Stand Down for Firefighter Safety and Health

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

So far this year, 58 firefighters nationwide have died in the line-of-duty. A stand-down is a method used by the military, to correct an issue that has been identified as a problem throughout its ranks. The IAFC urged fire departments to suspend all non-emergency activity today. And instead, focus entirely on firefighter safety. Bowling Green firefighters are doing their part to raise safety awareness.

Keith Mefford is an assistant chief at the Bowling Green Fire Department. He says: "Today we're changing our routine focus and we're going to focus entirely on firefighter safety."

As part of the national stand down for safety, Bowling Green Fire Department is working to keep firefighters safe.

Mefford says: "Typically in the past I say the past 5-10 years, firefighters were concerned obviously about occupant safety and didn't really focus on firefighter safety. Most fire departments as have Bowling Green created a R.I.T. team."

R.I.T. stands for Rapid Intervention Team. Their sole focus is to locate lost or trapped firefighters or rescue downed firefighters. Bowling Green has a person designated to handle safety issues.

Captain Bob Sanborn says: "If I see that maybe a wall looks unsafe, I'll holler at them and say you need to move back. Or go to the incident commander and try to work through the incident commander and get him."

They also have an accountability system. Firefighters wear tags around their neck with the name of the other officers working with them. Sanborn believes having the Stand Down For Safety is a good way to keep the firefighters conditioned for any obstacle they might encounter.

Sanborn says: "Brings people up to a standard, where they realize, hey I could get hurt in a 700 sq. ft. residential housefire as well as a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse fire."

He also says he thinks the safety drills should be done more often.

The Bowling Green Fire Department celebrated Stand Down For Firefighter Safety in more ways. They held a teleconference with all the substations in Bowling Green. They remembered their fallen brothers and sisters and learned more about safety.

Captain Ed Moody says: "We'll be covering some of the target hazards in our city that we consider high threats to us."

Wednesday, the fire department has activities planned to focus on driver and highway safety. Thursday, the focus will be on personal health. Forty-four percent of firefighters die from heart attacks, so they will learn about eating healthier and exercising.

For more information on the International Association of Fire Chiefs, visit
http://www.iafc.org/home/index.asp.


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