The Corporation of the                                   TOWN OF MILTONReport to:      Chair & Members of the Community Se...
The Corporation of the                     TOWN OF MILTON                                                                 ...
The Corporation of the               TOWN OF MILTON                                                                CS Repo...
The Corporation of the               TOWN OF MILTON                                                                 CS Rep...
The Corporation of the              TOWN OF MILTON                                                                CS Repor...
The Corporation of the               TOWN OF MILTON                                                                  CS Re...
The Corporation of the               TOWN OF MILTON                                                                   CS R...
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FIRE-004-07 Firefighter Injury Prevention

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FIRE-004-07 Firefighter Injury Prevention

  1. 1. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTONReport to: Chair & Members of the Community Services Standing CommitteeFrom: Larry Brassard, CMMIII, C.F.E.I., Fire ChiefDate: February 5, 2007Report No. FIRE-004-07Subject: Firefighter Injury PreventionRECOMMENDATION: THAT Report FIRE-004-07 be received for information.EXECUTIVE SUMMARYFirefighting is a high risk occupation that requires firefighters be physically and mentallyprepared for the exertion and extreme working conditions that may be encountered atany given incident. The provision of personal protective clothing (PPC); the quality andnature of ongoing training programs and the implementation of policies andstandardized procedures play an important role in preventing unnecessary injuries. Still,thousands of firefighters are injured across Canada and the United States each year.The Milton Fire Department has launched a number of new initiatives aimed atprotecting its firefighters and integrating safety into its core values and organizationalbusiness strategy. This report outlines seven specific initiatives that support the conceptof continuous improvement in the area of health and safety as a means to protect ourfirefighters from preventable injuries.REPORTBackgroundLast year, seven Milton firefighters were injured during the course of firefighting andrelated activities. Fortunately, all of these injuries were minor in nature and noneresulted in a “lost time” event.Traditionally, firefighting has been considered one of North America’s most dangerousoccupations. Though Canadian statistics are difficult to find, the United States fireservice experiences approximately 105 firefighter deaths and thousands of injuriesevery year. Heart attacks are the leading cause of firefighter deaths in the U.S.,followed by motor vehicle accidents (includes being struck by another vehicle while
  2. 2. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 2working at the scene of an incident), asphyxiation (being trapped in a fire/collapse) and“other” causes. The table illustrated below lists the number and percentages of deathsamongst career and volunteer firefighter by causation in the United States 1 .Last week, two senior firefighters from Winnipeg were killed in a “flashover” whilefighting a fire in a residence there. In Ontario, our Line of Duty Death (LODD) and injuryexperience is thankfully very limited. Since the year 2000, three Ontario firefighters havebeen killed in the line of Duty. Captain Dennis Redman of the St. Thomas FireDepartment died in January 2001, when he fell from the third floor of a senior’s homeduring firefighting operations. In April of that same year, Captain Pat Carey of theToronto Fire Department experienced chest pains while battling an apartment fire on the10th floor of a building in downtown Toronto. He was rushed to hospital but died of a1 Source – Centre For Disease Control, “Fatalities Among Volunteer and Career Firefighters – United States, 1994-2004”, MMWRApril 28,2006/55(16);453-455
  3. 3. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 3heart attack. And, in May of 2002, Firefighter Bill Wilkins of the Barrie Fire Departmentwas killed at a residential fire when the floor suddenly collapsed, trapping him in thebasement of the home.Whilst some might suggest that injuries are simply an occupational hazard forfirefighters and such injuries “come with the territory”, the administration of thedepartment firmly supports the corporate philosophy of developing comprehensiveinjury prevention strategies to protect our workers.Firefighter fitness is an important element of an overall wellness program and in thisregard, candidate screening is viewed as an opportunity to ensure that those enteringservice with the fire department possess the necessary levels of strength, stamina,dexterity and physical fitness to ensure that they are suitable candidates. To this end,candidates undergo a physical agility evaluation followed up by a thorough medicalscreening process that includes a spirometry (a measurement of respiratory systemcapacity) and other medical diagnostic measures. The medical screening is conductedby the designated fire department physician. The department encourages firefighters tomaintain their fitness levels throughout their careers however, there is no mandatoryrequirement for ongoing fitness or medical screening in Milton or any other Ontariocommunity of which staff is aware. Fitness equipment is available to all staff at theStation 2 facility in Campbellville, however Stations 1 and 3 lack the necessary floorspace and equipment to permit fitness related activities beyond a rudimentary level.The fire department, like all Town departments, maintains a Joint Health & SafetyCommittee (JHSC) that reviews each and every injury incident as a matter of routine.The committee examines the circumstances of each incident and makesrecommendations for changes in procedures, enhancements to protective clothing andor facility/equipment improvements where the circumstances warrant.In addition to conducting reviews of all in-house injuries, the department administrationfrequently reviews reports of firefighter injuries and deaths from other jurisdictionsthroughout North America in an attempt to identify opportunities to prevent similarsituations from developing here. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) andNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are two primary sourcesof information on such matters. Additionally, Canadian and U.S. fire service relatedpublications and trade journals have proven to be useful sources of relevant informationon the subject matter of firefighter safety.The personal protective clothing (PPC) issued to all firefighters meets the relevantsafety standards as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and a “safetymindset” is built into every training session from the moment a recruit firefighter takestheir first classroom session to the point that they retire. In addition to safety specific
  4. 4. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 4training such as W.H.M.I.S. and the Occupational Health & Safety Act, safety isemphasized throughout all training activities and especially so where training deals withspecific high risk activities such as confined space rescue, high angle rope rescue,hazardous materials response and highway operations. Existing departmental StandardOperating Policies (SOP’s) and Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG’s) also emphasizesafety throughout. There are currently some 97 departmental policies and guidelines inplace touching such matters as administration and fire prevention practices, training,routine operations and emergency operations.Driver training receives intensive focus throughout a firefighter’s career in Milton withstringent testing processes that follows ongoing training that includes one-on-onegraduated instruction for all vehicle types used by the department and full size computer“simulations” similar to those employed in the airline industry for selected vehicles. Acomprehensive review of the department’s program was recently undertaken by Ministryof Transportation auditors with very positive results.DiscussionOver the course of the last two years, the Milton Fire Department has launched sevennew initiatives aimed at increasing the level of safety for our staff operating atemergency incidents in our community. These initiatives include a) the establishment ofdedicated “Incident Safety Officers”; b) participation in the “Everyone Goes Home”safety campaign; c) the provision of enhanced training and equipment specific to “RapidIntervention Team” operations; d) the provision of increased training in selected highrisk fireground operations; e) the implementation of safety specific training opportunities,f) the formal establishment of a Firefighter Rehabilitation Program (Rehab), and g) areview of departmental policies and guidelines to ensure compliance with Provincialguidelines. Each of these initiatives is further detailed on the following pages.Incident Safety OfficersIn 2006, three designated “Incident Safety Officers” (ISO’s) were recruited and selectedfrom the part-time ranks and trained specifically to function as incident “monitors”. Theirprimary tasking is to attend certain types of incidents that have proven to be morehazardous and to function as part of the departments “Incident Management System” asa command team member. In addition to the development of the necessary supportingStandard Operating Guideline, the department brought in outside subject mater expertsto deliver job-specific training. This training was offered to every fire department lineofficer so that everyone involved in the supervision of operational staff could be awareof the elements of the new function and so that a non-designated ISO could fill this rolein the absence of one of the designated members. The designated ISO’s are alsoinvolved in an on-going self study program that will lead to a nationally recognized
  5. 5. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 5accreditation/certification process. The ISO program is supported by a comprehensiveStandard Operating Guideline.Everyone Goes HomeIn 2004, fire service leaders from throughout North America met in the first ever“Firefighter Life Safety Summit” in an attempt to address escalating injury and LODDstatistics that were occurring. As a direct result of this summit, the “Everyone GoesHome” safety campaign was initiated in 2005 throughout North America. The programseeks to focus attention on safety through a variety of initiatives including what isbecoming the annual “Stand Down for Safety”. This week long initiative focuses onspecific issues that vary from year to year based on current incident trends in the fireservice. The Milton Fire Department participated in the “Stand Down for Safety” in 2005and 2006 and was featured in the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs annual report forit’s efforts in promoting driver safety during the 2006 campaign. The “Everyone GoesHome” theme now dominates virtually all of the department’s safety initiatives andserves as the rallying cry amongst departmental members for all safety relatedendeavours.Rapid Intervention TeamsIn recent years, fire departments across the continent became aware of the need tohave dedicated “firefighter rescue teams” in place at major events to act on a momentsnotice when firefighters themselves become trapped, lost or otherwise incapacitated.Numerous incidents of firefighters becoming lost or trapped and subsequentlysuccumbing to the effects of the collapse or exposure to smoke were the impetus to theestablishment of “Rapid Intervention Teams” (RIT’s) throughout many departments.Milton now trains every firefighter in this discipline and routinely deploys personnel toact as a RIT during any “working” fire situation. Owing to the reputation of the trainingefforts being undertaken here, staff from the Milton Fire Department have been invitedto form a part of the training design team for the development of a Provincial wideinitiative being coordinated at the Ontario Fire College.High Risk OperationsA growing community has resulted in the introduction of new challenges for the MiltonFire Department. As the notion of “intensification” makes its presence felt in SouthernOntario communities, the challenge associated with fighting fires in high buildings ispresenting itself here and undoubtedly will present itself on a more frequent basis in thefuture. A review of existing operational protocols identified the need to improve the firedepartment’s response procedures, training and equipment needs for multi-storeybuildings and so the department has formed an operational review committee to reviewour responses to these types of buildings. While the committee is still actively
  6. 6. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 6developing and revising response protocols, the department has taken the initiative toinvite other subject matter experts to our community to conduct training and peerreviews respecting high-rise building operations.Elevator rescues have become common place and so the introduction of specificprocedures to deal with these incidents has recently been completed. The formalizationof equipment inventories and “lock-out/tag-out” procedures and kits stands as anexample of the evolving nature of firefighting procedures to meet the challenge of newbuilding types. Standard Operating Guidelines are in the process of being drafted orrevised as appropriate to support this element of departmental operations.Safety Specific Training OpportunitiesThe introduction of the ISO’s has provided the opportunity to offer safety specifictraining opportunities to all our firefighters in the form of quarterly single issue focussedtraining programs. Dubbed “Safety Shorts”, firefighters will now have the opportunity toattend short (3 to 4 hour) training sessions on Saturday mornings that focus onparticular safety Issues. The January 2007 session focussed attention on the hazardsassociated with new residential construction techniques and more particularly thecollapse hazards associated with lightweight truss roofs.Firefighter Rehab ProgramThough a basic form of firefighter REHAB has existed for some time in Milton, the 2006addition of a REHAB unit staffed by four retired firefighters on a truly volunteer basishas allowed the program to expand well beyond its original capacity. The departmentnow has the means to provide “active” cooling strategies for firefighters during hotweather incidents as well as heated rest facilities for prolonged incidents during coldweather operations. The strategy of providing fluid replenishment, nourishment, medicalmonitoring and mandated rest periods for firefighters involved in long, drawn outincidents will result in fewer injuries and serve to ensure that the health and welfare ofour staff addressed. A complete revision of the department’s Standard OperatingGuideline has been completed.Policy/Guideline ReviewMost organizations with complex operating procedures reduce these procedures towritten policies and guidelines to address safety, efficiency and common operatingexpectations. Fire departments are para-military organizations requiring standardizedmethods of conducting operations and so it follows that most fire departments areheavily dependent upon written procedures to guide staff members engaged indelivering these services to the community. While the department has numerouspolicies and guidelines in place, a comprehensive review of the existing documents
  7. 7. The Corporation of the TOWN OF MILTON CS Report No.FIRE-004-07 Page No. 7revealed a need for additional policies and in some cases that revisions be made toexisting policies. In particular, in 2005 a “gap analysis” was instituted to determine thelevel of compliance that the departments existing policies had with provinciallymandated guidelines. While very few mandated guidelines exist with respect to how firedepartments should conduct their operations, the Ministry of Labour has established aworking committee known as the “Section 21 Committee” whose purpose is to research,draft and publish “guidelines” for the Ontario Fire Service. The analysis conductedrevealed that there a number of issues to be addressed and so staff has been workingdiligently to address this concern. Moreover, beyond the need to address the Section 21Committee guidelines, new equipment issues and the constantly changing environ ofthe fire service means that policy/guideline development and revisions constitute anongoing need and the department continues to address this issue with the resourcesavailable.Relationship to the Strategic PlanThe activities of the fire department support the Destiny Milton 2 goal of providing “Aresponsible, cost effective and accountable local government” by embracing theconcept of ‘service excellence’ and the Destiny Milton 2 goal of creating “A safe,liveable and healthy community” through ongoing investment in staff development whichresults in more effective emergency response.Financial ImpactThere is no financial impact associated with the recommendation contained within thisreport.Respectfully submitted,Larry Brassard, CMMIII, C.F.E.I.Fire ChiefIf you have any questions on the content of this report: Larry Brassard, 905-878-9251, ext 2807CAO Approval: _________________________

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