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...
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?