Firefighting

Lack of Tactics is Killing Us

Issue 6 and Volume 153.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 112 firefighters died in the line of duty in 1999. That’s the highest yearly total since 1989 and a 19 percent jump in one year. Fifty percent of these deaths occurred on the fireground. Forty-three percent of fireground deaths were the result of catastrophic events in fire buildings. Fireground heart attacks (“stress and overexertion”) accounted for more than that. Add to this the fact that the rate of line-of-duty fireground deaths per structure fire has remained relatively constant, and it is very clear-as it has been for years-that fire response practices are tragically deficient. In the wake of the “new” statistics, you will hear the usual litany: “Our incident management systems are not adequate. Our PASS devices are not activated. Our accountability systems are not being employed. Our gear allows firefighters to be `too aggressive.’ We’re not using the standards.” The implication, of…

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