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  • Jeffrey
    FEDERAL FIREFIGHTING AGENCIES AND GSA RECALL NEW GENERATION FIRE SHELTERS Boise, Idaho…The Federal firefighting agencies and the General Services
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 2004


      Boise, Idaho…The Federal firefighting agencies and the General Services
      Administration (GSA) are recalling 68,000 previously manufactured new
      generation fire shelters for a retrofit to strengthen a corner of the
      product. About 19,000 of the shelters are currently being carried by
      state, federal and contract firefighters.

      Fire shelters are required equipment for firefighters, but are considered a
      tool of last resort and should never be needed if situational awareness,
      risk management and discipline are employed to make the right decisions in
      strategy and tactics on wildland fires.

      In mid-March, an alert was submitted to the agencies’ SAFENET program
      describing a tear that occurred during deployment practice. The SAFENET
      program is an anonymous reporting system firefighters use to alert managers
      to observed unsafe practices and allow managers to investigation or make
      corrections based on the report. According to the SAFENET, the tear was in
      the floor material near the shake handles used to quickly deploy the shelter.

      Equipment specialists at the Forest Service’s Missoula Technology and
      Development Center (MTDC) immediately researched the problem and confirmed
      that some shelters were tearing near the shake handles during
      deployment. All the tears were in the floor material with the floor coming
      away from the seam connecting the floor to the side of the shelter.

      MTDC equipment specialists, in consultation with an outside engineering
      expert, believe the added risk associated with the potential tearing of the
      shelter is very small because the location of the weakness is in the
      floor. However, interagency fire management leadership, specialists at
      MTDC and GSA are taking immediate action to fix the problem in order to
      ensure that firefighters are provided the best quality product.

      “No rips occurred during the extensive testing we did before the design
      went to the manufacturers. But we do acknowledge the issue, and have
      developed a fix in the design to strengthen the area of the shake handles,”
      said fire shelter specialist Leslie Anderson of MTDC.

      The design fix is being applied to all newly manufactured shelters, and the
      shelters recalled will be retrofitted with an improvement to the
      handle. The eleven national fire caches are no longer distributing the new
      generation fire shelter until the retrofit has been completed, or newly
      manufactured shelters with the design fix are received.

      State and federal firefighters should return the newer shelters to the
      nearest federal cache. Firefighters will use the older style shelter until
      supplies of the newly manufactured or retrofitted shelters become
      available. The older style shelters have saved 300 lives since the 1970’s,
      and provide good protection against radiant and thermal heat when deployed

      Some firefighters may not be able to obtain an older style shelter
      immediately due to the limited number, but the newly manufactured shelters
      and the retrofitted shelters will be available widely within the next two
      months. According to the manufacturers, retrofitting should proceed
      quickly, at the rate of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 per week, plus
      production of about 5,000 per month of the newly manufactured shelters.

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