1. #1

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    Angry 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!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Sounds like trying to prove your point may be a waste of time. If the Officers that you met with don't even recognize the importance of proper training and the liability that they are exposing themselves to by allowing their membership to get on the trucks without proper training, they're probobly not going to be receptive to documentation. As far as your question I'd start with some NIOSH reports and LODD studies. Civil liability is a concern but not as concerning as getting a brother hurt or killed because they don't know what they are doing.

  3. #3
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    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!
    Contact each and every level of government in your state and do something about it. Fix the problem.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemedic2424 View Post
    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.
    Your goal is good but you're probably going to have to find arguments other than potential liability - most states do not have minimum standards for volunteers. Indiana did a survey in 2004 that found only 24 states had minimum standards for career firefighters and only 17 had minimum standards for volunteers. Here's a link to the survey: http://mysite.verizon.net/gimpy1/sit...rveyReport.htm

  5. #5
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    We had a station like that near us. The county came in and disolved it. It is now county own and run. Thats a shame that the officers don't see the errors of their ways.
    FF/Paramedic

  6. #6
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    As Bones42 stated, I would contact every representative from the Mayor up to your Congress member. I would also contact OSHA for guidance.

    Where at in PA are you located if you don't mind me asking? When I was a volunteer there before coming into the Air Force as a firefighter; now Assistant Chief, my department operated much in the same manner. However, we did eventually switch to a proactive approach to training; where the junior firefighters were required to receive at least FFI and if available FFII. When the member reached 18 years of age and they did not have the necessary certification, that member was not allowed to enter a burning facility although they could perform functions on the fire ground scene (exterior).

    You're department has definitely taken the proper steps to identify the serious problem at hand by removing the department in question from your first alarm box. However, are they on the second and so forth? I would not have them respond at all due to the liability of the lack of training. One area that concerns me is the refusal to participate with NIMS as required by Federal regulations. The only punishment they can receive is lack of funding, nothing more. Regarding the medical responses, I would begin to charge for the response. When you begin to implement fees for responses, refusal to allow their personnel to respond or assist on an emergency scene in your district and basically point out that their department is untrained, unwilling to train and as you stated respond, that usually opens the door to pressure from government agencies as well as citizens complaining. After all, I'm sure the Mayor or town Council will not appreciate the citizens demanding why their well being is in danger due to lack of trained personnel or who refuse to adopt standards benefit both the department and citizens of a community.

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