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Corrective Actions In The Name Of Firefighter Safety

Once you are aware of, and have an understanding of the 16 firefighter life safety initiatives as presented by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; we will need to implement those initiatives into our daily operations whether on the scene of an emergency or back at the firehouse. That is-if we are to succeed in ensuring that everyone goes home ! No matter your longevity in the fire service, one year or forty years, I would bet my last toad on the stump that you have been involved in, witnessed, or performed an unsafe or dangerous act during a shift or on an event at an emergent scene, or perhaps while enroute to or from a scene in your POV, maybe it was in the apparatus. How many times have you arrived on scene to see one or more of your crew without proper PPE or maybe they were lollygagging around in circles as if they were at a family reunion? How many unstable improperly set ladders have you climbed or how many burning structures have you run into prior to the arrival of apparatus and other resources? Well, before I take my bag of toads and go home, would you agree that we seriously need to sit down and determine corrective actions that must be established within your department to prevent such nonsense from happening as frequently as it does? As a start, why not obtain a list of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives from The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation -everyonegoeshome.com- their online sight is loaded with information and training programs most of which are free to your department no matter where you are in the U.S. Perhaps before a corrective measure can be taken; your crews need to know what actions are permitted and which actions are not permitted. That should go without saying, but it doesn't. If your apparatus driver is screaming down a two lane winding road with a cell phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, he will be the first to tell you that there isn't an SOP or SOG about that if you attempt to reprimand or correct his action. This is what I call (intentional stupidity), nonetheless, he would be correct if you haven't established an SOP or SOG concerning such. Now while writing those SOP'S and SOG's- be sure that your legal obligations are in line with the order you are placing in writing. There is plenty of information available from Fire Engineering Training to help you with writing and establishing the rules you want to implement...and the legal ramifications if there are no established SOP's or SOG's can be costly ventures in this day and age. Now, does your department perform a critique session after each stucture fire, MVA, Haz Mat call ? Dive operations, wildfires, domestic violence situations ? What about civil unrest ? If not, your department is doing itself a great disservice and throwing valuable learning experiences out into the winds of poor leadership and inept management...or vice-versa. A critque at the end of each and every call, presents the unsafe practices you and others observed, as performed by your crew. The critique gives each individual member an understanding of situational awareness. Remember, it's the proverbial insignificant little things that are preventable attributes to serious injury and possibly death. It is essential that each and every member of your crew is empowered to report every unsafe or potential threat to safety. In the new culture of the fire service, a 360 degree sizeup includes the engagement of every available eyeball on scene observing, checking and rechecking. Are the engine wheels chocked ? Did you see an electric line arch and fall ? Was old Joe suddenly stopping to hold his chest or stooping over gasping for air ? Did you see anyone sitting down anywhere on scene besides at the rehab post ? Was your air cylinder full when you entered the burning stucture and (do you know how long you can go on a full cylinder of air ?) Do you have your radio strapped on? Yes, all the simple little things that we have been taught and have drilled on over and over are the exact and specific culprits that will injure or kill us if we become complacent, ignorant, and careless. Let's start correcting these actions right now if we know that they are happening each and every shift or on calls that we respond to as volunteers. If you have been doing those text messages on your blueberry thing while you drive an apparatus or any other vehicle, you are being intentionally stupid, dangerous and ignorant. Don't be that way-correct yourself !!!

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