Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

Power was finally restored at my house when our neighbor stopped a DP&L truck yesterday. How long did it take to restore power? 15 minutes! The greatest irony though was our neighbor talking to DP&L on her cell phone when she spotted the truck while customer service was pointing out that our area still was not scheduled.

I guess that bit of cognitive dissonance set the stage for this strange item. The Fox News website has an article posted on “MALINTENT” a new system under development by Department of Homeland Security. The system supposedly can detect non-verbal cues to predict hostile intentions by passengers. You can read the article here.

I’m not a conspiracy type nor do I believe “The Matrix” was somehow allegorical. The development of MALINTENT does make me what to reconsider those positions. Human beings tend to experience a wide range of emotions at any given time. These emotions can lead to any number of micro-expressions and other non-verbal cues. Cultural and ethnic differences cause people to react to emotions differently. Accurately reading non-verbal cues by means of a computer program leaves me skeptical. The potential for errors in reading something as vague as non-verbal cues and reacting to computer assessments on such esoteric constructs is great.
I’m neither an attorney nor a constitutional expert but this seems to be akin to invasion of privacy. My thoughts and emotions are my own and I share them only with those I choose. MALINTENT would appear to take that vestige of privacy away from airport passengers. Air travel has never really recovered from the events of 9-11. Increased security procedures have made checking-in a hassle. To reduce costs, airlines have eliminated all in-flight perks and now charge in some cases even for pillows and blankets. These factors alone have contributed to the decline in air travel; if nothing else MALINTENT would be just one more disincentive to commercial air travel.

After World War I, the French constructed a line of concrete fortifications known as the Maginot Line. The intent was to keep Germany from invading France again. When the Germans invaded Belgium in 1940, they simply drove around the Maginot Line. I wonder if the same thing isn’t happening with the DHS obsession with airport security. Are they creating another Maginot Line that the terrorists will simply drive around?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did we learn anything?

Day 9 continues much as the other days do, no electric and no sign of utility workers. I dutifully call in my outage, per DP&L, each day and each day I get to hear we still are not schedule for a repair crew.

Enough of that nonsense, here is really what I’ve been thinking about. You can have all of the bottled water, food and batteries in the world but it doesn’t help if your are alone. Friends, family and neighbors looking out for one another is what really helped during this emergency. Better health care means or population continues to live longer. More and more people require some type of in-home medical care that relies on electricity. When the power goes out, these people’s health becomes at risk. Checking in on you friends and neighbors with medical conditions during power outages or storms is an important part of everyone getting through tough times.

You can’t underestimate the importance of having working flashlights available. I usually have a small SureFire pocket flashlight on my person and several flashlights throughout the house. Don’t fall victim to letting your flashlights become repositories for dead batteries. Keep fresh batteries in you flashlights by changing them whenever you change your smoke detector batteries. has good list of items to keep on hand as part of your emergency kits. In addition to water, food and first aid supplies don’t forget about prescription medications and pet food. The time of course to stock up is before and not after the emergency so paying attention to the weather is critical. Keep as much of your supplies in a kit or bag that you can take with you in the event you have to vacate your home.

Make sure you and your family have ways of communicating that doesn’t rely on cellular phones (which work so long as there is power to the towers). You may have a pre-determined rally point where everyone gathers at a pre-agreed time in the event of no communication. In the event you had to leave the area (say due to a chemical hazard), you will need a rally point outside the immediate area as well.

As we get ready for winter, let me mention having a possibles bag. The term comes from Colonial times and a possible bag was a small bag woodsman carried to handle a wide variety of possibilities. A possibles bag is smaller than you home emergency kit but basically address some of the same issues.

A good possibles bag would contain a way of creating fire, a small space blanket, water purification tabs, first aid kit, and a knife. You possibles bag needs to contain those items you would need to survive 24-48 hours without assistance. Other items might be some protein bars, a compass and candles. Don’t make it too big, it needs to be something that you could carry around with you. I recommend keeping it in your car in the event you get stranded in a snow storm.

Basically though, apply what you learned from this emergency to allow you to handle the next one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

And still no power

Day 7 and still no power but I did see a utility truck this morning (that would be a grand total of 2 seen since the power went out Sunday). DP&L claims 90 percent of those without power will have power back by tomorrow. Looking at the map, I remain skeptical.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blackouts, Plans, and Fire Stations

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, people who still don’t have power are becoming impatient. Tempers are becoming short in Venice Gardens (in Ross Township). There is a sense of frustration brought on by darkened neighborhoods not seeing a single utility truck all week. Both Cincinnati and Dayton residents have shared their frustrations on the reader comments pages of the websites of their local newspapers. It is apparent that the utility companies are making great strides as evidence by the increasing numbers of buildings and homes with power. Unfortunately this becomes more a point of frustration for those without power than a source of inspiration. I have seen only one utility truck come down our street in the last six days. It makes you wonder, where are all of the workers? Duke Energy released a statement today explaining how they work from major transmission lines, to substations down to neighborhoods and finally individual connections. The process makes sense but people do hold up for long without some sign of progress in their neighborhoods. Both Duke Energy and Dayton Power & Light stopped taking calls from customers days ago. Such tactics may save the energy companies headaches but it results in people creating their own answers as to why their homes remain dark. The utility companies need to open lines of communications at a time like this, not close off.

Butler County officials are discussing a new disaster plan. Concerns were raised this week when, according the Enquirer, a county fuel depot that did not have a generator to power the pumps, a lack of redundant computer systems, and limited access to water and ice. I have no idea what the old plan looks like but even with a new plan, nothing will be gained unless the county regularly exercises the plan. Shortfalls such as the lack of generators may never get identified during the planning process but certainly will during an exercise. You can’t plan for every contingency but you can test to see how well your agencies can react. Gap analysis allows you to identify deficiencies as well as identified solutions or alternatives. I hope other communities will dust off their response plans and exercise them soon if they haven’t already.

I had previously written about the locations of fire stations in the Greater Cincinnati area. Deerfield Township and Mason are getting into a squabble about that very issue. It appears both communities were planning fire stations within a mile of each other. The issue has become so contentious the county has resorted to arbitration. Each community is rightly concerned about the ability of their firefighters to respond, however the issue illustrates the need for addressing fire service on a more regional basis. Having spent most of my life dealing with federal and state bureaucracies, I know this concept is years from happening around here. Perhaps communities need to look into requiring residential fire sprinkler systems for new construction. While not a total solution, home sprinklers certainly reduce the risk from home fires which in turn would reduce the number of runs from fire stations.

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Butler County

I am always looking for articles to reinforce topics covered in my courses. I had just finished a section on the tendency for local governments to save money by eliminating the emergency manager and reassigning those duties to the fire or police departments. The sheriff of Butler county had the same thoughts apparently and his suggestion of taking over the emergency management function was not embraced. Link

My comments here are not an argument for or against the performance of the county EMA director. Most of Southwestern Ohio is still struggling with getting power back to the residents. Butler county has been especially hard hit and it would premature to gauge how effectively the county EMA director and other agencies responded. There is plenty of time for that later.

My point here is only to show the need, where fiscally possible, to have a county EMA director who is separate and distinct from the fire chief and police chief. It may seem possible for a sheriff or fire chief to handle emergency management responsibilities when things are situation normal. However, once a disaster strikes law enforcement and fire/EMS will be dealing with the immediate response actions. The EMA director assumes the role of resource director, helping to identify what is needed and then coordinating with the appropriate agency to obtain the needed resources.

The sheriff is too busy during a tornado or blackout helping maintain peace. Fire and EMS are busy rescuing victims and provided urgent care. Neither of those agencies benefit by having their senior leader trying to do two jobs at once. I hope as Butler county works through their recovery operations that cooler heads will prevail. They need to maintain a separate emergency manager who is NOT also a dual-hatted fire chief of police chief.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And the darkness continues

Around 1:30 PM on Sunday we lost power at our house. It was astonishing, the sun was shining but the wind was fiercely blowing (later news reports clocked gusts at over 75 mph). The trees and debris blowing around were something you would see during a sever thunderstorm. No rain, no thunder and no tornado just the steady wind. Four hours later when the wind stopped, they entire town was without power. The electric company was swamped with calls. In the Cincinnati area, over 800,000 homes were without power. In Dayton, over 225,000 homes were without power which was further exacerbated by the fact 700 electrical contractors had been sent to Texas to help out with relief efforts for Hurricane Ike.

The situation here was something we’ve never seen before. If you live anywhere near tornados, you are used to seeing bursts of high winds associated with severe thunderstorms but the duration is relatively short. These winds lasted all day and were constant. Trees were felled throughout Southwestern Ohio. The governor declared a state of emergency with nearly 1.9 million people without power. Schools closed yesterday and today due to the power outages. Food was spoiling in refrigerators in supermarkets and cafeterias. Gas prices soared as people descended on those stations still with power looking to fill up. My daughter and I walked around out town Sunday night. It was completely black, only the occasional candle lit homes. The only ambient light was provided by the numerous vehicles out on the roads (I have to ask, where were you all going?).

The weather on Sunday was created by a unique combination of a cold front come from the Northern Plains encountering the remnants of Hurricane Ike. The one-two punch re-energized what was left of Ike to produce the strong winds. The events of the last days made appreciation how devastating a full-blown hurricane must be like. It really looks like a major outbreak of tornados ripped through Southwestern Ohio, yet except for the high winds it was a rather typical September day.

I’m typing this on my laptop, which I recharged at the office. Oil lamps are producing the only light in my living room. The refrigerator has been purged of all its contents. I don’t know when we will get power back at the house, some estimates go out to the weekend. Fortunately we have a gas stove and water heater so we still can cook and have hot water. Some communities weren’t as fortunate, the lack of power also shut down their water treatment plants.

Once the events of this week become yesterday’s news, I will be looking to having a back-up generator installed in the house to power the furnace and refrigerator. A back-up generator had been on my list of improvements but just had not gotten around to it. That will change here shortly. The other emergency supplies on hand for disasters worked just fine although batteries do run out quickly with a entire household using flashlights and battery-operated radios. Water wasn’t a problem (this time). If we had to have this happen, this was the perfect time with mild temperatures. I can’t imagine what would have happened if this occurred during the middle of winter.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Families and Loved Ones

Ohio is one of the first states to allow next of kin registration. Any holder of a Ohio driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, temporary permit or Ohio identification card now has the option of identifying a person to contact in the event the individual is involved in an accident is unable to respond. Up to two individuals may be identified and for those over 18 that person can be a relative, friend or co-worker. Those under 18 have to identify either a parent or guardian. Next of kin information can be submitted either on-line or at a BMV office.

Dayton Bar Association is offering Wills For Heroes. The programs provide free wills and other estate planning documents to first responders and their spouse or domestic partner. Qualified first responders include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, corrections and probation officers from federal, state, county, city and town departments and agencies.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bloggers Bash 2008

Bob at put together the “Everyone’s Famous Bloggers Bash and it was really a great time! Bob and his wife Erin Marie, who runs her own blog at, did an outstanding job of rounding up all of the Cincinnati based bloggers they could find. Andrew Van Sickle, proprietor of AVS Art Gallery (, was kind enough to host the event at his gallery. Please check out his website and the really exceptional pieces of modern art on display. Members of the Know Theatre’s production of Reefer Madness ( stopped by and provided some great entertainment.

Many of the attendees, including myself, had never met each other before although we had read each other’s blog (welcome to the 21st Century). I first met Luann from, a truly creative lady who tries to find vegetarian options at local restaurants (see her current review of the Cadillac Ranch). I got to meet Dan who runs, one of the best sites for showcasing the incredible architecture of Losantiville (okay, Cincinnati to the rest of you). Debba at is putting together some awesome work for women interested in blogging, networking and all things web based. I owe Brian over at a debt since he was one of the first to link Losantiville on his website. Julie at has one of the most refreshing, down to earth takes on food. I highly recommend you check out her blog! One of the most fascinating people though has to have be Kasmira who runs things over at Given her blog’s focus and mine, I really couldn’t see what we might find in common to talk about. Let me just say, read her blog and if you don’t find her to be one of the most insightful and unique individuals ever then you are missing out. Note, she gets around 1,500 hits on her site per day!

Pictures from the bash can be found here

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering the victims families

Today as America stops to remember the events of seven years ago, the focus is remembering those who died. But it is equally important to think of the challenges the families of these victims went through. What was it like for those kids who knew their parents were in the World Trade Centers but did not know their fate? How long before some of the kids sitting at school would know whether or not their parents survived?

It doesn’t take something as catastrophic as an airliner ramming into our work place to create challenges for our families. If an accident at work seriously injures or kills you, your kids still need to be picked up from daycare. While you are being whisked away to a nearby trauma center, your kids still need to have dinner. As you recover from injuries, elderly parents will need someone to care for them until you are released from the hospital.

Scenarios for such situations can range from a industrial accident of some kind to car accident. Regardless of the cause, you may be unable to let family members know of your whereabouts or situation. Planning for it now before you ever need it can relieve stress for both you and your loved ones.

Most scenarios have you in the middle of the crisis. But what if the crisis strikes your house or neighborhood while you and family are away at work and school? Having a pre-arranged rally point can help. For instance, what if a tornado destroys your neighborhood before you come home? You and your family can’t go home and chances are good under such circumstances cellular service is out. Identifying a park or playground away from your home that can serve as a really point lets all of you family where to go.

There may be an extreme situation where you have to evacuate the city immediately. You may not have time to go home and collect everyone. Is there a place outside the city that you could use as an assembly point? I’ve got to be kidding, right? Think if some disease broke out suddenly (smallpox, ebola virus, plague). The mass panic would cause thousands to flee from the city. Law enforcement would probably block routes back into the city to maintain safety and a steady flow of traffic. Under such circumstances, backtracking home would be nearly impossible. Planning ahead and determining a pre-identified location to meet up later can help overcome the mass evacuation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Disaster response or stopping terrorists?

The local news is alternating between the Bengals lackluster performance and the Presidential elections. I’ve done my rant on the Bengals for now, so I thought the Presidential elections might bear some fruit.

Other bloggers are criticizing their candidate of choice based on the major issues; the economy, the war, the lack of experience of whichever candidate has caught the particular bloggers ire. Instead I tried to focus on a narrow view, what are the candidates saying about homeland security and emergency management?

On Senator Obama’s website, I found this “In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, improving our nation's emergency planning and response capacity has become a priority for Senator Obama. He introduced legislation to ensure that the mistakes witnessed before and after Katrina are not repeated in the future.” The rest is devoted to positions on homeland security including chemical plant security, transit security (subways and buses), nuclear waste and drinking water safety. I take this to mean Department of Homeland Security, and also FEMA, would continue much as they do today under his administration.

Senator Biden echoes much the same. He wants to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. After reading several books on the 9/11 commission and how it was conducted, I’m not certain these recommendations are as bi-partisan as advertised.

On Senator McCain website, he doesn’t mention disaster response or emergency management. Talking points are given for national security and border security. I was somewhat surprised not to find anything about homeland security. I’m not sure what this means for the Department of Homeland Security should Senator McCain become President. It is hard from his website to gauge the impact of his Presidency on the Federal Emergency Management agency.

Governor Palin should probably have the most experience in state emergency management issues but as yet, I have not seen her thoughts on emergency management or homeland security. Alaska does not have the types of emergencies seen in states such as California or Florida. She may not have had time in only two years to have experienced a statewide emergency.

For something different, I saw Cynthia McKinney (who is running on the Green Party platform) campaign bullets on “On The Issues” website ( . She has perhaps the most to say on the topic: she demands the end of the rollback to civil liberties, did her PhD thesis on the role of assassination as a state political tool, and opposes the Patriot Act.

What does this all mean? FEMA, now under DHS, has to demonstrate its role in protecting the homeland from terrorist attack. The shift concerns those in the emergency management field as they see this emphasis taking away from the humanitarian role. Whoever is the next President will have to figure out if they want to continue the emphasis homeland security or go back to disaster response. The former leaves a lot of communities out of the hunt for federal grants while the latter would create more opportunities for communities to compete for federal dollars. Of course, all disasters are local and the next administration could use that axiom of emergency management to cut federal funding.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Season Over

Ravens 17, Bengals 10
'We sucked on offense,' Houshmandzadeh says

Well, that's an understatement.  I've resisted commenting on sports here, too many others already doing that.  But I have to say something, the team is deplorable!  Twelve, counted them twelve injuries between summer camp and exhibition games.  The level of strength and conditioning needed to play in the NFL isn't there.  The players looked like they were in a haze today.  No spark, no determination, no focus.  Carson Palmer is becoming Dave Klingler, every time he takes a snap he gets hit.  Shut down our wide receivers and we don't have a solution.  Defense, oh my...what can you say?  Flacco, first NFL game and can rush 38 yards for a touch down?!  Oh forget it, pass me a three way with some hot sauce because the season is over.

How can you not smile after this?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Information Sharing


I’ve been tweaking things here at Losantiville over the last week. My intent from the start was to keep a Cincinnati based perspective on things related to emergency management and homeland security. In keeping with that goal, I’ve added more Cincinnati blogs to the roll. Hopefully those who read this blog will also enjoy some of the new additions. I’ve also added a site counter and bookmark to the blog. Please feel free to share Losativille with others.

Information Sharing Strategy

I was reading the DHS blog and Secretary Chetoff published his agency’s goals for information sharing. You can read the entire essay here Information Sharing

I have been involved with information sharing between agencies since the mid-80s and well, quite frankly, it is easier said than done. The first problem arises in goal number #2, “The Department must use the established governance structure to make decisions regarding information sharing issues.” Whenever a department or agency is placed in the role of decision-maker for sharing information, a bureaucratic process is created. Regardless of the intention, the process becomes filled with reviews and appeals inevitably creating an inefficient and cumbersome procedure. Requests become mired as complications arise over sharing protocols, update frequency, and content. The process becomes an unending submission-review loop that produces few results.

The next goal, “The Department must commit sufficient resources to information sharing,” spells doom for any department or agency that doesn’t have surplus resources to commit to the sharing initiative. DHS is a shell that manages other agencies such as Border Patrol, US Coast Guard, Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Secret Service. DHS itself has few resources to offer and must negotiate other agencies to support such initiatives. Agencies desiring to share or receive information from other sources will have to find the funding to purchase the necessary hardware and bandwidth. Squabbles will result whenever one agency feels they are providing the bulk of support or funding in comparison to the other partners.

The fourth goal is one of hardest to achieve in any bureaucracy, “The Department must measure progress toward information sharing goals.” Measure what and report it to whom? Agencies that feel that aren’t receiving the necessary information, or who are denied information sharing for whatever reason, will have no agency other than DHS to go to request review. The goal becomes meaningless without an independent oversight to review these metrics and hold DHS accountable to meeting these goals.

Most states have created intelligence fusions centers and are having great success in sharing amongst various state and local agencies. These fusion centers help reduce redundant efforts and improve funding of system enhancements. The state centers have a tremendous impact for local agencies. I remain skeptical though that similar gains can be achieved on the federal level. Bureaucracies tend to seek reasons to justify their existence, not find ways to eliminate themselves. Therefore sharing initiatives may been seen as some in the bureaucratic hierarchy as a threat to their agencies existence.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Elections, are they over yet?

The elections this year means hours and hours of political discussions on “hot button” issues. Many bloggers are working overtime analyzing, criticizing, and restating these political discussions. As readers of my blog know, I am not a political junkie and only bring up politics because there really very little else being covered in the news.

Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have focused and organized their agencies around preventing or reacting to a terrorist attack. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) concept became the de facto standard for everyone from first responders to the National Guard. NIMS is the overarching organizational concept that uses the Incident Command System (ICS) as its basic component. ICS was created by West Coast firefighters to deal with large scale forest fires. ICS is a modular concept expanding or contracting as the size of the response changes.

DHS and FEMA, in looking for a national standard, focused on NIMS and requires any agency looking for federal dollars to be NIMS compliant. Sounds fine until you start to read some of the academic papers on how NIMS and ICS are really implemented. To DHS, whenever an incident (ranging from a fire to a hurricane) occurs all responding agencies fall in on the ICS and NIMS model. In large metropolitan areas with huge fire, EMS, and police departments having a common organizational structure to add resources from outside agencies makes sense. But as typically happens with a one-size fits all approach, when you leave the metropolitan areas another model appears.

In rural America, over 90 percent of the fire departments are volunteer departments. The sparseness of populations means funding for large, full-time departments doesn’t exist. The smaller volunteer departments may have to cover large areas. Rather than becoming a deficit, volunteer departments and their communities leverage relationships to form strong response packages. Smaller communities take great pride in being able to protect their friends and families without depending on resources arriving from outside. What this means is NIMS really isn’t a factor in the majority of the United States. Smaller communities build their response packages on years of knowing one another and who has which resources. They don’t go outside of the communities for the most part to deal with major disasters.

Even larger areas tend to follow their typical response protocols without regard to NIMS. All of this makes me ask, has DHS and FEMA created a paper lion? If NIMS became the aegis to protect the United States from another terrorist attack, what will the policies of the next administration mean? My hope is they move away from a national standard to responding to disasters and to a more local approach. Each state has an emergency management office that works for the governor. These agencies understand the threats, capabilities and funding issues better than any national agency. Let these agencies form their response protocols without some vague “compliance” requirement to compete for federal funding. A governor’s declaration of emergency is all that is needed to qualify for federal relief funding. Some may quip, what about federal dollars for training? Those dollars are associated with NIMS and DHS compliance, which may or may not have any relevance to the threats facing a local community.

What about federal grants? Grants are a dual-edged sword, while they allow communities to purchase equipment otherwise unavailable there is no ability to maintain and update equipment through grants. Grants can create an uneven distribution of resources when one community has a great grant writer and another doesn’t.

During the next months of discussing alternative energy, Iran, Russia and the economy it will be interesting to see if there will be any discussions regarding the roles of DHS and FEMA in the future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Residential Sprinklers

I received a follow-up to my post on home sprinklers from Ryan J. Smith, founder of Residential I've added his website to Losantiville or you can follow the link to his website from here:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blog Readability

I was looking for some widgets and found this. I'm not convinced they are right but what the heck?!

blog readability test

September is National Preparedness Month

Even with Hurricane Gustav and now Hurricane Hanna striking the Gulf Coast, most Americans still think a disaster won't happen to them. and Citizens Corps are running several campaigns to increase the level of American preparedness. It is basic, common sense approach to dealing with disasters. You can find out more here:

It is also good time to remember to check your smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and flashlights.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Home Fire Sprinkler Systems

About a month ago, a very expensive home caught fire and burned downed in a Mason which is just North of Cincinnati. The home was valued at $500K and is typical of the homes in this rapidly developing suburb. The home burned in part because it took firefighters over 12 minutes to arrive at the scene. There was no negligence on the part of the fire department, rather the delay in responding was due to the sparseness of fire departments outside of the city limits. As Cincinnati continues to grow North, suburbs are being built faster than fire departments (and other public safety agencies) can be created to fill the need.

The Mason fire started a length discussion in the local newspaper about the distribution of fire departments in the area. For instance, within the city limits it is not uncommon to find multiple fire departments within a few miles of one another (Elmwood Place, St Bernard and Cincinnati have fire stations adjacent to each other). The Wyoming Fire Department often is called out to fight fires in other jurisdictions. The ability for other departments to support one another under such circumstances is ideal. As you travel North on I-75, the number of fire departments drop drastically. A single station maybe responsible for an entire township resulting in the long response time noted above.

The paper quoted local fire chiefs as to their thoughts on how the disparity between fire coverage in the city and suburbs could be addressed. Most agreed it would be impossible to redistribute fire service capabilities unless all a regional fire service was created. The outcry from local elected officials, citizens and even some fire chiefs keeps this option from being viable. For example, two smaller municipalities agreed to combine fire and EMS departments. Both of these municipalities have good tax bases which should have meant this was an ideal situation. Instead, one municipality is complaining because the majority of EMS runs goes to the other municipality. I can’t imagine the level of squabbling that would occur if such a proposal was attempted on regional basis.

I teach safety and security management and felt there had to be another solution to the problem. I then came across a concept many of you may not have heard of; home fire sprinkler systems. Home sprinkler systems, listed by Underwriters Labs, react automatically to fires using state of the art sensors and technology. They are low cost and according the United States Fire Association (USFA) website, cost per foot in new constructions is $1 to $1.50. The home systems don’t look like the typical systems you see in commercial or industrial constructions. The systems can be blended into the décor of the home. Installation and water requirements for the systems in new construction are estimated to be much lower than for commercial construction sites. The home systems are designed to respond only to the room with the fire, in other words the whole system does not activate in the event your dinner starts to burn on the stove. Water damage from the sprinkler system suppressing a fire is far less than from the smoke and associated damage from a house fire without a sprinkler system.

Several residences have initiated home sprinkler ordnances; Livermore, California
Montgomery County, MD; Long Grove, Illinois; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Germantown, Tennessee; Scottsdale, Arizona; Altamonte Springs, Florida. Insurance discounts vary but range between 5-15%.
Some other considerations for having a home sprinkler system:

- A fire occurs in a residential structure every 79 seconds, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

- Families with children, senior citizens, and handicapped members have special fire protection needs. Home sprinkler systems provide added protection for these people.

- In case of a home fire, firefighters will have less risk of injury or life loss since they will be fighting a fire of less intensity.

- Allocation of community resources can be improved with the adoption of home sprinkler technology.

- Communities will be able to make better utilization of available land and thereby increase their tax base.

Developing a regional fire department is certainly a cost-effective and practical concept, however it may take years of negotiations before anything can happen. In the meantime, home owners can explore another option to insuring the safety of their homes and loved ones by installing a home fire sprinkler system.