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Self-dispatching to Out of State emergencies

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  • Self-dispatching to Out of State emergencies

    On 9/11/01, several members of my Department (a large metro FD) individually, decided to go to New York. On the surface this seems like a noble effort, however, is there a responsibility of those members to their own city?

    I believe there is. A case in point. Our Mayor was in D.C. when the attacks occurred and was unable to return to his home City. In fact three days had elasped before he was able to get a flight out of D.C.

    Had there been other significant terrorist acts in our City, the public safety could have been compromised. This is when discipline is most required. If it were necessary to hold over the off-going platoon due to extended emergency operations our own public safety might have been in greater jeporady.

    I am also going to go out on the limb and offer this observation from afar. From many news accounts, several FDNY personnel self-dispatched. As an Incident Commander this must have been nerve racking.

    Accountability is out of the window. The I/C would not know who is onscene for a long time. I applaude the FDNY as brave and committed firefighters but I ask where is the discipline.

  • #2

    Let's not forget that we have never had such an incident in the history of the American fire service. I hope that we never will again. I thought that the people that self-dispatched themselves from outside of NYC were out of line. I do not however feel that the FDNY members should be asked about their "discipline." There was a potential for 50,000 victims in those two buildings and more in the surrounding area. Massive amounts of manpower were required for the initial search and rescue efforts. I am sure that accountability did suffer in this situation. It was chaos down there and the emergency workers did the best they could. What would you do if there was a large scale emergency in your district? Would you sit at the station or find a way to get there if they really needed help?

    Also remember that a good portion of the FDNY's leadership made the supreme sacrifice. From what I hear it was difficult initially to find someone to make a command decision such as calling for more resources. Communications were affected too. Before September 11th, it would have been inconceivable to think that someone could fly a commercial jet into the WTC. Please don't fall into the trap of Monday morning quarterbacking. We will all learn lessons from this.

    Never Forget 9-11-2001

    Stay safe out there!

    IACOJ Member


    • #3
      If I remember from reports, every off duty FDNY firefighter was recalled when the tradgedy struck, something that never had, or hopefully will ever happen again...229Lt would know better than I...


      • #4
        Let's see.
        Yeah, this was a textbook MCI. In the textbook we have to have a perfect accountability system. We have to have the ICS operating before we begin operations??? We don't even have a foggy idea about how many victims there are, how many firefighter victims there are, how big this incident is going to escalate to... sorry man!
        If you are upset about your guys leaving town, that's fine, but DON'T get on this website and point fingers at how the FDNY members responded to this incident.
        Just because you may have stayed home on your butt if your city was bombed with 2 jetliners doesn't mean the rest of the firefighting world would have.
        In ANY incident, the parts of the ICS fall into place over time. IT is IMPOSSIBLE to have all parts of it operating immediately. HOW DARE YOU judge the way this incident went. MY BROTHERS did what they should have... they went to work to save lives. If it took a while for accountability to be established so be it.
        I hope you are not someone who got their other name booted and just created this name to cause trouble... cause that ain't cool!

        be safe brothers
        Be safe brothers


        • #5
          As a huge proponent of the Incident Command System, and Personnel Accountability, I always use tactical worksheets and Personnel Accountability Tags (PAT) on every response to an IDLH atmosphere. I feel naked without them.

          Having said that, the WTC tragedy was (God willing) a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. The brothers in FDNY did exactly what they were trained to do - they put the safety of others above their own. Yes, many of the brothers were not 'on duty' as they responded to the scene. However, since the Command Post was wiped out in the collapse, there is no way of telling whether or not those members had reported in prior to entering the buildings. Even if they did not, I don't see how any true brother can quarrel with their heroism.

          Those who responded from other jurisdictions are another story. Don't lump the two together.


          • #6
            FDNY had accountability for their personnel, on and off duty. They were within 3 or 4 firefighters after the chaos - what other system can say they could do the same? I disagree with saying the off duty FDNY folks shouldn't have gone - it was their situation.

            I do however agree that no outside agencies within or outside NY state should have gone without being called. It creates a logistical and safety nightmare. My departments do not self dispatch to other people's calls.
            Susan Lounsbury
            Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
            Griffith Volunteer FD


            • #7
              First of all let me apologize for my miscommunication. No way were my intentions to be critical of FDNY. A caveat in my intital writing stated, "...offer this observation from afar..." As for Monday morning quarterbacking, lessons learned is how this profession was built. I have never been to Ground Zero and although I have spoken with some members who have, I recognize unless you have lived it one can never fully comprehend that apocolyptic event.

              Having said that, we in the fire service, public safety sector have much to do in a short time. We must grieve our loss, but the war is still on.

              Although I did not do a good job of articulting my basis for my initial writing, I wanted to begin a small discussion on management of our people in such a difficult situation as the WTC. Monday morning quarterbacking and developing policy from that analysis, on how our off-duty members' respond to catastrophic events within our jurisdiction, is the number one priority.

              I assure you if such an event occurred in my city, pre 9/11, I and we may have reacted the same way.

              Regarding self-dispatching, across country, region or state I think is inappropriate. There are all kinds of people and those who feel compelled to self-dispatch (their own time)more power to you. It indicates to me a lack of self-discipline. Discipline is what constitutes the major difference between the firefighter and the general public.

              If you have a plan you can RESPOND, if you don't you REACT.


              • #8
                Thanks for posting that clarification.
                I agree about learning from an incident, but pointing fingers doesn't offer a constructive solution. I appreciate you telling us that was not your intention.

                be safe brothers
                Be safe brothers


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