"Thoughts and Prayers" are Hollow Without Conviction. Are You Ready to Commit?

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, co-workers, and friends of  Rocky Mount, Virginia Fire Chief Posey Dillon, who died yesterday along with Firefighter William Daniel “Danny” Altice in a
horrific traffic accident while responding to a house fire.

If the initial reports coming out of Rocky Mount are true, these two firefighters have died while not wearing their seat belts.

I’ll say it:


We will never know if seat belts would have made a difference.  Initial reports seem to say that a vehicle hit the apparatus.  Nothing they could do, right?  Plus, anytime any fire apparatus flips multiple times, the chances for survival are bleak.

But what are the chances for survival if the occupants are not belted?  We see the answer again this week.

As we all pause, yet again, to claim that our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters and their families, make a difference.  Vow to never let your apparatus turn a wheel unless EVERYONE IS BELTED.

Whether you are the company officer, the driver, or riding backwards- never accept- for any reason- that the apparatus moves without everyone belted. 


Has your department attained 100% compliance with signing the International Seat Belt Pledge?

International Seat Belt Pledge

“I pledge to wear my seat belt whenever I am riding in a Fire Department vehicle. I further
pledge to insure that all my brother and sister firefighters riding
with me wear their seat belts. I am making this pledge willingly; to
honor Brian Hunton my brother firefighter because wearing seat belts is
the right thing to do.”

Last week at Firehouse Expo, I had the honor and privilege to sit down and talk with Dr. Burton Clark, originator of the seat belt pledge.  He is a man who has, for years, tirelessly been spreading the word for
firefighters to buckle up.

We were recording an interview for Firefighter NetCast in which this wise man brought up a very valid point:

This is an area in which we have complete control in eradicating firefighter injury and death. 

Wearing seat belts save firefighters lives, yet not all firefighters are wearing them.  We can all make the decision to wear them.  We can “decide”, as an entire group, to save lives.

This is different from deciding that heart attacks won’t kill us.  This is different from deciding that walls won’t collapse, and stairways won’t fail.  This is different from from deciding that flashovers and backdrafts and all the other hostile fire events won’t take us out.

We can’t decide on these.  But we CAN DECIDE that failure to wear seat belts will no longer kill us.

I am sickened at the continued unnecessary gut-wrenching agony we all face as we begin the process to bury more brothers.  Especially if it isn’t necessary.

As we watch the funerals this weekend, refuse to accept anything less than complete adherence to wearing belts.  Commit to save ourselves from ourselves.

Put some oomph into your words concerning thoughts and prayers.

Click here for the link to the Seat Belt Pledge, and get your department 100% compliant.

30-year veteran John Mitchell is a fire Lieutenant and paramedic in suburban Chicago.

He is a fire and EMS instructor, certified fire investigator and Chicago Blackhawks fan.

John is the editor of FireDaily and co-creator of FirefighterNetCast.

Views: 628

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


Signing -and promoting to sign- a pledge to wear seat belts is a pale and lackluster effort. Personally as an adult I have no need for pledges (other than, maybe...of allegiance). I wear (and have been wearing since the days of lap belts only) my seat belt, every time, every where. Because I know that seat belts save lives.

Even if my department didn't require it I would still wear it. But my department does require it. And having an SOP on the books requiring the wearing of seat belts is the only thing that will be effective. This is not new technology nor are it's benefits untried or unproven. The weak link in the chain is the department, not the individual.

Do departments make the use of SCBA (and full PPE) optional or are there SOP's dictating their use? Is there a chain of command and protocol for practically every need or event? Are there requirements and standards, for everything from hiring to promotion, meals and sleeping arraignments?

I wholeheartedly agree with the use of seat belts, but it needs to be a command decision. If the rank and file want to push for a department policy then fine but until command buys into it and makes it mandatory (and enforced) then signing a pledge is of little more use than rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. Well...in my opinion, anyway.
Signing -and promoting to sign- a pledge to wear seat belts is a pale and lackluster effort.
Spot on Jack- a pledge is like pissing in the wind.

If we're serious about honouring our "brothers", lets push to mandate/legislate compulsory seatbelt wearing for EVERYONE.

Let's get serious and ensure these are the last two to die whilst not wearing seatbelts.

Let's stop the tokenism and well meaning words. Let's get real about this issue.

My department mandated this 10 years ago. It's also enforced better than the seatbelt law in Texas.
To me, it is an absolute no brainer. We wear the seat belts. I know there are readers on this site, that readily disagree, and state publicly that they never have worn their seat belt in a fire rig, and it should never be made a law to force us to.. bla bla bla! That sickens me!
Forgive me if this tends to hijack your thread. I just could not find a more suitable thread to post this, and certainly did not want to post it in the condolences threads.. I hope I don't get too far off track here.
Yesterday we lost two more needlessly. Whether or not they were wearing their seatbelts, ( in my opinion they should have beeen) this did NOT cause the crash. It most certainly played a role in the extent of the injuries, but the CRASH ( and I wish people would stop calling them accidents) was caused by something else. Now I am no physics guru, but I want to understand this incident. If we use Newton's laws of motion,
A truck (pumper) carrying 1000 gallons of water, (that is 10,000 pounds - 5 tons extra) is not going to roll over three times if hit by a smaller SUV vehicle, if it were simply driving down the street. or WILL IT? The fact that it was a turnpike, tells me there was more than the normal speed limit involved here. The fact that the driver swerved at the last moment to avoid a collision - sending that truck into a 3 roll spin.... that tells me that the rig had to be running faster and once the chain of events started, this truck had so much momentum and weight that it simply had to roll that many times. I wish someone could explain it all better to me.
The bottom line is, even if the gentlmen were belted in, just looking at the fact that this cab was crushed, also adds to the theory. I have seen how modern day apparatus are built, with the ROPS integrated into them, but if you ask any manufacturer, I am sure they will tell you the trucks are not made to withstand the kind of forces that were inflicted on that truck. And why should they be? If we want to be able to survive in crashes like that, we need to be in tanks..not fire trucks.
I have no doubt in my own mind, that if seatbelts were used, they would not have been ejected. Would / could they have survived inside? I don't know. This is just really sad that even after an incident like this, which is not the first, and most likely will not be the last..We seem to be not getting it.
truthfully folks, this one really hurts. It is a tough tough situation for us all. I just hope something good will come out of this one.. Let's learn from this once and for all.
Belt up, slow down - arrive alive!
thoughts and prayers to the families, and the department(s).
A truck (pumper) carrying 1000 gallons of water, (that is 10,000 pounds - 5 tons extra) is not going to roll over three times if hit by a smaller SUV vehicle, if it were simply driving down the street.
Someone has finally said what I've been thinking. Three rolls is huge! That's a lot of momentum.
Sadly, I think we're going to come to find that this was all the fault of the apparatus driver. No seat belts, excessive speed, careless driving, blowing a redlight at a major intersection...
And there's no doubt this is a hard topic- this is very fresh and raw for many, but when is a good time to analyse and learn from these incidents? A week, a month, a year? We have to learn from it NOW.
Please understand, I mention this NOT to point fingers, but merely to open some eyes - of those drivers that have not been trained nor understand the consequences of driving vehicles with such massive amounts of weight at speeds that are beyond their capabilities ( trucks and driver's).
NOT trying to lay blame what so ever.. but we NEED to know if we are going to stop this.
thanks for that Lutan. Appreciate it.
Exactly. The point you, myself and many others have been trying to get across in the other thread. Unless you are connected to these gentlemen in a personal way, now is the best time to critique, understand and learn. It's what we do after any normal incident, we critique and table top it immediately afterward, when it's still fresh in everyone's mind. It's a sad situation to lose a brother or sister, no matter the circumstances, but I'm sick and tired of fellow firefighters catching flack for critiquing and trying to learn from a close call or LODD.

And the engine in this discussion rolled 2 1/2 times? (3 rolls, it would have landed back on the wheels).
Did you post the right video Jack? I see the Boston incident, a half roll while being turned 180º

Oh, nevermind, I see your point now... duh!

Reply to Discussion


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2019   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service