OSHA rules present dilemmas

OSHA rules present dilemmas

Stuart M. Dean

Altamont, New York>

Reference is made to “The `Final Rule`: Ideal Collides with Reality” by Bill Manning (Editor`s Opinion, February 1998). While OSHA brags that its new rules may save up to 900 lives per year, including firefighters, I wonder if OSHA can provide us with some guidance as to what we should tell surviving civilians about the lives of their family and friends who died because we were forbidden by those rules to save them, due to inadequate manpower on initial response. We frequently hear about civilians, police officers, and even off-duty firefighters who have entered burning buildings at great personal risk and have thereby saved someone who otherwise might have perished. Does OSHA condemn them for violations of [wearing] no protective gear, [having] no backup crew, and so on? Oh, no, they are HEROES!

Second, in several articles in the February issue I note the term “preplanning.” I dislike that term about as much as I dislike the term “fireproof.” To me, “planning” is automatically “pre.” I would prefer to see the terms “prefire” or “preincident” planning substituted. I am pleased that the term “fireproof” has nearly been replaced by the more accurate term “fire resistive.” What say you?

By the way, I have been a continuous subscriber to Fire Engineering since January 1947, at least. I remember that my first issue was the one with the cover photo and feature article on the Winecoff Hotel fire of December 7, 1946. This publication has been very valuable to me in my lifelong service as a volunteer firefighter and in a portion of my working life as a fire protection engineer with the New York Fire Insurance Rating Organization (now ISO), from June 1953 to June 1966. Keep up the good work!

P.S. As if to prove my point, last evening`s news carried the story of the City of Schenectady`s award of heroism medals to three individuals who entered a burning residence with NO protective gear and before the arrival of any fire apparatus and succeeded in rescuing one or more potential victims. No comment was made about violating any OSHA rules. If the first-due, three-person engine company had done the same, OSHA apparently would have required disciplinary action.

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