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Why Fire Fighters Should Get More Involved in the Building Codes Process

It’s no secret that fire fighters take great pride in the performance of their jobs, and there are a lot of skills they work on to be effective.

Having the right certification, training and gear, and meeting all the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are just a few of the things that help a fire fighter return safely to the firehouse after an emergency call.

Building codes are an issue that affects fire fighter safety every day, but often times fire fighters don’t make it a priority when it comes to performance.

This week, the IAFF Charitable Foundation is facilitating a fire prevention and safety project that aims to increase awareness and encourages active fire service involvement in developing new building codes, seeing them through passage and promoting enforcement.

Leaders from across the country have gathered at IAFF headquarters to discuss how effective the current fire service role is in the building code process on the national, state, county and local levels.

The group will examine what the level of involvement the fire service should have in the building code process, what prevents the fire service from being more involved in the building code process and how fire fighters can be better educated about building codes.

The group will also develop specific actions that will help address the issues.

“This is all about prevention,” says Tony Burke, IAFF Foundation Burn Coordinator. “This is ultimately about making sure people are able to go home safely at the end of the day.”

The number of fire fighter injuries due to structure fires is sobering. In 2009, 40,270 fire fighters were injured on the fire ground. About 52 percent were minor injuries from structure fires and another 5,470 of the injuries were moderate or severe from structure fires, according to a report released by the National Fire Protection Association.

The economic costs of treating such injuries and prevention efforts run in the billions of dollars each year. That’s just one of the reasons that the number of fire fighters who are a part of the building codes process must increase on the local level, leaders say.

At the2011 John P. Redmond Symposium and Dominick F. Barbera EMS Conference a workshop was held on Building Codes: Safer Building for Fire Fighters and Residents. Take a moment and watch the video. What do you think about how more fire fighters can get involved in the building codes process?

Comments (1) -

  • Sean DeCrane (Cleveland)

    12/12/2011 4:30:14 PM |

    I encourage all members of the IAFF to understand how our work environment is established and maintained. Our work environment are the buildings we respond to while the fire station is a staging area. To ensure our members have a safer work environment we have to be active in making sure the codes that regulate how the buildings are constructed and maintained are stringent and enforced.

    If you are interested in more information just let us know. You don't have to be involved on a national stage to be effective, local activity is very important to you and the safety of the members you work with. Be active at the local level and do not let the builders decide what is safe for you.

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