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Why do firefighters fall out of fire apparatus?

No loss of time due to an injury from falling out of your rig is acceptable, and certainly not a loss of life

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire service personnel, and it starts with a question: Why are firefighters still falling out of fire apparatus?

The most obvious answer is a topic I’ve addressed in previous Today’s Tips. Many firefighters STILL are not wearing their seat belts. I am shocked and frankly outraged at how often this continues to be a factor in firefighter injuries and deaths.

Yes, the fire service has greatly improved its seat belt usage over the past 20 years. But it isn’t good enough. We can do better.

I passionately believe in the saying, “predictable is preventable.” Although the collision itself may not be preventable, being injured or killed due to a fall from your rig might be. What I am trying to say is don’t ignore the holes in the Swiss cheese. When they line up, we experience a tragedy.

But seat belts aren’t always the culprit. Door latch failures contributed to several recent incidents of firefighters falling from their rigs.

I’m willing to bet some of those failures stem from seat belts getting stuck in the latch because they aren’t correctly strapped around the occupant. But in other cases, complacency around vehicle performance is to blame. You know the story: “That door is always acting weird. Just get in, and let’s roll.”

That attitude is not OK. In fact, it can cost you your life. What is your department policy for reporting mechanical issues or equipment malfunctions? Are you familiar with the notification and tracking process for fleet maintenance? And even if you have the right policies and procedures in place, is it your department’s culture to follow them?

No loss of time due to an injury from falling out of your rig is acceptable, and certainly not a loss of life. Commit today to always wearing your seat belt and doing everything you can to ensure your apparatus is ready for safe operation.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.