Page 14 - UFRA Straight Tip Fall 2022 - Volume 23 Issue 4
P. 14

photo courtesy of
Henrico Co. Division of Fire
Seat Belts:
Make a Commitment
In 2019, 48 firefighters died in the line of duty, the lowest number in 43 years. The bar graph was going in the right direction. Then in 2020, 140 firefighters died in the line of duty; excluding the 78 responders who died because of the complications of COVID-19, 62 responders lost their lives. The graph rose again. As of this writing, there are 58 deaths recorded in 2022, and 2021 numbers aren’t out yet.
Fire Engine Rollover in Henrico Co. Virginia, January 2021
According to the NFPA, in 2020, 32% of fatalities occurred on the fire- ground, while almost an equal number (29%) occurred “responding to or returning from an alarm.” Why? Are we horrible drivers? Do we lack training? Do we lack attention? When we see these kinds of numbers,
we normally scream for more PPE, better policies, new procedures, or new technology. But those aren’t the answer. The answer is so simple that it’s almost criminal. We need to “make it click” and then hold people accountable for it.
The number one cause of responder fatalities in vehicles is apparatus rollover. Rollovers are devastating, and injury is likely. However, death is avoidable, just by buckling up—not to mention driving within the limits of the vehicle’s capabilities and under the firm control of the driver. That’s another discussion that needs to take place.
Unrestrained firefighters account for 66% of all responder fatalities in emergency vehicle crashes. According to, over 500 firefighters will be involved in crashes that result in fatalities this year. When you wear your seat belt, you’re not only protecting yourself from death or injury due to a crash, but you’re also protecting yourself from all those insane people who are impaired or distracted and pull out right in front of your apparatus, with lights and siren blaring, and die as a result. That doesn’t need to be you too.
The website “Everyone Goes Home” ( has a “Seatbelt Pledge” that I would encourage everyone to sign. For those of you who normally buckle up, and will see your grandchildren
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