Indy's after-action report holds safety lessons for all

Providing proper, up-to-date equipment and keeping it thoroughly inspected and maintained will keep us safer


I'm sure you all join me in wishing Indianapolis Fire Department Firefighter Chris McGrone a continued and full recovery from the injuries he sustained during an arson fire Aug. 16.

Kudos, as well, to the IFD for releasing a comprehensive after-action report that reinforces some key lessons we see reiterated over and over in stories on FireRescue1.

Even in my relatively short fire service career, the protection afforded by personal protective equipment, including protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus, has substantially increased our margin of safety during interior structural firefighting operations.

At the same time, we know that any engineered system has multiple failure modes. Whether from unrecognized design issues, maintenance concerns, unforeseen events or exceeding safety margins, our brothers and sisters can still be harmed in what remains an inherently chaotic and dangerous environment.

So how do we guard against these threats?

First, we can do everything possible to help ensure our departments provide PPE, vehicles and other equipment that meets contemporary standards. Money is always an issue, but the fact is that standards change for good reasons; and often, unfortunately, it's due to injuries suffered by other firefighters who've gone before.

Second, we can make sure our equipment is properly maintained and inspected at all times. Again, this isn't always easy, but our lives can depend on getting it right.

Last but not least, we need to fully understand and train on both the capabilities and limitations of our vehicles, gear, equipment, tools and our most important resource — our bodies.

Stay safe!

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