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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    For rarely facing an abandoned or vacant building fire you seem to exude superiority on the subject. How can you tell anyone they're incorrect when you obviously have no place in the conversation?
    Ah, I see you just can't quit.

    Given that I have far more years in than you Jr., I have likely dealt with far more abandoned building fires than you.

    Most have been in a rural environment, as compared to urban, but they have been absconded none the less with many of the hazards that are also associated with urban areas.

    In fact, it's probably fair to say that I have dealt with a wider array of situations than you have, but that's besides the point.

    And where during this post have I told anyone they were incorrect? All my responses have been in the context of my combo and volunteer districts. If anything, it's folks like you telling us that my opinions regarding operations in volunteer and rural districts are wrong.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 03:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    Do you honestly believe any firefighter has walked into a building knowing without a doubt they would not walk back out?
    No, but you can certainly identify which situations based on building construction, smoke, fire behavior as well as a number of other factors which situations you are more or less likely to not walk out of. Again it's called playing the percentages based on your initial evaluation.

    If my initial evaluation tells me that this is situation appears to be beyond the levels of my, my department's or my crew's experience, training and/or resources I have no issues with simply not going interior and simply doing what we can via exterior operations.

    I will not commit crews to a situation interior that I have any doubts about. And I will pull any crew I am in charge of managing at the first hint of an issue. WE are simply to valuable and we are the priority. I'm not one for hanging around trying to improve the situation as likely we will not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Ah, I see you just can't quit.

    Given that I have far more years in than you Jr., I have likely dealt with far more abandoned building fires than you.

    Most have been in a rural environment, as compared to urban, but they have been absconded none the less with many of the hazards that are also associated with urban areas.

    In fact, it's probably fair to say that I have dealt with a wider array of situations than you have, but that's besides the point.

    And where during this post have I told anyone they were incorrect? All my responses have been in the context of my combo and volunteer districts. If anything, it's folks like you telling us that my opinions regarding operations in volunteer and rural districts are wrong.
    Ah, your low grade of reading comprehension strikes again. Not speaking about myself, but what about the countless others who are held in much higher regard than you, with more experience and their responses to you that you truly do not have a grasp on what anyone else is experiencing or talking about?
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I will not commit crews to a situation interior that I have any doubts about. And I will pull any crew I am in charge of managing at the first hint of an issue. WE are simply to valuable and we are the priority. I'm not one for hanging around trying to improve the situation as likely we will not.
    It is almost impossible to not have any doubts when fighting a fire, it is just too dynamic with too many variables.... seriously, do you even read your own posts?
    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.

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    I have never been in a building that was on fire and felt completely safe but that didn't deter me from applying my training to making safe decisions that helped me and the victims inside gain the upper advantage in a dangerous situation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    Ah, your low grade of reading comprehension strikes again. Not speaking about myself, but what about the countless others who are held in much higher regard than you, with more experience and their responses to you that you truly do not have a grasp on what anyone else is experiencing or talking about?
    In their situations, they beleive that entering abandoned structures is both justified based on the real or potential risk, and that their resources can support the operation.

    I take a very mathematical view of risk v. benefit, and based on that mathematical view, as well as my experiences in dealing with abandoned structures, not only in this department, but also in my previous departments, I simply cannot justify entry given the very low mathematical and statistical probability of occupancy given my experiences. The fact is, they cannot make judgements about the risk of occupancy and the risk v. benefit in my area as their opinions and beliefs have been shaped by their experiences in their districts. Because of that, their opinions and beliefs hold no validity in my world.

    While my current combo department's policy regarding abandoned operations is not nearly as restrictive as I would prefer, it does provide some limiting factors in terms of at a minimum, reserving the decision regarding entry to the senior officers. I would much prefer a blanket no-go policy unless some very specific indicators are present to identify possible occupancy.


    I have been very careful as of late to frame all of my opinions within the volunteer suburban and rural context, and have made no attempts to pass opinions on the urban world, as, based on the statements above, my opinions would hold no validity in that environment.

    In addition, my opinions are based on my current and past resources and department training levels, which have varied greatly depending on the department, access to training and the community type. Again, since others do not work or volunteer in my current or past resource or training base, their comments hold no validity in my current situation. Again, as of late, I have restrained myself from commenting on their world.

    The fact is an opinion from a member of the FDNY, Boston or any other urban area has no true relevance in a volunteer suburban or rural environment.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 04:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    It is almost impossible to not have any doubts when fighting a fire, it is just too dynamic with too many variables.... seriously, do you even read your own posts?
    Fully agreed that a fire has a tremendous number of variables, and it is a very fluid and dynamic situation.

    Which is why that the majority of the incidents I have commanded over the years have been exterior only until the fire has been knocked down from the exterior, including one with reported victims.

    I have no issues in stating that I use percentages when calculating risk v. benefit, and much of decision making is driven by probabilities, which in my current and previous environments, have been against us the majority of the time.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 04:10 PM.
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    So why should the opinion of a non-leadership position from somewhere that rarely, if ever, faces our problems matter?

    You have a right to an opinion on a subject but there is no reason you should try and make sound like you are speaking a universal truth we are too thick headed to understand.

    I would be batting 100% also if I saw 2 fires a year, never went interior, and everyone made it out before we got there but thats not the case in both my city career department or my rural volunteer parish (which I feel can't be much different than yours save for its larger size).
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    So why should the opinion of a non-leadership position from somewhere that rarely, if ever, faces our problems matter?

    You have a right to an opinion on a subject but there is no reason you should try and make sound like you are speaking a universal truth we are too thick headed to understand.

    I would be batting 100% also if I saw 2 fires a year, never went interior, and everyone made it out before we got there but thats not the case in both my city career department or my rural volunteer parish (which I feel can't be much different than yours save for its larger size).
    I honestly don't care if anyone cares or listens to what I say. However, I know that many do, and agree with me, based on the PMs I receive.

    The fact is I have backed off on commenting on more urban issues, and most of what I have been saying as of late have been prefixed as volunteer suburban and rural, which is my experience base.

    I have my style, which is very conservative, both in actions and the decision making process. It works for me. There are those who I work with that can't stand my lack of aggression is some situations. Sucks to be them I guess.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 04:21 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    PK, welcome and your posts have been very enlightening and well written. With a vast majority of us here, we get what you are saying, but. Unfortunately, your well though out and elegant posts are failing hard in try to convince LA of anything other than doing nothing.
    He talks a big game, and the moment you call him out, or try to pin him down, he soon reverts back to "well in my area....".
    He has yet to add anything constructive or worthwhile to any post or topic that actually discusses what real firefighters do and are tasked to do by their community. He is, in my opinion, a self-centered coward more worried about covering his *** than making a difference.
    But I applaud your efforts and I enjoyed reading your thoughts and the intelligent posts by others that get it.
    I appreciate the endorsement but I'm not giving up so easily on LA. I understand your concern and opinion and appreciate your input. It seems to me that this issue can indeed be based on a regional or local basis. Not saying it changes anything I stated or believe.


    Quote Originally Posted by LA
    Again we agree on most things, but I see our policy as protecting the troops, and you see as handcuffing the troops. I guess it's simply going to end up being and agree to disagree stalemate brother.
    If the ability to train commanders is somewhat compromised, then perhaps the policy is designed to take the place of decision making. I still think that is a bad situation and sets you up for unforseen circumstances. It seems to me that in most of what you have said, I can't find any disagreement. The only thing that is clear and unresolved is this thinking on a damn policy.

    I would like to take some credit for moving you to my position but I don't think I had any impact on that. In truth, I think you were already there for the most part. So if a policy is all that is in dispute, then I must conclude it is a local thing. But having said that, I myself, as many of us, have seen this before.

    I have admitted in my post that a policy was violated twice that did result in a life being saved. Well, we should never violate our policies... so that was wrong if you really get down to it. If the violation had lead to a tragedy, we could all safely conclude someones head would roll. And as stated, people were suspended pending investigation. But the outcomes did find that the actions did in fact lead to the saving of life. Does this mean the ends justifies the means? I'll let each of you decide that.

    But in both of these situations, there was evidence that perhaps the policy was too restrictive or at odds with what we do. There are other ways to change a bad policy, but the road is somewhat rocky. It is alot easier to create a new policy based on fear or reason. This type of policy is for the wrong reason... at least that is my contention.

    I have worked in rural areas and mostly you are correct: delayed response or notification, inadequate water supply, inadequate manpower... is not just a rural or volunteer issue. It can happen in downtown San Francisco, Dallas or even Philly. Hydrants and waterworks do fail, and 911 sometimes has the hiccups.

    Quote Originally Posted by LA
    On my combo side, we average an abandoned structure fire probably once a year. Most of the time these are old and decaying backyard sheds or outbuildings that they owner tells us are empty. One very rare occasions - probably once every 5 years - we experience a fire in an abandoned home or small commercial property.

    The point is this is a very rare event for us. We have experienced officers who have the ability to make the call to go interior if they feel there is a valid life safety reason to do so. The primary purpose of the no entry order is to cover the inexperienced first responders who may arrive via POV or with the satellite engine from the closest volunteer house before the more experienced officers from the paid staff or the bulk of the district arrive.
    The infrequency of your encounters with structure fires may account for the adoption of the policy, but I still think it is bad business. However... you do state that your officers are not bound by a policy... this applies to only to members who may be inexperienced. Well I think we have finally found the root of our disagreement. I happen to agree that a first year rookie might not be equipped with the knowledge to make this call, nor should we expect him to do so.


    Quote Originally Posted by LA
    I guess I disagree that on some levels, we do need to protect our people from themselves. Unfortunately as a service, we have not demonstrated the ability to control our own people in many areas, and I feel this is an areas which begs for hard and firm SOPs. There is room for decision making when the senior officers arrive.
    In a nut shell, the policy you are talking about is to protect the guys that should not make these decisions in the first place. If we only limit the debate to this single idea..... then you are correct. But this policy is not a command policy, it is usually found in the context of not getting yourself in over your head. In other words, if you are not trained to do brain surgery, don't.

    All of my statements relate to the Command Officers ability to decide... not the troops. We do not disagree on protecting someone when they have not been trained to perform a function. But that is a common sense thing.

    By the way, I tend to agree that many times we do not have the ability to control the troops. I have seen this within very good departments. People get excited or carried away and things can get pretty screwed up in a big hurry. But I don't think a policy is going to dictate much at that point. The only thing that can turn this issue around is the Leader or command staff.

    But having said that, we have seen events where extraordinary actions were conducted by few who were cut off from command. I can only explain such actions as personal strength and dedication to mission and are not based on a policy. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary action, not a policy.

    In regard to the RISK/BENEFIT Analysis. I think any of us that hold a command position are guided by RBA. Risk little to save little/ risk a lot to save a lot. But I have seen this basic concept, yet complex theory watered down with very bad policies. If we risk little, then we cannot save a lot. I have never seen a structure fire that was suppressed with only an exterior attack, and I have never seen a rescue without someone going inside. But, I once saw a slab that had been saved with no intervention whatsoever. Perhaps I live in sheltered world where what I consider impossible never happens, but somewhere else it does.

    LA, I don't think there is any disagreement at all... Your own words tell me that you do understand this issue and agree that command officers should command based upon the situation and not be handicapped by a policy. If we are just discussing how we need to make sure our guys are safe... then again, we agree. We should not expect them to command when they have no training or reason to do so. No matter the event, a situation is always possible that someone will exceed their level of training or authority and a policy will not enter into the formula.


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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I have no issues in stating that I use percentages when calculating risk v. benefit, and much of decision making is driven by probabilities, which in my current and previous environments, have been against us the majority of the time.
    Oh, there is always a "go, don't go"..."continue, stop" inner dialogue going when you are in commmand.

    Basing it on percentages? Actual numbers? Sounds like something an insane person would do (no offense).
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    I will say, safety is still a concern but my job is still my job. If a building doesn't look structurally sound then don't make entry. An untold portion of the decision is "how long has this been burning?". There are very few here that do not feel it worth their time to devote their resources to fighting a vacant building fire but if they take 10 minutes to get the call, 10 minutes to arrive, and 10 minutes to figure out what to do, then a search won't be needed anyway as anyone in there would be (likely) dead. We have the luxury of early detection, very fast response time, and excellent decision making from the white shirts. Is it always the most correct choice? Probably not, but we are fighting the fire very quickly. Like Mr Brannigan said, "If you aren't winning against the fire, you're losing; there are no stalemates". I am trying to understand the counter-points to my article and I can 100% understand the previous situation.

    Sometimes you can not get a fast enough turnout to do anything offensive much less mount an interior attack. If you have the men, the water, and the means, barring any questionable building status, what would be a reason to NOT search?
    Part of the ISSUE,in addition to the increased Safety mantra is the decline of EXPERIENCED Fire Officers. Despite all the training we offer,thru various mediums,NONE of it compares to actually working/running actual FIRE incidents. As more and more calls are B&s,Afa,Mva,and medical,the core of truly experienced fire officers is shrinking. Which takes away from the very indicators that must be learned to make rapid,lifesaving decisions on the shrinking number of working incidents. Area,construction,occupancy and available manpower and equipment all play into this process. But all these factors need balance in order to work Correctly. Some are satisfied with status quo,others will keep pushing and training to continually improve service. I'm pleased to say our entire area falls into the second group. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 07-31-2011 at 05:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    In their situations, they beleive that entering abandoned structures is both justified based on the real or potential risk, and that their resources can support the operation.

    I take a very mathematical view of risk v. benefit, and based on that mathematical view, as well as my experiences in dealing with abandoned structures, not only in this department, but also in my previous departments, I simply cannot justify entry given the very low mathematical and statistical probability of occupancy given my experiences. The fact is, they cannot make judgements about the risk of occupancy and the risk v. benefit in my area as their opinions and beliefs have been shaped by their experiences in their districts. Because of that, their opinions and beliefs hold no validity in my world.

    While my current combo department's policy regarding abandoned operations is not nearly as restrictive as I would prefer, it does provide some limiting factors in terms of at a minimum, reserving the decision regarding entry to the senior officers. I would much prefer a blanket no-go policy unless some very specific indicators are present to identify possible occupancy.


    I have been very careful as of late to frame all of my opinions within the volunteer suburban and rural context, and have made no attempts to pass opinions on the urban world, as, based on the statements above, my opinions would hold no validity in that environment.

    In addition, my opinions are based on my current and past resources and department training levels, which have varied greatly depending on the department, access to training and the community type. Again, since others do not work or volunteer in my current or past resource or training base, their comments hold no validity in my current situation. Again, as of late, I have restrained myself from commenting on their world.

    The fact is an opinion from a member of the FDNY, Boston or any other urban area has no true relevance in a volunteer suburban or rural environment.
    May want to RETHINK that. We utilize guys from beantown and FDNY regularly in our programs. They bring us tools and they leave with a few they don't often use. A Win Win. There are several FDNY staff that have spent quite a lot of time here both on vaca and teaching. We ENJOY their company and the information they bring. MANY things bridge the urban/rural line,you might consider that moving forward. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Part of the ISSUE,in addition to the increased Safety mantra is the decline of EXPERIENCED Fire Officers. Despite all the training we offer,thru various mediums,NONE of it compares to actually working/running actual FIRE incidents. As more and more calls are B&s,Afa,Mva,and medical,the core of truly experienced fire officers is shrinking. Which takes away from the very indicators that must be learned to make rapid,lifesaving decisions on the shrinking number of working incidents. Area,construction,occupancy and available manpower and equipment all play into this process. But all these factors need balance in order to work Correctly. Some are satisfied with status quo,others will keep pushing and training to continually improve service. I'm pleased to say our entire area falls into the second group. T.C.
    You know.... you make some points that need to be considered.

    It reminds me of a dept that I did some ISO advisory work for last year. None of their command staff had more than 4 years in the department... a young bunch. There just wasn't any salty old guy around to lead them. At the time, structure fires were not going their way, which lead to my work. They had major water supply issues, which in turn effected their entire suppression capability. No water, No attack. Part of my function was to help them work around the water supply thing and teach them the basics of pump operations. So all of it does go hand in hand. It's tough to perfrom a rescue if the guys behind you can't put you out when you come out.

    You are only as good as your weakest link.

    But I still don't want to see a policy...
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    PK, We have WAY more policy than I care for. But that is starting to change with my incessant hammering on the Boss. My goal: More Officer and crew competence,LESS paperwork. Encourage good thought process and FG actions,correct improper actions and REWARD good ones. Give the R&F the tools they need and less close supervision from top brass. We'll see how it goes. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Oh, there is always a "go, don't go"..."continue, stop" inner dialogue going when you are in commmand.

    Basing it on percentages? Actual numbers? Sounds like something an insane person would do (no offense).
    It's my way of trying to predict what's going to happen.

    Based on fire conditions, the building, the weather, etc I'll develop a percentage for, as an example, the fire spreading from point X to point Y, in Z time, which may be, as another example, I expect the bulk of my mutual aid to arrive. Based on that calculated percentage, I'll decide to, as another example, commit or not commit personnel interior.

    Again, it's simply my way of using math and probabilities to determine my strategy and tactics at a fire scene. It works very well for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    May want to RETHINK that. We utilize guys from beantown and FDNY regularly in our programs. They bring us tools and they leave with a few they don't often use. A Win Win. There are several FDNY staff that have spent quite a lot of time here both on vaca and teaching. We ENJOY their company and the information they bring. MANY things bridge the urban/rural line,you might consider that moving forward. T.C.
    Perhaps, but given the choice I would more than likely entertain the thoughts of another rural guy v. city guy. We have very few of the tools that even the 2 local cities carry as we simply don't have the occupancies that require them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Perhaps, but given the choice I would more than likely entertain the thoughts of another rural guy v. city guy. We have very few of the tools that even the 2 local cities carry as we simply don't have the occupancies that require them.

    Dop tell what tools they might use that you don't have the occupancies for. I simply can't wait to see this.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 07-31-2011 at 11:45 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Dop tell what tools they might use that you don't have the occupancies for. I simply can't wait to se this.
    We do very little forcible entry in our area, and as such, carry the bare minimum as compared to most other areas.

    We carry none of the traditional lock-related tools, no rabbit tools and nothing much beyond an irons set and a sledgehammer. We simply don't have the need for the forcible entry tools the city carries.

    While 101's suggestion is a valid one, there really is very little that would be applicable from an urban department in our operations. The only exception may be commercial operations or heavy vehicle extrication as both are infrequent events in our area.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 11:40 PM.
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    And when the day inevitably comes when some one walks down to the hardware store and reinforces any part of their house, the convenient "I just don't feel safe doing that" phrase will surface.


    Ladders, forcible entry, what else don't you feel worth your time to teach?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    And when the day inevitably comes when some one walks down to the hardware store and reinforces any part of their house, the convenient "I just don't feel safe doing that" phrase will surface.


    Ladders, forcible entry, what else don't you feel worth your time to teach?
    Where did I say we didn't teach forcible entry?

    That being said, is it a major point of emphasis on the department? No. Sorry but it's a skill that we have little need for as homes with significant security here are very rare, and commercial after-hours fires are extremely rare. I'm sorry that perhaps, you live in a crime ridden city where businesses, and even homeowners, are secured to the teeth, but again, that's not a part of our world. Even in the high dollar neighborhoods, homes are not secured and forcible entry is a very easy, basic proposition.

    When we see that start to change, we'll make the adjustments.

    I'm not going to get into the ladder debate again as our members are trained during their initial to throw ladders and operate on ladders in the situations we use ladders for, and additional relevant ladder skills are added during weekly training.

    We do spend the bulk of our training time on what we do, which is primarily EMS, brush operations, vehicle extrication, industrial and well site operations, rural water operations and single-story residential fire operations. The rest of the time is used on the less frequently used skills such as commercial fire ops, technical rescue, haz-mat and other niche areas.

    Again, I'll be happy top match our training hours and cert levels with any similiar department in the state.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-31-2011 at 11:57 PM.
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    I guess my RURAL POC FD is once again atypical.

    We carry the Irons on all of our engines and tanker. We carry multiple of flat head and pick head axes on those same rigs. Our 2 engines carry various lengths of New York roof hooks, various lengths of pike poles, Boston rakes, LA rubbish hooks, a San Francisco pike, and sledge hammers. We buy tools that work for us and believe a variety because of the varied construction is our best choise. We also carry saws on both of our engines.

    We don't have a Rabbet Tool. Not because we think it isn't necessary, but because it isn't in our budget.

    Buy what works and don't avoid buying because it is a "Big City" tool.
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  23. #73
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    ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    It's my way of trying to predict what's going to happen.

    Based on fire conditions, the building, the weather, etc I'll develop a percentage for, as an example, the fire spreading from point X to point Y, in Z time, which may be, as another example, I expect the bulk of my mutual aid to arrive. Based on that calculated percentage, I'll decide to, as another example, commit or not commit personnel interior.

    Again, it's simply my way of using math and probabilities to determine my strategy and tactics at a fire scene. It works very well for me.
    So, do you use a slide rule or perhaps a spreadsheet to calculate your percentages?

    Do you take it out to the tenth of a percent?

    I have never tried to apply a percentage (an actual number) to the likelihood of X happening on the fireground.... never.
    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."

  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    So, do you use a slide rule or perhaps a spreadsheet to calculate your percentages?

    Do you take it out to the tenth of a percent?

    I have never tried to apply a percentage (an actual number) to the likelihood of X happening on the fireground.... never.
    Neither did I. Unless the building was fully involved (meaning top to bottom and side to side) we went interior to look for victims.

    There is a certain art to doing this job. The primary component being that one has to be willing to do it. Something lacking in our self acclaimed statistician.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post

    When we see that start to change, we'll make the adjustments.
    How many people have to die before you implement that policy? I'm sure you have a number locked away in that file cabinet of yours.
    IAFF

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