Life-saving standards for firefighters, public employees

By Jillian Marshall

August 11, 2014 Updated Aug 11, 2014 at 10:55 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) There are standards in place to make the New York work places safer, but what about when your job requires you to possibly risk your life? A regional seminar dug deeper into the PESH standards.

The Department of Labor's Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau, or PESH, held a PESH 101 seminar on Monday in the city of Binghamton.

This presentation was just one of 12 throughout the state. They are focused on helping public employees/employers and fire department leaders.

PESH, which was created in 1980, enforces safety and health standards to all public sector employees.

In 2012, there were more than 750 workplace violence citations in New York State, which is anything from worker vs. worker violence to worker vs. a member of the public.

The Village of Owego Fire Department faced six PESH citations last spring, following an investigation prompted by the death of Matthew Porcari in 2013.

On Monday, members of local fire departments attended the seminar.

"A lot of the common issues in firefighter fatalities have to do with radio communications, have to do with incident command, having to do with having some kind of back up, to have back up firefighters ready to go in a perform a rescue," said director of Broome County Emergency Services Brett Chellis.

PESH said they protect public employees, like paid and volunteer firefighters, by reducing injuries and hazards relating to fire and ambulance staff.

For example, making sure firefighters are wearing the correct equipment, deciding if they need emergency bail out systems and how to use the equipment.

"It's important that people understand the equipment that they have, what it's used for, and the limitations of that equipment so they don't get into a life threatening situation," said Dr. Eileen Franko, director of the Division of Safety and Health in the New York State Department of Labor.

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