Firefighters experienced close to 60,000 injuries in a single year. If you run a municipal or volunteer fire department, you will need to keep safety a top priority to protect your people.
Safety for firefighters is more than possible when you stay consistent and diligent. Let these tips help you maintain firefighter safety on each and every call.
1. Develop a Safety First Mindset in All That You Do
Mindset is everything and should be the starting point for protecting your firefighters. When you develop a mindset for safety, you will also make sound decisions every step of the way.
The 1973 America Burning Report is a clear example that firefighters can save lives and injuries when they put their minds to it. Rather than treating your policies as mere formalities, make sure that you shape every piece of it with safety in mind, and put steps into place that will improve your department.
When safety is your top priority, you will keep your offices clean and avoid in-house fire risks. You’ll make sure that even on the way to the fire, everyone riding makes use of seatbelts and other safety precautions.
Change comes from the top, so make sure that you’re always cautious and forward-thinking.
2. Set Up Policies and Communicate Expectations
It’s one thing to have a vision for fire safety, and another thing entirely to communicate those expectations. Make sure that all of your policies are clearly recorded, posted, and acknowledged by everyone in the department.
Enforce your policies and communicate expectations each day in briefings and on a regular basis. Create a culture for fire safety and it becomes easier to spread the word.
Be sure that everyone wears firefighter accountability tags on every call. Run inspections regularly to make sure everyone is properly uniformed and equipped to address each call.
3. Run Through Live Drills and Train Frequently
Put your safety principles into action by frequently training and drilling. Make your training sessions as realistic as possible so that your firefighters know how to respond correctly in real-time.
Don’t tip them off to the type of scenarios they’ll respond to in the training sessions. Issue grades and debriefings for how the scenario was addressed, paying careful attention to lapses or liabilities from a safety standpoint.
4. Collect 360 Data at the Beginning of Fire Response
Noticing the details can help save lives on a safety call. Make sure that your firefighters take a 360 approach when arriving at a scene, factoring in every variable or obstacle that they’re facing.
This initial assessment is half the battle when responding to any sort of call. They should be trained to quickly and correctly assess occupant survival and areas of danger. By understanding how to quickly assess these matters, your firefighters can minimize damage and loss of life.
5. Maintain Communication Throughout the Incident
Communication is key when your team is addressing any call. Each firefighter only has two eyes, but by scanning, assessing, and communicating together, your team can quickly know what they’re dealing with.
Fire scenes are chaotic, so the best thing you can do is create clear methods for exchanging information. A strong chain of communication makes it easier for you to nip fires in the bud and protect lives in the process. Take the time to keep your communications equipment charged, maintained, and updated.
Your firefighters should be adept at using two-way radios and communicating pertinent information effectively. They should learn to speak briefly and listen carefully, particularly because fire scenes are generally noisy and unpredictable.
In addition to conciseness, make sure your firefighters enunciate and speak clearly, and have confidence in the information that they are relaying. Use these radios day in and day out so that everyone involved has this skill and knows how to use it.
The last thing you’d want is to have hiccups in communication because they hadn’t gotten in enough practice using the radio. When you run through training scenarios, account for breakdowns in communication starting from a spotty dispatcher call, to what to do if a two-way radio goes down.
6. Develop an Understanding That You Go In and Come Out Together
Camaraderie and looking out for each other will go a long way toward creating a safe environment. Make sure that your firefighters understand that their main goal is to both go in together and leave together.
When each firefighter prioritizes the safety of their fellow firefighter, it instills a culture of safety and increases the likelihood of safety and survival.
7. Make Health and Fitness a Priority
Finally, make sure that your firefighters are constantly building their endurance and fitness. A physically fit firefighter is less likely to fatigue during a call and will be better able to deal with the obstacles and rigors of the job.
Build a gym that firefighters can use during their shifts around the clock. Make sure that it includes free weights, kettlebells, pull-up bars, and other resistance equipment. Use treadmills and stairclimbers for strenuous cardio workouts.
Taking yoga classes will help build everyone’s bodies with lean muscle, preserve joint health, increasing flexibility, improving lung capacity, and decreasing stress levels.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle. This means abstaining from smoking, staying hydrated, and constantly chasing peak physical health and wellness.
Follow These Firefighter Safety Tips
Firefighter safety is critical at protecting lives and making it so that you can do your job more effectively. It’s easier to keep your department morale high when you’re constantly watching each others’ backs.
Build your culture are safety and you’ll all be far more effective at your jobs. Use these tips to get started, and check back for more info on a wide variety of other topics.