NSEFO, CFSI issue Firefighter Code of Ethics

To offer fire service leaders guidance in resolving complex ethical issues that may emerge in local fire and emergency medical service (EMS) organizations, the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO) and the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) have released the Firefighter Code of Ethics. Fire and EMS organizations are invited to adopt the Code, the end product of almost two years of work by the NSEFO board of directors. The U.S. Fire Administration, in acknowledging “the importance of this first of its kind fire service ethics statement,” has posted it throughout the National Fire Academy’s (NFA) facilities and will now include the statement in all course materials distributed to NFA students.

The Introduction to the Code describes its purpose as follows:

…. The purpose of this National Firefighter Code of Ethics is to establish criteria that encourage fire service personnel to promote a culture of ethical integrity and high standards of professionalism in our field. The broad scope of this recommended Code of Ethics is intended to mitigate and negate situations that may result in embarrassment and waning of public support for what has historically been a highly respected profession. Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, meaning character. Character is not necessarily defined by how a person behaves when conditions are optimal and life is good. It is easy to take the high road when the path is paved and obstacles are few or non-existent. Character is also defined by decisions made under pressure, when no one is looking, when the road contains land mines, and the way is obscured. As members of the Fire Service, we share a responsibility to project an ethical character of professionalism, integrity, compassion, loyalty and honesty in all that we do, all of the time. We need to accept this ethics challenge and be truly willing to maintain a culture that is consistent with the expectations outlined in this document. By doing so, we can create a legacy that validates and sustains the distinguished Fire Service institution, and at the same time ensures that we leave the Fire Service in better condition than when we arrived.
Members of the fire service are asked to pledge to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects proper ethical behavior and integrity that will help foster a continuing positive public perception of the fire service.

The entire Code (including the specific pledge areas) is available for posting within your department at www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

July 2. Lieutenant/EMT John L. Echternach Jr., 54, Boones Mill (VA) Volunteer Fire Department: injuries sustained from being struck by a tree while assisting a motorist in an outbreak of severe weather.

July 16. Lieutenant David R. Chew Jr., 30, Bloxom (VA) Volunteer Fire Company: injuries sustained when ejected from the fire engine in which he was riding when it ran off the road while responding to a motor vehicle accident.

July 23. Chief Jon Tibbetts, 59, Sandoval County Fire Department, Bernalillo, NM: struck by another driver while operating a fire department vehicle en route to administer a physical abilities test to a newly hired county employee.

July 31. Firefighter Antonio Rodriques, 49, Yonkers (NY) Fire Department: complications related to a hemorrhagic stroke suffered during fire department training on May 9, 2012.

August 4. Firefighter/Photographer Jim Reardon, 51, Fire Academy of North Dakota: passed away from a cause to be determined while participating in an exploratory dive in preparation for an upcoming exercise.

August 10. Captain Mike Burgin, 46, Sugarcreek (OH) Fire Department: suffered distress during an advanced diving instruction class.

August 12. Firefighter Anne Veseth, 20, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Grangeville, ID: struck by a tree while working fire operations on the Steep Corner fire above Orofino, ID.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

FEMA offers earthquake program

The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program: FEMA Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2011, which provides examples of replicable state best practices, projects, and initiatives for mitigating earthquake risk and increasing the disaster resilience of our communities.

Building Science Branch projects incorporated in the report include ROVER, a software tool for screening buildings for seismic risk; the electronic publication FEMA E-74 Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage, posted on the FEMA Web site; the QuakeSmart Earthquake Mitigation Toolkit for Businesses, FEMA P-811DVD; and two new earthquake training courses: “Earthquake Basics–Science, Risk, and Mitigation” (IS-325) and a train-the-trainer course “Home and Business Earthquake Safety and Mitigation, FEMA” (P-909). The full report can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=6195.

NIOSH Web page dedicated to EMS worker safety and health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Web page addresses emergency medical service (EMS) worker safety and health and features EMS safety and health resources and references and a summary of nonfatal injuries to EMS workers treated in emergency departments. According to NIOSH, in 2008, an estimated 21,500 injuries and illnesses among EMS workers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. This Web page is a collaborative project of NIOSH and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Emergency Medical Services. It can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ems/. Data for the new Web page will be obtained from the occupational supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS-Work).

Information on other ongoing coordinated efforts by various federal agencies to improve occupational safety and health for EMS personnel is available at www.ems.gov.

IAFC: “C-Kit still an important tool in hazmat response”

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Hazardous Materials Committee (HMC) is reminding first responders of the benefits of the Chlorine Institute C-Kit for hazardous materials incidents involving chlorine. The C-Kit, the committee says, has been an important tool for responders dealing with certain chlorine tank car or tank truck emergencies.

According to the IAFC HMC, the derailment and explosion of rail freight cars carrying ethanol in Columbus, Ohio, in July “has spurred an increase in the distribution of misleading information intended to discredit the C-Kit while marketing a proprietary technology.” The derailment incident in Columbus in reality had no relation to the issue, IAFC-HMC says; however, “advertisements containing factual errors about the C-Kit appeared in the national media, and there was an uptick in questions to the committee concerning the emergency kit immediately following the incident.”

Chief Bob Royal, chair of the IAFC HMC, has voiced concern that “the false accusations like the ones in the Washington Post may prevent our responders from deploying the C-Kit when it’s actually needed.” Royal noted that marketing is not always factual and that fire chiefs and their responders must be able to “separate fact from fiction and put the right tools in place for both public and responder safety.” Direct questions or concerns about the C-Kit or chlorine-related emergency response to the IAFC Hazmat Committee chair (rwroyal@aol.com) or staff liaison (jwoulfe@iafc.org).

NIOSH releases Firefighter Fatality reports

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recently released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports:

IAFC testifies in support of building code legislation

Stressing the severity of costly damage done to buildings through fires, windstorms, earthquakes, and other disasters, Chief Hank C. Clemmensen, 1st vice president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and chief of the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District of Inverness, Illinois, testified in July before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management concerning the importance of building code requirements for effective hazard mitigation. “The total cost of fire [in 2009], including insurance costs and local fire department expenditures, was $331 billion, 2.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product,” Clemmensen told the committee members.

He said the IAFC believes that the adoption of H.R. 2069, Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2011, introduced in the House and referred to the Subcommittee, “will encourage states to adopt the most current commercial and residential building codes–before disaster strikes.” The proposed legislation adds a 4 percent incentive to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Clemmensen requested that the subcommittee consider the following:

  • The importance of states adopting model codes, including residential fire sprinkler requirements, without making substantial changes.
  • The importance of allowing local jurisdictions to adopt more stringent codes than the state model codes.
  • The importance of ensuring that both building and fire codes are covered by this legislation.

Clemmensen’s testimony may be reviewed at http://www.iafc.org/files/1GR/gr_testimonyClemmensenBldgCodes120724.pdf.

NEMSMA defines “EMS” and educational criteria

At its annual meeting in Colorado Springs this summer, the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA) released two position statements relative to the emergency medical services (EMS).

The first statement, “Definition of EMS,” contains the definition of “Emergency Medical Services.” NEMSMA adopted the proposed definition of the National Association of State EMS Officials in the draft Culture of Safety document as a starting point, according to NEMSMA President-Elect Troy Hagen. “Standardizing our terminology and definitions will provide clarity and get everyone on the same page for future discussions,” Hagen explains. NEMSMA proposes that all current EMS agencies be referred to as “paramedic services.” Hagen adds, “The public knows what a paramedic is. When we keep referring to ‘EMS,’ it means different things to different people, and we lose our identity with the public, policy makers, and the medical community.”

The second position statement, “Educational Preparation for EMS Leaders,” identifies education and experience guidelines for supervising EMS officers, managing EMS officers, and executive EMS officers. “Specifying expectations of EMS leadership is long overdue,” says Skip Kirkwood, NEMSMA president. “It is our intent that EMS agencies will strive to achieve the right mix of education and experience to become the successful EMS leaders of tomorrow.”

The position statements are available at www.nemsma.org.

NIH to coordinate training in emergency setting

To help improve health outcomes of patients needing emergency care, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a new Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR). The office will be a focal point for basic, clinical, and translational emergency care research and training across the NIH.

According to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., “The NIH OECR will focus on speeding diagnosis and improving care for the full spectrum of conditions that require emergency treatment.” It will do this in the following ways:

  • Coordinate funding opportunities that involve multiple NIH institutes and centers. (It will not provide monies.)
  • Work closely with the NIH Emergency Care Research Working Group, which includes representatives from most NIH institutes and centers.
  • Organize scientific meetings to identify new research and training opportunities in the emergency setting.
  • Catalyze the development of new funding opportunities.
  • Inform investigators about funding opportunities in their areas of interest.
  • Foster career development for trainees in emergency care research.
  • Represent NIH in governmentwide efforts to improve the nation’s emergency care system.

OECR is housed in the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which supports basic research and research training. At press time, a search for a permanent director was underway. In the meantime, Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, will serve as the interim director. He will be assisted by Alice M. Mascette, M.D., senior clinical science advisor in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. A steering committee chaired by the director of NIGMS oversees the office. Additional information about the OECR is at <http://www.nigms.nih.gov/About/Overview/OECR/>.

No posts to display