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Lake Park Fla--Residents Take Issue with "2 In-2 Out"

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  • Lake Park Fla--Residents Take Issue with "2 In-2 Out"

    PALM BEACH POST

    Three firefighters show up, none goes in


    By Emily Minor, Palm Beach Post Columnist
    Tuesday, September 9, 2003



    It was Aug. 9, a Saturday.

    Larry Beckman, 53, was inside his Lake Park home just after noon when a storm started illuminating the afternoon skies.

    "There was a lot of lightning activity in the area, but we get this all the time," he said. "I didn't think anything of it."

    But then -- in a fluke that has side-tracked Beckman's life -- lightning apparently struck an electrical panel in the back of the three-bedroom house where Beckman and his wife, Maryanne, have lived for six years.

    "This charged the entire electrical system in the house," said Capt. Sean Pamplona, spokesman for Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue. "Fires started at several different points."

    The heat melted wall outlets, sparked flames in the attic and gave Beckman his first clue that something was amiss.

    "I smelled smoke, and I walked outside, and saw smoke coming out of the eaves," he said. "I walked back into the kitchen and picked up the phone to call 911, but the phone was dead."

    By this time, the neighbors near the Beckmans' house at 406 E. Ilex Drive had noticed the flames, and one of them made the first 911 call at 1:51 p.m.

    The next 10 minutes would be some of the longest of the Beckmans' lives.

    Lake Park, a coastal town in central Palm Beach County with a population of just under 9,000, gave up its own fire department about a year ago and started contracting for services from the county. Lake Park Town Manager Doug Drymon said the decision wasn't just about saving money.

    "The county had indicated they could bring more manpower and equipment to the scene than the town of Lake Park could," Drymon said.

    But when the county got there at 1:57 p.m. -- Rescue Engine 68, which operates inside the town limits -- there were only three men onboard. That would be key for the Beckmans.

    Beckman said he thought they'd -- you know -- run inside the burning house like they do in the movies. What he didn't know about was the "two in-two out" rule established three years ago by the National Fire Protection Association. Fire departments across the nation follow FPA standards like good Christians follow the Bible.

    The "two in-two out" rule works like this: When firefighters arrive at the scene of a fully engaged structure fire, there have to be two firefighters to go inside AND two firefighters to stay outside.

    "What those two guys on the outside do is they monitor the situation," Pamplona said. "And if the two guys on the inside get in trouble, you'll have those two guys on the outside."

    The only exception is if there is a chance someone is trapped inside. The only things inside Beckman's house that day were the couple's three house cats. Two died in the fire.

    Beckman says he wasn't thinking too much about the FPA or the "two in-two out" rule as he stood there.

    "How would you feel if your house was burning and no one did anything?" he said.

    When the initial 911 call came in, Station 68 -- the county's Lake Park station, which under its contract is obliged to have just three firefighters on duty at any given time -- immediately called for backup from Palm Beach Gardens. Rescue 62 and Engine 62 were on the scene at 2:01 and 2:03, respectively.

    By then, Beckman had been watching his house burn for 10 minutes -- and, still, no one was inside fighting the fire. He said they put a hose inside the front door and left it there.

    "It was at an idle," Beckman said. "It wasn't on full. You know how those hoses whip around.... It wasn't doing that."

    About this time, Pamplona said, firefighters heard something worrisome -- staccato popping coming from the house. Not sure what was causing it, and thinking it might be something chemically volatile, they decided to battle the fire from the outside. No crews ever went in.

    "Fire crews make these decisions every day," Pamplona said.

    Pamplona said he understands Beckman's anger at the scene. "We can certainly understand his agitation. Somebody's belongings are going up in smoke."

    At one point, Beckman tried to grab the hose himself, which resulted in "a bit of a struggle with Mr. Beckman," Pamplona said.

    "There were some words exchanged with the owner about the owner wanting us to go in and put the fire out," Pamplona said.

    He said they didn't file any charges because "we understand how he feels. We didn't want to drag this out and file official charges."

    The house fire that started a month ago today during an everyday summer storm ruined the inside of the Beckman house. The damage has been set at $80,000. But Beckman, who runs an aquarium business, says the contents of the house were grossly under insured. He says he might not be able to rebuild.

    At the Lake Park Town Council meeting last week, the Beckman house fire took up a big chunk of the time. Neighbors showed up, appalled that such a thing could happen. Pamplona said 10 other small stations, from Jupiter to Boca Raton, also are staffed by only three people.

    The county determines how many firefighters to place at a station based, among other things, on the number of past fire calls to the station and how close the nearest backup station is.

    By county standards, five people is considered fully staffed.

    "I would anticipate, based on the conversations, that I will be sitting down with the battalion chief and perhaps some of the other representatives," said Drymon, the town manager.

    "I don't think the commission is satisfied with the response time or the number of firefighters originally put on that scene."

    [email protected]
    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.

  • #2
    Anyone want to bet that if they suggest increasing staffing through some higher tax or fee, those same folks protesting the lack of personnel will lead the fight to defeat the proposal?

    Comment


    • #3
      I thought 2-in 2-out rule stated that there must be 2 FF outside as soon as possible, in other words, I thought in this case, where the first in engine had 3 people it is acceptable to put FFs inside the building until the next engine got on scene at which point E2 would be the FAST team.

      Comment


      • #4
        This might help.....it's one of the better '2 in-2 out' overviews that I've seen. It was developed by the IAFF/IAFC and is on Paul Grimwoods Firetactics site. The url will take you to an Accountability presentation. Appendix A is the '2 in-2 Out' overview.

        http://www.firetactics.com/fa-198.pdf
        In Arduis Fidelis
        Faithful in Adversity

        Comment


        • #5
          According to the rule, noone can do interior ops until a minimum of 4 firefighters are on scene irregardless if you are the first engine on scene or not. The ONLY exception is if there is entrapment.
          James K. Crawford
          Assistant Fire Chief
          Midway Fire Rescue
          Pawleys Island, SC

          Comment


          • #6
            Our department practices the “2 in 2 out” policy. That means a minimum of a 4 man (figure of speech) team, ready to go. There are enough unknowns at the scene to concern yourself with, without having to deal with the very real possibility that additional resources may be delayed for whatever reason. Having said that; I for one would not commit firefighters to a working fire without adequate backup.

            Our particular department is comprised of 100% volunteers, from the chief downward. There actually could be situations where the firefighters that respond do not have the adequate training and more importantly experience to enter a working structure fire environment with heavy smoke conditions. Once again I would not order these people into an above average dangerous situation if I felt they were not experienced enough. Actually I have had nightmares of this very situation. Think about arriving on scene with several rookies to a situation where you know that you have one solitary chance to make an aggressive attack, and if unsuccessful you must turn to a defensive strategy. Would you commit them or not?

            Living in a small bedroom community with 87% of workforce commuting to other places, we do not have the luxury of getting too picky when it comes to membership. There are thousands of places in this same situation, and the reality is that we pray every day that things will work out right. Hopefully our dedication to training, maintenance of our equipment, and wise decisions on adding new equipment with a limited budget is enough to make a difference.

            Comment


            • #7
              Stan, is Florida an OSHA state? They didn't mention OSHA at all, so I was wondering if the departments just follow the NFPA guidelines or if they have some law dictating their actions.
              IACOJ Agitator
              Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

              Comment


              • #8
                What the heck is the point of paying out salaries if you don't have enough manpower at a station to fight fire without mutual aid? Seriuosly, how much fire protection do you have under circumstances like this?

                Heck, most all volunteer departments can get more manpower on scene faster than that, and cost a whole lot less. Even a combo department is better than just having 3.

                If you can't afford to actually man a station to the point of being able to handle the basic tasks like a simple interior attack, than you are wasting money. Spend that salary money on better apparattus and an aggressive volunteer recruitment and incentive program. When you an man a station to the point of actually being effective, than go for it.

                Heck, even some volunteers who could have responded with thier gear in thier POV would have made a differance. My station is 100% volunteer and our worst ever showing for a structure fire was 9 firefighters, average is 20.

                It amazes me how many communities think having a few paid guys solves everything and completely do away with volunteer programs. I can't say if that was the case here, but if it was how much better would the outcome have been if just one volunteer available that day?

                I know for sure the publicity would have been much, much better.

                Comment


                • #9
                  From what I remember in earlier posts, they went to the contracted service because the volunteer membership was not able to respond to calls.
                  "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


                  • #10
                    But when the county got there at 1:57 p.m. -- Rescue Engine 68, which operates inside the town limits -- there were only three men onboard.
                    -- immediately called for backup from Palm Beach Gardens. Rescue 62 and Engine 62 were on the scene at 2:01 and 2:03, respectively.
                    Distance from the stations to the house is not mentioned, nor is the number of staffing for the second engine and rescue. However, within five minutes of the arrival of the first due engine, an additional engine and a rescue were on the scene. I'd like to know how far away this house was from the responding stations.
                    Beckman said he thought they'd -- you know -- run inside the burning house like they do in the movies.
                    Suuuure...just run right in there. To hell with walk arounds, shutting down the gas, establishing water supply, pulling back up lines, etc. There was nobody in the home. The article reads like the damn thing was blazing away and possible fully involved when the first engine got there. I don't blame them for attacking from the exterior. This article leaves too many details out.
                    Member IACOJ

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The damage has been set at $80,000. But Beckman, who runs an aquarium business, says the contents of the house were grossly under insured.
                      If you're gonna save money by underfunding the fire department's budget, you probably better plan on putting it in the cost of your insurance coverage, or better yet a sprinkler system.

                      There were addtional crews on the scene within 4 minutes. The story makes it sound like a hell of a lot longer.
                      Steve Gallagher
                      IACOJ BOT
                      ----------------------------
                      "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by radioguy
                        What the heck is the point of paying out salaries if you don't have enough manpower at a station to fight fire without mutual aid? Seriuosly, how much fire protection do you have under circumstances like this?

                        Heck, most all volunteer departments can get more manpower on scene faster than that, and cost a whole lot less. Even a combo department is better than just having 3.

                        If you can't afford to actually man a station to the point of being able to handle the basic tasks like a simple interior attack, than you are wasting money. Spend that salary money on better apparattus and an aggressive volunteer recruitment and incentive program. When you an man a station to the point of actually being effective, than go for it.

                        Heck, even some volunteers who could have responded with thier gear in thier POV would have made a differance. My station is 100% volunteer and our worst ever showing for a structure fire was 9 firefighters, average is 20.

                        It amazes me how many communities think having a few paid guys solves everything and completely do away with volunteer programs. I can't say if that was the case here, but if it was how much better would the outcome have been if just one volunteer available that day?

                        I know for sure the publicity would have been much, much better.
                        Its great YOUR department can accomplish this. There are many more, including mine that can't. You say spend more money on better apparatus...Fire engines dont put fires out...FIREFIGHTERS do. Obviously the residents cannot or will not pay up for more personnel and dont seem to be breaking down the doors to volunteer. No one on these boards is stupid enough to think by hiring as you put it.."a few paid guys" is going to solve the problems of the fire service.
                        Signed,
                        A PAID GUY
                        IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
                          Its great YOUR department can accomplish this. There are many more, including mine that can't. You say spend more money on better apparatus...Fire engines dont put fires out...FIREFIGHTERS do. Obviously the residents cannot or will not pay up for more personnel and dont seem to be breaking down the doors to volunteer. No one on these boards is stupid enough to think by hiring as you put it.."a few paid guys" is going to solve the problems of the fire service.
                          Signed,
                          A PAID GUY
                          I have no doubt that nobody here thinks putting a few guys on the payroll will solve everyones problems, but I know a good deal of the public and a good number or local governments do however. I had one guy bragging how much better the FD in his town was than the one I volunteer for because "they have paid firefighters", yet that district is an ISO 6 and we are a 5, and they cannot handle a whole lot of tasks like extrication without calling mutual aid because they lack the equipment. But is Joe Publics eye because they have 3 men manning the staion he is automaticly better off.

                          What drives me nuts is places that will totally disband or allow to deteriorate thier volunteer program the minute they get a handfull of paid FF's on the payroll, assuming thats enough. ANY station can maintain at least some volunteers if they wish, it is just a matter of recruiting and retention, and any area that has a good enough tax base to afford paid men surely has enough residents that you can find some willing volunteers.

                          90% of the time when I hear folks say they can't find volunteers, it is not that there are not any who would do so out there, but that either the station leadership is not trying to recruit or retain them or that they end up getting treated like crap by the paid guys and leadership and leave. Any community can give you volunteers if you put forth a little effort.

                          When you can afford to put a full crew on each truck, then you should figure it is time to forget about volunteers, but untill then why shun free help, in fact why not activley try to attract it?

                          It's not the fault of the firefighters, but of the leadership and the local government.

                          You are right, fire engines don't put out fires, firefighters do, but you have to have enough of them on scene or else nobody does.........
                          Last edited by radioguy; 09-10-2003, 09:36 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lake Park Town Manager Doug Drymon said the decision wasn't just about saving money.

                            "The county had indicated they could bring more manpower and equipment to the scene than the town of Lake Park could," Drymon said.
                            When was the last time anyone, anywhere, contracted better service for better $$$$$$? And no, 2 for $2 at McDonald's doesn't count.
                            Fire departments across the nation follow FPA standards like good Christians follow the Bible.
                            The first quote established that the town has no idea what they are talking about. This quote establishes that the writer of this article has no idea what she is talking about.
                            "How would you feel if your house was burning and no one did anything?" he said.
                            How would you feel if the citizens of your community were too cheap to provide adequate fire protection (I'm guessing he probably knows how that feels now).
                            You know how those hoses whip around.... It wasn't doing that.
                            Like in the movies, right?
                            But Beckman, who runs an aquarium business, says the contents of the house were grossly under insured.
                            Funny, you never hear about a rational person, with enough intelligence to properly insure his possessions, crying about how the fire department dropped the ball. Hmmm ... motive?

                            As in everything, you get what you pay for. No more ... no less. As with the rest of the world, they didn't care, until it was their house on fire.

                            Stay Safe

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              PA ...You and I have gone at it more then once...BUT, we also agree quite often..And you hit the nail on the head this time...
                              IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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