Firefighters focus on personal safety

— When not responding to emergency calls, Steamboat Springs firefighters have spent the past three days focusing on their own safety and reviewing the department's safety procedures.

Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble said the firefighters were participating in the annual International Firefighter Safety Stand Down, which is designed to heighten firefighters' awareness to safety, driving safety issues and avoiding accidents.

Each firefighter participated in the Stand Down, which ended Friday, Struble said.

"While firefighter safety is always a priority of ours, the Stand Down is an opportunity to dedicate a significant amount of time to the safety of our personnel," he said.

Firefighters reviewed the depart--ment's safety procedures, safety training and drills, and discussed accident reports and fire safety.

"We were talking about what we can do better," he said.

Struble said the training did not interfere with firefighters' ability to respond to emergencies in the city.

A large part of keeping firefighters safe is educating the public about what they can do to help, Struble said.

"The Stand Down also serves to remind the citizens of Steamboat Springs to do their part in keeping our community's firefighters safe," he said. "Remember to pull to the right when you see fire trucks or ambulances responding, and use caution when driving by emergency scenes where firefighters or paramedics are helping accident victims."

Struble said 106 firefighters have died in the line of duty across the country in 2006, and that 26 of those deaths occurred in emergency vehicle-related incidents.

The fire department has learned from participating in the Stand Down, he said.

"I think it's beneficial anytime you review your guidelines. You always learn best from what wrong," he said.

Struble said this was the second year the firefighters participated in the program.

--To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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