Tactical Safety for Firefighters:The Writings of NIOSH LODD Reports


By mindfully pushing all departments to read these reports the nation’s firefighters will be better informed.

RAY MCCORMACK, Reprinted with permission

The death of a firefighter is a tragic event, a loss to the brotherhood of firefighting, the community, and often our functionality. A department that has never suffered a firefighter fatality may be unfamiliar with the effects and ripples of such an event. Every active firefighter death needs to cause ripples in the fire service. Those ripples while felt however cannot over take an organization in the form of paralysis, instead they must be channeled to eliminate future similar events and improve fireground functionality.

There is a branch of the federal government that recounts the events leading up to the firefighter’s death and then makes recommendations to prevent future ones. For most deaths the last word is the NIOSH LODD report. These reports by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are the result of an investigation team that looks at evidence and interviews those involved in order to help the greater fire service to understand the death and develop methods of prevention. These reports are available via the Internet and may also be supplemented by the actual department report of the death. It is very important for firefighters to learn what went on at the fire and what caused the death of the firefighter or firefighters.

Maybe it's just criticism or just repletion but many feel these reports are an inch deep and a mile wide, issuing boilerplate recommendations and often missing the true causation. While it can seem that way they still must be examined. If you feel they missed the mark that's alright add your two cents to those you pass it on to. The point is to get everyone to read them and to want to read them.

Many reports carry similar suggestions and many cover similar causes. So the question becomes do the reports bore us? Do we see wide spread adaptation of the recommendations or are we not noticing the causation similarities? While the use of fire service social media is wide spread the possibility of accumulated noise drowning out the heightened importance of NIOSH reports is real. This noise is not just created by solo distractors it is also caused by organizations that while championing safety seem too busy promoting their own programs or funding to bother pushing the reports through their networks.

The consolidation of message is a powerful thing. If you want a message to reverberate through the fire service allow it to have breathing room and support. NIOSH reports are what the balance of the fire service looks at to find answers to tragic events. They are not all perfect reports however that should not be used to diffuse their overall importance as a learning tool and potential life saver for future firefighting events.

Let’s stop our chatter both as individuals and organizations and support spreading the reports message. By mindfully pushing all departments to read these reports the nation’s firefighters will be better informed. The death of firefighters is not a silent event it must imprint on all of us, for the good of all of us.

Keep Fire in Your Life

Photos courtesy of NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program


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