1. #1
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    Default NFPA: Vehicular FF Deaths Rising

    In light of this ongoing problem, and spurred by the current article on the front page of FH.com (http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=31449), I'd like to start a simple list of things that we can do to prevent traffic incidents (including firefighters being struck by vehicles while operating at emergency scenes or drills) involving firefighter injuries and LODDs, as well as any accident involving a piece of fire apparatus. This could include changes in our personal habits, training, fire apparatus design, SOPs, or anything else that we might reasonably expect to have a positive impact on this deadly trend.

    I'll start us off with perhaps the simplist and most obvious:

    1. Wear seatbelts at ALL TIMES


    Next....?

  2. #2
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    How about one of the biggest ones.........

    Drive with due regard to safety.......

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    Well, 77 had number 2, so here's 3..

    3: Closing down ANY road we are operating on for ANY reason.

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    Default Number 4

    Number 4 is to encourage/mandate that firefighters report to the station and respond on fire apparatus.
    What's interesting about the article is that it clearly states that firefighters, particularly call and volunteer firefighters are being killed while responding IN THEIR PERSONAL VEHICLES (POVS).
    I have been advocating for the past several years that we discourage vollies from responding in their personal vehicles.
    For three years(2000, 2001 and 2002), I applied for FIRE Act grants for a rescue van/personnel carrier and wrote what I thought was a compelling narrative, imploring the USFA/FEMA to consider the safety of those responding by properly belting into a professionally built, NFPA compliant piece of apparatus. Of course, since a rescue was not on the Priority One list of vehicles, we were denied our request.
    I am not going to say "I told you so", but the writing has been on the wall for many years.
    What is it going to take for our fire service leaders to step up to the plate and say "it is safer for firefighters, especially call and volunteer firefighters, to respond in fire apparatus"?
    Number 5 would be to require anyone who operates fire apparatus to be properly licensed and trained in the driving skills necessary to operate large apparatus, including the effects of water shifting the center of gravity and evasive driving skills as well.
    Getting there safely is the first step.
    CR
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    I live 150ft. from a four way stop. The first due engine in my neighborhood is a career engine driven by a trained, duly licnsened, professional, that regularly blows said stop at fourty miles per hour and immeadiatly enters a school zone. Nothing but plain blind luck has kept a tragedy from taking place. The police are even worse, they usualy don't even bother with their warning devives.

    The guy in the right front seat needs to do the job that they're getting paid for and slow their driver down. It's not like this is any kind of big secret.

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    Default Number 5

    Nobody under the influence of alcohol should respond to any emergency....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Default Re: Number 4

    Originally posted by ChiefReason
    Number 4 is to encourage/mandate that firefighters report to the station and respond on fire apparatus.
    What's interesting about the article is that it clearly states that firefighters, particularly call and volunteer firefighters are being killed while responding IN THEIR PERSONAL VEHICLES (POVS).
    I have been advocating for the past several years that we discourage vollies from responding in their personal vehicles......

    What is it going to take for our fire service leaders to step up to the plate and say "it is safer for firefighters, especially call and volunteer firefighters, to respond in fire apparatus"?
    CR - The way I took the article is that Volunteers/POC's in POV's at anytime, whether they are responding directly to the station or to the scene........

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    Default

    The seatbelt use, and driving with due regard for safety would be my top 2. No tailboard riding would be another one, i didn't think it happened anymore but from the looks of an article a few weeks ago it still happens once in a while.

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    Number 4 is to encourage/mandate that firefighters report to the station and respond on fire apparatus. What's interesting about the article is that it clearly states that firefighters, particularly call and volunteer firefighters are being killed while responding IN THEIR PERSONAL VEHICLES (POVS).
    I have been advocating for the past several years that we discourage vollies from responding in their personal vehicles.
    I agree with the theory, but unfortunantly it isn't applicable to all departments. I work in a combination Dept where with exception to day shift, there is only 1 Operator on duty; so I'm always working by myself unless someone decides to pull standby. I can't sit and wait for personnel to show up 5-10 minutes after a call comes in due to however far away they live from the station. Our guidelines state that when our reserves respond to the scene, they drive the speed limit, obey all traffic laws, and when they arrive on scene they park in a parking lot whenever possible....But here's the problem, A department can write any SOG/SOP they want, but it is the personal responsibility and discipline from the people driving (whether it be the Operator of the Engine or a POV) to actually use good judgement and driving techniques to cut down on the accidents.
    Just to add, If someone is with me I don't pull out until everyone has on seatbelts whether it's an emergey response or not.
    Scott Maples
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    If you're always talking, you're never listening...if you're not listening, you're not learning.

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    Default Number Six

    Number Six could be:

    Become knowledgeable about the laws, regulations, policies and standards that deal with responding to emergencies in your jurisdiction.

    Having a working understanding of these documents makes us safer, protects us from liability, and allows us to educate the public on how they should behave around and react to apparatus.

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    77:
    And my point is; report to the station and go from there. That also includes the disclaimer that you get there using due regard. But then, that little flashing/rotating thingie that many have in their POVs is their free pass to drive like maniacs or so they think so.
    I mean; how disgusted do we get when we read someone died while responding to a grass fire or even worse, a good intent call?
    In case you missed the story on the front page, here it is:
    NFPA Report Says Number Of Firefighters Killed In Vehicular Accidents Is On Rise

    Associated Press

    QUINCY, Mass. (AP) -- The number of firefighters killed in vehicular accidents nationwide increased last year, a new study shows, and more died in en route to fires than were killed in blazes.

    The findings by the Quincy-based National Fire Protection Association showed that 33 firefighters died in on-duty crashes in 2003, while 29 firefighters died battling blazes. The number of vehicle-related deaths was the most in any year since 1977, when the association began tracking the data.

    Of the crashes, 24 involved collisions or rollovers. Eight of the firefighters killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts, and at least six of the drivers were speeding, the researchers said.

    ``They just need to be more careful,'' said Rita F. Fahy, the association's manager of fire databases and systems, who helped author the study, which was obtained by The Boston Globe and published Wednesday.

    However while firefighters say they try to obey road rules, driving fire equipment is made difficult by maze-like roads, traffic jams and the stress of an emergency.

    ``It's always tricky,'' said firefighter Richard Powers, a 34-year-old veteran of the Boston Fire Department.

    Powers said he could not recall any traffic deaths in the city, although he said minor accidents involving fire engines are common.

    Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan suggested that many of the traffic-related deaths nationwide result from call and volunteer firefighters rushing to the scene of a blaze in their own cars and pickups, as opposed to professional firefighters traveling in a fire engine.

    Meanwhile, the association said stress and overexertion remained the leading cause of death of firefighters in 2003. Last year, 47 firefighters died from stress-induced heart attacks, the study found.

    All told, 105 firefighters nationwide died on duty in 2003, up from 97 in 2002. The increase primarily was due to forest and wildfires, the study found.

    The most catastrophic traffic accident last year involved eight Oregon firefighters, return from a blaze in Idaho, who died when their van crossed the highway's center line and collided with a tractor-trailer. Alcohol was a factor in the crash, the study indicated.
    Regardless if it's getting to the station or directly to the scene in POVs, it is a practice that, if continued, must be restrictive.
    Are your personal vehicles covered by fire department insurance if you trash it out going to a call? Are you sure? Better check.
    Are you covered by work comp if you are involved in an accident on your way to a call in your POV? Are you sure? Better check.
    Do your trustees want the liability of everyone going in their personal vehicles to the scene? Are you sure?
    And what about accountability at the scene. How will you know who's there and who's coming if the practice is to respond directly to the scene from wherever you are at?
    Does it occur to anyone else that the reason for the increased deaths in POVs might be because the general practice is for those OUTSIDE OF THEIR RESPONSE AREA to drive really fast to get there? So a policy that addresses that might help. You know; "if you are not within X number of miles or X number of minutes of your response area", we'll make do or call mutual aid.
    Just some thoughts.
    CR
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    Anyone see a break-down of the ages of the firefighters killed responding in POV's, or how long they've been firefighters?
    #Number 7 could be "Watch the FNG's and kids like a hawk."
    If someone violates department policy on response in a POV, bust them. It's too important to not enforce these regulations. If your department doesn't have any on the books, implement them. A lot of the problem around this area is that some of the worst offenders are so called "senior members" of various departments. New members almost always take on any bad habits exhibited by established members.

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    Number 7 could be "Watch the FNG's and kids like a hawk."
    Fantastic point, Noz. It may just be me but it seems like an awful lot of the POV accidents are really young or really new firefighters.

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    Not to get picky, but the article said that the fire marshal "suggested" that "many" of the deaths were due to volunteers going to the scene in their POV. (see below)


    Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan suggested that many of the traffic-related deaths nationwide result from call and volunteer firefighters rushing to the scene of a blaze in their own cars and pickups, as opposed to professional firefighters traveling in a fire engine.
    Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but it sounds a little like blaming the volunteers when it may not be a volunteer problem.

    I'd like to see the numbers. How many were POV deaths vs. in department vehicles, and how many were volunteer vs. career.

    I'm not trying to diminish the problem of volunteers driving recklessly in route either to the scene or the station, but I'd like to see how big the problem is.

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    Interestingly:
    I was reading in the morning paper that there was an accident involving a volunteer ambulance service and a pedestrian.
    According to the article, the pedestrian was struck and killed when he stepped out onto the Interstate (74) and was struck by the ambulance.
    As far as I know, no charges have been filed for this accident that occurred on Tuesday, June 8th in the Peoria area.
    The driver of the ambulance was 19 years old.
    Question for discussion: should the age of the driver be considered when assigning driving duties?
    At what age would a driver be considered "experienced"?
    If a 19 year old has held a job as a driver for their full time job, would this preclude an "age requirement"?
    And last but not least:
    WHY CAN'T WE GET THIS KIND OF DISCUSSION GOING AT THE IACOJ WEBSITE?
    CR
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    Volunteers, in general, are going to tend to have more vehicle accidents and more serious than most career. It's not necessarily a training issue, as much as "conditions" for lack of the right word.

    Congested city, how fast is the pumper ever going to get up to making a six-block long response.

    Compared to a rural area where you have long, wide open roads to wind the beasts up. So you're going faster, in a bigger truck, and when you run off the right hand side instead of going up on the sidewalk you're rolling into a ditch.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    The report is interesting reading and answers some of the questions that are being raised. You can download it free of charge at www.nfpa.org.

    As for the issue of LODD's responding to incidents only six involved firefighter POV's. Several involved aircraft and eight were due to heart attacks. The numbers are difficult to pin down since the report "slices and dices" them in several different ways. On LODD was a firefighter who fell off of a riding lawnmower while cutting grass at the station. Another of the "responding" deaths occurred when a volunteer firefighter fell off the roof of his home while responding to a call.

    The report can be a valuable tool for fire departments if it is read and evaluated based on the information it contains. How many of these situations could occur in your department? The report may identify issues that haven't been addressed up until now.

    One last note. The number one cause of LODD's is heart attacks. Many fire departments and firefighters are opposed to physicals and restrictions on firefighters with previous heart related conditions. As long as this attitude exists in the fire service, the fire service can expect annual LODD's to stay where they are at. Just my opinion. I know many of you disagree.

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    Originally posted by ChiefReason
    Interestingly:
    ...
    And last but not least:
    WHY CAN'T WE GET THIS KIND OF DISCUSSION GOING AT THE IACOJ WEBSITE?
    CR
    CR...I think I figured out why. Over at IACOJ, the discussions tend to be civil about issues without resorting to name calling or 'Vollie/Career'-Bashing. Sometimes these topics need to be aired out in a more public place and the need to filter through all the 'bashing' becomes apparent. I think it's a self-punishment, thing, really....I can't take a thread seriously unless it goes to 5 pages with 3 pages of "It's the IAFF trying to say that POVs are bad" or some insignificant drivel....

    Or it just could be that I don't get 'Invalid_Session' when I post here!!! (KIDDING!!!)

    -Devil

    Note to Webteam: I still like this site!!! Please don't kill me because I posted IACOJ vs FH comparisons!!
    Once again....the above views are my own and not that of my department. (And probably should not be construed as having any real meaning, whatsoever!)

    IACOJ

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    Well for one thing, 80% of the firefighters in country are volunteer. So of course they're going to have more accidents because there's more of us. Responding to more calls. Maybe not more calls, but it would be interesting to see the total call volume for all fire departments in the country.

    Age: no one under 21 drives a fire department vehicle. For those with VFIS, it's their rule. So you'll lose your insurance otherwise.

    Driving record checks: those that tend to speed, have probably done it before. It's hard to change habits. Those with bad records, don't drive our apparatus. It's that simple.

    I took a quick look at the LODDs that I could find. All of the POVs I looked at were people driving to the fire station. Speeding, wet roads, traffic, etc, etc were all cited.

    Everyone seems to forget the mantra: If you get in an accident, you'll never get to the call." This needs to be preached over and over. but not just preached, practiced. Officers can't drive like idiots in department vehicles trying to get to calls and then tell others to slow down in their POVs. It's all about the example that's set.

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    Default two words.

    DRIVER TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  21. #21
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    Alive on Arrival

    I came across this while researching for a paper I am trying to write. It is a short little paper (a Word document) from the USFA site.

    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/d...ions/l-195.doc

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    CR, I know what you are saying, but I'm just saying that regardless of where they are responding to, whether it is to the station or to the scene, they still have to respond somewhere. While they are responding, they should be following all of the stuff we are mentioning in here.

    As for those trying to make this a career vs. vollie issue, don't need to go there. Quit bringing the issue up. CR was not making it an issue. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are more vollie/POC accidents than there are for career FF. It's simple math. When a call comes in 3-5 FT FF's get in 1 piece of apparatus and respond. With 4 pieces responding, that's 4 vehicles to worry about. For the same exact call you are going to have those 12-20 FF's all responding in their POV's to pick up those 4 pieces of apparatus or to go to the scene. You now have a total of 16-24 vehicles on theat same response......

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    77,
    I'm not making anything a career vol. issue. I'm pointing out that 5 different trained drivers supervised by 8 different trained supervisors, all of whom have been tested for the positions they hold, are not driving in a safe manner. The problem here is in the right front seat and that includes our 33 vol. companies as well as our 22 career. If I lived two blocks east you could substitute vol. for career in my post. Also our drivers ,both sides, have CDL.

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    Here are the actual figures from the report.

    37 firefighters died responding or returning from calls.
    -24 died as a result of collisions or turnovers.
    -8 died as a result of heart attacks.
    -3 were struck by vehicles.
    -1 fell from the jump seat.
    -1 fell from a ladder while responding from home.

    Of the 24 firefighters who died as a result of collisions or turnovers.
    -8 died in the van incident (DUI)
    -6 died in their POVs.
    -4 died in aircraft accidents
    -1 died in an ambulance/truck accident
    -3 died in tanker rollovers (1 DUI)
    -1 died in a dept. vehicle (not described)
    -1 died in a rescue truck/train accident

    4 of the 37 were career firefighters
    20 were volunteer firefighters
    12 were Federal Land Management employees/contractors
    1 was a prisoner

    Observations:
    -Nine of these deaths were a direct result of driving under the influence (DUI). One such death should be intolerable. This point has been discussed on this site before.
    -Six of the death's were in POV's. I believe this figure tends to dispute the statement from the Mass. State Fire Marshall.
    -Three of the deaths involved tankers rollovers. (Another death occured as a result of a tanker rollover during driver training. It was included in "Training deaths" rather than "responding/returning.) A fire department tanker is quite a bit different from most vehicles. They are not only heavier than a regular truck, but they are often top heavy. Those that are not properly baffeled are an accident waiting to happen.
    -I also find it interesting that only one firefighter died responding (fall from jump seat)in a regular engine or ladder company. This is amazing when you consider that these are the fire department vehicles (not counting EMS) that respond the most. I believe that some of the credit for this goes to the NFPA standards. Unfortunately, that won't be the case in 2004.

  25. #25
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    Originally posted by ChiefReason
    Interestingly:
    I was reading in the morning paper that there was an accident involving a volunteer ambulance service and a pedestrian.
    According to the article, the pedestrian was struck and killed when he stepped out onto the Interstate (74) and was struck by the ambulance.
    As far as I know, no charges have been filed for this accident that occurred on Tuesday, June 8th in the Peoria area.
    The driver of the ambulance was 19 years old.
    Question for discussion: should the age of the driver be considered when assigning driving duties?
    At what age would a driver be considered "experienced"?
    so you had a pedestrian crossing an interstate. CR, I don't know where you are from, but here in NJ, most interstates are 2-4 lanes in each direction, speed limit is 55+ (most people go 70+ on them), no stop signs or traffic lights, and should not have any pedestrians on the roadway. this driver was 19. if he was 35, and still struck the person, would you then say 35 is too young? the pedestrian in this case is probably more to blame, because he had no bussiness being on an interstate. but because a 19 year old struck him, you are implying that no 19 year old belong behind the wheel of an ambulance. In this case, I don't believe that's a valid argument.

    oh, and btw, experience shouldn't mean age, it should mean how many years you have been driving a car.

    as Eng34FF stated, the Mass state fire marshal seems to be against volunteers, and in favor of strictly paid ones. apparently paid fire department apparatus never get into accidents, it's only us lowly volunteers. I guess those paid firefighters that also volunteer lose that experience when they aren't on the clock.

    anyone that drives like an idiot to calls should have to deal with the consequences. I agree that we shouldn't be responding directly to the scene, but i'm also smart enough to realize that most places don't have the call volume to support a duty shift like schedule. so sometimes you got to deal with things on a case by case basis.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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