The IAFF Local 244 Executive Board would like to acknowledge the City Chapter Labor/Management & Safety Committee personnel for their leadership in confronting the current staffing challenges. We are working with AFD Fire Administration and pulling all resources together to prevent any future staffing reductions. We will also continue to work on funding for critical staffing for BCFD in the best interest of our County Chapter members and the public we all serve.
Message from City Chapter Safety Committee appointees Paul Dow and Justin Staley:
IAFF Local 244 Brothers and Sisters,
During difficult times, such as these, it is imperative that we educate ourselves and the public regarding the importance of properly staffed fire apparatus. Inadequate staffing will delay or at times even prevent the performance of critical tasks, increases the physiological stress on fire fighters, and increases the actual physical risk to both firefighters and the civilians we are attempting to save. Please take the time to download and read the following information so that you are better prepared to articulate our message of public safety.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – Report on Residential Fire Ground Field Experiments, April 2010.
- This is a study on staffing levels for residential structures. During this study it was determined that the four-person crews completed the same number of fire ground tasks (on average) 5.1 minutes faster — nearly 25 % — than the three-person crew.
- Download the complete document by clicking on the link below: http://www.nist.gov/el/fire_research/residential-fire-report_042810.cfm
- Other staffing studies from Boston, Dallas, Seattle, Austin and Minneapolis Fire Department concluded that firefighters were not only more efficient in the performance of their tasks on the fire ground but they also had fewer injuries and fatalities among the firefighters. All of these studies showed increased stress to firefighters as staffing is reduced which led to greater risk of death, injury and overall safety. The Austin Study concluded that fewer injuries/deaths for civilians and Firefighters as a benefit to increasing staffing levels from three to four persons. The Boston study demonstrated that there is a disproportionate increase in risk to firefighters that attempt to complete routine task when staffing decreases. The NATIONAL FIRE ACADEMY reports on the Dallas study stated: A smaller workforce doing the same, as a larger workforce will result in increased injuries to the back and knees. The cost to the city and department are heavy.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA 1710, 1410 and 1500 all recommend a minimum staffing of no less than 4-person Engine Co.’s. These recommendations by the NFPA have grown out of experience and are empirically grounded in results from study after study showing the causal relationship of deficient fire ground staffing and increased firefighters’ safety.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Ensure that at least four firefighters are on the scene before initiating interior firefighting operations at a structural fire - OSHA, 29 CFR 1910.134 (two-in and two-out).
During a fire response, time is our enemy. The faster we can complete our fire ground tasks, the faster we can provide a safer environment for ourselves and the community we’ve sworn to protect. The faster the fire goes out, the faster the danger to occupants goes away and the more property we are able to save. The silver bullet to defeating the issue of time: We must sufficiently staff our Engines so they can quickly and effectively accomplish their mission. Time becomes a stronger enemy to us if we must wait for additional companies to arrive before there are adequate levels of staffing necessary to mounting an offensive operation.
Reducing our staffing levels compromises the safety of the public by diminishing our efficiency on the emergency scene. This could be a medical call, motor vehicle accident, wild land fire or a structure fire. Four firefighters are 25% more efficient than three firefighters are (NIST, 2010). With one less Firefighter, the Company Officer of the Engine Co. will have to perform more hands-on tasks rather than communicate with the Incident Commander or other units on the emergency scene. At a fire scene, this also reduces his ability to watch for scene safety, changes in fire behavior or the structure collapsing on the firefighters inside. Firefighters operating in understaffed environments are too often expected to perform beyond their capabilities. Lowering the staffing levels compromises the safety of the citizens and our firefighters.
All members should remember and stress to the public that a reduction in staffing will result in a reduction in the amount of work that can be performed when lives and property hang in the balance.
Additional PDF documents are available to download below.
Paul Dow and Justin Staley
IAFF Local 244
Safety Committee Members
NIST FF Staffing Report.pdf
4 Person Stafffing Fact.pdf
Landmark High-Rise Fire Study Evaluates Effectiveness of Crew Sizes
Contributing Factors to FF Line-of-Duty Death_IAFFand USFA.pdf