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
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.
for full Conference coverage.