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  1. #1
    Some Guy

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    Default responding to universities

    We have two collages in our town. One of them has a security force that, according to them, "do it all." We can hear them on the scanner going to fire alarms and smoke conditions all of the time. They even put out a fire on there own. They never call us. They check it out first. We battle with them all of time with this. They say that we are not needed. Does anyone else have this problem?
    OH yeah on the door of there cars the have a police badge with fire and ems in it. Funny hunh?
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    We have a decent working relationship with our university's (Eastern Kentucky University... Go Colonels!! Yeah, I know. Cheap plug.) public safety. They work well with us, and 9 times out of ten get there before us. They let us know what floor/room to go to, and if its a BS call. (Malicious)

    On occaision, they do park their cruisers on the plug. My only beef.
    "In all of us there are heroes... speak to them and they will come forth."

    "In order for us to achieve all that is demanded of us, we must regard ourselves as greater than we are."

    "Be excellent to each other."

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    The College I went to didn't have much of a problem with the campus saftey people getting in the way. There were many times when the engine beat the campus saftey staff to the dorms in the middle of the night. On a related note, that college removed all of the pull stations from the dorms this year with the exception of the ones in the kitchen areas, because it was decided that the smoke detectors and sprinkler systems provided enough security against fire, and couldn't prompt malicious pulls.

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    Worcester is home to 11 colleges and universities...talk about a thick preplan file!

    I'm on the Residential Life staff at my school as a Resident Assistant, and work with out Department of Public Safety (they hate that name) all the time on fire alarms, EMS situations, etc.

    As of this past school year, any fire alarm in an unsprinkled dormitory would sound at the Worcester Fire Department and Public Safety's dispatch office. WFD would roll a full response. Public Safety would respond and check the location indicated on the panel. In my building, I woul take a quick run through the top two floors (the male floors- and therefore most likely to be the source of the alarm! ) to see if I could find anything, and make sure that residents were evacuating. If I or the officers found a malicious or accidental situation (you'd be suprised how many college freshmen are incapable of sucessfully popping a bag of microwave popcorn) they would call it in to our Control, who would notify WFD, who would knock the response down to the first due engine. They'd usually be arriving about that time anyway. They'd make sure the system was reset sucessfully, and take their leave.

    The residents, meanwhile, stand outside the building in whatever the weather may be at that time!

    Supposedly the concrete-block dorms "don't need" sprinklers, because the construction of the building would hold any fire to the room of origin long enough for an FD response and extinguishment using the standpipes that we do have. Yeah, ok, but what about the trashrooms, which don't have doors that close and by Sunday are full of alcohol-soaked garbage........

    In further news, this year's RA training includes a fire safety seminar at a Massachusetts tech school. FINALLY..............

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    Two experiences.

    Had 2 big dorm fires at CMSU during my stint there, one fatal (arson), non-sprinklered bldgs. full 'o' drunk 18 y/o males.

    Non-stop fire/ems calls at Washington Univ. in St. Louis (3-4 / day), my dept had the response contract, and they had a response team of med students, hoping to be doctors someday. They were ok, but everybody got a Non-Rebreather O2.

    Hated it so much, left for another dept. that has a community college in the city, sparatic ems calls, usually anxiety attacks in the nurses office

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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    I currently work full time at a university that houses three campuses, various hospitals and psych clinics and some research facilities. I work in the Public Safety Department. I find that my fire knowledge comes as an interesting additive when dealing with our fire alarms. We try to get there before fire is dispatched and determine if it is a BS call of if it is something simple and an extinguisher can put it out, attempt to do that while fire is en route. We have lines in various locations in the facitilies that are chargable without being plugged through the standpipe (pardon my retarded discrpitions), but i do not feel, even with my fire background, that i would ever try to take on a fire here without the proper gear. Of course, dont get me started on fire response to the research areas, in situations like that, i think its time to grab the respirator and stand back and watch, they cant even make up their mind about what is in those buildings for sure. Basically, i think that their public safety people should leave the fire fighting to those that have the gear and knowledge to do it. My hats off to all my fellow firefighters.

    FF_ONG
    Stay safe out there.
    These are my opinions and in no way reflect on the opinions of my dept.

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    I hear a bit of the "leave the fire for us...it's no fun if it's out before we get there" syndrome here.

    In my humble opinion, if someone can knock a fire down with an extinguisher, they should, thereby potentially saving lives and property.

    Look, we all like what we do or we wouldn't be doing it. But don't lose sight of the ultimate goal - protecting lives and property.

    Kyle - how can you be sure that the security department at the college is not trained in firefighting response for small fires? I know of several in my area that DO get such training. Why would you have them wait for fire apparatus if they can knock the fire down quickly? And why is it funny for them to have FF and EMS crests on their cruisers if they are trained in it?

    I understand that it's frustrating when there are two agencies competing to offer the same or similar services (almost like two fire or ambulance companies in a disputed territory). But keep the big picture in mind - protection of life and property. You need to cooperate (your department and the college security officers) to achieve that goal in the best and most efficient way possible. Drop the attitudes, and work together.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    We cover 2 universities and a College in my town. Activated Fire alarms out the ying yang. Campus public safety used to "handle it all" until the Seton Hall fire. Since then due to parent pressuring, our department is sending full box alarms to all AFA's unless Public Safety calls before the dispatchers can "box it" then they send an engine just to double check.
    But you can't beat a late night fire alarm in a womens dorm.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RTB

    Stay low, keep pushing in, and stay safe.

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    On a humerous note to this thread. One evening, after a long period of studing that had included much of the previous night, I fell asleep with a CD playing in continuous loop, which I rarely did becuase of a large MP3 collection. Well, 3 AM roles around and someone pulls the fire alarm. And what exactly was the CD I had been playing all night:

    The Backdraft CD with all the original Music from the movie!

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    BucksEng, they are not trained. They do not like the publicity of the FD on there campus. The point is THEY DO NOT CALL US. By the time they got there and found that is was something don't you think that would be one hell of a time delay?
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    Kyle -

    Sounds like what the cops do all the time. They get there first, report back to the dispatcher, and we get the report as we're responding.

    I wouldn't worry about this too much. The first time there's a loss of life or property because of the lag time, they'll change their policy.

    BTW - how do you know they don't have training? Have your chiefs ever met with the security department's heads?
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    DJH
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    Let me approach this from a different angle:

    I work for a University in the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S). We are responsible for a wide range of safety related areas including fire and EMS. Our involvement usually comes in prevention, not suppression.

    The University is located in the district of a volunteer fire department which runs approximately 500-600 calls a year. The department refuses to respond to alarm activations. They are concerned that the increase in calls will "burn their members out." (Alarm activations on campus usually occur 1-3 times daily.) The fire department has told us to call them only if we really need them.

    Our EH&S dept is only available from 8am to 4pm weekdays - not busy times for fires in dorms. Since EH&S is usually unavailable, the University Police handle all activations. They have NO training or equipment to handle an actual fire. (The union won't allow it) They would gladly turn over fire calls to the fire department, but the FD won't come. The fire dept is called at the first hint of smoke, odor, etc., but there is automatically a delay built into the system since they wait until an officer is on the scene and investigates. (remember the volunteers are still at home sleeping.)

    Don't interpret this as a slam on volunteer firefighters - I've been one for many years. But the local FD seems to have forgotten why they are here.

    We meet with the chief officers of the fire dept twice a year, but things don't change.

    [ 07-12-2001: Message edited by: DJH ]

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    Hay bucks you are missing the whole point. The College security is not calling the fire department. Unlike you in bucks and me in lehigh county the fire and the police get the call very close together. Here the college gets the call and sits on it. When the fire department goes responding it is after a HUGE delay after they go across campus climb the steps and play fireman for who knows how long then call for help.

    To the guy from EKU WALTERS HALL Loved going to that place at 2am on the slightly colder nights

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    Thank you choad. You understand. I work not for at all from Seton Hall. So you would think they would get the picture. We are not worried about burning out volunteers. We are a paid department. Two nights ago we heard them go to a reported smoke condition. No call for us. Weird, I know. 45min later they call for us for another smoke condition. IOt does not make since.
    Bucks- We have met with there chief. His attitude is "we do not need help."
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    And I thought New Jersey was a progressive state in the world of fire codes. Here in Ohio, it is illegal to not notify the fire department of ANY unfriendly fire. I work full time as a cop on a University Campus and I am also a volunteer firefighter. This combination has worked well to help deal with nuisance calls where the local Fire Dept. will put some confidence into a condition report I give them prior to arrival.

    If you have no legal means to require the campus safety people to report fire conditions to you, I guess you don't have many options. Unfortunately, some colleges wait until the horse gets out before they close the barn door. Perhaps you could start trying to document the calls that security handles that you should have been notified about. Then think of some way to alert the parents of the students to your concerns and let them put the pressure on the college to contact the fire department before someone gets hurt.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    I volunteer with one of three companies in Princeton, NJ, home of the Tigers. The campus is pretty much the entire town with seperate housing and facilities spread all over. In the main campus with the dorms campus security handles most of the alarms and minor incidents. Any working fire or other hazardous situations get reported to us immediately. There are many labs that we get sent to alot where we have no clue what are in them, along with a cogeneration plant that we go to a few times a year when it is being restarted. The only problems that we have had with the university deal with it's "dinner clubs." These are pretty much prep excuses for frat houses, except they are two story mansion-like houses that line one of the streets. We have been refused entrance to the club when responding for alarm activations - yet when we get in there, we've seen some pretty wierd stuff. That's another topic that someone can start later.

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    Have your union president or state delegate get the State FMBA involved. If the police are members of the State PBA, then the FMBA will put pressure on them to stop their members from these actions.

    [ 07-14-2001: Message edited by: FitzBFDT2 ]
    Kevin M. Fitzhenry
    Captain, Rescue Company 1
    City of Bayonne (NJ) Fire Department

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    I would but they are rent a cops
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    RJE
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    I feel for the guys dealing with vollies who don't want to "burn out" -- that's missing the point (although smells and bells do get old).

    One option for dealing with the "rent-a-cops" to get them to call might be a direct appeal to the parents to put pressure on them. Contact the Univ. and request a "home address" list for the students - then send a letter addressed to "the parents of ..." explaining the problems w/the Seton Hall fire.

    Then let them use their money to do the talking!

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    I work as a fire inspector/safety officer for one of the state colleges in NJ (took the job just before the Seton Hall tragedy), and our response hasn't changed a whit, even though we installed our residence hall sprinklers before the law was signed...

    Fire alarm signals come in to the Public Safety dispatch center, who dispatches security personnel to investigate the alarm. This occurs even when I am on duty ( I only seem to be called when a.) they can't reset the system, or b.) when they see smoke, but by the time I respond, the boro fire dept. is already responding....there is apparently some serious animosity between security and fire safety here). In the event of an actual emergency, the county alarm room is advised and they dispatch the local fire department.

    Our local fire department actually prefers this setup because they don't have to roll every time someone burns the roast or the toast. Also, they know that if there is an emergency and I am on duty, I will be inside in my gear, calling them on the radio and giving them a report. If I can, I will make an attempt to extinguish.

    While we have fire extinguishers as required, we suggest students not attempt to extinguish a fire themselves unless are completely certain they can make the attempt without putting themselves at risk. I would rather see them just get out, then get themselves in a bad situation. It's bad enough we have to go in, y'know?

    Jim

    [ 08-20-2001: Message edited by: Jim Beutel ]
    My views are, of course, mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of my station

    "Give me the storm and stress of thought and action rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. " ~ Robert Ingersoll

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    If they are not trained and certified fire fighters or EMTs they have absolutely NO business going into a fire, or treating a patient! Period. I agree that they can be utilized to let the fire and EMS personnel know if there is a situation, where it is, and how bad it is. Other than that they should stay out of the way. The only thing they can accomplish by going into a building to investigate is to get hurt themselves and put others in danger. If they go in and find a fully involved room and contents what are they going to do? Put it out with an extinguisher? I doubt it. By the time they realize how bad it is they probably won't get back out again. They are not trained or equipped to the job at hand and should leave it to those that are. If the campus security, safety patrol, etc. are trained as fire fighters and EMTs and have the equipment then legally they can go in and fight fires or treat patients. That is where the line should be drawn. Only equipped, trained and certified personnel should be doing the job.
    Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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    It really comes down to whether or not the security people are trained in emergency response. And lets face it folks, an initial size up is not brain surgery. Security people and campus cops can be trained how to do this fairly readily - size of building, exposures, volume of visible smoke and fire.

    In addition, I don't see why training them in basic initial response procedures is a problem, either. If the fire can be fought with an extinguisher, let 'em go for it. If not, train them to close off the area as well as possible to try to prevent spread. Then, evacuate the building and surrounding buildings if necessary. Finally, provide crowd control and access control to the fire building(s).

    If it's just an odor of smoke, what are you going to do that trained security folks couldn't do? I agree wholeheartedly, though, that the fire department should be called if there is ANY indication that there may be fire, as small as that indication might be.

    Remember what our purpose is here, everybody - it's not to ensure that there's some fire left for us, it's the protection of life and property. That's what campus police and security personnel do, too. Work with them, not against them. And if they want to be pig-headed about it, you have to let them. Just be sure that students and parents know about it. They might change their tune if twenty or thirty distraught parents barrage their office and the administration with phone calls and letters...

    [ 08-20-2001: Message edited by: BucksEng91 ]
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    I have no problem with our security people sizing up, but my boss and I are the only ones with turnouts and air packs, even if some of the security guys are vol. FFs. Once the size up is made and they have determined there is a fire, they need to get out. There is no reason for them to put themselves at risk, especially when they are not equipped for it. I'd rather they stay outside then me have to go in and pull them out because they didn't have the PPE to be there.

    We had this situation July 2000 during a cafeteria kitchen fire - couldn't see any smoke from outside, report of a kitchen fire, so I went in in full PPE, and standing right outside the kitchen (doors open...) was one of our security guys, hacking up a lung, to point out the fire. As if the orange glow inside the door wouldn't have tipped me off.... Since he didn't have gear, I ordered him out.

    It's OK for security or police to investigate, but they have to understand their limitations, or else we'll be taking them to the hospital.

    I, for one, do not want to treat a friend because they were somewhere they shouldn't have been.
    My views are, of course, mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of my station

    "Give me the storm and stress of thought and action rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. " ~ Robert Ingersoll

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    Jim -

    I understand what you're saying and I agree. But if there is a small paper fire in a trash bin, for example, if I were a security officer (or really, any trained employee of the university), I'd try to put the sumbitch out.

    There's absolutely no reason why trained civilians cannot fight a small fire in its incipient stage. Otherwise, why waste money on extinguishers in hallways, etc.? For the firefighters to grab once they get there, all decked out in full PPE for that wastebasket fire? Come on.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    I live in a dorm, and thankfully have never had to deal with anything other than routine fire drills. However, I have witnessed the Ann Arbor Frie Department respond to a fire alarm in the Music School. Not sure if it was malicious or not, but they roll a bunch of equipment. One or two ladders, 2 engines, and a Rescue.

    Eric

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