Recently the State Fire Marshals’ Office had a conference in Hurst Texas to bring in some well-known speakers from across the nation to address the subject of Line of Duty Deaths. The conference was a successful learning experience to assist fire departments with changing some strategies and tactics to lower the risk of having a serious injury or death in your fire department.
The conference addressed multiple subjects that need to be touched upon in order to attack the problem of firefighter injuries and deaths. Topics such as SOGs, Maydays, Firefighter Health, Accountability, and multi-firefighter death incidents were all covered to give attendees a starting point to be able to do something within their department to lower the risk.
Every time there is an LODD in Texas, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is required by law to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death and provide recommendations, policies and national standards that might help a fire department to avoid an LODD. At the end of each fiscal year, the SFMO is also responsible for putting a summary of all the LODDs for that year along with the common recommendations and policies that fire departments should make sure they are following.
If you don’t read any of the individual LODD reports, PLEASE read the summary of all the LODD’s for the year which can be found at www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/fmloddannuals.
Since 2001, the reports have been done by SFMO, have they made a difference? I believe so! If you look at how many LODDs Texas was having on an annual basis compared with how many we see now on an annual basis I think you will see a general downward trend of LODDs over the last several years. Of course there are several incidents within this time period in which one incident accounted for multiple LODDs, however, if you factor those incidents out the general trend has been down.
While it is extremely important to recognize and continue to work with all of the Texas fire service stakeholders, agencies, and fire departments to identify the trends in LODDs and injuries, we must also recognize that as a profession in Texas, we have been doing a better job training, learning from the recommendations from the LODD reports, and being safer while on the fire ground. Good Job! Let’s continue to put out our best effort in making sure we utilize the tools and information out there to keep our firefighters safe!
By Chris Barron, Fire Chief Manchaca Fire Department
2014 IAFC Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year
ESO WC GROUP
VFIS of Texas