Kathy Crosby-Bell and a group of close friends and family founded Last Call Foundation in honor of her son fallen Firefighter Michael Kennedy. The Last Call Foundation was launched September 26, 2014 six 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.
It quickly 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. The circumstances of that fire are analogous to the "perfect Storm." Hot works at the rear of the building ignited a fire. High winds fanned the flames and drove the fire unseen into the building, grates on the basement windows at the front of the building prevented rescue attempts...
Last Call Foundation provided the funding for a joint effort by an independent outside fire engineering company, Fire & Risk Alliance 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, following UL approval it was referred to in an updated NFPA 1961 Standard to be published in 2019. What this mean to you, if it was tested it is eligible to be stamped NFPA compliant, there is no pass fail. Why? Well because the Manufactures representatives on the NFPA 1961 Technical Committee absolutely refused to allow the NFPA to define fire hose failure.
FIRE SERVICE - PLEASE BE AWARE there is no requirement for the manufacturer to disclose test results to buyers. YOU MUST ASK for TEST RESULTS.
The new predictive fire hose thermal test standard is a timed test, with direct flame impingement, either to the point at which significant water pressure (agreed upon by fire fighters on the committee) has dropped, or the hose failed catastrophically resulting in total water loss. PLEASE for the safety of your firefighters REQUIRE complete TIMED TEST DISCLOSURE - prior to purchase.This will at least allow the fire service to understand 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 existing thermally resistant 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.
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 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 An obvious preventive measure to mitigate unnecessary exposure to carcinogens collected during fire operations is simple - 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.
UPDATE the State Fire Marshall is now administering a grant program offering $ 5,000 toward the purchase of an extractor.
Please - BUY EXTRACTORS DESIGNED FOR THE FIRE SERVICE, not industrial washing machines.
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 was to 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 firefighters, Michael Kennedy and fir Lt. Ed Walsh 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 believing that in the future if a person dies as a result of unpermitted hot works by an untrained welder... 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.
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 recent 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 water was flowing. It was also uncovered that fire hose failure is untracked and unreported.
According to 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 been released as promised to those who provided the content, and 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