From the Editor - Spring 2010
I recently spoke with a chief from a rural volunteer fire department. He told me about the recent death of one of his men. As I listened, my mind remembered other deaths from other departments when the chief asked, “Are you going to write about it?” I thought he was asking if I was going to put something in The Journal about his department’s loss, but soon realized that was not his question. He wanted to know if I was going to write about what we can do to stop these deaths. He wanted an answer, and he wanted a solution.
A study was published in March by researchers at RTI International. A group of men and women evaluated “whether the recommendations by the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) were being implemented by fire departments.
“We learned that most fire departments are aware of the FFFIPP and follow its recommendations...the greatest shortfalls exist in small and volunteer fire departments where resources limit the ability to purchase needed equipment and prepare firefighters to carry out their duties safely,” says Kristina Peterson, Ph.D., a senior survey manager at RTI and the paper’s lead author.
It’s been reported that 100 firefighters in the US die in the line of duty each year and another 95,000 are injured.
About one-third of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur on the fireground
Another one-third of on-duty deaths occur en route to or from an incident in motor vehicle and other accidents
Ten percent of firefighter fatalities take place during training
Other deaths occur while performing nonemergency on-duty activities and at non-fire emergencies
More than one-half of all on-duty firefighter fatalities are from traumatic injuries
About 45 percent of firefighter fatalities are due to cardiovascular causes
There are approximately 30,400 fire departments in the US of which 76.2 percent are all volunteer.
Volunteer departments need funding help so they can have the equipment they need to keep firefighters safe. It seems they often wait until something horrible happens that makes the news (and then everyone rushes to provide what was needed all along).
The RTI paper has recommendations that have been pinpointed through its research that include Incident Command, motor vehicle safety, equipment, radio communication, safety on the fireground and fitness and wellness. Many of these do not involve a cost, others do.
Visit www.rti.org/pubs/rr-0008-1003-peterson.pdf to download those recommendations. It’s a good start in making your department safe and keeping your staff healthy.
This issue of The Journal also has many training articles you can use for your department. Our writers are in the field, using what they teach in these pages. David Pease shares his picks concerning water rescue products and David Hesselmeyer reviews helmets.
Please enjoy and send me your thoughts and comments to [email protected]. Visit our Web site to give your feedback and questions to our writers.
Please stay safe.
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