We recently received several new fire engines. These beautiful Pierce Quantums are everything you could want in a fire engine. However, it seems there is at least one thing that some people don't want. The seats in the engines have sensors that can tell if someone is sitting there and whether or not the seat belt is buckled.
Last week, as I was gathering my gear from the engine, the Captain who relieved me asked the engineer if the engine had one of those seat belt warning alarms. When he was told that it did, he proceeded to buckle the seat belt and place the shoulder strap behind the seat. I couldn't believe it. I confronted the Captain about this. He says he never wears a seat belt in the engine, claiming that seat belts get in the way. Not a good example for the company officer.
BTW, we have a policy stating the seat belt must be worn whenever the a department vehicle is in motion.
I am amazed that in 2011 we still have people who believe that not wearing a seat belt in a fire engine is an acceptable practice. After asking around it appears that at leas 25% of the people in my department do not wear seat belts in the apparatus and higher percentage don't wear them when responding to structure fires. Everyone gives the same excuse: They get in the way and slow us down.
What can the fire service do to change this attitude? Last March, San Antonio's Fire Chief made a statement for his department members, issuing lengthy suspensions because they were not wearing seat belts when their apparatus was involved in a collision. The collision seriously injured one firefighter. The day the collision occurred was the injured firefighters first shift.You can read the story here.
Not wearing your seat belt is just plain stupid. Check out the LODD reports. In most, if not all, LODD's from vehicle collision the dead firefighter was not wearing a seat belt. If you don't wear the seat belt for yourself, at least think about your family and the others that you will leave behind.
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