L-R: Garry Briese, IAFC Executive Director; author Dennis Smith, chair of the task force; John Tippet, Near Miss project manager; Melissa Hebert,Near Miss Project Assistant; and Chief David Daniels, chair of the IAFC Health
Photo credit: Jule Gardner
The first of three meetings of the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting Task Force took place at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia on December 16 and 17, 2004. The task force, chaired by author Dennis Smith, well known for his commitment to fire fighter safety, was assembled to assist in implementing a national near-miss reporting system for the nation's fire service. The effort is funded by grants from the U. S. Fire Administration and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.
Sparked by an information exchange between the fire service, aviation industry and military more than four years ago, the development of a near-miss reporting system for the fire service is necessary to reduce fire fighter line of duty deaths and injuries. One factor surfaced immediately. Parallels between operations in the cockpit, the military chain of command and the fire service make a near-miss reporting system for the fire service a logical option to explore.
The aviation industry has accumulated 28 years of data in its near-miss reporting system. Linda Connell, Director of the NASA Airline Safety Reporting System, told the group that the keys to the aviation system's documented success lie in its confidentiality, non-punitive posture, buy-in from all stakeholders (i.e., Air Line Pilots Association, Federal Aviation Administration), and feedback from the stakeholders validating the program success.