Firefighter Missing! Or Is He?

Keeping track of firefighters has never been easy. All kinds of folks claim to have great systems that solve the problem. I recently spoke to an individual who claimed that he had the invention; all he needed was "a boatload of cash" to get it going. That...


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Other solutions include an automatic recall of career personnel on all first-alarm structural fires (which the Bartow Fire Department does, smartly, for any structure-related call, including automatic alarms), volunteer recruitment or the hiring of more career firefighters. Additionally, if local support – including funding – is just not there, it is the responsibility of the fire chief to make it clear to the governing body what that fire department can do initially and what simply cannot be done safely without the arrival of more help.

This building and the exposures created unique circumstances. The exposure was originally a movie theater with four different ceilings and the fire was inside those areas. A third building on the block was saved as enough firefighters eventually arrived on the scene to open it up. From a tactical standpoint, numerous positive actions on the part of the firefighters enabled them to save some important "downtown" buildings. While that is important, the safety and accountability of firefighters at any fire scene is the higher priority.

While training continues to be the number-one solution to almost all the close calls we write and read about, learning from past close calls runs a close second. Use this month’s close call to compare your department with others and be honest about how you track your firefighters at all incidents. If your system works well, that’s great. But odds are most of us know there is a need to improve training and discipline in regard to accountability.

This close call provides a great "excuse" to honestly review, discuss, test and rework your current system. "Tracking the troops" requires a lot of work up front, before the tones go off, to ensure that the arriving number equals the going-home number.


William Goldfeder, EFO, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 32-year veteran of the fire service. He is a deputy chief with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, an ISO Class 2 and CAAS-accredited department. Goldfeder has been a chief officer since 1982, has served on numerous IAFC and NFPA committees, and is a past commissioner with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and is an active writer, speaker and instructor on fire service operational issues. Goldfeder and Gordon Graham host the free and noncommercial firefighter safety and survival website www.FirefighterCloseCalls.com. Goldfeder may be contacted at BillyG@FirefighterCloseCalls.com.