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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Fire Fighters Safety Blog: Investigating & Documenting Accidents & Injuries


As a safety-oriented organization, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) does everything it can to enhance employee safety.  We provide all of our employees, fire fighters or otherwise, with state of the art personal protective equipment and tools, we try to maintain the safest workplace environment including ergonomically suitable office space, and we constantly look at our policies to find areas for improvement.  But even with all of these safeguards, we occasionally have accidents and injuries.

Every PF&R employee injury and every motor vehicle accident is fully investigated and documented.  Investigating an injury or accident might sound like we are trying to place blame and find out who is at fault, but that is not the case.  When we investigate an accident, our intent is to find the root cause.   There are times when the root cause might be the lack of a policy and a written guideline would be developed to prevent a reoccurrence. Other times the root cause for an injury might be insufficient protective equipment.  Determining the root cause involves asking ‘Why? Why? Why?’ multiple times as you investigate the accident or injury.  Ultimately, the underlying cause is determined.

Our supervisors, particularly our battalion chiefs, are responsible for investigating accidents and determining the root cause.  Click here to view PF&R's battalion chief job description. Three levels of investigation occur as the immediate supervisor, battalion chief, and finally the chief safety officer examine an injury or accident, and ultimately it will be reviewed by the Safety Committee.

PF&R will be working with an Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Division (OSHA) trainer in the coming weeks to train our battalion chiefs in the field of accident investigation. Battalion chiefs will brush up on their skills and will explore the art of determining the root cause of accidents and injuries. Oregon OSHA graciously provides this training for free! 

Determining the root cause of an accident or injury can be a tricky thing and it involves a lot of investigatory work.  The reason for getting to the bottom of the event is to prevent its reoccurring.  The safety of our employees is important to PF&R.  We need to keep ourselves safe so that we can do our jobs:  Keeping Portland safe!  Until next time – be safe!

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April 22, 2010


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