Here we sit in 2012 and there is still a need to address. discuss or simply admonish the lack of turnout gear on incidents. We are still seeing chiefs or incident commanders of some sort running into buildings and homes or walking about a mvc with the sole protection of their hand held radios. Then we see firefighters jumping off the rigs wearing a leather helmet and tennis shoes or a ball cap and turnout pants. It makes for a fine commercial for that particular brand of shoes or hat, but not much else. It isn't bad enough that we consistently lost 100 firefighters from 1999-2008. And it isn't good enough that we fell under 100 for the past three years. What is good enough is that we are showing that through good training; good, strong practices and guidelines regarding personal protective equipment; good exercise and healthier living, we are working to get these numbers even lower. Or are we ? Are we at risk for falling back ? Are we feeling invincible again? Are we becoming complacent ? Do we think there has been enough work done as it's related to firefighter safety? There is still a lot of work to be done. A LOT of work to be done ! I could write on how safe it is to have turnout gear on for all responses. And I could write on how safe it is to wear your ANSI approved, hi-visibility and reflective safety vest at mvc's. I could write about the many injuries because of the lack of wearing turnout gear and scba. I could also write about the hazard of wearing your protective and hi-visibility, ANSI vests around fires, especially the structural ones. I'm not though. Most of that is already written. It is already been looked at time and time again. It is been studied. And we have been warned countless times. How can we be effective leaders and managers on the fireground and not be properly turned out ourselves? What more do we need to say about it ? I type this out as a firefighter who believes that we can reduce even further the number of line of duty deaths and injuries by doing smart things, such as the ones outlined above. Now, for something else to think about, I will now write this as a taxpayer or perhaps a city manager or council member who signs budget checks for us. If is see my fire department running and showing up to calls without using full turnout gear at incidents, sooner or later I'm going to prove it that the department no longer needs it, because they're not wearing it. Each year, our budget gets smaller and we trim what we can to make it work. We cut out the fuel costs to go to parades. We cut out buying tee-shirts for our members. We cut out the annual dinner for our members and families. We cut out the cable tv costs and strongly encourage our department members to shut off lights as they leave the firehouse. Each year, for the volunteer departments, we ask the community for money to support us and our equipment. One of these days, a savvy citizen is going to retort, " Why?" "I've never seen you wear it!" You have come to realize just as I have, we cannot cut much more from our budgets. Don't give them any reason to cut more. More importantly, prove to the ones who sign our checks that we need this gear and we wear this gear because OUR lives and theirs depend on it. Make it safe and keep it safe, for all of us !!!
With great rspect,