What firefighters need to know about safety

Each year, more than 100 firefighters die in the line of duty, and thousands more are injured. To prevent these deaths and injuries, firefighters must make safety their number one priority. And, they must commit to learning and paying attention to safety.


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Firefighting is one of the most respected professions in the country, and being a firefighter is about accepting challenges and being prepared for them. If you’re training to be a firefighter or you are a firefighter, you must be a safety expert so that you can do your job and keep doing it.

Safety Standards and Procedures

The National Fire Protection Association and other organizations have created standards for safety, but not all departments follow these standards, making it important for firefighters, including those who are working to get their fire science bachelor degree, to have their own understanding of current standards.

Although they may vary, here are some basic rules of engagement for firefighter survival:

  • Size up your area of operation.
  • Determine the occupant survival profile.
  • Do not risk your life for lives or property that cannot be saved.
  • Extend limited risk to protect savable property.
  • Extend vigilant and measured risk to protect and rescue savable lives.
  • Go in together, stay together and come out together.
  • Maintain continuous awareness of your air supply, situation, and location and fire conditions.
  • Constantly monitor communications for critical radio reports.
  • You are required to report unsafe practices or conditions that can harm you. Stop, evaluate and decide.
  • You are required to abandon your position and retreat before deteriorating conditions can harm you.
  • Declare a mayday as soon as you think you are in danger.

Safety Training Is Crucial

For firefighters, training is a must. In fact, firefighters spend as much time training as they do in service. Training is done in a variety of ways: in the classroom, online, in simulations and more. Because of the evolving nature of the work, training should be ongoing, something that firefighters do before and throughout their career.

Hydration Is Important

Firefighters are frequently exposed to extreme heat, which quickly dehydrates their bodies. Firefighters are taught to “put the wet stuff on the red stuff,” meaning drink plenty of liquid.

Working firefighters, on average, lose about 50 to 70 ounces of sweat in 30 to 45 minutes of firefighting activity. And even with as little as a two-percent depletion of body water, the ability to perform high-intensity activity can be greatly impaired. What this means is that you should limit your intake of caffeine and carbonated beverages and consume about half your body weight in ounces of water per day while you’re on duty.

Proper Firefighting Equipment and Tools

There are a variety of basic tools and equipment available to firefighters that can increase their chances of survival.

  • Personal protective equipment. Equipment, when worn properly and not damaged, can protect against injuries. This includes boots, helmets, gloves and protective hoods.
  • Eye protection. Eye protection is a must, whether it’s a protective shield on your helmet, safety glasses or goggles, you must shield your eyes.
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus. Every day, you must check your SCBA and make sure the cylinder is full.
  • Flashlights. Always carry two.
  • Pocket tools and equipment. Some great aids include utility rope, various hand tools, a sharp knife, wire cutters, pliers, door chocks and bail-out devices and accessories.
  • Search rope bag. This can help you find your way back out of a building.
  • Portable radio. This way if you get into trouble, you can call for help or rely on other important information.

Safety Is Extremely Important for Firefighters

When you’re a firefighter, safety is crucial. Things can quickly become complicated, but you must constantly ask yourself, “Am I acting safely?” Overall, firefighting is an extremely rewarding and exciting career, but you must pay attention to your physical health and put safety above all else.

About the Author: Jerry Salazar is a writer and a firefighter. He is working to get his emergency management masters degree and hopes to one day teach fire safety to other firefighters.

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Posted by on February 19, 2013. Filed under SCI/TECH/HOME/TRAVEL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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