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University Relations

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June 20, 2005
Contact: Jim Peters, KU Continuing Education, (785) 864-9142.

KU's Fire & Rescue Training Institute to join 'stand down' to focus on safety


LAWRENCE -- The Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute at the University of Kansas is urging the Kansas fire service to join fire departments throughout the United States in conducting a "stand down" for firefighter safety beginning Tuesday, June 21.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and 13 national fire service organizations, citing a 20 percent increase in the rate of firefighter deaths this year, are calling for all fire departments to suspend nonemergency activity that day and focus entirely on firefighter safety. Volunteer departments are being asked to conduct a special safety meeting the evening of June 21 or as near to that date as possible.

Staff at KU's Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute, a program within KU's Continuing Education that trains firefighters and emergency response personnel throughout Kansas, also will join the event on June 21. The Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute was created by statute as part of KU in 1947. Last year the institute served 515 Kansas communities and trained more than 8,300 firefighters. Funded by a portion of the Fire Insurance Premium Tax, training is available to all fire departments in Kansas at no cost. Training Fire Fighters for Kansas Communities, the mission of the institute, is carried out by 10 staff members and more than 150 part-time fire service instructors throughout Kansas.

"We will participate in the stand down by reviewing our programs, curriculum and policies related to safety," said Glenn Pribbenow, institute director. "Through this review, we will ensure that we are doing everything possible in support of firefighter safety."

Every three minutes a Kansas fire department responds to an emergency, placing firefighters at risk of injury or death, according to the Kansas State Fire Marshal's office. Kansas firefighters suffered 236 injuries and one fatality in the line of duty in 2003, the last year that complete statistics are available. Firefighting is regularly ranked as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. As of May 1, there have been 50 line-of-duty firefighter deaths in the United States; 10 more than at the same time last year.

" Firefighters are being killed at an alarming rate," said International Association of Fire Chiefs President Chief Bob DiPoli. "The fire service simply cannot continue to do business as usual when so many of its own are dying. We are conducting the stand down to raise awareness of the need for increased vigilance toward firefighter safety."

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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