Fla. CFO Calls on Firefighters to ‘Stand Down’ for Safety

June 20, 2005

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is calling for Florida’s firefighters to join fellow responders across the nation in a “stand down” on Tuesday and suspend all non-emergency activity to focus on safety.

“Firefighters and their families accept that there is a lot of risk in this job, but they should not have to accept unnecessary risk,” Gallagher said. “I am urging every fire department to use this day as an opportunity to review procedures and to tap into resources available through the State Fire Marshal’s office.”

In conjunction with the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Florida Professional Firefighters, the State Fire Marshal’s office is encouraging all fire department members, career and volunteer, to take time from their normal duties to closely look at what can be done to reduce the death and injury rate for firefighters. Gallagher is urging fire departments to ask, “What can we do today, from firefighter to chief, to improve safety?”

As of May 1, the nation’s fire departments have suffered 50 line-of-duty firefighter deaths-10 more than at this same time last year, according to the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) who is organizing the stand down with 14 partnering fire service organizations.

In Florida, three firefighters have died so far this year. In the last three years, nine Florida firefighters died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty. Hundreds of Florida firefighters are injured every year.

Two years ago, the Legislature adopted the Florida Firefighter Occupational Safety and Health Act to better protect Florida’s firefighters and to regulate safety requirements including training, with responsibility for implementation vested in the State Fire Marshal’s office. Several new resources specific to the stand down will be added to the State Fire Marshal’s office web page to help local fire departments and individual crews plan for a successful safety stand down. To view them, go to www.fldfs.com/SFM and click on the Firefighter Safety link.

With firefighters’ safety in mind, Gallagher has also called for training for first responders on how to identify, investigate and dismantle “meth” labs, a growing threat to Florida’s first responders.

More than 150 law enforcement officers and firefighters from throughout Florida and other states have signed up for the free training, with the first course to begin on Tuesday at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala.

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