Be Safe!

Safety Week 2009

June 14-20, 2009 is Fire & EMS Safety, Health, and Survival Week. CFBT-US urges you to take this week to examine your own habits and behaviors and common practices in your fire service organization with a critical eye and identify ways in which you can reduce your risk and improve the effectiveness of fireground operations.


IAFC Recommendations

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has published a list of recommendations to encourage individual and organizational responsibility for safety.

Safety: Emergency Driving (enough is enough-end senseless death)

  1. Lower speeds-stop racing to the scene. Drive safely and arrive alive to help others.
  2. Utilize seat belts-never drive or ride without them.
  3. Stop at every intersection-look in all directions and then proceed in a safe manner.

Health: Fire Fighter Heart Disease and Cancer Education and Prevention

  1. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.
  2. Get active.
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Get regular health screenings.

Survival: Structural Size-Up and Situational Awareness

  1. Keep apprised of different types of building materials and construction used in your community.
  2. Develop a comprehensive size-up checklist.
  3. Always complete a 360 walk of the structure to collect valuable, operational decision-making information.
  4. Learn the practice of reading smoke.
  5. Be familiar with the accepted rules of engagement.
  6. Learn your accountability system and use it.
  7. Master your tools and equipment.
  8. Remain calm and concentrate.

Chiefs: Be the Leader in Safety

  1. Become personally engaged in safety and make it part of your strategic vision for the department.
  2. Be willing to make the tough decisions regarding safety policies and practices and their implementation.
  3. Hold members of the organization accountable for their safety and the safety of those with whom they work.
  4. Ensure that resources are available to accomplish activities safely and effectively.

Additional Considerations

In addition to the recommendations made by the IAFC, I would like to offer several additional recommendations and revisions to the IAFC’s list.

Health: Remember that products of combustion present both short and long term health effects. Don’t breathe smoke and minimize exposure to products of combustion by using care in handling contaminated equipment and clothing and cleaning it promptly after use.

Survival: Develop a solid understanding of practical fire dynamics. In addition to understanding building construction (B) and reading smoke (S), use the entire B-SAHF (Building-Smoke, Air Track, Heat, & Flame) approach to reading the fire. Remember that size-up and dynamic risk assessment are an ongoing process conducted by everyone on the fireground!

Chiefs: Not only must you hold your members accountable. They must be able to hold you accountable as well. Lead by example!

Still Waiting to Hear from You!

In an earlier post, I encouraged you to construct a personal concept map of fire behavior indicators, starting with building factors. As a way of collaborating on this project, you can follow edhartin on Twitter and Tweet Back on this question with factors that you think should be included in the concept map. No response as of yet! Take a minute and revisit Reading the Fire: How to Improve Your Skills and consider engaging in this project. I need your help to make this work.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO


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