The American fire and emergency services has a very proud tradition of serving communities across our nation that dates back to colonial times. Throughout our nation’s history, firefighters have been looked upon with great respect and admiration for their courage and dedication to their profession. To preserve the public’s trust, a National Firefighter Code of Ethics was developed by a group of fire service leaders that calls on individual firefighters to pledge their support for maintaining the highest level of professionalism and behavior.
The idea for the Code was initially proposed in the Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper published by the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association (CVVFA). Since then, the idea gained momentum and received support from the highest echelon of fire service leadership.
“We may never have the opportunity again and I urge all fire service leaders to develop, establish, disseminate, abide and enforce a fire service code of ethics, said then-U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran in 2010.
The Code is a guide for acceptable behavior already practiced by all but a very small percentage of the fire service. Isolated events that have occurred across the country involving lapses in ethical judgment by fire service personnel, led to the Code of Ethics being developed. It was the brainchild of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO) and has since gained the support of a number of local, state and national organizations, as well as prominent fire service leaders.
“The Code of Ethics serves to remind our brethren firefighters of our moral and ethical obligation to the profession as well as to the people we serve,” said CVVFA Past President Steve Austin. “The public places great trust in our profession and we need to exercise good judgment in order to preserve that trust. The Code of Ethics can serve as a compass to guide us in that direction.”
With the support of various fire service organizations, the Code will be distributed throughout the fire service. Individual firefighters are encouraged to sign the Code and keep it in view to remind themselves each day of their pledge to the highest standards of professionalism and behavior.