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Between a rock and hard place

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  • Between a rock and hard place

    After reading about the LODD in SC and the fines levied against the fire dept. I began thinking about the position a lot of volunteer depts are in and wondered if any of you out there in forum land have found solutions to these dilemmas and could share them with others. The problems I speak of are those of manpower and money shortages that conflict with national standards. The easiest example I can give is the small rural fire department that even if they did receive funding from taxes, their tax base isn't large enough to support them I the manner that many of us would consider the bare essentials. I recently heard of a dept. that was so strapped for cash that they were using 1960's era trucks and could not afford turn-out gear! I personally know of a department that was very proud of the new pickup truck they had bought for brush fires and were now raising money for the skid pump to go in it. It also seems that these same depts are the same ones with manpower problems. It may be just a matter of low population density. Getting back to the situation in SC, the incident scene did not sound all that unfamiliar to me. I know of neighboring depts to my own that might only get 5 to 6 firefighters to the scene of a working structure fire. It is not laziness or lack of dedication, they don't have the membership available during the day time hours. I know of some depts that may have less than 20 members on their entire roster! With this kind of lack of resources, how does a fire dept stand a chance to comply with standards such as 2-in-2-out and NFPA 1720 not to mention OSHA and NIOSH safety regs. I am not blaming NFPA, OSHA, the Feds, or even local or state governments. I'm not complaining about a lack of leadership in individual depts. I am really only worried that depts in such dire straits are going to become targets for legal liability and will be forced to close their doors and give up the ghost when a tragedy like a LODD hit them when they are just trying to do the best they can do with what little they have. I do, however, think that government programs at any level will not solve this problem since such programs are, by their nature, in the realm of politics and it takes political clout to gain from these programs and the depts have less of that than anything else. I'm sorry this got so long-winded but I wanted to be sure my points got across and that this didn't turn into a political shouting match or them vs. us competition. I think I will post this other forums so as to try to get some different view points. Stay Safe.

    [ 08-13-2001: Message edited by: FGFD43 ]
    Kevin Sink
    Fair Grove Fire Dept.
    Thomasville, NC USA
    [email protected]

  • #2
    All the 2 in 2 out rule is for is interior firefighting. It seems to me the answer is pretty simple. If you don't have the people, don't go inside... unless there i some sort of life safety issue, then it's not so simple.

    The people in these small town rural america have to realize the FD isn't going to be as effective as a large city (in most cases). So, if the house is on fire, it might be a case of we can save the barn... maybe. Sorry.


    • #3
      fgfd, I agree completely. I'm from one of those small departments. Ok so we do have pretty much up to date turn out gear, and at least some up to date equipment, we still are short on manpower and other resources. Two in two out is great, but if you only have 4 people show up, somebody has got to be command or pump operator or something. We do the best we can, but we can't always have a RIT team, and usually the really good interior FF's are already inside fighting fire, the "backup team" isn't always the best backup around here. And as far as those depts. in SC getting fined, that's total BS, don't you think that losing one of their own was enough fine ? But 4 letter agencies don't care about people just statictics. Is that fine really going to help solve the problem? Instead maybe they should help recruit and train new members in an effort to have enough personnel to to meet those minimum staffing requirements, instead of pouring salt in the wounds of our brothers who do the best they can, and have to live with the fact that their brother made the ultimate sacrafice trying to help his fellow man. OK I'm off the soap box now, some things like this just hit me all wrong,I guess it's because I could easily see us in the same boat. I wish we could do everything by the book, I wish we had all the equipment that we need to handle every incident the correct way, but we are forced to make due with have.


      • #4
        Two things to consider when confronted with the 2 in, 2 out monster...

        According to most interpretations, your pump operator and incident commander can both qualify as the "2 out" if they both are certified for interior firefighting and both have proper turnout gear. So now, in a situation where only 4 or 5 firefighters are showing up on scene, the company can attempt an interior attack.

        Second... in a life and death situation where a quick search and rescue has the potential to save a life, the two in two out rule does not apply... in theory a firefighter can pull up by himself in his personal vehicle, put on his gear and an air pack and enter a building. Like I said - this exception ONLY applies when an immediate search and rescue is needed.

        The two in, two out rule along with other new OSHA regulations are really only for the benefit of us. After all - does anyone really want to risk their live to save a foundation?

        - Turk II


        • #5
          I am probably gonna take a lot of flak over this but this is what happened in Lexington. There is 1 paid man at each station to roll the truck to the scene, In this case it was Mr. Chavis. Once he was on the scene he imeadiatly put his engine in pump gear, pulled the hose, and went in BY HIMSELF. He was putting water on the fire in the kitchen from a position inside the garage which had a bonus room above it the was also involved. The stairs leading to the bonus room fell on him and that was followed by the celing/floor, room contents, and the garage door. Nobody knew he was inside until a few minutes after the collapse. It is not even known if he went in with an airpack on because when he was pulled from the rubble he was not wearing one. What makes it even harder to understand is that what he did was common practice at structure fires, and he was recently qualified as an instructor at the fire academy. He very well trained yet he broke two of the major rules for firefighting: don't go in alone, and never bypass fire (the garage door was on fire when he went in). These are all things we have been taught and have had hammered into our heads so often yet these things are still being either ignored, or forgoten.
          When the defecation hits the oscillation I'll be there.


          • #6
            CFR3504.....Where in Virginia are you from...drop me an email.

            This is a topic that can on and on and on ........forever.

            Yes....2 in...2 out....has an impact and we all know we can masage the numbers and play the game anyway we want. Just as 1710 will have a tremendous impact.

            Small Department or large department it all boils down to common sense and some fireground "thinking" We all take risks and the level at which we do so goes something like this...

            Risk a lot to save a life
            Risk a little to save the property
            Rick nothing to save nothing

            We can not take shots at the SC incident because we were not there and do not know what WE would have done in same situation.

            The fine.....ridiculous.....what did it accomplish???? A citation....maybe...but the fine is adding insult to injury. Instead of making it difficult to operate by taking money...lets give them more money and help FIX the problems....

            The problem in this case...an age old one...LIMITED STAFFING on FIRST ARRIVING UNITS!
            09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
            IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
            "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
            BMI Investigator
            The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


            • #7
              This may be a dumb question, but... when you say "2 in, 2 out" I thought it meant that you always go in in pairs (2 in) and if someone needs to leave you go together (2 out), no one is left behind alone.

              Some of the comments I've read are making me wonder if it really means that two firefighters can't go in unless there are two outside for backup/rescue or whatever.... Which is it? Will someone explain.


              • #8
                Two in: inside the structure.
                Two out: outside the structure ready to enter to assist the two inside if they get into trouble.


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