The Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Labor yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve the safety of firefighters on duty.
The interior ministry’s National Fire Agency joined forces with the labor ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Institute of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health to provide further protection for firefighters and take care of their physical and mental health.
The MOU was signed by Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), Deputy Minister of Labor Wang Shang-chih (王尚志) and National Fire Agency Director-General Hsiao Huan-chang (蕭煥章).
Photo courtesy of the Kinmen County Fire Bureau via CNA
Chen said he hoped the cooperation could help build a safe working environment for firefighters, as their work, such as disaster relief and first aid, is high risk.
Taking good care of them is an important job, he added.
According to the MOU, which was drawn up referencing the US’ NFPA1500 — Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health and Wellness Program — upgraded firefighting equipment and training would be provided, he said.
The National Fire Agency has been communicating with local governments in the hope of solving the problem of overtime work by the end of this year, an issue that was pointed out in Constitutional Interpretation No. 785, he said.
Wang expressed his hope that firefighters, who are not protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法), can “live safely, be safe and feel safe” under the protective mechanism based on the MOU.
The agency also presented the outcome of its efforts in promoting a safe workplace for firefighters, including a disaster relief safety handbook, firefighting training materials, a safety database for disaster relief workers and a support program for firefighters with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It provided in-depth information about various disasters that can be caused by different raw materials and products in high-tech plants to broaden firefighters’ knowledge.
It also signed an open contract for the PTSD support program, which provides services to firefighters who have witnessed serious accidents and helps transfer them to professional counseling or medical institutions.
The agency said it would cooperate with the Teacher Chang Foundation to organize stress tests, and group or individual counseling sessions at fire units across the country.
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