Safety and Health Week Department Profile: Bostian Heights Fire Department (NC)

To get the most out of International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week, the Bostian Heights Fire Department has devised a multi-day program that focuses on a variety of health and safety topics.

Since many of the volunteer firefighters from this combination department work at different jobs during the day, all activities will take place from 7-10pm to make sure all personnel can participate. On the first night, the manager of their local hospital’s cardiac care unit will speak to the department about heart attack and stroke. On the second night, a firefighter will discuss hydrogen cyanide and its effects. The third night, several department members will educate personnel on the Rules of Engagement. The local hospital will return the following week to conduct cholesterol and glucose screenings for the department.

Members are taking a hands-on approach let their community and neighboring departments know about their Safety and Health Week activities. They are utilizing social media to get the word out through friends, the station sign board will promote the event for two weeks, a member that has direct links to local media outlets has contacted them to publicize the activities, and a county-wide radio announcement will be made to remind members of the event.

Safety and Health Week is just one component of the department’s ongoing safety and health initiatives. As expressed in last year’s campaign theme – “Not just today but every day” – the department realizes that safety and health is not just something to think about once a year. “We took that approach because we felt that this was something that is practiced all year long and not just for one week,” explained department member Todd Overcash. “Safety is something that we have to practice each and every day if we are going to make ’old firefighters’ out of ’young firefighters.’”

As part of their broader health and safety efforts, the department is conducting turnout gear testing to find and fix any issues in the turnout gear and ensure it is providing the best protection. In addition, safety messages are provided at most department meetings. They are also looking at ways to bring outreach programs offered by their local hospital into the department, particularly the programs on nutrition and stress. By partnering with the hospital, there will be little to no cost to provide these programs to the department.

Bostian Heights also has fitness equipment available for all members and their families to use. Says Overcash, “Our hope is that those members who volunteer and may not think much about their health will become motivated to take an interest in their health and get the testing that is offered. From there, if there are medical issues that are detected, they will follow up with their family doctor and make changes to their lifestyle.”