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Thread: Exterior officers?

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I see no need for a Chief officer to be interior on most fires unless it's a high rise or other large commercial structure. That's what company officers are for. Chiefs should be on an exterior division, not plugging things up inside. (I say this as a GENERAL comment, not an absolute)
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    Last edited by captnjak; 05-29-2014 at 05:44 PM.


  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I see no need for a Chief officer to be interior on most fires unless it's a high rise or other large commercial structure. That's what company officers are for. Chiefs should be on an exterior division, not plugging things up inside. (I say this as a GENERAL comment, not an absolute)
    Quite often the interior chief has little role. But that's how we do it. He may act only as a communications relay to IC via radio after exchanging info face to face with company officers. This can actually be useful in reducing HT traffic. Sometimes it is useful to have that experienced pair of eyes who has no tactical obligations to distract from big picture. A good chief will be sure to stay out of the way of members working and will not micro-manage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Truck company does truck work, engine company does engine work. By default, that will bring a 3 man search team forcing initial entry and search for life and location of fire. 2 guys exterior working on ladders and ventilation. 3 guys stretching a handline, a pump operator and 1 other guy completing the water supply. All that...without need for officer. Its just what we do. If any of those 2 crews feels it's unwarranted to make entry, they make that statement on the radio, and it's adhered to until a further investigation determines otherwise. Even when we have officers on those 2 apparatus, they say very little as the guys all know their positions/tasks and they don't need to be told those tasks. Yes, policy and procedure.
    So it sounds like ANYBODY can decide strategy and tactics and ANYONE can change them?

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Guess it could be. Strategy is pretty simple....go put the fire out. Our structures here are pretty standard, 2 1/2 story residential homes. Is every fire the same? Of course not. Majority of our responses are and the strategy and tactics are the same. Make entry, search, extinguish. I may be the driver of the engine, but I know what my truck company is doing. I know my engine guys are stretching a line and attacking the fire. If we pull up and see flames out every window of the house....we don't need an officer to tell us we aren't going in there. Yes, we train our guys to know what needs to be done. We train them to work as a team and use their heads. We don't train them to depend on someone else giving them orders. We train them so that in the case an officer goes down...they still know what to do.

    PS - please don't assume we operate without officers as a standard practice. We have them more often than we don't. Just pointing out that when we don't, it's far from a show stopping event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Guess it could be. Strategy is pretty simple....go put the fire out. Our structures here are pretty standard, 2 1/2 story residential homes. Is every fire the same? Of course not. Majority of our responses are and the strategy and tactics are the same. Make entry, search, extinguish. I may be the driver of the engine, but I know what my truck company is doing. I know my engine guys are stretching a line and attacking the fire. If we pull up and see flames out every window of the house....we don't need an officer to tell us we aren't going in there. Yes, we train our guys to know what needs to be done. We train them to work as a team and use their heads. We don't train them to depend on someone else giving them orders. We train them so that in the case an officer goes down...they still know what to do.

    PS - please don't assume we operate without officers as a standard practice. We have them more often than we don't. Just pointing out that when we don't, it's far from a show stopping event.
    Good training is not a substitute for good supervision. You are fooling yourselves when you operate at structural fires under the umbrella of "everyone knows what they're doing". GOOD decision-making on the fire ground is not a group activity.

    Sure, anyone can pretty much figure out that fire out every window precludes initial interior attack. What about when it's not out every window? Quite frankly, it's rare to see that. What about a fire condition that is less obvious, but likely more dangerous? What you are basically saying is that every firefighter you have is qualified to be the IC. I call Bullshyte on that! Besides, it doesn't matter that anyone COULD make the call. There has to be a guy who HAS to make the call.

    I don't want this to appear as a paid vs vollie thing. Or a large department vs small department thing. Or an urban vs rural thing. Coming from a guy with his fair share of time on the fire ground, I believe it is just a matter of time before you guys have a real problem. A high level of training for firefighters won't overcome it. I believe you should seriously consider some policy changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Good training is not a substitute for good supervision. You are fooling yourselves when you operate at structural fires under the umbrella of "everyone knows what they're doing". GOOD decision-making on the fire ground is not a group activity.

    Sure, anyone can pretty much figure out that fire out every window precludes initial interior attack. What about when it's not out every window? Quite frankly, it's rare to see that. What about a fire condition that is less obvious, but likely more dangerous? What you are basically saying is that every firefighter you have is qualified to be the IC. I call Bullshyte on that! Besides, it doesn't matter that anyone COULD make the call. There has to be a guy who HAS to make the call.

    I don't want this to appear as a paid vs vollie thing. Or a large department vs small department thing. Or an urban vs rural thing. Coming from a guy with his fair share of time on the fire ground, I believe it is just a matter of time before you guys have a real problem. A high level of training for firefighters won't overcome it. I believe you should seriously consider some policy changes.
    Here is the condensed version:

    Until we have enough membership and we have officers that can be strictly 100% full time volunteer fire officers, there will be responses where there are no officers.

    So my question to you is, what policies would you recommend. I am not against adding policies and procedures, just that they have to make sense to what we see.
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    What makes an officer an officer?

    Is it not a high level of training?

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Good training is not a substitute for good supervision. You are fooling yourselves when you operate at structural fires under the umbrella of "everyone knows what they're doing". GOOD decision-making on the fire ground is not a group activity.

    Sure, anyone can pretty much figure out that fire out every window precludes initial interior attack. What about when it's not out every window? Quite frankly, it's rare to see that. What about a fire condition that is less obvious, but likely more dangerous? What you are basically saying is that every firefighter you have is qualified to be the IC. I call Bullshyte on that! Besides, it doesn't matter that anyone COULD make the call. There has to be a guy who HAS to make the call.

    I don't want this to appear as a paid vs vollie thing. Or a large department vs small department thing. Or an urban vs rural thing. Coming from a guy with his fair share of time on the fire ground, I believe it is just a matter of time before you guys have a real problem. A high level of training for firefighters won't overcome it. I believe you should seriously consider some policy changes.
    captnjak, don't get the impression that its just a bunch of guys running around doing what they want.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    What makes an officer an officer?
    Is it not a high level of training?
    In some places, it's the guy who's PO'd the least number of people, and in others, in may well be the guy who's willing to take the job, since no one else wants it.

    Mind you, it should be a high level of training...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    In some places, it's the guy who's PO'd the least number of people, and in others, in may well be the guy who's willing to take the job, since no one else wants it.

    Mind you, it should be a high level of training...
    Sometimes the guys that should be officers are smart enough to know a train wreck when they see one and know things aren't going to change. Sometimes it is just easier to be a troop and fight the good fight than be a progressive, forward thinking, educated, and trained officer, in a department where all you get for it is a concussion from beating your head against the wall.

    After about a 6 year absence from being an officer I am back as a lieutenant on one of my POC FDs. I left being an officer because it was pointless to try and effect change at the time. Things have changed and we have guys that want to learn and care about the fire department and its reputation. So I am back, so far no concussions, though they may re-occur at some point!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntPA View Post
    Here is the condensed version:

    Until we have enough membership and we have officers that can be strictly 100% full time volunteer fire officers, there will be responses where there are no officers.

    So my question to you is, what policies would you recommend. I am not against adding policies and procedures, just that they have to make sense to what we see.
    The policy I recommend is one that has an officer, a real officer with training as an officer (and eventually experience as an officer), respond on every incident that requires members to operate in an IDLH atmosphere. I'd prefer it on every response but clearly some departments feel they cannot make that happen.
    Maybe more guys should be trained as officers. I would do everything possible to get that done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    What makes an officer an officer?

    Is it not a high level of training?
    Training as an OFFICER. Not the same thing as training as a firefighter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    captnjak, don't get the impression that its just a bunch of guys running around doing what they want.
    Then what is it exactly? Earlier you described a fire scene with no officer and said everyone knows what to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    The policy I recommend is one that has an officer, a real officer with training as an officer (and eventually experience as an officer), respond on every incident that requires members to operate in an IDLH atmosphere. I'd prefer it on every response but clearly some departments feel they cannot make that happen.
    Maybe more guys should be trained as officers. I would do everything possible to get that done.
    The problem is in many volunteer and POC FD's the officers whether elected or appointed work out of town and are not available at certain times of the day. Does that make sense? Not in the least, there should be at least one officer available 24/7 and if it means changing the way officers become officers to afford better coverage then the change must happen. The corrolary is, as you state quite clearly, TRAINING on how to be an officer is imperative. Giving orders and directing people to do things is a different world than doing them yourself. Making proper tactical and strategic decisions QUICKLY canmake or break an emergency incident. More in depth training on building construction, strategy, tactics, fireground safety, human relations, command, fire behavior and so much more. The simple truth is a good firefighter doesn't always make a good officer.
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    capjack -- while it may not always be the case -in small departments , even if there isn't an official officer. There is usually a leader that takes charge. Is it as good as having an official officer that is also a true leader ? no way, but many times that is the way it is.
    ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Then what is it exactly? Earlier you described a fire scene with no officer and said everyone knows what to do.
    What is it? Guys following our policies and procedures.

    Senior guy on an vehicle steps up as officer of that vehicle. Engine guys know to get a water supply and stretch a line. Truck guys know to do interior search and ladders/ventilation. If a guy, yes any guy, sees a dangerous situation they radio that information.

    Shouldn't every firefighter on the scene know this?

    Shouldn't every firefighter on the scene be able to do these functions?

    Why should they need to have an officer tell them to stretch a line? Why should they need an officer to
    tell them to force a door and do a search?

    You show up to a 2 1/2 story house with smoke coming out a window...do you need an officer to tell your guys what to do? We don't. Truck makes entry and searches, Engine pulls a line. Will the line be charged? IF the truck guys find fire and report that, the line gets charged.

    We get an alarm call at a residence. Truck goes in and investigates. Engine stands by at closest hydrant. Should I need officers to determine that once we get to the scene?

    Are there times where things happen and decision makers need to make decisions? Yup, no doubt, no question. Majority of the calls....nope.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    What is it? Guys following our policies and procedures.

    Senior guy on an vehicle steps up as officer of that vehicle. Engine guys know to get a water supply and stretch a line. Truck guys know to do interior search and ladders/ventilation. If a guy, yes any guy, sees a dangerous situation they radio that information.

    Shouldn't every firefighter on the scene know this?

    Shouldn't every firefighter on the scene be able to do these functions?

    Why should they need to have an officer tell them to stretch a line? Why should they need an officer to
    tell them to force a door and do a search?

    You show up to a 2 1/2 story house with smoke coming out a window...do you need an officer to tell your guys what to do? We don't. Truck makes entry and searches, Engine pulls a line. Will the line be charged? IF the truck guys find fire and report that, the line gets charged.

    We get an alarm call at a residence. Truck goes in and investigates. Engine stands by at closest hydrant. Should I need officers to determine that once we get to the scene?

    Are there times where things happen and decision makers need to make decisions? Yup, no doubt, no question. Majority of the calls....nope.
    My biggest concern is not about guys knowing what to do. It's about knowing what not to do. It's about knowing when to do it. And when not to do it.

    There is no way a group of firefighters will all be on the same exact page at an incident. There has to be one person in each group who has final say. There has to be an IC who has final say over the groups.

    Why do the most active fire departments in the country have officers? Those firefighters are well trained and highly experienced. According to you, they don't need supervision because of this.

    You say that a firefighter who sees a dangerous situation will radio that information. To whom? Everyone? Does he/she then contact each firefighter individually to make sure they received it? Who decides what to do with that information? Everyone for themselves? Who decides if a tactical change is necessary? Each individual? Some decide to withdraw and some decide to stay interior? Which side wins out? I've said it before and I'll say it now, decision-making on the fire ground is not and cannot be a group activity. That may work in other activities. Low risk activities. High risk activities such as firefighting require supervision and a workable span of control in order to be done safely and efficiently.

    You say that on the majority of calls you don't need decision-makers. I disagree with the statement; routine calls can become dangerous very quickly. You must do predominantly low risk calls. So you're responding to high risk calls relatively rarely. This makes the need for good supervision even more critical.

    IMO, departments that operate this way are heading for trouble. They are getting by on luck to some degree. They should re-evaluate now instead of reacting to the eventual but inevitable life changing injury or fatality. I'm sure all departments who have experienced this thought their procedures were fine up until it happened.

  18. #58
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    There is always an IC / command. But it may not always be an officer, it may be a senior guy stepping up.
    "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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    Sometimes the guys that should be officers are smart enough to know a train wreck when they see one and know things aren't going to change. Sometimes it is just easier to be a troop and fight the good fight than be a progressive, forward thinking, educated, and trained officer, in a department where all you get for it is a concussion from beating your head against the wall.

    After about a 6 year absence from being an officer I am back as a lieutenant on one of my POC FDs. I left being an officer because it was pointless to try and effect change at the time. Things have changed and we have guys that want to learn and care about the fire department and its reputation. So I am back, so far no concussions, though they may re-occur at some point!
    As a former Charleston, SC firefighter, I can understand the frustration that comes with change....needed change, and wanted change (that will be a different thread in the future). It took 9 of our guys to die in an LODD before the positive changes started taking place, and it started from the bottom...not the top. A BIG sacrifice by our brothers, but not one in vain. Policies, Regulations, and Procedures are in fact instituted to prevent this very thing from happening again, and in reality....does occur over and over and over....due to complacency and other factors. Even the most highly trained and experienced officer can still get complacent and make mistakes that kill one of our own. So what separates an officer from a firefighter? Here's the answer....follow these attributes:

    1. TRAINING
    2. EXPERIENCE
    3. PROGRESSIVE THINKING
    4. AUTONOMOUS (Think outside the box)
    5. STRATEGIC PLANNING/THINKING
    6. INITIATIVE
    7. PERSISTENCE
    8. OUTGOING/GREGARIOUS/MOTIVATOR
    9. GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS
    10. ABILITY TO SEPERATE "LEADER" from "FRIEND"

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