Fire fighters face a number of risks as they perform their jobs every day. Some of these risks are well-known and garner a lot of attention. Other risks are more routine and get little of the treatment given to other hazards. In the past few years, the risks faced by fire fighters from vehicle crashes while responding to emergencies and while working at the emergency scene have gotten a significant amount of attention.
Of all the possible causes of fire fighter injuries and deaths, those that result from vehicle collisions are perhaps the most preventable. Simple measures, such as safe speeds during the response, coming to complete stops at intersections, wearing seatbelts, and properly positioning apparatus at roadway incident scenes, can eliminate virtually all of these losses.
The IAFF is committed to providing our members with information they can use to improve their safety and their job. Through advocacy and research, we constantly strive to provide our members with tools they can use to improve their safety at work.
In the past few years, the IAFF has been on the forefront of the development of materials that will improve fire fighter safety during the response and while working at the roadside. We have recently assisted with the development of additional materials to help with this effort.
The most recent addition to this effort is Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety in the Emergency Services. This document expands on previous work and includes information on law enforcement operations during response and work at the roadside.
While the daily jobs of fire fighters and law enforcement officers differ, we face a number of similar hazards as we do our jobs. Indeed, as we work together on the scene of a motor vehicle crash, both fire fighters and law enforcement officers face the danger of working near moving traffic. We also face similar hazards as we respond in our vehicles to the scene of any emergency.
The IAFF was very pleased to work on this project through a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Fire Administration (USFA), with support by the National Institute of Justice, within the United States Department of Justice. The financial and technical support provided by NIJ made this work possible and will provide significant benefits to fire fighters and our brothers and sisters in law enforcement. We are pleased to be working together on issues of mutual concern, especially as it relates to our health and safety.
Our materials have been updated to include the most up to date information related to fire fighter safety during response and while working at the roadside. Recent additions include the updated edition of the Department of Transportation Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and a report on the use of reflective materials on emergency vehicles.
These efforts reflect our continued commitment to the health and safety of our members and we will continue to work with our membership to address these critical issues.
Harold A. Schaitberger