Health & Safety: Safety Messages

65-2 #2 January 4, 2007

Safety Message #1 - Safe Apparatus Responses

UFA Health and Safety Officer / Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Romaka wishes to remind the Membership to take their safety responsibilities seriously at all times. We will continue to highlight and remind our members of "safe actions" as spelled out by the Department. Stay well and stay safe!

In 2007 the UFA's ongoing campaign emphasizing Firefighter Safety, which is of utmost importance to our Firefighters and their families, will continue to be highlighted and reinforced.

First, we would like to bring your attention and focus on some of the topics in our previous Safety Messages which are based on the Department Regulations and Safety Bulletins:

  1. Donning of boots and fire clothing should be done prior to boarding apparatus.
  2. The apparatus shall be brought to a complete halt in order to permit members to board safely.
  3. Seat belts must be used at all times and secure before the apparatus proceeds.
  4. Chauffeurs are reminded to continue to respond in the safest possible fashion.

These Safety Bulletins and Regulations do not include direction on how to best accomplish the intended safety goals. Each firehouse should adopt a procedure where a member on the backstep (ie. control, roof, etc.) notifies the chauffeur that all members are belted in via handitalkie before the apparatus can respond. This will help ensure a safe response of our members.

It is necessary to highlight these Safety Messages and Bulletins since the Fire Commissioner, his spokesman, and the Safety Command have tended to blame Firefighters for their injuries. For example:

    "Department Orders", April 10th, 2006: 2.3 SEATBELT SAFETY - "Members have a responsibility to themselves and to their families to operate as safely as possible. Fire Department apparatus were involved in approximately five hundred accidents last year alone. Failure to use seatbelts properly while riding on Department apparatus has resulted in serious injuries to members. Over the past three years, several members have been ejected from moving apparatus. All of these members were seriously injured. Anytime members are on board a moving Fire Department vehicle they must put on their seatbelt and utilize it properly. Your seatbelt is there for your safety."

    "The Chief", April 14th, 2006 - "...The department said a thorough investigation revealed the door latch and the cab's seatbelt were both working properly the night the firefighter pitched over the side."

    "Metro", October 11th, 2006 - "...He [Hay] also urged all firefighters to wear seat belts when the truck is moving. ....(the firefighter), who was not wearing a seatbelt, struck his head on the pavement."

    "NY 1", October 10th, 2006 - "...It says the safety of its members is paramount and reminds all firefighters to follow mandated rules to put their gear on before getting on the fire truck, and to always wear their seat belts, which the department believes cold have prevented (the firefighter's) accident."

    "Daily News", October 11th, 2006 - "...But the FDNY adamantly denied that there is a problem with the department's trucks, blamed the firefighter for falling and called the incident captured on tape an unfortunate fluke'. ...Gribbon noted that (the firefighter) should have been wearing his seat belt."

    "The New York Times", October 11th, 2006 - "...But the Fire Department insisted that there was nothing defective with its truck doors or latches, and said that the accident would not have occurred had (the firefighter) been wearing his seat belt, a safety precaution that the department said it has long urged its firefighters to take."

    "The Chief", October 20th, 2006 - "Ensure Fire Truck Safety" Editorial "...Footage of the (firefighter) incident showed that the 28-year-old Firefighter was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of his fall. That is not uncommon: many firefighters try to save time in responding to a call by jumping on their rigs while not wearing their full gear. Until they are outfitted, they can't buckle their seatbelts."

    "The Chief", October 20th, 2006 - "...Firefighters usually throw on their pants and boots and put the rest of their bunker gear on en route to a call, but they can't buckle their seat belts until fully dressed. It gets them to an emergency a few seconds faster, but leaves them vulnerable to mishaps like the one (the firefighter) suffered. ....He added that the UFOA would stand "in lockstep with the FDNY, if (the department) is true to its word about wanting members properly suited up and belted in."

To counter this tendency of blame, it is paramount that we reiterate to all Firefighters that they must take the time to gear up properly and always use seatbelts. According to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), of the 106 Firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2005, 26 deaths were apparatus accidents. Following safety procedures habitually will protect Firefighters going to calls.


Stephen J. Cassidy

Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary