Humanizing Fireground Performance: Rethinking LODD Risk and Causality Narratives
Line-of-duty death (LODD) research and reporting serve as the cornerstone of a national effort to learn from firefighter fatalities and prevent similarly tragic outcomes. NIOSH LODD reports are a significant mechanism for learning—the most influential catalyst for change in the American fire service. Curiously, human performance and behavior are largely absent from LODD report findings and recommendations. This class will highlight five human performance deficiencies that are common in LODD reporting that raise several important questions regarding the validity of outcome centric narratives, causality (the NIOSH 5), claimed predictability of serious injury and death, and the operational risk profile purportedly associated with LODD fires. The American fire service possesses a detailed understanding of how firefighters die, but a rigorous analysis of LODD reporting suggests that the fire service lacks a comprehensive understanding of why firefighters die. This conversation will equip leaders with an appreciation for an increasingly objective performance analysis framework that serves to humanize narratives. Additionally, leaders will be encouraged and informed to develop a process-centric and nuanced risk-management philosophy for the fireground that is responsive to uncertainty.