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Firefighter Safety
by Ronald J. Siarnicki

Fallen firefighters: Picking up the pieces of a deadly 2013

By July we had the same number of line of duty deaths as we had for all of 2012

By Ronald J. Siarnicki

As has been discussed before, this has been a devastating year for the United States fire service. By July we experienced the same number of line of duty deaths as we had in all of 2012.

While several of these events involved multiple firefighters and garnered national attention, there were many others across the country that resulted in the untimely death of one person.

No matter the cause or the circumstances, every line of duty death is distressing. It's imperative that we honor our fallen brothers and sisters by remembering their survivors and doing everything within our powers to make safety our priority.

So as I think about 2013 and look toward 2014, I consider what the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation has accomplished and still has to offer.

Through the tireless work of our staff, contractors and educators, we will provide comfort and resources to all the relatives and friends through our Survivors Network, Annual Survivors Conference, Kids Camps and scholarship programs. We will also continue to offer training programs such as Courage To Be Safe, LACK, After Action Review, and Curbside Manner: Stress First Aid for the Street.

Optimistic outlook
I am looking forward to the discussions and outcomes of Tampa 2. Not only will we assess the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives, we will identify potential new leaders who can carry the fire service into the future.

I am also optimistic about the progress we're making with the Vulnerability Assessment Project. Before long, this tool will be available to help departments identify their potential risks for injuries and deaths, and provide steps to correct these issues.

To achieve these goals and fulfill our mission, we need your help.

Whether you or someone you know has benefited from the efforts of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation — either as a survivor or participant in any of the training — then you understand the valuable services we provide. But as more people rely on our assistance, we also need support.

So I am asking you to consider making a donation to the NFFF this year. You will be giving a gift of hope and comfort to a survivor or an opportunity for better training to another firefighter. You can do this online at

And I also ask that you give the greatest gift to your loved ones: Your pledge to buckle up before wheels role, make healthy lifestyle choices and actively participate in every training opportunity that comes your way.

Stay safe. 

About the author

Fire Chief Ronald Jon Siarnicki began his fire service career with the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department in 1978 and with 24 years of fire, rescue and emergency medical services operational experience, he has progressed through the ranks to chief. In July 2001, Chief Siarnicki retired from the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department to take the position of executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. He is a graduate of the masters program, school of management and technology at the University of Maryland, University College and has a bachelor's of science degree in fire science management from UMUC. He is a certified Fire Officer IV, Firefighter Level III and State Emergency Medical Technician. Prior to joining the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, he served as a volunteer firefighter with the Monessen VFD Hose House 2 and currently serves with the United Communities VFD in Stevensville, Md. Chief Siarnicki can be reached at

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