Rule 10: A Passion for Health and Safety

Great leaders must ensure that all firefighters go home at the end of an alarm or shift. This rule is perhaps the most important one of the entire list of Rube's Rules.


Great leaders must ensure that all firefighters go home at the end of an alarm or shift. This rule is perhaps the most important one of the entire list of Rube's Rules. To define "Everyone Goes Home" a bit more, our members must return to their families and homes just as they arrived at the...


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Sandy will always hold a special place in my heart and thoughts. This is not just because she sustained career-ending injuries and immeasurable suffering that night while protecting her community. In addition to being such a courageous leader and hometown hero, Sandy developed a behavior-modifying training program and she did something few folks do today at any level of our society — she took personal responsibility and accountability for her actions.

I think of Sandy often and I shall never forget the sacrifices and contributions that she had made to the American fire-rescue service. When I discuss firefighter safety, I use this example to make folks think through the fact that you can't help anyone if you are hurt. Hopefully, you have never experienced a member being injured during an operation. The folks who have had this unfortunate event occur can fully appreciate my next thought: The entire company that you are working with goes out of service when a member is injured. In fact, if the injury is moderate or more significant, other companies will be called in to assist by providing aid and transportation to the downed firefighter. Once this process unfolds, it gets more difficult to resolve the situation that we were called on to handle in the first place. The very nature of this type of alarm gets more dangerous for all hands at this point.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of great firefighter safety and survival programs readily available. The National Fire Academy (NFA) is a great place to start or continue your lifelong educational commitment to firefighter safety. You should consider taking the NFA's on- or off-campus firefighter safety programs. Each day, more information appears on the web (such as EZ Training) and is increasingly easier to access to improve our operations from a member safety standpoint. Firehouse® Magazine devotes pages each month that will help you to keep focused and stay out of harm's way, if you will invest the effort to stay informed.

Please take the time to make a concerted effort to learn more, all of the time, about this critical topic. If you are a company or chief officer, your responsibilities to this process (member safety) exponentially increases. Never forget your first duty as a leader of our people, and that of course is to their safety. The entire operational process depends on being able to deploy members who are capable of performing their assigned duties. All officers should obtain and maintain the national incident safety officer certification to be able to perform your duties correctly. You owe it to your family, yourself and your department to "go home" after every run or shift. Please be safe out there!

DENNIS L. RUBIN, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is chief of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Previously, Rubin was chief of the Atlanta, GA, Fire and Rescue Department. He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire administration from the University of Maryland and an associate in applied science degree in fire science management from Northern Virginia Community College, and is enrolled in the Fire and Emergency Management Administration program at the graduate school of Oklahoma State University. Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officers Program, is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and has obtained the Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD) from by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He is an adjunct faculty member of the National Fire Academy since 1983. Rubin is the author of the book Rube's Rules for Survival.