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  1. #1
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    Default New Policy ... Interesting

    San Antonio's fire chief is taking heat from union leaders because he wants greater control over when firefighters should rush into a burning building.

    Under a new policy, which Chief Charles Hood said clarifies long-standing practices of the San Antonio Fire Department, a single fire commander is required to first calculate the risks before firefighters can enter an engulfed dwelling.

    But the policy has angered some of the city's firefighters, who say it's their job to save people and property, even when it means putting their lives on the line.

    "We have always learned that you never know if someone is in a building unless you search it," said Chris Steele, president of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association. "Somebody who doesn't want to do that is probably in the wrong line of work."

    But, Hood said, the deaths last week in Houston of two firefighters underscores the importance of combining safety with bravery.

    "We will risk a lot in a calculating manner to save lives that are savable," Hood said. "We will risk little to save savable property and/or to save someone who's already lost."

    Hood announced the policy two weeks before Houston fire Capt. James Harlow and firefighter Damion Hobbs were killed while trapped inside a house fire in southeastern Houston. Neighbors had warned firefighters that nobody was inside.

    Fire departments across the country - including those in Austin and Phoenix, Hood's former employer - have embraced similar risk management policies. The Texas fire marshal's office also has encouraged departments to seriously weigh risk.

    "Saving lives is of paramount importance, but firefighters recognizing when the risk outweighs the reward is also extremely important in order to avoid tragedy," said Rachel Neutzler, a state fire marshal spokeswoman.


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Default

    You didn't copy and paste the whole article... you left this out..

    Also under the policy, three assistant chiefs will work in three separate shifts. The assistant chiefs, who typically oversee administrative issues, must now manage firefighting operations to ensure everyone follows protocol.
    Which boils down to 1 assistant chief covering 407 square miles and overseeing 50 fire stations as "fireground commander"

    What happens when there is multilple fires? Is the Chief going to run his *** ragged all over the City making sure that the protocols are followed?

    This is is micromanagement at it's worst.

    The solution is to allow the company officers and battalion chiefs to do their jobs.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 04-20-2009 at 06:53 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Question Not sure I get it?

    After reading this over I'm not completely sure this is any different than how most places operate. They are placing the responsibility to determine the type of operation on the first due ranking officer. Is this not how most of the F.S. operates? Is this making the first due ranking officer the IC vs. being able to pass command to an incoming officer or chief?

    There are times when it's obvious on arrival that the job will take outstanding firefighters going inside to conduct operations, as well as times where it's obvious that out standing firefighters are needed. It's the hard to call middle of the road fires that require effective leadership from the first due officer to either lead the attack or call it defensive.

    How does this policy change what Austin did before? Given the response from the Union, I'd have to guess that we're not seeing the whole picture. The Chief may be forcing a far more restrictive risk/reward analysis than before? Maybe some examples of when he expects jobs to be ruled defensive? Maybe it's detailing in writing who is responsible for the decision, likely placing the rope around their neck for any death LODD or civilian?

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    Question confused

    "Under the new policy in San Antonio, the first commanding officer to arrive at a fire - usually a captain or lieutenant - is responsible for deciding whether to battle a fire "offensively" or "defensively."

    Dont they do this now ??? Is it not the responsibility of the first officer on scene to complete a size up, establish command and give initial direction to on scene companies (offensive/defensive) ? This article makes it sound like they show up and there is no size up....just go offensive/interior on EVERY fire regardless, can this be right ?

    Must be more to this story not covered in the artice. Need to here from some brothers in San Antonio on the "real story".

    In my area the first officer on scene is almost always a company officer (captain) who makes the decision on fire attack and then passes/transfers command when a chief arrives.

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    What fire department in this country doesn't already have someone who is "in charge" determine which strategy will be employed and whether or not a building is safe to enter upon arrival?

    If this is cutting edge to anyone, you are about thirty years behind the times and are most likely in the wrong line of work.
    Last edited by jakesdad; 04-20-2009 at 08:15 PM.

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    Default

    It sounds to me like they are trying to set some parameters to determine when to go offensive or defensive. Its always been that way, at least since 1970's, Usual OSC is a Captain, he will be in touch with Deputy Chief on duty but will either to tell him what he is doing after the fact or to request more specific equipment. He will have already called dispatch for this.
    If they are trying to establish set parameters, going to be pretty hard to do.
    You got the experience on scene, let him make the decision.

  7. #7
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Default

    I read the entire article, the whole time knowing the coward would be strutting around like a peacock. What I did not see however, was any mention of questioning the family in the front yard about the presence of smoke detectors, and then telling them "Tough $hit, your kids are gonna die" if they answered in the negative.

    Interesting.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  8. #8
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    Default

    Not strutting.

    But it is good to see a major city moving towards a stricter risk/benefit assessment system to determine how they are going to respond to the incident.

  9. #9
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    Posted by BryanLoader
    You got the experience on scene, let him make the decision.
    Bing-freakin-o!
    ‎"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."
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  10. #10
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Obviously, the original post in this thread is an edited version of the story. For the whole story as it appears on Firehouse.Com, click here.

    Under the new policy in San Antonio, the first commanding officer to arrive at a fire - usually a captain or lieutenant - is responsible for deciding whether to battle a fire "offensively" or "defensively."
    Is there anyone from SAFD here on the boards that can clarify if this is any different from what they are doing already? When I read that they are going to start calculating risk, I keep getting images of administrative chiefs with slide rules and protractors to determine the perfect fire attack algorithm.

    "If it's a 2 a.m. apartment fire, there's a good chance someone is inside, so we would do an interior search," Hood said. "If it's 3 a.m. and a warehouse is fully engulfed, with no cars parked outside, it's not a good idea to enter."
    That's completely ridiculous example. Guess what? If the apartment building is "fully engulfed" at 2 a.m., 2 p.m. or any other time... The SAFD -- or any other FD -- is not going to be making interior attack. If examples like that are going to be used to train company officers to use the "new" policy, I can see why the union is against it.

    Also under the policy, three assistant chiefs will work in three separate shifts. The assistant chiefs, who typically oversee administrative issues, must now manage firefighting operations to ensure everyone follows protocol.
    I'm with Gonzo on this one. This sounds like the job of a battalion chief. I can understand an "office chief" responding on multiple alarms, etc... But I find it odd if the policy actually sends out a department-wide assistant to help make decisions at building fires. Unless this chief has a great relationship with his guys, doing so effectively tells your company officers and battalion chiefs that you don't trust them.

  11. #11
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    But it is good to see a major city moving towards a stricter risk/benefit assessment system to determine how they are going to respond to the incident.
    Be honest. You don't know what they're going to do because the article doesn't say! Sure, the gist is "we're going to reduce risk to our firefighters when there aren't lives to save," but that's a feel good statement & and an easy one to make.

    The only definite thing I learned from the article is that the fire chief doesn't want people in a "fully engulfed" warehouse in the middle of the night. I'm not sure what he'd recommend for a "fully engulfed" warehouse in the middle of the day. Let's be serious, though... What about the same warehouse -- regardless of time of day -- with some smoke showing? Lots of smoke showing? Some fire showing? What sort of broad, sweeping statements can the chief make about those situations? It's not so easy to say, "we're not going to risk firefighters lives," when the scenarios aren't black and white.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Posted by BryanLoader

    Bing-freakin-o!
    I'm not positive on this Gonzo, but kind of reading between the lines, sounds like maybe they are trying to build SOPs so the OSC has more strict procedures to follow. Its also going to really tie the hands of an OSC if he has to wait for a Deputy Chief to show up. The timeline could make a relatively easy rescue untenable.

  13. #13
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    Post Well............

    Guys, I have a slightly different take on the Assistant Chiefs. I have a hunch that when it all comes out in later stories, the A/Cs will be Safety Officers. We have Safety Officers here, Career Captains on Day Work, and Volunteers Nights, Weekends, and Holidays. The idea is to have at least one Officer on any incident that can focus solely on Safety Issues and not get caught up in operations. I don't know about elsewhere, but our Safety Officers can take whatever steps they feel appropriate to correct a problem on any operation.
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    I see no difference between this article and how everyone in my area fights fire. First in officer makes the initial decision. When the Batt. Chief arrives he might decide to go defensive and follows proper procedure for withdrawing companies from the structure.
    On the reverse, sometimes the first in officer decides to go defensive, and the next arriving company shows up, goes in, and puts the fire out in short order. The reason that occurs is simple...some officers always go defensive regardless of fire conditions. They don't mind when we put out their fire because it means they didn't have to.

    The statement that I noticed was "fully engulfed." I'd have to see what San Antonio's definition of fully engulfed is. I know what my definition is and that of my peers locally and no, I wouldn't enter a fully engulfed either. I'll have to wait for more info on this one.

  15. #15
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Default My Response upon reading...

    My response upon reading was... what's the rest of this story?

    I don't think I can really comment on this. It's an article that doesn't give a lot of specifics.

    There should always (as there always had been, although it may not have been called that) a risk/benefit analysis.

    The issue is really how do you weigh that risk/benefit and that's exactly where the article takes even the casual reader.
    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."

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  16. #16
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    Posted by YFDLt08
    The reason that occurs is simple...some officers always go defensive regardless of fire conditions.
    That sounds like fire ops in Bossier Parish District 1.
    ‎"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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    Default

    How many times have we heard, "Its the chiefs orders, shut-up and follow what he says"? Good God, they need to stop whining and follow the orders.

    After all, the fire house isn't a democracy.

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    Default

    Gee, surprise surprise. LA Fire Useless only used the part of the story that conforms to his agenda.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  19. #19
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    The story does sound pretty much like standartd procedure.

    However, there must be some type of significant change or else the line firefighters would not be so hopping mad.

  20. #20
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    The significant change is the all of the parts you left out because it negates the point you are trying to make. Try again.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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