I'm looking for some input and general discussion from some of the old timers as well as the thoughts of the newbies. It seems that since I began in the Fire service in 1984 things have really changed. When I started I got to ride the tailboard for a few months then this BIG safety standard NFPA 1500 came about and many things changed. I will agree some for the better but also some changed for reasons unknown to me. Now I haven't been around all that long but I am wondering if some of these standards are "SAVING" us to death. I.E. Heavy, hot fully encapsulated suits for all types of fires . We must wear Full turnouts to every type of fire. Are we going too far in some structures? Are we having heart attacks at car fires? Are we suffering heat stroke at grass fires?
Was it any different in the old days?
I had a cousin in Maryland that died while in the cab of a fire engine. This happened in 1963. If he was on the board I would be drinking a beer with him today. Are we too safe?
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04-30-1999, 05:52 PM #1EdFirehouse.com Guest
Do you want to ride the BOARD again?
04-30-1999, 10:20 PM #2TRUCK 110Firehouse.com Guest
Well Ed..I guess I'm an Oldster..Been on the Line since 1974..As far as I'm concerned..I think FF Safety on the Fire Ground is Paramount, So lets compare:
Turnout Gear: 1974..It was Rubber Gear, that had No Goretex Liner..So it did not breath..and they Burned and absorbed Heat, because they were Black..3/4 Rubber Boots..So they did not protect anything..just kept your Feet from getting Wet..Orange Plastic Gloves..Melted whenever you touched Something HOT..Helmets were either Fiberglas or Plastic with no Skull Cap..So you had Meltdown, no Impact Protection, and No Thermal Protection..and you did not Have a Face Shield.
SCBA's: They were Demand Style, so they did not Force Air into your Lungs when you were Unconscious..They weighed 35# because were equipped with STEEL Cylinders..And the Mask let everything into it, if you did not Get a Good Seal..There was No Such thing as a PASS Alarm.
Vehicles: Well in the Old Days, There were people who would dress enroute to the Alarms, even on the Back Step..There was No Communication to the FF's on the Backstep, unless your Fire Dept. put in that Expensive Intercom System or you put that Buzzer in the Cab and on the Backstep to Send Morse Code. In Fact in 1974, Some Departments did not even have SCBA's mounted in the Jump Seat, and for Sure did not provide for the Driver to even have an SCBA if they needed it.
So lets see..1999..
Turnout Gear: Does not Melt;Breaths and is Lighter.Gloves that protect Hands from Direct Flame Impingement, and are Cut Resistant. Helmets that have Impact and Thermal Protection and they do not meltdown.
SCBA: Lighter in Weight with Smaller Cylinders that hold More Air. Also Hold a Required Amount of Air for the FF. Built in PASS Alarms, that come on when you turn on your Air Supply..and Some with FF Locators Built-in. Also able to Refill a Trapped FF's Cylinder during a Rescue, to preserve their Life while we try to save them.
Vehicles: Totally enclosed..More Lighting..Air Conditioned For FF Comfort To and From the Alarm, and for use on the Fireground for Rehabilitation of FF's.
I think the area we have not Hit is the Fire itself..1974 more Wood less Plastic ..1999 Wood only if you can afford it, lots of Plastic..Check your Television; Does it have a Wood or Non Plastic Cabinet? Unless you make Big Bucks.. How about the Kitchen Table and Chairs?
How about our outlook to save Money..1974.. Energy Conservation was just winding up; Now if you don't have Triple Glazed Windows, and 6" of Insulation, you are paying for it dearly.
I think the Job is Killing us..More Work..less people..and our Way of life..Stress and Poor Habits..
Thank you for letting me air it out..I'm less stressed out now..
[This message has been edited by TRUCK 110 (edited April 30, 1999).]
04-30-1999, 10:32 PM #3BVFDFirehouse.com Guest
I agree that sometimes it seems that we go too far. As far as riding on the boards, I agree that it should not be allowed. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin, but remember, seat belts are the same way. They're supposed to save lives, but sometimes they cause more problems than they stop. Stay with it, and make your opinions known! They may influence changes in standards, just like previous people's have influenced the way we operate now.
05-01-1999, 02:36 PM #4LedbellyFirehouse.com Guest
ED- I gotta go with Truck 110 on this one...more (rules) ain't always better but most of these have made our job a little safer. I started in '85, so I'm not an old-timer...but did ride outside a few times too. It was a HOOT, but I can remember a few trips that scared the hell out of me and the talking to I got as a rookie about which drivers to Watch Out for! Specifically, we are suffering from grass fire-fighting in our structural gear, but a move is under way to get some lighter weight stuff for those occasions. Like BVFD sez...it is/will be our opinions and input that make things better so I'm glad to hear from you. I have heard a few of our older guys grumble about bunkers and hoods and SCBAs..."I used to know when it was too hot cuz my ears started melting"...but personally, I can still tell when it is getting too hot and I've still got my ears...and I like it that way. Hopefully, Our influence can "fix" the rules that lack any sensible foundations.
05-01-1999, 04:39 PM #5IRESQU2Firehouse.com Guest
I will toss my two cents....
I would love to ride the runners, after all that is one of the perks of the job....right??
Well when I face reality I can only agree with Truck110. Imagine riding down the road on the back step..all is good as you get dressed for the alarm you are responding to...then the unexpected happenens, the city is doing construction and you are unaware of the "Dip" ahead. End result, you company is standing outside you room in the CCU, Wondering if they will be able to enjoy another summer cook-out with the "boys" and the family?
Sure i would love to ride the boards, but I would much rather ride in a cab than in th eback of an Ambulance!
thats my two cents worth, not worth much but free for the taking
05-01-1999, 05:27 PM #6Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
Ed- well I guess I can call myself an oldtimer. Made my first run in 1952 on the board of a 1924 Ahrens- Fox. I agree with 110 that things are a lot safer now and thats as it should be. What gets me is that every rookie in his first week of academy has become a safety expert. Every picture in every magazine they scream about if just one clip is undone. You should know by now that at every scene, things happen that shouldn't and almost everyone is aware of it. Yes, it was a lot more fun then but don't wish for that time back. Hose was three times heaver,we had filter masks not scba,ladders weighed a ton and the standard work week was 72 hours-24/24. Manning was greater but we used up manpower a lot faster.
05-03-1999, 10:23 AM #7Scott ClarkFirehouse.com Guest
I have got to agree with Truck 110. NICE RESPONSE JOHN! I think the reason why firefighters are getting injured and dying at the same rate today despite the 49% national decrease in fires is, poor training and a lack of physical fitness awareness. Example - look at these forums. We have more people answering questions about color of vehicles or how good they think a TV show is compared to the forums about Training, Lifesafety, and Adminstration. If we don't aknowledge these issues, then like most good idea's they become lost in the "Fire Service Let's Not Deal With Reality Zone". Besides poor training or lack of training is, physical fitness and physical awareness. Many departments do not enforce annual physicals and do not promote physical fitness programs in their fire stations. When I launched a big physical fitness program for my past department (and Truck 110 I'm sure has seen the Equipment that was purchased) It has help reduce the on-scene injury rate for that department. The only ones that get hurt are the ones who don't use the equipment and are the same people that fought the program and still do today! Imagine That! I will always remember the quote of one of the firefighters who stood up and oppossed the program. " All of this is so stupid, we never had to worry about this stuff when I was fighting fires". That member is now out on disability from an injury, need I say more!
05-03-1999, 10:26 PM #8resqcaptFirehouse.com Guest
Preach on Scott! We too have been fighting tooth and nail for physical fitness programs for the past several years. All I can say is keep the faith, we WILL prevail!
I agree with your comments on training also. It's time to get back to the basics and reality based training. And maybe even (gasp) try out some new ideas!
Look out dinosaurs, there's another comet coming!
Stay safe and keep on training!
[This message has been edited by resqcapt (edited May 04, 1999).]
05-03-1999, 10:42 PM #9E7engineerFirehouse.com Guest
I started in 1980. Helmets were made of a material that would melt around your ears. Face shields were not used, the firefighters before me, wore them backwards to protect there face from the heat. Our first fire engine was a 1959 Airport crash truck. We called it the 50 - 50 truck. ( you had a 50% chance of getting it in gear the first time.)
as for riding the tailboard, I loved it!!!!
Sirens screeming as you went down the road.
The only problem was when a tractor trailer was behind you...We lost several FF to rear-end crashes, involving tractor trailers.
If you wore a SCBA, you were a weaking. A true Firefighter ate smoke...most of ththe guys with that idea is at the big firehouse in the sky...Bottom line Truck 110 is correct. but I'll still think about riding the tailboard.
05-06-1999, 02:56 PM #10FREDFirehouse.com Guest
I can see the argument for some safety rules but in an effort to eliminate all hazzards I beleive that there have been some unforseen consquences.
First in a number of studies have been conducted which show that Black Gear does not add signifigantly to core body temp. Only to the temp of the clothing it self even then it is negligible.
Other studies have shown that while Bunker gear does prevent Burns to the lower extremites It however increases the Bodys core Temp. Causing heat stress on the heart and other bodily systems. Which leads to Heat Stroke, Exaustion and even heart attacks.
It has also lead to more and more firemen being exposed to flashover and extreem temps that in the past would have been noticed before critical levels. Many have had difficulty finding the fire or relizing it was rolling over their heads because the sensory input we used in the past(i.e. ears and neck)have been eliminated.
One must ask himself. Do I mind geting some burns now and then, or would I like to die of a massive Heat Stress induced heart at the age of 45.
In this period of budget cut backs and having to do more with less, the duties & stress on Firemen will not diminish any time soon.
05-06-1999, 07:35 PM #11David HardingerFirehouse.com Guest
I agree with ladder 110. I started in 1977 and must admit, riding the tailboard was fun, except when it was cold, or raining or snowing, etc., not to mention the accidents and injuries. Overall, we're alot safer out there today than when I started and that's what counts.
Take care and be safe out there.
05-07-1999, 02:22 AM #12Brian JohnsonFirehouse.com Guest
Reading your comments brought back lots of memories. I had my first ride in 83 and rode the tailboard until 88. Wow what a gas. Screaming down the streets sirens blaring, holding on for dear life. Coming back from calls I always felt like I was in a parade. The kids would wave and the girls would (let's not go there).
That being said riding tailboards is dangerous. We had to have a fireman fall off and crack his skull open like a pumpkin before someone thought we ought write an SOP forbidding this.
Better equipment, safer techniques, rules that look out for our safety, these are all good things.
Assistant Chief, Training
MCAS Iwakuni, Japan
05-07-1999, 03:24 PM #13nsfirechapFirehouse.com Guest
Gotta jump on Truck 110's bandwagon and wholeheartedly agree. I've been doing this job since 1977 when as an air force firefighter I wore a crash suit lined with asbestos(of course the liners all were torn)! I must admit at times I feel inconvienienced, but I'd rather be inconvinienced for safeties sake. Personnally, I loved riding tailboard. It was funand exciting(Who wore the safety strap-NOT ME! But how many of our brothers and sisters were injured or lost their lives riding tailboard-IT JUST AIN'T WORTH IT. My Grandfather started fighting fires in Bayonne New Jersey in the 30's. I remember hearing stories that when these new fangled air packs came along he wouldn't use one-real fireman breathed in smoke. well, I didn't get to know my grandfather because he died at 52 from throat cancer. If he'd worn them, I might have had a chance to meet him.
[This message has been edited by nsfirechap (edited May 07, 1999).]
05-08-1999, 05:32 PM #14SMOKEYSAMFirehouse.com Guest
ED-I'VE BEEN AROUND SINCE 1968. SEEN SOME GOOD THINGS, BAD THING AND REALLY DUMB THING. BUT AS LONG AS THE FIRE SERVICE THINKS THAT NEW LAWS ARE GOING TO MAKE OUR JOB SAFER AND SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING ITS GOING TO GET WORST. NOT TO BASH SOME YOUNG GUYS, BUT SOME DO HAVE THAT ALL OF THE FANCY NEW WHISLE AND BELLS WILL MAKE OUR JOB SAFER. GET REAL, IT'S A DANGEROUS JOB AND BUTTOM LINE IS THAT'S WHAT THE REAL FIRE FIGHTERS ARE HERE FOR. I FIGHT A FIRE THE SAME TODAY AS I DID 30 YEARS AGO, THE ONLY THING IS THERE'S MORE BS TODAY AND LESS FUN. I DIDN'T KNOW WE WERE DOING ALL THEM THING WRONG LONG AGO. OR IS IT THE MANUFACTURES GETTING SMARTING A TELLING US WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS OR WE'LL BE IN NONCOMPLIANCE TO A LAW THAT THEY LOBBIED FOR. TO MAKE OUR JOBS SAFER, NOTTTT, TO MAKE MORE $$$$. BUT ED, STAY SAFE, LIVE FOR TODAY, LOOK TO THE FUTURE AND REMEMBER, THE PAST IS YESTERDAY AND YOU CAN'T CHANGE IT. BESIDE, IN 1968 THE GUYS IN THE STATION WERE SAYING THE SAME THING, ALL THIS NEW FANCY GEAR, EQUIPMENT AND ETC. THE OLD STUFF WORKED FINE.
05-08-1999, 07:27 PM #15Tillermn14Firehouse.com Guest
I have only been a firefighter for 5 years, but have been hanging around the firehouse my whole life. I can remember as a child the fire engine going down the street with firefighters on the tailboard. I have often wondered what it would be like to ride the tailboard. I have heard older members tell stories about riding the board. I have also wondered about what it would be like to to wear a tailcoat and 3/4 boots. Maybe we should bring back open cabs, I never got to ride in one of them.
[This message has been edited by Tillermn14 (edited May 08, 1999).]
05-09-1999, 03:12 PM #16AffFirehouse.com Guest
...ride the board agian? Nope, never did, never will, chicken. Besides, if you fall off the truck, you can't have any real fun! BE SAFE...
05-10-1999, 06:36 PM #17sgt128Firehouse.com Guest
I'd be interested in knowing if any departments still ride the boards.
I know that I had the chance to a while ago going down a mile long driveway on another engine, and I took it, pretty neat, but I just kept thinking about all of the people who were killed that way.
I only rode down because my engine wouldn't fit, and this engine had two seats only, and my crew hopped under the hose cover, as I jumped on the back step.
05-10-1999, 11:12 PM #18721Firehouse.com Guest
I started in the late 70's, and thought that the tailboard was a gas. One hell of a ride, and it got one pumped up for what ever faced them at the scene.
Not long before it bacame the thing not to do, I had a ride that told me I really need to get in the cab, or take my own POV to the call. Had a mutual-aid call to a large industral fire on the other side of the county. The tanker we had at the time was geared so it would really get up and run with the big dogs on the open road, and after a 15 mile ride on the interstate at 75MPH+ I decided this wern't really too smart a place to be. Besides that the tanker, a 1974 Chevy C65 with 1200 gal of water was so tall that the hand rail was a good foot over my head, and I'm 6'1".
That was my last ride on the tailboard while responding to a call, and it was my choice.
Now our newest truck doesn't even have a tail board. We spec'ed the truck out with a rear pump panel, to keep the truck as short as possible to navigate the narrow mountain roads in parts of our district. Moving the pump panel to the rear provides a great deal of compartments space on a small truck.
05-13-1999, 12:08 AM #19GramboFirehouse.com Guest
Yes, Those were the good ole days. I still get a hankering to stand up in the side pocket every now and then. They have taken a lot of the fun out of firefighting. Sometimes I think, they think, only of the Liabilities. But I think when someones life is in danger, liabilities should take a back seat. I knew this job was dangerous when I took it. Saftey has come a long way during the years though. You can't save someone's life if you don't have your own. So I do have to agree with the others. Even though they have taken most of the fun out of it. Stay with it. It is a very rewarding life
06-03-1999, 05:18 AM #20nbfd131Firehouse.com Guest
I've been a firefighter for 5 years now and I don't think I would want to ride the beaver board the way some people drive these days. Add to that the fact that it is cold and snowy in the winter and hot and muggy in the summer and you get my point.
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