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Engine Staffing 3 vs. 4 personnel

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  • Engine Staffing 3 vs. 4 personnel

    I'm looking for some information about engine staffing levels. What is the staffing levels of your engine companies? If you staff with four personnel, can you name some of the benefits verses staffing with three. If you staff with three, can you name some reasons why you would like to see four. Thank you for your time and interest in this topic.

  • #2
    I'm not in a paid department, but we never leave with less than 4 firefighters why?

    Firefighter 1 - Chauffer/MPO

    Firefighter 2 - OIC Backs up Firefighter 3

    Firefighter 3 - Pulls 1 3/4 or 2 1/2 as directed by OIC

    Firefighter 4 - Hydrant, then assists MPO, then takes axe and halligan.

    Now on the ideal Engine Company, which some Vol. co's can do, but most paid can't due to budgets.

    Firefighter 1 - Chauffer/MPO

    Firefighter 2 - OIC, handlight, axe halligan

    Firefighter 3 - Advances 1 3/4 or 2 1/2 as directed by OIC

    Firefighter 4 - Backs up Firefighter 3

    Firefighter 5 - Hydrant than either search and rescue or pulls additonal attack line as directed by OIC

    Firefighter 6 - Assist MPO in connections, then assist Firefighter 5 in his duties.

    See and with the 3 Person, I just can't see how it all works..


    • #3
      I think Dallas did a study several years ago on this subject. It has been along time since I read the results but recall they found a four man engine was twice as effective as a three man.

      Houston is in a personnel situation now that has forced us to ride three on almost every appartatus in town everyday,(down from the usual four) and I can tell you first hand that it makes a big difference. As a company officer and field training officer, I have made several fires recently with only a probationary firefighter on the back. It's kinda like going to a fire by yourself.

      Check with Dallas for their study results. It was quite interesting. I seem to recall another dept. in southern California doing the same thing at about the same time, but don't recall which one.

      Good Luck


      • #4
        Well here is our staffing
        Engineer, Captain, Firefighter, Firefighter
        We also have Paramedic Extension Engine
        Engineer, Captain, Firefighter, Paramedic\Firefighter
        Engineer, Captain, Firefighter, Firefighter, Firefighter, The 3rd FF on the truck is a tilerman


        • #5
          4 is good ,5 is better, 6 peachy keen, 7 is wonderful... ge the picture, we run with 4 on a pumper, but only 2 on an aerial


          • #6
            At our volunteer response stations, alot of times threre is only one person onboard. at our two paid staffed stations, we have two, the driver/engineer and the lieutenant and maybe a volunteer onboard if at the station. We always run a medic unit staffed by to Firefighter/medics to all calls that the engine goes and vice versa.

            [This message has been edited by firecadetak (edited 02-25-2001).]


            • #7
              It's always great to have extra hands on the fireground. There are so many jobs that need to be done, almost simultaneously, that there aren't enough personell to get it all done. In my eyes, the more firemen on scene, the safer the situation gets. My department has four men assigned to each rig, but three is the norm (vacations, sick, etc). I would love to see more guys on the rigs, for safety reasons if anything else.

              I LOVE THIS JOB!


              • #8
                Well, here it's a little of both. We have four engines, and one truck. Two of the four have 4 FFs. The other 2, have 3. The truck.... if we are lucky has a driver. And we are a paid department!

                I concur with anyone who has felt as if they were feeling alone when the only FF was a probie. Been there, it sucks.

                Eng. Co. 9

                "In all of us there are heroes... speak to them and they will come forth."

                "In order for us to achieve all that is demanded of us, we must regard ourselves as greater than we are."


                • #9
                  The biggest problem I see is that the departments that are running three (I've worked two- and even one-man rigs) are also the departments that only have three or four rigs total. They often are on scene without backup for longer too. Those three guys have to establish a water supply, force entry, make an attack, initiate salvage and overhaul. You get worked to death REAL quick. With four you can drop a man at the hydrant and still have two on the rig to go interior plus somebody to engineer. The fourth guy can come back, make connections, pull backup lines, get ventilation equipment ready to go, so that when the next due gets there they can go straight to work. As a one-man engine company I trained to put the rig in pump, pull a line, donn a pack, grab a tool, return to the nozzle, and show water in less than three minutes. If I had ever been first in on a fire I probably would've been sittin' right there at the door for quite a while waitin' for somebody to back me up.


                  • #10
                    You must remember 2 in 2 out,also.... Putting water on the fire with 4 firefighters is faster then 3. Plain and simple.

                    "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." STAY SAFE-STAY LOW


                    • #11
                      My old Dept. ran with 2 a while back (midi pumpers) and it took them 8 yrs to switch back to 4. 4 is alot better. Ladder Cos allways ran with 4.

                      Old School...Learning New Tricks


                      • #12
                        We run four man engines and sometimes it still seems that we are under mand. There is so much that needs to be done right off that we just bust our butts and do it. The quicker the better.
                        Stay safe


                        • #13
                          Is anyone actually abe to fill up a ten-man cab? OUr brush units go out with one or two and the pumper three (because thats all she can carry).


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Neptune 33:
                            I'm not in a paid department, but we never leave with less than 4 firefighters

                            See and with the 3 Person, I just can't see how it all works..
                            So does that mean if only 3 people show up for the call, you'll will not respond?

                            3 is better than 0


                            • #15
                              A reader mentioned the two in/ two out rule. The way our small career dept (4 companies, 3 persons each) has understood OSHA to say is that
                              1. Every HazMat call requires an incident commander,
                              2. that a two person entrant team into a hazardous environment requires a two person standby team,
                              3. that the standby team may engage in other physical activities (other than just standing there) as long as those activities would not otherwise keep them from immediately performing the rescue.

                              This has meant that even if the first arriving company officer retains the incident command role along with entering the structure (or standing by the for that matter) that the pump operator can not be counted as part of the standby team. (I believe this was confirmed by NIOSH or an ANSI interpretation of the standard.)

                              Our dept has since issued the instructions that a 3 person engine company may not enter a hazardous environment until the arrival of a RIT team (a second company) They also said that we could break this rule to "immediately address a known life safety concern". We have of course, stretched this exception on a number of opportunities.

                              The point then becomes if a four person crew is not enough to "legally" begin the interior attack operations, and 3 is more than you need for a medical call, false alarm, public assist, dumpster fire, car fire. Isnt the 3 vs 4 arguement going to be more difficult in the future. Are there benefits to the 2 person squad systems backed up by fewer 5-6 person companies.

                              As as union firefighter of 15 years I know we have 3 person crews because one operates the pump, one humps the knob and one runs the radio, backs the knob and thats the way its been for years. I KNOW that a 4 person crew or a 5 person crew would be a more powerful firefighting crew, but I also KNOW that is not going to happen. I wonder if one of the hybrids will become a staffing answer. like the squad systems or 3 career with 2-3 ridealongs or reserves. I'd be very interested in some of the your experiences with these, esp like South Bends squads.

                              be safe




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