water, GIS, Fleet, Planning, and the City Manager’s Office — also made key contributions.

The process helped us better understand the risks in our community and provides a framework for us to constantly evaluate and improve our performance. In fact, to maintain our status as an accredited agency, we’re required to submit annual updates to the CFAI commission that demonstrate how we are addressing our weaknesses, measuring our improvement, and raising our standards.

We gladly accept that challenge because we know it’ll benefit our personnel and most importantly, the public we serve.

 


1010a8cAbout the Author

Stuart Marrs has been with the College Station Fire Department since 2009. He was previously a firefighter with the Huntsville (Texas) Fire Department. Stuart graduated from Texas A&M in 2006 with a degree in communications.


 

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