| About us
On behalf of the more than one thousand members of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Safety, Health, and Survival Section WELCOME to our website. The SHS Section has one clear mission: reduce the number of preventable line of duty deaths and injuries in our fire service. History should long remember that it was us in this time that did everything in our power to help bring our brother and sister firefighters home from every alarm.
Although it is possible to be doing absolutely everything right and still suffer a line of duty death, the overwhelming majority of firefighter deaths are completely PREVENTABLE. We understand that swearing an oath to become a firefighter means accepting the risks associated with placing ourselves between harm and those who are imperiled. Rarely, when we are called to risk a lot for great benefit (saving a savable life), a firefighter may in fact succumb to the dangers we face. However, it is disrespectful to those who have given their lives in the line of duty under such circumstances to use that mantra as an excuse to engage in patently unsafe actions in the name of saving lives when in reality there are no lives to be saved. When we place firefighters into a burning building when all civilians have safely exited, the only lives that need to be saved are our own.
But we cannot do it alone. We need and are actively seeking your help and participation. Our section operates under the guiding principles of action and accomplishments. We have a two-year strategic plan to guide our actions and focus our energies. I encourage you to review it on our website and contact us with an interest in helping us achieve our goals. We have several members serving on national standards committees and on research work groups aimed at enhancing personal protective equipment; preventing diseases that can be devastating, including cancer and heart disease; and altering our fire ground operations by establishing a comprehensive set of Rules of Engagement. We must continue to do more in the area of PREVENTION as well and are tireless supporters of residential sprinklers. The fire we prevent is the one that cannot claim the life of one of our firefighters. We are a vocal and powerful voice for your fire service and encourage you to tell us where we should be focusing our efforts and energies.
If you are an SHS Section member, THANK YOU! If you are not a Section member, PLEASE JOIN! We look forward to supporting you on the front line. If you have a specific issue you are facing in your department and need support or assistance, please reach out to us. Chances are that someone else has already faced that challenge and we can provide guidance and support.
In the interest of a safe and prosperous fire service community ~
Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia, Anne Arundel County Fire Department
Chair, IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section
The IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section was established to provide a specific component within the IAFC to concentrate on policies and issues relating to the health and safety of firefighters. The IAFC has always considered health and safety to be one of the most important areas of concern for all fire chiefs and has initiated or participated in a long list of programs related to health and safety. The establishment of this new section is a reflection of the importance that IAFC attaches to the responsibility of protecting our most valuable resource - our personnel.
For more than 30 years the Health and Safety Committee has been charged with studying health and safety issues and recommending appropriate policies to the IAFC Board of Directors. The Committee has played an important role in a long list of projects, including the development and implementation of NFPA Standard 1500 and the Joint Wellness-Fitness program that was developed in cooperation with the IAFF. The Committee has developed numerous educational programs for Fire-Rescue International and other events, studied issues and made policy recommendations to the IAFC Board of Directors. The Committee has also published a series of documents to guide fire chiefs in various situations, including recommended policies and procedures, as well as the IAFC Guide on Conducting Line-of-Duty Death Investigations.
With the establishment of the Safety, Health and Survival Section, there is a new and much greater opportunity for IAFC members to become involved in this important mission. Through an elected executive board, the membership will be empowered to guide and manage the operations of the new section to address issues on a timelier basis and provide more training and educational opportunities.