Dangers of untrained Firefighters!
In the State of Pennsylvania, Anyone can come in off the street, put on a fire coat and helmet and fight a fire.... with no training whatsoever! Sounds ridiculous? It is! Does anyone have any knowledge of litigation brought about due to untrained firefighters responding? Here's the situation.
Our county has several Volunteer fire departments and 2 paid departments. Our department covers a large area which includes a 1 square mile borough that has it's own fire department. Our station has 2 engines, 1 2700 gal tanker, 2 brush trucks and a medium rescue with 3 hydraulic extrication tools (one on the rescue engine and 2 on the rescue). Our department runs around 400 med and fire calls a year. Routinely our department turns out full crews on all of our units for a working structure fire and no call went unanswered in the last 5 years.
The small department located in the center of our area has 2 engines, 1 med unit, and 1 brush truck. They used to be a good department when the local refinery was in business but since they tore it down, their call volume has reduced to between 40-60 (estimated) calls a year. They request our department to be toned during the day for med calls due to lack of med personnel and manpower.
Recently we took this department off of our first alarm box assignment for several reasons:
1. Lack of trained firefighters
2. History of unanswered or under answered responses
3. Damage increased in the past by untrained firefighters
4. Refusal to cooperate in training aimed at preventing firefighter and civilian injury and cooperation of departments as well as the federal ICS & NIMS classes.
A meeting was held with the officers of the two departments to discuss these issues. The officers of the small department stated that they wanted to spend time with their families and didn't want to train. That they didn't really want to fight fires, and that they don't need to train.
Several in-house training sessions at our department were held over the past years that the department was invited to as well as the county held classes and Free classes offered by the local community college.
Our department has all of it's trucks certified and we have over 25% of the membership certified to Firefighter I. All interior firefighters must have basic firefighter training (88 hours) and exterior firefighters must undergo inhouse training conducted by officers with over 10 years on the job.
Whew! Now the problem. To you and I this is a no brainer! Training is essential! EGH - Right? But I'm trying to find precedent so we can show this department how much liability that they put on themselves and on us if we call them and something goes wrong.
If anyone has any links to info please let me know!