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Thread: A Problem I've found first hand.

  1. #1
    Forum Member Picc.93Truck's Avatar
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    Default A Problem I've found first hand.

    The beginning of last year started out with a bang, 10 structure fire's within the first 3 months of the year, which are big numbers for my area. During this time, and the past 6 years, I've been solely a member of a truck company. My truck company primarily uses VES, and my area in its own is known for very agressive interior actions. As a younger generation fireman, I've always had a decent thirst for knowledge, always attending classes and training nights. I learned a real lot of truck company knowledge in the past six years making me fairly confident of my skills, my abilities, and my weaknesses, until this year...

    This year my department (made up of three company's, two engines and a truck) started the year off with the first fatal fire in years, then 2 fire's in one day the next week. One of which was a fully involved gas station and ended up being quite a job... Anyways, onto the topic at hand...

    The Fatal Fire: Being a Volunteer company, each member is paged through Motorola Pager's by County 911 center. We also utilize a system called "Iamresponding" to "call in" and create a live running list of all responding fireman so we know when we will crew a truck and when we can roll with 2 or 3. Being a Confirmed double entrapment working fire, the Truck did no waiting around once they obtained a crew of more then 4, and I missed the truck. Missing the truck was no big deal, It happens, and I hopped on the In-house Engine for the ride over. What I didn't quite get through my head at this point, was that I was running on an Engine Company, with a crew of 3 including driver, and I was going to be working with them for the extent of the call.

    Upon arriving on scene I was still dressing (I know, I know, frowned upon... NOT the point of this thread, go start a new one...) when the driver yelled to me that the Hydrant was on my left. I hopped out within a few seconds, and heard command call to us, telling us that the next due engine was right behind us and wrap the hydrant and go right in, leaving the hydrant work to the next due. Upon getting to the address and grabbing the second half of the cross-lay, The Truck company was already on scene, with a crew of on division two already doing a primary. We headed inside with "a little" too much line on division one, and ended up getting ourselves into a headache of kinks. The kinks were not the primary problem, the Engine pumping that fire also had an issue with the fork from "road" to "pump" gear's, and stalled our water supply. During this time conditions upstairs got to the point where I had 2 members of the Truck Co. bailing down the stairs on top of me before the entirety of Division two lit off. EVAC tone was set, and we got water. Heading back into the structure and assisting my Officer on the line, I honestly did not do as bad as I had originally thought I would, and was actually complimented a few times for doing a decent job.

    Looking back on the fire, and looking back on the call, I realized a problem with MY small town Fire Department that maybe others have too, Cross-training. That was my very first fire on an engine co, and mentally was all over the place. Had I been on the Truck that day, I would have been much more comfortable and much more at home with my skill-set. I found a HUGE hole in my weaknesses that needs to be attended to ASAP, and I'm already working on that situation. During the days afterwards we brought up in many meetings, that the department needs to train Together, as one, on each other's pieces more as Everyone made an example out of me. Will this ever happen? Probably not, and I'm taking things into my own hands to learn every bit of information I can about riding whatever piece is available in town.

    Does your Department Cross train your members? Its not too often a Truckie ends up on the engine, or vise-versa in my town, (Almost never) but things happen, and most of all even though you ride that Truck into the scene, that Engine may only have a driver to get the water and pump to the scene, someone has to take that hose inside...
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B


  2. #2
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    We are fortunate in that respect, all of the departments in the county have engine companies and a special service (truck or heavy rescue squad) that operate out of the same station/department. We require everybody to be cut loose on the engines before they can start working on the squad. We do a lot of training and expect everybody to be able to operate on every piece that they are qualified to ride. Even though people may have preferences, they are not assigned to a certain piece of apparatus. Even our officers that are primarily responsible for either fire or rescue, are just as likely to ride either apparatus depending on staffing. I've responded to fires on engine, squads, the tanker and even the ambulance.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    My station operates two Engines and a Truck and members are expected to know how to work off of all apparatus. They are assigned to the station, not a specific apparatus. The crew (either in-house duty crew or home response) will man the apparatus based on the dispatch and department SOG.

    In fact, in many cases the type of apparatus we arrive on will have little to do with our role once on scene. A crew could show up on the 2nd in Engine and be tasked by IC to do Primary search.. or the first in truck could pull a line.. This is more the case for 2nd/3rd in types but does happen for 1st in as well.

    Sometimes I wish we had the consistency where I knew I always rode the Engine and as 1st, 2nd due I always did the same set of tasks.. at the same time, having the capability of flexibility has benefits as well.
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  4. #4
    Forum Member Picc.93Truck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    My station operates two Engines and a Truck and members are expected to know how to work off of all apparatus. They are assigned to the station, not a specific apparatus. The crew (either in-house duty crew or home response) will man the apparatus based on the dispatch and department SOG.

    In fact, in many cases the type of apparatus we arrive on will have little to do with our role once on scene. A crew could show up on the 2nd in Engine and be tasked by IC to do Primary search.. or the first in truck could pull a line.. This is more the case for 2nd/3rd in types but does happen for 1st in as well.

    Sometimes I wish we had the consistency where I knew I always rode the Engine and as 1st, 2nd due I always did the same set of tasks.. at the same time, having the capability of flexibility has benefits as well.
    My departments rivalry between the whole "engine" and "truck" situation is almost as bad as that stupid show "Chicago Fire"... So were all expected to be better then each other's companies.
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B

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    We don't have any truck companies in our county so we have to be able to do it all and our engines carry truck company equipment. You can pretty much guess your assignment by where the fire is at; Our fire = Engine Company work, 1st due MA = Ventilation & Primary Search, 2nd & 3rd due MA = RIT, Water Supply, & anything else needing done. We regularly train on all of these things and it works well in our area.

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    2 stations in town. 1 has a tower ladder and an engine, other station (mine) has 2 engines. MOST times, the TL is Truck 1, we have Engine 1. There have been enough times that we end up as Truck 1 and they have Engine 1. For the majority of our calls, our rescue engine has enough "truck" equipment to do the job....minus the aerial. But in an area with lots of trees and overhead wires...the aerial is not usable at times.

    With our setup...doing truck work/engine work....not a big switch...we do it often.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I'm with Voyager. In my area, all members are simply firefighters. Starting from basic training, you learn all the jobs, and we do in house training as general drills.

    We do this because, as others have said, we run from one station (2 engines, 1 quint, and a squad/utility)and the type and location of the incident dictates which unit(s) respond AND in which order.

    You jump on whichever unit has an open seat- starting with the first out. Actual fireground duties will be whatever command or your CO assigns you to do. Which is to say, whatever job needs done most when you arrive.

    It's only really in the career departments that members are assigned to specific companies. There are relatively few volly depts in the area that use a "duty crew" type arrangement. Those with that sort of call volume, mostly go combination. Either with career drivers and a shift officer, or with one or more career crews with an assigned rig, augmented by volunteer members.

    I think this is the biggest reason why Quints work so well for volunteer depts, when they are mostly rejected by career firefighters. The first in rig has all the tools needed for the job. If you only have one driver available for that run, you aren't doing without until MA gets there. Tasks are assigned by priority, and the next arriving crew gets the next priority task. We, also, have large parts of the district not suitable for our 105' ladder, and carry the necessary truck tools on our engines as well.

    Heck- I arrived third due on the second engine to a garage fire once, and was on the first attack line. I've also arrived more than once on the truck- and ended up relieving the first -in crew on the line! I never cared what I did- as long as I did SOMETHING! Standing around watching others work is bunk!

    Sounds like you've taken the initiative to bone up on the "other" guy's job- keep it up. Never stop learning!

  8. #8
    Forum Member Picc.93Truck's Avatar
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    A department under one roof would certainly offer the type of training to be able to hop on any apparatus at any time, sadly I will never see that in my town. The three companies rarely get along, and nothing seems to be improving. It's all really Childish, and I refuse to allow this to stop me from learning everything I can about truck, engine and rescue work.
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B

  9. #9
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Picc.93Truck View Post
    The three companies rarely get along, and nothing seems to be improving.
    Would certainly make me think hard and twice about being a firefighter in that municipality.
    slackjawedyokel likes this.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    I'm in the same boat as Picc.. Except I'm an engine guy. I can advance a hose line, tap a hydrant, manage hose..no issues. A lot of that comes from the fact that we.. Really don't do too much truck work. If we get a fire..I've only not been on the line once. I can search, but not as good as I'd like. I can throw ladders..but my area of expertise I guess is engine work.

    Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands.. Take an engine company ops class..take it a few times.. Different instructors.. Different techniques. Take a pumps 1 class.. To get a fundamental understanding of water supply, that way you can look at a fire from the nozzle man and the dvr/ operators eyes as well.

    You need to make you the most complete firefighter you can be, for yourself, for your family, for your brothers, and for the people you protect.. I'm in a much similar situation... I LOVE to train and would love to go to FDIC, or get traditions training to come in or go to different classes throughout the state..time restraints, financial restraints, and other obligations are preventing me from that.. But I digress..

    There's plenty of resources out there, check out fire engineering they have a bunch of training clips for EVERYTHING. That's what I've been doing.

    As far as the different depts not wanting to train/work together.. That's something that may take time to fix.. Set the example, soon others will follow.

    And you guys did serious work.. In the cold..

    Kudos brother...keep your head up.

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    My department operates 4 engines, a quint, heavy rescue, tanker, 2 brush/utility trucks with skid mounts. When I began my service (45 yrs ago), We were expected to learn every piece of apparatus, and board the next due rig "forming a company" as the bylaws still state. Probationary firefighters are required to spend time learning every piece in the department. They are tested by the Lt. or Capt. on their knowledge of equipment, its use and the location on apparatus by apparatus basis. There are certain jobs that require additional training and testing after the probationary period (9 mo.) is completed. Operating the aerial, operating heavy rescue equipment, B-A, 4 wheeler safety training, P.O./Driver, etc. The fact that every arriving firefighter can function in most slots is a huge advantage. It allows for the most rapid filling of assignments, and if there is a need, shifting "experts" on the scene is usually not a problem. Engine, rescue and truck response sequence can be set by the type of emergency, and the arrival sequence is maintained. On a structure (Eng. - Truck - Eng. - Eng - Rescue) or rural (Eng. - Tanker - Eng.) Vehicle Accident (Rescue - Engine - Engine) It is more work on the part of probies, but it is much more efficient.

  12. #12
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    I have never been a member of a Volunteer Department where the Engine/Truck Companies were seperate organizations. I have been a member of a Department with two engines and a light duty rescue squad-type company, I have been a member of a Department with two engines and a truck, and another Department with one engine and one truck. You came on runs, you got in the first available seat of the next piece that was going out the door. You were expected to be proficient in engine and truck work. Additionally, around here as with everywhere else- things can change at the drop of a hat, especially during the daytime when manpower is limited. An incoming engine company has/can/and will be told to "do truck work" especially on a single family dwelling. Same goes for an incoming truck- if another truck is on location, you might get told to pull a line from engine XX and advance to the second floor. Same also goes for the rescue companies coming in- you might go either way.

    As for new guys doing truck work exclusively- I dont think I'm comfy with that, I personally would rather see them become proficient with engine work, and then being able to ride the truck. But thats just me.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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