July 30, 2009
IAFF–Metro Fire Chiefs Joint Statement
Despite Financial Crisis, Safety of Fire Fighters and the Public Must Remain Top Priority
Washington, DC –
The International Association of Fire Fighters and the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs
Association today issued a joint statement regarding the safety of fire fighters, paramedics and the public
during the ongoing economic crisis.
The statement acknowledges the severe economic crisis facing many municipalities, but calls on
jurisdictions to consider safety first when making budgetary decisions concerning their fire departments.
“Too many times, tough decisions about fire department resources are being made without consideration
for the safety and well-being of our members or the public, and this must be pointed out and challenged,”
said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “We hope this message reaches the entire fire service
and goes up the chain of command to decision-makers in every jurisdiction because this is truly a life
safety issue during this economic crisis.”
“During economic times like these, requests for response to all types of emergencies increase, so a
decrease in staffing while that call volume increases has a compounding negative effect on the safety of
fire fighters and the public at large,” said Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association President and Miami,
Florida Fire Chief Shorty Bryson.
The joint statement reads in part:
“We acknowledge the current economic reality. The value of the assets used to generate local government
revenue has plummeted. Local governments across North America are contemplating or proposing
decreases in size and/or reductions in the span and depth of their services. The fire service is often caught
up in that contraction. We must weather this storm by having a realistic strategy grounded in the safety
and security of fire fighters, paramedics and the public at large.
“We must keep all-hazard emergency response personnel as safe as possible. A fire company should be
able to function as an independent unit at the scene of a fire in order to permit the Incident Commander to
employ the proper tactics and strategies to safeguard the occupants of the building, as well as the
operating force, and to protect the property of the public. Whenever understaffing necessitates the
combination of two companies to accomplish a specific task at the scene of a fire -- which normally could
be completed by one effective unit -- the standard operating procedures are dramatically and adversely
“Adequate staffing is imperative at the individual fire company level. In order to permit the effective
operation of fire companies at the scene of a structure fire, the minimum number of personnel on both
engine and ladder companies must be four members per unit for low hazard environments and five or six
members per unit for medium and high hazard (high risk) environments.
“All resource decisions must be viewed in light of these fundamental requirements. Accordingly, if a
decision is made to reduce departmental resources, it must never be accomplished by reducing company
crew size on apparatus."
The full statement can be viewed at www.iaff.org/09News/PDFs/JointStatement.pdf
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the leading advocate in North
America for the safety and training of fire fighters and paramedics. The IAFF represents more than 295,000 fulltime
professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect communities in every state in the United States and
throughout Canada. More information is available at www.iaff.org
The Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association is a section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), based in
Vienna, VA, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), based in Quincy, MA. Metro Chiefs brings
together fire chiefs from large metropolitan fire departments to share information and focus on major issues
effecting policy changes in the U.S. and abroad. Its members belong to the IAFC and NFPA and are the fire chiefs
of jurisdictions with minimum staffing of 400 fully paid career firefighters. More information is available at