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    Default Short Handed Firefighting

    Question: Should we train to fight fires short handed or learn to call for more help from surrounding departments and/or nearby stations??? Just looking for opinions

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    IMO, you practice like you work. If you are showing up with 2 FFs, you adapt your operations to that reality. You should continue to fight for more, find ways to bring more manpower to the scene (callbacks, vollies, or mutual aid), and make clear to your superiors the limits of what you can do.

    Good luck.

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    You should learn to work with what you have. What are you going to do if the neighbors are on their own call? My company trains as if we are the only ones coming and it has worked out just fine. Anybody else who shows up is just a bonus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd091 View Post
    Question: Should we train to fight fires short handed or learn to call for more help from surrounding departments and/or nearby stations??? Just looking for opinions
    I would have to say both....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    I would agree that you need to do both.

    A little background on how you operate might allow for some better "help" from the masses. For example, my department operates "short handed" in the early stages of an incident. We have an on-duty minimum of 5 FFs, but will do a call back of off-duty personnel when needed for incidents. This will generally get us enough personnel for most incidents and for some others we need to call in mutual aid.

    So, in my opinion, we need to focus training on how to be efficient and effective while operating "short handed" until additional help arrives, but we also need to train on operating in a more "normal" fashion once additional manpower arrives.

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    My response is: Yes

    If you routinely are short handed, then train to do what you can short handed. Even with mutual aide, depending on how far they are coming from, you might be short handed for a period of time.

    You should also be making arrangements for automatic aid if you are routinely that short handed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    I would have to say both....
    I gotta agree with this statement. Learn to do what you can with your personnel so you can do everything you can until help arrives. If you can get additional help there faster, you're going to be better off.

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    A little background on how you operate might allow for some better "help" from the masses.

    Our manpower pool consists of 15 guys/shift when fully staffed which happens almost never. We operate 3 pumps, a tower, one medium duty rescue and the platoon chief. Each pump has 3 guys, the Tower 2 on most days and the rescue 2 guys. On weekends and holidays one pump is generally down to 2 guys.

    We have a career dept next door with 4 pumps and a ladder on duty with approx 17 guys. I guess in my opinion we should call them sooner and operate as we should on fire scenes, it is very rare both cities have fire at the same time. I understand that this may not seem short handed to some but I don't think one man on a roof and other short handed tactics are safe and we have the opportunity to do it right, unlike some other depts.

    Thanks for the help

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd091 View Post
    A little background on how you operate might allow for some better "help" from the masses.

    Our manpower pool consists of 15 guys/shift when fully staffed which happens almost never. We operate 3 pumps, a tower, one medium duty rescue and the platoon chief. Each pump has 3 guys, the Tower 2 on most days and the rescue 2 guys. On weekends and holidays one pump is generally down to 2 guys.

    We have a career dept next door with 4 pumps and a ladder on duty with approx 17 guys. I guess in my opinion we should call them sooner and operate as we should on fire scenes, it is very rare both cities have fire at the same time. I understand that this may not seem short handed to some but I don't think one man on a roof and other short handed tactics are safe and we have the opportunity to do it right, unlike some other depts.

    Thanks for the help
    Being in an all-volunteer department, I'm not sure if I'm qualified to comment on your situation, but I guess the one question that comes to mind is this: Does a working fire get your entire department out, or only specified companies? In other words, (assuming all 15 guys are working that day), do they all turn out, or are some kept in reserve?

    Now, having said that, if I could be guaranteed 15 people on every fire, I'd be a happy camper indeed. I wouldn't consider that shorthanded at all, I'd consider it an excellent turnout for a weekday and about average for a night or weekend. Of course, we don't (normally) do any roof work, so you can take that team out of the equation.

    Also, I don't know what your area is like, which can also make a big difference in how you operate. In my area it's mostly single family dwellings, and usually small ones at that, so it's seldom that we'd need multiple interior crews working as you might in say, an apartment building or large multistory structure. Depends on your tactics and what your "bread and butter" fires tend to be.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd091 View Post
    A little background on how you operate might allow for some better "help" from the masses.

    Our manpower pool consists of 15 guys/shift when fully staffed which happens almost never. We operate 3 pumps, a tower, one medium duty rescue and the platoon chief. Each pump has 3 guys, the Tower 2 on most days and the rescue 2 guys. On weekends and holidays one pump is generally down to 2 guys.

    We have a career dept next door with 4 pumps and a ladder on duty with approx 17 guys. I guess in my opinion we should call them sooner and operate as we should on fire scenes, it is very rare both cities have fire at the same time. I understand that this may not seem short handed to some but I don't think one man on a roof and other short handed tactics are safe and we have the opportunity to do it right, unlike some other depts.

    Thanks for the help
    My FD is similar. At full staffing, we have 15 firefighters and 4 officers for a total of 19 on shift., Miniumum is 10 Firefighters and three officers (Deputy Chiefs are not included in the minimum staffing level).

    We run 3 engines, a Ladder and a Rescue.

    Today is an example... 10 firefighters, 2 LT's, 1 captain and myself on duty.
    I have one Enguine company staffed with 3 and 1, the other 2 are staffed 2 and 1, with 2 FF's each on the Ladder and the Rescue.


    For confirmed fires, we do a recall of personnel and get mutual aid coverage.

    The IC has to get "on the ball" early in the game. You can always return the mutual aid companies if they are not required. We have a good mutual aid system, prestructuered for responses of up to 10 alarms, and if more help is needed, we can request the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services to activate the statewide task force mobilization plan.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd091 View Post
    A little background on how you operate might allow for some better "help" from the masses.

    Our manpower pool consists of 15 guys/shift when fully staffed which happens almost never. We operate 3 pumps, a tower, one medium duty rescue and the platoon chief. Each pump has 3 guys, the Tower 2 on most days and the rescue 2 guys. On weekends and holidays one pump is generally down to 2 guys.

    We have a career dept next door with 4 pumps and a ladder on duty with approx 17 guys. I guess in my opinion we should call them sooner and operate as we should on fire scenes, it is very rare both cities have fire at the same time. I understand that this may not seem short handed to some but I don't think one man on a roof and other short handed tactics are safe and we have the opportunity to do it right, unlike some other depts.

    Thanks for the help
    My FD is similar. At full staffing, we have 15 firefighters and 4 officers for a total of 19 on shift., Miniumum is 10 Firefighters and three officers (Deputy Chiefs are not included in the minimum staffing level).

    We run 3 engines, a Ladder and a Rescue covering 22.1 square miles and population of approximately 40K

    Today (03/15/09) is an example... 10 firefighters, 2 LT's, 1 captain and I on duty.

    I have one Engine company staffed with 3 and 1, the other two Engines are staffed 2 and 1, with 2 FF's each on the Ladder and the Rescue.

    For confirmed fires, we do a recall of personnel and get mutual aid coverage.

    The IC has to get "on the ball" early in the game. You can always return the mutual aid companies if they are not required. We have a good mutual aid system, prestructured for responses of up to 10 alarms, and if more help is needed, we can request the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services to activate the statewide task force mobilization plan.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Gonz, we heard you the first time....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Damn computers!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Damn computers!
    Right...you're just trying to hit 10,000 posts...
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    I would definately have to say, train like how you operate. You can't always depend on the other depts showing up if your department is small.

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    You should always load you support on the front side of an incident. You can always turn them around, and its better to too much on the way than not enough. I'm a company officer and thats how I do things.

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    When in doubt, call'em all out.

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