Sexual harassment should be an issue of concern to all fire service & EMS managers. It is extremely important for the emergency service organization to implement and disseminate a clear no tolerance policy for sexual harassment and inform all members of the available avenues of internal complaint. The organization must also prepare itself to promptly investigate all sexual harassment allegations and take appropriate remedial action to ensure harassment stops and discipline is administered.
Sexual harassment is discriminatory behavior prohibited under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and many state and local laws. Fire service leaders, therefore, must incorporate a plan of action that includes comprehensive training to help personnel understand the importance and implications of sexual harassment. Inaction and "pseudo-reaction" (a halfhearted or insincere response) are not choices for dealing with this contemporary problem, which is not going to go away and which calls for immediately replacing some long-held myths with substantial and reliable information. An organization`s underlying philosophy should reflect a commitment to making the workplace a safe and non-disruptive environment free of any form of discrimination or harassment. Harassment attitudes and behaviors must be explored, and training and effective policies to control future occurrences must be implemented. Undoubtedly, insecurity may surface when a supervisor ignorant of prevailing social standards is forced to deal with issues relating to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment & abuse is not solely dedicated to women either. It is important for agencies to protect employees, volunteers and others associated with the organization from wrongdoing. Prevention of sexual abuse or misconduct is especially important where organizations are engaged in activities with minors. Organizations that supervise or work with minors are under a legal and moral obligation to protect against sexual abuse and misconduct.
To help your organization aid in the prevention of proper handling of sexual harassment & abuse, please utilize the following resources:
1) SAMPLE Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Prevention Policy
2) Sexual Harassment-Employee Practice Exposure Risk Communique
3) "Sexual Abuse & Misconduct: Protection of Minors/Youth" Risk Communique
Mark Lamplugh (4th generation firefighter and former Captain with the Lower Chichester Fire Company) has posted an informative article on the prevalent issue of lack of physical fitness being a major contributor in many firefighter deaths and how proper prevention methods could go a long way in reducing the number of these deaths.
YOU CAN READ THE ARTICLE HERE.
One prevention method is developing an in-house Health & Wellness Program. VFIS of Texas is actually providing a grant up to $5,000 to select volunteer Texas Fire & EMS Departments to cover costs for equipment or professionals to develop an in-house Health & Wellness Program. The deadline to apply for this grant is December 31, 2014 and you can apply here: http://www.vfistx.com/news/2015-firefighter-safety-wellness-training-grant-application
Additionally, please see further resources concerning Firefighter Health & Wellness here:
Here are some certification requirements that the Texas Commission on Fire Protection has set. These certification requirements are required to be passed by Firefighters in Texas. Candidates interested in the job are required to complete a certified basic training course, pass a written test and demonstrate the physical abilities required for the job. Certifications in emergency medical procedures are also required.
What Do You Need?
Step By Step Guide
Texas Firefighter Certification
1. Are you interested in becoming a Texas firefighter? If your answer is yes, the first thing you need to do is complete a basic training course. Actually the course confirms at least to the minimum standards set by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The Fire Service Accreditation Congress or the State Firemen’s and Marshal’s Association of Texas certified basic fire suppression training program is required to pass by every Texas firefighter. Generally certification from the above mentioned two agencies is held by candidates transferring to a Texas fire department from another state or those who completed fire training in the military. After passing a skills proficiency evaluation, those who are the certificate holders of these programs are qualified for certification. Generally firefighters complete a training program in a city fire departments sponsored training academies in the state.
2. You are also required to pass the fire suppression exam that the Texas Commission on Fire Protection gives. On the written section you are required to score not less than 70. A skills test designed to verify the physical requirements of firefighters must be passed. The physical test involves things like climbing, lifting and hauling equipment.
3. You are also required to obtain certification in emergency medical training. Following are the agencies from which the Texas Commission on Fire Protection recognizes emergency medical certification: the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, the American Red Cross Emergency Response course, the American Safety and Health Institute and the Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Services Personnel. Any kind of certification for training other than above mentioned agencies depends on approval by the Commission. For those who attend a basic fir academy, additional training is not required. The reason is that the emergency medical training is included in the course outline of basic fire academy.
4. Apply for certification as a Texas firefighter. You are entitled for certification only when you successfully complete a basic course, receive emergency medical training and pass the exam, according to the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. As of January 2011, an application form TCFP-OO2 requires $35 nonrefundable fee. The state requires you to apply for certification using the above mentioned application form.
CHRISTOPHER COLLINS ON AUG 13, 2014
SOURCE: ABILENE REPORTER-NEWS, TEXAS
Aug. 13--ABILENE, Texas -- On average, 100 U.S. firefighters die in the line of duty each year.
But that doesn't have to be the case, said Joel Thompson, a fire academy instructor and a chief of operations at the Haltom City Fire Department. On Tuesday, Thompson taught a two-hour seminar to volunteer firefighters at the Abilene Civic Center, part of the 60th annual Abilene Fire Control Conference.
The conference, which includes training on pump operations, hazardous material awareness and safety is put on by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
During the class, Thompson said that 75 percent of on-duty deaths could be prevented by using proper firefighting techniques and by staying in shape.
"I'd say many of these could have been prevented," he said.
About half of each year's deaths are from heart attacks, Thompson said, the apparent result of a unhealthy lifestyle and a bad diet.
"When I was a volunteer, our dinner consisted of something fried, bacon and gravy," he told the class.
The other half of deaths can mostly be attributed to firefighters going too far inside a burning structure and becoming trapped. He called the blind bravery and aptitude for thrill-seeking shown by some firemen "a culture" that needs to change.
"When that building's on fire, we're going to go inside," Thompson said. "But if we continue to operate this way, we'll continue to have 100 more deaths a year. That will only change when we change the culture."
Some tips he gave to prevent unnecessary death while fighting structure fires:
Copyright 2014 - Abilene Reporter-News, Texas
Congrats to the McAllen Fire Department in McAllen, Texas for winning the Good Morning America 5 Alarm Firefighter Challenge and representing Texas! McAllen FD will be donating their winnings to the Texas Line of Duty Task Force.
You can watch clips of them competing on Good Morning America here.
You can see more pictures at the City of McAllen Facebook Page.
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 David Wade, 2014 SFFMA State Firefighter of the Year and to James Carr, 2014 SFFMA State EMS Responder of the Year!
The nominees and winners were recognized this past weekend at the SFFMA Conference in Lubbock. Also recognized were all the recipients of the 2014 Firefighter Safety & Training Grant. 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.
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, Possum Kingdom West Side 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.
Original Source: FIRE ENGINEERING
By Robert Owens
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading killer among all men and women in the United States. Some 385,000 Americans die annually from heart disease, with another 715,000 Americans reporting at least one heart attack each year (CDC, 2013). Although these statistics are alarming, there are inherent risks with being a firefighter that increase the potential for cardiac arrest.
According to Dr. Patrick Moriarty, Director of the Atherosclerosis and LDL—Apheresis Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center, a study of 77 firefighters with an average age of 39 years old revealed that most had the plaque buildup of a 52-year-old (Colwell, 2009). This was attributed to stress, sleep deprivation, and high-calorie meals.
Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of medicine and associate chief of the cardiology division at the University of California—Los Angeles led a similar study of firefighters and found that particulates in fire smoke leads to inflammation of arteries, increasing the chance for heart disease or stroke (Colwell, 2009). The study also revealed that, despite an average firefighter age that would be considered “young,” the subjects’ arteries resembled those of people some 13 years older.
Dr. Jim Brown from Indiana University—Bloomington studied Indianapolis, Indiana, firefighters for six months, monitoring their heart rates. Findings included firefighters operating at 100 percent capacity of their hearts for hours, and high heart rates even during sleep not allowing their bodies to reach rapid eye movement (REM) and recover (Brown & Stickford, 2007).
As of this writing, the United States Fire Administration has recorded 16 line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) during 2014, with all but five being heart or cerebrovascular related. What does it all mean?
Simply, firefighters have heart attacks. This concept should be nothing new. The data have been there for years. These events occur at the station, after a shift, and even on the fireground. Although programs such as “Saving Our Own” or “Firefighter Rescue” training focus on calling a Mayday or locating and removing downed firefighters, there is no mention of caring for a firefighter after rescue from the fire environment or when they collapse on scene or at the station.
Just as firefighters face extraordinary factors that influence their potential to experience a heart attack or stroke, dealing with a firefighter in cardiac arrest is not a straightforward event; it takes different skill sets, procedures, resources, and composure to result in good outcomes.
Read the Rest of the Article Here...
“There’s a lot of attention for line of duty deaths. Firefighters who die in a burning building, in a collapse—the funerals are on television. The truth is the number of us dying with our boots off is far greater."
CBS4 in Miami recently published an article highlighting the silent killer known as cancer and how strong of an effect it has on putting firefighters' lives in danger. The article, which we highly recommend reading, can be read here: http://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/04/29/cbs4-investigates-silent-killer-claiming-lives-of-firefighters while the video report is embedded above.
Cancer is unfortunately a disease that should be on the minds of all individuals involved in emergency services. And unfortunately, many have no coverage under an Accident and Sickness program and limited, if any coverage, available through Workers’ Compensation.
However, with the VFIS Critical Illness Insurance Program, your emergency service personnel can receive a lump sum cash benefit when diagnosed with a heart attack, stroke or life threatening cancer. Coverage is provided on a 24 hour on and off duty basis. Of course like all insurance policies, there are certain conditions of coverage among them:
Conditions of Coverage:
Who is eligible?
Learn More: CRITICAL ILLNESS FLYER
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 NEWS
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