There are a mirad of "Truck" duties to be performed on scene that do not necessarily involve and "aerial" ladder(i.e. VES, forcible entry, OVM, RIT, utilities, horizontal and vertical ventilation, search, rescue, etc...). There have been many times where we can't use the aerial of our "Truck" due to trees, power lines, or other obstructions but we still need to open the roof or VES the 3rd floor. Even if you do not have an "aerial" apparatus, Engine, Rescue, or Squad Companies can perform "Truck" duties. So, we can and we have opened a roof by using ground ladders and hand tools. Is the aerial safer? Yes! Does it provide us with a 2nd means of egress? Yes! But, if we have tools, ground ladders, and a desire to work, we can and must get the job done regardless.
-As I have said on other posts, it doesn't matter if the fire is in a phone booth or a high rise; Truck work must get done. The support functions dictate how the fire is fought, how it is extinguished as well as insuring there won't be a rekindle. Not to mention the whole forcible entry, search and rescue, ventilation thing.
-I believe that some of the smaller squared away FDs I have visited, that do not have a dedicated Truck Company, a skeleton crew or do not even have a ladder apparatus; these smaller organizations delineate one of the responding engines to perform Truck duties during the initial first alarm assignment.
As usual, Brick is on the mark. The fact is, most of the country is protected by small, volunteer fire departments in rural America. As I understand the situation in many volunteer departments, staffing and the recruitment and retention of members is difficult and an ongoing issue. Additionally, mutual and auto-aid programs and agreements that are commonplace in urban and suburban communities have not taken hold in much of the country. The result is that these departments can only provide the volunteer staffing for one piece of equipment. Given these circumstances, I imagine everyone would agree that the engine company is really the only choice. Therefore, the engine company is the workhorse in most areas of the country. The problem as I see it is that many departments that depend solely on engine companies often find that truck work becomes an afterthought.
However, as Brick points out, truck company functions must be performed at every fire, regardless. If these functions are delayed or worse yet, not performed, the members attempting to locate, comfine and extinguish the fire are at great risk. Some system or procedure has to be instituted to address truck company functions and as long as the work is assigned and carried-out, all is well. Although, you may have to include an intensive training program to help "tune-up" or develop the skill-set required of your members to perform effective, efficient truck company functions.
My suggestion is that you have a mutual or auto-aid agreement and/or SOPs/SOGs that pre-assign truck functions based on an arrival sequence or assigned to a specific engine company. This may have to be a mutual or auto-aid company.
This still will not guarantee anything, truck company functions will have to become, over time, a cultural priority. Strong leadership and a good understanding of the issues will have to be conveyed to the membership so that they can understand and "buy-in" to the change.
-Art said, "This still will not guarantee anything, truck company functions will have to become, over time, a cultural priority. Strong leadership and a good understanding of the issues will have to be conveyed to the membership so that they can understand and "buy-in" to the change."
-Truck work is something that some firefighters do not place enough of an emphasis on. They would rather focus on the nozzle; to their detriment. I've know to many firefighters that think they are only really fighting the fire if they are holding the nozzle.
-The reality is that pointing the nozzle is an infinitesimal part of the total firefighting operation. Chief Mittendorf said it best, "engines put out fires but Ladder Companies decide how the fire will be extinguished."
-For those FDs that don't have Ladder apparatus, Art Z is prophetic in his post that getting the membership to "buy in to" the Truck work mentality may be, unfortunately, an all uphill battle, representing a true cultural shift within the organization. But it has to happen. Truck work is the essence, the backbone, the workhorse of any Fire Dept.
-Consider that when our forefathers began the fire service in this country there were no pumpers. Bucket brigades were the norm. Firefighters therefore focused on search and rescue, ventilation and salvage work; i.e. Truck work.
-Many FDs would issue their members, among other equipment, a bed key, which was a small spanner type wrench used in the assembly and disassembly of a bed frame so as to perform salvage work of the most expensive possession anyone could own at that time.
-Truck work is the essence of firefighting and must be performed or the fire is not truly being fought.
-Besides, an engine man can point the nozzle at a hundred fires but Ladder Companies are the ones that make the big saves in the form of spectacular rescues. LOL. Forgive me, I just couldn't resist.
I am on one of those small FDs that is an engine only department. We are a vollie department, and rely on the two neighboring cities to provide our first due aerials. Even then that only amounts to them bringing the truck vs. an engine. Not true truck crews. I feel that the term truck work is merely a matter of vocabulary accepted by the fire service to define certain duties performed on a fire ground. Now with that said please forgive me if that statement offends true truckies, I mean no disrespect. How we addressed those certain truck duties on the fireground was to make a cutlure change. On my department it is a status postion to move off the nozzle and work the roof, search and rescue and the like. We have clearly defined these roles as requiring a more experienced FF as they typically do not have the protection of a hoseline.
As with any jobs in the fire service, we found some members who love engine work and others who love truck work. We even have some members who love driving. I feel like to the key to the success is of this system is clearly defined roles and expectations. Couple that with training and the members here really embraced the system. Everyone is trained to perform most if not all duties as we are volunteer. But we work shifts and that allows us to assign duties to the on duty personel that best fits thier interest.
And if you are ever at one of my fires, you can find me on the roof, making it better for the hose bunnies.LOL
that is exactly what we are talking about. The shift has to take place.
-The terminology really isn't minutia; it outlines the difference in duties and responsibilities, and in you specific remarks, it also separates those with a higher level of experience to function within those roles.
-Another good point you made, which specifically happens in the more squared away organizations, is that more experienced members are assigned to Ladder Companies.
-The thought process is that Truck members have the tendency to separate by necessity and therefore work without closer supervision as say an engine co. And as you correctly pointed out, Truckies tend to work without the protection of the hose line, specifically when performing search, rescue VES and roof operations.
-The real key here, and you touched on it, whether large career or small volunteer department is CLEARLY DEFINED ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
-In my house we take it a step further in that specific duties are assigned to specific members; even the engine members do this. LOL. But, they do, deciding at the beginning of the shift which member will be the hydrant man, which will be the nozzle man, etc.
-Clearly defined roles; hmmmm.... I believe that is called professionalism.
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