1. #1
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    Default Supression tactics for low manpower?

    I work Ems for a rural service. The fire dept is 100% volunteer... well on paper. The ambulance crews are cross trained and do both. We have a bad shortage of active members...at my sta. there are 2, so if a structure fire comes out in our area it is the ems crew and 1 or 2 firefighters for 15-20 mins before 2nd in. The ems crew packs up but if we go in and something happens then our butts are toast b-c there is no backup. Also this is dumb tactics forever here, the exterior attack is shuned, say anything about a fog patern and you will get looked at like you have 12 heads. We use automatics on 1.75 with flow rates to 275, but its got to be 125. so here you go have at it

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    We Have gone to CAF's in our area, If there is no life safety issue you can pop a window and get a good handle on what's burning without pushing it through a building or doing a lot of water damage.
    Lines are lighter easy to handle and have massive knock down. The Volume of fire that you can put out with tank water will be an eye opener for you.

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    Bottom line is your situation is a LODD waiting to happen.

    Going interior om anything more than a slow cooking room and contents fire with your manpower is taking a huge gamble that everything will go right. The risk ain't worth it.

    The bottom line is you need to decide what you can do what you can do without putting your members in extreme danger. And working that short is putting them in extreme danger.

    Honestly, it sounds to me like a situation where you are simply taking to much risk v. your resources. I know that we feel that it's our duty to do what we can, but there comes a point where we just have to say no. And it sounds like, with your manpower of 3-4 guys max, you could be at that point when you encounter anything beyond an incipient room and contents fire with no extension into a hall or attic.

    It sounds like a very bad situation.

    As far as strategies:

    Make sure you do a complete 360 and through size-up so you will avoid any surprises.

    Make sure your members are well versed in self-rescue techniques so if it does go bad, they are prepared.

    Make sure everyone interior has a radio.

    Understand fire behavior especially the warning signs of flashover.

    Attempt to hit it from the doorway until help arrives. i would advise not going in any farther than 10' under any circumstances.

    Make sure everyone kbnows the plan and sticks to the plan.

    I'll probably get flamed, as usual, for this post.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-13-2009 at 08:36 PM.

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    Life Safety is the primary job of the fire department. Look at the incident and if all you can do is get in and get the victims out then you have succeeded. If the fire is small enough and extinguishing the fire first ensures a safe exit of the occupants then that is the tactic to use.

    I feel for your situation and I understand your concerns. You as the firefighters on scene need to decide what you will be able to do based on what you see and what you have for personnel and equipment.

    My personal thought is simply this, if I get the victims out then I was successful. That will always be my primary focus. Obviously if the fire is blowing out of every opening on the building any hope of that is gone.

    Good luck, sounds like it may be time to hire at least a basic crew at some of your firehouses. (I am sure I will be pounded by the extreme vollies for that comment)

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    Not the smart ones, FyredUp! Most of the smart ones (I like to consider myself amoung them) have figured out that it's well managed, well trained combination departments that are going to accomplish TWO things: 1) Preserve the tradition of volunteer firefighting for those who wish to pursue it. 2) Create career FF/Medic opportunities for those who wish to purse them. In the end, the community gets proficient, timely, cost effective protection.

    And who knows... we may still be able to enter fire buildings and put the fire out from the inside, as the science has shown us is the most effective method.
    Last edited by DFDCar1; 06-14-2009 at 09:35 AM.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

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    Quote Originally Posted by DFDCar1 View Post
    Not the smart ones, FyredUp! Most of the smart ones (I like to consider myself amoung them) have figured out that it's well managed, well trained combination departments that are going to accomplish TWO things: 1) Preserve the tradition of volunteer firefighting for those who wish to pursue it. 2) Create career FF/Medic opportunities for those who wish to purse them. In the end, the community gets proficient, timely, cost effective protection.

    And who knows... we may still be able to enter fire buildings and put the fire out from the inside, as the science has shown us is the most effective method.
    Thanks for understanding what I meant. I am both a volly and a career firefighter, seperate departments of course, and I see this thing from both sides. Having a strong volunteer force where economics don't allow for a full career fire department makes complete sense. But where the vollies simply aren't there something needs to be done and whether that is supplementing with some paid staff and retaining the volunteers or completely replacing the vollies is up to local finances.

    It has nothing to do with one being better than the other is has to do with staffing and being able to come up with a timely and effective response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Thanks for understanding what I meant. I am both a volly and a career firefighter, seperate departments of course, and I see this thing from both sides. Having a strong volunteer force where economics don't allow for a full career fire department makes complete sense. But where the vollies simply aren't there something needs to be done and whether that is supplementing with some paid staff and retaining the volunteers or completely replacing the vollies is up to local finances.

    It has nothing to do with one being better than the other is has to do with staffing and being able to come up with a timely and effective response.
    I couldn't agree more but there is one scenario which really sucks - no money to pay people (full time/career) and no volunteers. This is where it gets creative to figure out how to provide some level of service. Perhaps add POC?

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    Would help this discussion if we knew specifics.

    How rural - population and square miles.
    Call volume.
    How many total volunteers.
    Avg nightime response.
    Is the medic crew just for that community or regional in nature?
    Distance to mutual aid.
    MA resources and manpower available.
    Level of MA training.
    How often is the medic crew tied up on an EMS transport?
    What do you do when there are only the volunteers responding.
    Position of community to hire additional FT or even go POC,

    Is the EMS crew part of the fire department or third service/private?

    Without that, we really can't provide a whole lot of input.

    Fact is, if you are operating for more than a few minutes (let's say less than 5) with that 3-4 man crew interior, you are taking some pretty significant chances.

    Maybe, and I say maybe, for a quick rescue scenario with limted fire and still pretty descent visibility, it's worth it, but IMO, you are playing a game of russian roulette.

    I have been in that situation before in past departments with very limited daytime response, however, it was a surburban department and could compenstate with auto mutual aid from 2-4 departments, which were less than 10 minutes out. In fact, there were a couple of areas that the AMA would beat us into.

    I was on one rural department where that was not the case, but luckiliy our average daytime response ran about 6initially plus semi-distant AMA.

    I am going to reserve my comments on the pluses and the minuses of combo departments at this time.

    In my current department, the parish EMS, which has a paramedic transport unit housed at our Central (staffed) Station service does not pack, but at least 1 member per shift is trained to drive our engine and operate the pump. The second member takes the ambo the scene and then assists with exterior support duties. In some cases, both of the paramedics are FT or volunteer firefighters elsewhere, so it works out that we have 2 very trained hands to help.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-14-2009 at 04:15 PM.

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    Buy a couple of FIT-5's, and you'll be golden.

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    it is a sad situation you are in.

    I think you best bet is to address life safety issues and consider that a win. VES is you friend for know victims. remember to close the door! (I know LA will love that statment). Quick searchs in the hostile environment, limit exposure time. Some times you have to risk alot to save alot but use your head and know when those times are present. Remember sometimes it is better to put the fire out then search, sometimes it is better to make the grab.

    For the Fire supression side. my thought would be hit it hard and quick. Don't be afraid to drop a two and half to get a quick knockdown or use the wagon pipe. Dont get yourself into situations that you cant get out of. Know what kind of fires one 1 3/4 line can handle. Their might be times were hitting it from an outside window or from the other end of the hallway might be your best bet. Always remember you dont want fire behind you, above you, or below you in this situation. you dont have that back up line covering you *****.

    Most importantly with a small manpower pool like that you HAVE to ensure that EVERYONE is an expert at basic firematics and skills. You cannot afford to have a member that can only due half the job. Fitness is a huge part with a small crew like this.

    lastly dont be afraid to think outside the box. Textbook answers are made for textbook questions. you my friend are not faced with a textbook problem.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Would help this discussion if we knew specifics.

    How rural - population and square miles.
    Call volume.
    How many total volunteers.
    Avg nightime response.
    Is the medic crew just for that community or regional in nature?
    Distance to mutual aid.
    MA resources and manpower available.
    Level of MA training.
    How often is the medic crew tied up on an EMS transport?
    What do you do when there are only the volunteers responding.
    Position of community to hire additional FT or even go POC,

    Is the EMS crew part of the fire department or third service/private?

    Without that, we really can't provide a whole lot of input.

    Fact is, if you are operating for more than a few minutes (let's say less than 5) with that 3-4 man crew interior, you are taking some pretty significant chances.

    Maybe, and I say maybe, for a quick rescue scenario with limted fire and still pretty descent visibility, it's worth it, but IMO, you are playing a game of russian roulette.

    I have been in that situation before in past departments with very limited daytime response, however, it was a surburban department and could compenstate with auto mutual aid from 2-4 departments, which were less than 10 minutes out. In fact, there were a couple of areas that the AMA would beat us into.

    I was on one rural department where that was not the case, but luckiliy our average daytime response ran about 6initially plus semi-distant AMA.

    I am going to reserve my comments on the pluses and the minuses of combo departments at this time.

    In my current department, the parish EMS, which has a paramedic transport unit housed at our Central (staffed) Station service does not pack, but at least 1 member per shift is trained to drive our engine and operate the pump. The second member takes the ambo the scene and then assists with exterior support duties. In some cases, both of the paramedics are FT or volunteer firefighters elsewhere, so it works out that we have 2 very trained hands to help.
    population-12000, the county is 309 square miles
    callvolume- 2500 to 3000 yearly around 85% ems
    total member# that showup that is 15
    Response time depends on what part of the county the call comes in at, just 3 days ago we had a 21 min time to a house fire, it was 30% involved on arr. we had a total of 8 firefighters for the whole cluster. The house had 2 roofs, the top roof being metal.
    The ems crew is county based, we have 2 ambulances
    Mutual aid is Very well trained 3-4 man engines, 3 man ladders, heavy rescue ect. BUT........ Now I have the right to speak on this b-c I am also a member of the volly, I work in the same county where I live. Our leader ship is very proud, and will almost never call for help. The other day we were almost begging for command to call for aid we were so tired, A stick would have made the whole call different, we were out for for 5 hours on that fire.
    If ems is busy them vollys respond with fire app. then there are 2 less to help
    No chance of more full timers

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    Sounds like your backs are up against the wall.

    Large area with a small population to draw from in terms of vollie recruitment. Limited tax base.

    Not a whole lot of options.

    You simply have to be smart and pick your battles bro. If there are no life safety issues pick your battles wisely. make sure the fire is in a contained area - room and contents- and hasn't spread to an attic or basement as those are situations that just scream LODD with that small a crew.

    Accept the fact that your lives are more important than property, and may even be more important than a victim if the fire has spread beyond a contained area. That's just the reality.

    We cover about 200 miles with 7 stations and 4 paid firefighters daytime, but luckily we are usually backed up by 6-8 volunteers, and sometimes a couple more. Parish medic crew housed at our station will pump the engine and help out exterior but do not go interior. Our mutual aid is extremly limited though.

    Just be smart and do what you can do. Good luck.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-18-2009 at 07:32 PM.

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    Population of 12,000 and your making 2500 to 3000 calls a year! Are you all sick and elderly living in grass huts!

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    Quote Originally Posted by confire View Post
    Population of 12,000 and your making 2500 to 3000 calls a year! Are you all sick and elderly living in grass huts!
    I was thinking the same thing - our population is double that with a little more than a tenth the calls - 400-500/yr or so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confire View Post
    Population of 12,000 and your making 2500 to 3000 calls a year! Are you all sick and elderly living in grass huts!
    Rethinking my post, this may not be out of line at all. If you have wildfires, a large influx of tourist or daytime workers this can add greatly to anyone’s run volume.

    Yes I did quote myself

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    Being in a rural area, there may also be a large number of mutual aid requests or automatic mutual aid assignments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confire View Post
    Rethinking my post, this may not be out of line at all. If you have wildfires, a large influx of tourist or daytime workers this can add greatly to anyone’s run volume.

    Yes I did quote myself
    Lots of brush fires and we have a VERY large lake in our county if fact the largest man made lake in our state, lots of boats-jetskis ect oh and LOTS of drunk fools in the summer. 25% of my med units calls are mutual aid to the county north of us. On the lake there is a large # of retirees living there.

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    sounds like you need to recruit very heavily if you are running that many calls a year you have to be running yourself in the dirt

    I run about 600 a year for my paid department
    and about 50 for my volunteer. the paid is fire/ems,
    the volunteer is just fire response and i have seen days where i was totaly wore out and its my job, how do you do it being "full volunteer"
    i sympathize with you.

    recruitment would be your best option, sell your department
    the best thing that ever happened to us was college aged guys. and seniors in highschool the average age of our department (thats the volunteer)is 22 with 28 members 20 being FFI and 4 EMT-B and 10 First Responders look in to it it works well. If you can get your foot in the door at the local high school it will pay in the long run. Start training them now so when they come of age they can function at a fire scene.60 to 70% of my guys i have, i got them when they were in high school.

    Try it if you need particulars i can give you my email and tell you about our program.

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    Firesafetyed@aol.com if you'd like a little more info on how I have sucessfully recruited in the past.

    A junior program is agreat tool, but does take time and deication to manage.

    Add a support catagory, if you don't already have one.

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