One of the newest members of the FireEMSBlogs family is the specialty blog Green Maltese. This very interesting website is published by Lt. John Shafer, Training Officer for the Greencastle, Indiana, Fire Department. John is also the Indiana Homeland Security District 7 Fire Training Coordinator, and in this capacity coordinates and facilitates firefighter training courses for firefighters through much of the State. Laurence interviewed Lt. Shafer and he tells us a little about his unique and interesting blog.
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Fireball Laurence Delorme: Why the name Green Maltese for your website?
John Shafer: I had started a Facebook page called Green Building Construction for the Fire Service, which is still up, by the way (please "LIKE" it, LOL). I was at FDIC 2011 and was given a wonderful opportunity by Christopher Hebert of Go>Forward Media to start a blog about Green Building Construction, but needed to come up with a name. So I thought it over for a day or two and came up with Green Maltese, since I was going to be covering Green Buildings for Fire Service and every firefighter wears a Maltese Cross on their uniforms. I had a Maltese Cross that was green with the recycle symbol made as the image for the site.
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LD: Why did you create such website? Would you say that there are more and more green building constructions in the USA?
JS: As I mentioned earlier, I had a Facebook page that I started to share information on as I did my research. What started my whole interest and research in Green Buildings was when I came across an article about Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) and I had never even heard of or seen one before. And I was the one teaching most all the building construction in my state’s homeland security district and considered myself fresh on the topic of building construction. So that was close to 7 or 8 years ago and that's what sparked me to began my research. I was quickly overwhelmed with a whole new world of buildings and green concepts that I had no clue of! I then became very studious of green buildings through internet searches. While doing many internet searches I realized at that time there was no place for firefighters to go to for the latest information on modern green buildings. I also realized that there wasn’t anyone in the mainstream fire media or conferences that were talking about it. So I set out to hopefully fill the void, although it took me several years to get to where I am now. And now there are several people and places that help firefighters become better informed on this subject.
Henrico County "Green" Station 7
DCH Architects design
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LD: What are the advantages of such a website for your readers?
JS: Well I hope the advantage will be that firefighters and instructors can have a place to go to for the latest information on green buildings and green concepts from a firefighter point of view. Another part of the website that I added that wasn’t part of the original plan was the Submit a Green Firehouse page. In my research I soon realized that many cities were building new green fire stations and I wanted a place where fire service leaders could come to and see what really worked in other cities that had built green stations. However this area hasn’t seen the submission i was hoping for. So if you know anyone that has a green station, please have them submit it so that others can learn from your projects instead of from slick salespeople.
Lt. John Shafer
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LD: According to you, in the green building constructions, which components/parts are the most dangerous for firefighters? Solar panels…..
JS: Most dangerous? Well I will not say there is one hazard more dangerous than another simply because there are many potential hazards and each one is a serious issue. Now as far as solar panels that is probably one area in the green movement that has the most written about it but there are many dangers and that is what I try and point out. There are also many newer construction types that we really don’t have much data on as far as fires in them. But I feel construction in SIP and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) also have potential hazards as they make the building much more airtight.
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LD: Could you give some tips to firefighters who have to fight fires inside a green building construction?
JS: Most firefighters will probably not be aware that they are fighting a fire in a green building or newer building with green concepts unless they have preplanned the building ahead of time. So my word of advice would be to make sure you do a walkthrough of all the new buildings being constructed in your response area as they are being built. Otherwise you will not notice new green methods or materials being used. Once the building is finished and occupied it will look the same as any other building, although it will not likely behave the same way once on fire. Since the biggest push in green construction is energy efficiency. Firefighters need to keep in mind that if a building was built to be extremely airtight to keep heat and air in to save on energy bills, guess what? It is also going to keep all the heat and smoke inside while on fire. Making for extreme fire behavior conditions for us firefighters.
LD: Thank you, John.
Cincinnati "Green" Fire Station 51
(College Hill eNewsletter)
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