Editorial: Honoring The Bravest And The Fallen

This month, we pay tribute to the Bravest of the Brave – the honorees in the Firehouse® Magazine Heroism and Community Service Awards program. We would like to thank the judges: Battalion Chief Robert Cobb of the Jersey City, NJ, Fire Department; retired Deputy Chief Michael L. Smith of Washington, D.C. Fire and Rescue; and Battalion Chief William Goldfeder, Loveland-Symmes, OH, Fire Department.

We would also like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors, for without their support this program would not be possible: The Charles Evans Foundation, Code 3 Collectibles and V.H. Blackinton Company Inc. You can find the descriptions of these heroic acts starting 54.

Several of our honorees were injured in the line of duty while performing their selfless acts without regard for their personal safety. One firefighter from St. Louis died at another incident a month after performing the rescue for which we honor him. There are many civilians who are better off due to the bravery and community service of our firefighters.

There is an “army of survivors” left by firefighters killed in the line of duty. We have averaged 104 firefighter deaths for the last several years. Recently, I attended the first National Line-of-Duty Death Prevention Summit in Tampa, FL, sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). The executive director of the NFFF, Ron Siarnicki, spearheaded the two-day meeting. The goal of the event is to reduce firefighter line-of-duty deaths by 25% in five years and a 50% reduction in 10 years.

Siarnicki addressed the audience of 200 and spoke about losing a firefighter approximately every 80 hours of the year. Within just a few days of the summit, six firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty. As Siarnicki said, “Our prayers and sympathies go out to all of their families and their departments. What better reason to act do we have besides this?”

Six major areas of concern were identified to aid in preventing line-of-duty deaths: structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, vehicle operations, firefighter health, wellness and fitness, training, and general research and fire prevention. A full report on the summit will be published as soon as possible. We will present the Summit Initiatives and proposed NFFF roles.

The NFFF and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) will be advocates for the initiatives. They will seek partners and ambassadors to move the initiatives forward, and they will report progress achieved. Finally, the NFFF has accepted responsibility to serve as the key communicator for the initiatives developed at the summit.

The dedication box on the table of contents page is empty this month. The reason is to bring emphasis on the line-of-duty-death issue. There are always too many names available to be used for each month’s dedication. Hopefully, someday we will reach the point when there will not be any names to be used to dedicate an issue.

This process, going forward and spearheaded by the NFFF, will require education, training, retraining, culture change and many other initiatives. Are we doing all we can do? Can we try a little harder? Will you do your share as the process is developed? We certainly can honor the memory of our fallen firefighters. No one wants to have to live the rest of his or her life with the memory of a co-worker killed in the line of duty or being a family member. They have to think about it all the time.

Speaking of paying tribute, we are honored to work with the American fire service. It takes many people to put out this publication each month, many of whom go unheralded. We work with the finest fire service writers and photographers to bring you the best information possible. We consider them to be part of the Firehouse® family, and we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our contributors.