Close Calls: Firefighters Trapped At Maryland House Fire - Part 3

As reported in parts one and two of this column in the July and August issues, on Feb. 24, 2012, the Prince George’s County, MD, Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department (PGFD) was dispatched to an arson fire in a single-family house at which seven...

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29 General Order 03-13: Emergency Identifier Activation Procedure and General Order 06-14: Mayday Procedures need to be reviewed and tenants of both policies need to be combined. Additionally, revise the General Orders to include an automatic dispatch of an additional assignment for any Mayday transmission.

31 Ensure that the Fire/EMS Department Communications Manual for the 700/800 MHz radio system is completed and it details all functions and operations of the system.

34 Update Subtitle 11 to include up-to-date training certifications and standards.

36 Develop and implement an officer development training program for career and volunteer personnel who are non-officer certified so that they may act as unit officers. At a minimum, these programs should address:

• Risk-benefit analysis

• Strategy and tactics

• Building construction

• Fire spread and extension (e.g., exterior fires with interior extension)

• Crew integrity

• Crew resource and situational awareness management

• The Incident Command System (ICS), particularly expansion of the command structure

• Command-level decision-making and practices (e.g., escalating incidents, high-risk/low-frequency events)

37 Require Mayday training for all operational personnel that is taught in compliance with the General Orders and includes an annual refresher training component.

41 Develop and deliver a training program to all personnel that provides instruction on wearing all personal protective equipment (PPE) properly and emphasizes the importance of wearing only department-approved items that are National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliant.

45 Check all self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) cylinder valves department-wide to ensure that the cylinder hand wheel lock nut is not turned in on the stem eliminating the designed safety feature that prevents the cylinder from being accidentally turned off.



3 Develop and implement a formal process to disseminate adverse weather advisories/alerts to ensure all personnel are aware of changing conditions to aid during initial on-scene size-up.

5 Develop a department-wide training program that focuses on understanding fire behavior, fire flow paths and how to “read” interior and exterior smoke conditions to identify the location and predicted spread of a fire.

8 In an effort to ensure all fireground activities are coordinated and prevent freelancing, the department should consider modifying General Order 06-01 to control the deployment of units on a fireground; e.g., first engine and special service operate and the remaining units stage until directed by command.

9 The department should strictly prohibit any personnel from responding to the scene in their personally owned vehicle.

10 Develop and implement formal, system-wide policies, procedures and training related to “two-in/two-out” rule compliance. Such policies and procedures should address the following:

• Identify what unit is to assume/assign the “two-in/two-out” responsibilities

• Require verbalization of “two-in/two-out” compliance over the tactical radio channel

• Require the “two-out” crew to accept that assignment over the tactical radio channel

• Ensure the adherence of the “two-out” regulations of the second-due engine until the arrival and establishment of the rapid intervention crew (RIC)

• Identify the specific criteria required in order to deviate from this policy

• Review and modify all current General Orders to ensure there is no conflict with the newly established policy

11 Revise the General Order to ensure the RIC assignment changes from the third-due special service to an earlier-arriving unit.

12 A simple and standardized command check list or guide should be placed in the front seat area of every piece of apparatus within the county for easy, “at-a-glance” use.

21 Develop a formal callback procedure/activation plan for the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) Team and inform/educate all command officers on this procedure.

22 The department needs to adequately staff the CISD Team and should use the latest findings and suggestions available from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) as a template. This service should be available to the department at all times.