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Thread: Angry Civilians

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    Default Angry Civilians

    I am on a volunteer department in a vollie only county. We went to a house fire at 3am a couple weeks ago, my chief always goes POV to size up while we get the trucks. When he pulled up he was confronted by a couple of civilians who wanted to kick his *** because the fire trucks werent there fast enough. He called for SO units who had to arrest 2 men because they assaulted my chief and one of the officers. We were putting water on the house 9 minutes after being toned. We had another call friday, storage structure fire on an unmarked dirt road out in the middle of the woods. We had water on the fire 15 minutes after being toned. There was a fight between my capt. and a civilian on that scene because we took too long to get there and he lost his storage shed. The reason he lost it was the 5 gallon propane tank that busted the relief valve and ignited most of the structure.

    How do/would ya'll respond to these people that yell at us while we gear up, while we run our hoses, or even when were done and packing up?


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    Quote Originally Posted by ke5yot View Post
    I am on a volunteer department in a vollie only county. We went to a house fire at 3am a couple weeks ago, my chief always goes POV to size up while we get the trucks. When he pulled up he was confronted by a couple of civilians who wanted to kick his *** because the fire trucks werent there fast enough. He called for SO units who had to arrest 2 men because they assaulted my chief and one of the officers. We were putting water on the house 9 minutes after being toned. We had another call friday, storage structure fire on an unmarked dirt road out in the middle of the woods. We had water on the fire 15 minutes after being toned. There was a fight between my capt. and a civilian on that scene because we took too long to get there and he lost his storage shed. The reason he lost it was the 5 gallon propane tank that busted the relief valve and ignited most of the structure.

    How do/would ya'll respond to these people that yell at us while we gear up, while we run our hoses, or even when were done and packing up?
    Give them an application to the VFD, tell them to step up or shut up.
    ‎"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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    tell him he should have had a sprinkler system.

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    Call in the media and have them do an education piece on your department and the system.

    As for the residents, tell them to move to a paid area if they dont like it.

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    Don't know much about your county but it sounds pretty rural.

    Similar situation to what we have here.

    What kind of media do you have? Local papers? Cable access TV?

    Sounds to me like you may need some type of an educational campaign explaining the space between stations, travel times to the station and then to the scene, problems with unmarked or poor roads and manpower.

    it seems like you need to educate the residents as to the distance and time it takes to respond in a rural situation.

    Look at your average response times and compare them to neighboring areas. If they are out of line, look internally for ways to improve them.

    E-mail me at Firesafetyed@aol.com if you would like some additional information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Give them an application to the VFD, tell them to step up or shut up.
    I had the same deal happen to us when I was a vollie years ago.
    Did our best to save the joint and I almost got killed in the process...there is only so much one can do.

    Told them A. you get what you pay for...and B. You are welcome to sign up anytime you feel like it.

    Don't sweat it...they probably thought they were getting a good deal over the city folk who pay taxes for the grossly over paid and un-needed firemen...until that is their house caught fire.

    In short...f*ckem. It isn't your problem...in fact they are lucky you even showed up. They want response times that come with paid staff and large city resources... they better pay for it.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by ke5yot View Post
    I am on a volunteer department in a vollie only county. We went to a house fire at 3am a couple weeks ago, my chief always goes POV to size up while we get the trucks. When he pulled up he was confronted by a couple of civilians who wanted to kick his *** because the fire trucks werent there fast enough. He called for SO units who had to arrest 2 men because they assaulted my chief and one of the officers. We were putting water on the house 9 minutes after being toned. We had another call friday, storage structure fire on an unmarked dirt road out in the middle of the woods. We had water on the fire 15 minutes after being toned. There was a fight between my capt. and a civilian on that scene because we took too long to get there and he lost his storage shed. The reason he lost it was the 5 gallon propane tank that busted the relief valve and ignited most of the structure.

    How do/would ya'll respond to these people that yell at us while we gear up, while we run our hoses, or even when were done and packing up?
    15 mins from initial call to first water would be considered very good in a lot of the rural areas here. Distance, gravel roads, possible poor directions don't help much either.

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    What was the cause of the fire? If it was something stupid that they did, you could use that to stick it up their butt.

    You could also offer to pack up and go home to give the homeowner the chance to call another FD. One that he might be happy with.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ke5yot View Post
    I am on a volunteer department in a vollie only county. We went to a house fire at 3am a couple weeks ago, my chief always goes POV to size up while we get the trucks. When he pulled up he was confronted by a couple of civilians who wanted to kick his *** because the fire trucks werent there fast enough. He called for SO units who had to arrest 2 men because they assaulted my chief and one of the officers. We were putting water on the house 9 minutes after being toned. We had another call friday, storage structure fire on an unmarked dirt road out in the middle of the woods. We had water on the fire 15 minutes after being toned. There was a fight between my capt. and a civilian on that scene because we took too long to get there and he lost his storage shed. The reason he lost it was the 5 gallon propane tank that busted the relief valve and ignited most of the structure.

    How do/would ya'll respond to these people that yell at us while we gear up, while we run our hoses, or even when were done and packing up?
    We had something like this happen to us earlier this year. Response time was just under 7 minutes, from the time the call was paged till the first Engine was on scene. The home owner was jumping mad. "I called for a F-ing fire truck not SUV and pick up trucks" she screamed. I made the mistake of trying to explain that we were a vollie dept. (Which we have been since 1899) and it was quicker to drive from my house to the call than walk. Its times like this, that make you wonder why the hell I left my wife and my warm bed in the middle of the night, during the dead of winter to help a "citizen" who was apparently a rocket scientist in training. The cause of the "house fire" was a space heater which the home owner had placed in her straw filled dog house to keep her pit bull and puppies warm. I know that you cant fix stupid, but damn. Oh well if nothing else, its "job security." As for now when it comes to a upset home owner or angry civilians, I keep my mouth shut and let the officers/chief deal with them and I try to stay on task and focus on the job at hand.

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    I could guarentee that they would have been p*ssed off if their taxes double so there could have a FD that "sat around all day waiting for a call". Now when they need you they get mad.....

    Educational oppertunity and a push for more recruits are the best things that can happen. Also a conserted effort to heal with the home owners may work well for your favor in the long run.
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    3" on full stream usually will settle that problem.

    We have not had that situtation that I can think of, but most of the time, we have a deputy or two with us when responding, if there isn't anyting going on.

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    I think the best thing you can do is show some understanding and compassion. Typically we are dealing with victims that have lost a lot and are frustrated. Just be the bigger person and don't let it escalate. Well they get angry because the truck isn't there. Explain you are sizing up what is needed and the truck will arrive shortly. Sometimes you just have to turn the other cheek

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I think the best thing you can do is show some understanding and compassion.
    If someone is assaulting me, my fellow firefighters, or a police officer, I'll be showing them something but it isn't compassion and it will probably hurt. While the assailant is in jail on a multitude of felony charges, they can read your PSA and educational articles.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Sometimes you just have to turn the other cheek
    Yup, it turns when I am looking in the locker for the crowbar.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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    How do/would ya'll respond to these people that yell at us while we gear up, while we run our hoses, or even when were done and packing up?
    We are pretty lucky in that the cops usually beat us to the fires (where we then block them in with LDH).

    I know in rural and urban areas that is kind of rare. Best thing to do is to try to redirect those people.

    "Hey I know you are angry, can you check on your family and make sure they are okay".

    "Can you run to the end of the road and direct the fire engines in?"

    "Can you hold my helmet while I get the halligan bar out?" If all else fails.
    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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    I know I am going to get my butt kicked for this one.

    Education is fine, but it must be done in advance.

    On the scene - I will try to calm the situation down. Old "how to tell
    somone to go to hell and make them thank you for saying it 101".

    If that does not work, (quickly) I will do my job while ignoring them. If
    they get physical they will be placed under arrest.

    We had it happen a few times in the distant past - but as we have evolved
    into a better department, communicated better with the public, and become more "all hazards" oriented we have not had an issue.

    We had a major ice storm at the begining of the year - FEMA disaster. During that we had a structure fire in a very remote location. I was barely able to get my pickup to the scene from the north, and we could get one engine and one tanker there (even after the tree fell on the engine ripping off everything
    on the roof) but it was useless without a water supply. I was honest with the property owner, and they totally understood.

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    That's what we have cops for. The last time we had a situation like this the homeowner got tazed by the cops and then arrested. This was after a firefighter dogpile (with the homeowner on the bottom). I missed that call, working my other job.

    You just go on with life and hope that they let you go on with yours.
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    First run area (Ambulance): Lancaster & Jefferson, NH; Gilman, Guildhall & Lunenberg, VT (185.1 Sq Miles)

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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Hmmm...........

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    We are pretty lucky in that the cops usually beat us to the fires

    Not Here. They only come when invited. BUT, they are 100% for us when they arrive. I've seen a lot of idiots get locked up for doing dumb things over the years, but by far the fastest way is mess with the FD/VFD.........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Not Here. They only come when invited. BUT, they are 100% for us when they arrive. I've seen a lot of idiots get locked up for doing dumb things over the years, but by far the fastest way is mess with the FD/VFD.........
    Look, I love our cops, great guys/gals... but we aren't in a big crime area, so they don't have a whole lot going on (i guess).

    They used to carry scott paks in their cars. That was a hoot! One put it on over his poly uniform and went in an apartment to save a bird. Poor guy put it on upside down and was looking down at his side the entire time (these were the old 2.2's.

    That was the end of them having scotts in the cars.

    Either way, I've had to push them out of the apartment "kitchen fires" at times. I don't know why they want to smell like burned food all shift????
    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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    ke5yot, does the sheriff department not respond with you to all fire calls? Around here every fire call the sheriff department is dispatched with us.

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