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  1. #1
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    Question Collegiate Fire Dept Start-Up

    Hey Folks,

    So a bit about myself. I'm currently a junior in college who has been highly involved in our collegiate EMS. We are a huge organization that does a lot for our campus, but being a firefighter I sorely miss running calls with my hometown volley department and wanted to start up a collegiate fire department to be attached to our town's FD .

    At school, we have a very good career department for the town my college is in. They are great guys and we work with them fairly often. Still, I'd love to do the firefighting side of things at school. Now before anyone shoots down my idea saying "Why replace something that already works well?", I would want to do this for a few reasons. Having some volunteers firefighters on campus with pagers would be beneficial for many things like response times, clearing false alarms, and rendering EMS care far before any paid guys get on scene. Our EMS organization was viewed the same way when we started up a couple decades ago: While we seemed to be an unnecessary group in the way of a paid, transporting service...we proved to be an indispensable asset to our contracted transporting EMS service.

    Many university officials, peers, and some of my FF friends have supported this idea of a collegiate FD...but I have no idea where to start. I was going to talk to my town's chief, but before I did that I wanted advice from you guys.

    After a lot of thought, I feel that the best route would be to make our collegiate FD as an auxiliary branch off of our town's FD (whether it'd be direct or indirect) since they are already established and have all the necessary logistical tools and resources implemented to run a department. From there, we would function as volley FF's who would assist the career guys with any calls that occur on campus. (I hope there wouldn't be an issue with career vs volley here...but I'd hope that any help they could get would be appreciated). We could respond by getting paged out with basic gear and equipment in POV's or a fly car (it's possible we could get the funding for it in place by next semester).

    I want to hear what you guys have to say about this and any advice or direction for this undertaking would be much appreciated. I'm very passionate about this job and I would love the opportunity to continue this while at school. Thanks!


  2. #2
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    Does the campus have a fire marshal, safety dept or similar
    If so suggest work with them to get some sort of program going

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    Yes! We do have an Emergency Management Dept and I know the guy very well who heads it. I was going to talk to him about it since he used to be a FF/medic back in the day and would probably just love to help out with it. I know he does now in his department isn't right up my alley, but thanks for the advice it's a great starting point.

  4. #4
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    I got my start in fire and EMS on a student run fire and rescue service in northwestern Vermont back in 1979-1983.

    THe rescue service covered about 400 square miles as the only EMS transport service. When I got there we we running a Pontiac and a Cadilliac. The next year we replaced the Pontiac with a Type I and kept the Caddy as the backup rig. A couple of years later we replaced the Caddy with a Type II. We were a straight up BLS service.

    On the fire side we ran an old Dodge Power Wagon with a utility body, a 220g water tank and a front mount pump. We ran fire alarms, smoke investigations and minor fires on campus without the town VFD responding. For any kind working fire or a smoke investigation that took more than few minutes to locate, we would call the town department, but the response time was about 15 minutes. It worked fairly well. We also ran mutual aid with several other very small town departments, primarily as water supply with the front mount pump, and later a supplementary portable pump. We would provide interior or relief manpower.

    My previous volunteer FD, which I left 10 years ago, ran with a college based FD. In fact, they were first due in the busiest part of our district. They ran an engine and a 4-door hose cart/utility vehicle, with a backup engine. They started out back in the early 90's and became associatted with my previous department a few years later. They were dispatched to every one of our runs, followed our SOPs, and attended all of our trainings. We would pay for all of the truck maintainence, turnout gear, outside training and workman's comp. The school paid for the building, vehicle insurance and other related expenses.

    The system worked very, very well.

    As far as your situation, it may be different as you are working with career members, who may have very different interests than volunteers.

    The name of the department I mentioned above is the St. Micheals's College Fire and Rescue, in Colchester, Vermont. They do have a website and may very well be worth making contact with as susp ct they could help you out quite a bit.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  5. #5
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    Wow thanks for the info! If we could implement something like that I'd be very happy. I am though concerned with the fact that we'd be mingling with career guys. I know some appreciate volley FF's, and others look down on them...I guess it will take some luck and a bit of persuasion. I'm also curious as to how the students responded...did they take shifts or were on call 24/7?
    Last edited by JKaz; 04-01-2013 at 10:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    How about you ty something the old fashion way and first talk to the fire chief. test the waters, and if he interested, then get online and get advise from strangers.
    ?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKaz View Post
    Wow thanks for the info! If we could implement something like that I'd be very happy. I am though concerned with the fact that we'd be mingling with career guys. I know some appreciate volley FF's, and others look down on them...I guess it will take some luck and a bit of persuasion. I'm also curious as to how the students responded...did they take shifts or were on call 24/7?
    The answer to your question regarding shifts is both. they had an engine crew of 5 on assigned shifts and then anyone else who was available responded as well. For most runs during the school year they would turn out 2 full crews.During school vacations and the summer they would turn out at least one full crew, and often more.

    They purchased apparatus through alumni donations as well as some help from the school. They purchased a brand new E-One engine in 1998 and a brand new Stuphen engine in 2009 or 2010. As I mentioned we provided all of the SCBA, hose, tools, TIC and the like.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    The answer to your question regarding shifts is both. they had an engine crew of 5 on assigned shifts and then anyone else who was available responded as well. For most runs during the school year they would turn out 2 full crews.During school vacations and the summer they would turn out at least one full crew, and often more.

    They purchased apparatus through alumni donations as well as some help from the school. They purchased a brand new E-One engine in 1998 and a brand new Stuphen engine in 2009 or 2010. As I mentioned we provided all of the SCBA, hose, tools, TIC and the like.
    Great thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    How about you ty something the old fashion way and first talk to the fire chief. test the waters, and if he interested, then get online and get advise from strangers.
    I wanted to first see what folks had to say about the idea before I go talk to the fire chief. Having a good sense of direction and a defined plan would really help get him interested and on board. Believe me, if this does get off the ground I'll be getting a lot of advice, knowledge, and direction from as many resources as possible.

  10. #10
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    A few questions ....

    How large is your campus? How many fire alarms/smoke investigations do you have per year?How many small fires - trash, dumpster, brush, vehicle, etc. - do you have on campus per year? How large is the career department? How far away are they from campus? When you have an alarm or smoke do they get called? How much does it deplete thier resources to handle that call?

    In the case of my college department, we were up a steep hill and could often have a smoke call or minorfire such as vehicle, trash or brush handled by the time they would have able to respond, so for them it was a win-win. In addition we were first out to the town's area up on the hill off-campus.

    The relationship my previous VFD had with St. Michael's Fire also made sense. They gave us a significant amount of trained manpower in the busiest area in the district. They wanted to train and trained hard. They were willing to work within our system. And they often had fire alarms and smoke investigations resolved and small fires on campus out before we arrived so we didn't have to tie up apparatus from our other 2 stations. Given what we had to put into the station, which was limited when you think that we didn't have to pay for apparatus or station-related costs, the return was tremendous.

    Feel free to e-mail me at bcallahan@bpfd1.org if you would like more detailed advice on getting your idea rolling.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    A few questions ....

    How large is your campus? How many fire alarms/smoke investigations do you have per year?How many small fires - trash, dumpster, brush, vehicle, etc. - do you have on campus per year? How large is the career department? How far away are they from campus? When you have an alarm or smoke do they get called? How much does it deplete thier resources to handle that call?

    In the case of my college department, we were up a steep hill and could often have a smoke call or minorfire such as vehicle, trash or brush handled by the time they would have able to respond, so for them it was a win-win. In addition we were first out to the town's area up on the hill off-campus.

    The relationship my previous VFD had with St. Michael's Fire also made sense. They gave us a significant amount of trained manpower in the busiest area in the district. They wanted to train and trained hard. They were willing to work within our system. And they often had fire alarms and smoke investigations resolved and small fires on campus out before we arrived so we didn't have to tie up apparatus from our other 2 stations. Given what we had to put into the station, which was limited when you think that we didn't have to pay for apparatus or station-related costs, the return was tremendous.

    Feel free to e-mail me at bcallahan@bpfd1.org if you would like more detailed advice on getting your idea rolling.
    -We have 3 large suburban/urban campuses over 320 acres with 15-20K people...and during sporting events our population surges as well. We also have many of our students who lives off campus in and around our campus as well.

    -We get quite a lot of fire alarms, about 3 times a week our fire dept responds in and around campus and this doesn't include other incidents like MVA's on our two main streets bordering campus.

    -As far as small fires, I do not have an exact number. I've heard of many small fires a couple times a month (Kitchen, mechanical equipment) and we had a couple car fires last semester. On top of this, we also have about 2 HazMat alarms per month with our chemistry building (which is a huge turnout by every single emergency service within 5 miles).

    -We have our town's career department that's a good size; They have 6 stations covering a very populated suburban/urban area of over 18 sq miles.

    -As of lately our college PD has been clearing many of the alarms simply because the FD does not want to respond. When they do respond they only send 1 engine and must request additional resources if the call turns out to be serious...they are fairly busy and will only respond full out if an unknown fire alarm comes through.

    I feel that if we could just implement a fly car, we would bring a win-win scenario to the table. We would have responses time that could be measured in seconds and not minutes...and be able to handle 90% of all the fire calls on our campus. Furthermore, most of the fires we do have could be put out by only a few hand extinguishers or a few gallons of water. My only concern is about career guys mingling with some volunteer students...our collegiate EMS though has earned a stellar reputation and all of the surrounding municipality services greatly appreciate our work. My college would also gladly fund our equipment and vehicle so the career department spends nothing on us. If I could get the chief to see eye-to-eye with how would could benefit them at little to no cost...I'd hope they would take the opportunity.

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    I tink it may be a tough road to hoe, but you may be able to get somewhere if you are willing to take this slow.

    The idea that I would bring to the table right now would be the the concept of an Incipient Fire Response, meaning for the moment, no SCBAs or entry into enviroments that would require SCBA. Likely, they will require the same level of training as thier career members if you propose the idea of the members operating interior shoulder-to-shoulderwith thier career personnel. That may be a goal to achieve down the line if you can demonstrtate that there are college students willing to put in that time to meet the training requirements, but for now, that wouldn't be my first step.

    As you said .... some water cans, ABC powder and maybe a Class K or two extinguisher (for the dining facility), some basic hand tools and maybe you could even get the college to buy a low cost TIC. Sell it as way to get folks trained to a basic level on-scene to make an assessment, and in the event of a small fire such as a trashcan, stove fire or inipeint furniture fire, a crew to extinguish it. Again, it may be difficult to get the local fire department to buy into operations in areas requiring SCBAs, even for basic search, but if you can demonstrate the ability to train over time, that may very well come.

    Have aplan on paper. Have a budget. Have SOPs prepared that show exactly what you plan on doing and how you will do it. It can be done, but you have to come to the table prepared.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I tink it may be a tough road to hoe, but you may be able to get somewhere if you are willing to take this slow.

    The idea that I would bring to the table right now would be the the concept of an Incipient Fire Response, meaning for the moment, no SCBAs or entry into enviroments that would require SCBA. Likely, they will require the same level of training as thier career members if you propose the idea of the members operating interior shoulder-to-shoulderwith thier career personnel. That may be a goal to achieve down the line if you can demonstrtate that there are college students willing to put in that time to meet the training requirements, but for now, that wouldn't be my first step.

    As you said .... some water cans, ABC powder and maybe a Class K or two extinguisher (for the dining facility), some basic hand tools and maybe you could even get the college to buy a low cost TIC. Sell it as way to get folks trained to a basic level on-scene to make an assessment, and in the event of a small fire such as a trashcan, stove fire or inipeint furniture fire, a crew to extinguish it. Again, it may be difficult to get the local fire department to buy into operations in areas requiring SCBAs, even for basic search, but if you can demonstrate the ability to train over time, that may very well come.

    Have aplan on paper. Have a budget. Have SOPs prepared that show exactly what you plan on doing and how you will do it. It can be done, but you have to come to the table prepared.
    Thank you very much, this is exactly what I was looking for. Something like this with a solid plan and slow start would be the best bet to get this off the ground. I was wondering about some more advanced operations and how that would work, and I initially suggested that we stay out of them all together (e.g. rescues/search). If I could ease us into that in the future, it would be great.

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    Texas A&M?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wyr76365 View Post
    Texas A&M?
    Haha no good guess, I'm at Boston College. On a side note, we actually are not located in Boston (I know our name is very misleading) and this would not involve Boston FD. Instead, I am trying to work with the suburb of Newton and their FD.

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