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VDFP Implements Cancer Reduction Efforts for Virginia Firefighters by Prohibiting Use of Engineered Wood Products Containing PMDI During Live Fire Trainings

VDFP Implements Cancer Reduction Efforts for Virginia Firefighters by Prohibiting Use of Engineered Wood Products Containing PMDI During Live Fire Trainings

Industry research shows that burning oriented strand board (OSB) containing PMDI (poly-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate)
during firefighter training presents increased exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens.

RICHMOND – July 22, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) today announced updates to its Live Fire Training Policy that includes the prohibition of the use of oriented strand board (OSB) containing PMDI (poly-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), and performing decontamination at the end of live fire training with medical evaluation procedures following live fire training events. This policy change covers training burns that are conducted in VDFP training programs, facilities that host VDFP funded schools, and when flashover simulators are utilized.

Current research indicates that exposures to carcinogens, and other hazardous byproducts, such as PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and benzene can occur with the use of these OSB wood products containing PMDI, which release significant levels of toxic byproducts when burned.

Cancer reduction among firefighters and EMS personnel remains a top priority for Governor Northam. As the state agency that provides training programs and resources for firefighters in the Commonwealth, VDFP is charged with prioritizing this effort in alignment with industry standards and best practices. The new policy meets the current version of NFPA 1403 (2018), Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions.

“We are adopting aggressive cancer prevention efforts during such critical training. After each live fire training, a complete wash down of PPE, SCBA, and other tools used in the fire occurs. Also, personal cleanup is done and then a medical evaluation is completed,” said VDFP Executive Director Michael Reilly. “We understand that this prohibition of engineered wood containing PMDI, as well as the extensive rehab procedures may be met with some opposition. However, based on industry research and our mandate to reduce carcinogen exposures and cancer related deaths among Virginia’s Fire Service, it is the right thing to do.”

The Virginia Fire Services Board (VFSB) has been a proponent of this cancer-reducing measure and supports VDFP’s new policy, “The Fire Service explores several methods to reduce risks and harm to our men and women in the field,” said VFSB Chair Walt Bailey, “It is much more meaningful to create policies and involve local and state officials. Then, the widespread action follows.”
Prominent fire services organizations, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters and the Virginia Firefighters Association, also support the decision to prohibit the use of wood products containing PMDI during live fire trainings and will assist with implementing the new practices at the local level.

“The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters reinforces the policy update and applauds Fire Programs for taking such action to protect Virginia’s Fire Service,” said Virginia Professional Fire Fighters (VPFF) President Robert Bragg. “We are united and serious about reducing carcinogen exposure to our firefighters. It is imperative that we continue to adopt preventative solutions.”

“The Virginia State Firefighters Association serves a large population of volunteer firefighters throughout the Commonwealth. By joining together to share research and resources, this decision covers a lot of ground,” said VFSA President Ken Brown.

Visit the VDFP website Policies page for more information on the VDFP Live Fire Training Policy.

VDFP Issues Emergency Evacuation Planning and Drills Guidance for Pre K-12 and Colleges and Universities

VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office Issues Emergency Evacuation Planning and Drills Guidance
for Pre K-12 and Colleges and Universities

RICHMOND – July 20, 2020 – As students and staff prepare for the return to Pre K-12 schools or institutions of higher learning, there are inherent challenges regarding the reentry procedures and how these procedures are influenced by emergency evacuation drills and lock down planning required by the Statewide Fire Prevention Code. The following guidance document serves as a reminder of the required fire and emergency evacuation drills to ensure the health and safety of all occupants and to provide guidance on areas to consider during the planning for these drills in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance includes:

  • Emergency evacuation drill requirements
  • Lockdown plans
  • Planning considerations for safety executing emergency evacuation drill requirements
  • Related COVID-19 Q&A

Review the Emergency Evacuation Planning and Drills Fire Code and COVID-19 Guidance for
PreK-12 and Colleges and Universities

VDFP Resumes Previously Cancelled Courses Effective July 18

VDFP Resumes Previously Cancelled Courses Effective July 18

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) resumed in-person training courses that were cancelled at the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March. VDFP will not be accepting new course requests until January 1, 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, VDFP had more than 500 classes scheduled throughout the Commonwealth. With the fluidity of COVID-19 and local policies around use of training facilities and available resources, courses will be offered in conjunction with VDFP local partners.

To view VDFP-funded courses that are available for registration, visit Cornerstone OnDemand. You must log in with a new or existing account to view available courses.

VDFP Training Policies
In preparation for participation with the resumption of VDFP training courses, VDFP recommends that students and instructors review its training policies to navigate current operations, procedures, and agency expectations.
  • VDFP Pandemic Operations Policy – The Pandemic Operations Policy addresses the most common questions localities, students, and instructors may have about training procedures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
  • VDFP Live Fire Training Policy – The Live Fire Training Policy includes the prohibition of the use of oriented strand board (OSB) containing PMDI (poly-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and how to perform decontamination at the end of live fire training with medical evaluation procedures following live fire training events.
  • VDFP Extreme Weather Policy – The Extreme Weather Policy is an existing policy that outlines training procedures for instructors and students in extreme heat and cold conditions. Temperatures are expected to be higher than normal during the week of July 19.

VDFP Code of Ethics and Values
VDFP remains committed to providing members of Virginia’s Fire Service quality programs and resources, while ensuring that VDFP staff are operating under the utmost ethical guidelines and principles.

Review the newly updated VDFP Code of Ethics and Core Values.

Fourth of July 2020: Fireworks Display Cancellations and Potential of Increased Use of Illegal Fireworks in Virginia

Fourth of July 2020: Fireworks Display Cancellations and Potential of Increased Use of Illegal Fireworks in Virginia

RICHMOND – June 29, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs’ (VDFP) State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) says this Fourth of July holiday will be significantly different than in years’ past – almost all permitted professional fireworks shows have been cancelled and as a result, a surge in non-permissible or illegal fireworks may be used in the Commonwealth.

“COVID-19 has covered many of our pastimes and traditions with a wet blanket. We anticipate that this Fourth of July, Virginians will take to their own devices to celebrate the holiday in their backyards or neighborhoods,” said VDFP Executive Director Michael Reilly. “On top of limited fireworks displays, we’re dealing with limitations in how we assemble. This formula makes celebrating the Fourth of July holiday logistically complicated.”

VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office serves as the fire code enforcement arm of the state government training agency. In 2019, SFMO confiscated approximately 10,000 non-permissible fireworks that were either sold, used, or in possession. This is five times the number of non-permissible fireworks confiscated in 2018, which was roughly 2,000.

In general, any firework that explodes, moves on the ground or in the air, or shoots a projectile is illegal.

“Fire officials stress the message of ‘leaving fireworks to the professionals’ because the professionals obtain permits with the State Fire Marshal’s Office or within their respective localities,” said VDFP Assistant State Fire Marshal of Special Operations Billy Hux. “Fire officials vet each request and host for the proper use of permissible fireworks, safety factors, and capabilities. This is for the sake of public protection. Confiscation of non-permissible fireworks is how we prevent the worst from happening to individuals and property.”

Only “permissible fireworks,” as defined in the Code of Virginia, can be legally sold, possessed or used within the Commonwealth. A list of permissible fireworks can be viewed on the VDFP website. The fireworks listed in this document have been field tested to compare the items to the performance criteria of the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL). Permissible fireworks may also be further limited in different localities. Check local ordinances as well as the Statewide Fire Prevention Code prior to purchasing and utilizing fireworks.

The sale, possession and /or use of any fireworks not classified as permissible is prohibited. Violations can be prosecuted as a Class I Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,500 and/or up to one (1) year in jail. Any illegal fireworks can be confiscated by authorities. Many localities prohibit the sale, possession or use of all fireworks.

SFMO started conducting statewide fireworks stand inspections in June and will continue in July, to include July 4th. VDFP Assistant State Fire Marshal of Special Operations Hux added, “SFMO will be assisting state and local partners with the enforcement of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code for permissible and non-permissible fireworks usage throughout the state.”

If you do use permissible fireworks, follow these important safety precautions:

  • Check local ordinances on the use of fireworks.
  • Fireworks can only be used on private property with the consent of the owner.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Never use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never allow children to use fireworks.
  • Ensure adequate clearance from people, buildings and combustible material.
  • Have a garden hose or other water source readily available in case of fire.
  • Soak spent fireworks in water before placing them in the trash.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never hold the fireworks in your hands while lighting them.
  • Never point fireworks at a person.

Wednesday, June 3 all VDFP employees continue to telework

Wednesday, June 3 all VDFP employees continue to telework

In an effort to keep all Virginia state employees safe and free from harm, and in conjunction with direction from Governor Northam, all VDFP employees at Headquarters and Divisions 1-7 will continue to telework on Wednesday, June 3.

Continue to conduct VDFP business by phone and email: https://www.vafire.com/about-virginia-department-of-fire-programs/agency-directory-2/.

Tuesday, June 2 all VDFP employees continue to telework

Tuesday, June 2 all VDFP employees continue to telework

In an effort to keep all Virginia state employees safe and free from harm, and in conjunction with direction from Governor Northam, all VDFP employees at Headquarters and Divisions 1-7 will continue to telework on Tuesday, June 2.

Continue to conduct VDFP business by phone and email: https://www.vafire.com/about-virginia-department-of-fire-programs/agency-directory-2/.

Monday, June 1 all VDFP employees will telework

Monday, June 1 all VDFP employees will telework

In an effort to keep all Virginia state employees safe and free from harm, and in conjunction with direction from Governor Northam, all VDFP employees at Headquarters and Divisions 1-7 will be teleworking on Monday, June 1.

Continue to conduct VDFP business by phone and email: https://www.vafire.com/about-virginia-department-of-fire-programs/agency-directory-2/.