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an "alarming" trend

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  • an "alarming" trend

    Brothers and Sisters, fellow Crusties...

    I have noticed an "alarming" trend lately.

    Watch any televison newscast covering a fire and listen intently to the soundtrack....

    What you hear are PASS alarms going off with nobody paying attention to them!

    We complain when we go to the same apartment complexes day after day and everyone ignores the sound of the fire alarms sounding, yet we have managed to "tune out" the sound of PASS alarms going off.

    I have heard both the old style and integrated alarm systems go off.

    What will it take to make us aware of the alarm? When the pre alert signal sounds, that lets us know that we haven't had enough movement...a simple shake of the device resets it.

    I am afraid that one day, we will lose a brother/sister, because we thought it was the PASS device crying "wolf" again.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  • #2
    I can only speak from what I have seen within my own department. The integrated pass alarms on my sister company's SCBA's go off so often that it has de-sensitized us to the alarm. It is for a variety of reasons (and yes, most relate back to training) that they sound so often. My company does not use integrated alarms (yet) and when one of ours sounds, it is noticed. Not only by my company, but the other also. We have done drills where we have had a guy do down to see if anyone would notice the alarms. The guy that went down with the integrated alarm was not noticed for about 15 minutes. The non-integrated was noticed within 1 minute.

    It is a shame that something which could be so important is having this happen.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


    • #3
      Ya know Gonz...

      I don't usually check in at the RIT forum, but saw you posted and it got my attention.

      Grabbed the Training Schedule for the year I'm in the process of penciling in...hmmm, 3/12 is the first Fire Attack Practice (combined hose, search, and ladder drill) scheduled. Just added a note that about 30 minutes into this one of our old PASS devices is going to mysteriously appear in a corner of a room of the drill building...

      I'm also been making a list of "automatic" duties our 16-18 y/o members can do w/o permission if they don't have an assignment -- like getting Circle-D lights to the rear of a house fire to light up the backyard -- and I think policing the area for abandoned packs with their integrated PASS' going off is a good one. Many of our members, including me, haven't broken bad habits of just dropping the pack when we're done and forgetting they have PASS alarms still turned on.
      IACOJ Canine Officer


      • #4
        This is a topic that is more of a problem than a lot of Departments are willing to admit to. I too had the same concerns when I became a training officer for my Department. As part of regular SCBA drills I have grown accustomed to periodically placing a manual PASS on our rescue dummy or having one of the Firefighters fall back and wait for his integrated PASS to activate. Our firefighters are trained to wait about 30-45 seconds, in the event that it is a false alarm, and then begin a search for the downed Firefighter. They are further taught that if their PASS activates to immediately reset it unless they are in trouble. If they are not able to reset the PASS then they are suppose to identify themselves on the radio and indicate that they have a PASS alarm malfunction and that they are exiting the structure. This has greatly decreased the possibility that an activated PASS alarm will go unchecked.
        Unfortunately we still have problems with not only our personnel, but also the personnel from surrounding agencies, forgetting to turn the PASS off when doffing their SCBA. What you end up with is 2 or 3 PASS alarms going off on a tarp in the front yard.
        Lt. Will Wilkerson
        Asst. Training Coordinator
        Sanson Park Fire-Rescue
        Sansom Park, TX.


        • #5
          I'm with you. It should place all members on the scene on edge when a pass device is sounding for an extended period of time. I drill into the classes at fire schools that you don't complain about false private alarms, then let your pass device scream while you look as clueless as the property owner with the alarm going off with no idea where the key to the panel is.....


          • #6
            I agree with you Cap - I like the idea of incorporating pass device activations randomly into training exercises. For example, while doing simulated interior fire attack evolutions, search drills, or even ladder work, have a pass device go off without advance notice to the members (other than instructors). This will do a couple of things:

            1) see if your members even recognize and acknowledge that a pass alarm is sounding,
            2) see if they question whether they should respond to it, or
            3) report the alarm to the IC and act on it.

            When you're at the academy training for one thing...like ventilation evolutions...you don't expect other things...like a pass alarm incident. I think the same mentality holds true on the fireground. It is easy to lock into a certain mind-set. If ten members on the fireground were standing around - like that ever happens - and the most junior member heard a pass alarm, do you think they'd do nothing? If ten members were standing around and the most junior heard someone call a "mayday", do you think they'd still do nothing? Why the difference? We need to reduce the 'nuisance' pass alarms, and REACT (one way or another) to ALL of them until proven otherwise.


            • #7
              I was involved in a search and rescue evolution during which I got seriously injured and trapped (due to an accident, not planned). When my PASS alarmed no one came. Talk about complatency. It makes it very hard to trust that your fellow firefighters will resuce you if something happens. (I have since moved and joined a different dept.)


              • #8
                If you don't mind my asking, do you think your PASS was ignored because everyone had been "conditioned" by false alarms, or was there a general lack of training and/or command?

                a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for


                • #9
                  In all honesty I would have to say that it was all of the above. I know that everyone had become very accustomed to hearing false alarms, there was never any training in response to PASS alarms (example:no FF down drills) and from what I have been told it took my partner longer than it should have to get the lead instr. to figure out that I was indeed hurt and not playing a victim in a drill. I'm pretty new to the fire service, but I would have to say it's definitally something that I have learned from and wish that others could learn from my experience without having to acutally go through it.


                  • #10
                    RIT teams/ pass

                    I think you all make very valid points. I am active on company and also do SCBA repair for my department. I do conduct alot of trainning for our guys and gals. On any given second I have been known to throw down a pass devise within ear shot and walk away. This includes pump trainning, roof ops, what ever the trainning may be. The whole reason behind this is to get people to pay attention to their surroundings. Not just visual but audible as well. I am also very quick about reminding everyone of the importance of keeping pass silent when not needed.
                    We have all intgrated pass devices on our Dept. and everyone knows what to do in an emergency. They all know to activate the pass mannualy if needed. Otherwise the pass will activate its self 35-45 seconds. I not only use our passes for trainning but also our mutual aid departments we run with. So I would have to sat trainning is key.


                    • #11
                      I think one problem that can be easily fixed it, pre-maturely charging ones SCBA when not actively involved on the fire ground. Once in the past, I was holding training classes on search techniques, when I had firefighters go in and search for a pre-staged downed firefighter.

                      The PASS device was going off on the training manikin, and I was hoping that the noise would lead them straight to the Firefighter, but someone was standing around the outside of the house with their pass device going off. Now this confused the search team for a few minutes, which in the real world is minutes wasted and minutes closer to a LODD.

                      We train to become better, and better we have become.


                      • #12
                        We start right with the first Scba training with Pass extraction.Simply put,for the first night of training while you are getting used to the equipment if we hear the pass you get reminded to reset it.After that, if we hear it and you do not instantly reset it you will be subject to a Rit team extraction.Accomplishes two goals,eliminates false pass alarms and hones the Rit team skills.Usually one extraction with the associated a** bustin' by the crew drives home the point in short order.This is then applied to all other training evolutions.And usually one or two old ones will show up during the smoke tower drills.T.C.


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