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Press Releases / 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NOVEMBER 9, 2009


The number of burn injuries suffered by New York City firefighters decreased 29 percent over the last year after the Department launched a new safety initiative in all city firehouses aimed at reducing burns and other on-the-job injuries, Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced today.

The FDNY began the Injury Reduction Program in mid-2008, with teams of specially-trained instructors visiting city firehouses multiple times for in-service training sessions on firefighter safety. As a result, burn injuries to firefighters fell dramatically in fiscal year 2009 to 252, down from 354 in fiscal year 2008, a 29 percent decrease; and a 41 percent decline from 2007, when there were 428 burn injuries.

The latest statistics are a record low for firefighter burn injuries; the record high was 1,226 in 1994, the year before bunker gear was issued to all firefighters.

“Firefighter safety is our top priority and this program seeks to foster a ‘culture of safety’ for our frontline personnel,” said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. “With the many dangers that firefighters face we must continually provide training that keeps them focused on protecting themselves as they work to protect others.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our firefighters, and our commitment to keeping them safe is unwavering,” said Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano.  “This program was created to enhance and complement the many training programs and procedures we already have in place, with a new addition – a compelling video where firefighters talk about the pain and loss that comes with on-the-job injuries.”

The video is called “Everyone Goes Home”, and was produced in collaboration with the non-profit National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Shown as part of the training session, the 30-minute video features candid and emotional interviews with firefighters who suffered serious burns, and also highlights the importance of firefighter safety, protective gear and training.

The video includes a first-hand account from Firefighter Kevin Holtje of Engine 302, who was injured during a 2003 basement fire in South Jamaica, but avoided more serious burns because he wore a protective hood.

“I didn’t have my hood on and I definitely felt like my ears have never felt before, like, ‘Okay, this is the hottest basement fire I’ve ever been to,’” he says. Later, “when I was in the hospital, they were telling my wife…that they were contemplating cutting off my left ear. The doctor at the burn center told me the only reason I had my ears is because I put my hood on...That’s my fire and that’s my lesson…that it can happen to you.”

The video was shown nearly 1,400 times during Injury Reduction Program sessions held in the city’s 220 firehouses. Training teams visited each firehouse at least four times to train all 11,500 firefighters and fire officers, utilizing a PowerPoint presentation in addition to the video to highlight the importance of proper use of protective gear and equipment, proper operating procedures in a fire building, radio communications and “situational awareness,” in which firefighters are in tune with their total surroundings in order to increase their ability to remain safe and protect others.

The Injury Reduction Program is one of numerous FDNY initiatives aimed at reducing firefighter injuries and deaths. In addition to more than 50 Safety Bulletins that highlight safe operations while responding to and operating at all types of emergencies, the FDNY’s Safety Command has also issued dozens of reports on incidents where members were seriously injured or killed. Those reports focus on improving overall safety in all aspects of firefighting.

As part of its ongoing safety initiatives, the FDNY is conducting an Accident Reduction Program in firehouses where training officers visit and focus on safe practices while responding to and operating at emergencies.

Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon & Steve Ritea, (FDNY) (718) 999-2056


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