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  • questioning authority

    I responded to a mobile home fire about 3 weeks ago with my department. Since I’m a jr. firefighter I wasn’t involved in the actual firefighting instead I was pulling hose (which I was okay with.) While still on scene one of the chiefs came up to me and told me to watch the pump panel on the engine and to shut the tanker off when the pump panel on the engine indicated that the tank was full. Like I said before I am a jr. firefighter and am unable to become an operator. I was told by some of the other firefighters in my dept. a few days later that I shouldn't have done that. My reply was that I had always been taught by my father (who is a career ff) to never question authority on the scene of any emergency. They said that doesn’t matter next time I shouldn’t do it. The guys that were telling me this were not officers they were operators. What should I do if this situation faces me again??? Thanks in advance for your input.
    LADIES LOVE ME.
    FLAMES FEAR ME.

    "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THIS FLAG, IF THAT BOTHERS YOU WELL THATS TOO BAD!" AARON TIPPIN

    If you wish to burn our flag please remember to wrap yourself in it first!!!

    ALL SOUTHERNERS ARE EXEMPT FROM ANY AND ALL OF MY YANKEE COMMENTS ON ANY AND ALL FORUMS.

    THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!

  • #2
    Generally speaking, in a para-military organization, you DON'T question authority, unless you are given an unlawful order. It seems to me that it was clearly happened in this case. If an incident occurred and you were unable to react because you were untrained, it is true that the orher FF would have been hanging. But I operate on the theory that stuff rolls down hill. You would be fried. Tell the guy to go to hell and let him try to explain to the Chief why yo should be in trouble.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    • #3
      Have you ever worked a pump panel before? If not I would tell the person who told you to watch it that you are uncomfortable doing so. I would'nt have done it because I have never worked one before.
      No longer an explorer, but I didn't wanna lose my posts.

      IACOJ 2003

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      • #4
        Should you be operating a pump panel? No.

        Is that the same as operating a tank-fill valve? No.

        The guy running the tanker pumping into you can't tell easily when you're full (unless you have big lights on the side!). What's the alternative for the Chief? Have a young buck shut down the tank fill when the lights say it's full and open it again when they go down...or have water overflow the tank and be wasted on the ground?

        Not all trucks are designed well. I've gotten this task before on a truck with rear tank fills...and a center mounted pump panel! With the pump operator tethered in with his headset and a nice "view" of the scene, he couldn't control his rate of intake. And the supplying tanker was 200' down the driveway, so their pump operator couldn't see if the tank was overflowing either.

        Drafting from your own tank, with the tank being refilled by other trucks, is a pretty reliable operation 'cause your not at the mercy of a sudden drop in hydrant pressure or loss of a laid line causing your pump cavitate. But you do need a set of eyes that can open & close a valve to the pretty colored lights, and enough brains to go and tap the Chief on the shoulder if you're down to half a tank and the supply line is still limp.

        I wouldn't worry about it much. Chief told you to, you weren't running anything that could've endangered anyone. You were just shutting off the tank fill when full, and as long as you had brains enough to open it back up when you could take more water and tell an officer if you got concerned 'cause you didn't have any one pumping water to you and you're getting low, there really isn't any way shape or form you endangered anyone.
        IACOJ Canine Officer
        20/50

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        • #5
          On the fireground you should follow orders as long as you know how to do the task you are being asked to preform. I would have no problem telling one of my explorers that when water dumps out the bottom of the rig push in this handle.
          If you don't feel comfortable tell the officer that you don't feel comfortable, I'm sure he would understand.
          As for the other guys telling you that you have no business touching the pump pannel, that is just bull. Every incident, every minute at the firehouse should be a learning experience for you at this point.
          Where was the rig's chauffer? If it is so important that an operator work the rig then where was he?
          You weren't asked to drive, or pump while guys were on the line or something similar then I'd say their was a problem. Who better to judge what you should and should not do then one of your own chiefs. Tell the guys to take it up with the chief that gave you the order.

          Comment


          • #6
            This one's easy.

            Matt:
            Doing what the pump operators tells you to is wrong.
            Doing what the chief tells you to is right.
            Here's the difference; if a pump operator tells you to do something and something goes wrong, you are going to get the blame.
            If a chief tells you to do something, right or wrong, he will take the responsibility for it. He's a chief and that's what chiefs do.
            You don't see the chief pulling any pranks on you, do you? No. That's because he tends to the serious stuff. Throwing salt in your bed or filling a manila envelope with shaving cream, sliding it under the bathroom door while someone is taking their daily and jumping on it is, quite frankly, for guys like pump operators.
            You need to know who your friends are and the chief is definitely your friend. Need to borrow money? See the chief. Want to switch duty days so you can go see the opening of E.T. II? Chief is there for you. I see a strong bond developing between you and the chief.
            And let's face it; he told you to watch the pump panel. He never told you to touch anything.
            I see no harm done here. You've got a good chief. Tell him I said so!
            Take care and stay safe.
            CR
            Visit www.iacoj.com
            Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
            RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

            Comment


            • #7
              I will concur with Chief Reason, however, I would say that an appropriate response would be this: "Chief, I will do this but are you aware that as a junior I have not been trained in this operation.?" Then, at least you have made him aware of the fact that you are not properly trained. That is not questioning authority. It goes back to the philosophy that you should not be doing something you are not properly trained in. Operate within your level of training.
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with comments posted above. You shouldn't question authority on an incident, unless it is something you don't know how to do, don't feel comfortable doing or puts your safety at risk.
                This being said... Are you qualified to shut a valve off when the water tank is full? Have you ever filled your bathtub? Do you know how to shut off a valve? It isn't like you were calculating flows.
                If you were in my company, as a supervisor, I would only ask you to do things that I am confident you know how to accomplish. I wouldn't ask you to do anything that puts you in harms way. I wouldn't ask you to do anything that put any of the Brothers in harms way.
                Stick with the Chief, he won't lead you astray. But the Engineers & Firefighers are another story....

                *Mark
                FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for all the input yall. Chief Reason I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on the subject but I was told to throttle down the engine and stop the flow of water from the tanker to the pumper after watching the panel show that the tank was full. Like yall said he is the chief and he wouldn’t lead me astray. Im not saying that yall are accusing me of questioning his authority (because I haven't interpreted any accusing in your replies), but I didn’t question his authority at the scene or even after I was just asking this question just incase. I did feel that I was capable of doing what I was asked to do but the operators were saying that if something had happened to the truck while I was "operating" it I would have been held accountable even though I was told to do it by one of the Asst. Chiefs. When I told them that the Asst. Chief told me to do it they said that didn’t matter so I was just curious on yall's opinions on the subject. Anyway thanks for the input and if you would like keep it coming.
                  LADIES LOVE ME.
                  FLAMES FEAR ME.

                  "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THIS FLAG, IF THAT BOTHERS YOU WELL THATS TOO BAD!" AARON TIPPIN

                  If you wish to burn our flag please remember to wrap yourself in it first!!!

                  ALL SOUTHERNERS ARE EXEMPT FROM ANY AND ALL OF MY YANKEE COMMENTS ON ANY AND ALL FORUMS.

                  THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    And in the name of next time...there is always a next time...have you talked with the Chief about it? Maybe he wasn't aware you were not trained, maybe he was and thought you could handle it.

                    A little different perspective on the "other guys", giving them the benefit of the doubt, they too are looking out for you, making sure you don't get in over your head and also making sure they don't get hurt in the process.

                    You need to weigh everything said and form your own opinions too. Yes, if the Chief tells you to it is his responsibilty, but you have to work and get along with the others too.

                    Ideally you should never be put in a position where you are asked to do something you have never done, or are not qualified to do. My guess is that the Chief felt comfortable asking you to handle this task....so handle it.

                    Dave

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey buddy, I agree listen to the man with the most bugles.
                      He is the one you have to worry about.

                      Here is another situation for you.

                      Extrication on the border of two cities, both cities dispatched and arrive at the same time.

                      I am working the door, my captain tells me to back out and to cut the hinge, the firefighter from the other department is telling me to spread it (which I agreed with), who do you listen to?

                      After I get some replies I will tell you the answer I was told.
                      Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        MikeF25, if I'm using my tools, I listen to my Captain. It's up to the Captain to determine whether he is IC or they are IC.
                        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Oh dear

                          I have been taught to tell your officer whether or not you are comfortable with the tasks that he or she gives you. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PERFORM A DUTY, SAY SO!! Whether it's the chief or not, if you aren't sure what you have to do, speak up so somebody can help you. That's what we're here for.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Monitoring a level indicator is a far cry from operating a pump with multiple handlines in operation on a working fire, especially if they are operating inside of a structure. Sounds like it was a straight forward order that wasn't that complicated and shouldn't be a problem. Oh, yeah; I think you should revise your signature...it's very inflammatory and I assure you, flames do NOT fear you. Just some friendly advice.
                            Member IACOJ

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A little Strategic Tactfulness goes a long way. It is a skill you must learn to survive in the fire world. CapStanm1 and ChiefReason both hit the nail on the head.
                              IACOJ Military Division
                              NM Office
                              ------------------------------------
                              "There are three kinds of men: The ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

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