To submit your Safety Stand Down success story, click here. Success stories are used to help inspire others by highlighting departments who use Safety Stand Down to develop or enhance on-going safety and health initiatives in their departments. Safety Stand Down is the new name for International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week.
Safety Stand Down 2016
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department
The members of the Prince George’s County (MD) Fire/EMS Department take safety and health seriously. While firefighters there note safety is a top priority all year, during Safety Stand Down the department suspended non-essential activities to focus on safety information and practices.
Everett Burris notes that the focus on safety and health will not end with Safety Stand Down. “The plan is to continue to research, plan for new opportunities, and enforce the safety policies we have in place. We plan to hold everyone to a higher standard,” he said.
Jeffrey Simmons added, “My department always makes safety a number one priority. We do drills periodically to make sure we’re proficient in our job. We also watch videos about how to be aware of the dangers that occur with the job.”
Kawan Rice explains that the department has implemented Safety Officers 24/7 over the past few years, and that members conduct drills and continue to attain knowledge on an ongoing basis.
According to Ryan Schlegel, staying disciplined when it comes to wearing PPE and SCBA is always at the forefront. The department implements safety measures to protect personnel from toxins, including “Hood Wash Sunday,” washing PPE after every fire, showering and changing clothes after every fire, conducting gross decon of PPE while at the scene, and wearing PPE from initial entry through overhaul.
In addition to emphasizing safety in all areas of operation, leadership also focuses on the importance of good health for their firefighters and EMTs. Personnel are encouraged to be accountable and take responsibility for their health. By staying fit and healthy, they not only lessen their risks of illnesses, but also strengthen their abilities as firefighters. Said Simmons, “You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else.”
Schlegel notes that personnel recognize how staying healthy and fit improves their performance on the job. “My crew goes to the gym every shift we work to stay in physical shape to perform our duties,” he said. “My crew also started cooking more healthy meals at dinner time instead of greasy meals that we used to make.”
Burris noted how he has worked to improve his health so he can be the best firefighter he can be. “I have personally initiated training and lifestyle changes that have made an impact on my life, and will continue to do so,” he said. “I have joined a gym and increased my cardio exercise. This will improve my job perform performance. I’ve made significant lifestyle changes with my diet, and this too has helped improve my alertness and situational awareness, thus contributing towards overall safety in the department.”
Florida Regional Safety & Health Collaborative
The Central Florida Regional Safety & Health Collaborative and the South Florida Regional Safety & Health Collaborative are ready for the 2016 Safety Stand Down. Together, the Central and South teams include over 60 departments, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, and the University of Miami, which are all committed to enhancing the health and safety of their members.
During the week of June 19-25, the Collaborative will be offering over 17 free classes to their members and other Florida firefighters. Courses being offered include: Traffic Incident Management, RIT/Mayday, Situational Awareness, Courage to be Safe, ICS for the First Arriving Company Officer, Intelligent Fire Ops, Firefighter Mental Health & Safety, Safety during Overhaul & Fire Investigations, Cancer in the Fire Service, Avoiding the Predictable Surprise, and more.
Departments that participate in the Collaborative are committed to protecting their firefighters year round through continuous monitoring, reviewing, and networking with one another to maintain accountability, ensure their responders are safe, and get the tools and resources needed to prevent illness and exposure. They also hold quarterly safety and health meetings that feature interactive and educational presentations, guest speakers, and vendors.
“Our forward momentum ensures we’re not just maintaining a ‘status quo’ status, and that we’re evolving continuously. The quarterly meetings ensure safety and health is always a priority to our firefighters,” said Ryan Gallik of the Central Florida Regional Safety & Health Collaborative. “As our mission states, ‘Our commitment is to focus on firefighter safety and health by providing training and sharing best practices to minimize risks and exposures to our nation’s firefighters.’”
Gallik noted that the Collaborative has been a resource in helping many fire departments throughout Central and South Florida develop and implement policies, procedures, and guidelines that support best practices in health and safety. Annual surveys prove the group’s initiatives have helped to reduce injuries, illnesses, and exposures for its members.
Safety and Health Week 2015
The 2015 Safety and Health Week focused on Creating a Culture of Safety in the community, in the department, and for the individual.
McCrady Fire & Emergency Services (Eastover, SC)
The McCrady Fire and Emergency Services is a career department located at the National Guard’s McCrady Training Center in Eastover, SC. The 24 members worked to create a Culture of Safety during the 2015 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week by participating in training activities, collaborating with other agencies, and evaluating what the department and community can do to focus on safety and health in the long-term.
During the week of June 14-20, department members, other agencies, and the military community they serve joined together for a series of training sessions that covered a variety of safety topics. These courses included:
Fire Extinguisher Training
- Basic Wildland Firefighting Safety
- Workplace Safety Training
- Is Your Department at its B.E.S.T.?
- Blood Borne Pathogen Training
- AED Training
- Cancer in the Fire Service
- Emergency Driver Safety
- Life Net Landing Zone Safety
- Physical Fitness
- Back Injuries in the Fire Service
- 16 Life Safety Initiatives
This training was just the first step in the department’s planned ongoing efforts to make safety and health a top priority. Many of the subjects taught during the Safety and Health Week activities have been added to the department’s recurring training roster, and additional ones will also be introduced.
To further enhance their focus on safety, the department is establishing a Safety Committee that will convene quarterly to discuss, identify, and/or improve on their in-house training and fireground safety practices. The Safety and Health Week activities also fostered increased collaboration with agencies such as the South Carolina Forestry Commission and others which the department may need to work with in the event of an emergency.
“Our focus will always be SAFETY FIRST!” said Chief Andrew James. He noted that safety concerns and initiatives are meticulously built into all departmental SOGs and policies.
To help encourage healthy lifestyle changes among members, the department will have dedicated duty time for members to exercise and will bring in a certified military instructor to implement the “Army Move!” exercise program.
The McCrady Fire and Emergency Services will continue to build on all of these efforts to create a lasting culture of safety for their department, for their members, and for their community.
“This is a great enterprise, and we thoroughly enjoyed taking part in it,” said Chief James of his department’s participation in Safety and Health Week. “This was our inaugural year and we look forward to continuing and building on this outstanding initiative and culture you’ve created. This started as an intradepartmental training event that quickly outgrew our expectations and expanded into an installation-wide event thanks to the resourcefulness of our Fire Prevention Inspector / Safety Officer Mr. Kevin L. Powers.”
Read more about the McCrady Fire and Emergency Services’ Safety and Health Week activities.
*Photos courtesy of McCrady Fire and Emergency Services
Safety and Health Week 2014
The 2014 Safety and Health Week which focused on safety during training activities and making sure personnel receives the training they need for safe fireground operations.
East Whiteland Fire Department (Malvern, PA)
The 50 firefighters and EMS personnel at East Whiteland Fire Department, a combination department located in Malvern, PA, take health and fitness very seriously. They understand the community is depending on them to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice, and that being fit is an important component of that.
The department participates in annual NFPA medical evaluations, and career members are required to engage in at least one hour of physical fitness training per shift. Many volunteer members also participate in the physical training either at the station or at local fitness centers. The fitness training is regularly applied to real-world fire and EMS situations during training sessions.
“Our goal is two-fold,” said Dan Kerrigan, East Whiteland firefighter and assistant fire marshal. “Be prepared to safely and effectively carry out the tasks required of us when we are called, and make sure everyone goes home to their families.”
For the 2014 Safety and Health Week, the East Whiteland Fire Department designed a special fitness challenge circuit that combines or mimics typical firefighting tasks performed at emergency scenes with an added emphasis on physical fitness. The circuit can be completed either in regular clothing, bunker gear, or full turnout gear and SCBA, depending on the individual’s level of fitness. The circuit is easily set up and can be adjusted to individual or department needs. View the East Whiteland fitness challenge circuit.
To keep momentum going throughout the year, the department continues to emphasize the components of their health and wellness program as they apply to training, fireground operations, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Additional emphasis will be placed on proper diet and nutrition and being mentally prepared for the job.
West Newbury (MA) Fire Department
The West Newbury Fire Department in West Newbury, MA, is a volunteer department with 30 members. During Safety and Health Week they created a streamlined training and drill schedule that will promote safety awareness to members throughout the year. They also worked with their junior firefighters to teach them why being healthy and in shape is critical to performing all the jobs that are asked of a firefighter.
To keep the momentum going throughout the year, the department issued a challenge to each member to live a healthier lifestyle and make diet and exercise a bigger part of their daily routines. They initiated a buddy system to motivate personnel and create a better sense of collaboration and teamwork, and are encouraging members to workout at the station.
Already, the department has seen progress. “Many of our members have made a bigger commitment to either getting healthier or helping others get healthy,” said David Evans. This includes one firefighter who offered to teach martial arts to members, and another who is working on introducing cross-fit to the department. “I think many of us have made a conscious effort to be more healthy,” Evans said.
North Lyon County Fire Protection District (Fernley, NV)
The North Lyon County Fire Protection District is a combination department with 25 members in Fernley, NV. During the 2014 Safety and Health Week, the department focused on collaborating with all area first responders – fire, EMS, law enforcement, and dispatchers – to work together in training that will make the call more efficient as well as safer for the health and well-being of the entire team.
Throughout Safety and Health Week, North Lyon County Fire Protection District held a series of health and safety workshops from 6-7:30pm. Topics included local medical hazards, self defense tactics, and biomechanics of the body. The week ended with an open house barbecue for the community that focused on wildland fire preparation and prevention. The open house and outreach to the community was partially funded through a SAFER grant.
The collaboration does not end with Safety and Health Week. The department will continue to promote wellness programs and training with neighboring agencies throughout the year, as well as encourage participation in professional development at all levels and topics. In addition, the department provides free training in the community, such as CPR courses, to help citizens be more prepared in the case of an emergency.