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Schaitberger Vows Continued Commitment to Health and Safety of Fire Fighters

August 22, 2013 - Hundreds of IAFF local leaders, members and their guests are in Denver, Colorado, this week for the IAFF John P. Redmond Symposium and the Dominick F. Barbera EMS Conference, the largest educational forum in North America for health, safety and EMS in the fire service.

This Conference theme, “Pathways to Success,” appropriately sets the tone as delegates tackle topics from how to respond to threats of terrorism to the toxic work environment, from fire behavior to optimal crew size deployment, and from premier fire-based EMS systems to new and innovative community paramedic programs. In addition, the Conference addresses the increasing concern over active shooter attacks in public areas, as well as attacks on first responders.

Beginning his address to delegates at the opening plenary session, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger paid respect to the 157 IAFF members lost in the line of duty in the last year. “I don’t have to tell any of you about the tragic year we have had on the job, because we have all mourned, reflected on and honored our brothers and sisters who have fallen,” he said.

Schaitberger made special acknowledgements to the recent death of IAFF 9th Vice President Randy Atkinson and the multiple line-of-duty deaths, including the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots and members of Local 3066 in Prescott, Arizona, as well as the brothers and sisters lost in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Bryan, Houston and West, Texas.

Turning to the business at hand, Schaitberger said he has remained focused on his commitment to ensure that every affiliate leader in the International “has the support, information, means and expertise to be successful in representing our members who put their lives on the line every day for their neighbors and country.”

He recalled the passage of NFPA 1710, the partnership creation of the Wellness-Fitness Initiative, improved and expanded training opportunities, the passage of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program and research to collect data in joint field studies with the National Institutes of Standard and Technology (NIST).

Speaking specifically about the findings of those NIST studies, he said, “Now we can call out and fight back against hose ill-informed chiefs, city managers and mayors who argue that we can just send more companies to make up for the smaller crew sizes. Now, we have the scientific data that shows that when they force you to fight larger fires with fewer fire fighters, more lives, more property and businesses will be lost while compromising the safety of our members. We’re not going to stand for it anymore.”

Most recently, the IAFF worked to pass the Fire Fighter Fatality Reduction Act, which will examine whether fire departments are complying with national consensus safety standards. The IAFF also secured an expansion of the Public Safety Officers Benefit program.

Over the next three days, delegates heard from health and safety experts, including keynote speaker U.S. Army (retired) General and former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Director of the Division of Safety Research Dawn Castillo.

Workshops on a variety of topics covering important aspects of fire-based EMS were offered, as well as sessions on how the Affordable Care Act will affect EMS response, how to better prevent job-related illnesses and the pitfalls of Public Safety Officer (PSO) systems.

Click here for full Conference coverage.

 


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Copyright 2014 International Association of Fire Fighters.  Last Modified:  4/23/2014