Get Up Off Your Butt and Stand Down

Once again the number of firefighters dying in the line of duty is on the rise. I am wondering how many more of us will be sacrificed upon the altar of ignorance and complacency. In line with this, it is really depressing to listen to people droning on about how dangerous it is to be a firefighter.

What am I, some kind of dumb ass who hasn't been paying attention to what I have been doing for the last four decades? My friends the last thing we need is one more person telling us all how dangerous it is being a firefighter. We should all know this. What we need is for each of you to do something about it.

What we all need are a few more people standing up and bitching about the ways in which we are committing death by stupidity in the fire service. For the last year we have all seen the wide range of articles and commentaries telling us that we need to create a change in our culture.

Folks, up until last week, I had not seen a whole lot of people take one step forward to begin that fabled safety journey of at least 10,000 miles. Confucius had it right when he told us that in order to begin a journey, we had to get off the dime and start moving. That is about to change.

As my fingers labor away on the keys of my computer, plans are underway for a really momentous event in the fire and emergency service world. Thanks to the efforts of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), a first ever Stand-Down for Firefighter Safety is planned for June 21.

Over the past year each of us has watched with interest as the National Fallen Firefighter's Foundation (NFFF) pursued a new direction in the battle to lower the line-of-duty death rate in the fire service world. They have brought a wide range of people together who brainstormed, created, and refined a list of lifesaving initiatives. These were created to have a positive impact upon the line of duty death rate in our nation.

The IAFC has taken action to move this effort to the next level. They have brought the national fire service organizations together to take a positive step toward a safer fire service environment. They have created this stand-down as a way to bring people together to focus on safety.

Just what is a stand-down you may ask? During my years in the military, I witnessed a number of situations where the ability of a particular unit to function effectively came into question. Rather than move on blindly, using the same methods, that unit was stood-down; taken out of service if you will.

The problems were reviewed, discussions held, and new procedures developed to address the problems. Sometimes the problems involved death and injury. At other times equipment or training issues were involved. If necessary, replacement equipment was brought in and the unit brought back up to strength. Training was provided as needed. Once the unit was judged to be mission-capable, they were returned to active service.

Just what is this firefighter safety stand-down? According to the IAFC website, "