The second half of the inaugural NFPA Responder Forum in Indianapolis concluded in much the same way as it started – with incredible energy, camaraderie, information and passion.
Day two began with three team leaders reporting back to approximately 85 Responder Forum invitees, speakers and NFPA staff members about the strategy, action and outreach efforts that will take place in the months to come to proactively address the emerging topics of robotics, civil unrest and data collection and analysis. The groups did a deep dive on a specific topic for more than two hours the night before.
Attendees then heard from another round of subject matter experts who offered different perspectives on the topic of presumptive cancer - a very poignant issue for the first responder audience. In fact, Eddie Buchanan, chief of Hanover County VA FD/EMS who was speaking later in the day about fire dynamics, was so fired up after sitting in on the midday presumptive cancer session that he came home and wrote a blog about PPE for Fire Engineering. His passionate appeal to his brothers and sisters in fire services, via a very public and respected news outlet, really gets to the core of what the Responder Forum is all about – addressing and advocating for issues that pertain to firefighter safety. Buchanan’s blog implores his colleagues and OSHA to ask questions, explain and extinguish the problem of personal protection equipment and firefighter cancer.
The final topic of the forum focused on fire dynamics and application for firefighting tactics. Fire professionals from across the U.S. and Canada listened intently to presentations from thought leaders about fire department, residential, structural and industrial considerations. Questions from the audience then stimulated an intelligent dialogue that covered trends, techniques, resources and opportunities for outreach.
Invitees from thirteen major fire organizations, panelists and NFPA staff acknowledge there is a lot to be done to continuously keep first responders safe; but all agree that the Responder Forum and the collective insight of this forward-thinking group will go a long way in connecting research with standards.