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International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week

Posted on June 13, 2013 by U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell, Jr.

The 2013 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week will be held June 16-22. It is a joint initiative of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The goal for both organizations is to reduce the number of preventable injuries and deaths in the fire and emergency services.

As Fire Administrator, I strongly believe there are too many firefighters being injured or tragically losing their lives in the line of duty. In 2012, there were 83 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States. Unfortunately, heart attacks and strokes continue to be the leading cause of these deaths at the rate of 49%. An estimated 81,070 firefighter injuries occur annually in the United States and 25% of those injuries are due to overexertion/strain. We have to focus our efforts toward changing these statistics. We have to change the safety culture of the fire service.

I commend the IAFC and NFVC in their efforts to reduce firefighter fatalities and injuries. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is also very committed to supporting this goal through numerous programmatic and training initiatives.

USFA’s National Fire Data Center initiates research projects covering a variety of topics to enhance firefighter and emergency responder health and safety. We partner with several organizations and our current initiatives include:

USFA’s National Fire Academy has a variety of training opportunities through its Responder Health and Safety Curriculum, including the recently developed Advanced Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Safety and Survival course. This course examines the NFFF’s 16 FLSIs: what they mean and how they can be adapted by every fire and emergency service organization. We also offer the Department Wellness Program course which provides the outline and resources for a fire/EMS department to implement and maintain a wellness program, in coordination with the department’s health and safety program.

I encourage you to learn more about USFA’s health and safety efforts and how we can help your department by visiting this page on our website: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/firefighter_health_safety/.

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