Santa Monica Fire Department firefighters plan to suspend all non-emergency activity Wednesday, June 21st, to focus on firefighter safety as part of the 2006 International Fire Fighter Safety Stand Down.

The Santa Monica Fire Department and IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Local 1109 are joining thousands of fire departments across the country for the Fire Fighter Safety Stand Down.

The Fire Department will respond to all emergency calls as normal, but between calls, firefighters, officers and chiefs will take the time to conduct safety training and drills, review safety- related standard operating procedures, discuss accident reports and have an open conversation about firefighter safety in the department.

The focus is on emergency vehicle safety, with an emphasis on seatbelt use, backing department apparatus and driving through intersections, Santa Monica Fire Captain Scott Ziegert said.

“The Santa Monica Fire Department is committed to serving the residents of Santa Monica,” said Chief Walter Shirk of the training division. “Keeping our firefighters safe and healthy helps us respond effectively and keeps our community protected.

“While firefighter safety is always a priority of the Santa Monica Fire Department, the Stand Down is an opportunity to dedicate a significant amount of time to the safety of our personnel.”

Shirk said the Stand Down also serves to remind Santa Monica citizens to “do their part in keeping our community’s firefighters safe.”

Citizens should remember to pull to the right when they see fire trucks or ambulances responding, and to use caution when driving by emergency scenes, where firefighters or paramedics are helping accident victims, Shirk said.

The Stand Down is sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters and the IAFC Volunteer and Combination Officers’ Section, in partnership with nearly 20 national fire service organizations.