Junior firefighter safety and health

Apr 22
The Info Gram - Emergency Management and Response - Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC)

Volume 24 — Issue 16 | April 18, 2024

Junior firefighter safety and health: Guidance and questions for engagement from NIOSH

Historically, junior firefighter programs have been an important recruitment and retention tool for the fire service. Also known as “explorers” or “cadets,” junior firefighters range from 14-17 years of age and are part of volunteer, career, and combination (career/volunteer) fire departments.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a Science Blog this week that discusses how fire departments can ensure the safety, health, and positive childhood experiences for junior firefighters.

The blog, Keeping Junior Firefighters Safe and Healthy: The Fire Department’s Role in Promoting Positive Childhood Experiences, summarizes lessons learned from eight NIOSH investigations conducted since 2000 involving junior firefighters aged 14- to 17-years old. These investigations were conducted as part of NIOSH’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP).

Five incidents involved line-of-duty deaths of junior firefighters, while the remaining three focused on the death of an adult firefighter that also involved the injury of a junior firefighter.

These eight investigations highlighted several important lessons learned that fire departments can implement to ensure junior firefighter programs minimize risk while supporting adolescent engagement.

Six investigations addressed the permitted and prohibited activities of junior firefighters under federal and state child labor laws. It is important for fire departments have standard operating procedures that detail these activities for junior firefighters.

Another six investigations revealed the importance of providing and ensuring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for junior firefighters. PPE requirements will vary depending on what activities junior firefighters are permitted to perform.

Despite the potential risks of participating in a junior firefighter program, there are substantial benefits. The blog makes several suggestions that fire departments can consider for promoting positive childhood experiences in the fire service.

NIOSH invites fire departments and individual firefighters to engage in this important discussion with several questions:

  • How does your fire department promote positive childhood experiences and educational opportunities for junior firefighters?
  • What is your fire department’s main source of information regarding activities junior firefighters are permitted to engage in?
  • Does your fire department have SOPs that address junior firefighters?

Read NIOSH’s April 17 blog for all of NIOSH’s recommendations to ensure junior firefighter health, safety, and positive childhood experiences in the fire service. Consider discussing and implementing these recommendations within your own fire department. Please consider sharing your input with NIOSH and the larger fire service community by posting comments using the form at the end of the blog.

(Source: NIOSH)


EMS for Children Program launches Prehospital Pediatric Readiness Project, webinar April 23

Children have unique physiological responses to illness and injury that differ from those of adults. However, approximately 80% of prehospital agencies see fewer than 8 pediatric patients per month, which makes it challenging for emergency medical services (EMS) providers to develop and maintain pediatric care competencies, according to national data collected through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program.

On April 16, the EMSC’s Innovation and Improvement Center (EIIC) announced the upcoming launch of a national online assessment opportunity for EMS agencies as part of its National Prehospital Pediatric Readiness Project.

The online assessment will launch on Wednesday, May 1. It will allow EMS agencies to develop a picture of their current pediatric readiness and identify areas for improvement. After completing the assessment, which takes approximately 30 minutes, all respondents will receive a detailed report describing any gaps and benchmarking information. EMS and fire-rescue agencies will have until Wednesday, July 31, 2024, to complete the assessment.

An upcoming EMS Focus webinar will be held on Tuesday, April 23 at 1 p.m. EDT, How Ready Is Your Agency to Provide Pediatric Care? Build Your Clinicians’ Confidence When Treating Children. During this webinar, representatives from the EMSC will provide information about the Prehospital Pediatric Readiness Project (PPRP) and the upcoming national readiness assessment.

See the EMSC’s April 16 news release to learn more, register for the webinar, and access a checklist and toolkit to help you prepare.

(Source: EMSC)

DHS announces $1.8 billion in preparedness grants

On April 16, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced more than $1.8 billion in funding for eight fiscal year (FY) 2024 preparedness grant programs. These grant programs provide critical funding to help state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) officials prepare for, prevent, protect against and respond to acts of terrorism and disasters.

DHS continues to emphasize six national priority areas in the FY 2024 grant cycle: cybersecurity; soft targets and crowded places; intelligence and information sharing; domestic violent extremism; community preparedness and resilience; and election security. The eight grant programs, links to their FY 2024 grant opportunity, and total FY 2024 funding are:

See the DHS news release and visit fema.gov/grants/preparedness to learn more about each of these programs. Applications are due by Monday, June 24, 2024.

(Sources: DHS, FEMA, Grants.gov)

Webinar: Modernizing the U.S. Fire Data System: NERIS Data Framework and Development Update

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is leading a national effort to develop and launch a new interoperable fire information and innovative analytics platform, known as the National Emergency Response Information System (NERIS).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), part of UL Research Institutes, and the USFA will host a webinar on Thursday, May 2, from 12-1 p.m. EDT, Modernizing the U.S. Fire Data System: NERIS Data Framework and Development Update.

This webinar is the third in a series of updates on the NERIS project. Participants will:

  • Learn about the latest progress and next steps for NERIS.
  • Explore the newly launched beta version of the Core Data Schemas.
  • Hear first-hand insights from Fire Chiefs testing the prototype version.
  • Engage directly with the NERIS team in a Q&A segment.

Visit USFA’s NERIS page to learn more and to view recordings of the previous two webinars in this series.

Advanced registration by Friday, April 26, 2024, is required to participate in this webinar. Visit FSRI’s website to register.

(Sources: FSRI, USFA)


CISA: Cyber Resilient 911 Symposium blog post

CISA’s Emergency Communications Division (ECD) spearheaded the Cyber Resilient 911 (CR911) Program’s third regional symposium, which included CISA’s western regions 8, 9, and 10. Attendees included state 911 administrators, state and local representatives from 911 centers and IT/cyber communities, Tribal Nation representatives, and Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) from each state and territory. The symposium also brought together an array of internal CISA resources such as Cybersecurity Advisors (CSAs) and Emergency Communication Coordinators (ECCs) who represent a specific state or states within each CISA region.

At the symposium, speakers and panelists presented an overview of the current cyber threat landscape and shared resources to help enhance the cybersecurity posture of Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs). Symposium topics included the current state of cyber resilience in the 911 ecosystem, best practices for responding to a cyberattack, including an overview of lessons learned from the Curry County, Oregon cyberattack, and the available cybersecurity resources for each region.

CISA continues its efforts to reach 911 stakeholders at its next regional symposium in May 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. This symposium will include CISA’s Central regions 5 and 7. The insights gathered from this symposium will inform refinements to the CR911 Program and guide the development of stakeholder-driven products tailored to the needs of the 911 community.

(Source: CISA)

CISA, FBI, and ODNI release guidance for securing election infrastructure against the tactics of foreign malign influence operations

On April 17, CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released Securing Election Infrastructure Against the Tactics of Foreign Malign Influence Operations, a guidance document that details the latest tactics employed in foreign malign influence operations to shape U.S. policies, decisions, and discourse and could be used to target America’s election infrastructure.

The product discusses popular tactics used in foreign malign influence operations, provides recent examples, and recommends potential mitigations for election infrastructure stakeholders. While many of these tactics are not new, recent advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology have made it much easier and cheaper to generate and spread convincing foreign malign influence content.

(Source: CISA)

NSA publishes guidance for strengthening AI system security

The National Security Agency (NSA) is releasing a Cybersecurity Information Sheet (CSI) on Monday, April 15, Deploying AI Systems Securely: Best Practices for Deploying Secure and Resilient AI Systems. The CSI is intended to support National Security System owners and Defense Industrial Base companies that will be deploying and operating AI systems designed and developed by an external entity.

The CSI is the first release from NSA’s Artificial Intelligence Security Center (AISC), in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-NZ), and United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK).

While intended for national security purposes, the guidance has application for anyone bringing AI capabilities into a managed environment, especially those in high-threat, high-value environments.

(Source: NSA)

Russia-linked hacking group suspected of carrying out cyberattack on Texas water facility, cybersecurity firm says

A hacking group with ties to the Russian government is suspected of carrying out a cyberattack in January that caused a tank at a Texas water facility to overflow, experts from US cybersecurity firm Mandiant said Wednesday.

The hack in the small town of Muleshoe, in north Texas, coincided with at least two other towns in north Texas taking precautionary defensive measures after detecting suspicious cyber activity on their networks, town officials told CNN. The FBI has been investigating the hacking activity, one of the officials said.

The attack was a rare example of hackers using access to sensitive industrial equipment to disrupt regular operations at a US water facility, following a separate cyberattack last November on a Pennsylvania water plant that US officials blamed on Iran.

(Source: CNN)

Second cyber extortion attack on Change Healthcare follows rumored $22 million payment, may involve former BlackCat/ALPHV hackers

Roughly two months after being hit with a ransomware attack from the BlackCat/ALPHV group, Nashville-based medical payment service provider Change Healthcare is dealing with another cyber extortion attempt. The new attack appears to be the work of RansomHub, an up-and-coming group that has reportedly been onboarding former BlackCat members during an early 2024 spree. That could mean that some of the same hackers from the first incident have shared intelligence on the company, and are double-dipping on their prior cyber extortion caper.

(Source: CPO Magazine)

Major 911 outages in 4 states leave millions without a way to contact local authorities

Law enforcement agencies across four states were left scrambling following reports of major 911 outages that saw millions unable to contact authorities late Wednesday, April 17. Many of the outages — reported in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Texas — were restored by the late evening. So far, there's no indication that the 911 outages overnight were caused by a cyberattack or other malicious act, law enforcement officials told NBC News on Thursday.

(Source: NBC News)