CTIF´s dramatic year of 2022 in Review
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2022 has been a challenging year for the world and also for CTIF - with extreme weather, war in Ukraine and also many great highlights. Here is a review of some of the main events during the year as reported on CTIF.org.
CTIF entered the year of 2022 with a freshly renewed MOU with the International Association of Public Transport. The cooperation agreement between CTIF and UITP has been in place since April 2019.
It revolves primarily around bus safety, and in particular, the MOU serves to spread information and help implement the various aspects of IS0 17840, which is an international vehicle rescue safety standard developed by CTIF and adapted by the international ISO organization.
This article is the Review for the 1st Quarter January - March!
December of 2021 had already been plagued by extreme weather in many parts of the world. Right after New Years, the world was once again harshly reminded of the upcoming forest fire season as a devastating wildfire in Colorado struck during the first few days of January.
During the same first week of January, Alaska had a heat record and parts of California was covered in six feet of snow. This was the tail end of extreme weather affecting hundreds of thousands during December 2021.
On January 12, 2022, 19 people were killed by smoke inhalation in a high rise fire in the Bronx. Later that month, London high rise developers unveiled plans to build an apartment tower twice as high as Grenfell Tower, but with only one single staircase. The London Fire Brigade had serious concerns about the single staircase planned in the 170 meter residential high rise. Still to this day, many of buildings remain in the UK with flammable cladding materials which have been deemed unsafe and should be removed. This is something CTIF.org will be reporting more on throughout the year.
In CTIF, a major chapter page was turned when Mikko Saastamoinen, Finland, took over the CTIF Commission for Extrication and New Technology after 8 years of leadership by Tom Van Esbroeck, Belgium.
The Commission is one of CTIF´s most active and has produced many valuable and tangible results, including the first ISO Standard for Firefighters on vehicle response. The Commission deals with drones in the fire service, technological development, new challenges with extrication, especially on new types of propulsion, and takes a special interest in lithium batteries and other types of modern energy storage.
More extreme weather - storms, snowstorms and mudslides
In the beginning of February, extreme weather struck again, as powerful storms affected Europe and the Americas and Storm Malik killed at least 4 people. November and December of 2021 were already unusually stormy months in many parts of the world. The last week of January continued that trend.
In Ecuador, 24 people were killed by a mudslide, and in the eastern US, a difficult winter storm affected 10 states. The same weekend, in the state of Florida a somewhat "bizarre" weather warning was issued in the form of a caution against iguanas falling from trees due to cold temperatures.
Blizzard warnings were issued by authorities from the state of Virginia in the south to the state of Maine in the north. The city of Boston had a record snowfall of 60 centimeters (23,6 inches) in a single day. In the state of Massachusetts, the town of Sharon had even more snowfall , 76 centimeters in one single day. The town of Islip, State of New York, had 61 centimeters in one day. New York City received 19 centimeters of snow.
Large protests against Covid - 19 restrictions in many parts of the world
For CTIF´s new member country Canada, a dramatic period began in February as the capital of Ottawa declared a State of Emergency when a convoy of thousands of heavy trucks and tens of thousands of people blocked the downtown core for weeks, protesting Covid-19 measures in the country. Several bridges and border crossings across the country were also blocked. Several cities in Europe and in the US were able to intercept similar truck convoys in the following weeks.
After a winter unexpectedly plagued by yet another wave of Covid-19, many countries in Europe, and also the US, started to ease up restrictions by the end of February. Many countries, however, kept their Covid-19 protocols in place throughout the spring, despite rising anger amongst parts of the populations.
On february 11, two commuter trains collided south of Munich in Bavaria, Germany. One person died and several were injured. Only days later, an explosion and fire killed seven people in south-western France.
Canada invokes Emergency Act to forcibly remove protester sin nationwide truckers blockade
On Monday February the 14th, a National Emergency was declared in Canada over the - by now - nationwide illegal blockades by people protesting Covid-19 restrictions.
The Emergency Act was invoked after dozens of assault weapons and body armors were found at one of the many illegal border crossings blockades throughout Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever in the nations history.
In mid-February, a burning ship carrying lithium EV cars sank outside of the Azores Islands, Portugal. A large fire had broken out on the cargo ship Felicity Ace, which transported thousands of cars to the United States - including an unknown number of electric cars that are believed to have made the situation worse.
A sad day for Finnish firefighters - a wind driven fire in Essens - and more bad weather
On February 16, a rescue worker fell through the ice in Finland. it was the first deadly firefighter accident in the country in 18 years. According to an online article from Finish television station YLE, the accident occured on a ice road at sea, off Finland's western coast.
On February 21st, 150 firefighters responded to a large wind driven apartment building fire in Essen, Germany. CTIF member Susanne Klatt was among the first on the scene, on which she later lectured about the many lessons learned in regards to the fire development. Among other problems were the combustible materials in the balconies, which likely contributed to the rapid fire spread between apartments.
The same week, as February was nearing its end, the extreme weather of 2022 continued, as Franklin became the third hurricane in five days to hit Europe. While Storms Dudley and Eunice had barely subsided from last week, Storm Franklin hit Northern Europe with almost the same ferocity on Sunday and Monday. While Storm Eunice already killed 14 people, another 2 casualties could now be added.
In the end of February, the United Nations made a radical call for allocating more resources to preventing wildfires than extinguishing them, as their experts saw traditional firefighting methods becoming more and more futile as the climate keeps getting hotter. The UN report predicts 50 percent more extreme wildfires by the end of this century, and calls for a radical reallocation of financial resources from fighting fires to prevention.
The researchers behind the report say that it is not just the rising temperatures that are to blame for the changes in wildfire risk, but also the way humans use land resources.
The war in Ukraine brings major migrant movements throughout Europe and big changes for CTIF
On March 2, the CTIF published a statement regarding the decision to put Russia´s and Belarus´membership on hold, due to breaches of the Geneva Convention regarding violence against the civilian population, and in particular against first responders. This was a difficult decision for CTIF, who has many valued colleagues in Russia, and also a vice president from the Russian Emercom agency as a member in the Executive Committee. Russia was a founding member of CTIF in the year 1900, and Russia´s participation is currently on hold only, as their membership has not been terminated.
Two days after the publishing of the statement, the CTIF Executive Committee met with the European Commissioner for Disaster Management in Brussels.
Throughout the firefighting world in Europe, United States and Canada, massive efforts were soon initiated to send firefighting equipment and body armour to firefighting colleagues in the Ukraine.
By mid March, the CTIF was asked especially by the Ukraine government to coordinate help for firefighters in the war zone. This request resulted in "the largest convoy of fire fighters aid in history", where CTIF members and many others in several countries including the UK and Germany transported both fire trucks and many other types of equipment for donation to Poland.
Neighbouring CTIF country Poland continued to become the hub and coordination center for the greater part of these aid efforts, and over the following months, several million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war passed through Poland. Polish firefighters played a major role in receiving these refugees.