WFC News

Posted: Dec 18, 2014

Changing the Culture of Seatbelts

“Officer ejected from apparatus in serious condition”, “Firefighter died of injuries sustained from being ejected from engine”.  These are headlines from 2014! Why is this still happening? Doesn’t every department in the country have a policy about seat belts? Didn’t we all sign a seatbelt pledge? 

My answer to this question is “Culture” we don’t want to change.  Culture is deeply ingrained in the fire service.  Part of that culture is to not speak up.  I talked before about the fear of speaking up or reminding our brothers and sisters to do things safely. Seat belts are one of those “things” we have a tendency to not help each other out with. Would you let your partner go into an IDLH environment without doing a buddy check? No, because we have always been told that being part of the team is doing that for each other. So, why not do a “buddy check” before the apparatus rolls off the apron of the station?

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Posted: Jul 10, 2014

Why not?

Why not wear your seatbelt?  Does your department have a policy of wearing seatbelts?  Has your department signed the Nation Seatbelt Pledge?  Twenty-seven fire departments in the state of Washington have signed along with the Washington State Fire Training Academy.  Two combined volunteer fire academies in Pierce County and the Washington State Fire Training Academy, class of 2013 have also signed the pledge.  With 500+ fire departments and fire districts in the State of Washington this is a very poor showing.  You can see the list of Washington departments that are 100% compliant with the International First Responder Seatbelt Pledge by going to  The National Fire Service Seatbelt Pledge was created following the death of Texas firefighter Brian Hunton to reduce the firefighter fatalities.  Over 400 firefighters have died in vehicle crashes in the last 30 years; 300 did not have on seatbelts.  

There was an article in Fire Engineering stating that only 55% of firefighters wear their seatbelts which means that 45% do NOT wear their seatbelts.  

We in the fire service know there is a problem so why don’t we fix it?  Firefighters are not alone in not wearing their seatbelts.  The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that at least 42% of police officers killed in vehicle crashes nationally over the past 30 years were not wearing their seatbelts.  They NHTA also did a survey and found the highest use of seatbelts for the general public was in the west at 94%.  The State of Washington has the highest seatbelt use in the nation at 98%...

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Posted: Apr 10, 2014

Make a Great Day At The Station

We don’t rescue the young and beautiful from the ravages of fire often enough to maintain great satisfaction and inspiration for our work. In fact a lot of our work is routine in nature and sometimes difficult to continue to make important day after day drill after drill. Often it is difficult to see what we have done at the end of the day that we can say job well done. We do however need to be prepared for every emergency if and when it does come. That is why we train.

Remember when we first started down the fire service path? Every thing was a new experience, people told stories about everything. What they used all those tools for, what happened at one fire compared to another, how to protect yourself and do well. We practiced often and redundantly, until we had skills mastered. We didn’t pull a hose line once we pulled it five or eight times trying to improve each time. We raised ladders and secured them until we were hot and tired. Often while practicing one skill we would take on another objective because someone had a “what if”. This kind of day is fun and satisfying. That is why we train...

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Posted: Feb 13, 2014

Developing Soft Skills for Success

In 2012 the Officers Section of the Washington Fire Chiefs was consolidated with the Training and Safety Officers Section.  This allowed for the vision of the Officers Section to move forward and to ensure its message and philosophy on leadership development is not lost.  Officer development at all levels is the mission of this group.  The fire service continually seeks qualified individuals within and outside of their organization who possess the vital skills needed to guide their organization into the future. 

The International Association of Fire Chiefs Officer (IAFC) Development Handbook was created to provide guidance and a “clear roadmap for success as a fire officer”; (Jim Broman).  This program has four levels of preparation; supervising, managing, administrative and executive.  Each of these levels contains four areas of personal development; training, education, experience and self-development.  I will break down each of these areas as they are described in the IAFC Handbook. 

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Posted: Jan 13, 2014

New EVIP Program!

The Washington State Fire Chief’s Training and Safety & Officers section are proud to announce that the new Emergency Vehicle Incident Prevention (EVIP) program is approved and in motion!  After a laborious update process the new program has been approved by the State Department of Licensing and the Washington State Patrol, Fire Protection Bureau. There are some major updates to the program that will need to be communicated state-wide.

The new program now has a trainer re-certification policy that requires trainers to have a Train-the-Trainer (T-t-T) refresher course every 5 years. Those who have been trainers under previous EVIP standards will still need to receive this most current T-t-T course and use the current course materials to remain a certified EVIP trainer.  Fire service members may register through the Washington State Fire Chief’s online for any of the upcoming T-t-T courses that are scheduled across the state.  There are also two opportunities to take the course at the Training and Safety & Officer’s Conference in Yakima the first week of March 2014. As part of the T-t-T course students will receive the newest EVIP program disc and all needed materials to bring the EVIP program back to their departments for immediate implementation...

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