Take the National Seat Belt Pledge

Charlie Dickinson, Acting U.S. Fire Administrator

On April 23 2005, firefighter Christopher Brian Hunton, a 27 year old member of the Amarillo Texas fire department fell out of his fire truck responding to an alarm. Firefighter Hunton died two days later from his injuries. And like too many other firefighters before and since, Brian was not wearing a seat belt.
There are too many tragic stories like Brian’s each year.  Firefighters losing their lives in the line of duty, as a result of what are, preventable causes.  As the former Chief of Pittsburg Bureau of Fire, and now the Acting United States Fire Administrator, I know first hand that many of these losses can be prevented.  The loss of firefighters by not wearing seat belts is such a simple safety measure to take.  Wearing your seat belt makes sense, and is the right thing to do.  All firefighters, having been to just a few civilian car accidents, know first hand the importance of wearing seatbelts.  I don’t know of a firefighter who doesn’t wear their seatbelts when driving their personal vehicles.  I don’t know of a firefighter who doesn’t also insist family members buckle up as well.  Why is it then, firefighters lose their lives being thrown from fire apparatus?  In early March, fire service leaders from across the nation will be meeting in California and again the question will arise regarding why firefighters don’t believe their apparatus will never be involved in a motor vehicle accident. 
Over the past couple of years, the USFA has joined the national fire service to take some significant steps in preventing firefighter deaths and injuries.  The IAFC, IAFF, NVFC, NFFF, NFPA and so many national organizations have implemented wonderful and effective firefighter safety programs.  There is however an additional step we can all take together, today.  Please join me in taking the National Seat Belt Pledge. 
"I, Chief Charlie Dickinson, pledge to wear my seat belt whenever I am riding in Fire Department vehicles or any moving vehicle. I further pledge to ensure that all firefighters riding with me wear their seat belts."
And now, the real challenge to all firefighters.  Will all state and local fire leadership and chiefs of this great nation stand with me and take the pledge on behalf of their departments?  Will all company officers and firefighters join with their leadership taking this simple pledge.  I believe firefighters, as the nation’s promoters of safety in all communities, are able to stand a million strong by simply taking this pledge to absolutely and finally put a stop to this senseless cause of firefighter deaths. 
For information on this million firefighters, taking the seatbelt pledge effort, visit
Any fire department able to achieve 100% of their firefighters taking the pledge will get their fire department’s name and their leadership’s name on the National Seat Belt Pledge campaign web page. Thank you for joining with me in making this pledge, and more importantly, buckling up.

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