I recently posted this on my Firefighter Nation blog.
A lot of us make New Year's Resolutions to break bad habits, make positive changes in our lives, or to set a goal that we want to meet during the new year. We often see firefighters who make New Year's Resolutions to improve safety for their departments. These changes can be as simple as reminding ourselves to pay attention to details, to base our actions on size-up and not on thoughtless reactions, or something similar. They can also be as complicated as implementing a new safety program within your department.
Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break, so making a positive impact on safety is difficult, and some of those changes will - unfortunately - be short-lived.Without changing our culture to improve safety, we'll be stuck with SOS - the Same Old Stuff. I don't like SOS, because a big part of SOS is getting the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation's LODD notices. I subscribe to their listserve, so I get the notices as soon as they're distributed. 2008 ended with SOS. The 114th LODD notice for the year was published on December 31. New Year's Eve is my birthday, but the LODD notice really cuts into the "Happy" part of the birthday. It really puts a damper on the celebration.
Unfortunately, 2009 seems to have started with more SOS. I recieved another LODD notice today - the first one of the New Year. There will probably be many more. Let's all make a New Year's Resolution to do everything within our power to eradicate safety SOS this year. Let's do the little things that make the scene safer for us and our fellow firefighters. Slow down. Pay attention. Don't freelance. Work in teams. Follow ICS and accountability principles. Don't conduct interior firefights in Born Losers. Drive safely. Wear your seatbelt. Use good roadway safety practices. Get in shape. Eat healthy foods. Stay hydrated. Rehab. If you need help, ask for it. If you feel bad - especially at a fire - ask for help.
Most important, all of us need to institute and maintain a safety culture in our departments and with those departments with whom we run mutual aid. Let's try to see a significant decrease in those LODD notices this year. I'm making a New Year's Resolution to do everything I can to avoid SOS behaviors.