Firefighters serve a sacred duty to protect life and property in their communities, but they also must serve a higher duty to themselves and their families — to make sure that everyone goes home. It is in that spirit that Hale presented its 2012 Safe Firefighter of the Year Award to Hal Doughty, deputy chief of operations of Durango Fire & Rescue in Durango, Colorado.
Hale selected Chief Doughty from the 2011 winners of its Safe Firefighter of the Month program. The program recognizes firefighters who carry out the 16 Life Safety Initiatives outlined in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s “Courage to Be Safe” campaign. For his commitment to the 16 Life Safety Initiatives and his history of implementing safety initiatives in the department’s policies and procedures, Chief Doughty received a $5,000 award and a Hale portable pump of his choice for Durango Fire & Rescue.
Although Chief Doughty has only been with Durango Fire & Rescue for about three years, he has been a firefighter for more than 20 years. During his time with the company, Chief Doughty has implemented a program for company performance tasks (CPTs) that involve “playbook” operations for structure fire calls. He has expanded this to cover wildland fires and continues to expand the CPTs to other fire service operations such as engineering and leadership roles for captains and BCs.
Chief Doughty saw a need for a fitness program, as many of the department’s line firefighters had no particular regimen in the gym, and fitness seemed relatively voluntary. He implemented guidelines set forth by the Cooper Institute for health and fitness evaluations. These evaluations give individuals a baseline fitness level and goals to make for the next year.
Along with the Cooper evaluations, the department does a pack test every year, and Chief Doughty has also implemented a Fitness Assessment Test (FAT) for return to duty firefighters who are injured on the job. Chief Doughty has written a fitness SOP that includes a medical physical plan, annual fitness assessment test, pack test, fitness program and wellness program.
In addition, Chief Doughty is working with neighboring mutual aid fire departments on a countywide accountability SOP to include passport placards and on-scene company tags. He is also working on a countywide Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) SOP. Other initiatives the chief is working on to keep his team and community safe are:
- Developing expectations for fire captains;
- Supporting efforts for a preplan program;
- Forming a CADET program at the high school level to teach a Firefighter 1 class;
- Setting up Blue Card, Acting In Capacity (AIC) Engineer, Captain and BC programs.
Chief Doughty is also working on operational SOPs to include ICS/Command bundle, Staging SOP, Accountability SOP, Communication SOP, Response SOP, Structure Fire SOP, RIT, Technical Rescue bundle, EMS bundle and HazMat bundle.
When asked what he believes is vital to keeping firefighters safe, Chief Doughty said, “Everyone needs to commit to continual training and improvement, from the newest guy all the way up the ranks to the chief. No one can ever be trained too much.”