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Thread: SCBAs for non-1403 on the fire grounds

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    Question SCBAs for non-1403 on the fire grounds

    Hello there! I am rather new to the fire service; I have been a member of my department since March 27, 2014 and since then have completed the majority of the required NFPA 1403 series classes. Like many firefighters, I love my department, but there are definitely some policies I do not necessarily agree with. One policy in particular is the policy for donning an SCBA on a fire scene prior to successfully completing 100% of the NFPA 1403 series (thus receiving your interior firefighting certification).

    Our SCBA policy is that only firefighters who are 1403 are permitted to wear and use an SCBA on the fire grounds. What is the problem in this? There normally wouldn't be a problem, but at a recent house fire a buddy and I (neither of us 1403, so we couldn't wear an SCBA) were told to grab a line and get to work. Well, we did, and the smoke was absolutely horrible. However, upon taking a break our assistant chief told us to get back out there to "prove ourselves" to the others.

    I have a few problems with this situation.

    1. We had already been working for a while and were taking a break. I would much rather take a break than to fall out randomly because I'm trying to be macho.

    2. If you are going to tell a specific group of firefighters (non-1403) that they cannot don an SCBA, why would you permit them to be in a situation where an SCBA is necessary? It doesn't make a bit of sense to me. I'm not bothered by the rule; I'm bothered by the fact that they tell you that you can't wear an SCBA, but you are placed in situations where one is needed.

    I'm sure someone will tell me to suck it up, but I know enough about the fire service to know that we are already at a high enough risk for developing cancer and there's no way I am going to put myself in a situation where I'm breathing chemical-infested smoke; sure, you might not regret it for the first portion of your life, but when you are crippled with cancer later in life because you failed to wear proper PPE, you'll think back to those days and wish you had worn it.

    Anyway, what are your opinions on this? Do you think that I am wrong in thinking this? Basically, here is a simplified thought process:

    If you are not permitted to wear an SCBA, you should not be permitted to be on an attack line in close proximity to the structure. On the flip side, if you are permitted to be on an attack line and are close to a building, you should not only be permitted to wear an SCBA, but you should be *required* to wear one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHappyPeanut View Post
    Hello there! I am rather new to the fire service; I have been a member of my department since March 27, 2014


    I'm sure someone will tell me to suck it up, but I know enough about the fire service
    You have been a member since March 27, 2014. You don't know your fire service azz from a hole in the ground. You barely have enough time to have had a cup of coffee, much less be invited into the kitchen to be able to have one. That being said, whoever told you to go to work in an IDLH environment without SCBA on is a dumb azz, and you should have tactfully refused the order due to A. Being forced into an IDLH environment without SCBA and B. It was against department policy to do so. Furthermore him telling you to "man up" or however he termed it would have gotten his azz handed to him during what I like to call a "locker room discussion."

    Normally I would tell someone of your tenure to STFU but in this case I suggest you run it up the chain of command so that the azzwipe does not do this again in the future.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    You have been a member since March 27, 2014. You don't know your fire service azz from a hole in the ground. You barely have enough time to have had a cup of coffee, much less be invited into the kitchen to be able to have one. That being said, whoever told you to go to work in an IDLH environment without SCBA on is a dumb azz, and you should have tactfully refused the order due to A. Being forced into an IDLH environment without SCBA and B. It was against department policy to do so. Furthermore him telling you to "man up" or however he termed it would have gotten his azz handed to him during what I like to call a "locker room discussion."

    Normally I would tell someone of your tenure to STFU but in this case I suggest you run it up the chain of command so that the azzwipe does not do this again in the future.
    I don't claim to know a great deal about the fire service. I've merely scratched the surface in terms of experience and knowledge. However, I just wanted opinions on this. New firefighters' lives aren't less valuable than veterans. I just wasn't sure if this sort of SCBA policy was mainstream with departments around the U.S.

    I really appreciate your response!

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    Does the dept have sops??


    And if so any on Scba or working in a hot zone??

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    I spoke to my Lieutenant a few days ago and I asked: "If someone is on an attack line near the structure, should they be wearing an SCBA?"

    His response: "They should always have an SCBA on. Even if they aren't masked up, they need an SCBA on just in case they need it."

    I then made a comment about the structure fire I was at where I had no SCBA and he then said "Well, non-1403 can't wear SCBA's at all because we have had situations where non-1403 members have been pulled into burning buildings by other departments who do not know they are not certified."

    Again, I totally understand the no SCBA rule. What I don't understand is how you can ask someone to work in an IDLH environment without an SCBA.

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    First of all, and probably most importantly, NFPA 1403 DOES NOT certify you to do ANYTHING. It certainly does not certify you as an interior firefighter.

    NFPA 1403 simply is baseline level of training that allows you to participate in live fire training. It does not certify you to interior perform on the fireground.

    How do I know this ..... I'm a NFPA 1403 Instructor.

    As far as your other problem, the AC, FWD summed it up very well. Bottom line , he sounds like he represents a clear and present danger to your members if this is his typical attitude. Let's see ... Can't wear SCBA due to department regs so well put them into a smoke filled environment without SCBA ..... And we'll see if they are "man enough" to be firefighters.

    Clear and present danger.

    I would defiantly take this to the Chief.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHappyPeanut View Post
    I spoke to my Lieutenant a few days ago and I asked: "If someone is on an attack line near the structure, should they be wearing an SCBA?"

    His response: "They should always have an SCBA on. Even if they aren't masked up, they need an SCBA on just in case they need it."

    I then made a comment about the structure fire I was at where I had no SCBA and he then said "Well, non-1403 can't wear SCBA's at all because we have had situations where non-1403 members have been pulled into burning buildings by other departments who do not know they are not certified."

    Again, I totally understand the no SCBA rule. What I don't understand is how you can ask someone to work in an IDLH environment without an SCBA.
    Does the dept have sops??


    And if so any on Scba or working in a hot zone??



    I keep saying you should wear red shirt, so they do not hit you

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    3 sides to every story
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    Anyone inside the "hot" zone should have an SCBA on. Period. Doesn't matter if they are using it or not, they need to have it on and ready to go.

    We have interior firefighters as well as exterior-only. The exterior only around here are supposed to use yellow helmets, while everyone else has black (with officer exceptions). Not all departments follow that though so it can be tricky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    3 sides to every story
    It's pretty straight forward. With SOGs and SOPs it's pretty black and white usually. But I'm going to be looking over our policies this week, because I would like to know if it's an actual policy or if it's a "This is what I say, so do it."

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHappyPeanut View Post
    It's pretty straight forward. With SOGs and SOPs it's pretty black and white usually. But I'm going to be looking over our policies this week, because I would like to know if it's an actual policy or if it's a "This is what I say, so do it."
    When looking at your SOPs, please keep in mind that NFPA 1403 is a training standard only which allows for participation in live fire TRAINING and has nothing to do with certifying members to perform ANY interior firefighting operations.
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    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHappyPeanut View Post
    It's pretty straight forward. With SOGs and SOPs it's pretty black and white usually. But I'm going to be looking over our policies this week, because I would like to know if it's an actual policy or if it's a "This is what I say, so do it."
    Buddy , you already showed you have a beginners "surface knowledge" when you used 1403 in reference to a working fire as opposed to a training fire. So in reference to my 3 way remark , I have heard one side so far - which is a newby throwing out a term IDLH in an attempt to convince a bunch of strangers on a public web site that one of his officers did wrong. Im sorry but I would like to hear his side first. But even better yet, how about you be a man and talk to him face to face with your concerns. if you are sure you are in the right, why are you on here trying to build a consensus ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    Buddy , you already showed you have a beginners "surface knowledge" when you used 1403 in reference to a working fire as opposed to a training fire. So in reference to my 3 way remark , I have heard one side so far - which is a newby throwing out a term IDLH in an attempt to convince a bunch of strangers on a public web site that one of his officers did wrong. Im sorry but I would like to hear his side first. But even better yet, how about you be a man and talk to him face to face with your concerns. if you are sure you are in the right, why are you on here trying to build a consensus ?
    As I stated in my second post, I do not claim to be an all-knowing individual; 1403 is what firefighters in my area refer to when it comes to interior firefighting, whether it be live training burns or real situations--that is ignorance on my part.

    I used the term IDLH once in response to someone else who had used it. The intent of this thread was not to convince viewers that an officer at my department did anything wrong. I created this thread to discuss SCBA policies in hazardous situations.

    The officer has a side to the statement he made, but that's a petty concern in comparison to the SCBA policy, which is something that involves the entire board.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion on a specific matter. However, matters that involve the health and wellness of individuals tend to be black and white. Inhaling smoke isn't a good thing to do and, although you may not see the effects right away, later down the road it can (and probably will) affect your health. The purpose of this post was to gather feedback from the community.

    I'm not going to enter a ****ing contest, because that doesn't benefit anyone. I just wanted feedback on the SCBA situation. Instead of attacking me because I am newer, you could provide some feedback that could help me and other new firefighters in my department ensure that we don't adhere to a policy that could cause us harm.

    EDIT: I will be speaking to my chief about this policy as I do consider it to be a health and safety risk to members who are not permitted to wear air packs.
    Last edited by TheHappyPeanut; 08-01-2014 at 05:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHappyPeanut View Post
    As I stated in my second post, I do not claim to be an all-knowing individual; 1403 is what firefighters in my area refer to when it comes to interior firefighting, whether it be live training burns or real situations--that is ignorance on my part.

    I used the term IDLH once in response to someone else who had used it. The intent of this thread was not to convince viewers that an officer at my department did anything wrong. I created this thread to discuss SCBA policies in hazardous situations.

    The officer has a side to the statement he made, but that's a petty concern in comparison to the SCBA policy, which is something that involves the entire board.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion on a specific matter. However, matters that involve the health and wellness of individuals tend to be black and white. Inhaling smoke isn't a good thing to do and, although you may not see the effects right away, later down the road it can (and probably will) affect your health. The purpose of this post was to gather feedback from the community.

    I'm not going to enter a ****ing contest, because that doesn't benefit anyone. I just wanted feedback on the SCBA situation. Instead of attacking me because I am newer, you could provide some feedback that could help me and other new firefighters in my department ensure that we don't adhere to a policy that could cause us harm.

    EDIT: I will be speaking to my chief about this policy as I do consider it to be a health and safety risk to members who are not permitted to wear air packs.
    What did we ever do without the internet ? Ok - you have made it clear you KNOW its unsafe to breathe smoke. Again what advise do you really need from your internet posse? How about when this "incident" happened , you have just told the asst. chief --"Chief , I really don't want to breathe that smoke, I think its bad for me. As soon as I get my "1403 -" ill be glad to pack up and work my tail off. " --- very simple -- no need to air your dirty laundry on the world wide web -- you could use the time spent here to be LEARNING some useful hands on skills.
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    With being a volunteer your safety matters more than a replaceable house. If you aren't allowed to wear the proper PPE then you should tell someone that your life is in danger and that you either need proper PPE or you can't do that task

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    Quote Originally Posted by zachtheexplorer View Post
    With being a volunteer your safety matters more than a replaceable house. If you aren't allowed to wear the proper PPE then you should tell someone that your life is in danger and that you either need proper PPE or you can't do that task
    What the hell does being a volunteer have to do with it? Are you saying career firefighter's safety doesn't matter? As for the original poster, if I was your officer and you came to me and said a bunch of guys on the internet said you were wrong, I would tell you to pack sand and come see me when you get some more time in the service. Now, if you came to me with your concerns and just asked what my thinking was when I "made you go into an IDLH atmosphere without SCBA", I would sit down and discuss my decision making and hopefully we both could walk away with a better understanding of each other. I would hope you would take to the actual officer involved before going to the Chief of the Department. He may have thought you were taking a break because you were tired, not getting the crap kicked out of you by smoke.
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    This is why I think it's stupid to have "exterior firefighters" Most of the time the fire is on the INSIDE. Until a person can wear SCBA and and fight fire, they shouldn't be on a fireground.
    This idiot officer is going to get someone killed.

    And BTW, you need to file an exposure report. It will aid if you ever develop cancer or lung disease.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NY3244MI View Post
    What the hell does being a volunteer have to do with it? Are you saying career firefighter's safety doesn't matter? As for the original poster, if I was your officer and you came to me and said a bunch of guys on the internet said you were wrong, I would tell you to pack sand and come see me when you get some more time in the service. Now, if you came to me with your concerns and just asked what my thinking was when I "made you go into an IDLH atmosphere without SCBA", I would sit down and discuss my decision making and hopefully we both could walk away with a better understanding of each other. I would hope you would take to the actual officer involved before going to the Chief of the Department. He may have thought you were taking a break because you were tired, not getting the crap kicked out of you by smoke.
    I agree with every thing you said except one --- I would have used the term "pound sand"
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    Is it possible the "absolutely horrible smoke" wasn't really that bad (light smoke or steam mostly)? Not that you should be breathing that either, but maybe the AC was just trying to give you a little seasoning. That's how it's often done. Nothing will convince a guy to use his mask more than a little "live smoke". Also, there will be times where you'll take a feed whether you want to or not. Maybe your mask malfunctions or just runs out of air before you can get out. Or maybe you are working in an outside position and conditions change suddenly. The first time you take a feed should not be on the fire ground. It should be "snuck" into everyone's training off the books and out of sight. One feed won't kill you (or give you cancer in all likelihood). This is the reality of the fire service. We can't completely sanitize it.

    I believe you need to talk this out with senior firefighters, or your officers, or the AC himself. Running around spouting NFPA rules (and incorrectly at that) is not the way to go here.

    Yes, it's possible the AC is an a-hole. Maybe he was entirely wrong. There should generally be consistency in SOP's , policies, etc.

    I agree with johnsb that we should have firefighters and non-firefighters. No exterior firefighters or halfway firefighters, or pretend firefighters or firefighters in training or any other mis-nomer you want to use. Who can really keep track of all these guys when the shyte is hitting the fan? Or some gung ho cowboy with something to prove decides to take these guys inside. Or one of them decides to freelance? Are there exterior officers also to supervise them? You can't dump it on the chief. he already has a pretty important job to do. On a dark and stormy night, are those yellow helmets all that distinguishable?
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    Quote Originally Posted by NY3244MI View Post
    Now, if you came to me with your concerns and just asked what my thinking was when I "made you go into an IDLH atmosphere without SCBA", I would sit down and discuss my decision making and hopefully we both could walk away with a better understanding of each other.
    This is a lost art my friend.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I agree with johnsb that we should have firefighters and non-firefighters. No exterior firefighters or halfway firefighters, or pretend firefighters or firefighters in training or any other mis-nomer you want to use. Who can really keep track of all these guys when the shyte is hitting the fan? Or some gung ho cowboy with something to prove decides to take these guys inside. Or one of them decides to freelance? Are there exterior officers also to supervise them? You can't dump it on the chief. he already has a pretty important job to do. On a dark and stormy night, are those yellow helmets all that distinguishable?
    So would driver/operators be considered non-firefighters? I have a few guys in my department that only drive/pump/operate the aerial piece. Should I simply tell them thanks for their service and they can leave now?
    "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
    So would driver/operators be considered non-firefighters? I have a few guys in my department that only drive/pump/operate the aerial piece. Should I simply tell them thanks for their service and they can leave now?
    Non-firefighter driver/operators are probably necessary evils in many departments.

    In my department aerial operators actually often climb the aerial to enter the fire building. And we have more staffing than just about anyone.

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    We were discussing this, indirectly, at the fire station tonight.

    I read a while back that a study on CO and cyanide levels in firefighters indicated that pump operators were showing high levels in their blood. Thus it follows that, yes, even someone whose sole duty assignment is going to be outside may very well need to wear SCBA.

    That notwithstanding, as Bones points out, we have folks who will never again go inside, but who do just fine driving the tanker or staffing the "tool box" (rescue) to hand out tools, refill SCBA, etc. They are important functions, and given our (and everyone's) abysmal staffing these days, telling them to beat it would leave tasks undone.

    Around here, clearance for SCBA usually translates to "interior." As we learn more and more about the dangers in smoke, even the "yard breathers" may need to be SCBA qualified, even if they don't go inside. That does raise the identification issue - and I don't have a ready answer for that. There is no regional standardization for ID - helmet color, front piece, anything. Our accountability tags may or may not be up-to-date (they list qualifications like interior, haz-mat, EMS). That's a logistics issue - not everyone can get to the public safety building when it's open to get an updated tag...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NY3244MI View Post
    What the hell does being a volunteer have to do with it? Are you saying career firefighter's safety doesn't matter?
    No i was saying that since he is a volunteer to relate to him. A career firefighters life matters just as much as a volunteers or anybody elses
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