1. #1
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    Default LEOs disregarding FDs on fire calls and accidents

    I work as a PT FF for a combination department and have never had an issue with this but a friend of mine who works as a FT FF in a neighboring county asked me this question. Do LEOs who get on scenes of fire calls and accidents cancel responding fire apparatus?

    He has had accidents and vehicle fires where SO and PD will get on scene and then disregard them because they think the fire is out. This seems odd to me. The majority of LEOs have no fire training and to me it is a liability to disregard without investigating the incident and managing it ourselves. In our area if they do try and disregard us, we will at MOST downgrade but still continue to the scene to investigate. He is very frustrated that they disregard on the input of someone outside of the responding fire units.

    I am curious as to how your operations are and how your departments handle law enforcement size-ups of fire operations and requests to cancel when you are not yet on scene? Thanks!
    FF II, EMT, Fire Instructor I, Fire Officer I

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    We have had this problem in the past, usually with the newer/rookie cops. We don't care if we are being recalled by a 2 month rookie cop or a 20 year veteran cop; we don't recall until someone from our agency puts eyes on it and verifies. We will proceed in at non-emergency for something like an alarm system and PD on location reporting a false activation. We take the attitude of "we dont tell you how to handle a bank robbery, don't tell us how to do our thing." I should mention that we do have a good relationship with our LEO's.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFEMT2159 View Post
    I am curious as to how your operations are and how your departments handle law enforcement size-ups of fire operations and requests to cancel when you are not yet on scene? Thanks!
    We don't really have a problem with this in my department. The vast majority of our MVAs do not involve any entrapment and most are fender benders. If PD advises a minor accident with no injury and that the FD is not needed, then we typically will cancel our response. If there's fluids and debris to clean up, they don't cancel us.

    As far as fires go, it depends on the update. For example, tonight we were dispatched for a possible building fire, report of smoke coming from the roof area. PD arrived and determined that the source of the smoke was a wood burner in garage and there was no problem. We were updated with that information and our units cancelled. We continue in in some fashion for fire alarms and other stuff that we should probably check, usually downgrading to N-E.

    To the best of my recollection, I don't recall any incidents in which PD disregarded us and there ended up being a problem we needed to address.

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    I don't think law enforcement has ever cancelled anything on a fire call hereabouts. We do sometimes get a size-up relayed through dispatch, which can be handy if it's a worker. And we do have LEOs who are volunteer firefighters, too.

    It's actually not all that often that LE beats us to a fire-related call. We're pretty rural here, and LE tends to be spread pretty thin.

    On the other hand, we do get cancelled on MVAs. If LE gets there ahead of us and it's very obvious that it's nothing more than a fender-bender, no injuries, no fluid spills, etc, they'll cancel fire & EMS, especially if we're going to make things worse rather than better (ie, tie up traffic).

    We also have a tendency to mess up the evidence (skid marks, etc), I've been told.

    On the flip side, we aren't routinely dispatched to minor property damage MVAs, but will be dispatched later if the officer gets there and finds that there are injuries, or if the LEO feels someone needs to be "checked out."

    Generally speaking, there's not much, if any, conflict between the two sides.
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    Similar to tree, we havn't had too many problems on fire calls. We do get cancelled on a MVA that turns out to be property damage only. We generally take the officer at their word and go in service. There have been a few times that we are dispatched for unconsious person in a vehicle, and LE had gotten there first and cancelled us. I don't ever recall them cancelling us on a fire call though.

    There are some departments and officers that will continue in if cancelled by an LEO, a lot of that depends on the situation and how close we are.

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    If Dispatched because PD creates the incident, we let PD advice comm center of the units needed, but Comm Center has SOPs in place to avoid sending inappropriate units. We also have a small town with a Chief responding from his home 99% directly to the scene, so if PD advises no fluids down no need for Fire, our Chief goes over regaurdless and checks.

    PD really know's how to make our jobs harder sometimes...
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    PD does it around here on car accidents and medical calls. I think most of them don't know any better and are just trying to be nice. I don't think they know all the reasons for us going to these, so when they don't see fire or serious injuries think that they are helping us by saving us from coming out.

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    We have the complete opposite issue in my department. The "cops" side of the "house" has "leadership" that rules by fear and threats of discipline against their police officers to the point that many of our "assist PD" runs are not even remotely a fire or EMS issue.

    A few examples: a guy parked his car along side the road and began walking away from it = PD requests FD; a guy calls 9-1-1 on Christmas Eve, says "Merry Christmas" and hangs up = PD requests FD; and a lady from out of state calls and says her sister, who just came to visit, thinks she forgot to lock her house before traveling and wants an officer to run by and make sure her house is secured = PD requests FD.

    Needless to say, on any MVC or medical run we are requested on, the world will cease to rotate on it's axis before PD disregards us.

    It's not the police officer's fault; they have a bad environment to operate in. The problem in our example, is very similar to yours: the police "leadership" and the fire "leadership" need to learn how to work together and no be afraid to make decisions.
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    At work, PD rarely cancels us from anything we respond on. Furthermore, we don't respond "unknown injury" accidents, so if we're going to an MVC, there's generally some type of injury or hazard.

    At the VFD, PD won't cancel us from anything fire-related, but does have the authority to cancel us from non-hazard, non-injury accidents. 95% of the time, this works just fine for us. If we're leery of canceling for whatever reason, we'll proceed in non-emergency.
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    I can't remember the last time cancelled by PD, as normally we are there long before law enforcement. I don't hear our county so or state cancelling anyone else either in other fire districts.

    Local county seat PD does it all the time however, it is a managment issue IMHO

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    We have had this problem in the past, usually with the newer/rookie cops. We don't care if we are being recalled by a 2 month rookie cop or a 20 year veteran cop; we don't recall until someone from our agency puts eyes on it and verifies. We will proceed in at non-emergency for something like an alarm system and PD on location reporting a false activation. We take the attitude of "we dont tell you how to handle a bank robbery, don't tell us how to do our thing." I should mention that we do have a good relationship with our LEO's.
    Same here.
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    Not an issue here for a couple of reasons:

    1. Don't really think the police can get anywhere first.

    2. On the rare occurence that they do get somewhere first, we care as much about their opinion about fire stuff as they do our opinion about police stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Not an issue here for a couple of reasons:

    1. Don't really think the police can get anywhere first.

    2. On the rare occurence that they do get somewhere first, we care as much about their opinion about fire stuff as they do our opinion about police stuff.
    You should. 99% of their meritorious service awards are for jacking into our field of expertise.

    The only thing that eats at me about P.D. is their ability to completely clog up the front of a building with their cars so we have to hump extra lines in just to make the front door.
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowball View Post
    The only thing that eats at me about P.D. is their ability to completely clog up the front of a building with their cars so we have to hump extra lines in just to make the front door.
    We had a bad problem with this and the county cops at my former career department, especially at working fires. Our bosses would talk to their bosses until they were blue in the face. They would beg and plead with them to please not clog the front; all to no avail. That is, until our bosses got with us and said "from now on, when they do that, YOU do EVERYTHING you can to guarantee that they cant leave for at least 2-3 hours, at least.......

    So.....A few properly placed apparatus here, a hoseline there, an outrigger here....coupled with a "What? Move the line? No, sorry can't help you the guys are inside doing overhaul, you'll have to wait a while, maybe if you hadn't parked there when you got here..........."

    After about the third time they finally got the message.
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowball View Post
    The only thing that eats at me about P.D. is their ability to completely clog up the front of a building with their cars so we have to hump extra lines in just to make the front door.
    We really don't have much of a problem with our PD blocking the front of the building. For us, it's more of an issue with them blocking off the street with their car and then walking down to the fire. Sometimes it happens to one of the on-duty units, but most of the time it's an issue for the off-duty guys responding to the scene or responding with reserve units.

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    The police and the sheriff's department can disregard us all they want, if we are paged we respond per OUR protocol, not theirs.
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    We generally have no issue with this, the PD might give us updates, but they know it's our policy to always respond and ensure the situation is as reported. We do shutdown the lights and sirens upon a report that there is no "emergency" according to a LEO. While they don't have the same training (fire or EMS) killing someone at an intersection after being informed there was no emergency would likely result is proof of negligence. I can only think of a few times when the situation was more emergent than our PD guys thought, and in no case was the outcome significantly affected. I'd suggest trying to minimize them calling for you to disregard or slow your response by officially informing them of your intent to always respond, thus you won't be increasing your liability by ignoring them in case something happens along the way.

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    The only problem we've ever had with law is parking in the way.... After they can't leave for a few hours a couple times they learn that the fire trucks need to be closer to the front door than the radar detector. As far as the canceling us..... We will downgrade at best, but continue in.... They all know we don't tell them how to write tickets.... Don't Tell us how to do our job.

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    They learn a lot quicker if its at the end of their shift..... Trooper says "it's shift change and I can't get out...." All you have to say is " should have parked your car where my fire truck belonged. There was only heavy fire showing, I could see why you thought we would need your car there......" That particular trooper parks blocks away now....

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    In general we won't be canceled PD and even if they report that we're not needed we will usually continue in to verify or for information. There are calls where we will take the recall.. on MVA's with no reported fluids/injuries and other incidental things that depend on the nature of the call and initial report.

    We also run the several Interstates and NJSP are kings there.
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    The only exception we had was the NJ State Police.

    When they started arresting fire officers for ignoring their "lawful orders" on the interstate, I started letting them own their own mistakes.

    Cancel us? Sure.... see you later.

    Order us to not have a blocking engine? Then we all leave. Good luck, trooper.
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    We don't have local PD in my town, we are covered by the Sheriffs Department. They used to like to disregard us on pretty much any MVA, even if medical treatment or extrication was needed. They changed around some personnel and now we have a great working relationship with them. If they say we're not needed for something, then we really aren't.

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    Couple of things........ First, we have an outstanding relationship with our LEOs (90% County PD) to the point that they even bring us donuts...... They are able to use the head, get a cup of coffee, use a desk/telephone, etc, etc........ Off duty guys have washed their car and so forth...... We get along very well all the time. Several of our Members are LEOs, and if something gets a bit sticky, we sit down and fix it without getting anyone's attention at the main office...... And, on Runs, the chances of the PD getting there ahead of us is pretty slim, unless they are the ones who called in the first place. They don't normally run on our calls anyway, they have more than enough to do without following us around.......
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