(August 31) - International Association of Fire Chiefs President William Killen told delegates Thursday that the fire service must reduce line of duty deaths by 50 percent.
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"It is possible. We can accomplish this. We must accomplish this," he said.
Killen challenged fire fighters to make a commitment to improve safety.
"Do not accept the status quo. Do not leave here and do nothing," he said. "This will work. This will require change. This will not be easy."
Killen said he supports programs like the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System and supports making the International Fire Fighter Safety Stand Down an annual initiative.
"Fire fighter safety starts with you," he said. "I challenge each of you to return to your fire departments and set that example."
But there is serious work yet to be done to bolster fire safety, he added, and he vowed to work with the IAFF to achieve those goals. "We have come a long way together, but we have a lot to do," Killen said.
Patrick Burke, president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, echoed Killen’s remarks in his address to delegates.
Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs Patrick Burke promised to help advanced issues affecting the fire service as a whole.
"I promise you that the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and the IAFF will work together to advance fire service issues affecting all of us," said Burke, who is the fire chief in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
"We are making giant leaps forward in Canada to make sure the IAFF and Canadian fire chiefs are working together," Burke said.
Killen also expressed support for New Orleans fire fighters, who continue to fight for an increase in wages, and he thanked fire fighters who traveled to the Gulf Coast to help with recovery efforts there following Hurricane Katrina one year ago.
"That willingness to help during recovery efforts is one of those characteristics that makes us proud to be called fire fighters. The disaster in the Gulf Coast is not over," Killen said. "We must continue to support fire fighters during their long rebuilding process."
For more coverage of the IAFF's 48th Biennial Convention, click here to go to the IAFF's site