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Heating fires in residential buildings (2010–2012)

February 20, 2015 Comments off

Heating fires in residential buildings (2010–2012) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, heating was the leading reported cause of residential building fires. Since then, the overall number of heating fires has substantially decreased, but heating remained the second reported leading cause from 2010-2012 and accounted for 12 percent of all home fires responded to by fire departments.

Report findings

  • An estimated 45,200 heating fires in residential buildings were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 155 deaths, 625 injuries and $351 million in property loss.
  • Residential building heating fires peaked in the early evening hours from 5 to 9 p.m., with the highest peak from 6 to 8 p.m. This four-hour period accounted for 30 percent of all residential building heating fires.
  • Residential building heating fire incidence peaked in January at 21 percent and declined to the lowest point during the months of June to August. Confined fuel burner/boiler malfunction fires accounted for 56 percent of the heating fires that occurred during these three warmer months.
  • Confined fires, those fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners, accounted for 84 percent of residential building heating fires.
  • The heat source was too close to combustibles in 29 percent of the nonconfined residential building heating fires.

DHS OIG — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Alternatives to Detention (Revised)

February 18, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Alternatives to Detention (Revised) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

Why We Did This
ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program offers alternatives to detention. We reviewed whether: (1) the rate at which individuals in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program have absconded or committed criminal acts has been reduced since 2009; (2) ICE can improve the effectiveness of its alternatives to detention program, either by revising or expanding its Intensive Supervision Appearance Program contract, or through other cost-effective means; and (3) ICE’s Risk Classification Assessment is effective.

What We Found
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program is effective because, using its performance metrics, few program participants abscond. However, ICE has changed how it uses the program and no longer supervises some participants throughout their immigration proceedings. As a result, ICE cannot definitively determine whether the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program has reduced the rate at which aliens, who were once in the program but who are no longer participating, have absconded or been arrested for criminal acts. ICE should adjust its performance metrics to reflect changes in its criteria for program participation.

ICE instructed field offices to consider redetaining noncompliant Intensive Supervision Appearance Program participants, but most field offices do not have sufficient funding for detention bed space to accommodate all noncompliant participants. ICE could improve the effectiveness of the program by allocating some Intensive Supervision Appearance Program contract funds to redetain noncompliant participants.

ICE developed a Risk Classification Assessment to assist its release and custody classification decisions. However, the tool is time consuming, resource intensive, and not effective in determining which aliens to release or under what conditions.

IRS and US-CERT Caution Users: Prepare for Heightened Phishing Risk This Tax Season

February 4, 2015 Comments off

IRS and US-CERT Caution Users: Prepare for Heightened Phishing Risk This Tax Season
Source: US-CERT

Throughout the year, scam artists pose as legitimate entities—such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other government agencies, and financial institutions—in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. They employ sophisticated phishing campaigns to lure users to malicious sites or entice them to activate malware in infected email attachments. To protect sensitive data, credentials, and payment information, US-CERT and the IRS recommend taxpayers prepare for heightened risk this tax season and remain vigilant year-round.

TSA 2014 Year in Review

January 23, 2015 Comments off

TSA 2014 Year in Review
Source: Transportation Security Administration (DHS)

Every day, transportation security officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the United States with a single goal in mind – ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public.

We want to share with you examples of the continued vigilance of TSA officers in protecting our nation’s transportation systems, including some of the most unusual items discovered at checkpoints.

TSA had a busy year in 2014, screening more than 653 million passengers in 2014 (about 1.8 million per day), which is 14.8 million more passengers than last year.

2,212 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging more than six firearms per day. Of those, 2,212 (83 percent) were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 224 airports; 19 more airports than last year.

There was a 22 percent increase in firearm discoveries from last year’s total of 1,813.

Final Coburn Oversight Report Finds Major Problems in DHS

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Final Coburn Oversight Report Finds Major Problems in DHS
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs

On his final day serving in the U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Coburn released an oversight report, A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance, which finds the Department of Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions.

“Ten years of oversight of the Department of Homeland Security finds that the Department still has a lot of work to do to strengthen our nation’s security,” Dr. Coburn explained. “Congress needs to review the Department’s mission and programs and refocus DHS on national priorities where DHS has a lead responsibility.”

The following are some of the report’s key findings:

  • The Department of Homeland Security spent $50 billion over the past eleven years on counterterrorism programs, including homeland security grants and other anti-terror initiatives, but the department cannot demonstrate if the nation is more secure as a result.
  • As of 2014, 700 miles of the Southern border remain unsecured.
  • DHS is not effectively administering or enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, and only 3 in 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation.
  • DHS spends more than $700 million annually to lead the federal government’s efforts on cybersecurity, but struggles to protect itself and cannot protect federal and civilian networks from the most serious cyber attacks.
  • DHS has spent $170 billion for natural disasters since 2002, in part because of an increased federal role in which the costs of small storms are declared “major disasters.”

Despite these findings, Senator Coburn expressed optimism about the Department’s future if Congress acts soon to address the problems identified in this report. “I am confident that Secretary Jeh Johnson is leading the Department in the right direction,” Senator Coburn commented. “One of the biggest challenges that Sec. Johnson and DHS face is Congress and its dysfunctional approach to setting priorities for the Department. Congress needs to work with the Department to refocus its missions on national priorities and give Secretary Johnson the authority to lead and fix the Department.”

Firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2013 (November 2014)

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2013 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 77 firefighters.
  • Fifty-five firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
  • Fourteen firefighters died while responding to or returning from 14 emergency incidents.
  • Nine firefighters died as the result of vehicle crashes.
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death with 36 firefighter deaths.
  • Seven firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations

January 6, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
From press release (PDF):

After spending eight years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has yet to prove the value of its Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) program while drastically understating the costs, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG). Based on its findings, OIG recommends that CBP abandon plans to spend $443 million more on additional aircraft and put those funds to better use.

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