Severe Weather SOG
My dept is a paid-on-call dept in Wi. My question is how does your dept respond when there is a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning issued for your county. We have been discussing on how we should react when one (tornado) is issued. Some dept's send trucks out to certain locations in their district to be spotters (and to split up their units), other dept's don't send out anything (we're the latter). I know there are pros & cons to both options, but I was just curious on how the majority of your dept's operate.
Here's how we do it in my county of Kansas. We are a "storm ready" county.
Our county emergency manager will page out which jurisdictions he thinks need to be out storm spotting. He has quite a few radars in his office in which he watches. Once we are paged out we meet at our station and our IC will pair us up with a partner and will send out to a certain location. Our county took a map and marked all the spotter locations. So that way when ever we have a report it is shorter radio traffic. And it's easier on our IC that way also. We then storm spot until we are cleared by the county emergency manager. We use our personal vehicles.
If any of you remember the EF-5 Tornado that hit Greensburg Kansas last year. I beleive they lost all or most of their apparatus becasue they were in the station when the tornado hit. Our dept. and county is trying to change that so that way if something does happen we might be able to save SOME of our equiptment.
Any questions, just ask!
When a Tornado Warning is issued for our part of the county, both departments I'm involved with spread out all the units to pre-determined spots for the same reasons you stated. They don't take any units out unless there's the Tornado Warning issued. Neither of them really do anything for Severe Thunderstorms.
Originally Posted by ltkeith25
I went and did Googled to see what happened with the Greensburg Fire Dept.
Their station was not totally demolished, but they lost all their equipment. They are rebuilding...
We are not only a fire protection district but we are also the local E.M.A so we do storm spotting and disaster call outs. We Have seprate 4x4 pick-ups and equipment that we use when storm spotting. No fire apparatus leave the buildings until they are called for.
We are typically notified whenever the counties to the west of us are put under a Tornado warning (or severe thunderstorm if winds are high). From there, we organize at the fire station.
We no longer send guys out to designated positions. We've had too many close calls (including one involving myself) where tornadoes have popped up too close for comfort. We'll send out teams of two in our apparatus and POV's as necessary. We try to put our squad/quick-attack and/or a POV in a position so that they are south of the storm when it crosses into our district. If needed, we'll send them into the next district. From there, they'll "chase" the storm giving updates along the way. Other apparatus/personnel are staged in locations to the east so that they are in a position to spot.
The problem I have with designated positions is that spotters can get in the downdraft of the storm and won't be able to see a tornado coming due to the rain and hail. Like I mentioned, this has happened, including an incident where I had a Tornado go over me and touch down about 200 yards to the east of where I was sitting. I never saw it until it was right over me, due to the rain and hail. If they're to the south/southwest, they should have a clear line-of-sight on area that would form a tornado.
So far this is working out great! We're able to use a map in the station and follow/sketch the track from the reports of our guys in the field. When the "chaser" loses it, we've typically got someone in a position to pick it back up.
We do make sure all of our apparatus are out of the station and in a position to respond should the town (or another) gets hit. Our most recent actual tornado strike (January 12th, you may have seen it on the major news networks), our guys were within a couple hundred yards when the tornado struck a trailer park. Other crews were already following the track to check for victims/damage where it had already gone through and were able to keep tracking it. We were on scene at the trailer park within seconds of it being hit.
One thing we're experimenting with is using our TIC to watch cloud movement. Believe it or not, you can see the different clouds move along. We've even been able to detect some rotation here and there. We haven't been able to put it on an actual tornado or funnel cloud, but we're hoping to be able to at some point. The guy from the NWS that taught our storm spotter class was interested in the concept and encouraged us to keep trying to see a funnel or tornado and report to them how it worked.
Not quite sure what your definiton of totally demolished is, but here is what was left....
Originally Posted by RFxplr326
[IMG]<a href="http://s135.photobucket.com/albums/q136/fire717/?action=view¤t=gfd.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q136/fire717/gfd.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>[/IMG]
[IMG]<a href="http://s135.photobucket.com/albums/q136/fire717/?action=view¤t=greensbur gfd.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q136/fire717/greensburgfd.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>[/IMG]
I was just going off of what the articles said - I didn't find any pictures like that, though.
Originally Posted by ehs7554
FIRE DEPARTMENT STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE No. 600-05
SUBJECT: ADVERSE WEATHER OPERATIONS
DEFINITION Adverse weather is considered to be any weather conditions which create an increased risk when responding to or operating at an incident. This includes, but is not limited to: fog, heavy rain, hail, flooding, lightning, high winds, hurricane eye operations, and tornadoes.
PURPOSE This SOP provides guidance for companies encountering severe weather conditions during field operations. This SOP assists in meeting the recommendations of NFPA 1451 Standard for a Fire Service Vehicle Operations Training Program 2002 Edition, 4.3.2* The fire department shall establish written policies for variations from standard operations. A.4.3.2 These variations include but are not limited to responding in congested areas, driving in adverse weather conditions, natural disasters, civil unrest or disorders, and other appropriate conditions. It also serves as a component of occupational safety and risk management strategies (see NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program 2002 Edition).
SCOPE This procedure shall act as a guide for Pinellas County Fire Departments whenever inclement weather potentially impacts the safety or efficacy of operations.
PROCEDURE Recommended procedures vary with the type of weather problems encountered. Heavy rain, hail, flooding, lightning, high winds, hurricane eye operations, and tornadoes are each considered. Officers should use the Risk versus Benefit model when making decisions regarding operations that expose personnel to adverse weather conditions. Officers must be prepared to alter, suspend or terminate operations should conditions change rapidly.
Fog is of concern mainly due to limited visibility during response to an incident scene, although sometimes heavy fog can contribute to slick road conditions. Apparatus operators should remember that emergency lights and apparatus will be less visible to other drivers, and should use due caution in regard to both limited visibility and slick roadways, remembering that other drivers may present a greater than normal hazard to responding apparatus during fog conditions. Heavy fog which restricts visibility may also present a safety hazard when during aerial operations around overhead wires or objects.
Heavy rain should not have any effect on fire or rescue functions except for an increased caution during response. Care should be taken to protect patients or victims.
Fire Department 600 Series SOP 600-05 Page 1 of 4 Adverse Weather Operations REV Nov. 2004
When encountering hail conditions, all personnel will wear protective clothing, including eye protection, and company officers should use discretion to determine if the company should seek shelter.
Company officers must exercise considerable judgment and discretion relative to personnel safety when entering flooded areas. In rapidly moving water more than two (2) feet deep, personnel should use a lifeline and wear
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). In any water over two (2) feet, deep, or where the water depth cannot be determined, PFDs shall be used. Particular care should be taken to avoid run-off areas, drains, open manholes, and ditches. See 600-22 Water Rescue / Dive Team Operations for further direction on rescue operations during flooding.
Vehicles should not be driven into areas where water depth cannot be reliably determined.
Lightning storms are common in and around the Tampa Bay area and are encountered frequently by fire rescue units. Personnel not actively involved in emergency operations should remain inside apparatus or structures during frequent local lightning. In addition, personnel should adhere to the following safety rules:
When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, the best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high;
Aerial, ground ladder and other elevated (including rooftop) operations, should be halted during lightning conditions;
Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clothes lines, exposed sheds, and any electrically conductive, elevated objects;
Avoid carrying or using long or metallic tools;
Pump operators should seek shelter in a fully enclosed cab. If it is imperative to remain at the pump panel, do not lean against the apparatus and minimize physical contact with the apparatus.
Fire Department 600 Series SOP 600-05 Page 2 of 4 Adverse Weather Operations REV Nov. 2004
Sustained wind conditions can be very hazardous. Personnel operating out in sustained wind conditions or gusts above 30 MPH will wear helmets, bunker coats and eye goggles (or other eye protection as determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction) for protection from flying debris.
Personnel should comply with apparatus manufacturer recommendations, if any, concerning high wind operations. In the absence of manufacturer recommendations, the following guidelines for vehicle operation during high wind operations should be followed:
At sustained wind speeds above 35 MPH, aerial operations should be halted.
At sustained wind speeds above 50 MPH, only critical fire/rescue operations should be undertaken, and all vehicles with high profiles and light-weight (Haz Mat units, rescues, etc.) should not be used.
Driver-Operators and officers must recognize that wind speeds are difficult to estimate and may vary depending upon location, geography and structure density. Wind gusts may be sudden and substantially higher than sustained wind conditions. In addition to the guidelines listed above, the decision to alter, suspend or terminate operations should include consideration of the following factors:
Vehicle stability while driving, ability to stay within the driving lane;
Personnel footing and stability outside the vehicle;
Proximity to power lines;
Presence of downed power lines.
Whenever a jurisdiction makes the determination to discontinue operations and shelter all vehicles and personnel, Dispatch shall be notified immediately.
Driver-Operators and officers must further realize that the risk to personnel increases in the presence of a combination of adverse conditions (such as high wind, lightning, localized flooding). At all times, personnel must weigh the benefits of a given operation against the risks presented by adverse weather conditions.
Fire Department 600 Series SOP 600-05 Page 3 of 4 Adverse Weather Operations REV Nov. 2004
Hurricane Eye Operations
Operations during the eye of a hurricane should be limited to re-securing the fire station, if necessary, and assisting citizens who come to the fire station when it would be a danger to release them. All such activities during the hurricane eye will be undertaken only if operations can be accomplished in a safe manner.
When a tornado or funnel cloud is observed in the field, companies should move away from it at right angles to its direction of travel, if possible. If proximity to the tornado prevents escape, the apparatus should be abandoned and personnel should seek shelter in a sturdy building or a ditch or culvert and keep together. If a tornado is observed from quarters, personnel should mount the apparatus and move away as indicated above, provided it is safe to so. If time does not permit escape, personnel should seek shelter in a predetermined "safe room" within the fire station.
Any severe weather conditions encountered should be reported immediately to Dispatch and the District Chief. Safety of personnel and members of the public must be the first priority of officers commanding units in the field. Attention to debris, downed power lines, drainage collection, and blocked accesses is required. Damage to equipment and apparatus due to weather must be documented.
Pinellas County Fire Department Standard Operating Procedure No. 600-05, Subject: Adverse Weather Operations, May 2001
NFPA 1451 Standard for a Fire Service Vehicle Operations Training Program 2002 Edition National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.
NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program 2002 Edition National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.
Rocque, Daniel H. Wind Effects on Emergency Vehicles in Florida Fire Service Today, Vol. 12 No. 5, May 2004; p. 17
Fire Department 600 Series SOP 600-05 Page 4 of 4 Adverse Weather Operations REV Nov. 2004
Email me and I will send back our SOG.
The short version of our response plan is that it becomes the company officer's decision if or when to respond during tornado warnings (we don't do storm spotting).
I will not send mutual aid until all stations are in the clear and our first due is determined to be secure.