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Safety Officer & the Libertarian

By Frank Ricci


On issues of public policy the wise seek counsel, gather facts and always include a libertarian in deliberations. The Demarcates and the Republicans will debate how a policy should be funded, implemented, and when it should take affect. The reason for the libertarian is simply to ask why is the government implementing the policy in the first place.    


The Safety Officer servers in the same role they must ask why. Why are we taking these actions in the first place? Will this structure end up in a landfill at the peril of the wrecking ball? As Anthony Avillo so eloquently states “is this operation going to conclude with a dumpster overhaul.”


A willingness to make your wife a widow and your kids fatherless for the community you serve is a noble notion. However this should not be blind dedication. History and Vincent Dunn has taught us that collapse zones matter. As a service we have paid a high cost for buildings that were almost preordained to collapse. If the safety officer just asked “Why” would the outcome be different.


Safety Officers act as an arm of command. That should not be confused with being in command. While short staffing has made our profession more dangerous by dictating that company officers become more tactically involved.  Safety officers who believe they are there to give orders, contradicts the very propose of their function. 


The Safety Officer must not lose perspective! One of their key roles is to ensure that collapse zones are established and maintained. Now that is the tricky part firefighters are like bugs to a flame they will creep closer and closer till they are in the danger zone. Collapse zones should not just be marked with tape they should have a firefighter or officer assigned to manage them.


Firefighters think Fire-line tape is for the public not for them. I have witnessed this with downed power lines. Someone needs to be stationed on the outside of the tape to warn of the hazard.


To head off the reader comments, not enough help is an excuse for poor leadership and failed management not a reason for failing to call more recourses to the scene.


Remember that it is the month of our country’s founding. The birthday of the greatest experiment in world history. Keep our troops in your heart and on the next big decision lets hope there is a libertarian in the meeting and a safety officer on scene.

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Frank as our resident libertarian I like the characterization and example, safety officers should always be asking why and help IC and officers to re-calibrate their assessments during working fires.

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