Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Firefighter Silverado


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Alaska State Fire Fighters 
P.O. Box 226
Unalaska, Alaska 99685
Alaska State Fire Fighters Association News

News From Alyeska

For starters, the Snowtown F.O.O.L.S. hosted Chief Rick Lasky here in Valdez for two days of leadership training in August. Chief Lasky taught Five Alarm Leadership on day one and Pride and Ownership on day two. We ended up having roughly 50 attendees from 10 different fire departments around the state. It was great training for firefighters at all levels and the camaraderie that weekend was amazing. I think everyone left that weekend with a lot of ideas and energy to bring back to their departments.  Both the Alyeska and Port of Valdez chapters helped a lot with the organizing of this. We held a BBQ on Saturday night after the first day of training, where Chief Lasky and his wife stated how much they loved our area and were amazed by how much our families were involved in the fire service as well.



The Alyeska chapter has a new lineup of officers and are looking to get the chapter revived with some more community involvement, training  and fundraising.


The officers for the Alyeska chapter are:

Justin Major – President

Matt Smelcer – Vice President

Bryan Vincent – Secretary/Treasurer


The Alyeska chapter did participate in Fire Prevention Week in October on the Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal. During the week the fire team conducted fire extinguisher training, did a large wheels turning drill to the main office building and held a Touch-A-Truck event for employee’s children. We had over 20 kids and their parents come to the terminal to look at all of our apparatus. This was a big success and I’m sure that it will become an annual event.

Kelly Nicolello of the State Fire Marshall's Office


It is with a heavy heart but exciting future that I will be resigning as the State Fire Marshal effective 1 May 2015.  I have been offered an opportunity I cannot pass up. I will be relocating to the Dallas Fort Worth area and going to work for UL as a Senior Regulatory Engineer in their Fire Safety Division. Most importantly, I will be located where most of my kids and grand children live.  I will have the privilege to work with the fire service on a national basis and continue to participate in NFPA’s and ICC’s code development process. The cool thing is that even as I develop relationships in the southwest working for UL, I will be their representative to Alaska. I fully expect to be here for the Fire Chiefs Leadership Conference and the Fire and Building Officials Forum, possibly more.  I will miss the beauty of Alaska and the day to day relationships but the call of family is strong and continuous.


I leave the office with a great staff in place and support structure for whom ever replaces me. The realities of the budget will be a challenge but the opportunity to excel is greater.  Gary Folger, Commissioner of Public Safety will be entertaining resumes and letters of interest for the position.

ASFA Updates

Offices being vacated at the 2015 Fall Conference.  If you are interested in filling one of these positions, please contact Jennifer Stubblefield or Billie Jo Gerhing.

1st Vice President

2nd Vice President

Western Region

Interior Region

SC Kenai Region

Fire Prevention

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.


Commemorating a conflagration

According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O'Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you've heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O'Leary, for more than 130 years. But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.


The 'Moo' myth

Like any good story, the 'case of the cow' has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O'Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O'Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out - or that a jumpy cow sparked the blaze. Mrs. O'Leary herself swore that she'd been in bed early that night, and that the cows were also tucked in for the evening.


But if a cow wasn't to blame for the huge fire, what was? Over the years, journalists and historians have offered plenty of theories. Some blamed the blaze on a couple of neighborhood boys who were near the barn sneaking cigarettes. Others believed that a neighbor of the O'Leary's may have started the fire. Some people have speculated that a fiery meteorite may have fallen to earth on October 8, starting several fires that day - in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Chicago.


The biggest blaze that week

While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn't the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 1871, and roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.


Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area 'like a tornado,' some survivors said. It was the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin that suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed.


Nine decades of fire prevention

Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they'd been through; both blazes produced countless tales of bravery and heroism. But the fires also changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should henceforth be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.  The commemoration grew incrementally official over the years.


In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.


2014 Fire Prevention Week Theme:

2014 Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month - Training, Education and Hiring Website for Alaska, an organization dedicated to providing career and education information for the Fire Science community, recently launched a Alaska guide focused on providing career and education information. We provide a list of schools and programs from the U.S. federal government National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which contains a database of accredited Fire Science / Prevention / Safety Technology majors. We also have interviewed fire experts from various departments, and highlighted a few select schools. On the career side, we provide income tables in Alaska for Firefighters, Fire Inspectors / Investigators, and Fire Service Supervisors, talk about fire training, and also have a full section dedicated to Public Service Careers - see our top navigation.

Jim Pickett

NVFC Fire Prevention Award

Award sponsored by First Alert

For two decades, Jim Pickett has volunteered as a firefighter and fire prevention educator in Kodiak, AK, with a mission to make his community a better, safer place to live. Each year, he provides fire prevention presentations and station tours to over 500 children in local schools. In addition to building props and visuals for the presentations, Pickett raised funds to purchase a Sparky the Fire Dog® costume, 911 Simulator, and Hazard House to enhance the children’s program. He initiated a “Birthday Ride-Along with Sparky” to reward kids for fire-safe behavior. Pickett also established a smoke alarm installation program, receiving funding through the state to purchase and provide free smoke alarms to any members of the community who request one. He has installed as many as 900 alarms in one year.

Pickett’s safety and prevention outreach is not limited to fire: another key accomplishment in his service was implementing a citywide child injury prevention program, including car seat, bike, and pedestrian safety. Pickett secured children’s bike helmets, reflectors, and reflective zipper pulls for staying safe when walking or biking. He even keeps extra reflectors in his vehicle to give to children he sees by the road without one.

Pickett was named the Firefighter of the Year by the state of Alaska in 2011. He and his wife, Kiela, have two sons and four grandchildren, and have recently adopted one of their grandchildren. 

Jim Pickett

Email List for ASFA Members:

The ASFA has started a new Email List Service.  If you are interested in being added to the list please contact Robert Dennard to be added.  This will be a way for the membership to get information out to other members.  There will be some monitoring and you might have your posting privileges removed it there is spam or inappropriate emails distributed.  Thanks.

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