Sadly this week we again have four more deaths in the fire service. In CT two died while searching for trapped victims in a fully involved structure.
In the other incident 2 senior members, former chief officers, died on the way to an incident in yet another apparatus involved MVA.
As we mourn all these losses as a firefighting family and pray for the families of those who have died, it is time to reflect on how these deaths will be remembered by those who are still alive and serving their communities. And it is time to look at how these deaths will impact the families of these dead firefighters.
Tradition has it that we expect that firefighters will risk a lot to save lives. What is the danger limit that an incident commander must set to keep those willing to dive deeply into the fire to save lives from becoming victims themselves? How does your agency train company officers and incident commanders to manage their risk taking personnel so that victims have a chance for survival while keeping firefighters from becoming victims themselves?
The next question disturbs me the most and should disturb every person in the fire service. Year after year we still needlessly continue to lose lives in MVAs. Speed is often the cause for many of those accidents where apparatus rolls over and often the victims are thrown from their apparatus for failing to wear seat belts.
How do we end these needless deaths?
How does your department train drivers to use urgency in response and yet keep apparatus at speeds that will keep their vehicles under control?
What training does your department have to assure that every member wears his or her seat belt every time they enter any vehicle especially responding apparatus?
What penalties does your department bring down on officers who allow their apparatus to move before checking that all personnel are buckled up?
What penalties are given in your department to those who fail to buckle up?
What penalties are given to drivers and officers who drive unsafely?
What procedures does your department have for notifying the family the day an unsafe driver and/or unbuckled firefighter die in an MVA?
How will your leaders explain those deaths to the families and the community you serve?