Since this is my first blog for Firehouse.com let me introduce myself. My name is John Salka and I have been a battalion chief with the FDNY for the past 13 years of my 32 year career. In addition to my job with the FDNY, I also write the back page in Firehouse magazine titled "The Fire Scene." Some of you may know me from my travels around the country teaching and lecturing about firefighter safety and survival, leadership and other tactical operations. I'll be here on a regular basis giving my opinions on various subjects and events. Come and visit Firehouse.com and see what I and the other great team of bloggers here have to say about just about everything.
Today's subject is one that I have written about many times before. I'm talking about the practice of positioning a firefighter at the tip of an aerial ladder that is being used in a defensive position as an elevated stream. I was told not to use vulgarity here so I can't write what I really want to say, but let's just say this is a really silly decision. Let me explain why: The fact that you have placed an elevated stream into operation should indicate what? That you have lost this building and there will probably be a parking lot there next week. So what do we have to gain? NOTHING! You are risking a firefighters life for NOTHING. I don't know what rule book you use, but mine says, "Do not risk firefighters lives for NOTHING!"
Any number of unexpected events can occur that can kill or injure the firefighter at the tip of the ladder. Have you ever seen an aerial ladder fail and collapse? If you have you would never position a firefighter in this dangerous position.
Please do not write back to me and tell me that the firefighter at the tip of the ladder can point and direct that stream much more accurately and effectively than someone can who is standing below and moving the ladder pipe with halyards. That might be true but it does not trump the rule about risking firefighters lives for nothing. What do you think?