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Guidance for Junior Firefighter Safety and Health

Posted: April 18, 2024

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In April 2024, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published Keeping Junior Firefighters Safe and Healthy: The Fire Department’s Role in Promoting Positive Childhood Experiences. It summarizes lessons learned from 8 NIOSH investigations conducted since 2000 involving junior firefighters (also known as “explorers” or “cadets”) aged 14 to 17 years old.

These investigations, conducted as part of NIOSH’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP), highlighted 2 important lessons learned that fire departments can implement to ensure junior firefighter programs minimize risk while supporting adolescent engagement:

  • Follow appropriate child labor laws for permitted activities specific to junior firefighters, and develop, implement and enforce standard operating procedures that reflect their requirements and restrictions.
  • Provide junior firefighters with, and ensure the use of, appropriate personal protective equipment.

Historically, junior firefighter programs have been an important recruitment and retention tool for the fire service. In return, fire departments can play a significant role in promoting positive childhood experiences. Part of this role includes ensuring their safety. Lessons learned from NIOSH’s FFFIPP can help ensure your youngest members can learn and participate in a safe and healthy environment.

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This article is based on content in the
April 18, 2024 InfoGram.

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