Personal and organizational accountability for health and safety should be enhanced throughout the fire service, including academy-level training on health and safety.
Greater attention must be focused on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical and planning responsibilities.
Available technology should be utilized wherever it can produce higher levels of health and safety. This means embracing technology at the local level, and includes development of a clearing house of available technologies.
Those are just a few of the recommendations included in the final report from Tampa 2, the 2014 Life Safety Summit organized by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The report was released on December 30, 2014. RescueAir was a sponsor of the summit and company staff served on the new technologies committee.
Held in March of 2014 — exactly 10 years after the first gathering of firefighters and stakeholders to address firefighter safety – more than 200 leaders from the fire service and related organizations met in Tampa, FL to review the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives (FLSIs) that had been in place for a decade and make recommendations on how that original set of initiatives should be updated.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of the summit. We had a diverse group of people who are very dedicated to making things safer,” said NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki.
While summit participants acknowledged tremendous progress on safety initiatives since the last Tampa Summit, some of the issues raised by participants were strikingly similar to those mentioned ten years ago.
“For true culture change to happen, everyone in the fire service, from firefighter to fire chief, must take accountability to promote safe actions and stop unsafe actions,” authors wrote.
“Although this is a difficult dimension to measure, Tampa 2 participants generally felt that there has been real progress in relation to firefighters and fire service leaders accepting the call for accountability. White papers have been produced on each of the FLSIs, and the Everyone Goes Home program has a national presence. The push toward a ‘culture of safety’ has produced backlash among certain circles, but this debate has also prompted healthy discussion on how we can preserve the best of the fire service while also initiating changes that save lives. And such controversies bring the conversation to the kitchen table, exposing more firefighters to the discussion,” the report stated.
The need for improved life safety education was also highlighted in the report: “Fire prevention can no longer be an afterthought. We must incorporate prevention in initial and ongoing firefighter training and develop more scientifically based, effective fire and life-safety education programs that resonate with the public. Fire service leaders must promote and support model building and fire codes and residential sprinklers, including incentives for homebuilders…”
One group noted: “It is not one issue; too many think this initiative is only about residential sprinklers. (We) need to] define the work environment.” Firefighters’ work environment, says the report, goes way beyond the station, encompassing any structure they respond in. “And,” the authors wrote, “Just as we would not be OK with firefighters living in fire stations that are not up to code, we should not be OK with them responding to structures that aren’t up to code.”
Legislative support was seen by many groups as key to success in this area. Individual legislators (local and federal) can push for tax breaks as incentives for support of safe buildings and updated codes, and apply pressure that the fire service cannot. “Money works,” one group noted. Getting politicians on board will be critical to future success.
A downloadable copy of the report is available here: rescueair.com/education-and-training.
For more information on the report and the work of the NFFF, please visit their website at firehero.org.