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Analyzing the 2016 LODD statistics

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  • #16
    Originally posted by jes82 View Post
    The Line of Duty Death statistics do not support the idea that our fireground tactics are recklessly or needlessly risky, and need to be re-evaluated.
    Shhhh! You'll awaken the safety nazis and then you'll be sorry!
    Member IACOJ

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by ThNozzleman View Post

      Shhhh! You'll awaken the safety nazis and then you'll be sorry!
      It shouldn't wake them because it is more true than not.

      That doesn't mean we shouldn't do research and update equipment and tactics.
      Crazy, but that's how it goes
      Millions of people living as foes
      Maybe it's not too late
      To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by jes82 View Post
        My original post contained the 2016 statistics. Now that the year is over, I will add that only ONE of the 93 Line of Duty Deaths in 2017 occurred inside a burning structure. That incident occurred in San Antonio, in May, when a firefighter was searching a commercial structure for victims, became trapped while attempting to exit, and ultimately was killed when the structure collapsed.
        https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefight...deathYear=2017

        The Line of Duty Death statistics do not support the idea that our fireground tactics are recklessly or needlessly risky, and need to be re-evaluated. In the last two years, the 5 firefighters who have died in burning structures have all been searching for victims in tenable conditions. The use of "progressive" fire tactics (like a transitional attack) would not have saved these men. Also, at this point, it has literally been years since a firefighter has died while performing vertical ventilation.

        Of course tactics should be determined based on information available to an IC at size up, and based on an assessment of risk. But getting personnel inside is the only way you're going to discover victims. Getting personnel inside (with a hoseline) is the only way to protect means of egress like hallways and stairwells, so that victims can exit the structure, and firefighters can safely conduct a search. Getting personnel inside (with a hoseline) is the only way to discover fire in void spaces, like attics, knee walls, and cocklofts in row homes, and stop the extension that turns a small fire into a fire that destroys an entire structure.

        And these "aggressive" tactics aren't nearly as risky people claim. In the last two years, only 3% Line of Duty Deaths (5 of 190) have occurred inside a burning structure. I'm sure we'll keep debating tactics, and there are some good reasons to choose transitional attack as a tactical choice in some circumstances. But the likelihood of a Line of Duty Death is not one of those reasons. Because it's not very likely at all.
        This is a bit of the "chicken or the egg" scenario. You say we don't need to be overly concerned with changing tactics because the number of firefighter fatalities inside burning structures is relatively low. I could say that number is low BECAUSE we changed tactics.

        From 1978 to 2009 the rate of firefighter deaths due to structural collapse, lost inside, or fire progress has increased. These numbers are per 100,000 fires and come from NFPA. It would make sense that technological advancements (SCBA, fully encapsulated PPE, TIC, PASS, etc) would drive the numbers down. But despite those advancements the rate went up. If equipment can't solve the problem we have to turn to culture, training and tactics. The numbers indicate we didn't evaluate and change tactics quickly enough. The fires were changing but we weren't.

        In the FDNY serious burn injuries and fatalities went up after going to full bunker gear. Logic says they would go down. Something was wrong. It took some time but eventually a very long hard look was taken at what we could do differently in a department that never much embraced change. Uncontrolled ventilation was stopped. Fire behavior was looked at. "Flowpaths" became a thing. We had a computer model done after one of our firefighter fatalities. It indicated temperatures in a public hall of an apartment building reaching levels previously unheard of. The numbers were so high that the model was deemed to be invalid. Then more testing was done and actual temperatures were recorded that validated the earlier model. This was the FDNY/NIST/UL testing that most are familiar with.

        My point is that evaluation of equipment, tactics, training and culture should always be a part of the fire service.

        I am in full support of aggressive interior attack. But only for departments who have the staffing, resources, equipment, training and experience to successfully pull it off. And all of that depends mostly on fast response times. Without that nothing else matters. I am continually surprised at the number of fires that are advanced upon our arrival. Several rooms, several apartments and sometimes several buildings. And this is in a city with response times that are likely the fastest in the nation.

        Comment


        • #19
          I should add that an FDNY firefighter assigned to roof ventilation died in the line of duty last year in a fall.

          Comment


          • #20
            As I recall, the counter-intuitive result (better gear - more injuries) has been laid, at least informally, to the fact that we are now so encapsulated that we can venture into places we wouldn't go before.

            The greater intensity of fires in older buildings can be mostly laid to the solid gasoline that now serves as our interior furnishings.

            In newer buildings, that, plus the toothpick and cardboard construction prevalent today, can be blamed for buildings are are very nearly on the ground by the time the first units pull in. Mean time to flashover and/or collapse gets shorter all the time.
            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

            Comment


            • #21
              I suspect LODD stats may also have some survivor bias, meaning that because of better PPE we have injuries or long delayed fatalities where they don't get counted as this years LODDs. In the past they may have been immediate fatalities. Rather than recognizing that the hazard still exists, it is dismissed as solved.

              Take for example a firefighter who survives a flashover (PPE buys time to escape), but then dies of a heart attack 20 minutes later during rehab due to the heat stress / exertion of the event. Goes down as heart attack (or just an out of shape fatty) LODD, not as a direct fire ground LODD.


              You see much of the same in highway safety. For years "55 saves lives" was the chant of the pro 55 lobby. The reduced highway speed limits were credited as reducing highway fatalities. In fact there was much more going on, #1 being improved EMS, but also the growth of air transport, standards for emergency rooms, trauma centers and improved safety features in cars.

              Fewer people were dying on the highways in the 1970s and 80s not just due to lower speeds, but more importantly because they were better protected, receiving better field care and getting to the hospital faster, and hospitals were better at treating them.

              It also changed the standards for declaring someone dead at the scene, The preference being to transport in all but the most obvious cases and have the ER doc make the declaration where in the past the ambulance / hearse might go straight to the morgue. They still may have been dead at the scene but now they were being reported as died at the hospital, moving them into different reporting category.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by captnjak View Post
                This is a bit of the "chicken or the egg" scenario. You say we don't need to be overly concerned with changing tactics because the number of firefighter fatalities inside burning structures is relatively low. I could say that number is low BECAUSE we changed tactics... Uncontrolled ventilation was stopped. Fire behavior was looked at. "Flowpaths" became a thing.
                For sure. Coordinated ventilation is a good thing. Having an awareness of flow path, and using it to predict fire growth and spread is a good thing. And I'm sure you're right, that those tactical changes played a role in reducing the number of firefighter deaths inside burning structures.

                My problem is with people who want to go even further than that. People who argue for the use of a transitional attack with fire showing from one window in an otherwise tenable structure, rather than prioritizing rapid advancement of hoseline to support a primary search and prevent extension. And in particular when these people use LODD statistics to justify this argument.

                Because if this time last year, every fire department in the country had adopted a blanket policy requiring transitional attack on every call with fire showing on arrival, it would not have prevented a single Line of Duty Death in 2017.



                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by captnjak View Post
                  I should add that an FDNY firefighter assigned to roof ventilation died in the line of duty last year in a fall.
                  You're right, I should have included that incident in my post. The reason I didn't, is that he didn't fall through as a result of roof failure, which is the risk that people who oppose vertical ventilation usually mention. But I wasn't that specific in my post.

                  Also, what happened was tragic, and a good reminder that operating on a roof is dangerous. On a a windy or icy day, even the most experienced firefighter could lose their footing on a pitched roof, or while transitioning from a ladder to the roof. That's a very fair point.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by jes82 View Post

                    For sure. Coordinated ventilation is a good thing. Having an awareness of flow path, and using it to predict fire growth and spread is a good thing. And I'm sure you're right, that those tactical changes played a role in reducing the number of firefighter deaths inside burning structures.

                    My problem is with people who want to go even further than that. People who argue for the use of a transitional attack with fire showing from one window in an otherwise tenable structure, rather than prioritizing rapid advancement of hoseline to support a primary search and prevent extension. And in particular when these people use LODD statistics to justify this argument.

                    Because if this time last year, every fire department in the country had adopted a blanket policy requiring transitional attack on every call with fire showing on arrival, it would not have prevented a single Line of Duty Death in 2017.


                    I disagree that transitional attack prevents rapid advancement of hoselines. A quick shot on fire already vented through an available window at a house fire while advancing immediately reduces fire growth and heat spread. This can make the interior advance quicker and takes little time.

                    Are you equating the tactic of transitional attack with a defensive strategy?

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by tree68 View Post
                      As I recall, the counter-intuitive result (better gear - more injuries) has been laid, at least informally, to the fact that we are now so encapsulated that we can venture into places we wouldn't go before.

                      The greater intensity of fires in older buildings can be mostly laid to the solid gasoline that now serves as our interior furnishings.

                      In newer buildings, that, plus the toothpick and cardboard construction prevalent today, can be blamed for buildings are are very nearly on the ground by the time the first units pull in. Mean time to flashover and/or collapse gets shorter all the time.
                      All good points and all point toward a very much controlled level of aggression for interior attack.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by captnjak View Post

                        I disagree that transitional attack prevents rapid advancement of hoselines. A quick shot on fire already vented through an available window at a house fire while advancing immediately reduces fire growth and heat spread. This can make the interior advance quicker and takes little time.

                        Are you equating the tactic of transitional attack with a defensive strategy?
                        As I noted in the past, this is why I dislike "transitional attack" as the moniker for this tactical option. To too many, a transitional attack means deploying the line to an outside position to flow water inside, instead of it being an opportune action while deploying the line through the normal route of entry. I would agree with you, that done when indicated and "properly, the net result should be faster fire control.

                        The action of directing a stream into an already venting opening should merely be an option of your normal aggressive interior attack. "Offensive Interior attack with outside stream option" would better describe the real utility of this.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by jes82 View Post
                          Also, what happened was tragic, and a good reminder that operating on a roof is dangerous. On a a windy or icy day, even the most experienced firefighter could lose their footing on a pitched roof, or while transitioning from a ladder to the roof. That's a very fair point.
                          There are many reasons peaked roof ventilation is a very dangerous tactic. Many FD's require full mask use on the roof, which further complicates movement by reducing visibility, hearing and equilibrium. We have learned a lot from the recent UL/NIST work that also shows that the amount of coordination required to ensure success is greater than we ever realized and our standard 4x4 hole is not realistic for today's fuel load. This information should be weighed very heavily when your department has to prioritize its tactics due to inadequate resources and staffing.

                          In my area by the time a crew is on the roof and getting a hole the engine crew typically has fire control. Couple that with knowledge of local housing stock where most attics have full boarded floors, vertical ventilation in private dwellings is either unrealistic or unwarranted by the time it can be effected.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by RFDACM02 View Post
                            The action of directing a stream into an already venting opening should merely be an option of your normal aggressive interior attack. "Offensive Interior attack with outside stream option" would better describe the real utility of this.
                            I would opine that transitional attack is simply a tool in the toolbox. It fits in between offensive and defensive.

                            It doesn't have to be used every time. If the conditions are right to go straight in - we should go. But if we can cool things down a bit by hitting a vented window before we go in, why not?

                            Should resources allow, a second hose team making the outside hit while the interior people set up would certainly be a good thing, especially if the vented window is remote from the entry point.

                            If "hitting it hard from the yard" significantly delays an appropriate aggressive interior operation (ie, the hose line has to be re-positioned), I would opine that we're doing it wrong.

                            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by RFDACM02 View Post
                              There are many reasons peaked roof ventilation is a very dangerous tactic. Many FD's require full mask use on the roof, which further complicates movement by reducing visibility, hearing and equilibrium. We have learned a lot from the recent UL/NIST work that also shows that the amount of coordination required to ensure success is greater than we ever realized and our standard 4x4 hole is not realistic for today's fuel load. This information should be weighed very heavily when your department has to prioritize its tactics due to inadequate resources and staffing.

                              In my area by the time a crew is on the roof and getting a hole the engine crew typically has fire control. Couple that with knowledge of local housing stock where most attics have full boarded floors, vertical ventilation in private dwellings is either unrealistic or unwarranted by the time it can be effected.
                              Pet peeve of mine for years. They seem to love it in CA. Look at the videos which are widely available. Sometimes you'll see more firefighters committed to the roof than the interior. As important as ventilation is, it is still a support function. And by the time a hole is cut and pulled, with ceiling pushed down there is often nothing coming out of the hole except light smoke or steam. In peaked roof private dwellings the stretching of hose and knockdown of fire usually happens quickly. Same for a primary search. If those things are done before the roof opening is complete then the roof opening was never necessary to begin with.

                              FDNY has the best staffing and response time in the nation and we go straight to suppression, search and horizontal ventilation of windows in gable ends. Having less staffing makes vertical ventilation even less of a priority.

                              There appear to be numerous departments who believe getting fire to roar out the roof is a victory of some kind. Generally from an attic that was not involved until after the hole was made.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by tree68 View Post
                                I would opine that transitional attack is simply a tool in the toolbox. It fits in between offensive and defensive.

                                It doesn't have to be used every time. If the conditions are right to go straight in - we should go. But if we can cool things down a bit by hitting a vented window before we go in, why not?

                                Should resources allow, a second hose team making the outside hit while the interior people set up would certainly be a good thing, especially if the vented window is remote from the entry point.

                                If "hitting it hard from the yard" significantly delays an appropriate aggressive interior operation (ie, the hose line has to be re-positioned), I would opine that we're doing it wrong.
                                I'd say we're on the same page, I just don't think it deserves to be elevated to a mode of attack, but when indicated is merely a "new" step in our normal offensive attack plan.

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