Today, we celebrated the promotions of six lieutenants (three not present), two captains and one battalion chief at our Joint Training Facility. In compliance with social distancing guidelines, we held a live stream for families and colleagues to join in the celebration. Congratulations!
Annual Mishap Causes Anguish for Families
This year, as we live through the stress and momentous change of an historic global pandemic, summer’s warm, sunny days gives us a chance to physically and emotionally lighten up. It’s the perfect time to spend time in the sunshine – albeit with sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and now socially distanced and masked! But even so, there’s no better time to get outside and fully enjoy ourselves with friends and family.
One thing to keep in mind is while the rays of summer feel good, the buildup of heat in an enclosed car, even when parked for a short time, creates dangers to small humans and pets.
The Numbers are Grim
According to Safe Kids Worldwide:
- On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.
- A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help.
- Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
The numbers are even more frightening for child vehicular heatstroke death as cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each case below ended with the death of a child and the planning of a funeral:
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2019: 52
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2018: 53
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2017: 43
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2016: 39
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2015: 25
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2014: 32
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2013: 44
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2012: 35
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2011: 33
Prevention: Remember to ACT
Thankfully, Safe Kids recommends several things people can do to avoid these tragedies.
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute, and not even with the windows down or partway down. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure something essential to you – your phone, briefcase, purse, even a shoe – in the backseat when traveling with your child.
Take action. Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the call. Be sure all occupants, including sleeping babies and pets, leave the vehicle.
Technology Helps: Look for the Rear Seat Reminder
In the past few years, car companies have started implemented a new safety feature to help prevent these kinds of heat-related injuries. By 2025, it’s expected to be standard equipment. It’s called the Rear Seat Reminder. Here’s how it works:
Rear Seat Reminder monitors a vehicle’s rear doors. The system activates when either rear door is opened and closed up to 10 minutes before the vehicle is started or while the vehicle is running. Once the system is activated, the vehicle is designed to sound five chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads “Rear Seat Reminder / Look in Rear Seat” the next time the vehicle is turned off. Some systems may even send you a text message.
Next time you’re in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle, be sure to ask about this great safety development.
Finally, if you see a child alone in a car, call 911. We want you to call. We need emergency responders to get there as soon as possible. Every minute counts. The difference can save a life and prevent a family from suffering the loss of beloved child or pet.
SEATTLE – On July 25 at 12 p.m., the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management will send a test message through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. The alert will only be sent to those who have opted in to receive local test messages through WEA and to a small geographic area under and near the West Seattle Bridge. The message will state: “This is a test of Wireless Emergency Alerts by the City of Seattle. No action is required.”
The national WEA system is an essential part of the City’s emergency preparedness and response. This public safety system allows customers who own compatible devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The most common example of these alerts is the “Amber Alerts” sent by Washington State Patrol that directly ping mobile phones.
This is the second test to be conducted as a part of the West Seattle Bridge planning. The first test was conducted on June 26. Though not predicted, the City has emergency plans in place to use the WEA and AlertSeattle systems among other methods to notify people under or near the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge in the event of an immediate collapse.
This test is not linked to any specific action or report related to the condition of the West Seattle Bridge. The test is part of our proactive contingency planning to prepare for unanticipated changes in the bridge that may require an evacuation of community members on Harbor Island.
The City has successfully used the WEA system several times in 2020, though it’s important to test the geographical capabilities of the system to ensure the correct area is targeted. Twenty volunteers from Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management Auxiliary Communication Services will stage in locations on and surrounding Harbor Island during the test to confirm receipt of the message. Results will be collected by Seattle OEM to determine the reach of the system.
Mobile phone users who are in the geographical area and would like to receive the test message must take steps to enable the option on their phone.
The capability of a phone to receive local test messages depends on the brand and model, as well as phone carrier. Review the instruction manual for the phone for information on how to enable this feature. Basic information for Apple and Android Phones is below:
- To turn it on: Enter *5005*25371# and tap the green phone icon . You’ll get an alert that says “Test alerts enabled.”
- To turn it off: Enter *5005*25370# and tap the green phone icon. You’ll get an alert that says “Test alerts disabled.”
- Go to “Settings” > “Apps and Notifications” > “Advanced” > “Wireless Emergency Alerts” and then switch “State/local test” option to ON.
Members of the public are encouraged to proactively sign-up for AlertSeattle to receive emergency notifications from the City of Seattle: alert.seattle.gov.
For questions about the WEA test:
Seattle Office of Emergency Management
For questions about Seattle Fire’s role in West Seattle Bridge emergency planning:
Sr. Communications Manager/PIO
Seattle Fire Department
Safe Choices Start with You!
As the great summer weather continues, now is an excellent time to get out on the water. This year, as an added bonus, whether you’re kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding on a lake or in Puget Sound, it’s not only enjoyable – it’s a socially distant thing to do!
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation declaring July 19-25, 2020, “Paddle Safe Week” for the State of Washington. Seattle Fire joins with safety partners in boating, law enforcement and recreation to raise awareness on the basic rules of the water as well as tips to keep yourself and others safe.
Just recently on July 10, Seattle Fire’s Rescue Swimmers were called into action and successfully conducted a surface water rescue of a man struggling in the water along Seattle’s waterfront on Alaskan Way. Rescue swimmers quickly pulled the patient from the water, got him into the Fire Boat to begin treatment, then paramedics took him to Harborview Hospital where he was expected to make a full recovery.
As with many things in life, knowledge and a few good choices go a long way. Check out the links below to learn more about how to make sure your recreational experience on the water is a safe one:
- Safety on the water starts with you. Whether you kayak, canoe, or SUP — (Stand Up Paddleboard), legal requirements are minimal and do not maximize your chance of survival in an accident. Research and carry essential gear for safety, emergency communications and comfort.
- Know before you go! Life jackets are required by law on all vessels, including kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards. It’s up to you to wear it! Paddlesport experts choose to wear a life jacket for a reason—life jackets save lives.
- Pre-plan and study your paddle route before going out on the water. Even if you’re only going out for a brief time, always file a float plan. Tell someone who, where, when, what to do if you don’t return on time. Make this part of your routine every time you go paddling.
- Paddlesports is fun but comes with risks. Know how to swim and learn essential information from the experts. Find a local club, outfitter, take a class or sign up for lessons. There are even online courses!
For more tips and to learn more, go to: paddlesafewa.org. #PaddlePrepared #PaddleSafeWeek
Update 7/16: Further information on this incident will be provided by Seattle Police Depart or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
At 4:52 a.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers received several calls reporting a fire in a three-story motel in the 2400 block of Aurora Ave N. Four minutes later, Engine 9 arrived first on-scene and reported smoke coming from the north side of the building. All occupants were out of the motel except for one person, who was rescued by firefighters from a third- story back window using a ladder.
At 5:06 a.m., Seattle Fire’s incident commander upgraded the incident to a Multiple Casualty Incident as crews identified seven patients requiring medical attention. Three adults were in critical condition and paramedics transported them to Harborview Medical Center. Three additional adults in stable condition were also transported to Harborview via an aid car and two AMR units. The seventh patient sustained minor injuries and did not require transportation to a hospital.
At 5:16 a.m., the Incident commander upgraded the response to a 2-alarm fire to assist with search and rescue and pull apart interior walls to gain access to the fire. Access to the west side of the building was challenging due to a wall on the north side and a narrow staircase on the south side that was also being used by occupants to evacuate the building.
The fire was extinguished by 6:10 a.m., and one firefighter sustained minor injuries. At the height of the fire, there were 14 engine companies, eight ladder companies and six medic units.
We are pleased to share our 2019 annual report. Download the document to find statistics about our response standards, number of EMS and fire incidents, significant events and community engagement. The report also gives insight into the initiatives and activities that allow us to sharpen our skills and mindset in how we serve this great city.
Around 2,000 residents called Seattle “home” when it incorporated in 1869. In 2019, as we celebrated the city’s 150th birthday, that number had grown to 750,000 residents, with daytime population swelling to nearly 1 million. The region’s strong economic growth in the last half of the decade has physically reshaped our city’s skyline. This drives a greater demand for building inspections by the fire department, requires us to adapt our firefighting strategies for high rise structures and even challenges our ability to navigate congested and construction-narrowed streets.
In 2019, Seattle Fire:
- Responded to 91,716 incidents. Of those, 20 percent were for fires and 80 percent for emergency medical support.
- Delivered approximately 975,000 chest compressions while attending to 469 sudden cardiac arrest patients.
- Conducted more than 34,000 building inspections.
- Welcomed 43 new firefighters who successfully completed one of two recruit schools.
- Launched the Health One unit to more appropriately assist 9-1-1 callers needing help with social services, behavioral issues and minor medical concerns.
- Established an executive leadership development program for the fire service with the University of Washington Foster School of Business.
- Partnered with the Red Cross to install free smoke/carbon monoxide alarms for qualified households.
- Celebrated the 130th anniversary of the Great Seattle Fire and subsequent establishment of the Seattle Fire Department in 1889.
It’s not just the physical infrastructure changing. Our neighborhoods and people we serve are as well. Sadly, more and more members of the community struggle with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues, leading us to seek new approaches to offer assistance and more collaboration between the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
Amidst the rapidly changing environment, our personnel remain nimble, creative and resilient. When presented with a problem, we work to find solutions. This is why we are so proud of each member of the Seattle Fire Department and hope you enjoy this look back at all we accomplished in 2019.
On June 24, we celebrated the promotions of eight lieutenants (one not shown) and two captains at our Joint Training Facility. In compliance with social distancing guidelines, we held a live stream for families to
join in the celebration. Congratulations!
Every year at this time, Seattle and King County medics can be heard rushing to the scene of fireworks-related injuries. It happened again, just last Friday night. A patient was Airlifted to Harborview and now faces a long recovery at the Harborview Burn Center.
Like firefighters and medics, burn doctors and nurses stand ready to serve. Their doors are always open for those in need. But every 4th of July, they really don’t want to be popular. For them, the fewer people, the better.
According to Dr. Tam Pham at Harborview’s Burn Center, there were 50 fireworks-related injuries in June and July, 2019. Forty-four of them occurred in the one-week period leading up to the holiday. More than half of all injuries were to the hands and face.
“The issue is that people play around with fireworks very soon after they purchase them and long after the 4th of July,” said Pham. “Those injured in the pelvis/groin/thigh region were usually holding them in their lap.”
Twenty people were admitted to Harborview’s Burn Center last year, with seven suffering either partial or full amputations of their fingers or hands. This year, at least two amputations have already occurred.
With public displays canceled and the spread of COVID-19 continuing, the team at the Burn Center hopes people can celebrate safely – in small groups of 5 or less, with sparkling beverages versus sparklers that burn at 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit!
Although personal use of fireworks has long been banned in Seattle, many still choose to endanger their homes, friends and family by lighting them up themselves. The risk of fire and injury in densely-populated urban centers gets compounded when this happens. This year, more than ever, there is no room for amateurs – Stay Home and Stay Safe!
June 25, 2020 at 4:35 a.m.: Dispatchers in our Fire Alarm Center received multiple calls reporting visible flames and black smoke billowing from the second floor of a three-story commercial building on the 800 block of S. Weller St. Engine 6 was the first company to arrive on scene and confirmed a working fire that quickly accelerated to well involved. Engine 5 and Ladder 3 arrived shortly after to coordinate with Engine 6 to get water on the fire and search the fire room. However, when they attempted forcible entry into the fire room, they reported the ceiling and floor were becoming unstable. At 4:42 a.m., the Deputy Chief arrived on scene, assumed command, then immediately ordered everyone to evacuate the building. He upgraded the response to a 2-alarm where nine engines, four ladder trucks and additional support units were dispatched.
By 4:50 a.m., fire fighting efforts transitioned to a defensive strategy where crews positioned outside the building poured water on the fire in order to prevent it from spreading to neighboring buildings. Command asked Seattle City Light to turn off electricity to the building, Seattle Streetcar operators to shut down the electrical grid that flows through 8th Avenue South and Puget Sound Energy to turn off natural gas to the building.
Unfortunately, the fire spread through the whole structure, eventually causing the roof to collapse as well as sections of the third floor. We were able to get the fire under control by 6:34 a.m. and no injuries were reported. Crews remained on scene throughout the day and into the next morning to extinguish flare-ups.
Fire investigators are currently unable to determine the cause of the fire and are unable to safely enter the building due to concerns for structural integrity. After interviewing witnesses, they do not believe the fire was intentionally set. Estimated loss is $2,500,000.
We are sorry to announce that the Fire Day with MOHAI and Seattle Fire planned for this weekend is now postponed. Please stay tuned for a new date!