Fairfax, Va., October 24 -- The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System reached a milestone with the submission of report #06-515, the 1000th report submitted to the system.
Chief Jim Harmes, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the organization that administers the program, said, "This report represents the growing success of this important, life-saving initiative. Near-miss reporting is taking lessons learned from firehouse kitchen tables across the country and making them available to anyone with internet access."
One indication of the program’s success is that it is being embraced by all aspects of the fire service community. Forty-six U.S. states and two Canadian provinces have submitted reports to www.firefighternearmiss.com. Reports are received equally from firefighters, company officers and chief officers. The program's popular feature "Report of the Week" is now read by more than 30,000 people.
Almost half of all near-miss reports involve fire emergency events, such as structure fires, vehicle fires and wildland fires. About 20 percent of reports occurred during non-fire emergency events, such as emergency medical calls and technical rescues. Another 20 percent of the reports are categorized as vehicle events, such as responding to or returning from a call. The remainder of the reports are divided between on-duty events and training events.
Early analysis of reports submitted in the Fire Emergency Events category points to several human factors as leading contributing factors to near misses (see accompanying graph). The field is self-selected by the reporter. Up to five contributing factors can be selected for an event. This information is providing a foundation for formulating new strategies and program development. These new initiatives will seek to improve firefighter performance in the hazard zone, promote sound risk-versus-reward thinking and move toward an intentional-actions mindset in lieu of reactive, aggressive action.
"One thousand firefighters have seen value in sharing their experiences, and thousands more have visited firefighternearmiss.com to read reports, download resources and learn from others' experiences. I encourage everyone in the fire service to visit the site often to make our profession safer for our communities, our fellow firefighters and ourselves," Chief Harmes continued.
Dennis Smith, chair of the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System task force, commented that "reaching this milestone sets us on track to begin making consequential sense of our reports and to provide analysis for our fire departments to help them save lives. We've already seen patterns emerge, such as a high number of near-miss incidents involving power lines. Understanding these incidents help fire departments develop procedures to make our firefighters safer."
The program is continuing to make improvements based on user feedback. The new "Resources" section of firefighternearmiss.com launched in September. This component of the website will provide videos, photos, training presentations, statistics and sample newsletter articles. Visitors to this section can also upload information for sharing with the fire service community. All material is screened prior to posting to ensure departmental approval. Check the page periodically for new additions.
The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System, in collaboration with the National Programs Department of the IAFC, was created in August 2005 with the goal of improving firefighter safety by collecting, sharing and analyzing real world near-miss experiences. The system is voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. The program is supported by Firefighter Close Calls in mutual dedication to firefighter safety and survival.