Fire/EMS Safety Week: Day One
Today is Day One of Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week 2011.
The previous week leading up to today has brought with it two significant incidents; one in Illinois, the other in Indiana, both involving structure fires and combat fire engagement, both different types of occupacies with assocated risks; both having structural collapse- both fireground operations leading to fire service line of duty deaths. ( Indiana, HERE and Illinois, HERE )
During this past week we also solemnly remembered three events, The Hotel Vendome Collapse in Boston, MA (1972), The Father’s Day Fire, FDNY (2001) and the Super Store Fire in Charleston, SC (2007) Here and Here
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the International Association of Fire Fighters(IAFF) were formative in developing this year’s 2011 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week (also known as Safety Week)which commences today, June 19th and ends on June 25th. ( Week of June 19-25, 2011)
The message this year is: Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Preparedness
Safety, Health and Survival Week (Safety Week) is a collaborative program sponsored by the IAFC and the IAFF, coordinated by the IAFC’s Safety, Health and Survival Section and the IAFF’s Division of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine, in partnership with more than 20 national fire and emergency service organizations.
Fire departments are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activity during Safety Week and instead focus entirely on survival training and education until all shifts and personnel have taken part. An entire week is provided to ensure each shift and duty crew can spend one day focusing on these critical issues.
With so many changes (budget cuts, staffing reductions, reduced training, etc.) in so many fire departments, it is critical for fire fighters to focus on their own survival on the fire ground. There is no other call more challenging to fire ground operations than a MAYDAY call — the unthinkable moment when a fire fighter’s personal safety is in imminent danger.
Fire fighter fatality data compiled by the United States Fire Administration have shown that fire fighters “becoming trapped and disoriented represent the largest portion of structural fire ground fatalities.” The incidents in which fire fighters have lost their lives, or lived to tell about it, have a consistent theme — inadequate situational awareness put them at risk.
Fire fighters don’t plan to be lost, disoriented, injured or trapped during a structure fire or emergency incident. But fires are unpredictable and volatile, and an unpredictable fire ground can cause even the most seasoned fire fighter to be overwhelmed in an instant.
This year’s Safety Week focuses on delivering the online IAFF Fire Ground Survival (FGS) awareness training course to all fire departments.
The program is the most comprehensive survival skills and MAYDAY prevention program currently available and is open to all members of the fire service. Additional planning tools and resources will be available on the Safety Week website.
The IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (FGS) is the most comprehensive survival-skills and mayday-prevention program currently available and is open to all members of the fire service. Incorporating federal regulations, proven incident-management best practices and survival techniques from leaders in the field, and real case studies from experienced fire fighters, FGS aims to educate all fire fighters to be prepared if the unfortunate happens.
The program will provide participating fire departments with the skills they need to improve situational awareness and prevent a mayday.
Topics covered include:
- Preventing the Mayday: situational awareness, planning, size up, air management, fitness for survival, defensive operations.
- Being Ready for the Mayday: personal safety equipment, communications, accountability systems.
- Self-Survival Procedures: avoiding panic, mnemonic learning aid “GRAB LIVES”— actions a fire fighter must take to improve survivability, emergency breathing.
- Self-Survival Skills: SCBA familiarization, emergency procedures, disentanglement, upper floor escape techniques.
- Fire Fighter Expectations of Command: command-level mayday training, pre-mayday, mayday and rescue, post-rescue, expanding the incident-command system, communications.
If you’re still in need of resources, visit the SHS Section’s website for more information on health and safety issues and the IAFF’s Health, Safety and Medicine’s website for more information on health, wellness and safety programs.
Here are some of the National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System Produced 2011 Safety Week Products
Look for a continuing comprehensive series of articles, activities, insights, downloads, podcasts, video clips and resources that will be posted each day this week during Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week here on Commandsafety.com, Thecompanyofficer.com and Buildingsonfire.com.
We hope to be offering a special live show on Taking it to the Streets on Firefighternetcast.com and blogtalkradio later this week pending some last minute logists addressing key issues with a stellar line-up of fire service leaders. Stay tuned to anouncements and postings for the date and time . This will be an exceptional opportunity to listen in, call in and participate actively in the week’ theme of Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Preparedness.
Download the Planning and Resource Aid for Training Deliveries
2011 Planning and Resource Aid for Training Deliveries (pdf, 1.8 mb)
IAFC Safety Week , Direct Link, HERE
Preventing the Mayday
FGS Online Program Chapter 1
Between 1997 and 2008 NIOSH investigations reported that 25 fire fighters died in unprotected light-weight truss collapse events related to roof or basement truss system failures. A total of 11 injuries also occurred in these fatalities. Additionally, between 2005 and 2006, the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System reported 20 near-misses related to unprotected light-weight truss systems. Considering the Near-Miss Reporting System is relatively new, and it is a self-reporting system, it is likely there are far more near-miss incidents occurring than presently indicated.
The NIOSH Alert: Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Truss System Failures provides information on roof collapses in structures containing truss systems and includes case studies where fire fighters have become trapped and were injured or killed.
Fire fighters must be able to recognize the dangers associated with the smoke conditions when en route, upon arrival, and during fire fighting operations. Missing signs indicative of flash over, smoke explosions, backdraft, or rapid fire development has proven deadly to fire fighters in the past. The ability to read smoke correctly will prevent a Mayday situation from occurring.
Being Ready for the Mayday
FGS Online Program Chapter 2
Understanding what safety equipment is required and what fire fighter tools are necessary for readiness, accountability system functionality and dispatch responsibilities.
Radio Communications Training
Having a radio assigned to each person is not enough. Fire fighters must be trained in using the radio to request resources and, most importantly, to call a Mayday.
In 2003, NIOSH issued a firefighter radio report detailing the challenges surrounding fire ground communications. Although the report is several years old, many of these same issues are still challenging the North American fire service. Under the topic of “Inadequate Training” it states: “Though firefighters receive hundreds of hours of training on emergency response, radio communications do not typically receive the same amount of attention. As such, firefighters may not be aware of proper radio usage. Examples include how to use the radio in general, how to use the radio while wearing SCBA, and how radio communications are affected by a Mayday event” (pages 17-18).USFA Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service
FGS Online Program Chapter 3
To improve survivability in a Mayday situation, a fire fighter must know how to alert rescuers to his or her location and perform self-survival techniques. Through the study of fire fighter fatalities, NIOSH has identified specific actions fire fighters can take to help save themselves. Variations of this same NIOSH recommendation have appeared in numerous fire fighter fatality reports. These recommendations were used to create a self survival procedure that is easy to remember using a mnemonic (GRAB LIVES). Following these steps increases the likelihood of the rescuers finding and assisting the fire fighter to safety.
When a fire captain died when trapped by partial roof collapse in a vacant house fire in Texas, NIOSH recommended in report number F2005-09 that trapped fire fighters should:
First, transmit a distress signal while they still have the capability and sufficient air.
Next, manually activate their PASS device. To conserve air while waiting to be rescued, try to stay calm and avoid unnecessary physical activity.
If not in immediate danger, remain in one place to help rescuers locate them.
Survey their surroundings to get their bearings and determine potential escape routes.
Stay in radio contact with the IC and other rescuers.
Attract attention by maximizing the sound of their PASS device (e.g., by pointing it in an open direction); pointing their flashlight toward the ceiling or moving it around; and using a tool to make tapping noises on the floor or wall.
Fires inside an enclosed structure create a mess for fire fighters operating on the floor. Fire fighters often encounter debris that has fallen off shelves, and ceiling and wall fixtures that have burned and are left hanging to the floor. These hazards, coupled with the mess a fire fighter creates when searching for victims in smoky environments, can create egress problems for a fire fighter.
As fire burns draperies, blinds, lighting fixtures, computer wiring, and HVAC ducting, the possibility of encountering an entanglement hazard increases. The overhead ducting of the HVAC system contains wires that give the ducting its stability.
If a fire breaches the ceiling and burns the ducting, the wires within the ducting fall to the floor. These wires can cause a dangerous entanglement hazard to fire fighters operating on the floor. Fire fighters must anticipate these hazards and have a plan to follow when egress is cut off.
Fire Fighter Expectations of Command
FGS Online Program Chapter 5
A discussion of what command must communicate to the distressed fire fighter, dispatch, the RIT group supervisor and all others assigned to the incident to assure a successful rescue.
National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System
This program aims to turn near-miss experiences into lessons learned.
- 2011 Safety Week Near-Miss Resources
This policy identifies a standard system for the emergency evacuation of personnel at an emergency incident or training exercise.
Fire and Rescue Departments of Northern Virginia – Rapid Intervention Team Command and Operational Procedures
A collaborative RIT manual developed by fire and rescue departments in Northern Virginia. Promotes interoperability between multiple fire agencies.
Lost or Trapped Firefighters
This policy identifies the required actions for the search and rescue of lost or trapped firefighter(s).
Model Procedures for Responding to a Package with Suspicion of a Biological Threat
Local and world events have placed the nation’s emergency service at the forefront of homeland defense. The service must be aware that terrorists, both foreign and domestic, are continually testing the homeland defense system.
Safety – Initial Rapid Intervention Crew (IRIC)
This policy establishes procedures for ensuring the highest level of safety when conducting interior operations in an atmosphere that is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).
Safety – Rapid Intervention Team (RIT)
This policy establishes the department’s criteria and procedures for Rapid Intervention Teams.
Firefighter Fatality Report – Southwest Supermarket, Phoenix, AZ
PFD full report on the LODD of Firefighter Brett Tarver. Report contains extensive analysis of fire ground operations, may-day and lessons learned.
NFPA Fire Investigation Report of 1995 Pittsburgh Fire
This report describes the investigation of a fire which killed three firefighters in 1995.
NIOSH LOD Report
This report recounts a residential basement fire that claimed the life of a career lieutenant in Pennsylvania.
Hazelton Firefighter caught in Flashover
Rapid Intervention Crew Standard Operating Guidelines
Provided by the Town of Menasha Fire Department
Understanding Fireground LODDS
A fresh perspective on an old problem.
Several applicable resources to assist you in your Stand Down planning.
50 Ways to Save Your Brother (or Sister)
Provided by the South Milwaukee Fire Department.
Fire Chief Magazine article – “No more maydays”
Disorientation Prevention Article
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
This web page provides access to NIOSH investigation reports and other firefighter safety resources.
The Incident Commander’s Response to a “May-Day” Lost Firefighter Incident
A check list of items to consider when handling a may-day incident, provided by Chief Gary Morris, Scottsdale, AZ.
U.S. Firefighter Disorientation Study (1979-2001)
This study was conducted in an effort to stop firefighter fatalities caused by smoke inhalation, burns, and traumatic injuries attributable to disorientation. It focused on 17 incidents occurring between 1979 and 2001 in which disorientation played a major part in 23 firefighter fatalities.
USFA – Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study (1990-2000)
This report identifies trends in mortality and examines relationships among data elements on firefighter fatalites between 1990-2000.
Keep this week In Perspective
Take a look at these videos and the messages conveyed….
Are YOU getting it, is Your Company, Your Officers, Your Commanders, Your Firefighters? …..
- Maintaining Situational Awareness
- Have you Looked at the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Lately; Doing Anything with them?
When was the last time you looked at the Initiatives?
- Define and advocate the need for a cultural change within the fire service relating to safety; incorporating leadership, management, supervision, accountability and personal responsibility.
- Enhance the personal and organizational accountability for health and safety throughout the fire service.
- Focus greater attention on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical, and planning responsibilities.
- All firefighters must be empowered to stop unsafe practices.
- Develop and implement national standards for training, qualifications, and certification (including regular recertification) that are equally applicable to all firefighters based on the duties they are expected to perform.
- Develop and implement national medical and physical fitness standards that are equally applicable to all firefighters, based on the duties they are expected to perform.
- Create a national research agenda and data collection system that relates to the initiatives.
- Utilize available technology wherever it can produce higher levels of health and safety.
- Thoroughly investigate all firefighter fatalities, injuries, and near misses.
- Grant programs should support the implementation of safe practices and/or mandate safe practices as an eligibility requirement.
- National standards for emergency response policies and procedures should be developed and championed.
- National protocols for response to violent incidents should be developed and championed.
- Firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and psychological support.
- Public education must receive more resources and be championed as a critical fire and life safety program.
- Advocacy must be strengthened for the enforcement of codes and the installation of home fire sprinklers.
- Safety must be a primary consideration in the design of apparatus and equipment.
The Following links From the NFFF/Everyone Goes Home web site, HERE
Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Resources
Watch Media Resources:
» Overview & Explanation: View | Download
» Initiative 1: Culture – View | Download
» Initiatives 1 – 4 – View | Download
» Initiatives 5 – 8 – View | Download
» Initiatives 9 – 12 – View | Download
» Initiatives 13 – 16 – View | Download
For Your Computer:
» 16 Initiatives Desktop Wallpaper
It is NOT too late to set plans into motion for Safety, Health and Survival Week 2011…..You have ALL week and the rest of the year…..
The Consciences Observer or Activist
The operative question going forward will be this: What will you personally commit to for Safety, Health and Survival week, or what will your department choose to do; participate in, contribute, join in, share, lead, promote, instruct, present, facilitate, help, assist, aid, or neglect, disregard, undermine, abuse, challenge, demoralize, undercut, damage, torpedo, circumvent, or avoid?