august_detailFire Ground Safety and Survival

There are many attitudes about hundreds of topics in the fire service.  But why are there still attitudes when it comes to the safety of fire personnel.  Unlike other public safety professionals the fire and rescue service is charged with the responsibility of protecting people and property from the ravages of fire and other hostile forces – both man-made and natural.  Who is going to protect us with acts like, failing to wear your seat belt going on?  We are our own worst enemy when it comes to safety.  Failure to be safe is a human act… ATTITUDE!!!  

It seems that when a firefighter is seriously injured or killed, the fire service does little to promote positive action to prevent a reoccurrence.  The message spreads quickly of a fallen comrade, but the lesson is slow to follow and is seldom learned.  How do we make the changes in these attitudes?

Time is long over due for the fire and rescue services to actively and seriously address the firefighter safety issue.  Too often we tend to take a cosmetic approach rather than getting to the root of the problem.  We treat the symptoms and rarely the cause. The fire and rescue services, at all levels, must rise to meet this challenge.  This means doing what is necessary to turn around the seemingly apathetic or complacent attitude about safety which prevails in the fire service today.  At this point you may be saying to yourself that the fire service is safer today than it ever has been.  This may be true, but times change and we are playing catch up!!! 

Although technology is a necessary ingredient in the safety recipe, it is not the most important.  This is where I feel a lot of professionals are missing the point.  Sure we are dressed well today and our equipment and apparatus are safer.  This aspect is of the utmost importance and is a portion of the recipe.  This is the portion that is most often not left out.  Where we are lacking is the ATTITUDE of both management and the firefighter or at least a safety conscious attitude. 

Most fire service personnel have plenty of attitudes, just that they are far too often focused on the wrong things.  I can’t understand why a firefighter would have an attitude problem with safety since it is there own lives affected. Further, I absolutely can not see where a leader, fire officer or management position could not constantly be focused on the right attitudes about everything, especially SAFETY. 

Over the past two years the firefighter safety stand down has taken the fire service by storm with progressive departments.  However, there are departments across our great nation that have not even heard of this program, even with all of the efforts made this past year by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.  Every attitude in the fire service needs to be focused on the concept of “having the courage to be safe”.  As a Fire Chief and as a member of the fire service, I want to challenge each and every individual across the United States to change their attitude.  I know I am asking for the world here folks, but we have got to loose the 100 years of tradition unimpeded by progress mentality.  We have got to change and we have to do it NOW!  Line of duty deaths are nothing to be proud of. 

Chief Doug Cline

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