News in Brief: May 2019


Statement pushes for anti-harassment policy in fire service

All members of the fire, emergency medical, and rescue services should be treated and should treat others with respect and dignity, and harassment, bullying, and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated. This is the message of the “Anti-Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination Statement” released jointly by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), IAFC Volunteer & Combination Officers Section, International Association of Women in the Fire & Emergency Services, National Association of Fire Training Directors, and National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (

The statement urges all fire and emergency services organizations to implement an anti-harassment, bullying, and discrimination policy and that they “actively communicate it to personnel and actively and consistently enforce it.” Moreover, departments are asked to adopt a Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics clearly defining expected behaviors among personnel.

“Harassment, bullying, and discrimination have no place in our society and must never be tolerated in our fire and EMS stations,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “As firefighters and emergency responders, we rely on each other in life-or-death situations. It is critical that we all treat our brothers and sisters in the fire service with respect and realize the value each of us has to our department and our community.”


Safety Stand Down 2019: focus on cancer prevention

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) announced that the 2019 Safety Stand Down will take place June 16-22. Its theme is “Reduce Your Exposure: It’s Everybody’s Responsibility,” and the focus is on increasing the understanding of occupational cancer risks and implementing recommendations in the Lavender Ribbon Report, developed by the IAFC Volunteer and Combination Officers Section and the NVFC.

Safety Stand Down resources and materials emphasize the importance of firefighters educating themselves, their physicians, and their coworkers about job-related risks; present the most recent information on how to limit exposure to carcinogens; and provide best practices and resources relative to reducing firefighters’ risk of cancer.

All agencies are encouraged to suspend all nonemergency activities during this week. Topic information, resources, and training exercises may be downloaded from Videos are also available on this site.

The National Fire Protection Association, a Safety Stand Down partner, will once again host the Fire Service Safety Stand Down Quiz to generate greater awareness of first responder health and wellness issues. Everyone who completes the online quiz will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes in which 200 randomly selected participants will win a specially designed commemorative Safety Stand Down challenge coin.


Rutgers study of 9/11 responders: higher neck/head cancer risk

A study headed by Judith Graber, an assistant research professor at the Rutgers (NJ) Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, found that first responders to the World Trade Center (WTC) 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 were 40 percent more likely to get head and neck cancer ( Patients included police officers and members of the military, and they were younger than the average patients with head and neck cancer seen by her and her colleagues. The participants were evaluated in the years 2005 to 2012.

The purpose of this study, Graber says, is to make physicians and other clinicians treating these populations aware that there may be an increased risk for head and neck cancers. Graber explains that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been medically monitoring certain people who were considered at a high risk of developing illnesses since 9/11, including people who worked or volunteered at the WTC, who, if eligible for enrollment, qualify for an annual exam. If the CDC determines that their health condition is a result of WTC exposure, they can receive treatment for their illnesses.


DHHS offers science-based chemical decon guidance

First responders and emergency managers in the United States now have access to a science-based chemical decontamination decision tool ( and updated guidance ( for effectively decontaminating a great number of people who have been exposed to chemicals. These resources and the scientific studies on which they are based were developed under a partnership between the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The decision-support tool, “Algorithm Suggesting Proportionate Incident Response Engagement” (ASPIRE), helps responders determine which decontamination approaches will work best in a given situation. This information and the guidance are integrated into the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) Web-based resource created by ASPR and the National Library of Medicine as part of a suite of preparedness and emergency response tools and into the latest edition of the WISER CHEMM mobile app, which was expected to be available in March.

“Primary Response Incident Scene Management, 2nd edition” (PRISM) ( introduces the “triple protocol, comprised of disrobing and conducting dry decontamination, wet decontamination using the ladder pipe system with high-volume/low-pressure water deluges from fire trucks, and technical (or specialist) decontamination,” according to the press release. The clinical research showed that the triple protocol removes 99.9 percent of chemical contamination and that this approach to decontamination is faster and more effective than traditional methods for treating chemically contaminated patients.

The guidance suggests that emergency plans address how the community will take specific preparedness actions, such as making enough absorbent materials available on emergency response vehicles so that emergency dry decontamination can begin as quickly as possible and providing washcloths and towels for use in wet decontamination and blankets or temporary clothes to protect patients from hypothermia afterward (which would be of particular concern in the winter in colder areas).

The PRISM guidance consists of three online volumes: (1) explains the technical and scientific evidence, identifies capability gaps, and describes the corresponding rationale that underpins the revised incident response process; (2) focuses on the practical aspects of the incident response, contains no supporting technical information, and is intended for developing training and exercises; (3) summarizes practical and critical elements of the response process and is intended to be a quick resource during an incident response.

The guidance can be found at


Red Cross online education for public safety professionals

The American Red Cross Resuscitation Suite™ education program consists of basic life support, advanced life support, and pediatric advanced life support courses that meet certification and licensing requirements for health care, emergency medical services, and other public safety professionals. “The Red Cross curriculum reduces instruction time, organizational costs, and improves resuscitation outcomes,” said David Markenson, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FCCM, FACHE, chair of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and First Aid Task Force member of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. The new curriculum, he adds, has been adopted by the Military Health System and Department of Defense.

Additional program details are available at


March 1. Captain Joel Barnes, 32, Berwick (ME) Fire Department: injuries sustained in a residential fire.

March 5. Captain Jacob “Jake” Ringering, 37, Godfrey (IL) Fire Protection District: injuries sustained in a collapse at a residential fire.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

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