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Thread: Exterior officers?

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    Default Exterior officers?

    My department allows and has a few exterior fire officers. By exterior I mean they are medically only permitted to stay outside at any given incident. They may not wear an SCBA and may not enter the structure during an emergency.

    They allow this for all ranks from firefighter to chief.

    Does anyone else have this? Personally I think it's ludicrous to allow someone to lead the members who essentially cannot lead the members physically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    My department allows and has a few exterior fire officers. By exterior I mean they are medically only permitted to stay outside at any given incident. They may not wear an SCBA and may not enter the structure during an emergency.

    They allow this for all ranks from firefighter to chief.

    Does anyone else have this? Personally I think it's ludicrous to allow someone to lead the members who essentially cannot lead the members physically.
    My Department began "Fitness for Duty" medical exams last year, each and every person. It has eliminated a lot of the "dead weight" pardon the pun.

    Currently we have several exterior-only firefighters and several driver-only's. All officers are qualified as interior firefighters.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    My department allows and has a few exterior fire officers. By exterior I mean they are medically only permitted to stay outside at any given incident. They may not wear an SCBA and may not enter the structure during an emergency.

    They allow this for all ranks from firefighter to chief.

    Does anyone else have this? Personally I think it's ludicrous to allow someone to lead the members who essentially cannot lead the members physically.

    safety officer ,, pio,, rehab

    other jobs, not leading

    everyone cannot shoot the water

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    Only officer we have that is not to be wearing an SCBA at a fire is the Chief.
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    "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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    Should this practice be allowed?

    Is it actually allowed by OSHA and NFPA?

    Our department doctor doesn't care, he approves everyone for whatever they want unless they have a heart condition. It blows my mind an 80 year old is allowed to drive and operate heavy machinery and have the lives of 6 people in his hands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    Should this practice be allowed?

    Is it actually allowed by OSHA and NFPA?

    Our department doctor doesn't care, he approves everyone for whatever they want unless they have a heart condition. It blows my mind an 80 year old is allowed to drive and operate heavy machinery and have the lives of 6 people in his hands.
    There are 40 year olds I wouldn't trust with that responsibility.

    IF (a big if) a person is competent and able to do a job, age should be a secondary consideration. If your department physician is signing off people that shouldn't be signed off, he's setting himself up for a pretty big fall.

    That said, statistically, most 80 year olds probably shouldn't be given that responsibility as most 80 year olds aren't up to the task.

    As I've said before, it would be great to have every member fully pack qualified, but especially given the state of volunteerism these days, if a perfectly competent truck driver wants to join and serve primarily as a driver, even if he/she isn't interior qualified, it's not likely most small departments are going to turn them down. That's one more of our scarce interior folks we can commit to actually dealing with the fire.

    In a small department, running a lot of mutual aid, the chief might find himself functioning as nothing more than a company officer, particularly when assisting another department - a good reason for him/her to be pack qualified.

    The incident commander shouldn't be anywhere that a pack is needed. Not if they're actually running the entire incident.

    But, as noted, there are plenty of jobs that don't require entry - outside sector (side) officers, water supply, staging, rehab, operating the pump, even standing on the turntable of the aerial.

    Of course, that doesn't address the subject of blowing smoke, but that could be a thread in and of itself.
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    Comment from an old firefighter: I am 73 YO, and perform as a driver, pump operator along with filling an active position on the Board of Directors. I also still work part time as a commercial driver for an excavating/construction company. Passed my most recent medical exam with a 2 year approval. (the best you can do under the federal) About 10 years ago, I took myself off the "Interior List" although I am still doing routine pack maintenance, purchasing Breathing Apparatus & operating the cascade/compressor. I would love to hand this off to a younger person, but the truth is we Do Not have young people beating down the door of the fire company to pick up the slack from the OLD guys. I will try NOT to rant, but the Pennsylvania Fire Academy and the Pa. State Fire Commissioners Office have made changes to the firefighting requirements that almost gurantee the failure of the volunteer fire departments in the long run of things. 45 years ago when I started, we needed 48 hrs of training before we could take advanced classes. We could do this in 3 week-end sessions and then go on to concentrating on areas of interest that needed special skills. This latest return to IFSTA from Delmar has reduced the 188 hrs down to 166 hrs (11 Saturday sessions), but then they put the Hazardous Materials R & I and the Basic First Aid requirements in addition to the 166 forcing things over 200 hours. If we don't loose them in the basics, we loose them because of burn-out with the length of the program and excessive classroom sessions. Additionally, the caliber of applicants coming out of High School is significantly different than it was say 30 years ago. Math abilities dont exist, so if you don't have a cheat sheet or a quick programmed calculator, few new pump operator candidates can do the math. Physics and chemistry are foreign words and it is difficult to get trainees to recognize problems and the physics behind the solution. All you get is someone to put the pump in gear, and press the preset on the pressure governor and hope everything works. Not what you need when the standard layout wont work for the problem at hand. Everyone in the department has a role to play from the "Old Fart" making the coffee to Young Grunt repacking and cleaning hose. The officers MUST be good managers and work at using everyone to get the job done.
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    There's plenty of "exterior" firefighters having heart attacks on the fire scene. If you can't pass a physical, you shouldn't be a firefighter. For one, it's a potential burden to the rest of the firefighters if they have to worry about a fellow firefighter because of their health. Humping hose outside is still very stressful to a body, especially in temperature extremes. And it can be a financial stress on a dept. or community if there's a LODD involved. I know a lot of guys don't like to believe they aren't invincible, but having unhealthy guys on a fireground is a recipe for bad things happening.

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    How experienced are these officers?

    Some of our officers are older and have been on the department since Moby Dick was a minnow. Their value is not in their physical abilities so much as their knowledge. But they can also perform outside functions that would take away a younger guy to perform that function. And some are retired or semi-retired, which means they are actually available most of the time during daylight hours.

    Would we like to be full of young guys that can perform every task and be available 24/7? Sure. But it ain't happening. And as said above, the officers are there to manage the scene. The firefighters are there to fight fire. If the firefighters need that much leading, they need more training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    How experienced are these officers?

    Some of our officers are older and have been on the department since Moby Dick was a minnow. Their value is not in their physical abilities so much as their knowledge. But they can also perform outside functions that would take away a younger guy to perform that function. And some are retired or semi-retired, which means they are actually available most of the time during daylight hours.

    Would we like to be full of young guys that can perform every task and be available 24/7? Sure. But it ain't happening. And as said above, the officers are there to manage the scene. The firefighters are there to fight fire. If the firefighters need that much leading, they need more training.
    I'm not sure what you mean by officers "are there to manage the scene" so I may or may not agree with you. I suspect I don't.

    "If firefighters need that much leading, they need more training."
    Cute line but I couldn't disagree more. All the training in the world won't replace leadership. If it did, the well trained departments wouldn't need company officers or chiefs. I assure you they do.
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    I had never heard of this until I clicked this thread.

    Is this happening in professional departments?

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    A waiting list to join the dept. would be nice. At that point we could pick and choose who we want. Usually there is no problem managing who gets on the truck because hardly anyone shows up, so if the exterior officer wants to ride to the fire, so be it.
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    Well if Captnjak likes "cute lines", how has he managed a dept. that sometimes has NO officers respond to a call? Any thoughts? Mention it at the next union meeting?
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Well if Captnjak likes "cute lines", how has he managed a dept. that sometimes has NO officers respond to a call? Any thoughts? Mention it at the next union meeting?
    I don't know what this means.

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    Might have been a cheep shot. But then again calling someone's thoughts "cute" is kinda silly too.

    At any rate, I want to ask you what you think about departments that may have no officers responding to an emergency. I agree that we need supervision, but what is the rural dept going to do if no officers show up?
    For us, it requires firefighters to be able to operate with less supervision, and ultimately take command.
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    No officer? Senior guy steps up. Simple. Did that today.
    "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 conrad427 View Post
    Well if Captnjak likes "cute lines", how has he managed a dept. that sometimes has NO officers respond to a call? Any thoughts? Mention it at the next union meeting?
    Does the union contract require an officer at a scene prior to firefighting operations??


    Guess officer needs to be defined?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    No officer? Senior guy steps up. Simple. Did that today.
    SOMEBODY has to act as the IC. If you have five firefighters show up, then one of them has to be the guy. It's that simple. If a department routinely operates without an officer on scene, that department should have a policy for someone to officially act as an officer. They should probably also get more guys trained as officers. Senior guy stepping up should not be policy. It should be worst case scenario on rare occasions. IMO, it is begging for trouble to routinely have firefighters operate without QUALIFIED supervision.

    Legal liability is often discussed here. What will happen if something goes wrong? One of the first questions will be about the lack of supervision. Or the lack of training of the so-called "supervisor".

    If there are five firefighters and no officer, do they all decide tactics together? Form a committee and discuss it? Take a vote? Fire and emergency operations require a clear chain of command in order to be concluded quickly, safely and effectively.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Might have been a cheep shot. But then again calling someone's thoughts "cute" is kinda silly too.

    At any rate, I want to ask you what you think about departments that may have no officers responding to an emergency. I agree that we need supervision, but what is the rural dept going to do if no officers show up?
    For us, it requires firefighters to be able to operate with less supervision, and ultimately take command.
    I didn't say his thoughts were silly, just the line he used.

    If a firefighter may have to ultimately take command, then he/she should ultimately be trained and qualified to do so. And should ultimately be recognized as a person of rank by promotion.

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    How often does a chief don SCBA and go interior?

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    How often does a chief don SCBA and go interior?
    Maybe there is a terminology problem here.

    Say a driver is riding the seat, catches a call, first one in,,,


    Isn't that acting officer IC till turned over??

    Or if the incident does not require any added engines ,, isnt that acting officer still IC???

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    How often does a chief don SCBA and go interior?
    Ours do routinely.

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    I guess we got there eventually. Is not having an officer a bad thing? It sure can be. A volunteer fire dept may have to operate like that from time to time. If we cant operate without an officer to supervise us all the time, then we dont get to operate. So maybe it is up to the trainers to make sure that the firefighters can step up and make good decisions with out a fleet of officers.

    So yeah, maybe we need more training because we might not always get the supervision we need or want.


    Sorry if I came off as a combative A-hole. I quit chewing a few days ago.
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    Fairly common for one of the Chief's to have an SCBA on and be interior.

    Fairly rare to not have one of our 4 Chiefs at a call at all.

    Less often than common that a truck/engine rolls without an officer on board, in which the Senior guy will step up as officer. (most of the Senior guys were officers in the past)

    We do have a policy for calling Chief's from next town over in the rare case that we are short on command staff. It's a mutual policy, we have sent our Chief's, they have sent theirs.
    "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 Bones42 View Post
    Fairly common for one of the Chief's to have an SCBA on and be interior.

    Fairly rare to not have one of our 4 Chiefs at a call at all.

    Less often than common that a truck/engine rolls without an officer on board, in which the Senior guy will step up as officer. (most of the Senior guys were officers in the past)

    We do have a policy for calling Chief's from next town over in the rare case that we are short on command staff. It's a mutual policy, we have sent our Chief's, they have sent theirs.
    When the chief goes inside, what is the chief's role? Is the chief still the IC, or is the chief serving some other function?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Only officer we have that is not to be wearing an SCBA at a fire is the Chief.
    Is this the one acting as IC?

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