Stopping Unsafe Practices

This MFRI Monthly Drill examines how the fire service can reduce the number of deaths and injuries by taking a positive step to reduce or eliminate unsafe practices. The continued following of unsafe practices becomes the norm rather than the exception if...

      h. Establish lookouts in potentially hazardous situations

      i. Retain control at all times

      j. Stay alert, keep calm, think clearly, act decisively

      k. Avoid being complacent on automatic alarm or gas leak incidents

H. General

  1. Be aware of the common causes of firefighter injuries – overexertion and strain; slips, trips, and a

      falls; exposure to chemicals or radiation; exposure to fire products; being caught or trapped;

      extreme weather; being struck by objects; stepping on or contact with objects

  2. Properly maintain apparatus and equipment so that it will work when needed and it is safe to use

  3. Call for help when first needed rather than waiting until it is too late for help to arrive and assist

      a. Do not panic because it causes rapid breathing that uses more valuable air (control breathing

          while crawling and communicate with other team members

      b. Stop and think about how you got to where you are

      c. Listen for noise from other team members, for hose and equipment operation, or for sounds that

          indicate the location of fire

      d. Use the portable radio to announce your last known location

      e. Activate your PASS device

      f. Place a flashlight on the floor with the light shining toward the ceiling

      g. Remember the different methods to find a way out (follow the hoseline out if possible; crawl in a

          straight line; crawl in one direction, call out;, or make noise for other firefighters to assist you; or

          break a window or breach a wall if possible)

      h. Lie flat on the floor close to a wall so that you will be easier to find if you are exhausted or feel

          you may lose consciousness



A. Empower all firefighters to stop unsafe practices

B. Follow standard operating procedures (SOP’s)

  1. Apparatus placement at the scene

  2. Safe approach of apparatus at the scene

  3. Task assignments by riding position

  4. Operating within the buddy system

  5. Carrying tools and equipment for the task

  6. Laying a supply line and establishing water supply

  7. Staying with your crew and officer to maintain accountability

C. Attitude

  1. Safety consciousness

  2. Regard for safety of others

  3. Work aggressively but being observant at all times

  4. Wearing proper protective equipment

  5. Pacing to minimize exhaustion

  6. Rehabbing after each cylinder of air

  7. Being realistic rather than feeling “indestructible”

  8. Remembering that Superman is a comic book character and that we are mortals

D. Near misses

  1. Reading reports

  2. Making a positive effort to avoid repeating events

  3. Learning from others

E. Preventable accidents

  1. Keep in mind that most accidents are predictable and preventable

  2. Taking an extra measure to prevent an accident rather than accepting it as an occupational hazard

  3. Recognize that the emergency scene does not have to be an unsafe work environment

F. Accident chain

  1. Environment – Included here are physical surroundings such as weather, surface conditions,

      access, lighting, and physical barriers

  2. Human factors – This includes human and social behaviors, training (or lack of training), fatigue,

      fitness, and attitudes

  3. Equipment – Included here are apparatus, personal protective equipment, maintenance and

      serviceability, proper application, and equipment limitations.

  4. Event – The event is the intersection of the foregoing components.

  5. Injury - This last part of the chain deals with the actual injury (or property damage) associated with

      the accident.

G. Steps to creating a positive safety attitude – practice good habits, learn from others, and be vigilant




   * Identifying Unsafe Actions

   * Specific Corrective Actions

   * General Corrective Actions