Category Archives: Professional Articles

Hope Floats – Man-made islands create ecosystems to heal polluted rivers

Here is a repost from our blog over at Patriot LWM:

A few years ago, Patriot Land and Wildlife was fortunate to be involved with an innovative water quailty improvement project in Washington, DC on the Anacostia River. Teamed with Bluewing Environmental Solutions and Technologies, Patriot LWM helped install several BioHaven Floating Treatment Wetlands at Diamond Teague Park in DC, with the intention of providing much-needed water quality improvement. These BioHaven islands are capable of removing as many nutrients from the waterbody as 6 acres of natural wetlands.

Diamond Teague is just across the street from the Washington Nationals baseball stadium and is a popular riverside destination for ballpark patrons, among others. The dual functionaility of water quality stewardship and ornamental landscaping allowed for a great project to occur, and lots of attention drawn to the problems suffered by our waterways.  Author Mike Cronin of “The Daily” spotlights the project.

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It turns out that recycled plastic may do more for the environment than just save it from unnecessary garbage. Man-made floating islands constructed from the stuff are helping to revive urban rivers devastated by centuries of industrial pollution.The Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., for example, has been slowly coming back to life, roughly two years after the Maryland-based company Blue Wing Environmental Solutions and Technology anchored seven man-made islands there in an area near Nationals Park, where the Washington Nationals play. Those islands are the brainchild of Bruce and Anne Kania, the married couple who run Floating Islands International in Shepherd, Mont.“We are providing an affordable, doable, non-chemical solution, and people are going, ‘Aha!’ ” said Anne, Floating Islands’ CEO.Bruce realized years ago that wetlands work naturally to clean up pollutants, so the Kanias started mimicking floating ecosystems with recycled fiber from plastic bottles.
Just days after the floating islands are placed in the water, a film of bacteria and other microbes forms on the mesh filters and other plastic parts of the fake landmasses, said Bruce, adding that the microbes eat nutrients and form biofilm in the process. Biofilm is the base of periphyton, which is in turn the base of the freshwater food chain. Everything from zooplankton to nymphs and minnows thrive off it.“They clean up the water and take nutrients that otherwise would have turned into algae and turn them into fish food,” said Bruce, who got the idea for the floating islands after observing the natural, peat-based floating islands of northern Wisconsin.“Three years ago, we could see only 14 inches into our 6.5-acre research pond,” he said. “Now, we can see 11 feet into it.”

The Kanias founded their company in 2005. Today they have seven manufacturers worldwide and 4,000 islands in use around the globe. Customers pay roughly $27 per square foot and may order any shape or size of floating island, which can be used in rivers, ponds, lakes and even the ocean.
Kevin Hedge, a wetland scientist and partner at Blue Wing, sees the synthetic islands as more than just a savior to an ailing environment.

“The floating islands are an ecological-restoration tool that also can be an economic-recovery tool,” he said.

Lanshing Hwang, the Maryland landscape architect who designed the island park in Washington, called it “an innovative approach — particularly for places that don’t have wetlands.

By Mike Cronin Saturday – May 21, 2011

New FD Article: PLAY LIKE YOU PRACTICE: Part 1 “Introduction to the concept”

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A concept which seems to be increasingly lost on today's fire service

 
I put up a new article for all you fire service jokers out there. Its called “Play like you Practice” (and yes I understand its backwards) so check it out to find out what I’m talking about.
 
And because I’m too stupid to figure out how to not display the entire blog entry on the home page, you can find the full article at the following links:
 
Article:
 

The Art Of Seeing – Making The Most Of Your Public Service Calls

As posted on the Traditions Training Bl0g:

With the ever changing dynamics of the fire service, firefighter’s daily functions are as vast and wide ranging as the great country in which their respective departments lie. With such duties ranging from emergency medical care and patient assists to leaking ceilings and faulty electrical outlets, firefighter’s have become the nations “jack-of-all-trades”. As responsibilities increase and time for focused fire related training shrinks, it is as important as ever to use your time wisely. With a little imagination, we can turn even the most benign public service call into a learning situation…

A "BS" run here may lead to questions such as: what length attack line?  How would we place ladders to the porch?  Apparatus Positions?  Basement access?  Utility cut-offs?
A “BS” run here may lead to questions such as: what length attack line?  How would we place ladders to the porch?  Apparatus Positions?  Basement access?  Utility cut-offs?
 
Making the most out of each response often involves little more than opening up your eyes to your surroundings. Calls that gain firefighter’s access to homes and buildings are an excellent opportunity to check out construction features and hazards that may come in handy should a fire occur. Often, homes within the same residential neighborhoods will have very similar layouts and construction types. A home you ran for a public service call last tour could be very similar to the working fire you’re now faced with 2 doors down.

Here are just a few considerations to look for that may help should a fire occur:

  • Do these homes have a basement?
  • What kind of entrance does it have?
  • Where are the interior stairs located?
  • Does the front door open in to block the interior stairs?
  • Where are the bedrooms located? Do they have windows and how many?
  • Does the pipe chase connect to the exposure home or apartment?
  • How does the layout of this home compare to its attached neighbor?
  • Where are the utility controls located?
  • Is the occupant you are currently helping able to escape a possible fire on their own?

The above list is just a small fraction of the many things firefighters should be constantly vigilant for in an effort to prepare for that next job. Involve all members of the company through simple interactions such as “do you know why the pipe chase is located here?” or “how many windows have we passed since we came in?”. Before long members will be asking questions of their own!

0218100915aYour size-up at non-fire incidents may provide indispensable knowledge at the fire later on…

The window in the picture to the right was located during a run for DCFD Truck 17 to assist a citizen back into bed. The occupant had covered the window with carpet and left a small opening at its base, which was lined with nails to discourage break-ins. This poses an obvious safety issue for the outside vent man as well as criminals. High crime areas often require low income residents to fashion a wide variety of makeshift safety features for their home. These “adaptations” can vary widely from home to home, let alone jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but are not limited to high crime areas.

The senior man right down to the newest probationer has a responsibility to himself as well as their crew to observe and question the area around them. Be prepared on every run to ask the “What if it was on fire?” question and make the most out of your time out in the field. With a little practice you and your crew can perfect “The Art of Seeing”.