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Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award goes to NVFC

Published on 28 May 2010
NVFC has played a major role in establishing firefighter health and safety priorities
The leadership award is named after Paul S. Sarbanes, a retired senator who stood for US firefighters

CFSI and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation selected NVFC for its work on the national level to establish and promote the Volunteer Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities.

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) received the Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Safety Leadership Award on April 29 during the Congressional Fire Services Institute's (CFSI) annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC.

CFSI and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation selected the NVFC for its work on the national level to establish and promote the Volunteer Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities and B.E.S.T. Practices. A state and a local organization also received the award.

NVFC Health and Safety Committee Chair Kenn Fontenot and Vice Chair Kevin Quinn accepted the award on behalf of the NVFC. "Receiving this award is a great honor for the NVFC and the Health & Safety Committee," Fontenot said. "What you - the leaders of the fire service - can do to enhance this occasion is to adopt the B.E.S.T. practices in your organization. Have written policies and procedures that encompass each of the Priorities and ENFORCE them. We are all aware that 75 percent of all line-of-duty deaths result from heart attacks/strokes and going to and coming from incidents. We can and must change these numbers."

The NVFC's Health and Safety Committee developed the Volunteer Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities to guide departments on key issues that will keep department members safe and eliminate cases of preventable injury and death. These Priorities are set forth in a series of practices that fire and emergency service departments should follow in order to stay strong. They are divided into four main focus areas, abbreviated as B.E.S.T.: Behavior, Equipment, Standards and Codes, and Training.

The Health and safety section of  NVFC website has been expanded to enahnce its working

While created with the volunteer fire service in mind, the concepts laid out in the B.E.S.T. practices apply to all fire and emergency service departments. All departments are encouraged to adhere to the B.E.S.T. practices to keep their members safe. To ensure that all departments are aware of the B.E.S.T. practices and keep them at the forefront of their minds, the NVFC partnered with Provident Agency to distribute 30,000 B.E.S.T. posters that were sent to every fire department in the country. In addition, the NVFC has partnered with national and state fire service media to bring the Priorities to the attention of fire service personnel across the nation.

The NVFC expanded the health and safety section of its website features resources and tools to help departments implement the B.E.S.T. practices. Departments can also download the B.E.S.T. poster or order additional hard copies to hang up in their departments.

"The NVFC will continue to do everything we can to raise awareness of these critical issues and keep the priorities at the forefront of the fire service," Fontenot said. "However, we must remember that all of us, the entire fire service community, need to work together as a whole to make these efforts successful and to ensure that everyone comes home."

In addition to the NVFC, the Fire Service Safety Leadership Award was presented to a state organization and a local fire department. The Virginia Fire Chiefs Association was recognized for its Virginia Fire Officer Academy, and the City of New York Fire Department was honored for its commitment to enhance the safety programs within the agency and work to implement the Life Safety Initiatives.

Named after retired-Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a strong advocate of our nation's firefighters and rescue personnel during his 36-year career in Congress, the Fire Service Safety Leadership Award recognizes organizations for their outstanding contributions to firefighter health and safety. The award is sponsored by State Farm Insurance and VFIS. 

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