'2008 – The Year Without a Firefighter Fatality!'
I know this headline is fantasy, but this time next year wouldn't it be great to see this as the top story on FireRescue1.com? We, as American firefighters, have spoken about reducing firefighter deaths for decades. We have instituted SOPs, created Rapid Intervention Teams, pushed firefighter health and fitness and trained daily to ensure no more firefighters are killed.
And yet, each year, around 100 firefighters die. We rack our brains, train our bodies, practice multiple drillground evolutions, speak about firefighter survival and constantly preach the obvious: no firefighter deaths this year! Yet the numbers never decrease!
If you're reading this article, you can be counted as one of the many who are actively trying to reduce those numbers. You do this by constantly trying to learn new ways to keep yourself and crewmates safe. You do this by drilling on a skill until you can do it without thought. You do this by working out every shift and even on days off to ensure you not only can keep up with your team, but at times set the pace when necessary.
You do this by eating healthy and encouraging your crews to do the same. You do this by setting the example you expect your people to model. And most importantly, you do this by showing those brothers and sisters you are responsible for how to be safe in everything you do.
This year, my articles have addressed a number of different topics from a strategy/tactics viewpoint and have given you a snapshot into coordinating, supporting and practicing technical rescue disciplines. All these articles were written to assist those fire officers and firefighters who are looking for a new or different insight into how to do what we do better/quicker/safer.
I thank everyone who has read any or all of these articles this year for giving me the opportunity to strike out in a new professional direction. I expect that those individuals who read this will continue looking for that magic article that solves a problem or issue that they are currently having in their department.
I encourage everyone to seek education and skills from where ever they can find it in 2008. If everyone continues learning from websites such as this one, trying new skills and approaches and learning how to master our profession, some day we may actually be able to see the headline: "The Year Without a Firefighter Fatality!"
Stay safe in 2008 and look for ways to ensure "everyone goes home!"