Founded by Kathy Crosby-Bell and a group of close friends and family, in honor of Kathy’s son fallen Firefighter Michael Kennedy. The Last Call Foundation was launched 6 months to the day after the fire that killed Michael. The Last Call Foundation is a dedicated group of loving family and friends who set out to change the status quo and prevent tragedies such as the one on March 26, 2014 that claimed Michael’s life, and the life of Fire Lieutenant Edward Walsh.
As the Last Call Foundation board members delved into the circumstances of the nine-alarm fire in Boston’s Back Bay, and the many factors that contributed to the line of duty deaths of two brave firefighters, it became clear that the fire hose, the most important tool of all, had failed catastrophically, burned through. A burned fire hose left two brave well-loved and needed men, relying on and calling for water as the blaze exploded around them. There was literally no escape.
Last Call Foundation has been pushing for new NFPA 1961 Fire Hose Test Standards.
Stagnant, outdated, poor test standards have permitted today’s thermal technologies to be overlooked by the fire hose industry. Last Call Foundation is forcing this issue in order to push hose manufacturers to test, try, adapt and use new thermal technologies. Kathy personally attended and participated in several of the NFPA 1961 Technical Committee on Fire Hose Standards meetings, both across the country and by teleconference. She submitted her testimony for inclusion in the record. After several years of failure to produce an acceptable new test standard, it became clear an economically viable test mechanism or machine was needed to insure accuracy of any new test standard method. Last Call Foundation provided the funding for a joint effort by an independent outside fire engineering company to design and build, with the input of the NFPA 1961 Technical Committee Members, a reliable fire hose test mechanism. This provides a method for testing to be uniform, repeatable and economically viable. The Mechanism design was sent to UL – Underwriters Laboratories in January 2018, for testing and approval, once UL approves the testing mechanism design, the NFPA 1961 Fire Hose Technical Committee will use the then UL approved test Mechanism in writing a new predictive fire hose test standard. This will finally allow the fire service to see the thermal expectations of the hose they purchase.
Last Call Foundation funded thermal testing of currently available fire hose, some purchased for this purpose, others provided by fire hose manufacturers for comparison. When it became clear that no hose tested in this effort was withstanding what were designed to be as close to fire ground conditions as a mechanical devise is able to produce, LCF called for and began testing other thermal fabrics, not currently used in fire hose manufacturing. Several were stable for much longer periods than any of the currently available fire hose’. It became clear that though far more thermally reliable fabrics exist they had yet to be adapted to fire hose.
Next Generation Fire Hose, using available thermal technologies. In development.
Cancer in the Fire Service Working closely with the Boston Fire Department’s new Commissioner and Chief of Department Joseph Finn, Kathy and the LCF board members became aware of the escalating cancer rates and unacceptable numbers of firefighters dying of job related cancers. Raising funds to provide and install industrial washers in firehouses across the city became a major push. Last Call Foundation provided funds for the purchase and installation expenses amounting to more than $ 375,000 for 25 washers to the city of Boston firehouses and, with the generous support of the Gary Sinise Foundation the City of Boston was provided the remaining 10 washers and gear dryers, which are awaiting electric service upgrades to be put in service.
Cancer Awareness Education and Prevention Last Call Foundation brought together all interested and affected parties, to develop a program based on Boston’s successful cancer education program. Last Call Foundation provided funding to make this Cancer awareness educational program available to every firefighter in the state. Last Call Foundation continues to fund this The Firefighter Cancer Support Network - Train the Trainer Programs, across the US.
Funding the New Firefighter Relief Truck for Greater Boston The Boston Sparks Association, currently located in the Boston Fire Museum is an all volunteer service provided to all first responders. – The new apparatus replaced a 1980’s era donated ambulance. It is well equipped and responds to any long duration event where volunteers then provide basics to keep the first responders hydrated, fed and warm in the cold, cool in the heat and ready to go back onto the fire ground.
Last Call Foundation has provided funding for a whole host of necessary expenses that can’t be paid for any other way. PTSD treatment, retraining for a disabled firefighter, air bags for an emergency response team, a compressor for filling air tanks, yes even washers – extractors and other unfunded expenses. Sometimes firefighters in municipal fire departments—regardless of their position—need a hand. They can reach out to LCF. Or if a firehouse is struggling to keep antiquated equipment running, they can call LCF, we do everything we can to answer that call.
Installation of Extractors across the Commonwealth Firefighters are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the population overall. More than 60% of firefighters will be diagnosed with cancer over the course of a career, in Boston the number is 67%. One of the many causes is exposure to products of combustion - contaminants in furnishings and building materials that cling to firefighters’ turnout gear. Recent legislation designates cancer as a work-related injury for Massachusetts’s firefighters. The law covers medical treatment and lost time from work. Every effort is being made to uncover and provide safety measures. An obvious preventive measure, washing of gear after every call. Extractors are industrial washers paired with bunker gear dryers that do the job. Legislation championed by Last Call Foundation passed this session allocating $420,000 for a statewide bulk-purchasing program to equip firehouses across the Commonwealth with this essential equipment. MUCH MORE IS NEEDED, particularly for the cities or towns that despite best practices are unable to provide funds for a second set of turn out gear. In those cities and towns a firefighter whose gear has just been cleaned cannot respond to a call – wet gear will cause serious steam burns.
Hot Works Legislation A special Commission to study Hot Works Processes was established in 2016 and held public hearings in July 9, and 11, of 2018. The commission shall investigate and study the current requirements for licenses and permits governing cutting, welding and other hot work processes that involve burning or a similar operation that is capable of initiating a fire or explosion to determine if the state fire code adequately protects the safety of the public and first responders. The study shall consider: the current conditions required for the issuance of licenses and permits; the use of supervised details and firewatchers; the adequacy of fees to cover inspection, oversight and other municipal costs; the deterrent effect of penalties for a violation of rules and regulations and cost recovery assessment for damages resulting from the failure to comply with rules and regulations; the training and certification required to perform the work; and other matters that the commission finds would enhance the safety of the work.
Kathy was in close touch with Senator Nick Collin’s office following the creation of the commission and the progression of work. She attended the hearings and testified, bringing attention to the final moments and the suffering of the two men, Michael and Ed who died as a direct result of hot works. Kathy has pushed hard for clear laws, training and certification requirements, and for severe financial and criminal penalties for those who would endanger others by callously ignoring the law. In the future if a person dies as a result of hot works someone should go to jail.
Sadly there is more to be done. With your generous support, it will get done. The Last Call Foundation is committed to supporting every firefighter.
Because every firefighter is hero every day.
Fire Hose – So much has happened
Last Call Foundation funded a study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Fire Engineering Program led by Professor Kathy Ann Notarianni. The history of fire hose and its evolution through the years were studied. Most resent issues affecting fire hose performance, thermal qualities and failure rates, were studied, it was proven that more than 90% of the reported fire hose’ that failed were charged, meaning the water was flowing. It was also uncovered that fire hose failure is untracked and unreported. According to the reports from WPI, fire hose failure on the fire ground is far more common than anyone was aware of. Please contact WPI and ask to see the Data Base of Fire Hose Failure established at WPI, which has not yet been released to those who provided the content and who need the information most, The Fire Service.
You can help.
Please contact WPI and ask to see the Data Base of Fire Hose Failure established at WPI, which has not yet been released to those who provided the content and who need the information most, The Fire Service.
Kathy Ann Notarianni