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  1. #21
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    This entire thread was interesting from my point of view. I was part of a FEMA S&R team deployed to the site on Sept. 25th. I do not believe FDNY was the best equipped to handle the incident due to the fact that their top people in urban search and rescue perished in the collapse. From the start, all FEMA teams, largely comprised of professional firefighters with extensive addition training, sat on the sidelines and watched as volunteers carried out multiple aimless searches. The first team (out of 8 available)wasn't allowed on the pile until the fourth day.
    Upon arrival, our team from Southern Nevada received complaints of actions of our members behaving unprofessionally. As it turned out, 10 to 15 members of North Las Vegas FD took their turnouts and flew to NYC and snuck into the hot zone. It was naturally assumed that they were with us. Not only did we have to deal with the stigma of being an outside federal agency, but we had to repeately distance ourselves from these freelancers. An already volatile situation was endangered by individuals putting their own personal interests over the legitimate operations of the disaster.
    I was ashamed to be associated with these "fellow firefighters".


  2. #22
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    While I'm probably just adding another "Me too!" post here, I have to agree with the Chief's desision. This kind of thing happened a lot. Here in Connecticut, there was a little blurb on the news about some firefighters who took a piece of apparatus down to NYC, against orders, and then got it damaged. They were, I believe, suspended. I'm not 100% sure, since the news never followed up on it. And I've heard through the grapevine that a bunch of other guys went down either against orders, or without permission.

    Myself, I'm a big fan of organization and order. I was really pleased at how well NE Connecticut organized a response to the incident. As far as I know, nobody had to go, but by 7PM or so Tuesday evening, we had thousands of fire and EMS people ready to respond as they were needed. Most likely, we'd have been covering assignments in the areas of CT closer to New York. But either way, you're helping.

    Myself, I wasn't selected to go. Of course everyone wanted to, but we couldn't strip our own town. I was just as proud, however, to be part of the "home guard". Those of us who were staying behind worked out an impromptu system to get a good daytime response for those of us who work in places where our pagers don't go off. If our guys had gone, I would have been just as happy to tell stories years from now about how I had been part of a group of people who'd protected our own town, even with diminished resources. It kind of reminded me of my favorite book from when I was a kid, about an old fireman with an old fire engine who saves the day while the rest of his department is out fighting a big fire in the city.

    Anyway, there's my pre-coffee rambling for the day.

    Andy

  3. #23
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    Originally posted by fyrcanine:
    I was part of a FEMA S&R team deployed to the site on Sept. 25th. I do not believe FDNY was the best equipped to handle the incident due to the fact that their top people in urban search and rescue perished in the collapse. From the start, all FEMA teams, largely comprised of professional firefighters with extensive addition training, sat on the sidelines and watched as volunteers carried out multiple aimless searches. The first team (out of 8 available)wasn't allowed on the pile until the fourth day.
    While I agree that the FDNY was unable to deal with the USAR aspects of the disaster (most of the team and team leader were missing), there were three professional USAR teams (not FEMA teams) that were deployed at the request of NY on the 12th. At that time, there were no FEMA teams on location (although there were a few Incident Advance Teams there). I don't know how you know what happened in the first four days if you weren't there until the 25th. Once the FEMA teams were assembled and got the "FEMA o.k." they deployed.

    I think you are doing a disservice to the professional non-FEMA teams by calling them "volunteer" and implying that they were doing an amateurish job.

    It is my understanding that all three of the teams received compliments from the FEMA teams and were requested by FEMA to remain on scene for the full ten day deployment.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  4. #24
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    A similar incident occurred in the County I live in (2 counties above NYC),where a vollie EMS Captain (also a FF,although quite poor!)stated in the local paper that he "couldn't stand to see the pain on the faces of his Brothers anymore, he had to do something", so he gathered up his issued TOG,and beat feet for Ground Zero. Blah,Blah,Blah,big hero at the WTC...Front page of the local paper....HERO....Blah,Blah-F'ing Blah!

    This supposed Officer,broke a direct order from his Company Chief,County Fire Coordinators,State Fire Coordinators, and ignored a request from The FDNY....because he "had to help"!

    And was made to look like a hero!



    Just like those yahoos from Long Island who couldn't wait till they got called, or start some other type of fundraiser - blood drive,boot drive,whatever!- they had to ignore orders to say, "Yep, I was on that job!"

    For those that were called to help, Thank You, what you have done for the Nation's Greatest Fire Department cannot be measured, For those of you that were lined up in human bucket conveyers, moving rubble for hours, again Thank You.

    For you MUTTS that buffed the job......Well I think you get the point.
    FTM - PTB

  5. #25
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    ....And by the way. You think a 6 month suspension is rough? Just be glad I am NOT your Chief.
    FTM - PTB

  6. #26
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    I have to agree that the Chief was right in suspending them, although I do think 6 months was a bit much. He needed to make a point, but unless these folks were regular discipline problems all he did was deprive himself of 2 volunteers for an extended period of time.

    My squad is trained in Structural Collapse. We train to FEMA standards and are part of a statewide task force. My people were absolutely itching to go. Many of our friends from other USAR teams were there and some of us know some of the missing.

    With that said, I also issued a memo ordering people not to go without permission. They'd have been suspended and not covered by Workman's Comp if they got hurt.

    Why? Not just because of the memo we also got from our state, but because I respect the fact that on a large scale incident too many people can cause more harm than good. They already had a 6-block area filled with 'rescuers' they didn't know what to do with, had no way to feed or house.

    I have run a large scale (it doesn't begin to compete with this, but for us it was big) incident and had the problem of extra 'help'. What happened is that folks came when the initial incident happened from all over, even though they weren't requested.

    This was a trench recovery and we were out there for about 14 hours.

    At first I let them stay but eventually started turning them away. That caused some hard feelings, but you can only put so many people in a hot zone at a time.

    The big problem was that by the time we got to the later part of the day folks started dissapearing. If they'd have waited until I called, they'd have been fresh and could have rotated in to relieve others.

    You should be able to concentrate on the incident at hand, not be worrying about what to do with 100 or 1000 extra people.

    Things are done for a reason and I don't presume to second guess others when I'm not there. If they needed extra help, they'd have called for it.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

  7. #27
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    Duty,discipline,and honor.
    Three things we as firefighters value so very much. However,if we choose to ignore just one of the theese things it makes the rest of them worthless. Question?: Did these guys have a duty to act? probably not,but i'm sure they felt like they did.
    Discipline:We in the fire service have to be extremely disciplined! This has time and time again proved to be one of the most important parts of our jobs. Without discipline we would have kaoz. Without discpline we would not not be able to keep our cool in the countless amounts of extreme situations we face. Without discipline we would have freelancing.We each are taught through countless hours of training that freelancing is very dangerous and corruptive of the incident command system.
    Question: Did these guys freelance? probably so. I believe these guys had very good intentions but we set rules up in a certain way in order to protect all. As far as being suspended for six months,well i must say i believe this is a bit extreme. The fire service has already suffered a tremendous loss of personnel,think that by suspending these guys for this long is only going to further damage an already damaged system.
    Let us not forget that our country is now at war and that we as a nation have been placed on the highest level of alert. Perhaps a lessor punishment was in order but it seems that the commanding officer let his anger get the better part of his judgement.
    This brings me to the last of the three words honor, I strongly believe these guys did a very honorable thing by trying to help. I think many of us may have reacted in the same way.
    I also think their chief needs to review his decision to see if this was the honorable thing to do. Anyhow this is just my thougnts on the topic.


    ---------------------------------------------
    Thoughts and prayers go to those affected by this seemingly thuoghtless decision. Keep the faith.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    All respect Sue, 'cause you had a good reply...but one point I want to re-emphasize:

    He needed to make a point, but unless these folks were regular discipline problems all he did was deprive himself of 2 volunteers for an extended period of time.

    I wrote above Long Island has huge number of vollies...this is from Westhampton Beach's website (www.whbfd.com):

    Over the past 75 years the Westhampton Beach Fire Department has grown in size to over 100 volunteer firefighters, 15 pieces of apparatus and one state-of-the-art water rescue boat.

    A few suspensions out of a membership of a 100 probably isn't going to be more noticed than normal turnover.

    One wonders sometimes which comes first...the willingness to discipline members, or having enough members you're willing to discipline. Interesting question, no?
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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  9. #29
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    Geez, I stand corrected. I guess I'm just used to small numbers. I'm lucky if I can keep 25 on the roster. I wouldn't know what to do with 100.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

  10. #30
    Senior Member hctrouble25's Avatar
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    Dalmation...very interesting...we have a dangerous, freelancing, moronic idiot for a Lt., but our higher ups refuse to discipline him to the members standards because..and I quote "we don't have anyone else to do the job right now." All I know is that a number of our members don't come around anymore because they can't stand this guy as a Lt. and because they are shocked and disgusted at all the stuff he gets away with. It has been a problem for over a year..and we re-elect officers in Jan. but his position is appointed not elected...what a shame. Being Chief does not mean being everyone's friend...it makes you the manager of that company, and as a manager you sometimes have to discipline people and make tough decisions. If you are not willing to do that then you should not be a Chief.
    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!

  11. #31
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    hctroubl

    Are there By Laws or a Constitution for the Fire Company? There must be a way to bring it up on the Fire Company floor to amend the By Laws to make the LT's position by vote instead of appointed. You may have to post the proposed change for 30 days prior to the vote, but you should be able to amend them. We had a similar issue and this is how we dealt w/ it.

    Stay Safe

  12. #32
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    Being here on the Westcoast was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had. I am both a volunteer FF and a military member, so the urge to go and assist was awful to deal with on a personal level.

    However, I think the issue here is one of discipline. In both the field and on the Fire ground, discipline is an absoulte must have item.

    While I may not agree with the length of the suspension, there had to be something done. As was stated earlier, FDNY was very quick to indicate that although they appreciated the various persons who rose to the call and volunteered to help out, they felt they had the situation under control, and that if they came to a point of requiring further assitance, they would be the first to call for it.

    Being on the "Leftcoast" as it were, that was something of a relief, in as much as FDNY felt they were dealing with the problem at hand and that it was under control.

    I think that if there had been a general call for assistance, there would have been a manpower issue in most units right across the world, as FFs and Johnny Q Public would have been plugging all available resources to get to the scene.

    Of course this is just my own personal opinion, and not that of the companies and units I work for, or work with.
    Malahat27: "Play safe y'all."

  13. #33
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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by no_name_FF:
    [QB] I don't know how you know what happened in the first four days if you weren't there until the 25th. Once the FEMA teams were assembled and got the "FEMA o.k." they deployed.

    I think you are doing a disservice to the professional non-FEMA teams by calling them "volunteer" and implying that they were doing an amateurish job.

    My information came from a FEMA officer who had been present from the beginning. In the first week, people were searching the pile in shorts and tennis shoes, while deployed FEMA teams were sitting on the sidelines. Whatever you believe the initial situation was, resourses were not utilized as needed.

  14. #34
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    Having been born and raised in New York city I felt this attack personally. I have friends on the FDNY who were there and by the grace of God were not injured that day. I wanted to be there in the worst way too. I didn't go because My dept wasn't asked which is the key point. Every fireman on Long Island wanted to be there I'm sure but they understood that Accountability for outside personel would have been a nightmare even if they went as a department. Individuals feelancing just would have been unacceptable. Sorry guy--you're wrong. Your heart was in the right place but your actions were wrong. On the other hand I would not have suspended those guys for 6 months. It's hard enough keeping volunteers today as it is. An appropriate work detail would have made the punishment fit the crime.
    Stay safe--
    "Never trust a smiling dog"
    Delaware F.O.O.L. FTM-PTB-EGH

  15. #35
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    My information came from a FEMA officer who had been present from the beginning. In the first week, people were searching the pile in shorts and tennis shoes, while deployed FEMA teams were sitting on the sidelines.

    Funny, MA-TF1 has a pic on their website from on the pile dated 9/14 which is sooner than a week, or even four days...I'm sure confusion was a good word for much of the early days of the incident.

    I have very limited USAR training (one class, breaching & breaking). I wasn't at Ground Zero, but from what I've seen on TV, heard reported, and can reasonably guess at...there may well be reasons why specially trained resources on an incident of this magnitude may have been held back -- so non-skilled labor could remove surface debris and/or while engineers and advance teams cleared the safety of other areas. No sense tiring out your specially trained personnel if what is needed there and then is work regular firefighters or volunteer civilian grunts could perform.

    I do have great respect for the FEMA and other US&R teams, since it takes great dedication to train for these incidents with the very few oppurtonities you have to actually deploy and use your skills...and even when a big one hits like this, I think only 1/3 or less of the FEMA US&R Task Force personnel ended up deploying. I'm sure to many of them to get to New York and then be held in reserve initially must've been fustrating as all get out!

    when a big one hits like this Ok, so I'm now commenting on my own writing -- but I originally wrote "when THE big one hits..." in that sentence, then I realized, this **wasn't** the big one. Like I said, probably less than 1/3 of FEMA resources deployed, never mind the many local US&R teams around the nation.

    Which made me realize WTC wasn't "the" big one. "The" big one is going to be a major natural disaster, most likely a West Coast earthquake. Perhaps more scarey is if the "big one" happens to be another New Madrid earthquake in Missouri (a magnitude 8), or even when the "big one" hits New York. I don't know how accurate, but a quick google search came up with one reference that listed the following for New York City: a magnitude 5+ is approximately a "200-year event"; a 6 quake, a "600-year event"; a 7, a "2,000-year event."

    In layman's terms: A magnitude 5 barely makes the news in Los Angeles. A magnitude 6 would cause significant damage. A magnitude 7 is what hit Kobe, Japan and would severely damage most buildings in NY with multiple building and infrastructure collapses. A magnitude 8 would wipe out New York or any other east coast city it hit as we know it. Since a 2,000 year event has a 1 in 2000 probability of happening any year, it's a lot more likely than you being murdered (1 in 12,000).

    Terrorism is the cause of the day (or in this case unfortunately, the cause of the next several years) but even as it passes, our ability as a service to remained disciplined and respond in an organized manner remains paramount. Mother nature is awful powerful, and one day, maybe not in my lifetime, but certainly in the lifetime of this nation and of our fire service, she is going to unleash an event that will make WTC look like a house fire. No, we can't be perfect and lots of mistakes will happen responding to the "big one" whether it's here or LA, but at least we can stay organized while screwing up

    WTC gives us practical experience and lessons that will still be being taught 40 years from now when I'm asking for the Fire-Police vest. There was a lot that went well. A lot could be improved. Yeah, some stuff may get harsh criticism -- but the best thing we can do to honor those who gave their lives is to learn as much as we can from this incident. We know a lot more about skyscraper collapses, something that's never happenend before. We've seen the problems in controlling and organizing incidents like this, and there's a lot of lessons that can be drawn from that. And we've seen how departments have to figure out what their role in disasters like this. 9-11/WTC is causing a lot of thinking to go on right now in the fire service, and that's a good thing.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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  16. #36
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    Originally posted by fyrcanine:
    [QB
    My information came from a FEMA officer who had been present from the beginning. In the first week, people were searching the pile in shorts and tennis shoes, while deployed FEMA teams were sitting on the sidelines. Whatever you believe the initial situation was, resourses were not utilized as needed.[/QB]

    Well, your info is wrong.... here is from the FEMA website showing FEMA teams deployed on Sept. 13!:
    http://www.fema.gov/diz01/images/d1391p6.jpg http://www.fema.gov/diz01/images/d1391p11.jpg


    Clearly the FEMA teams were in action on the 13th. It is my understanding that they were first deployed about 9 p.m. on the 12th!
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  17. #37
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    An order was given. The order was ignored. Subordinate personnel were disciplined for insubordination. 6 months too harsh? Well, let's see. If the chief said, "I'd rather that you didn't go. NYC said that they didn't need us, so you shouldn't go". That's one thing, but if the chief said "No department member is permitted to go to NYC and assist in any way with the WTC incident", then they should be separated from the department. Does that leave you short-handed? Then call mutual aid until you get your count back up. In Illinois, if you are part of the state-wide response, EMA will request your help. At that time, you are covered for any injury or damaged equipment and you will be paid your hourly rate to assist. If you are not called, you do not have any of those benefits. So if someone just goes to help, that is, being a good samaritan, then you had better not take department issued or you are in deep do-do. Jeez, we have fought this image as volunteers for so many years, but to allow them to go to an incident of this magnitude with limited skills such as riding in a truck, let alone complex SAR skills, is an embarassment. I know that they lacked skills to follow orders. I am sure that many of the vollieteers were told to go back home. Some even complained to the news reporters to the extent that the news reporters couldn't understand why they wouldn't need all the help that they could get. Has anyone had a news reporter run their incident command lately? And the sad part is; some of them were posing as firefighters from neighboring departments so that they could get into the hot zone. As I said in an earlier post, some of it was done to get face time with the camera or the front page of the local newspaper. We had a couple of boys from a neighboring department go to NYC because they "just had to". The one guy was blubbering the entire newscast about how terrible it was and that he would never forget it. What did he expect? I won't ask them about it, because I know that's what they want. Am I jealous? Absolutely not. We were told to stay home! There is more respect, honor and discipline in that than in going against the wishes of NYC. Stay home and practice your major incident plans. Ask yourselves "where can we do the most good?" I don't have to tell you the answer to that one.
    For those of you who disobeyed direct orders: consider yourself lucky if you are still on the department. And don't worry: the rest of us volunteers will work hard once again to prove to our career brothers and sisters that we belong, because we can follow orders and conduct ourselves like professionals.
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  18. #38
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    Everyone needs to remember that if any officer tells you something like " you will fighter fire naked" you have to do it, not because it is right. but because they can make you do it.
    FF/PARAMEDIC/CORONER/TRAINING "MY DAY STARTS WHEN YOURS ENDS"
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  19. #39
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    The FDNY was capable and in control from the moment the first plane hit until today as we speak. They realized what they needed and asked for it. The needed someone to help setup the command structure and who did they ask for help the IAFC who sent down a number of Chiefs. When that was completed those Chiefs left. If they FDNY wanted all of us to run down there they would of called!Ladies and Gentlemen the FDNY is the Largest FD around. Ever hear the saying to many cooks spoils the pot!
    As for these FF getting suspended, Thumbs up for the Chief, I believe in thinking out of the box, but I am also a firm beliver in rank and structure. He made the call and those FF have no choice but to obey it. They should take thier "vacation" and be happy they can still run on the Department after six months.

  20. #40
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    Ok, fine they disobeyed a direct order. That is way out of line. BUT, there has been lots of complaining about freelancing on this tread. How come nobody has said anything about all of the firefighters there from the big citys? I know I saw Chicago firefighters, some from CA,MI,MA,RI,FL,MO,CT, PA and god knows how many others. Why are we siting here belittling each other. It was a act of war. Planes where flown into 3 buildings in the United States. Over 5,000 people are dead. Most of the firefighters that showed up went to the proper staging area. From there they went in. In a huge line on one of the streets I saw firefighters from almost every county in New Jersey. Departments from all over North Jersey were sent in to cover stations in NY. You guys keep talking like people just stormed in and ran to the top of the pile like they where playing king of the hill. This was not true. They were all mostly part of bucket brigades. This person from Nevada, how can you sit there and critize people when your story does not match! I understand what is being said here. But I think some of you should step back and look at the big picture. People we are all brothers and sisters. For now lets just take this a little easy. Please.
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