Life Safety Initiatives, Should we or Shouldnt we Critique a LODD?

I have become quite familiar with the age old argument of "Is it disrespectful to talk about or critique a LODD or LODI when we were not there and did not know the specifics?" I think I may have some more info that could hopefully bring fruition to an argument that has been raging for far too long.

I attended a seminar last evening at my station put on by a very educated and experienced past chief from my area who also works for the Emergency Management Office and has been an Instructor since '94, and is what spurred me to think (see the smoke?) and eventually write this blog. I have spent too much time reading blogs from respected and experienced people on this site and never really contributing any of my own, except for one over a year ago. The seminar was called "Managing Risk in the Fire Service: Leadership Responsibilities" and it covered everything from training regulations, NFPA Consensus Standards, Use of health maintenance in managing risk, principles of risk management and using the tools available to us to alleviate risk such as Rehab, FAST and firefighter fitness programs. It was very educational and informative and surprisingly I never needed a single cup of coffee to stay awake, kudos to the instructor.

The one thing that caught my eye and spurred the writing of this blog though was from a web site he referenced for us, here is a link...

everyonegoeshome.com

It contains a list of 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives that should be posted in every fire station across the world. Here is a quote from the site...


" 1. Define and advocate the need for a cultural change within the fire service relating to safety; incorporating leadership, management, supervision, accountability and personal responsibility.

2. Enhance the personal and organizational accountability for health and safety throughout the fire service.

3. Focus greater attention on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical, and planning responsibilities.

4. All firefighters must be empowered to stop unsafe practices.

5. Develop and implement national standards for training, qualifications, and certification (including regular recertification) that are equally applicable to all firefighters based on the duties they are expected to perform.

6. Develop and implement national medical and physical fitness standards that are equally applicable to all firefighters, based on the duties they are expected to perform.

7. Create a national research agenda and data collection system that relates to the initiatives.

8. Utilize available technology wherever it can produce higher levels of health and safety.

9. Thoroughly investigate all firefighter fatalities, injuries, and near misses.

10. Grant programs should support the implementation of safe practices and/or mandate safe practices as an eligibility requirement.

11. National standards for emergency response policies and procedures should be developed and championed.

12. National protocols for response to violent incidents should be developed and championed.

13. Firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and psychological support.

14. Public education must receive more resources and be championed as a critical fire and life safety program.

15. Advocacy must be strengthened for the enforcement of codes and the installation of home fire sprinklers.

16. Safety must be a primary consideration in the design of apparatus and equipment."

Now, did anyone pay close attention to # 9? (and not because I highlighted it either!) Thoroughly investigate all firefighter fatalities, injuries, and near misses. Shouldnt that include the intelligent, respectful dialogue between fellow firefighters critiquing the events that occurred in an effort to analyze the events that caused the fatality or injury and reduce the chance of it re-occurring??

During the seminar we discussed events where significant loss of life or injury occurred, and brought up the fact that in some, complacency was the culprit, and another phenomena called "Recognition-Primed Decision Making" (RPDM) might have helped. With RPDM, your brain is referred to as a "Rolodex" of information and past experiences. When responding to an emergency you do not have the luxury of making rational decisions, getting info and researching something before making a decision. In the fire service we think of a similar event that occurred in the past and we tend to repeat past tactics to achieve a goal, whether they were effective or not...RPDM. One such incident was from PA, in a church fire that some of you may or may not remember where 2 brothers were killed and something like 29 others were injured due to a collapse...they were overhauling an old church that had been burning for quite some time when this happened...was it worth the risk? Did the IC do a "Risk Vs Benefit Analysis" when making the decision to commit resources to a severely weakened structure to overhaul a building that was already a loss?

These are the things we discussed and it made me think about the argument we have here on the nation all too often. What does everyone else say about this? Lets discuss and learn "Courage to be safe"

Anyone have additional thoughts or opinions on this matter?

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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on March 20, 2009 at 7:51am
Moose,
I think we should. I don't think it is disrespectful only because if we can learn from what may have gone wrong or what wasn't done, how is that a bad thing. As sad as it is that a firefighter(s) have died doing this job, we need to look at what happened and not sit and put blame but be able to look at the incident and say "okay, that was not a good idea or not a good move so lets make sure that we don't do that." How are we to learn from mistakes if we don't critique the incident. We also learn that maybe what we did was okay for this and maybe we could have done something different to make things work out better. A critique doesn't have to put blame on went wrong it can be a very good thing and as far as I am concerned it should never be about putting the blame on someone. Just my opinion.... Nice post Moose, it makes you think....
Comment by Moose on March 20, 2009 at 7:04am
I Just want to clarify something here, I am "PRO" talking it out and discussing every LODD and LODI there is so we all can learn, just making sure everyone understands that issue.

The more we bring it up the more people talk about it, regardless if they are for it or not. The more we talk about it the more we learn about the incident and the more we are thinking about it the next time out...Get it?

How about the other issue, "Courage to be safe", in today's macho society where you have the experienced leathernecks saying "Hell no, I wont activate my PASS and call a mayday cause I ran outa air, screw dat" or the in-experienced rookie not putting his/her hood on because of the bad habits of his crew and they dont want to be singled out? If you dont feel safe it takes more courage to say something to an officer and not do the task, than it does to go in anyway thinking you are a hero and being brave...a true hero knows the difference and wont allow their fellow firefighters to get hurt or killed. When they notice something wrong they will bring it to the attention of an officer and say, "Thats not safe, we need to think of another way." We as firefighters need to be strong enough to click that seatbelt shut everytime we go anywhere regardless if the others will make fun of you or not. We as firefighters need to not feel ashamed of wearing our breathing apparatus on car fires or dumpster fires even though we may be the only ones, you are simply showing "Courage to be safe."

What do you think?
Comment by Bob Allard on March 19, 2009 at 8:38pm
I have to agree with the 2 postings and myself has ask, why, but I think we need to talk about it instead of holding it inside which could hurt you several ways . Talk it out. Sure hope it doesn't make me a bad person for saying what I did.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on March 19, 2009 at 12:14pm
Moose:
What I have found is that some want to hide behind the premise that it is disrespectful to ask why, what, how; anything that will drive us to making more sense of a senseless LODD. The ones who are closest to the tragedy will scream the loudest, because they are feeling overwhelming emotion from the loss.
The "do-gooders"; the ones who think everyone will listen to them will want to give it an appropriate time for healing before any constructive dialogue should take place.
In my blog "When Is the Right Time to Ask Why", I explore some of the same questions, but the bottom line is that whenever there is a catastrophic failure involved in an LODD, it is imperative that the information gets out ASAP so another won't die while we are trying to decide when to discuss the LODD.
The Life Safety Initiatives have been around for almost three years now and very little headway has been made.
Heart attacks are down; but just barely.
However; MVA involving responding firefighters are going up.
We still don't have 100 % compliance on seat belts.
We have a ways to go for sure.
But burying our heads in the sand because the subject matter is unpleasant to discuss is just plain ignorant.
Bottom line is: when there is an LODD, identify your thread as a DISCUSSION thread and you either participate or you don't. If you don't like the subject, then change the channel, but don't tell me or anyone else that it is inappropriate or wrong to be discussing it. It is wrong not to.
Just my humble opinion.
Art

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