Slips, trips, and falls are the top type of employee injuries. These incidents occur at the station and on the scene throughout the year. But increase substantially through the winter months. Slips, trips, and falls are costly for fire departments as well, with the average lost workday claim reaching $60,000 in costs. Awareness, policy, equipment, and tactics combine to help reduce your exposure to injuries.
Fire departments are encouraged to review their winter weather policies and regularly communicate safety messages to firefighters. Take a few moments and review these safety tips with all members of your fire department.
Winter safety Tips
- Discuss how your dispatch, texts, social media, websites, and phone apps can distribute safety messages in your fire department.
- Give advanced warning to members and help them get prepared when a winter storm is approaching.
- Check personal vehicles and apparatus regularly. Make sure tires are safe and lighting systems are function properly.
- Volunteers and apparatus operators should discuss how to safely drive and park apparatus in rain downpours, heavy snow, and icy conditions.
- Keep containers of ice melt available on every truck.
- When on the scene, assign a member to spread ice melt.
- Make sure automatic chain systems, tire chains, etc. are in proper operable condition.
- Provide and require slip-on ice cleats for use in snowy, icy conditions.
- Review safe driving procedures for personally owned vehicles and fire apparatus. Discuss which responses require “non-emergency” driving.
- Use extreme caution when responding to traffic incidents. Due to precipitation, motorists may not see an incident. Drivers could act incorrectly when approaching or driving past the scene and collide with crewmembers or apparatus.
- Set up the work zones correctly, use plenty of signage, high visibility garments, and provide advanced warning to oncoming motorists.
- At your home and the station, keep sidewalks, entrances, and ramps clear of ice and snow.
- Minimize running at the station or scene unless life is in immediate danger. Minimize horseplay at the station.
- Work to keep fire station floors dry. Use squeegees and fans to dry up dripping water from wet trucks.
- Use three points of contact when mounting and dismounting fire apparatus and ambulances. Truck steps can freeze with ice and snow. Beware stepping down onto a slick spot. Use extreme caution when pulling tools, ladders attack, or supply lines from the truck in icy conditions.
- Inspect all ladders and use three points of contact when doing elevated work. Use ropes to lift and lower tools.
- Beware ice and snow during rooftop operations.
- Review mutual aid contracts and discuss the use of aerial ladder trucks for any elevated or rooftop work.
- Use plenty of help when lifting and moving patients in icy conditions. Use ropes to help move patients up or down highway embankments.