Safety Summit Aims to Change Culture

EMMITSBURG, Md. -- While changing the culture of the fire service is a daunting task, it is achievable.

That's the message advocates heard repeatedly while attending the third annual Everyone Goes Home Safety Summit this past weekend at the National Fire Academy.

"I think we are making progress," said Bob Colameta,

Everyone has to be on board in order to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries. In addition to learning the tools of the trade, personnel are getting exposed to life-saving training as well.

Colameta said he's pleased that people from across the country understand the importance of that education, and are willing to spend the time to become instructors of the Courage To Be Safe program.

Some of the practices promoted are things that he believes everyone should want to do automatically rather than being told to do such as buckling up, stopping at intersections and being fit for duty.

He added that if departments can't do all 16 Life Safety Initiatives, be selective. "Pick one that enhances your strengths and shores up your weaknesses…"

Colameta added: "It is very encouraging to see and feel the momentum that the American fire service is grabbing onto." Video: Bob Colameta

Promoting the Courage To Be Safe program is a natural fit for Dan McDonough, a retired FDNY firefighter.

"I was at a rescue company where the primary mission is to save firefighters ... The Courage To Be Safe is another outlet to continue the mission to save firefighter lives."

McDonough understands that people often balk at changes, and drastic ones fail. However, focusing on one or two initiatives at first will move toward meeting the goal of reducing fatalities and injuries.

He pointed out that the New York State Fire Academy was the first to embrace the program.

McDonough, who travels around the country to deliver the program, doesn't stand in front of the podium or in one place. His animated delivery demonstrates his passion for his subject – saving lives. Video: Dan McDonough

Tom Taylor, an advocate in Washington, said he enjoyed the sessions. "It's great to re-ignite the fires here," he said with a laugh, adding that the sessions were inspiring.

Taylor said he believes crews are getting the message. However, change will be slow to come.

However, he said it's imperative that every department take a pro-active approach to safe practices.

Rich Marinucci, Everyone Goes Home program director, said there are a number of programs and a multitude of information offered to assist advocates.

"We're not asking people not to go to fires." he said, adding that the focus is and always has been asking firefighters to do their jobs safely.

Mariucci said people have a lot of things on their minds when they go out the door. Buckling up is imperative just in case.

He said crews owe it to their families as well as their fellow firefighters to buckle that seat belt. Video: Rich Marinucci