Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Safety belts take back seat to cost

… Having served several years as an EMT responding to multitudes of car accidents and also being in the unique position of supplying seats for all types of vehicles from turf equipment to fire apparatus, I share your passion for [seatbelt safety].

As you mentioned in your November editorial, changes are on the horizon. I can attest to this because the number of seatbelt issues being discussed and reviewed at all levels in this industry has literally exploded. I can’t think of an organization meeting (NFPA, FAMA, FDSOA) I’ve attended in the past year where seatbelt issues and occupant safety haven’t ranked as one of the top items for discussion. Additionally, some apparatus manufacturers, chiefs and specification committees are asking very good questions about how to make seatbelts more visible and user friendly.

Making seatbelt webbing a high-visibility red color is one step in the right direction. Firefighters already have enough black straps and hoses to rapidly don while responding to a call. Another big step in the right direction is the officer information centers that warn the first officer there may be an occupant seated but not belted.

There is one giant step, however, that still needs to be addressed: ease of use. Over and over, I hear firefighters complain they can’t reach their seatbelts while they are seated or that it’s too difficult to reach their seatbelt. Firefighters know exactly what I’m talking about. Some seatbelts are mounted on the back of the rear cab wall, making it almost physically impossible to reach while seated. Naturally we tend to follow the path of least resistance. This isn’t to say this is a excusable reason for not using a seatbelt, because there really is no good excuse.

My point is, we can’t continue to ignore this issue and more importantly we can’t ignore the fact that there is a very good solution for it. The solution is building the seat belt into the seat. I’m speaking of integrated seat belts. Integrated seat belts are easy to reach and readily accessible. The automotive industry has been using them for years. Unfortunately, most apparatus manufactures have been slow to offer integrated seat belts due to the structural changes required to the floor of the cab.

If we truly want firefighters to start using their seat belts, let’s make it easy for them to put one on, especially when they’re in response mode. – Daniel W. De Aces National Sales Manager Seats Inc., Reedsburg, Wis.

Command Post Inbox

Of course that’s first

We are in a profession, volunteer or career, that requires the public’s trust. Whenever one of our own violates that public trust, such as committing a crime, or are caught doing something that is less than ethical, then we are going to be identified as such. It sells papers and market share and it will always be located on the front page.

If you are in this type of business, then you had better get used to it because it comes with the territory. That’s why we need to be aware of ethics and practice living ethical lives. What seems silly and a harmless prank one minute can be so horrible the next day on the front page of the local paper. It’s one reason why we are never really off duty. – Andy Mount Plymouth Township (Ore.) Fire Marshal’s Office

Not so common sense

As a 30-year retired fire service officer, I appreciate your candor. I liked your “Common Sense” comments, but have one glaring one to add.

When will we stop killing and injuring our firefighters in unoccupied buildings or from heart attacks and stress? I have instructed firefighter safety for nearly 30 years, and the death and injury statistics just don’t change. We’ve spent millions in better equipment, training, technology, personnel, apparatus, etc., but I can still cite the greatest cause of deaths as heart attack (or stress), and fireground deaths….

The National Fire Academy produced Firefighter Safety and Survival in the mid-’80s, which outlined the causes of death and injury and attempted to change behaviors and attitudes toward this important subject.

Unfortunately, I must admit that the fire service may be 200 years of tradition unaffected by progress. – Capt. Peter S. Ribble, Ret. City of Bend (Ore.) Fire Department

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