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It’s been 10 years since the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation published its 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives as part of its Everyone Goes Home Program. Following these initiatives, the U.S. Fire Administration set a national goal of reducing line-of-duty firefighter deaths by 50 percent within the decade.
The 16 initiatives have been a vital rallying call to unite the fire service. Every preventable death is a success, but we have more work to do. There were 104 on-duty firefighter deaths reported in the U.S. in 2004, according to NFPA. Over the next nine years, the numbers of fatalities were down in most years. There were 97 on-duty deaths in 2013.
In Illinois, firefighter deaths have declined to four in 2013 from highs of eight or nine in 2006, 2008, and 2009. How much of this improvement is due to firefighters embracing, or even understanding, Initiative #15, which states, “Advocacy must be strengthened for the enforcement of codes and the installation of home fire sprinklers?”
Too often, discussion of these important Initiatives, including #15, elicits blank stares among firefighters. We need to improve both awareness and understanding of each initiative. Why is this important to home fire sprinkler advocacy? If we let another 10 years go by with only some firefighters learning about all of these Initiatives, especially #15, we risk losing firefighter lives in structures that could have been sprinklered.
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