Clearly, the fire in Charleston that took the lives of nine firefighters shook all members of the fire service in one way or the other. Most firefighters were shocked, saddened and upset. Why wouldn't we be? We have lost 9 "more" firefighters-in a situation that some folks feel was avoidable. From looking at the video and pictures, it appears that it may very well be that way. But as we wrote following the fire, we need to await the facts.
Most firefighters know that it is easy to sit back and comment and offer opinions and if we do that in our firehouses, and take what we initially think we know and apply it to our own personnel. We can probably avoid "it" from happening to our own personnel, locally. What happened at a fire and what those who were not there THINK happened at a fire can be exactly the same or it can be far, far apart. It all depends. Sometimes it depends on not knowing all the information. Other times the facts and information mean nothing if people just do not want to know the facts or accept them. Sometimes, folks who are in our business or who have or have had some affiliation to our business could care less about the facts, and just want to do whatever they can to keep stoking the fires. Nice folks.
As we wrote a few weeks agoas tempting as it was and is for anyone to comment on all the videos and photos-out of respect for the LODD firefighters' families, there is no rush. Some argue with that by saying "lives can be saved"...sure they can. If you saw something on the Charleston videos and pictures that you don't agree with - don't do that. Don't do whatever you think should not be done. There are tactics shown in the videos and photos that I wouldn't do-but I wasn't there. But if you don't like what you saw in the Charleston videos or any other videos for that matter, do whatever you think is best in your town so that whatever is seen at Charleston or Hackensack or Waldbaums, or wherever...isn't repeated at your FD. But until the facts come out in Charleston-from outside experts-nothing is factual. Does it "look like" things should have been done differently? Absolutely-some of it may seem pretty obvious-after all, there are nine firefighters who gave their lives and many questions remain. Actually, there are more than a few videos that you can look at from most any FD at almost any fire or emergency where things could have been done different. But it takes EXPERTS looking at the entire situation, evaluating, determining and totally investigating the facts for us to see the true picture vs a snap shot or a video. And with nine firefighters tragically lost, the Charleston firefighters' families deserve the truth-by experts in a professional manner. So who are the experts?
In what appears to be a very positive move, the Mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley, has contracted with some of the best in our nation involved in firefighter fatality research and investigation. The Mayor has stated publicly that he wants an external, independent and thorough analysis of the fire and evaluation of the Charleston FD.....an external, independent and thorough analysis of the fire and evaluation of the Charleston FD. (those words repeated intentionally).
If that is what will happen and the mayor is truly sincere about his intentions, I don't think anything else can be asked for at this point. When statements are made like that publicly, by elected officials, with the families, the public, the media and the firefighting world watching and listening intensely, the options to do anything else become very, very limited.