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Lack of aggressiveness in todays fire departments

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  • Lack of aggressiveness in todays fire departments

    I am seeing a disturbing trend in todays fire service. A basic room and contents fire that 5-10 years ago would have taken 2 engines and a truck if now taking 4-5 engine, 2 trucks and a rescue squad, not counting the 400 Chiefs that show up. Then, the firefighters (because of course its not PC to call anyone a fireman) must establish 2 in-2 out, a rit team, get all of the thermal imaging cameras out and by this time a simple room and contents job has turned into a fully involved structure fire!! Also, the new firefighter that are coming in now move slow, don't think ahead and are ever more reliant on technology and book smarts rather than experiance and their officers. As a result more firefighters are getting hurt and killed that I ever can remember in my career. If we are aggressive, SAFE, but aggressive, fires are smaller, safer and we save more lives and property. For all of these departments out there that are extremely unaggressive, and rarely make an interior attack making the argument that property is not worth the risk of an interior attack: what happens when you have 3 kids trapped and no one on the fireground has ever been inside a working fire in their entire career? How many firefighter are going to get injured and killed then, let alone the victims? It makes me absolutely SICK!!

  • #2
    Well I'm not sure how things are being done there in California, but in Connecticut we definatly don't overdo anything. A room and contents fire requires 2 engines, 1 truck, 1 rescue, and the chiefs (we are vollie). a 3rd engine is available if needed but we only use whats necessary. the camera is taken out for overhaul or checking for extension to limit the damage to the home (ripping apart walls and ceilings).
    I understand this isn't everywhere but here the old school is alive and well. Only use what is necessary. We get the experience and thats that. Any particular examples of over doing it that lead to something undesireable or a death?


    • #3
      Actually, Firefighter deaths and injuries are down. The ones that are dying or getting hurt are the ones that have spent their 20 years sitting around watching bonanza and other crap while the ones who are exceling are the younger ones 25-35 who are better educated, better trained and in MUCH better condition.

      The people who b**** and moan about technology and education tend to be the ones
      that cant understand it. Technology works and education saves lives, makes better firefighters.

      If your old and all you do is complain then its time to retire and give your position to someone who is obviously more qualified than you.

      Dinasours are extinct for a reason, they failed to adapt.


      • #4
        We're still kicking butt and taking names in Maryland....if you move to slowly, you get left in the dust. A couple of engines, a squad, and a truck and we can do the deed in short order. The judgement not to risk injury or death to save a room and contents lies with the leadership of the Department. Must be the laid back Cali attitude? Just kidding of course.

        Stay low and let 'er blow.


        • #5
          Hey Nate Marshal,

          You are mis-informed. The firefighter injury and death rate in this country is not down. The number of working fires are down, but the rate of firefighter injuries and deaths has not changed. What does that tell you? Thermal burn injuries are also on the rise, because fires are hotter and nastier than they have been in the past. Even so, most progressive and agressive urban fire departments fight fires from the inside. Maybe you all don't do interior attacks up there in the mountains, but it's still standard practice here in the lowlands.


          • #6
            Part of the problem is where you're at. Unless you're in San Fran, a lot of dept's on the west coast don't know how to fight fire. Tactics are different there, but not for the better. Proper, effective tactics have been trampled on by safety overkill- extreme overkill. Central and east coast states are affected by this as well- just not as much as the west. Some of these supposed safety standards are actually putting members in harms way. Don't want to write a book, so if you want examples of poor tactics or unsafe safety standards, let me know. Meanwhile, move to San Fran, NYC, Chicago, or Boston.


            • #7
              I agree that fires are hotter then ever these days thus increasing the liklihood of more burn injuries to firefighters, however the number of firefighter deaths as it relates to burn injuries has gone down. More and more firefighters are dieing from heart attacks and such from over-exertion and from accidents responding to and returning from fire scenes.
              In a nut shell, yes the # of deaths has not changed by any significant number, but the causes of the deaths has.


              • #8
                All LODD's are not created equal. I suspect that a thorough examination of the data would show a number of factors in firefighter LODD's now vs. 20 yrs ago.

                1. Better turnout gear, ironically. FF's are so well protected that they cannot tell that a room is dangerously close to flashover until it's too late. And long-duration SCBA's allow us to go in a little further than we probably should sometimes.

                2. Better construction. Houses are tighter and more energy-efficient these days, creating less ventilation prior to FD arrival & trapping more combustion products inside.

                3. Different staffing patterns. While this varies greatly nationwide, many FD's aren't running as many per company as they once did.

                4. More & meaner dangerous goods.

                I do agree that with all the innovations we've had, we should be losing fewer firefighters. Between PASS devices, emphasis on accountability, longer-duration SCBA (more time for escape), RIT's, TIC's, and safety officers, we should be improving.

                But we stay on this treadmill; identify a hazard, address it, push past it to another hazard. And it is killing firefighters.

                As for this East Coast-West Coast malarkey, knock it off. Every department is different. This ain't college football.


                • #9
                  going back to the topic at hand.....

                  why are we so afraid to be aggressive anymore? It's (in my own opinion) what keeps us safe and knowledgeable about ourselves and out limitations, fire behavior and how to react when the s%^t really hits the fan and you HAVE to get the kids out!!


                  • #10
                    yanjam- in response to your post: That's why Boston FD instituted their "bunker pants are optional" policy. They don't have to wear them if they don't want to, and they love it, and their not getting burned. Interesting idea, isn't it? Keeps the stress down and makes for a more efficient ff.

                    Also in response to causes of death- that's why you shouldn't use full ppe on all fires, if conditions allow. experience will tell you if you need it or not, and if you don't need it, then why wear it? If you have your wits about you, your head is your best safety tool, not you ppe.


                    • #11
                      There is a world of difference between aggressive interior attacks and stupidity.

                      And yes firefighter deaths and injuries caused by incidents involving interior firefighting are down while other causes are up.

                      Fewer firefighters die in the west. Very rarely do we ever hear of firefighters dying in Colorado or our region. Maybe because we have chiefs who believe that lives are more important than property.

                      I also cant recall ever having one truck crash let alone 2 run into each other but thats your problem not mine.

                      PPE must be a requirement as well as making every tool available possible. To include thermal imagers, rit teams, etc. Departments that dont require these things deserve t o get sued when their people get hurt. Getting firefighters hurt is not an option but in the eastern US that seems to be the case more often than not.

                      Western chiefs and officials tend to more safety oriented and oriented towards life safety. This maybe because we have wildfires that require firefighters to be well conditioned, as well as some athletes, and require more organization to manage these incidents.

                      My opinion of the eastern know it alls is mixed. While there are some good people like
                      Brannigan, Dunn, Norman and a few others many think theyve fought 100's of fires they think they know everything. Articles in trade magazines like Firehouse more often than not have an eastern bias. Ironic that the east is where the vast majority of deaths of firefighters and civilians occur. You would think they would be more aware and astute of safety.


                      • #12
                        I too have noticed that a lot of departments are less willing to do an aggressive interior attack and go ahead and put the fire out. They are instead doing a defensive attack early in the fire and losing vauable property. I'm not going to take unneccessary risks and attempt to do an interior attack it the building is not structurally sound, unless there is a possiblity of a live victim inside. But on the other hand, I'm not going to stand outside and **** on the fire, when I can go in and do a quick knockdown and be done with it. Only my opinion, Myself or no one else is necessarily right or wrong, because all fires are different, and you have to address each one individually! Be careful other there!


                        • #13
                          I can also guarantee that if you take equal numbers of trucks and personnel say 3 engines 2 trucks a heavy rescue company and 2 chiefs, take any eastern us department ala FDNY DCFD or whomever I can take the same number from Denver, West Metro or Aurora and theyll kick their [email protected]@es. There will be less stress on the crews, less water damage and damage from fire crews, better preservation of evidence and the fire will be extinguished quicker.

                          RIT, thermal imaging, positive pressure, PPE, pass devices, accountability, ics, conditioning, fire codes that are enforced all work to make us saferand protect our communities.


                          • #14
                            Nate- why do you think you would kick *** over fdny or dcfd? That's a tall order to fill. Are you sure you know what you're talking about? Explain what you would do different than them and how that would result in the *** kicking. Maybe I should post your claim on the fdny bulletin board.

                            Also, there are no fires out west. That's why guys die less there. If your dept got the workers NYC did, the #'s would change.

                            Tillerman- for the majority of dept's, good tactics are a lost art. Aggressive interior attack is one of those tactics. This makes use lose valuable experience. Then, when we have to go in, we don't know what we're doing, and we get killed. Give Chicago's fire load to ----- (a big city that claims to know how to fight fire but doesn't) and not only would the city burn down, but a lot of ff's would probably die. This would be due to lack of experience, improper tactics, and safety overkill.

                            Bad tactics examples of the above city (and this is a large city dept)- 1. never flush the hydrant 2. use 1 3/4 line with combin. nozzle for standpipe kit. 3. must have line charged before stretching to fire 4. using pre-connects for all fires even when they aren't long enough 5. leaving bale on line when adding an extra length of hose for interior attack 6. using arial ladders only to transport personnel- no truck work. 7. no going to roof to open up. 8. attacking fire from burned side. 9. unthorough overhaul which allows reignition.

                            I've seen all of this occur in this dept. I won't even get into the ridiculous safety standards they use which do nothing but prevent the guys from doing their job.

                            The idea is that "it's too dangerous". That's why we don't go in. And when we do, we die more because of this. And, the more we die, the more ridiculous we get with safety standard which keep us from doing our jobs. Pretty soon, a homeowner with a garden hose will be more effective than us.


                            • #15
                              Simple logic, we do more with less. We dont have 200 engine companies. The most is Denver with 33 plus Denver International (if they could ever find the baggage, but thats a different story)

                              Ive also heard directly from an FDNY BC who retired and went to work out here that our conditioning programs are better, firefighters are better conditioned and dont have nearly the claims per capita they do in the east.

                              What we also have to deal with that you dont is terrain and the interface. How many wildfire firefighters die compared to structural, very few, why, because they are conditioned.

                              And if you think we dont have fires you havent done your homework, maybe not as many as in the east (thanks to better enforcement of codes and a more educated population) but we have them. Read the article in this months Fire Rescue about Arvada Colorado's fire last christmas, youll see just how aggressive we are in the west.


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