Near-Miss Reporting System Examines 2006 Events

The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System has released its first annual report, summarizing findings from near-miss reports submitted during 2006.

The annual report is available online at www.firefighternearmiss.com and www.iafc.org/nearmiss.

"In just a few short years, the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting system has become a critical tool in the effort to reduce firefighter injury and death rates," said Chief Jim Harmes, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, which administers the program. "Information in this report, compiled from the reports filed, will help the fire service identify new ways to improve the safety of the firefighters around the world."

For reporting purposes, the project defines a near-miss event "as an unintentional unsafe occurrence that could have resulted in an injury, fatality, or property damage. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage. Situations that qualify as near misses are essentially in the eyes of the reporter. If you are involved in or witness an event you believe is a near miss, then you are encouraged to submit a report."

Firefighternearmiss.com seeks to reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities by intervening before tragedy strikes through sharing lessons learned from prior experiences and analyzing submitted near-miss reports to determine if new strategies and approaches can be developed to improve firefighter safety. In just over 12 months, the increasingly recognized system received more than 1,100 reports and continues to add features as it strives to improve firefighter safety. Highlights of the first annual report include:

  • Statistics gleaned from analysis of the first year's reports, including details about who submitted reports, the type of incidents involved, causes of the near-miss events and the loss potential of the near-miss incidents.
  • An analysis of aggregate reports selected from the program that uses the U.S. Navy's Human Factors Analysis and Classification System to evaluate each incident.
  • Findings of the working groups convened in September 2006 at Fire-Rescue International in Dallas.
  • Case studies, sample reports, testimonies and an assortment of tools that firefighters and officers will find useful in their day-to-day operations.
  • An overview of the program and its history.

"Since August 2005, thousands of firefighters, officers, chiefs and other first responders have realized the benefits of near-miss reporting for the fire service. I encourage everyone in the fire service to read the 2006 report and visit www.firefighternearmiss.com regularly to learn from others' experiences," said Dennis Smith, chair of the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System Task Force.

Use of the Navy Classification System

A first-of-its-kind, unique exercise is chronicled in the report. Working groups representing a cross section of the nation's firefighters evaluated reports in four specific categories, using a modified version of the Navy's Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS). The HFACS evaluates an event based on four levels of individual and institutional performance: unsafe acts, preconditions to unsafe acts, unsafe supervision and organizational influences.

The results of the exercise reveal insights into near misses that should pave the way for understanding how fire service deaths and injuries can be reduced through the use of near-miss reports.

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