While visiting San Antonio for the NFPA 2019 conference we attended an educational session centered around the importance of good firefighter decontamination practices.
This educational lecture was given by Brian Brauer, Associate Director of the Illinois Fire Services Institute.
Fire department leaders must re-evaluate the effects of behaviors currently in practice. They must acknowledge that the road to progress can be followed by changing the culture and values within a department. Thus the motivation to use decontamination resources available to them must come from within.
However, we at the Firefighters and EMS fund believe that our position presents us with a unique opportunity.
At first glance it appears that the ability to improve our heroes’ health rests solely in their own hands and can only be changed by those who themselves are firefighters. However, the truth is, as citizens, supporters, and advocates are a tertiary group with the power to sow seeds of change by focusing on their needs.
We as constituents have the power to demand that our firefighters work within a culture which recognizes that contaminated skin and personal protective equipment is as great of a threat to the world as the fire itself. When those who protect us are at risk, we the protected become more at risk also.
Culture is individually understood but group driven. To change that culture you must change what is perceived as a priority by Individuals of that group. Our servants are selfless and strong and to create change we merely must ask them to make their own health a greater priority.
Change is personally motivated, but we have the task of social reinforcement. So that it can have a lasting effect. We as supporters of firefighters must create the expectation that firefighters must have greater expectations for themselves. In an effort to create a safe atmosphere and culture within which good practices can thrive.
In order to do great work, it’s important that firefighters have the proper equipment necessary to keep them safe from the smoke, heat, and flames. However, it’s possible that their gear is actually harming their health. Is outdated, ineffective, or faulty firefighter gear causing cancer? The answer might surprise you. Find out here.