Regulators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are taking steps to regulate public safety. Their first target is the fire service and the use of aggressive tactics such as making interior attacks.
OSHA historically has not covered public safety workplaces, but new provisions approved by the President expand their regulatory scope. In addition to public safety OSHA will also branch into mining operations and airlines.
Safety engineer Doug Roberts tells us that his team conducted a full review of firefighter injuries and fatalities to find out what was unsafe in the fire service. The committee found an overwhelming number of incidents happen as result of being inside a burning building.
“Burns, falls, smoke inhalation, heat stroke, dehydration, and heart attacks all inside burning building or caused as a result of working inside that burning building. This is an easy issue to solve… Keep the firefighters outside. Get them to use a smooth bore nozzle to shoot that water in windows and doors. Once the fire is basically out then go inside to put out any smoldering remnants.”
Members of the fire service are expected to be resistant to this new tactical paradigm shift. Consultant to OSHA Chief Mike O’Hallorhan tells us this will be like any other change the fire service has seen.
“The service switched from ¾ length hip boots to bunker pants, people did not like it. When the Personal Alert Safety Systems, PASS device, came out guys refused to turn them on. Research shows the need to limit ventilation, yet firefighters still break windows and cut holes in roofs without a care. All it takes is for a few old timers to see the light and then everyone will accept something new.”
We asked Chief O’Hallorhan about what the public would think.
“I don’t see why the public will care. We will still be putting out fires. The public we see us arrive on scene, pull hose, spray water, just like they do today. But you know what they will not see… as many stories about firefighter hurt from being inside a burning building.”
OSHA has not released timeline as to when these rules preventing interior attacks will go into affect.