Friday, November 6, 2009

An Average Week...for most of us

During this week, there were on average, over 10,173 structure fires in the United States. According to NFPA statistics the following occur on average in the U.S;

• A fire department responded to a fire every 20 seconds.
• One structure fire was reported every 59 seconds.
• One home structure fire was reported every 79 seconds
• One civilian fire injury was reported every 30 minutes.
• One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 33 minutes.
• One outside fire was reported every 41 seconds.
• One vehicle fire was reported every 122 seconds.

There are on average of Eight to Ten Firefighter Line-of-duty Deaths each month. There have been two LODD's reported this first week of November alone.

The fire service continues to struggle with the challenges, opposition and merits in adjusting, altering, and changing our strategic and tactical ways of doing business in the streets. Some disagree others are indifferent, but regardless of your positions; the business of firefighting is changing, to some it’s just not being recognized or acknowledged.

The traditional attitudes and beliefs of equating aggressive firefighting operations in all occupancy types coupled with the correlating, established and pragmatic operational strategies and tactics MUST not only be questioned, they need to be adjusted and modified; risk assessment, risk-benefit analysis, safety and survivability profiling, operational value and firefighter injury and LODD reduction must be further institutionalized to become a recognized part of modern firefighting operations. Fire suppression tactics must be adjusted for the rapidly changing methods and materials impacting all forms of building construction, occupancies and structures. The need to redefine the art and science of firefighting continues to be a passionate discussion point.

The demands and requirements of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger. As a result, risk management must become fluid and integrate all personnel. We must manage dynamic risks with a balanced approach of effective assessment, analysis and probability within command decision making that results in safety conscious strategies and tactics.

Don't mistake determined, effective and proactive firefighting with that of reckless, baseless and risk-preferring and self-indulging firefighting. There is a difference, a big difference! When we address relationships of Building Construction, Command Risk Management and Firefighter Safety with the occupancy and structural environment, all personnel, regardless of rank, need to equate the occupancy risk with strategic and tactical incident action plans. These safely compliment the identified firefighting operation risk, with the projected building risk profile and interface appropriate behavioral characteristics in the task level firefighting activities. Again, equating building, occupancy risk profiles with determined, effective and proactive firefighting.

Stop and reflect today, where do you stand? What are your true beliefs and convictions in regards to the developing safety culture that is being forged and institutionalized within our fire service?
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