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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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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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