Health and Safety Division
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Safety Division

Doug Abernathy
Battalion Chief Peer Support

Raymonda Howard

Safety Division: Chief Doug Abernathy

We, in the Safety Division, exist only to protect our firefighters and we take that task very seriously. From a business perspective, proper safety techniques prevent costly line of duty injuries. From a personal perspective, proper safety techniques allow firefighters to perform their jobs with the highest degree of skill and efficiency and return home to their families for their most important jobs as fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. 2007-2009 were transitional years for the Safety Division. We did an assessment of our plans and procedures and adjusted them to be more compliant with OSHA and NFPA and most importantly, safer for our firefighters.

There are several areas on which we focused our attention in 2007-2009. The highlights are:

  • RIT: We revamped our protocols for the Rapid-Intervention-Teams. This protocol is a proactive approach to a reactive situation. We work towards preventing all serious injuries, but in unforeseen circumstances, we must be prepared. In addition to the new protocols and training received for RIT, we equipped all the Battalion Chiefs, Tactical Support Units, Emergency Services Duty Officers, Safety Officers, and Ladders 29 and 30 with a RIT bag. This bag contains equipment necessary to provide air, search rope and irons for emergency rescue of downed firefighters. Next year, we hope to equip all Ladders with this crucial equipment.
  • Training: Training is the most critical element of a true Safety Division. If every firefighter does not receive even the fundamental techniques for safety, they can not possibly perform up to our expectations. Some of the trainings that we assisted this year included: Incident safety officer, Officer Development, Battalion Chief “Mayday” training and High Rise. We hope this will only be the beginning of keeping our firefighters trained in the most up to date and safest techniques available.
  • Standard Operating Procedures: It is difficult to train and prepare for emergencies without the proper procedures to follow. The Standard Operating Procedures that we worked to update include…Rapid Intervention Team/ Mayday, self contained breathing apparatus, protective equipment, LOD procedures, accountability, field operations guide, high rise operations guide, safety officer accident procedures and firefighter injury guidelines.

Line of Duty Injuries

  68 on duty National Line of Duty Deaths in 2015 - 49 reported as of Aug 1, 2016 

It is our goal to lessen the frequency and severity of line of duty injuries. To do so, we had to improve our management of these injuries. Properly managing and recording these injuries will allow us to better assess where trends and issues arise. Included are graphs from our records with some of the estimates of the injuries from this past year and potential trends. In addition, we created an online reporting system. This system allows firefighters to officially report an injury without having to seek medical attention. This is a tremendous cost saving for minor injuries and a convenience for the firefighters.

Other additions include, hydrogen cyanide monitors for the Safety Officers, protocols for the Accident Review Board, post incident analysis for large fires, and participation in the renewed Safety Committee.

The Indianapolis Fire Department shall make every reasonable effort to provide a safe and healthy work environment, recognizing the dangers involved in the types of service we deliver. Appropriate training, supervision, procedures, program support and review shall be provided to achieve specific safety and health objectives in all functions and activities.

Safety is a part of every aspect of the Indianapolis fire department, from purchasing protective equipment to emergency incidents to managing physical examination records.  We continue our effort to find the safest menthods for our firefighters in which to work.