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Near-Miss Program Nationally Recognized for Excellence

FAIRFAX, Va. — The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System recently was honored with an Award of Excellence in the first round of the judging for the 2006 Associations Advance America awards program, sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives and The Center for Association Leadership.

"Firefighter fatalities and injuries have been occurring at a near steady rate for the last 15 years, despite improvements in PPE, equipment, apparatus and a decrease in structure fires. Other industries, especially aviation, credit near-miss reporting with saving lives. Since near-miss reporting has worked so effectively in other industries, the natural conclusion is that it will have similar results for the fire service," said Chief Bill Killen, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the organization that administers the program. "We are delighted that this important program will not only save lives, but also is recognized as an outstanding program with critical impact that moves our nation forward."

Too many first responders are injured or die needlessly on the job. Firefighter injury and fatality statistics have steadily increased over the last 15 years when compared to a decrease in the number of structure fires. In 2003 alone, emergency vehicles were involved in 15,900 collisions, which led to 5,500 injuries and 33 deaths.

Aside from the personal impact of a firefighter injury, there is an economic toll. According to the 2005 National Institute on Standards and Technology (NIST) Report on Consequences of Fire Fighter Injuries, non-fatal firefighter injuries and prevention efforts cost anywhere from $2.8 billion to $7.8 billion per year. Aviation near-miss reporting experts have stated that near miss data collection, analysis and event sharing in the fire service can reduce these costs. Approximately one million of these near-miss events-unintentional, unsafe acts that could have resulted in an injury, fatality or property damage-occur in the fire service each year.

"Firefighters can use near-miss reports as educational tools," said Battalion Chief John Tippett, a program manager for the near-miss project. Analyzed data will be used to identify patterns, which can assist in formulating strategies to reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities. Depending on the urgency, information will be presented to the fire service community via program reports, press releases and e-mail alerts.

The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System was created to turn near-miss experiences into lessons learned for everyone in the fire service community. The near-miss program collects, shares and analyzes near-miss experiences to formulate strategies to reduce the number of firefighter injuries and fatalities. The reporting system is free, voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure.

The project is funded by grants from the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and supported by FirefighterCloseCalls.com. For more information or to submit a report or for more information, visit www.firefighternearmiss.com.

This is the second year in a row that the IAFC has been recognized by ASAE. Last year, the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery® campaign earned an Award of Excellence as well. Through an IAFC and Energizer® brand batteries partnership, hundreds of thousands of families now change their smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks back in the fall. Prevention is key to saving lives, and working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half.

About the IAFC
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is the voice of fire and emergency service leaders around the world. Established in 1873, the IAFC is a powerful network of nearly 13,000 chief fire and emergency service officers who are the world's leading experts in fire fighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials, natural disasters, search and rescue, and fire prevention and education.

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