there are others which apply, but none at such a fundamental stage with such far-reaching short and long-term effect on the firefighter. Again, know what is applicable and implement those activities necessary to achieve as safe a working environment as possible.
NFPA 1500 and NFPA 1501 also deal with Firefighter Safety, however, they are only applicable if adopted by your fire department.
THE NEED IS FUNDAMENTAL
Every fire department management should have written rules or regulations covering situations that are obviously hazardous to life or limb or may result in property damage if safe practices are not followed. The most important reason is that a guidepost or rule serves as a continual reference point for discussion and education in safety for all. Rules can be publicized in the form of posters, signs, booklets, or a combination of these. They may cover a wide variety of subjects such as smoking, horseplay, housekeeping, and lifting. Rules, regulations, or guideposts can be used as excellent tools in training employees in safe practices pertaining to work activities. They can be simple and few in number, but they must be necessary and easily understood. To serve their purpose they must be enforced with equity3.
The loss control policy of the department can be specific to the fire department or generic to all departments of the city. The goal is to have a policy which senior management believes can be implemented, not one which will foster ineffectiveness, lack of compliance, and abuse.
The policy sets the tone of the loss control program, however, there is a loss control chain which must be linked together to attain effective loss control. Like an ordinary chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore the policy will only be implemented to the degree that the weakest link enables it to be implemented. When there is a failure in a link, the policy and rules are n jeopardy and the likelihood of a loss is increased.
The components of the link and their roles include:
2. The company officer who must practice what he or she preaches, and if less is done, he or she is negligent. The welfare of subordinates is a moral and legal obligation with no place for a good-guy approach. The "good-guy" does nothing but encourage disrespect, distrust, and unsafe acts.
3. The training officer must provide a positive loss control attitude and environment for the student. To do less is equivalent to the "good-guy" officer.
4. the firefighter is the last link in the chain. If the firefighter doesn't accept the responsibility the program will fail. The firefighter must learn to appreciate the value of performing duties in a safe manner.
The loss control policy serves as the foundation for the implementation of the rules and regulations which can be the rudiments of a safe working environment.
The rules can also be quite specific or take the form of specific policies or rules. For example, the AIDS epidemic of 1986 prompted many fire departments, rescue and medic units, and ambulances to promote a specific rule. One department stated it as such:
"Emergency workers exposed to blood or body secretions of someone with a known communicable disease should wear gloves and use mechanical resuscitation measures whenever possible."
Another example is the current trend in smoking. For many department, the policy of selected area smoking is a reality and members are adhering. It is generally through mutual cooperation that issues such as this are resolved. However, they start with policies and rules. Instead of merely preaching, the establishment and enforcement of a policy or rule, action becomes necessary.
UNIONS, ASSOCIATIONS AND COMPANY BY-LAWS
We would be remiss to not discuss the impact of unions and associations conducting activities to support loss prevention. Their objectives are in the best interest of the firefighter, within the parameters of the organization's objectives. All firefighters, officers, union members, and interest parties need to insist on the use of protective equipment, adherence to loss control policies and rules, and insist upon compliance. With no compliance we have a breakdown in the system and need the necessary rules and guidelines to assure controls are maintained.