Firefighting, Leadership

IAFC to Develop Near-Miss Reporting System

Fairfax, VA – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) announced at Fire-Rescue International that it will develop and implement a Near-Miss Reporting System for the fire service. Supported by more than a million dollars in grants from the Department of Homeland Security and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, the IAFC system will track “close call” incidents in the fire service – those incidents that do not lead to physical harm, but that would have, were it not for some fortunate break in the chain of events.

“The IAFC is committed to improving the safety of millions of firefighters with this grant,” said Chief Ernest Mitchell, 2003-2004 president of the IAFC. “This anonymous reporting system will be crucial in providing the fire service with the information it needs to create change in operations and training to avoid injuries and deaths in the future.”

Firefighter death and injury rates have continued to occur at a constant rate, in spite of significant improvements in technology and personal protective equipment, and death and injury reports indicate that a number of these deaths are due in large part to human error and not to technological failure. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that for every 100 incidents of injury, one million close call incidents go unreported. The Near-Miss Reporting System will help the fire service track the close calls-incidents that do not lead to serious injury or death-and learn from these human errors to increase its overall ability to protect firefighters and the communities they serve.

The airline industry founded a near-miss reporting system 25 years ago and can prove statistically that tracking near-miss incidents has significantly decreased the number of aviation injuries and deaths. Several other organizations, including the Department of Transportation, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. military, have addressed near-miss reporting and are receiving similar results in changing the number of injuries and fatalities.

The Department of Homeland Security has awarded the IAFC a grant in the amount of $750,000 under the Assistance to Firefighters grant program. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company is providing a $322,000 grant for the program through its Fireman’s Fund Heritage(SM) initiative, which supports firefighters for safer communities.

“Fireman’s Fund is proud to be partnering with the IAFC on this important program,” said Darryl Siry, vice president, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. “Ensuring that firefighters are safe on the job allows them to be there for us when we need them.”

“The Department of Homeland Security and USFA are aware and very concerned about the firefighter death and injury rates,” said R. David Paulison, the United States fire administrator. “These unacceptable figures will only be reduced when we stop focusing solely on line of duty deaths, and begin to gather and study the near-miss information which will ultimately lead to the prevention of firefighter losses.”

“The partnership with Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and the Department of Homeland Security is critical to the success of the program-and to the lives of the more than one million firefighters in the United States,” said Mitchell. “We thank them for their generous support of the fire service.”