|GALLAGHER ISSUES REPORT CALLING FOR INCREASED FIREFIGHTER SAFETY IN TRAINING EXERCISES|
Legislative committees consider two bills that would mandate protocols
State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher issued a report that outlines specific requirements and standards that should be in place to protect firefighters during live-fire training exercises.
The report’s findings come as Florida’s legislative committees consider two bills, one of which the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee took up Wednesday, that would mandate such protocols.
Three Florida firefighters have died in live-fire training exercises since 2002. The State Fire Marshal report being released today stems from an investigation into the 2003 death of a Miami-Dade firefighter in a training exercise in Port Everglades.
“We must do what we can to provide firefighters the hands-on training they need in the safest environment possible,” said Gallagher, who is Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal. “Men and women in this line of duty accept a certain amount of risk, but there are steps that can greatly reduce risk in training exercises.”
Senate Bill 108 is sponsored by Sen. Lee Constantine. A house companion bill, House Bill 69 by Rep. John Quinones, passed the House Insurance Committee on January 25 and will be heard next by the House Criminal Justice Committee.
The legislation would give the State Fire Marshal’s Office greater authority to regulate fire department training exercises by adopting National Fire Protection Association standards, as well as provide for regulation of indoor pyrotechnics.
“This legislation stemmed from the senseless tragedy that happened in West Warwick, Rhode Island, in 2003 when countless deaths occurred due to an unlicensed pyrotechnics display. With this bill, all indoor pyrotechnic shows would now be inspected and permitted by the local Fire Marshal,” Constantine said. “By also increasing the mandatory level of instructor knowledge of safety and procedures in live-fire training, the bill is protecting the lives of firefighters as well as the rest of the citizens of Florida.”
Quinones agreed, saying, “This is important not only to firefighters but to every citizen who wants a well-trained and well-prepared fire department to respond in their time of need,” said Quinones. “This legislation not only would protect them during training but also would ensure they learn the right procedures.”
“On behalf of Florida’s firefighters and citizens,” Gallagher said, “I thank Sen. Constantine and Rep. Quinones for pursuing this life-saving legislation.”
The State Fire Marshal's report is available on-line at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm.
The Old Hernando County Courthouse, surrounded by grand old oak trees, was built in 1912 in the county seat of Brooksville.