Dealing With Work Hazards- Legal Tips For Firefighters

Dealing With Work Hazards- Legal Tips For Firefighters
by John Carlucci - January 11, 2023

Firefighters live on the edge, but the thought of saving lives keeps them going. You will probably know the feeling if you work in the department because nothing gets bigger than saving a life. You have a responsibility toward victims, but you cannot overlook that you also have a family to run. However, being aware and prepared for the hazards of the job can help you maximize your chances of survival. 

Moreover, you must also know your legal rights about workplace hazards because mishaps and exposure-related injuries can be rampant in the profession. Being ahead of the potential perils of the job can go a long way in preventing unnecessary injuries and line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) in first responders. Let us share some valuable legal tips for firefighters on dealing with workplace hazards.

Know the survival basics

You cannot undermine the risks of being in the middle of a disaster because the slightest mistake can endanger lives. But better firefighter safety training translates into better survival rates and effective rescue tactics. You must understand the potential threats and weaknesses and legally seek proper training from the department before getting into the field. Here are the survival basics all firefighters and emergency responders should be aware of-

  • Always use proper PPE during rescue missions
  • Demand apparatus safety from the department
  • Ensure an uninterrupted water supply
  • Size up the situation and do not rush with the rescue plan
  • Stay low and prioritize ventilation at all times
  • Be cautious and communicate
  • Limit your risk to what is savable

Your own safety matters as much as saving others during a fire emergency, so you must follow these basics and do everything else for safety.

Understand the perils of exposure

Fire hazards are not the only risks firefighters encounter in the line of duty. Prolonged exposure to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) during training exercises and actual fires can have dire health consequences. Unfortunately, AFFF has several toxic chemicals that may build up in the body with continuous exposure over an extended time. These toxins elevate the risk of developing severe and fatal illnesses, including cancer. Firefighters can work with attorneys for AFFF legal cases to claim compensation for their suffering during duty. Consider the exposure of any workplace injury for employees in regular settings, such as a factory or plant. Firefighters can claim compensation if they get a diagnosis of cancer or any other illness over the years.

Be aware of the right of risk refusal

As a firefighter, you have the right of risk refusal if you believe that the environmental risks are beyond reasonable ones. Firefighting departments must implement proper safety measures like any employer would do for the safety of their employees. If you think these standards are not being upheld, you can enforce your right of risk refusal. While the job of a firefighter is inherently dangerous, you can still expect a reasonably safe work environment. Consider factors like the hazardous environmental conditions in your workplace, defective equipment, lack of training, and violations of safe work practices as red flags. You can surely use your right of risk refusal if you see one or more of these situations.

Ensure better accountability

As a firefighter, you must ensure better accountability by the department. Being your employer, the authorities are responsible for your safety and well-being. You can question their actions or inaction if you believe they aren’t doing enough to safeguard you from job-related hazards. Providing employees with the necessary training, equipment, and vehicles is the department’s responsibility. You can seek answers and sue your employer for safety risks and long-term hazards such as toxin exposure. So you must definitely claim your rights if things do not seem to go your way. The employer is answerable and accountable, no matter how risky the job role is. Firefighters should not hesitate about bringing up their concerns because they deserve to be as safe as possible. 

Although firefighting is a risky job, you deserve a safe and hazard-free work environment like any other professional. But it is impossible to avert dangers altogether because fire and mishaps are inherently risky. However, you must demand your right to the best possible safety measures and practices. If anything appears amiss, you may file a lawsuit against your employer. Besides the risks of a fire situation, ensure staying a step ahead of workplace hazards like fire foam exposure. Knowing your rights is the key while getting legal expertise on your side puts you in an even better place from a safety perspective.

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