Duty And Responsibility To Act Safely

Oct. 12, 2005
TOPIC: DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT SAFELY TIME REQUIRED: TWO HOURS MATERIALS: APPROPRIATE AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS REFERENCES: Fire Department Safety Officer, 1st ed., International Fire Service Training Association; Essentials of Fire Fighting, 4th ed., International Fire Service Training Association PREPARATION:




REFERENCES: Fire Department Safety Officer, 1st ed., International Fire Service Training Association; Essentials of Fire Fighting, 4th ed., International Fire Service Training Association


MOTIVATION: Safety is everyone’s responsibility and not just that of the officers. If an unsafe is observed or about to take place, it should be made known so that the work environment can be made safer.


The firefighter will demonstrate a general knowledge of safe practices at the station and at the emergency scene.



   * Regulations and Standards

   * Scene Safety

   * Standard Operating Procedures


SPO: The firefighter will demonstrate a general knowledge of safe practices at the station and at the emergency scene.

EO 1-1 List some of the laws, regulations, and standards that apply to making the fire service a safer place in which to operate. EO 1-2 Identify various practices that contribute to an unsafe emergency scene.

EO 1-3 Identify elements of standard operating procedures that can improve safety in the station and at the emergency scene.

This drill should be conducted as an interactive discussion to increase safety awareness among all in attendance. Everyone should be empowered to take action to reduce or eliminate unsafe practices and procedures.

NOTE: The term “employee” is used many places in this guide because it is used in the respective laws. It is intended to refer to both career and volunteer members of the fire and rescue service.


A. Occupational Safety and Health Act (PL 91-596) Signed into Law in 1970

  1. Instructed Secretary of Labor to promulgate mandatory occupational safety and health standards

  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created in Department of Labor

  3. Section 5(b) of the Act required all employees to comply with the "standards, rules, regulations, 

      and orders issued pursuant to this Act"

B. Requirements of Employers Covered under OSHA Regulations

  1. Furnish each employee a place of employment free from recognized hazards that would cause or

      likely to cause death or serious physical harm

  2. Comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under PL 91-596

  3. Fire service required to comply with all applicable OSHA regulations published in Title 29, Code

      of Federal Regulations (CFR), or equivalent regulations issued by state government that elect to

      assume responsibility for the development of standards and enforcement (MARYLAND IS AN


  4. Although 29 CFR 1910, Subpart L, Fire Protection Industrial Fire Brigades, did not apply directly

      to municipal fire departments or fire protection districts, it contained applicable requirements for fire


  5. 29 CFR 1910.1200 hazard communication standard

  6. Fire departments covered by numerous other applicable regulations

      a. General industry standard (29 CFR 1910)

      b. Parts of construction standard (29 CFR 1926), in particular Subpart P on excavations (trench


  7. In years since adoption of 29 CFR 1910, requirements have increased with mandates

      a. Hazardous materials mitigation (29 CFR 1910.120) which includes a requirement for an incident

          management system

      b. Confined space entry (29 CFR 1910.146)

      c. Increased respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134) which includes the two-in/two-out


     d. Infection control, identification, and notification (29 CFR 1910.1030)

C. NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program Published in 1987 to meet mandates of Federal hovernment

  1. Provides minimum requirements for fire service related occupational safety and health program

  2. Specifies health and safety guidelines for fire department and emergency services personnel

      involved in rescue, fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials operations,

     special operations, and other related activities

  3. Standard mandates safety training program, health and safety committee and position of health and

      safety officer within organization

D. Maryland Fire Service Health and Safety Consensus Standard ( copy is included at the end of the Guide)

  1. Issued by Maryland Occupational Safety and Health on January 1, 2002

  2. Provides a policy for development of health and safety standard by local fire and rescue

      departments within Maryland to protect members during emergency operations

  3. Standard applicable to all members of public safety departments that provide rescue, fire

      suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials mitigation, special operations, and

      other emergency services in Maryland

  4. Standard consists of sixteen sections

      a. Purpose

      b. Scope

      c. Definitions

     d. Organizational statement and operational procedures

     e. Implementation period

     f. Medical standards

     g. Substance abuse program

     h. Personal protective equipment (PPE) standards

     i. Emergency operations standards

     j. Investigation of vehicle collisions and personnel injuries

     k. Vehicles

     l. Tools and equipment

    m. Facility Safety

    n. Workplace violence

   o. Post incident analysis and critiques

   p. Revisions to the consensus standard

E. Legal, Ethical, and Economic Factors to Consider

  1. Legal responsibilities

      a. Responsibility for providing occupational safety and health program based upon applicable laws,

          codes, and standards

      b. Management has legal and ethical obligations to comply with law

  2. Ethical factors

      a. Fire chief takes pro-active approach to ensure safe and healthy work environment

      b. Approach means making safety primary part of department's policies and procedures

      c. Administration must show it supports creation, implementation, and enforcement of health and

          safety program

  3. Economic considerations

      a. Pro-active occupational safety and health program is means for protecting department's assets

         and protecting against catastrophic loss

      b. Cost of prevention is offset by savings from lost-time injuries, training replacement employees,

          worker's compensation costs, equipment replacement, and possible litigation


The portion of the lesson guide should be used as an opportunity to review various tasks and activities undertaken by firefighters on the emergency scene and identify potential safety concerns. This list is not intended to be all-inclusion but only to offer some points for discussion.

A. Personal Safety

  1. Walk rather than run on the scene and watch where you are walking

  2. Watch for slippery surfaces

  3. Hydrate regularly whether or not you need it and rest periodically

  4. Watch out for each other before taking any action

  5. Use common sense when undertaking any activity

  6. Work within the established accountability system and avoid freelancing by staying with your officer

      and crew

  7. Make sure the scene is safe before stopping and exiting the apparatus

      a. Downed power lines that may energize vehicles at a automobile accident or the ground as you

          step off the apparatus

      b. Stability of the building

      c. Moving traffic or other arriving emergency vehicles, especially on heavily traveled roadways

          where traffic had not been rerouted or halted

      d. Unusual conditions that may indicate the presence of explosives or other hazards designed injury

          responding personnel

      e. Individuals who may become violent

      f. Situations such as domestic violence or use of weapons where the scene has not been made safe

         by law enforcement personnel

      g. The presence or potential presence of hazardous materials

      h. Potential release of materials from a closed container exposed to high levels of heat

  8. Wear personal protective clothing appropriate for the particular incident and work to be performed

       and have it on before beginning any work

  9. Utilize respiratory protection anytime you are working in an immediately dangerous to life and

      health (IDLH) environment and make sure that personal alert safety system (PASS) device is


  10. Work in teams of two or more and stay in constant contact with each other

  11. Use ground fault interrupter receptacles or breakers with any electrical powered equipment

  12. Have a rapid intervention team constantly available to help firefighters or teams in need of


  13. Do not fuel tools and equipment until they have cooled sufficiently

B. Search and Rescue Safety

  1. Do not enter a building in which the fire has progressed to the point where viable victims are not

      likely to be found

  2. Attempt entry only after ventilation is accomplished when backdraft conditions exist

  3. Work from a single operational plan

  4. Monitor fire conditions that might affect search teams and individual firefighters

  5. Be aware of the secondary means of egress established for personnel involved in the search

  6. Search systematically to increase efficiency and to reduce the possibility of becoming disoriented

  7. Stay low and move cautiously while searching

  8. Stay alert and use all senses

  9. Feels doors for excessive heat before opening them

  10. Mark entry doors into rooms, remember the direction turned when entering the room, and turn

        the opposite direction when exiting

  11. Maintain contact with a wall when visibility is obscured and extend reach by using ropes or straps

  12. Have a charged hoseline at hand whenever possible when working on the fire floor or the floor

        immediately above or below the fire because it can be used as a guide for egress as well as 


  13. Coordinate with ventilation teams before opening windows to relieve heat and smoke during


  14. Close the door, report the condition, and be guided by the supervisor’s orders if fire is

        encountered during a search

  15. Report promptly to the supervisor once the search is complete

  16. If disoriented, remain calm, retrace steps to the original location if possible, seek an exit from the

        building or fire area, locate a hoseline and follow it if one is available, utilize a radio if available, or

        shout or activate the PASS device

C. Entry Safety

  1. Tools should be carried properly to protect the firefighter and anyone who might be near the tool

  2. When using hand tools for forcible tool, a safety check should be made to avoid striking someone

       with the tool or debris produced when using the tool

  3. Clean all glass out of an opening with a tool before reaching through it

  4. Eye and respiratory protection should be worn when operating hand tools and hearing protection

      may also be needed for power tools

  5. Any guards, shields, or other tool-safety devices that the manufacturer provides with power tool

      should be in place and used as intended

  6. Match the saw with the task and the material to be cut and never push the saw beyond its design


  7. Do not use any power saw when working in a flammable atmosphere or near flammable liquids

  8. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for proper saw operation

  9. Keep blades and chains well sharpened

  10. Be aware of hidden hazards such as electrical wires, gas lines, and water lines

  11. Make sure that doors and windows will stay open once opened

  12. Plan the entry before making an opening in a load-bearing masonry wall

  13. Be aware that sudden movement can take place when applying force with power tools

D. Ladder Safety

  1. Choose the proper ladder for the job

  2. Use leg muscles, not back or arm muscles, when lifting ladders below the waist

  3. Use the proper number of firefighters for each raise

  4. Make sure that ladders are not raised into electrical wires

  5. Check the ladder for the proper climbing angle

  6. Check the pawls to be sure that they are seated over the rungs

  7. Make sure that the ladder is secure at the top or the bottom (preferably both) before climbing

  8. Climb smoothly and rhythmically

  9. Do not overload the ladder

  10. Always tie in to ground ladders with a leg locak or ladder belt when working from the ladder

  11. Inspect ladders for damage and wear after each use

E. Ventilation Safety

  1. Observe the wind direction with relation to exposures

  2. Work with the wind at your back or side to provide protection while cutting the roof opening

  3. Note the existence of obstructions or excess weight on the roof when may make operations more

      difficult or reduce the amount of time before a roof fails

  4. Provide a secondary means of escape for crews on the roof

  5. Exercise care in making the opening so that main the structural supports are not cut

  6. Guard any openings to prevent personnel from falling into the building

  7. Evacuate the roof promptly when ventilation work is complete

  8. Use lifelines, roof ladders, or other means to protect personnel from sliding and falling off the roof

  9. Make sure that a roof ladder (if used) is firmly secured over the peak of the roof before operating

      from it

  10. Exercise caution in working around electric wires and guy wires

  11. Caution axe users to beware of overhead obstructions within the range of their axe

  12. Start power tools on the ground to ensure operation but shut them off before hoisting or carrying

        to the roof

  13. Make sure that the angle of the cut is not toward the body

  14. Extend ladders at least five rungs above the roofline and secure the ladder

  15. Check the roof for structural integrity before stepping on it and do not jump onto a roof without

       checking it first

  16. Use pre-incident planning and surveys to identify buildings that have roofs supported by

        lightweight or wooden trusses

  17. Be aware that melting asphalt, “spongy” roof that is normally solid, smoke coming from the roof,

        and fire coming from the roof may be warning signs of an unsafe roof condition; consider using a

        ladder to better distribute weight

  18. Work in groups of at least two, with no more people than absolutely necessary to get the job


  19. Wear eye protection when working with positive pressure ventilation equipment

F. Fire Attack Safety

  1. Make sure all hose connections are secure

  2. Be careful when working around a static water source

  3. Be alert for dangers

      a. Imminent building collapse

      b. Fire that is behind, below, or above the attack team

      c. Kinks or obstructions to the hoseline

      d. Holes, weak stairs, or other fall hazards

      e. Suspended loads on fire-weakened supports

      f. Hazardous or highly flammable commodities likely to spill

      g. Backdraft or flashover conditions

      h. Electrical shock hazards

      i. Overexertion, confusion, or panic by team members

      j. Victims

  3. Make sure that all firefighters are positioned on the same side of the attack line

  4. Stay to the side of door or window to avoid blocking the opening or being in the path of the fire

  5. Feel door by exposing back of wrist by pulling down wristlet

  6. Bleed air out of hoseline before entering the area

  7. Stay low and out of the path of heat and smoke

  8. When possible, advance up stairways before charging the hoseline

  9. Do not allow a charged attack line to pin you against a corner, bend, or turn

  10. A charged attack line in an vision-obscured area poses a falling or tripping hazard

  11. Know what you are descending into before you move into a confined area with thick black

        smoke, zero visibility, and the potential for a flashover

  12. Position firefighters at corners to feed hose and keep it kink-free

  13. Do not descend into a basement area or down stairwells without a charged attack line ready

  14. Use a nozzle pattern that will give appropriate reach and penetration without upsetting the thermal

        balance or producing excessive steam

  15. Use the attack method (direct, indirect, or combination) appropriate for the size of the fire and

        level of heat

  16. Do not allow streams to be directed into openings created for ventilation

  17. If necessary, cool the area before entering to reduce the potential for injury or a flashover

  18. Make sure that you know where everyone in the area is and that no one is in an opening before

        opening the nozzle

  19. Consider venting the area by opening a window just prior to initiating attack

  20. Have a charged hoseline in place and ready for use when overhauling

  21. Continue to use respiratory protection during the overhaul process until it has been determine that

        air in the area is safe without respiratory protection

  22. Do not operate master streams for interior attack when firefighters are operating inside the


  23. Coordinate the fire attack so that attack lines are not advancing from opposing directions

  24. Select the proper size hoseline and nozzle flow rate for the amount of fire being attacked


A. Why are they needed?

  1. Reduces chaos on the scene

  2. All resources can be used in a coordinated effort to rescue victims, stabilize the incident, and

      conserve property

  3. Incorporate safety as a top priority

  4. Provide guidance that can be used on any type of incident including medical emergencies

B. What do they include? Here is an example

  1. All personnel will wear complete protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus

  2. The first unit on the scene assumes command

  3. The first-arriving engine attacks the fire

  4. The second-arriving engine lays a supply line(s) to the first engine

  5. The third arriving engine performs the duties of the rapid intervention team

  6. The first-arriving ladder truck performs necessary forcible entry, search, rescue, and ventilation

C. How do they contribute to personal safety

  1. Complete the incident command system

  2. Improve accountability and reduce the opportunity to freelance

  3. Provide some guidance on the assignment for each responding unit and the personnel on that unit

  4. Provide guidance when it may be necessary stage while the scene is being secured (violent incident)

REVIEW: Look at reports and articles related to firefighter injuries and deaths to identify any lessons that can be learned and incorporated into departmental operating procedures.


   * Regulations and Standards

   * Scene Safety

   * Standard Operating Procedures

REMOTIVATION: Everyone is responsible for safety on the incident scene. Coupled with this is the requirement that everyone operate in a safe manner. Safety begins at the individual level regardless of what policies, procedures, laws, and regulations are in place.

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