Leading by example is the best way to ingrain health and safety practices in firefighters
By Linda Willing - Shared from www.firerescue1.com
There were many big questions in the air at the recent Tampa2 Summit on the 16 Life Safety Initiatives. How can firefighter suicide be prevented? What is the connection between organizational culture and firefighter life safety?
What is the actual instance of firefighter cancer, and how can these illnesses be prevented? Are some casualties inevitable among those who do an inherently dangerous job?
Ten work groups were formed, each creating recommendations on specific topics from behavioral health to wildland firefighting. All of the recommendations were on point and valid, but I could also sense a little frustration among conference participants.
Of course it's important to talk about and plan for the big issues, but what can one person do right now to make a difference?
This question was on my mind during one lunch break when I happened to share a table with two company officers from a large metropolitan department. They were talking about the problem of firefighters failing to always wear their air packs during overhaul, and how this exposure can lead to a number of long term illnesses.
"When I was a new firefighter, I took off my mask the minute my officer did," said one. "I didn't want to look weak in his eyes."
Others at the table echoed this attitude, reinforcing that the example set by the company officer often establishes the standard for health and safety during an entire emergency response.
Follow my lead
So the first obvious thing an individual can do is set a good example. It is critical that officers do this, but others — the senior firefighter, the highly respected engineer — should not underestimate their influence either.
Then another firefighter at the table recounted a system they had developed on his department for encouraging firefighters to stay on air longer.
"We use Scott masks, and you have to put your palm over your face to unscrew the regulator," he said. "So now when you put your hand over your mask to take it off, we look at it as if someone were holding a hand up in front of your face to stay 'Stop.' And then we look at the five fingers of the glove, and that means, wait five more minutes before you take off your mask."
I don't know who came up with this idea, but it's brilliant. It's not a sweeping policy that says firefighters must stay on air from the minute the get off the engine at the fire until the moment they step back on the rig to return to quarters. Certainly requiring firefighters to wear SCBA 100 percent of the time at fire calls would reduce toxic exposures, and that's a good thing.
But realistically, firefighters are not going to adhere to such an all-or-nothing policy. They will make decisions along the way about when to remove their breathing protection. And systems like the one I heard about in Tampa over lunch are great tools to assist every firefighter in making incrementally better decisions.
There are hundreds of ways individual firefighters can come up with reminders, rules of thumb, or individual systems for making firefighting a safer profession.
Conferences like the one last month in Tampa are great for talking about the big ideas, but may be even more valuable for sharing these smaller, more specific ideas in an informal way: over lunch, over beers, while riding the shuttle back to the airport.
Most importantly, whether the conversation centers on a nationwide study about cancer or a trick of the trade to get firefighters to use their protective gear more effectively, leadership always comes from example.
If officers want their crews to do something or to value something, then they must set the example in their actions and continue to live those values both on and off the emergency scene.
Original Source Article - http://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-safety/articles/1878655-1-easy-step-to-get-firefighters-to-follow-safety-rules/
About the author
Linda F. Willing worked for more than 20 years in the emergency services, including 18 as a career firefighter and fire officer. For more than 15 years, she has provided support for fire and emergency services and other organizations through her company,RealWorld Training and Consulting. Linda's work focuses on developing customized solutions in the areas of leadership development, conflict resolution, diversity management, team building, communications and decision making. She is the author of "On the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories." Linda is also an adjunct instructor and curriculum advisor for the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. She has a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. from Regis University in Denver in Organization Development, and is a certified mediator. To contact Linda, e-mail Linda.Willing@FireRescue1.com.
VFIS of Texas and Texas Mutual Insurance Company Award $45K in Grant Money to Texas Volunteer Fire Departments
AUSTIN, TX – VFIS of Texas and Texas Mutual Insurance Company recently awarded grants of up to $2,500 to 39 volunteer fire departments across Texas. Funds awarded through the Firefighter Safety & Training Grant Program will enable these departments to participate in a certification program and training to support critical workplace safety training.
Fifty-eight volunteer fire departments applied for the grant and the 39 grantees were selected based on their financial needs and the impact the funds would have in their safety and training efforts. VFIS of Texas and Texas Mutual Insurance Company partnered with the State Firemen’s & Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas (SFFMA) to manage the application process and select the grant recipients.
“We are very fortunate and thankful to VFIS of Texas and Texas Mutual for this grant, which will help us pay our 2014 annual membership dues to SFFMA,” said Jack K. Rymer, Fire Chief of Possum Kingdom West Side VFD. “This is a very important association that greatly benefits volunteer fire departments such as ours by providing certified training courses and other training programs to make our department safer and more professional. Like many volunteer fire departments, our department is short on resources and this grant money goes a long way in helping us meet our budget.”
In addition to Possum Kingdom West Side VFD, the following volunteer fire departments were awarded grants: Bowman Community VFD, Boyd Fire Rescue, China Spring VFD, City of San Diego FD, Clint FD, Cookville VFD, Cottonwood Shores VFD, Crafton VFD, Cresson VFD, Daingerfield FD, Indian Creek VFD, Jamaica Beach VFD, Kaufman VFD, LaRue-New York VFD, Levita FD, Lone Star VFD, Mico VFD, Nevada VFD, Paducah VFD, Pleasant Grove VFD, Rising Star VFD, Rocksprings/Edwards County VFD, Sand Hills VFD, Santa Rosa VFD, Santo Fire and EMS, Six Mile Community VFD, Somervell County Fire, South Ector County VFD, Sunset VFD, Terrell VFD, Tolar VFD, Trout Creek VFD, Turnersville VFD, Village of Pleak VFD, Wayland VFD, Westminster VFD, Whitney VFD and Windthorst VFD.
Grantees will be recognized at the SFFMA Conference June 6-11, 2014 in Lubbock, Texas.
As promised here is a copy of The Power of Social Media PowerPoint we presented during the 2013 State Benefits Summit @ TEEX in College Station. This was designed as a crash course in social media, so it covers the basics as well as best practices for many different social networks. Please feel free to SHARE it with anyone in need, however we ask that you please credit us if doing so. Enjoy! If you have any questions, please e-mail Kash Sarkaria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA)—one of the most significant reforms to the U.S. health care system in over a generation in 2010. Since its passage, the federal government and others have been analyzing the act and determining how to implement this legislation. As a result, we’re only just beginning to understand how the act will impact the fire and emergency service.
The legislation is extensive, with many moving pieces, and the public opinion of the bill is highly polarized. Therefore, it’s critical that fire department leaders fully understand the facts and avoid sharing misinformation. Learn more by downloading this Fact Sheet from the International Association of Fire Chiefs: http://www.iafc.org/files/1GR/gr_PPACAfactSheet.pdf
Also, be sure to tell the IRS to exempt Volunteer Firefighters and EMS personnel from the Affordable Care Act's Shared Responsibility Provision. Simply download the IAFC's Draft Letter (http://bit.ly/1fFMf2V), input your department's information, and submit it to the IRS here (http://1.usa.gov/19UjgpC). Act quickly as this comment opportunity will expire on November 8.
The title of SFFMA State Firefighter of the Year and SFFMA State EMS Responder of the Year are given to only an elite few. To be nominated for these awards and to be selected from so many is quite an honor.
Each individual nominated for these awards is recognized for their strong values, leadership, vision, heroism and dedication. Congratulations to all of the nominees and to Dennis Gage, 2013 SFFMA State Firefighter of the Year and to Ed Konick, 2013 SFFMA State EMS Responder of the Year! Click the picture above to see more pics from the event or click HERE.
VFIS of Texas and Texas Mutual Insurance Company have partnered together to create a grant program for rural fire departments. The program will fund safety training and certification dues for volunteer firefighters.
Barbara Marzean, President of VFIS of Texas and Rich Gergasko, President of Texas Mutual, presented checks totaling $45,000 to David Wade, President of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA), during the Annual SFFMA Training Conference and Convention at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center.
“Our members risk their lives every day to protect the public,” said Wade. “It is critical that they know how to protect themselves, as well. Unfortunately, our rural members are often underfunded. This money will help them get the training they need to do their jobs safely.”
A committee of VFIS and SFFMA staff will review grant applications and will award grants based on need. “The more we can do to train all firefighters in the state,” said Marzean, “the more we can reduce and prevent firefighter deaths and injuries which has always been our ultimate goal.”
Texas Mutual and VFIS of Texas also partner to offer a workers’ compensation safety group for qualifying fire departments and nonprofit EMS organizations. Group members have access to free safety training materials designed for their industry. They also get premium discounts and potential dividends if they control workplace accidents. To find out more, please visit www.esowcgroup.com.
Chief Chris Barron was presented the 2012 John M. Buckman lll Leadership Award at the recent VCOS Symposium in the Sun. Chief Barron has been a member of the fire service for over 22 years, serving as the Fire Chief of the Manchaca Fire/Rescue Department for the past 12 years. During his tenure as chief, he led the organization from an all volunteer based agency to a combination agency and was instrumental in improving his department's service delivery from an ISO PPC Class 7/9 to an ISO rating of PPC Class 3, resulting in a significant drop in homeowners insurance premiums.
Chief Barron has been a champion for the volunteer firefighters his entire fire service career, not only in Texas but across the country. He actively advocates for the volunteers through his career job as the Executive Director of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association, by his service as a member of the Rural Fire Advisory Council, the First Responder Advisory Council and the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TEXFIRS).
Chief Barron helped develop the statewide Mutual Aid Legislation Plan, he assisted in obtaining an additional $15 million for H.B. 2604 which provides grants for equipment and training for rural volunteer departments; he worked to resolve issues which arose over the Texas State "Black Hydrant Program;" he helped write tuition exemption legislation for firefighters; and he has organized and run a successful Fire Service Legislative Day at the Texas State Capitol every July for the past several years. For all those efforts, Chief Barron was recognized in 2011 with a State of Texas House Resolution for service and dedication to the fire service of Texas.
One of Chief Barron's greatest accomplishments, however, was the formation of the Wildfire Relief PPE Program in 2011 which brought in over $800,000 in donations to the State Fireman's and Fire Marshal's Association for the Texas fire service, who were fighting the most terrible series of wildfires in their history. The donated funds supplied much-needed gear and equipment to rural volunteer fire departments in Texas. Those departments represent 30,000 firefighters from 1,400 volunteer fire departments, 77% of the state's fire service. His efforts provided enormous financial relief to the firefighters, 86% of whom had been using their own personal funds to meet the day-to-day equipment and supply needs of their department, as they battled over 30,000 wildfires that year.
VFIS of Texas NEWS
Here you will find helpful information regarding firefighters, ems responders, and updates in insurance policies.