1. #1
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    Default My mind can not comprehend

    I am going to leave a lot of details out of this. I am still so dumbstruck by what I witnessed today that I am posting this in the hopes someone tells me what I saw was not typical.

    Scenario is a a very hilly area. A modern "high rise" structure, fireproof construction meeting all state and federal codes. I say " high rise" as the building is on a hill. On one side you have th main floor and 7 floors above but 3 basement levels. On the backside of the hill you enter on the 2B (2 basement) level. Occupants are mostly barracks room but the building also contains a mini-exchange, wounded warrior rehab facalities, a small to go canteen/resturant mostly one the main floor. One basement level has a full exercise center and locker rooms as well as a recreation center.

    Today the building fire alarm went off around 10am. The DoD Fire department responded. Now I have worked in areas that have frequent flyers with false alarms however we'd still respond with a minimum of 2 engines, a ladder, and a battalion chief. Today the only response I saw was one engine, an ambulance and a battalion chief. WTF number 1. Why?? IF that had been a significant fire that company would have been overwhelmed quickly.

    Now the engine arrived first at the front of the structure (ground floor) level and I am assuming took command. I say assuming because I existed on the rear at the 2B level. After hearing the engine arrive on scene about 4 minutes later a battalion chief arrived on scene. This I know because I saw it. I was dumbfounded as he parked at the rear, got out and suited up. I about walked over and asked him personally WTF as he walked into the building alone.

    I'm not an expert. Hell I'm just a lowly truckie most days. But honestly? Turnover of command? Operating alone? Arent these mistakes from 1982? Shouldn't these NOT be happening in 2014? Maybe automatic mutal aid if help is too far away? Please tell me the loosey goosy command/operations I saw today was complacency and not typical of how DoD companies operate?

    Again I'm not saying where this took place to protect people. Also I am on my phone, so please please forgive spelling mistakes and autocorrect.
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    couple of things

    Yes it is not good to become complacent when it comes to fire alarm activations. Yes there will be an incident and the nonchalant attitude will be the start of something interesting.

    the something of a problem and not a problem is that bases have very few fires in buildings.

    feds also operate a little different than city departments
    Last edited by fire49; 11-25-2014 at 09:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    couple of things

    Yes it is not good to become complacent when it comes to fire alarm activations. Yes there will be an incident and the nonchalant attitude will be the start of something interesting.

    the something of a problem and not a problem is that bases have very few fires in buildings.

    feds also operate a little different than city departments
    I'm asking honestly, so please don't think this is "attitude"

    Is it accepted practice is federal fire to enter a building alone?

    Is it accepted policy to not have a face to face turnover of command? Or establish the command post in such a weird position? I heistate to call it a command post cause all it was, was the battalion vehicle and he went inside the structure.

    I understand the whole lack on the initial alarm. Honestly the engine was on the base with the structure. But I know in the Beach we had automatic mutual aid onto Oceana, Damn Neck, and Little Creek for all fire calls.

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    If you are talking a regular working base, FD personnel are sometimes slim on shift.

    If it is a flying base, that is the main mission and emphasis.

    Plus Feds do not have much training resources

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnVBFD View Post
    Is it accepted policy to not have a face to face turnover of command? Or establish the command post in such a weird position? I heistate to call it a command post cause all it was, was the battalion vehicle and he went inside the structure.
    I can't speak about the Feds, but I've never thought that not having a face-to-face turnover of command was all that unusual. In fact, it's pretty common in my department.

    As for the CP, I know some departments are religious about establishing a CP, announcing it's location, and going into full ICS mode on all structural assignments, while others simply don't do that except on significant incidents. If this incident was an AFA without any mitigating circumstances, and the engine had already been on scene for 4 minutes, there's a chance that they'd already determined that the incident was false and relayed that info to the BC via radio.

    Perhaps I'm naive or missing the point, but I'm not entirely sure if what you saw was a huge deal...?
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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Plus Feds do not have much training resources
    Have to disagree a bit with this. In the AF anyway, a AD firefighter is going to have a stack of certs that could choke a horse before they get 2 years in. There are a ton of training opportunities, both book or online, and hands-on. Where they come up short is lack of real-world experience.

    The Feds have training resources equal to or better than many municipal depts., imo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnVBFD View Post
    Is it accepted policy to not have a face to face turnover of command?.
    Where I work, if this was an AFA, and confirmed false on investigation, there would be no turnover of command, face-to-face or otherwise. I'd cancel everyone and handle it.

    If it is found to be a working fire on investigation, I'd pass command by radio and get to work.

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    I also disagree with the statement about Feds not having much training. I got out in 2005 and even back then I could ask for pretty much any class I wanted (within reason) and not only get approval, travel and expenses but also paid to attend. Overtime if the situation warranted OT, too.

    Unfortunately complacency is a bad problem in the Federal Fire Service. Back when I was in, one thing there was not a lot of money for was building systems maintenance- especially alarm systems and sprinkler systems. We always rolled one engine, one truck and the medic unit to an alarm system, but I wont lie to you if I told you we took our dear, sweet time and rarely, if ever wore gear.

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    Default Fed practices

    First:
    AFA's are handled different at different places. Some dept send a Full first alarm, others one engine, and in some cases for AFAs at large occupancies, the security at the facility has to call it in.

    Second: You are not sure what was going on. Not sure of the available resources, the calls currently running elsewhere or any of that. At a large base of 60K solders , there are upwards of 100K on base, mission standbys, airfield operations, and likely other calls going on. Alot of Large Army facilities do not run EMS, they let the medics handle and respond if requested. Additionally information you may not be aware of changed the way the call was handled, and things got dialed down.

    Third: At my base, We would have added a extra engine. However, everyone is in radio contact and everyone has a job, be it going to the panel, staging at the water supply or investigating the alarm. Most calls are routine as most here can attest to, fire alarm malfunctions, and the like.

    Forth : given all that, yeah, bad habits are bad habits, don't think it is confined to DOD fire Dept's

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I can't speak about the Feds, but I've never thought that not having a face-to-face turnover of command was all that unusual. In fact, it's pretty common in my department.

    As for the CP, I know some departments are religious about establishing a CP, announcing it's location, and going into full ICS mode on all structural assignments, while others simply don't do that except on significant incidents. If this incident was an AFA without any mitigating circumstances, and the engine had already been on scene for 4 minutes, there's a chance that they'd already determined that the incident was false and relayed that info to the BC via radio.

    Perhaps I'm naive or missing the point, but I'm not entirely sure if what you saw was a huge deal...?
    I'm with you. I think the OP is over reacting. The engine and chief were most likely in communication via radio. The chief may have been going to the fire command center or alarm panel or whatever they have in that particular building while the engine checked out the reported location. There is probably a procedure where some responsible person from the building is required to meet FD personnel in a particular location. Going in alone as chief or any other position to check in the lobby is not a big deal for an alarm activation on an upper floor.
    Establishment and turnover of command (especially face to face) is not really a big deal for an incident like this. We establish and escalate command based on the incident.

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