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Many departments across the US do not have the necessary staffing to safely work a fire. It is a luxury to have a truck company thee to start ventilation. It seems that the mentality is that a fire will go out without a truck. Why is this acceptable?

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It's not acceptable for safety or common sense.

In the vollie world, unsafe staffing and response is acceptable due to:
-intimidation from mutual aid departments. "Had to bail your a**es out again".
-short staffed department not investigating why they lose members or aren't getting new ones.

Carrer departments may run short due to:
-again, pride.
-not asking for help from other full-time or vollie departments. "We can take care of oru own fires".
-not being aggressive enough as a group/whole to make sure government understands the staffing needs and provides for it.

Others that can be listed, but these are the main ones to me.
I think because the general public does not realize that putting out a fire usually requires more than putting water on it. the fail to realize search and rescue, securing an adequate water supply, ventilation takes man power. They feel their staffing is adequate at 1 &1 or 1 & 2. If a fatality does happen, staffing is rarely mentioned because the person speaks up gets hammered down. In the metro Boston area most towns do not hesitate to go to higher alarms to get mutual aid for man power. We all like to have competition, but when it gets serious like you said "tired of bailing you out" its time to take them aside and have a talk. They should be grateful you invited them to their job and let them work. With fires being down, who cares where or what town it is, its time to put your skills to you to keep from getting rusty.
It kills me that people are willing to roll the dice with public safety!!!!!!! We do not tell the Police how many Patrolman they do or don't need. We do not dictate how many teachers there should be per school system. It appears that our profession takes the brunt of poor staffing. WHY US?????????
We are the grunts of public safety. I think it goes back to people not know exactly what we do. Our Ems is a seperate entity. We are dispached along with them to priority calls. We usually get there first due to their call volume and we have more apparatus available. Cpr, defib, first aid, extrication ect gets over looked. They dont realize we save lives that doesnt involve fires. Im not knocking any specific agency, but when some thing goes wrong be it meth lab or some other kind of multi agency activity we get the dangerous work from hazmat to decon. Police numbers will never go down. Crime is still up hire more cops. It makes people feel good when they hire more cops. It does not matter when the cut our funding until a family gets killed becuase companies get closed and we get laid off. Im not cop bashing at all but that is what the govt does. We are #2
It seems to me that small departments are their own worse enemy. As firefighter we have that get it done no matter what mentality, and we do get it done. In a negotiation meeting the city personnel director told me "the fires are going out and nobody is getting hurt, so your manpower is just fine". They actually use us against ourselves. That pump operator should not have to leave his pump! What a profession! Going to have to change the name of this group to staffing........
Hey Brother,
I am with you on the minimal manpower we show up with 10. Our drivers tend to be the utility players doing a little bit of everything trying to help the interior guys anyway possible. Our drivers would do the same thing as you stated for example. Too many tasks need to be performed simultaneously!!
We respond with a staffed 3 1&3 Engines & 2 1&3 Ladders to a structure. Getting a ladder to the structure with 1 person and then putting them with the engine crew again is a bad idea. There is no point to bring the truck. Use your 28 footer. Water is a nescesity, but so is ventilation and search and rescue. We all have to improvise at times but if that pump decides to throttle itself down because it feels like it, no operator watching the dials, he's venting someone is going to get hurt. Ive seen pumps, especially the new electronic throttles decide to go into "idle" and stop pumping. Our out lying towns run 1 & 2, but then drain the towns full fire resources if its a structure fire. Then mutual aid is called in to cover or sent to the fire. Running short is a dangerous gamle.
I understand due to the man power and the need for water. We had a fire in mutual aide town where the house was about 200 yards of the main road. The chief went right up the alarms though. To us getting some one to the roof is exremely important. Im guilty of grabing a rake now an then and doing some outside ventilation to get some work but only to vent for visibilty. I wont start breaking random windows having no idea where the fire is. Its just sad that a loss of life has to occur before someone realizes we need more staffing.
I think many of our "advances" in technology cut both ways. For example, full head to toe thermal protection is the only chance a firefighter has if caught in a flashover, but all that protection prevents him or her from detecting some of the signs of flashover! Since we can use that gear to move further in and closer to the fire, the next false conclusion is we don't need all the staffing to vent, search, stretch the proper hose line etc. However, we are experiencing more dangerous "fire events" than ever before. Part of it is fuel load and tight construction, but some of it is lack of staffing to get all the tactics we need to get done accomplished. The importance of "making the building behave" has been lost at a time when we need to do it the most. Brannigan wrote about todays firefighters being "Smoke fighters" because he was one of the first guys to realize that with todays construction and fireload that smoke is fuel. Unless we have the staffing to remove the fuel (ie ventilate), firefighters are crawling into the middle of the fuel that is dangerously close to ignition. All that being said, Fire chiefs owe it to the firefighters to make sure his or her SOGs match the staffing level they have. If you have only 6 guys showing up at a fire, you have to define clearly and in no uncertain terms what those six firefighters are SAFELY able to accomplish. A big part of this is defining what is a "known life hazard" and drawing a clear line in between what is considered a "viable" victim and what isn't. Remeber, as soon as you put firefighters in a burning building you have actually ADDED to the life hazard profile of that incident. Make your tactics to meet your staffing until you get the staffing to perform the tactics.
We actualy recently had a row of taxpayers, heavy fire showing from a restaraunt on arrivival(We were first due). People were yelling some ran back inside. I was on the pipe and I made no attempt to run into that bldg. No one could have survived in there. I have taken a flash over class/simulator. Which put in things into a better prespective than just hearing about it. Training is extremely important. I dont think anybody else in the dept has.

Mike Gavin
Engine Co. 41
I couldn't agree more! Having done the flashover simulator at FDIC, I think I have a much better handle of what is survivable and what isn't. You are sitting BELOW the floor of the fire and it's still damn hot! Understanding fire behavior is a huge part of size up and making the decision as far as what your attack mode is going to be. This is where alot of us newer guys really have to be careful. We don't experience the fires the guys did in the "War Years", so we don't have as much first hand experience in reading what a fire is doing and where it's going. On top of it, (I'm beating a dead horse here) we are so insulated and protected from the environment in a burning building that we can't recognize the few signs the fire gives you that it's about to bite you. One thing we do have going for us is the ability to train, whether in person or on line. A guy from my crew just got promoted to Lt. and was having a hard time with his initial on scene reports and size up. So we spent an afternoon doing on line simulations, sizing up photos and videos from FE. By the end of the day he became more comfortable "Reading" what was going on and deciding what the first in companies had to do. It's not perfect, but if you do what you can every little bit helps. Stay safe, Mike.
Chris Fleming
Always go back to the basics, fire showing, smoke showing, investigating!!


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