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  1. #1
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    Default Front Yard Command

    I posted this thread in the main Firefighters Forum, but it took days for it to show up and didn't get any responses, so I'll try again.

    I work for a career dept that borders a major city in the Southwest part of the country.(I would rather not say the specific department or actual location if that is OK). Let me give you a little background on my department, then I will explain my questions. My department runs 3 stations, 75 or so Operations personnel making up 3 engines(although, 2 are actually quints) and 1 "truck"(that was only named a "truck" for administrative purposes), as well as 2 medics. On a 1st alarm, we get our 3 engines, 1 truck, 2 medics, as well as our BC, then we also get an automatic aid engine and BC from 1 of 2 neighboring cities. Also, normally we run 3 man engine and truck companies, officer, driver and tailboard. Typically one of the medic companies will get bunked out and get the utilities or wait for an assignment, the other medic crew might be RIT. The first 2 companies will only have a officer and tailboard, the 2nd 2 (engine and truck or engine and engine) will take their officer, driver and tailboard. I hope that makes sense.

    Here is the way my shift operates at a fire, there is no SOP or SOG for this, this is just how OUR shift does it, the other 2 shifts? Different. We use a "front yard" command(that's actually what we call it), which is the "truck" Captain. The BC sits in the car down the block(without a Tech or Aide), the BC typically cannot see the fire building, the Captain in the front yard makes all the decisions and assignments, he doesn't have a tech either, he is bunked out, you walk up to him and he will tell you what to do.

    A few members of my shift have pushed for "assignments" or "predesignated assignments", but the officers are 100% opposed to this idea, as(and I quote) "it takes away their decision making ability if we have predesignated riding assignments".

    I am going out on a limb here, and I probably know the answer, but has anyone ever heard of anything even close to this? This is just a tip of the iceberg, 2 of these officers(with 20+ years on the dept) are adamantly opposed to vertical ventilation and went so far to openly say that if a BC gave an order to cut the roof, they would refuse the order. My dept is very pro PPV.

    Now, the other 2 shifts do not operate anywhere close to how my shift does, we were told today that my shift will have to make sure any covering officers or really anyone not normally assigned to our shift is brought up to speed should we go to a fire.

    Is this dangerous having one shift operate 180 degrees differently than the rest of the department? I will be more than happy to clarify any points or add any other info.

    I hope this makes sense. Thanks in advance for your insight.


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    Been there, done that and hated it.

    We now operate under a strong ICS structure. Command is always established by the first arriving officer and then transferred to the next in or higher rank.

    State law will also dictate who is in charge. Our state requires that the highest ranking officer on scene has overall responsibility for the incident. Any officer can retain and function as command, but the highest rank owns the incident if something should happen.

    For us, this was a three year transition. We now operate very well with it using task & location for fireground assignments. Command is mobile until an operations chief or safety officer is established. Even on a car wreck, a size up is given, command is established and tasks are assigned.

  3. #3
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    so what does the BC do?


    If you are going to call things engines and trucks, you should at least have a guideline of what each company will do based on where they are in the flow. This isn't to say its concrete, but you should have an idea of what will be happening prior to your arrival, or you should expect the next in companies to handle certain tasks.


    You sound short staffed, I don't get the point of letting the truck capt do the job of the BC when the truck capt. could be with his crew

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    So you are near P-Hone-x HUH!

    The BC is in charge if he is on the scene. The Truck captain probably is the OPS Officer from what I can get out of your post.

    The whole department should be singing the same tune from the same song book and on the same page!!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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  5. #5
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    So you are near P-Hone-x HUH!

    The BC is in charge if he is on the scene. The Truck captain probably is the OPS Officer from what I can get out of your post.

    The whole department should be singing the same tune from the same song book and on the same page!!
    Ha. My esteemed friend from Virginia thought the exact same thing I did. Let me guess........Avondale ,AZ Am I close?

    As I have stated before, full time paid departments (IMO) would be better off putting people on a single piece of equipment until you get to at least 4 before they start staffing another apparatus.

    I also draw the same conclusion as to the Truck boss operating as Ops, but I can't figure out why. He would better serve as a member of the already short truck crew and allowing the BC to his job. The entire administration sounds weak or they wouldn't allow this one shift to run ramrod and completely opposite of the other two. All shifts have their little quirks and all bosses have pet peeves, but this sounds kinda extreme.

    Having said all of that, we only have one side of the story.
    Last edited by MemphisE34a; 02-14-2009 at 07:04 PM.
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    My dept is very pro PPV.
    About all I needed to hear to understand.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  7. #7
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Yeah.............

    I'm with George. And CaptOldTimer. And Bob. There is no excuse for a Chief of Department who allows each shift to do it's own thing. If there is a Starting Point for getting everyone on the Same Page, it would be the Chief's boss directing him to shape it up. As to PPV, Fine, I have no problem with PPV, but remember, this is the Fire Service, One Size NEVER Fits All. I've used PPV very sucessfully, and there are times that I wouldn't consider it. There are times that I couldn't give the order to open the roof fast enough, and there have been places where I wouldn't allow anyone on the Roof. So Yes, Flexibility is needed, BUT, That flexibility must be guided with a firm Standard Operating Procedures Manual. In other words, spell out the parameters for when to do things. Then, Do Things according to plan, and do those things the same way, under the same guidelines on every shift, every day. Right Now, it sounds like your city has a different Fire Department, depending on what day it is. Very Very Shortsighted.

    And, My Command Post is located where I can see what's going on. The Operations Officer is with me, and we work as an Incident Management TEAM. The Size and/or Complexity of the incident will dictate how many Sector/Branch/Division Officers will need to be deployed, but I'm fortunate that I have plenty of help. Here, the IC Runs the Fire, the Fire doesn't run the IC. And that's how it should be.
    Last edited by hwoods; 02-15-2009 at 11:40 PM.
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    Thanks for the replies, I have been having trouble with my posts showing up. I am writing this on 2/16/09 at 0940, we will see how long it takes to show up.

    A big joke with our department is that it is more like ten different departments in one. 3 different stations x 3 different shifts + whatever admin feels like doing this week = 10 different departments.

    I realize that this is only one side of the story, and that it is hard to explain or describe every detail.

    What does the BC do? Great question, when I find out, I will be sure to let you know. A direct quote from one of our officers when I asked what is the point of having a guy in the front yard. "the BC is busy doing other things, like calling dispatch to have the gas and electric companies called"... No, I am not kidding, I wish I was.

    Short staffing? We don't get FDNY type numbers on a response, but yeah, we could use a few more people. On a 1st alarm fire we will get 16-18 of our own men, plus another 3 man automatic aid company and a auto aid BC.

  9. #9
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    About all I needed to hear to understand.
    What's that sound? Oh, another post from George dripping with sarcasm and close-mindedness.

    Anyway, this has got to be one of the more unusual that this east-coaster has heard of. However, if change is going to be implimented, it generally needs to start at top. If the BC/department chiefs don't recognize, or feel like, there's a problem with the way your shift is operating, then getting these captains to operate in a different mindset is going to be tough.
    Last edited by BoxAlarm187; 02-17-2009 at 09:41 AM.
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  10. #10
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Post Hmmm............

    Quote Originally Posted by ffemtp131 View Post

    Short staffing? We don't get FDNY type numbers on a response, but yeah, we could use a few more people. On a 1st alarm fire we will get 16-18 of our own men, plus another 3 man automatic aid company and a auto aid BC.

    Actually, You're doing quite good with those numbers. 16-18 people on 3 Engines, 1 truck, and a Medic unit isn't bad by most standards. We run a 1st Alarm Assignment with 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, and a Heavy Rescue (Squad) and a Battalion Chief. We'll get a bit of extra apparatus, depending on Volunteer staffing levels. We normally have a 35-40 person response.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  11. #11
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    What's that sound? Oh, another post from George dripping with sarcasm and close-mindedness.
    Perhaps, but in that one he is correct. There are very few departments that I have ever seen that utilize PPV effectively in fire attack - including my own.

    There is more to it than blowing the smoke out after the fire is out and many, many departments that use fans before the fire is out do nothing more than fan the flames.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  12. #12
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    We use an ops officer...and for a slower suburban volunteer department, it's mostly about safety.

    That said, I think that a BC could handle the resources you describe directly as opposed to going through an operations officer.

    I would post the BC at the front of the building (at his car/suv/big wheel) and run the show from there.

    But, there are many many ways to skin that cat.

    More importantly is that each shift doing it's own thing seems a little disorganized.

    As for PPV (a real thread stealer), I think it's best used as part of overhaul. Just saw a local FD with a fire in a balloon frame go from fire nearly out to evac tones. Just before evac tones, I heard them request the PPV fan get started up. Gosh, I wonder what happened there?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    and for a slower suburban volunteer department, it's mostly about safety.
    C'mon, now. You guys are just as smart as any other FD up here. Don't sell yourselves short.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  14. #14
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    C'mon, now. You guys are just as smart as any other FD up here. Don't sell yourselves short.
    Thanks George. I wasn't putting us down... lol, just saying that having that extra chief operating on scene isn't a bad idea when you no longer run fires like you used to.

    As for structure fires:
    When I came on it was 2 a month...now it's 1 every two years. The new officers just didn't learn by doing like we all did. I hate to sound like an old guy (I'm pretty young, compared to most ex-chiefs), but these "young" guys just don't have all that much fire experience.


    .
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Thanks George. I wasn't putting us down... lol, just saying that having that extra chief operating on scene isn't a bad idea when you no longer run fires like you used to.

    As for structure fires:
    When I came on it was 2 a month...now it's 1 every two years. The new officers just didn't learn by doing like we all did. I hate to sound like an old guy (I'm pretty young, compared to most ex-chiefs), but these "young" guys just don't have all that much fire experience.


    .
    You went from 24 fires per year to 1/2 fire per year because the Arson guys put all your bad guys (girls) in jail!
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    You went from 24 fires per year to 1/2 fire per year because the Arson guys put all your bad guys (girls) in jail!
    That and playstation.

    DARN YOU BOTH!
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Perhaps, but in that one he is correct. There are very few departments that I have ever seen that utilize PPV effectively in fire attack - including my own.

    There is more to it than blowing the smoke out after the fire is out and many, many departments that use fans before the fire is out do nothing more than fan the flames.
    Perhaps your second paragraph is the most true of any I have read in quite a while. 100% agree.

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    It's not avondale or any department around phoenix or one that operates off of Phoenix Vol. 2. Standard Operating Procedures.

    Avondale is a 3 station department with 2 engine companies (not quints) pierce quantam's and 1 truck/Squad company. They do not have any rescue's/medic units. They use southwest ambulance for ems transport.

    I work in the phoenix regional dispatch system and no department has a set up like this. Only Phoenix, Daisy Mountain, glendale and buckeye valley have rescue's. Sun Lakes, sun city west have medic units with non firefighters on board and Chandler and Scottsdale have PMT ambo's that they staff with either 2 firefighters or 1 FF and one civilian emt.

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