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  • Fire Fighter Safety Question

    I investigated a fire today in a three story McMansion in a development of similar type homes. Typical suburbia. Fire was well-involved on arrival. The fire eventually totalled the house.

    In an adjacent town, the forest service was fighting a brush fire. They used air drops from a plane. Someone thought it was a good idea (I don't know who yet) thought that it would be a good idea to have the plane drop two loads on the structure. There was no warning to the fire fighters, they came in about 500 feet altitude and dropped it. Twice.

    I was incensed because this was an obvious safety issue. First, water dropped at that height can cause blunt force trauma or cause falls. Seondly, it could have easily caused a structural collapse, resulting in disaster.

    My question is two fold...Is this an accepted practice with air drops? Does anyone else think that this was a disaster waiting to happen?

  • #2
    WOW... thats scary.. did the municipal IC call for it? If so, he is pretty nuts. Thats not the most accurate tactic and by far pretty tacky for a structure fire. I was IC (I thought) on a brush fire where NJ Forestry showed up without my knowlege and did an air drop, we had all of about 30 seconds notice.

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    • #3
      Someone is out of their minds to order a air drop on a structure fire. As far as I'am concerned I feel that who ever the hell ordred it should be the one standing in the middle of it to see how much it would hurt.

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      • #4
        Talk about crazy... it WAS a disaster waiting to happen... that'd could've ruined someone's day. I agree with CaptCarp...

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        • #5
          Interesting, sounds like there should be an investigation as to who ordered the drop (I take it these were two different incidents).. I'd find out who was incharge of the Air-to-Ground and go backwards from there.. Lucky no one was hurt.. Was it a FED ship or a CWN?

          P.S. I guess you need to monitor Air-To-Ground during structure fires now too...

          [This message has been edited by Engine Slug (edited 05-16-2001).]

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          • #6
            We always joke about something like this... but to actually hear of it happening is a different story.

            Just think what would have happened if the pilot's aim was off and the water crashed into a perfectly good building? Full of people?

            Talk about mutial aid to the extreme!

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            • #7
              This was an irresponsible act that could have resulted in the death of many firefighters.

              Someone in the aircraft was either trying to do their version of 12 O'Clock High on the fire and did it on their own or the OIC on the fireground had to have requested it....if the latter is the case, that person needs some serious psychological evaluation!

              This is a matter that should be thoroughly investigated. The FAA should be contacted, as I would imagine that flying at 500 feet and doing a water drop in a residential area has to be a dangerous practice!

              ------------------
              Firefighters: Today's heroes protecting everyone's tomorrows!
              Captain Gonzo


              [This message has been edited by Captain Gonzo (edited 05-16-2001).]

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              • #8
                George --

                Definitely agree with you on the disaster waiting to happen. I would be looking into who gave the order to make the drops and consider having his head on a nice silver platter. We get concerned over opening a ladder pipe through a vent hole or burned out roof but I never considered listening for low flying aircraft doing drops on your head. Correct me if I'm wrong but that could easily break your neck.

                Being from a few towns over from you I would ask where you were, but I assume you would not want to reveal that info..........

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                • #9
                  To start out with, I agree that air drops of any kind on a structure are usually useless, and NEVER should have occurred without warning, and are NOT standard practice for most forest firefighting agencies. I also sure hope that pilot did not do it on his own, or his red card is in serious jeopardy.

                  I've managed to be underneath several drops of both water and retardent, both from helicopters moving and in hover, as well as from slow and fast moving aircraft, and found that if the aircraft is moving, water breaks up pretty fast upon leaving the aircraft, and will usually be just a heavy rain by the time it goes a few yards in the air, and a heavy mist if it has to go several hundred feet to the ground. Different story if a helicopter is in hover and opens the whole load on one spot.

                  Most Forest Service firefighters think of a structure fire as different form of a burning tree, and their solution to a burning tree is to cut it down and bury it in dirt or water.

                  Still, shouldn't have happened.

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                  • #10
                    Was the firefighters aware that this was going to happen? I have been on one structure fire where we considered such a drop(we decided not to). This fire was about 40 miles from the closest water supply and was about fully involved at the time we considered it. The reason that we did not use it is because we would have to have picked up all of our toys and moved to a safe distance and that it would of been about 90 min. before the plane could of got there. I do not see where this would of been a good option in a town where you have a water supply. Only in the most extreme rual settings where you options are severly limited would we even consider such an idea and only on a fully involved structure that the roof is already colapsed on.

                    BE SAFE

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                    • #11
                      NORM!!!!


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                      • #12
                        I thought it was nuts. Now I'm sure.

                        We don't know who ordered it at this time. I think it was a contracted plane, I don't believe it was a government plane.

                        As far as the heavy rain thing...eight pounds per gallon falling at close to terminal velocity as well as 80-100 mph laterally has got to hurt. The impact load alone has got to be a problem on an already weakened structure.

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                        • #13
                          Man I am glad I work here and not there. Which idiot called for it should be stripped of all his power.

                          ------------------
                          When the goin gets hot I go to work !!

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                          • #14
                            I can't believe that this incident took place. Was a risk assessment undertaken on this practice. No, I don't think so. I can see no reason why I would want to order a fire fighting action such as this. But I can see loads of reasons why I should not consider the plan in the first place.

                            Damaged structure, crew on ladders or roof, crews within the structure, crews and equipment outside, bystanders and fellow emergency workers from other services nearby. The list of considerations continue.

                            We can not judge this incident without being there and seeing it first hand but I shudder to think of the disasters that could have occurred. Not the way that I would take if I wanted to continue my career in the Fire Service.

                            ------------------
                            Kindest regards & keep safe,

                            Sprinkle (UK)
                            http://www.sprinkle2.homestead.com

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                            • #15
                              There's no question. This is one of the dumbest f*cking things I've ever read about. Whoever ordered it should be stripped of their authority if a vollie, and fired if a paid guy.

                              If all it took were an air drop, we'd fight all our structure fires that way, right? There's a freaking reason why we don't do that. Cripes, this wins the prize!

                              Keep us updated on where this goes, George.

                              ------------------
                              J. Black

                              The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.

                              [This message has been edited by BucksEng91 (edited 05-17-2001).]

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