National Firefighter Code of Ethics Set for Release

(SOURCE: Fire Engineering magazine)

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.

You can download the Code of Ethics as a PDF HERE.


  1. The American Fire Service in general has been coming under closer scrutiny over the past decade or so and in some cases, for very good reason. Because of that, ethics has become a central concern for fire service leadership all across the nation. Case-in-point, I recently updated my training as a Pro-Board Fire Officer I and one of the main topics covered centered around ethics, morality, communications and good public relations.

    It comes as no surprise that there is an increasing need for a code of ethics within the fire service, to be honest. In an increasingly God-less society there is no moral compass for individuals and how they should conduct themselves. In other words, how can someone possibly teach others to act with honesty and integrity when they themselves have none of these qualities?

    Regardless, I am not commenting to turn this into a religious war, instead I am simply illustrating a point. When the terms honesty, integrity, ethics, morality, etc. become little more than vague references in dictionaries, a code of ethics becomes increasingly necessary for the masses. It would also not surprise me that within the next decade we start to see more classes just on ethics training alone in all industries.

    But on a positive note, I do believe that this is a much-needed step in the right direction for the fire service as a whole as well as for the individual firefighter. As testament to my comments, I have incorporated this Firefighter Code of Ethics into my department’s forthcoming document titled “Uniform Code of Conduct” which goes into effect on 6 February 2012.

    On an editorial note, here is a link to the Firefighter Code of Ethics that works:

    The link to the PDF file is at the bottom of the article.

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