When you think about your “work environment” as a firefighter, do your thoughts jump immediately to the station? In fact, your work environment is much, much larger.
“One of the things I like to ask firefighters is, ‘How can I improve your work environment?’” says Sean DeCrane, battalion chief for the Cleveland (Ohio) Fire Department. “Some people say they need exhaust systems on the apparatus floor, others answer that they want to separate the turnout gear from the living quarters to protect firefighters from exposure to carcinogens—and then of course you get the guy who wants a big flat screen TV for the training room. Those are all good improvements, but they’re not improving the working environment; they’re improving your staging area.”
In military terms, DeCrane says, the staging area is where you gather supplies and troops, where you prepare for deployment and where you regroup and rest. “Where you deploy is your area of operation—and in the fire service, those are the buildings we respond to and operate in. And many times when we do that, the buildings are under duress,” he says.
This is the basis for DeCrane’s quest to get firefighters more involved in the building code—as well as the message behind his FDIC seminar held today, “Firefighter Safety and the Codes: a Necessary Partnership.”