Updated: 08-13-2004 04:01:57 PM

IAFC Announces Plans For Near-Miss Reporting System

Firehouse.Com News

A major initiative to develop a "Near-Miss" reporting system for the fire service was announced at the International Association of Fire Chiefs annual Fire-Rescue International Conference and Expo in New Orleans, Friday.

IAFC will ask firefighters through a web-based program to send in descriptions of their near-misses. This data will be analyzed and the information will be used to make changes to avoid injuries and deaths in the future.

IAFC President Chief Ernest Mitchell cited NFPA statistics that show for every 100 incidents of injury or death, there are one million near-misses or close calls where a fortunate break in the chain of events saved it from being a statistic. "I believe this is an idea whose time has come," he said.

With enough reports coming in, there should be recognizable trends that might bring forth ideas for making safety changes. It was suggested the system will help track incidents and therefore learn from those errors.

A key element of the program is to let those who report a near-miss remain anonymous so they won't feel embarrassment or worry about telling on others, which could normally hold back such reports. According to IAFC Executive Director Garry Briese, they want to keep it simple. "Just log on, enter some data or a description and hit submit."

Briese also said they want to provide as many gateways to the program as possible, that it is not an exclusive program. "This is where we begin self-reporting. We want others to know about it, to describe their own safety situations and that will contribute to the safety of others in the fire service."

USFA Administrator R. David Paulison who has talked repeatedly this year about the need to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries said that one way to do this is to produce a significant reduction in human error. "I cannot think of a better organization to handle this program." Paulison and Fireman's Fund VP Darryl Siry presented checks to IAFC at the Friday press confrerence.

Funded with grants of $750,000 from the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Program and $322,000 from the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Chief Mitchell thought it would take about a year to prepare the program. One of their goals is to develop confidence in the program so it will continue to be funded, he said.

Others have done similar data collection. The airline industry founded a near-miss reporting system 25 years ago and can show a significant decrease in deaths and injuries since.

Chief William Goldfeder from Ohio has received and posted submitted "incidents gone bad" on his web site FirefighterCloseCalls.com. He suggests, "They should be used as a part of your training program so that your firefighters can learn from incidents that have occurred to others." http://firefighterclosecalls.com/