Fire Departments Encouraged to Stand Down for Firefighter Safety on June 21

Emmitsburg, MD – The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Preparedness Directorate, enthusiastically endorses the second International Fire Fighter Safety Stand Down. The 2006 Stand Down calls for all fire departments in the United States and Canada to suspend all non-emergency activity and focus entirely on firefighter safety.

Last year in the United States, thousands of firefighters were injured while on duty. Worse, 115 firefighters died in the line of duty, and 25 of those deaths occurred in emergency vehicle-related accidents. The purpose of the Stand Down is to call international attention to these unacceptable numbers of line-of-duty injuries and deaths and to dedicate one full day to the safety of firefighters. This year, emphasis is being put on emergency vehicle safety, with particular emphasis on driving through intersections and the use of seatbelts.

“USFA acknowledges the significant efforts of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the Volunteer and Combination Officers Section of IAFC,” said Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson. “These people not only recognize that firefighter safety is a critical issue, but they work together and with folks like the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and nearly 20 other fire service organizations to provide ways for departments to get actively involved in decreasing unnecessary injuries and preventing needless deaths.”

Information about the June 21st Stand Down activities can be found at http://www.iafc.org/standdown or by calling the IAFC at (703) 273-0911. Among materials available are the Recommended Activity Schedule for 2006, the Chief’s Guide to the Safety Stand Down, and a Press/Media Kit containing a sample media advisory and a sample press release. A Stand Down Vehicle Operations Resource Guide can be found at EveryOneGoesHome.com. And the U.S. Fire Administration has a wide variety of informative publications on firefighter health and safety at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/subjects/health/

“I’ve ridden many a vehicle to incidents,” said Acting Administrator Dickinson, former Chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire. “I know how easy it is to get caught up in the urgency of responding – to get there and get things taken care of. I also know that climbing into that vehicle, buckling that seatbelt – and then getting that SCBA equipment on can be a challenge. But it can be and must be done,” Dickinson said.

“Those few extra seconds – as well as slowing vehicles down – can make all the difference between injury or death and everybody getting home again.”

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