USFA Releases Safety Culture Change Report

The "National Safety Culture Change Initiative" report provides a basic understanding of the fire and emergency service culture, identifies individual and organizational behaviors that positively and negatively impact health and safety, and highlights areas for change by raising awareness about unsafe practices.

A report released recently by the U.S. Fire Administration summarizes a study of fire and emergency service cultural aspects that contribute to occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Despite improvements in personal protective equipment, apparatus safety devices, training, emphasis on health and wellness, and decreases in the number of fires, the rate of on-duty firefighter death and injury has remained relatively unchanged in the past four decades, according to USFA.

The report was sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and USFA, which is part of FEMA.

The "National Safety Culture Change Initiative" report provides a basic understanding of the fire and emergency service culture, identifies individual and organizational behaviors that positively and negatively impact health and safety, and highlights areas for change by raising awareness about unsafe practices.

Focus areas in it include:
  • Environmental factors
  • Health and wellness
  • Individual responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Recruiting
  • Seat belt usage
  • Situational awareness
  • Training
  • Vehicle operations

According to USFA, "there is widespread acceptance of the belief that behavioral issues contribute to firefighter casualties and that some type of cultural change is needed to alter the perceptions of acceptable and unacceptable risks.

USFA promised that, in August 2015, it will make available a number of free resources to help fire and emergency service departments assess and make positive changes in their safety culture. These resources include:

  • Web-based educational modules using operational incident scenarios
  • Assessment tools, including checklists, to evaluate status and progress
  • A repository of additional information resources on the topic of cultural change

They will be posted to the Firefighter Safety Culture website, http://www.ffsafetyculture.org/.

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