FORT LEE, Va. – The Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services Division participated in the 2015 International Fire/Emergency Medical Service Safety and Health Week from June 14-20. Safety and Health Week is a joint initiative of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council and is supported by a network of emergency service, health and safety organizations.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 97 firefighters died in the line of duty in 2013 and 65,880 were injured. In addition to the dangers responders face when fighting a fire, managing traffic at an incident scene and other operational duties, they also are at increased risk for health issues including heart attack and cancer.

Safety and Health Week is an annual event that aims to improve firefighter safety and health to give all a better chance of survival during emergencies and in the long-term.

Fire departments across the world took time during the week to increase awareness and action so that safety and health become a priority in all fire departments.

“Our community depends on our firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians to be there when there is an emergency. We participated in Safety and Health Week to ensure we are doing all we can to protect those who protect our residents,” said Phillip Wilkinson, Fort Lee Fire Chief.

The theme for Safety and Health Week this year was “Creating a Culture of Safety.” This theme focused on what can be done to improve safety in three specific areas to create an overall culture of safety for the fire and emergency services:

In the community, by promoting fire prevention and risk reduction strategies to prevent fires and other emergencies.

In the department, by strengthening standard operating procedures that re-enforce safety and creating department health and wellness programs.

For the individual, by encouraging firefighters and Emergency Medical Services providers to take personal responsibility for their safety and health.

During the week, members received briefings and lessons on improving not only their safety on the job but on ways to improve their health and wellness.

An Air Management Training Event was conducted at Clark Fitness to show the correlation between overall fitness and the depletion time of their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus’s air supply. The drill consisted of full firefighter turnout gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus. The firefighters started on a slow speed and slight incline and over time the speed and incline were elevated until the last low air alarm sounded. The division’s overall winner was fire medic Phillip Littrell with a time of 29 minutes, 38 seconds with an honorable mention to firefighter Jeff Rogers bringing in the over 50 crowd with a time of 26:13.

Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services provides critical, life-saving services to the Fort Lee community and responds to all types of emergencies and disasters both on and off the installation. The department is made up of 57 fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel respond to over 2,000 calls for service every year in addition to conducting approximately 1,000 fire safety inspections on the installation’s facilities. Reducing the risks that first responders face and making sure each responder is ready when the call comes in is a priority for the division.

The week provides a time for all department members to focus on the safety and health measures they need to take both on and off duty to make sure they stay strong and ready to serve the community at a moment’s notice.

Community members also can do their part by following recommended fire prevention practices, making sure they have working smoke alarm, and discussing fire prevention with their families.