2008 Safety, Health and Survival Week Theme: Committed to Long-Term Results

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) recently announced the theme of Committed to Long-Term Results for the 2008 Safety, Health and Survival Week, scheduled for June 22-28.

Committed to Long-Term Results encourages long-term investments by both chiefs and firefighters to enhance their health and safety. The ultimate goal is to institute a strong culture of health and safety within the fire/EMS service.

"There are certainly times when our call to duty unavoidably ends in tragedy, which makes it all the more important that we take defensive action against those dangers we may be able to control or confront," said Chief Steven P. Westermann, IAFC president.

This year's theme reflects the need for organizational action that supports and encourages a safety culture. "The 2008 Safety, Health and Survival Week is designed to bring international attention to the need to address preventable injuries and deaths among firefighters. The IAFF encourages labor and management to work together to address and improve firefighter health and safety," said Harold Schaitberger, IAFF general president.

Recommended activities and materials will incorporate three key areas where standard operating procedures, policies and initiatives -- along with the training and enforcement that support them -- can limit fire/EMS personnel's risk of injury or death:

1. Initiate an emergency vehicle policy, to include:

a. Always buckle up.

b. Always stop at red lights and stop signs.

c. Always drive at speed limits and defensively.

2. Fully implement the Wellness-Fitness Initiative:

a. Provide annual medical and physical evaluations.

b. Provide equipment and time for exercise.

c. Provide nutrition information.

3. Fully implement NFPA 1500, especially sections addressing PPE:

a. Provide compliant PPE.

b. Train and enforce use of PPE, including respiratory protection.

"You say that you love your family and friends? It is time now for all fire/EMS personnel to prove it. The goal is for everyone to operate as safely as possible at all times so that they are able to go home day after day to their loved ones," said Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder, chair of the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section. "While you focus on helping those in need, and there are times where we must take certain risks, think of those who love you and depend on you … think about whose pictures are in your wallet, locker and desk!"

For more information on this year's program and planning resources developed by the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, visit www.iafc.org/safetyweek.

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