AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: New NFPA Standards Enhance Firefighter Safety

Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 11, 2021: Another Vale SA tailings dam is at imminent risk of failure from liquefaction; 800,000 customers lost power after a sub-station fire in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Lake Mead water levels are expected to reach record lows; key findings and future actions for 911 operations are detailed in a new report on the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville; new standards to help ensure firefighter safety are now in effect for portable communications for firefighters; endangered salmon are assisted amid escalating drought conditions in California; a webinar in June will cover the use and benefits of UAS during Traffic Incident Management (TIM); and the DOJ reportedly seized cryptocurrency from the group Darkside in conjunction with the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

1. The decommissioned Xingu Dam, a Vale SA tailings dam, is reportedly at imminent risk of failure in Brazil — very near to the site of the 2015 dam disaster. According to government inspectors, the dam is located in Mariana and the threat comes from likely liquefaction of the dam structure. Train traffic was halted across the dam, and the area around the dam was evacuated in an effort to prevent loss of life. Vale SA allegedly disagrees with the findings and noted that it is in communication with the government to rapidly reopen nearby operations.

2. A fire at an electrical sub-station in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cut power to nearly 800,000 customers on Thursday. This month, Luma Energy took over operation and maintenance of the electrical grid system, and firm officials noted that the fire broke out just after it was hit by a cyberattack known as a denial of service. Authorities are unsure if the fire at the Monacillo sub-station is related to the cyberattack, which affected both its main network and mobile app.

3. Lake Mead is the latest water supply to fall victim to the ongoing extreme drought conditions in the West. The water level in the lake matched a 2016 record low of 1,071.56 feet on Wednesday. Officials believe water levels in the lake will continue to show an overall decline until November, when agricultural needs decrease.

4. The Christmas Day bombing of an AT&T regional data center in downtown Nashville disrupted 911 operations throughout Tennessee. The outage lasted for four days, and updates and notifications were not received by some 911 centers for six days because of damage to AT&T’s Everbridge alerting system during the bombing. A new report is now available that details key findings, along with future actions to ensure 911 network reliability and backup power capabilities.

5. New standards for firefighter portable communications are now established with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The catalyst for the change occurred in 2011 when two firefighters died after becoming trapped and were unable to issue a Mayday call due to failed radios from excessive heat exposure. Development of the new NFPA 1802 Standard — first initiated in 2013 and finalized this year — defines parameters of extremely rugged communication devices that must withstand extreme fire temperatures along with water dousing.

6. The majority of California remains under drought conditions, with several counties moving up into the extreme drought (D3) or exceptional drought (D4) category. Counties now under exceptional drought conditions (D4) include Sierra, Kern, and Contra Costa, along with parts of San Francisco and Alameda counties. Drought conditions impact endangered baby Chinook salmon and their ability to make the miles-long river journey to the sea because rivers are already too low and too hot. To help out, 17 million salmon are getting tanker rides to the sea to be sure they survive.

7. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are becoming important tools for first responders, including those who respond to traffic incidents. A Talking Traffic Incident Management (TIM) webinar will be hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence and other agencies. It will cover UAS usage during Traffic Incident Management and is scheduled for June 23. The webinar will address the benefits of adding UAS to responding agencies, including less time on scene, accelerated crash investigations and increased situational awareness.

8. According to reports, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has seized $2.3 million in cryptocurrency from ransomware attacks. The funds were seized from an organization known as Darkside, the group allegedly behind the ransomware cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline. The hack resulted in a disruption of critical infrastructure, and the company paid the ransom demand to help restore its systems.


Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

Comments are closed.