In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5175 creating a new system for safer workplace practices in the fire service and a workers’ compensation premium discount for employers. The legislation pertains only to state-insured workers’ compensation employers who file injury claims to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Much work has been done since the passage of that bill, with a pilot program entitled Firefighter Injury and Illness Reduction (FIIRE) started in July 2021.
The FIIRE pilot program is a safety initiative for fire departments with two objectives: to reduce fire fighter occupational injuries and illnesses; and demonstrate commitment to safety through proactive risk management and implementation of best practices in collaboration with fire fighters. The FIIRE pilot program was developed by L&I in equal partnership with representatives from the Washington Fire Chiefs and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.
Employers who meet the eligibility criteria and demonstrate a commitment to workplace safety and health may receive a discount on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Participants may also qualify for funding to purchase safety equipment through the Firefighter Safety Program Grant. The program will last two years, and fire departments must engage for at least one.
The FIIRE program requires several safety improvements by the fire department to get a premium discount on rates which include:
The FIIRE pilot program is a huge step forward to better understanding the culture within each fire department. It also provides a path for making improvements based on analytical assessment on current processes. We expect, over time, that improvements to culture and process will lead to fewer injuries that reduce cost and time-loss for injured workers and result in more proactive safety improvements for all fire fighters in Washington State.
Fire departments that participate in the FIIRE pilot program need to be active in the Fire Fighter Health and Safety Collaborative. This will be a new venture, and the only participants will be those taking part in the pilot program. We recognize that more health and safety collaboratives exist within our state, though the success of FIIRE is also dependent on the collaboration within this focus group during the pilot period.
We ask that local leaders reach out to their fire chiefs and health & safety officers and discuss this new pilot program in labor-management settings.
Have questions? Please email FIIRE@lni.wa.gov