Time for the next step in firefighter safety

Marking the 10th anniversary of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives is a time to identify new leaders and goals to improve firefighter safety

Marking the 10th anniversary of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives is a time to identify new leaders and goals to improve firefighter safety

The 10th anniversary of an event is a significant milestone. Whether it's acknowledging 10 years in your job, with your department, achieving a specific rank, or something more personal, it's common to pause and reflect on the meaningful moments that have occurred during those years.

In a few months, the fire service will be reaching a significant milestone — 10 years since the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation sponsored the Firefighter Life Safety Summit in Tampa, Fla. As we were planning the summit, we hoped those two days would inspire thought-provoking conversation that would galvanize some changes in our collective behaviors and attitudes.

These have occurred not only on the fireground but also in our training, education and daily interactions at stations nationwide. When we wrapped up the summit with the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives in hand, we knew we had laid the foundation for a positive new direction in the culture of firefighter safety.

When I consider how much has improved in those relatively short 10 years, I am not only pleased by what we set in motion, but extremely proud of how so many of you have helped to ensure the success of the initiatives.

During this time we have seen a decrease in the number of line-of-duty deaths that occur each year because of the positive actions so many of you have taken. I’m talking about the emphasis on using seat belts every time wheels roll, improving your diet and exercise habits, enrolling in various training and education opportunities and sharing your knowledge and experience with new members of your departments.

Tampa 2
While all of this is extremely encouraging and worth praising, we should not rest on our laurels. There's still more to do. That's why we're convening TAMPA2 – Building for the Future, March 10-12, 2014.

Our purpose is to celebrate, to reaffirm and to identify our future leadership.

We'll begin by looking at the success of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives and how far the fire service has come in just 10 years. When you think about the longevity of our nation's fire service, these changes that have occurred in such a short amount of time are remarkable.

I can't help but wonder how many other 200-year-old organizations can claim to have achieved as much as we have in terms of updating and modifying our attitudes, behaviors and culture.

It will then be time to get down to business and reassess our objectives. We'll look at each Initiative and discuss what works and what needs to be modified. New materials and training programs will be developed from these discussions.

New safety leaders
Finally, we will identify key future leaders. Since 2004, one generation of fire service leadership has retired and another wave is preparing to move on. Now is the time to identify our rising stars.

In the tradition of the fire station shift "pass down," we must consider what this new group needs to know to successfully continue the mission of firefighter safety. 

In addition to key fire service leadership, NFFF is inviting all the major fire service organizations to send one or two representatives. We believe this will ensure a strong representation of American firefighters. I’m also pleased to say that the Foundation is offering scholarships to approximately 25 young fire officers we see as emerging leaders.

There is a possibility that spaces will be available. To add your name to the stand-by list, please contact Amy Tippet

The past decade was an extremely important era in the history of the fire service. Many of you played a critical role in bringing us to this point. I thank you for embracing the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives and for your commitment to the men and women you serve with in your communities. I look forward to the future when everyone goes home.

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