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    Default Do they teach you guys this?

    I have just done about my 8000th fire in a row where I found all the circuit breakers in the electrical turned OFF. Is there a section of the book or a class where they teach you guys to do this? Because, if there is, I have to work to get it changed. It's very dangerous and compromises the investigation.
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    I thought it was common knowledge to hit the main breaker, and only the main breaker.


    But then again, I thought ground ladders were basic knowledge.

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    Our district does not have any building codes, so we never know what the owners could have done to the wiring. We have had instanceswhere we turned off the main breaker but still had power to the house. Instead of messing with the breakers at all we just pull the meter unless the utility company is on scene.

    I can see how throwing every breaker would make the job harder for our Fire Marshall.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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    We don't do anything with any breakers. Why would we? Why do you guys?

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    We only throw the main breaker, leaving the individual breakers in place for the investigators.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I have just done about my 8000th fire in a row where I found all the circuit breakers in the electrical turned OFF. Is there a section of the book or a class where they teach you guys to do this? Because, if there is, I have to work to get it changed. It's very dangerous and compromises the investigation.

    George, this is what we teach here, right or wrong. That is one of the duties that falls on the second or third due truck while securing the utilities.
    We do try to take note of what the circuit panel looks like when we shut the main, as far as tripped breakers, etc... but then again, we have one of the worst arson clearance rates around.

    What would you rather see from us in your investigative point-of-view? Honestly, we have never had an arson investigator sit down and tell us how we can better help them do their job.
    Last edited by jasper45; 11-14-2009 at 03:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    George, this is what we teach here, right or wrong. That is one of the duties that falls on the second or third due truck while securing the utilities.
    We do try to take note of what the circuit panel looks like when we shut the main, as far as tripped breakers, etc... but then again, we have one of the worst arson clearance rates around.

    What would you rather see from us in your investigative point-of-view? Honestly, we have never had an arson investigator sit down and tell us how we can better help them do their job.
    Think about how those two statements correlate to one another. And if you secure the main, why bother with the individual breakers?

    What I believe George is trying to say, is that if all of the breakers are shut off rather than the main, the investigators can then not see which individual breakers have (or have not) tripped, which is a huge part of many investigations.

    That's nice that your guys "took note" of which breakers have tripped, however any first-year questioning attorney could discredit any kind of testimony regarding that.

    The first thing any investigator is going to do is photograph the panel and properly document it as evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Think about how those two statements correlate to one another. And if you secure the main, why bother with the individual breakers?
    Not really, arson here isn't taken seriously. Arson detectives only investigate arson when they aren't being used to investigate other crimes.

    We take note of what the panel looked liked for our benefit only, to aid in overhaul, etc... We rarely if ever see an arson unit at a fire scene.
    Last edited by jasper45; 11-14-2009 at 04:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I have just done about my 8000th fire in a row where I found all the circuit breakers in the electrical turned OFF. Is there a section of the book or a class where they teach you guys to do this? Because, if there is, I have to work to get it changed. It's very dangerous and compromises the investigation.
    No it doesn't. If the breaker's tripped, it will not go off the same way unless it is reset. That one will still show orange.

    Some houses don't have mains, and some with mains have had them circumvented at some point. The investigation is a distant second to the crew not getting zapped and the best and quickest way is to flip everything.

    I had some goober try to bawl me out and I went and showed him not only the absence of a main breaker, but the orange tripped breaker still showing amongst the others.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Johnny does raise a valid point. Although breakers around here don't "show orange", one that is tripped as opposed to turned off only goes about half way. It doesn't seat all the way against the 'off' side.

    Having said that, for any significant fire, we pull the meter and don't mess around with the breakers anyway.
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    Some older breaker panels do not have a main breaker. I know mine don't in my house. There is a big throw switch next to the breaker, but I have no clue if that kills every other panel in the house. We do not pull meters per electric company protocol. I would rather flip all the breakers and be safe than electrocute myself during overhaul (god forbid power had not been shut off at the source). That being said, it is a good idea to note which breakers were tripped.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Having said that, for any significant fire, we pull the meter and don't mess around with the breakers anyway.

    We don't touch meters, here. Our power company doesn't want anyone touching them except for them.
    We only go for the breakers/fuse panel if we're able to and circumstances allow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Not really, arson here isn't taken seriously. Arson detectives only investigate arson when they aren't being used to investigate other crimes.

    We take note of what the panel looked liked for our benefit only, to aid in overhaul, etc... We rarely if ever see an arson unit at a fire scene.
    And what if there is a fatality involved that could have the potential to be a homicide?

    Sorry, thats a pretty poor attitude for you to have, whether the Arson guys rarely show up or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Sorry, thats a pretty poor attitude for you to have, whether the Arson guys rarely show up or not.

    What exactly is the poor attitude? We're not law enforcement, we have no arrest powers and we turn over the fire scene to the investigating police squad. That is always a radio car. As we aren't able or permitted to label a fire as arson, the investigating police squad must request arson. Obviously we record any information in our run reports, which are eventually pulled by police.

    The police here are great at clearing homicides, but not arson. So again, I don't see where the "poor-attitude" is. We work up our chain-of-command, who then works it over to police.

    We do our job, we record our information, etc...not sure what the bad attitude is. Whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    And what if there is a fatality involved that could have the potential to be a homicide?
    I have seen it where the police have made a conviction on a homicide, in which the body was found in the fire building, but no arson conviction. The city's priority is on clearing homicides, just not arson.

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    Yeah, shoulda pointed out that even the breakers without the wee patch of orange showing aren't thrown the same.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusKspn View Post
    Our district does not have any building codes, so we never know what the owners could have done to the wiring. We have had instanceswhere we turned off the main breaker but still had power to the house. Instead of messing with the breakers at all we just pull the meter unless the utility company is on scene.

    I can see how throwing every breaker would make the job harder for our Fire Marshall.
    If you don't have building codes, it means you may have a house where the wiring was never inspected. Can you see how sticking your hands into a panel that may not be groundedproperly while you are probably standing in water may kill a FF or two?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    We only throw the main breaker, leaving the individual breakers in place for the investigators.
    Why????????????????
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    What would you rather see from us in your investigative point-of-view?
    Leave it alone and don't touch it at all. You are in far more danger sticking your hand into an electrical panel you know nothing about while probably standing n water than if you just left it alone.

    Can anyone point to a LODD or documented serious injury where the injury occurred INSIDE a dwelling due to electrocution? I can save you the trouble and tell you I have searched high and low and can't find one.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    No it doesn't. If the breaker's tripped, it will not go off the same way unless it is reset. That one will still show orange.

    Some houses don't have mains, and some with mains have had them circumvented at some point. The investigation is a distant second to the crew not getting zapped and the best and quickest way is to flip everything.

    I had some goober try to bawl me out and I went and showed him not only the absence of a main breaker, but the orange tripped breaker still showing amongst the others.
    I didn't say turn off the main.

    See my answer above about "getting zapped".
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Johnny does raise a valid point. Although breakers around here don't "show orange", one that is tripped as opposed to turned off only goes about half way. It doesn't seat all the way against the 'off' side.

    Having said that, for any significant fire, we pull the meter and don't mess around with the breakers anyway.
    We have discussed pulling meters here before. I am not going downthatroad again (unless someone wants to).
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie82 View Post
    Some older breaker panels do not have a main breaker. I know mine don't in my house. There is a big throw switch next to the breaker, but I have no clue if that kills every other panel in the house. We do not pull meters per electric company protocol. I would rather flip all the breakers and be safe than electrocute myself during overhaul (god forbid power had not been shut off at the source). That being said, it is a good idea to note which breakers were tripped.
    How many documented cases of electrocution inside a dwelling have you seen?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Sorry, thats a pretty poor attitude for you to have,
    Yes it is, but way too typical.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    What exactly is the poor attitude? We're not law enforcement, we have no arrest powers and we turn over the fire scene to the investigating police squad. That is always a radio car. As we aren't able or permitted to label a fire as arson, the investigating police squad must request arson. Obviously we record any information in our run reports, which are eventually pulled by police.

    The police here are great at clearing homicides, but not arson. So again, I don't see where the "poor-attitude" is. We work up our chain-of-command, who then works it over to police.

    We do our job, we record our information, etc...not sure what the bad attitude is. Whatever.
    I'm pretty certain there are state assets in your state that investigate arson. Why don't you use them if the PD does not have the will or the experise? Why don't you get a couple of fire officers trained? I could find 10 guys to help do that at low cost in a heartbeat.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I've been hit more than once by wires and I know guys who have been nailed. The current is enough to cause cardiac arrest and the "it hasn't happened yet" line doesn't hold water. The fact is, any breaker tripped will not be the same as the others so there's no problem. The breaker will not tell you anything but a possible area of origin. It's really not the key to the entire investigation.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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