Police and Firefighters, “Wear a Seatbelt.” No More Funerals!

Call to Police and Firefighters, “Wear A Seatbelt.” No more needless funerals

Earlier this year I wrote about seatbelts, police officers and firefighters. Statistics and excuses surround the great seatbelt “debate.” By definition a debate needs two sides, in this case my use of the term debate is starting to sound incorrect. On the subject of seatbelts in the public safety profession, there are not two sides, only one; Wear a seatbelt!

In case you missed (it and if you are cop or firefighter I don’t see how you could have). Here are some figures:

  • At least 42% of police officers killed in vehicle crashes over the past three decades were not wearing seat belts or other safety restraints.
  • Fatal traffic incidents in 2010 were the leading cause of officer deaths for the 13th straight year

    Four members of an Orange County Fire Authority crew were taken to a hospital March after their fire engine struck a pine tree in March. Two of the four firefighters in the crew were not wearing their seatbelts officials said. RICHARD KOEHLER, FOR ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Four members of an Orange County Fire Authority crew were taken to a hospital March after their fire engine struck a pine tree in March. Two of the four firefighters in the crew were not wearing their seatbelts officials said.

There has been some recent and startling news concerning seatbelts since my last article on the subject. The Huffington Post reports that while 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.

The Huffington Post report, by way of California POST is further confirmation that seatbelts and law enforcement is still an issue that justifies continual attention. Continued vigilance and repeated training priority toward seatbelt safety awareness is being demonstrated in Utah. On the heels of the Huffington article and CA POST report Scot Stephenson, Utah’s director POST says that he was surprised to hear of the CA POST numbers. He said he believes 80 percent to 85 percent of law enforcement officers in Utah buckle up on the job because that’s the way they train. As reported by KSL.com, Stephenson he said he can’t be certain that’s the way the officers behave after they finish training, but he said seat belt training is a major component of what they learn.

The two most common excuses to not wearing seatbelts by police and firefighter are: discomfort and fear of being immobile. As with all excuses, proper training is the solution. FAAC has produced an excellent video for law enforcement on proper and quick vehicle egress.


The Fire Service Continues to Make Progress

As previously written, the fire service and the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation has undertaken the International First Responder Seatbelt Pledge Buckle Up! So Everyone Goes Home ®.For the most current news and success stories visit the International Everyone Goes Home web site.

Many Steps Forward and Then This

Firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority in Irvine, California aboard an engine that crashed into a pine tree were not wearing seatbelts, authorities said, including a fire captain who crashed through the window. When investigators got a closer look at the fire engine, they also found the seat sensors and buzzer – which alerts the crew when someone is not buckled in – had been disconnected and covered with duct tape.

The Orange County Register reports – Only minor injuries were reported in the crash. The fire crew aboard Orange County Fire Authority’s Engine 61 in Buena Park had been rushing down Crescent Ave. with lights and siren on when the vehicle hit the tree with enough force to cut down the top 15 feet of it and cause nearly $250,000 in damage to the truck. Within a month, the fire authority found eight more fire engines and trucks rigged by firefighters in the same way – with disconnected sensors and covered alarms to muffle the sound, officials said. To ensure that seats are not disconnected from the sensors again, maintenance crews have shrink-wrapped the wiring.

Everyone Goes Home

I don’t care if firefighter turn out gear is bulky, or if cops must wear unwieldy equipment on their duty belts, or if seatbelts are awkward when you are in a hurry. I do care that, Everyone Goes Home. Why is this still even a topic of discussion? From my point of view, my friends in the fire service and family members in law enforcement have one overriding job duty, that is go home to your family at the end of every shift.

No More Funerals!

If you think differently or think I am over simplifying the issue I would welcome your comments.

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Additional Resources On this Topic

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  • Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations.

About Bill Booth

Authority on Strategic Business Planning For Public Safety, Police and Fire Training Centers. President of the Interact Business Group www.interactbusinessgroup.com and Managing Editor at www.respondergateway.net
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