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IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section
Riding Safety for Everyone
It is never acceptable to ride firefighters on the outside of any fire apparatus during any emergency operation.
Yet now the 2016 edition of NFPA 1906, Standard For Wildland Fire Apparatus, believes that it’s perfectly fine to place firefighters in exterior positions while engaged in combat fire operations during wildland-fire incidents. Their reasoning is that the practice is going on anyway and apparatus are being built with exterior riding positions, so it may as well be legitimized by writing it into the standard.
So at what fork in the road during the long fire service quest for firefighter safety, survival, health and wellness has it become acceptable for manufacturers to tell fire departments what is a safe fireground operation?
It’s your #1 responsibility as the fire chief, not a third party’s, to look out for the safety and survival of all of your members. Without your members, you can’t protect your citizens. If you’re riding your folks on the outside of your wildland trucks (such as type 6 engines and brush trucks), you’re gambling with your firefighters’ lives during every wildland fire emergency.
There’s no tactical advantage in this practice. It’s a matter of convenience, not a matter of tactical necessity, to allow this to occur. More than likely, your members are fighting fire this way because it’s fun and exciting.
It is not safe!
Whether you’re a fire department in the plains or the mountains, along a coast or in a swamp state, you can’t allow this practice to continue.
Your IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, the IAFC Wildland Fire Policy Committee and several other fire service organizations are now addressing this issue. This new external-riding position was introduced during the public-input period to NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health, as an acceptable practice from various fire-apparatus manufacturers and representatives from NFPA 1906. Both SHS and the Wildland Fire Policy Committee will be working hard to make sure this unsafe practice is discontinued and doesn’t go into the NFPA 1500 standard.
Scott D. Kerwood, Chair
Safety Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona: January 18–22
SHS is assisting the Fire Department Safety Officers Association with this great training opportunity. At the annual Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium and the concurrent Safety Forum, three popular speakers will present:
Keeping Firefighters Safe
SHS and FDSOA Team Up to Promote the 2nd Annual Crew Resource Management Symposium
Contact Captain Michael Anderson for more information.
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The following firefighters lost their lives during the month of September and October 2015: