The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters announced the theme for the June 19-25, 2011 Safety, Health and Survival Week: Surviving the Fire Ground - Firefighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness
Safety, Health and Survival Week (Safety Week) is a collaborative program sponsored by the IAFC and the IAFF, coordinated by the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section and the IAFF Division of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine, in partnership with more than 20 national fire service organizations.
Fire departments are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activity during Safety Week and instead focus entirely on survival training and education until all shifts and personnel have taken part. An entire week is provided to ensure each shift and duty crew can spend one day focusing on these critical issues.
Mayday: Not If…When
With so many changes (budget cuts, staffing reductions, reduced training, etc.) in so many fire departments, it is critical for firefighters to focus on their own survival on the fireground. There is no other call more challenging to fireground operations than a mayday call — the unthinkable moment when a fire fighter’s personal safety is in imminent danger. Fire fighter fatality data compiled by the United States Fire Administration have shown that fire fighters “becoming trapped and disoriented represent the largest portion of structural fire ground fatalities.” The incidents in which fire fighters have lost their lives, or lived to tell about it, have a consistent theme — inadequate situational awareness put them at risk.
Fire fighters don’t plan to be lost, disoriented, injured or trapped during a structure fire or emergency incident. But fires are unpredictable and volatile, and they won't always go according to plan. What a firefighter knows about a fire before entering a blazing building may radically change within minutes once inside the structure. Smoke, low visibility, lack of oxygen, structural instability and an unpredictable fireground can cause even the most seasoned firefighter to be overwhelmed in an instant.
The IAFF Fire Ground Survival (FGS) program is the most comprehensive survival skills and mayday-prevention program currently available and is open to all members of the fire service. Incorporating federal regulations, proven incident-management best practices and survival techniques from leaders in the field, and real case studies from experienced firefighters, the FGS program aims to educate all firefighters to be prepared if the unfortunate happens. The IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program will provide participating fire departments with the skills they need to improve situational awareness and prevent a mayday. Topics covered include:
- Preventing the mayday: situational awareness, planning, size up, air management, fitness for survival, defensive operations.
- Being Ready for the mayday: personal safety equipment, communications, accountability systems.
- Self-Survival Procedures: avoiding panic, mnemonic learning aid “GRAB LIVES” — actions a fire fighter must take to improve survivability, emergency breathing.
- Self-Survival Skills: SCBA familiarization, emergency procedures, disentanglement, upper floor escape techniques.
- Fire Fighter Expectations of Command: command-level mayday training, pre-mayday, mayday and rescue, post-rescue, expanding the incident command system, communications.
This year’s Safety Week will focus on delivering the online Fire Ground Survival awareness training course to all fire departments. Other planning tools and resources will be available on the Safety Week website. Mark your calendar – Safety Week is June 19-25 this year.
Keep watching the Safety Week website and the IAFC Facebook, Twitter and NewLinkedIn pages for continuing updates to this year’s program and planning resources. Remember to visit the SHS Section’s website for more information on health and safety issues and the IAFF’s Health, Safety and Medicine’s website for more information on health, wellness and safety programs. You may also contact the IAFF by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional resources.