If you had the ability to make one and only one change that effects the safety of the members on your job, what would that one change be? There are often many things that effect our safety and it is often difficult to prioritize the issues. Additionally, many of us either feel we are not in a position to effect change. I believe we are all able to effect positive change, even as entry-level firefighters.
There are four areas that account for a majority of the line of duty deaths and injuries in the American fire service (below). I believe that we can all have a direct impact on each of these four areas. Make a daily choice to address these and other issues.
1) Accountability. It is not really about a system (passport, tags etc...) it should be more about maintaining three things: contact by touch, voice or sight. If any of these are lost, accountability is lost. The company officer is the vital link (as in almost every area) to good accountability. Company officers need to instill a respect for discipline (not punishment) on the fireground that eliminates freelancing and leads to close accountability.
2) Fitness, Rest and Rehab. I believe it is our duty and obligation to each other (brothers and sisters) to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of fitness and wellness. We are all we have when our best efforts and training are not enough to keep us out of harms way. In the end, we must be able to count on each other...... We must do a better job resting and rotating and "actively" rehabbing our members.
3) Wear your seat belts and protect your people on the road. Don't wait for the Emergency Traffic Control program to be "hammered-out".......we don't need an agreed upon formal program. Position that big red truck between your people and those that will hurt or kill them. We can work on specific blocking techniques and add cones and signs.........for now Block, Block, Block.
4) In order to make solid, reasoned risk benefit decisions, officers and firefighters need to arm themselves with an extensive knowledge base in building construction, fire behavior, reading smoke and other readily available training topics. It is clear that we are not doing a great job a recognizing rapidly changing fire conditions,,, spend more time on the basic building blocks that will provide the information necessary to make good, informed decisions on the fireground.
What are your thoughts? Tell me about the ONE thing on your job, that if you could or can make that change, would greatly impact the safety of your members.