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For the past couples of years my dept. has been playing with a chase car. We are now starting to pull the company officer (Lt.) off the engine and placing him in a chase car to act as a B.C. The problem I am having with this idea is that we are cutting staffing on our engine from 4 too 3. And there is no officer supporting the fire attack/search. The Lt. is no longer going in with the attack crew instead he is standing outside to start the NIMS paper work and act as the I.C. Leaving only 1 or 2 firefighters too do the attack. Mind you we still have the Capt. and the Chief responding and taking command once they show up. Some shifts/houses are starting to send two firefighters on the engine while the officer is in the chase car cutting the company from 3 too 2. We have nothing in writting yet to support this and it is pretty much up too the company officers if they wish too do it. We do have a few Lt.'s that wanna be B.C.'s and they love the idea. We do have a SOG on fast attack as a command mode and with our AMA policy we have 4 engine companies coming for all reported fires. We also have a SOG for 1st in company fast attack mode 2nd in takes command if they can if not then 3rd in and if they cant then 4th in takes command.

Has anyone else run into this problem and if you have are you fighting it or are you running the engine company this way?

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Tim, I guess my first question would be is the goal to establish IC immediately for everything or is it based on the situation upon arrival? Because honestly, if a Lt. is planning on riding in the engine but planning on assuming IC on arrival, does it really matter what he's riding in? However, I agree with you that if your first in engine will be in fast attack mode, then it's preferable to have all of your manpower on the engine. We operate with a designated IC at station 1 and a company officer at station 2. In station 2's area, you are more likely to operate in fast attack knowing that the shift officer's job is to arrive and assume command. Conversely, in station 1's area, the IC usually arrives first and the CO on the engine is the interior officer. It is an advantage, in that situation, to show up a little earlier than the remainder of the crew to get a good size-up and coordinate assignments as units arrive.

Now I'll throw our issue at you: Station 1 minimum manning is 7; 1 in the car, 3 in the engine, 2 in the truck, and 1 in the squad. Station 2 minimum manning is 4; 3 on the engine and 1 in the squad (plus a 4-man truck responding AMA). Am I even qualified to judge your response? I can't imagine that it's more efficient to have more vehicles with fewer firefighters on them, so I feel your pain.

This was in an email I received the other day, interesting to hear from a NIOSH viewpoint.

http://firefighterclosecalls.com/fullstory.php?81368
On my side of the story, we only have one fire station. On my shift not any others, my LT. was promoted to Capt. and now that he was given a car to use, he has taken himself off of the Engine and making it a 3 man instead of 4 man. His is going to the same run we are, so to me it does not make any since what so ever. I think it is a safety issue because now we have one less guy in full gear to assist us right away if needed if there is a life in danger. Also it is another vehicle in the way at the fire scene. We typically arrive at the same time so yes, he can still do a walk around and take outside command if he has to. I just feel that he still needs to be riding the Engine, you never know when you might need that extra guy right away when you pull up of people trapped and have to get that handline inside.
Let me know what you think about this.
Comments added to previous reply;
Our manning most of the time is at 6 guys per shift. So this would put us at 3 on the Engine, 2 on the Quint and our Officer in his car.
Again on the other hand, if our Quint goes mutual aid on a fire, he chases them and only leaves to back at the Fire house for a 2 man Medic run our a fire with only 2 guys on the Engine. My only other thought is if we had a fire with only 2 guys on the truck, yes we would go but we would have to add additional Engine to the run because we are already short off the get go.
I believe the best place for the company officer is with his/her officer at all times.The way you guys are operating is setting your people up for DISASTER !!!!
There have been many studies completed by the IAFF,NFPA and even the International City Management Association that will back this up.Along wit a number of studies concerning FF's deaths to back this up !
Hopefully you guys are a IAFF local and the International should be of assistance to you working through the State Association and your District VP.
I know being a township you guys probably aren't covered by the collective bargaining bill.But if you are in deed are covered file something on this.
It really sounds that your Chief has no idea how the fire ground command should work !!
If you have a company officer with his crew he can take mobile command and still be with his crew !!
There are a number of big cities in Ohio that your Chief could look to learn how to properly run the fire ground !!
If you have a Captain and a Chief on a response why have the 2nd engine take command ? You have 4 engines on a response what about a Ladder company ?
On a normal house fire you should have 18-20 people with attack looking like this :
1st engine attack
2nd engine supply back up line
3rd engine Rit
Ladder search - rescue ventilation etc
BC command
Medic EMS
Engine in staging
Our department fought the Chase Car issuse in weather emergencies were we had 1 member making runs to assist withEMS runs.
Thankfully got it thrown out.Any time a member is responding as a Chase Car in stead of with a crew is a bad deal !!
We are Fire Fighters we not Police Ofiicers we work as CREWS !!!

Contact me if I can help you
Captain Joe Meyer
Captain Joe Meyer, thank you for your input. Yes, we are a localized IAFF Union. I agree with you on your knowledge and that the officer can take mobile command. It seems that alot of companies due this anyways and has been done for years. When I ride out of class, thats what I do and that is what I was taught. Again, I just do not get this chase car deal at all, it is non-sense especially if you do not have the manning in the first place.
I will keep you posted with any other issues.
I have a couple of questions for you. Do you have another email I can email you? Let me know.

Thanks and be safe out there!!
Bob Barcus said:
Captain Joe Meyer, thank you for your input. Yes, we are a localized IAFF Union. I agree with you on your knowledge and that the officer can take mobile command. It seems that alot of companies due this anyways and has been done for years. When I ride out of class, thats what I do and that is what I was taught. Again, I just do not get this chase car deal at all, it is non-sense especially if you do not have the manning in the first place.
I will keep you posted with any other issues.
I have a couple of questions for you. Do you have another email I can email you? Let me know.

Thanks and be safe out there!!
Bob
My e-mail address is gobucks6@juno.com
Write at any time,
Joe Meyer
Todd thanks for the response. I do agree if the Lt. is just gonna stand in the yard coloring his nims paper work then it really doesnt matter how he got there. The problem I have is he really isnt a Lt. anymore but a B.C.(my opion) Well our minimum manning is 3 & 3 our max is 5 & 5 at least 1 Lt. must be on duty. For your 1st question, the goal for IC is based upon the situation for us ie... nothing showing out to invest, smoke/fire showing fast attack etc. 99.99% with in 5 minutes of the 1st unit on scene, of a work, our Chief or Capt./sometimes both are on scene taking command. Our AMA is two engines and 1 ems unit which usually at a minimum gives us 14 Firefighters of which 2-4 are Lt's and at least 1 Capt/Chief.

Todd Ungar said:
Tim, I guess my first question would be is the goal to establish IC immediately for everything or is it based on the situation upon arrival? Because honestly, if a Lt. is planning on riding in the engine but planning on assuming IC on arrival, does it really matter what he's riding in? However, I agree with you that if your first in engine will be in fast attack mode, then it's preferable to have all of your manpower on the engine. We operate with a designated IC at station 1 and a company officer at station 2. In station 2's area, you are more likely to operate in fast attack knowing that the shift officer's is to arrive and assume command. Conversely, in station 1's area, the IC usually arrives first and the CO on the engine is the interior officer. It is an advantage, in that situation, to show up a little earlier than the remainder of the crew to get a good size-up and coordinate assignments as units arrive.

Now I'll throw our issue at you: Station 1 minimum manning is 7; 1 in the car, 3 in the engine, 2 in the truck, and 1 in the squad. Station 2 minimum manning is 4; 3 on the engine and 1 in the squad (plus a 4-man truck responding AMA). Am I even qualified to judge your response? I can't imagine that it's more efficient to have more vehicles with fewer firefighters on them, so I feel your pain.

This was in an email I received the other day, interesting to hear from a NIOSH viewpoint.

http://firefighterclosecalls.com/fullstory.php?81368
Capt. Meyer thanks for the response. Well we just got this into writting, today no less. We will be brining this up with our labor management meeting. I do have several reports for staffing of an engine company,th IAFF report on NFPA 1710 and the Providence Fire Dept. Staffing study. But other then that pretty slim pickings. I keep hearing of other reports on staffing but never have any luck in finding them. As for 2nd company taking command very rarely happens, I just brought that up that we have a SOG on passing of command. Our AMA is 2 engine companies and an EMS unit. Staffing for our fires minimum is 14 not counting a Capt./Chief, which by the way is a huge improvement 4 years ago our response was 2 engine companies with a minimum of 6 lol ladder truck what are you kidding me lol im in the land of no ladders. We do have a few quints in the area but due to staffing on them and how they come in they are never used as a ladder company
Our response SOG goes like this
1st due fast attack (minimum 3 max 4, may not have a C.O.)
2nd due water supply/2nd line or truck work (minimum 3 max 4, may not have a C.O.)
3rd due truck work or 2nd line (minimum 3 max 4, may not have a C.O.)
4th due RIC (minimum 3 max 4, may not have a C.O.) If they need to go to work we drop a box which will bring another 2 engines, 1 company that wants to be a ladder (staffing is very good with this one 3 F.F. and 1 Capt., and another EMS unit
Historically there are usually a minimum of 2 Lt.'s between the 4 companies
EMS stands fast for EMS (will be tasked for outside jobs if they beat other companies, minimum 2 could be BLS or ALS)
1 Staff Capt. and usually 2 sometimes 3 Chiefs

Yea thats how we started out chasing just chase EMS so you can have 1 more set of hands on the call with out putting all the wear and tear on an engine.

Joe Meyer said:
I believe the best place for the company officer is with his/her officer at all times.The way you guys are operating is setting your people up for DISASTER !!!!
There have been many studies completed by the IAFF,NFPA and even the International City Management Association that will back this up.Along wit a number of studies concerning FF's deaths to back this up !
Hopefully you guys are a IAFF local and the International should be of assistance to you working through the State Association and your District VP.
I know being a township you guys probably aren't covered by the collective bargaining bill.But if you are in deed are covered file something on this.
It really sounds that your Chief has no idea how the fire ground command should work !!
If you have a company officer with his crew he can take mobile command and still be with his crew !!
There are a number of big cities in Ohio that your Chief could look to learn how to properly run the fire ground !!
If you have a Captain and a Chief on a response why have the 2nd engine take command ? You have 4 engines on a response what about a Ladder company ?
On a normal house fire you should have 18-20 people with attack looking like this :
1st engine attack
2nd engine supply back up line
3rd engine Rit
Ladder search - rescue ventilation etc
BC command
Medic EMS
Engine in staging
Our department fought the Chase Car issuse in weather emergencies were we had 1 member making runs to assist withEMS runs.
Thankfully got it thrown out.Any time a member is responding as a Chase Car in stead of with a crew is a bad deal !!
We are Fire Fighters we not Police Ofiicers we work as CREWS !!!

Contact me if I can help you
Captain Joe Meyer
Bob thanks for the response, I gotta know whats his reasonning for taking a chase car on an M.A. fire call? Cause I am dealing with the same thing with my counter part at Sta.1 hell just last shift he sent 4 F.F. on the engine and he chased for a AMA call. His reasonning is this is what the Chief wants and we have too do it.

Bob Barcus said:
Comments added to previous reply;
Our manning most of the time is at 6 guys per shift. So this would put us at 3 on the Engine, 2 on the Quint and our Officer in his car.
Again on the other hand, if our Quint goes mutual aid on a fire, he chases them and only leaves to back at the Fire house for a 2 man Medic run our a fire with only 2 guys on the Engine. My only other thought is if we had a fire with only 2 guys on the truck, yes we would go but we would have to add additional Engine to the run because we are already short off the get go.
Hear Hear !
I agree,but it our job to work through our Union to never give up the fight for proper Staffing !!!
Joe Meyer
This chase car thing sounds really goofy, especially if the company is running short.

Here in Delaware, our only career fire department is facing some serious budget cuts, which will mean reducing crew from 4 to 3 per apparatus - or perhaps closing a company here and there. A previous Chief gave up EMS to a private concern, which has an extended contract.

My question is, where can I find some ammunition to approach the city fathers in order to persuadethem from deciding on staffing cuts. And it's not like the city has closed down. During a 24 hour period on Friday, Wilmington had 3 multi-alarm blazes resulting in a civilian fatality, 3 firefighter injuries (2 with burns) and a half dozen civilian injuries. And these alarms were covered by minimum staffing of 4, 6 engines, 2 trucks, a heavy rescue, 2 battalion chiefs and a deputy -- with the Chief of Department as IC.

As the only career fire department in the state, volunteers were dispatched to cover city stations, but those units were ultimately redirected to the scene to relieve exhausted and injured firefighters. Other volunteers companies were moved up to cover 6 staions, and a total of 9 companies. God bless ''em, because they're having their own staffing problems. Essentially, Northern Delaware, from the C&D Canal to the PA State Line was left poorly protected.

Oh, and one final note. The Mayor wants to do away with the Rescue Squad, which runs on every structural assignment and mva in the city. In recent years it has been in the top 50 busiest rescues in North America, but the rig may soon be parked. My job is to alert citizens and neighborhoods, attend meetings to discuss the issues and essentially persuade the good people to b**** at the Mayor.

Any help is appreciated, and I'll buy the beer, shots or women (strike last) at the next FDIC. Lou

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