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From time to time I get asked if I ever worry about inuring my hand or eyes fighting fires. My answer is always a swift and confident "no"! My explanation sometimes leaves people puzzled, but I try and explain that if I think about injury, injury will most certainly happen. It's much like an athlete who throws their body into stressful situations with little regard for harm. Quite simply, if they think too much about injury they will be apprehensive, guarded, and tense - a recipe for injury!

In comparison, has the fire service become so risk-averse that we are actually getting firefighters hurt? The pendulum of any action has a tendency to swing too far from the intended mark of perfection to cautious apprehension. What's more, so much effort and training is focus on safety, RIT, and self-rescue that I fear we've neglected the basics of our craft. There is NO substitute for knowing fire behavior, building construction, and hydraulics. Train on how to put the fire out correctly and safety will follow.

Do not misinterpret this post as a recommendation to practice unsafe behaviors, or neglecting the disciplines of RIT or self-survival techniques, but take it as a warning that any good intention can create a dangerous environment. Firefighting is inherently dangerous work where firefighters will always be injured and, yes, killed - no matter how safe we try to make it. But like the athlete, if we become too guarded about our actions we may cause more harm than good.

We can not fight fires and save lives cocooned in bubble wrap!

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Comment by Linda Blaisdell on July 26, 2012 at 1:38pm
Paul, you did it again... I LOVE reading these from you. Thank You for doing what you do.
Comment by William L.Tanks on July 24, 2012 at 6:15pm

Training is the safest thing we can do!  I still believe that Ray McCormack is a fire service prophet. If we continue to preach safety louder than we preach competence and excellence, over time the real message becomes fear  Fear will paralyze any forward progression. If we really want to reduce LODDs---fitness, health, and knowing when it is time to retire will get the number below 83. Safety is an attitude that empowers you to act wisely when you work in a dangerous environment. Knowing your trade, a cultural of extinguishment, and training is promoting safety based upon knowledge. Safety based upon fear can be dangerous! Great post Paul!

Comment by Nick Morgan on July 24, 2012 at 2:07pm

Excellent post Paul!!  It's so hard to keep the pendulum from swinging to the opposite extreme.  On the fireground, there's many things we can't control.  But by using proper strategy and tactics, we ccontrol everything we can!

Comment by Jason McMillan on July 24, 2012 at 9:21am

I believe in safe practices. But sometimes we act too safe to be effective.

Comment by Christopher Huston on July 24, 2012 at 8:57am

Knowledge, Training, Practice, Supervision and Managment = "The Bubble Wrap"

Comment by Mike France on July 23, 2012 at 1:03pm

Have you been talking to jeff Schwering about me, god this is so me

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