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  • Cell Phones

    Does anyone have rules for cell phone usage on the fireground, in apparatus or station?

  • #2
    In today's modern times many of younger firefighters are more in tune with cell phones, it is an extension of them. But should they be allowed to have them with them? What about if they need to contact family members or work?

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    • #3
      We have nothing in writing, but plan to. The only focus of the policy will likely be photos.

      AFAIK, as long as use of the cell phone does not interfere with operations, they are of no consequence.

      Except - photos and dealing with the media.

      Our policy will likely say that any picture taken on the scene of the incident becomes policy of the department. For that matter, before taking pictures the photographer should clear it with the IC. While we can't control what the public does, we can hope that our firefighters, if they do take pictures, will give some thought to documenting the scene, as opposed to just shooting "fire porn."

      The other shoe is sharing images and other information with the media, be it radio/TV/newspapers/news aggregators or social media. The particular danger there is privacy.

      Back when a local news website was first starting, they encouraged input from the "man on the street." And they got it. They still do. The problem was the photos coming from "inside the tape" which could have included stuff that shouldn't be shared with the public. Of particular note was the possibility that a deployed GI (we are near a military base) might check the site and see his loved one's vehicle smashed up, well before anyone had a chance to notify him.

      This also came to a head when pictures of a large fire showed up on the web. A number of the images had clearly been shot from atop an aerial (pre-drone) and "within the tape." The chief of that department was not amused.

      Of course, any such policy needs to keep in mind all applicable laws and such.

      A career department can certainly set a policy such as the cell phone stays in the locker at the station. It's a little harder to do on the volunteer side, especially if said phone may become an important tool if one ends up running the scene.

      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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      • #4
        In the county where my volly FD is located use of cell phones on the fire ground as a camera can result in seizure of the phone by the sheriff's department.

        In my combo department there really is no policy except common sense. Which may lead to a formal policy eventually.
        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

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        • #5
          We have rules for all areas.

          In the station: do not let it interfere with your duties(don't be THAT guy). No taking/making voice calls in the dayroom or during training (courtesy).
          On apparatus: Absolutely not while driving(duh) and while responding it must be response related (stay focused).
          On the fireground: no camera use with private phones(legal issues), no personal calls, specifically job related
          On EMS calls: no camera use, no audible ringer, no personal use

          75% is written, 25% is common sense (left to chance) Exceptions granted with the duty officer's express permission.

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          • #6
            In my dept, cell phones are accepted for EMS response (we can use them as GPS, to find informations or to call dispatch) but the chief can order to leave them inside the ambulance while we get to the patient's house.

            For fire calls, the cellphones have to be left at the station. No phone on scene or in the engines.

            In both cases, it's meant to avoid interference with the mission but also risks of gaz explosion. All the electronic gear we wear, including the flashlights are anti-explosion certified.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lukas View Post
              All the electronic gear we wear, including the flashlights are anti-explosion certified.
              Do they all get re-certified each time something gets dropped or banged? Trying to maintain an Intrinsically Safe firefighters tool seems pointless to me, I believe this is allowing a true false sense of security.

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              • #8
                Hey, thanks for your comment. Any part of our gear that is visibly damaged gets replaced. Last week I pierced my gloves, got them replaced the same day. In the case of a flashlight, a damaged one would be retrieved by our technical service and a new one, which is certified as well, is delivered.

                You have a point saying one shouldn't get too comfy solely because he's wearing a protective gear. That's our culture here as well, no matter your equipment, you gotta be on the lookout for any danger. For instance if you suspect you're entering a zone with and explosive hazard, you have to get out and let the chief rethink the tactic with the new information being taken into account.

                Hope it answers your question.
                Last edited by Lukas; 04-16-2018, 06:57 AM.

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                • #9
                  We have no written rules, only what we have been told. Boils down to dont be an idiot. We are given a lot of rope, and told not to hang ourselves. We take a lot of pictures during training (take pictures of others when you are not involved, then share them) but not on the fireground, unless directed to do so. We all have our phones since we respond to scene and are allowed to use them, provided it doesnt hinder us and privacy/security is maintained.

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