A Comment Worthy of a Post

Executive Director of the NFFF reminds us of the purpose of "EGH".

Proof that everything on the net is new to someone at one time or another comes as a year old popular post on Fire Service Warrior was being shared again recently on Facebook. What is interesting about it this time? The comment below.



I am sorry to be a year late to this discussion, but since your interesting column has been making the rounds again, I thought I would provide some input.

As one of the architects of Everyone Goes Home® and the 16 Life Safety Initiatives, you may be surprised to know I agree with a great deal of what you have written here. You have hit on key points that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the EGH program have identified as crucial to reducing the number of firefighters who die in the line of duty each year.

1. Heart attacks and strokes kill more firefighters than anything else. Too many firefighters are overweight and out of shape. Proper exercise, together with a healthy, well-balanced diet may be the two most important things that firefighters can do to stay safe.

2. Training constantly is vitally important to firefighter survival.

3. A lack of situational awareness is a key factor in many line-of-duty deaths.

In fact Chris, it appears you only left out a few items from the agenda we have at NFFF. Key among them is encouraging firefighters to wear their seat belts and to drive responsibly. As you know, vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death and injury for firefighters. With your influence in the fire service, we would love to have you take part in one of our videos encouraging firefighters to buckle up.

In addition, we encourage the fire service to promote the use of fire sprinklers and fully participate in community risk reduction efforts. Risks to firefighters are greatly diminished when there are fewer fires to fight. Taking your lead and making a military comparison, this is similar to how the U.S. Military has worked to improve the infrastructure of the cities, towns and villages they have fought so hard to liberate.

The real purpose of EGH and the 16 LSI is to serve as a blueprint to prevent line-of-duty deaths. The initiatives are not intended to tell anyone how to be a firefighter. Instead, we want firefighters thinking, each and every day about what it is they do and how they can work smarter toward the most important job of the fire service, the preservation of life.

The fire service leaders who helped create EGH and 16 LSI, never for a moment wanted firefighters to stop being firefighters. But we have learned from reading the details of hundreds of line-of-duty deaths that firefighters continue to die needlessly because the same mistakes, some of which you pointed out, are made over and over again.

One of our most recent efforts is the video with the Chicago Fire Department released just before the end of last year. Commissioner Robert Hoff and the men and woman of CFD shared their stories and the lessons they have learned after some of their colleagues were killed or seriously injured. FDNY helped us produce a similar video and another one is in the works. These films, featuring leaders from the front lines, are an important element of EGH.

Where we seem to differ is I don’t see how helping firefighters learn from these mistakes with EGH is a bad thing. In fact, the expansion of EGH across the country has coincided with a three year downward trend of firefighter fatalities, which I know you will agree is a good thing.

One of the biggest threats to firefighters is putting on the blinders. It happens when we demonize and polarize. We want firefighters to be armed with the best information available to help them do their jobs. That won’t come from a steady diet of just EGH or by only paying attention to the Fire Service Warrior and no one else. It comes from firefighters and fire service leaders who use critical thinking to absorb the best of what’s out there and putting it into practice on each response.

In other words, we should be taking in all of this information with an open mind. Using the best of it to make our departments better, and in the process helping to reduce injuries and deaths for the public and firefighters, while still doing the job we signed up to do. To me, that is the culture of firefighting.

I invite you to contact me directly and/or any of our Everyone Goes Home® leadership or advocates to share your ideas on how we can make these important lessons from EGH even better. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.


Ron Siarnicki
Executive Director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.


"Everyone Goes Home" is tool to help you do your job better. It is not intended to be bastardized as an excuse.



Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.

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