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Inherently Dangerous

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
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on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
in Industry Insights

Firefighters are called upon to work in some of the most hazardous situations found in our society.

No responsible employer in the developed world would consider allowing their firefighters to enter these hostile environments without adequate personal protective equipment. Indeed most countries have legislation that makes it mandatory to provide such protection to their employees.

Adequate training and safe systems of work are just as critical in ensuring that firefighters are not placed in unnecessary danger. Arguably one of the most essential skills is the ability to recognise the hazards and to be able to formulate the safest and most efficient method of fire attack.

The Home Office Health and Safety publication “Training for Hazardous Occupations”, HSE OP8 has this to say about firefighting:

“The activities which firefighters are required to perform can be frightening. They frequently must work at heights, they are exposed to heat and smoke and they may have to enter dark confined spaces for rescue work. Unless the firefighter has experienced the fears to which these conditions give rise and has learnt to control them, there is a risk that he will get into difficulties in the hazardous circumstances of the fireground and will himself need to be rescued. He must also rely greatly upon his colleagues and his officers to look after him in hazardous situations. He needs to be confident in their ability to do so. He needs to know that if he is given an order by an officer that an officer will have considered the firefighters safety before asking him to do the task. He must also be confident that the task is within his own capabilities if he is to approach it in the right frame of mind. Each of these aspects, control of fear, and confidence in himself and his colleagues and his officers can be developed in training, but only if the training is undertaken under realistic conditions which may well expose the firefighter to risk.

I would argue that realistic and practical training is as critical to firefighter safety as adequate PPE. Yet even today there are numerous examples of fire services that do not see adequate realistic training as essential.

Some see it as an optional extra or something that can be provided with lectures or the occasional wet drill in the station yard.

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