Fire Captain Struck Minutes After Arrival - Part 2

Last month’s column featured part one of a report about a close call involving City of Dayton, OH, Fire Department Captain Barry Cron, who was struck by a pickup truck while operating at a traffic accident scene in wintry weather. This month’s...


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The point I want to make is, most departments are aware of the dangers of working on the roadway, be it highway or neighborhood street. Use proven procedures such as blocking enough lanes to give yourself and incoming crews plenty of safe area to work in. Park your apparatus far enough back from the scene to create an effective safe zone. Even a 20- or 30-ton apparatus can be pushed into the accident scene if a speeding tractor-trailer is the vehicle that loses control and strikes your engine or ladder.

Create as much visibility as possible to oncoming traffic to make them aware of your presence in the street. I have seen fire apparatus on the highway with nothing more than two rotating beacons on the back. In my opinion, that’s not nearly enough emergency lighting. There should be more than adequate emergency lighting on the rear of any emergency equipment.

I think there is a reason why I was spared further injury or death that morning. I thank God for his watchful eye and protective hand. Please study my story and the dashcam video. Review your department’s procedures and see where improvements can be made. I was fortunate and made a quick recovery and was lucky enough to survive mostly unimpaired. So many of our brothers and sister have not. Above all else, please be safe out there.

 

The following comments are by Dayton Interim Fire Chief Jeffrey L. Payne:

A post-incident analysis was conducted between the Dayton Fire Department training staff and the crews involved in Captain Cron’s incident. The purpose of the analysis was not to point fingers or lay blame. Rather, it is to serve as a learning tool where the entire department can learn from mistakes, and smart practices, made at emergency incidents.

Although the Dayton Fire Department has policies in place addressing highway incidents, policies cannot always address or control responses impacted by environmental factors. Fire officers are expected to make decisions “on their feet” based on their incident size-up and cannot always follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) exactly as written.

As fire officers often do, decisions are made and actions taken based on their experience and previous successes during similar conditions. This was the case for Captain Cron; however, the environment and geography produced conditions that created unaccounted for hazards. Fortunately, Captain Cron was able to return to work and give his narrative of the events that occurred.

The following comments and resources are from Chief Goldfeder, following discussion of the incident with Captain Cron:

As you may recall, I was struck by a vehicle on Interstate 71 in the late 1990s. As the captain describes, the run starts out normal and ends up making you realize that things can happen anywhere, on any scene and at any time. If we survive it, get back to work and learn from it, that’s a good thing. And that’s the goal of this column.

The best way for us to understand the dangers of working on roadways is to learn from those who have been studying it and, of course, from those who have “been there and done that.” When arriving and operating on a roadway, it may seem as simple as just shutting down a road or blocking it, but there is a system on managing traffic when we are operating.

First, go to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)/U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) document Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety. It is loaded with case studies, PowerPoint presentations and related materials to help you train your members. The document discusses training, policy development, education and technology to enhance emergency vehicle and roadway safety operations. It is available to you, at no cost, at http://www.iaff.org/hs/evsp/index.html.

Second, download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) bulletin Traffic Hazards to Fire Fighters While Working Along Roadways. This document is a one-pager that you can print out and post in your quarters. It’s a quick, “at-a-glance” document that helps firefighters immediately understand the dangers of roadway operations. This too is available at no cost; find it at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-143/.

Finally, go to www.respondersafety.com. I’ve been close with the people behind this effort – Steve Austin, Dr. Harry Carter and Jack Sullivan – for many years; they are the “go-to” folks when it comes to roadway survival. Below you will find just some of the information that is available to you, with access to much more so you don’t have to experience what others have – being struck on a roadway.