‘Train Like You Fight’ Theme of 2014 Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) have announced that the theme for the 2014 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week is Train Like You Fight.

Fire departments are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activity during the week of June 15-21, 2014, to focus on safety and health training and education. An entire week is provided to ensure each shift and duty crew can spend at least one day focusing on these critical issues.

Train Like You Fight

This year’s campaign will focus on the critical nature of training in supporting responder health and safety. The theme captures two angles of responder safety:

  • Safety on the training ground and reduction of training-related injuries and death
  • The importance of adequate training to prepare for safe fireground operations

“This is a complex issue and the data that we have only begins to tell the picture,” said Chief Bill Metcalf, IAFC President and Chairman of the Board. “Current information looks only at clear-cut connections, where a responder or recruit goes down during or following training. It doesn’t include the deaths related to long-term or repetitive exposures to hazards and unsafe training practices. Among the concerns is the growing number of responders with cancer.” 

The NFPA reports that over the 10-year period from 2001 through 2010, 11.3 percent of all on-duty firefighter deaths were training-related. The report paints a mixed and complex picture, with overall training deaths reaching a plateau but the share of training deaths increasing sharply as total line-of-duty death numbers decline. Additionally, while traumatic deaths during training are decreasing, deaths due to medical causes–notably cardiac incidents–are on the rise.

Recent studies have also shown increased rate of many forms of cancer among firefighters, making safety precautions–such as the full and proper use of PPE during all activities including training–essential for firefighter safety. In addition to creating a safer training ground, reinforcing safe habits during training carries over to how personnel act on the fireground.

“Utilizing fire training programs that conform to the highest professional standards and operating a safe fire training ground at all times are two of the NVFC‘s priorities for health and safety,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “We need to make sure that personnel are using proper PPE and following all safety and health procedures and precautions at all times during training activities. Training is vital to firefighters and EMS personnel, and our job is dangerous enough without adding to it by being lax or unprepared during the very same activities designed to make us ready for the next call.”

“The success of emergency  incident operations are a direct reflection of a commitment to training,” said Chief Matt Tobia, Chair of the IAFC’s Safety, Health, and Survival Section. “All habits, good and bad, are formed during training, so it is critical that our focus be on ensuring the highest quality opportunities possible for our most important resource ‒ our responders.”

The NVFC and IAFC have provided planning resources at www.safetyandhealthweek.org.

Departments are encouraged to submit links to additional resources, articles, and SOPs that can help other departments. Upload these resources using the form available on the Event Planning page of the Safety and Health Week Web site.

Begin your planning now. For more information visit the Safety and Health Week Web site.

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