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New topical fire report: Fire Risk in 2011

April 27, 2015 Comments off

New topical fire report: Fire Risk in 2011 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

The risk from fire is not the same for everyone. In 2011, 3,415 deaths and 17,500 injuries in the U.S. were caused by fires. These casualties were not equally distributed across the U.S. population and the resulting risk of death or injury from fire was more severe for some groups. This topical fire report explores why different segments of society are at a greater risk from fire.

Fire and Emergency Services — National Safety Culture Change Initiative

April 10, 2015 Comments off

National Safety Culture Change Initiative (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

The “National Safety Culture Change Initiative” report:

  • Provides a basic understanding of the fire and emergency service culture.
  • Identifies individual and organizational behaviors that positively and negatively impact health and safety.
  • Highlights focus areas for change by raising awareness about unsafe practices.

CRS — Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2015 Action in the 114th Congress (March 16, 2015)

March 31, 2015 Comments off

Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2015 Action in the 114th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides a brief outline of the FY2015 annual appropriations measure for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its enactment by the 114th Congress. It serves as a complement to CRS Report R43796, Department of Homeland Security: FY2015 Appropriations.

DHS OIG Finds Notorious Felon Allowed to Use TSA PreCheck® Lanes

March 20, 2015 Comments off

DHS OIG Finds Notorious Felon Allowed to Use TSA PreCheck® Lanes (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

A recent report by the DHS Inspector General determined that a convicted felon who had been involved in numerous felonious criminal activities and was also a former member of a domestic terrorist group was permitted to travel with expedited screening through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck®. The report, OIG-15-45 “Allegation of Granting Expedited Screening Through TSA PreCheck® Improperly,” stemmed from a whistleblower disclosure which alleged that a notorious felon was improperly cleared for TSA PreCheck® screening and was allowed to use the PreCheck® lanes.

After an extensive investigation of the allegation and assessment of the TSA PreCheck® initiative, we determined that TSA provided a TSA PreCheck® indicator and barcode on the traveler’s boarding pass. After checking the traveler’s boarding pass and identification, an alert Transportation Security Officer (TSO) at the airport recognized the felon and alerted his supervisor. However, the supervisor directed the TSO to take no action and allow the traveler to continue through the TSA PreCheck® lane.

We determined that this traveler had not applied for TSA PreCheck® through the TSA PreCheck® Application Program, but that TSA granted TSA PreCheck® screening to this passenger through the risk assessment rules in the Secure Flight program.

+ Full Report (Redacted) (PDF)

DHS OIG — U.S. Customs and Border Protection Did Not Effectively Target and Examine Rail Shipments From Canada and Mexico

March 16, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Did Not Effectively Target and Examine Rail Shipments From Canada and Mexico (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

Why We Did This
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the frontline border security agency within Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged with the priority mission of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, as well as facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. We conducted this audit to determine whether CBP effectively targets and examines high-risk rail shipments from Mexico and Canada.

What We Found
CBP did not effectively target and examine rail shipments entering the United States from Mexico and Canada. Specifically, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPO) did not always target shipments using the mandatory Automated Targeting System (ATS) targeting criteria. CBPOs also did not always use the required radiation detection equipment to examine high-risk shipments. Finally, CBPOs did not always record the results of their rail cargo examinations in the Cargo Enforcement Reporting and Tracking System (CERTS).

CBPOs were unaware of the correct targeting criteria or inadvertently used inappropriate criteria. In addition, one port did not have the required radiation detection equipment for its rail team, and CBPOs at two other ports used Personal Radiation Detectors to examine shipments. Rail CBPOs also received insufficient training on the use of ATS and CERTS. Finally, Supervisory CBPOs did not provide sufficient oversight to ensure CBPOs followed CBP policy. As a result, CBP may have failed to target or properly examine rail shipments that were at an increased risk to contain contraband or dangerous materials. In addition, CBP has no assurance that decisions to release these high-risk shipments into U.S. commerce were appropriate.

What We Recommend
We made six recommendations which, when implemented, should improve CBP’s processing of rail cargo from Mexico and Canada.

One- and Two-Family, Multifamily Residential Building Fires (2010-2012)

March 7, 2015 Comments off

One- and Two-Family, Multifamily Residential Building Fires (2010-2012)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

One- and Two-Family Residential Building Fires (PDF)

  • An estimated 239,100 one- and two-family residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 1,950 deaths, 8,575 injuries, and 5.4 billion dollars in property loss.
  • One- and two-family residential building fires accounted for 65 percent of all residential building fires.
  • Cooking, at 34 percent, was the leading reported cause of one- and two-family residential building fires reported to the fire service. Nearly all one- and two-family residential building cooking fires were small, confined fires (89 percent).
  • In 52 percent of nonconfined one- and two-family residential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of fire origin. The leading reported causes of these larger fires were other unintentional, careless actions (16 percent); electrical malfunctions (15 percent); and intentional actions (12 percent).
  • Smoke alarms were not present in 23 percent of nonconfined fires in occupied one- and two-family residential buildings. This is a high percentage when compared to the 3 percent of households nationally lacking smoke alarms.

Multifamily Residential Building Fires (PDF)

  • An estimated 103,800 multifamily residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 405 deaths, 4,350 injuries, and 1.2 billion dollars in property loss.
  • Multifamily residential building fires accounted for 28 percent of all residential building fires.
  • Small, confined fires accounted for 70 percent of multifamily residential building fires.
  • Cooking was the leading reported cause of multifamily residential building fires (71 percent); nearly all multifamily residential building cooking fires were small, confined fires (95 percent).
  • In 31 percent of nonconfined multifamily residential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of origin. The leading reported causes of these larger fires were exposures (12 percent); intentional actions (11 percent); other unintentional, careless actions (11 percent); and electrical malfunctions (11 percent). In contrast, 51 percent of all other nonconfined residential building (excluding multifamily building) fires extended beyond the room of origin.

Residential building fire fatalities and fire injuries (2010–2012)

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Residential building fire fatalities and fire injuries (2010–2012)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Residential fires are of great national importance, as they account for the vast majority of civilian casualties. National estimates for 2010-2012 show that 82 percent of all fire deaths and 78 percent of all fire injuries occurred in residential buildings.

+ Civilian Fire Fatalities in Residential Buildings (2010-2012) (PDF)
+ Civilian Fire Injuries in Residential Buildings (PDF)

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