IAFC Urges National Confined Space Stand Down

The chiefs' Safety, Health and Survival Section issued the request June 1, saying two similar incidents that nearly killed firefighters demand additional training.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Safety, Health and Survival Section issued a stand down request June 1 to all fire chiefs and officers, saying two similar confined space incidents that nearly killed firefighters demand additional training. A stand down calls on leaders to focus on safety training during non-emergency periods.

Urging the departments and officers to review these online resources, the section said technical rescue precautions should be reinforced. "In recent weeks, incidents involving confined space rescues in both Ohio and Indiana left initial civilian victims dead and firefighters critically injured," said Chief Billy Goldfeder, chair of the section. "In both cases, while heroic attempts were made to save the victims, firefighters ended up becoming victims themselves."

The section urged chiefs to have all personnel immediately review and discuss applicable departmental policies and procedures to minimize the risk to firefighters in confined spaces and related technical rescue incidents. "Confined space and similar technical rescues are high-risk but low-frequency events," said Chief Jeff Johnson, IAFC’s president. "The rarer the incident type, the more likely that fire and EMS personnel may be unaware of, unprepared for, or even forget proper procedures as they race to rescue a victim. I urge fire and emergency leaders to immediately take action to review the dangers and proper procedures for confined space rescue operations."

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