1. #1
    Junior Member

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    Dec 2000
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    Needham, Ma
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    10

    Lightbulb The Fire Department Today ( IMHO)

    (Authors Note: All information is taken from FireRescue magazine, Firehouse magazine, or departmental web pages. Will try to give credit where due, but apologize if I miss one.)
    Okay folks, get comfortable, because this is going to be a long post.
    First of all, let me tell you where I am coming from. I am a first generation fire buff, and more than that, a firehouse regular. I am a student at University of New Haven, in West Haven, CT. Studying towards a double fire major, arson investigation and fire admin. I have not had the pleasure of volunteering, though hopefully this summer I will fulfill that dream. So I am writing this from basically a third party perspective. Just so you get idea of where I am coming from...
    Okay, so here we go. The first item on my list is this; just recently, in FireRescue magazine I believe, I read that departments nationwide are still having trouble with hoses fitting hydrants during mutual aid runs.
    Now, what is the problem here? Well, for a long time, each individual town used it's own individual thread sizes on hydrants and corresponding hoses and connectors. This usual meant that companies from outside the city line would not be able to connect to the hydrants, and would therefore be stuck just watching the fire as opposed to helping to put it out.
    As you can imagine, this poses quite a problem. Or does it? For in fact, there is a simple, available solution. It is called the National Hose Connection Thread Standards. Basically these were drawn up more than a hundred years ago. Yet we still face the "no connect" problem. Why? Well, as usual in the fire service, change is a hard concept to grasp in the service. Not that I am knocking it, understand, more I am simply trying to understand why, when we have a fix to an obviously annoying problem, we don' implement. Please note especially in the name the part that says "National..Standards." {And as I hit the post button, my e-mail becomes a river of flame.) (Thanks FireRescue, especially Nozzlehead.)
    Okay, on to the next gripe.
    Let me ask you a question: What would it look like if we continually read stories about hospitals and hospital staff turning out to be murderers? Or security guards always being the ones who are doing the stealing? Or if the military community, whom is charged to protect the people, instead turned on them? We would think that this world was pretty well screwed up, wouldn't we? So let me ask you another question: I wonder what it looks like to the average citizen when they read stories, almost bi-monthly, of fire fighters who are charged with arson. What the heck is going on here folks? We are the ones who swore to protect, to the point of paying the price with our lives, of protecting people from the fiery Animal, and we are the very ones lighting these suckers. Now ,I know that I am probably being extremely dramatic, and accusing a vast majority for the crimes of a few, but I believe my point is valid. I mean, granted, fire fighters know the Beast better than most anyone else, and yes, I will admit to being the type of person that if I don't get to see a good fire every once in a while, I kind of get... annoyed, maybe is the right term? But I would not feel the need to light stuff on fire simply to see the big red go fast in action. I can wait for the next lighting strike, electrical fault, etc.
    One must look, then, at what causes these people to be the way they are. One may be that when one joins the fire service, whether they admit it or not, they kind of expect to get to throw water on flames occasionally. Now, if you are in one of those communities that are belatedly fire safe, and don't get to see a lot of workers, I can kind of understand where boredom with medicals may factor in, though again not to the levels that these people are.
    Now, another reason that these people may be doing what they are doing is for purely mental or psychological reasons. Some of these people may just have a... thing for fire. Again, this does not excuse them, but at least we know the feeling, right? Any true firefighter, paid or volley, active or retired, who says that they couldn't just watch a campfire for hours is a lyin' POS. (s'cuse the firehouse talk.)
    So what are the remedies? Well, to be honest, I'm dry on ideas. I would love to hear what you think. Maybe the answer is to have more live-fire drills. Maybe it is to have a counselor every four-six months come in and review the 'fighters, try to discover if there butter slipped off the toast yet or not. Again, I don't claim to have the answers on that one, but then again, I don’t think that there are any easy answers.
    Thirdly; this is going to sound like me simply a petty thing, and it probably is, but how about we get with it as far as colors and signals go? First, colors: Why is it that some departments feel the need to paint their equipment white, others black, puke green, and a variety of other colors? What ever happened to good ol fashioned red? Fire Engine Red. Heck, it's in the name "big RED go fast". Oh well.
    More importantly, it is my belief that fire departments should, universally, use the same color of lights on the trucks, meaning that we here in Ma use red, I believe, and in CT, I think they are a blue state. Now, I ask you, does it make sense to you, cause it sure doesn't to me. But then again, I could just be missing something. Always a possibility.
    Ok, now here is the core of this particular rant. What is up with departments using different bail out and all clear signs? And also, what about accountability systems? I know that each department has what works for them, and that's cool, but for heavens sakes people, lets at least try to keep it general. Again, this may seem to be a phantom problem, but I would be remiss if I didn't say anything.
    Well, that's all I can think of right at the moment, but check back again soon, because I'm sure I'll see something else that will set me off, and be assured, I will bring it up with you good folk here. Keep it safe folks.
    - Marc
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "I hate it when someone says something is impossible, because then I have to go and find a way to do it."
    Whatever it is, I didn't do it, and I don't know anything about a fire. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
    Stay safe, boys and girls. It's for keeps out there.

  2. #2
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    The answer to all your questions comes down to one word: EGO. When hydrants are specked out the low bid usually wins. If the thread type is wrong then it comes down to a decision: "Are we gonna need mutual aid?" NAH WE CAN HANDLE ANYTHING. Leave the thread as it is.
    Fire fighters love the rush of adrenalin from fires. It feeds the ego to know that you went out there and kick the red devils butt. When calls are down and nothing is going on then those who crave the ego gratification go out and set fires. NOTE: This could be coming to light more now that the attention to firefighting is going up due to Sept 11.
    Lastly, colors of rigs comes down to beauty and showmanship or pride. Pride is a function of ego. Lets not even get into the studies about what color is seen best under what circumstances.
    What you are questioning is the people factor. You can not predict eveyones outcome, reaction or decision due to the complexity of human nature. Until we get robots that do it all, there will never be an answer.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2001
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    South Jersey,NJ USA
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    differnt strokes for different folks. I think you might start to see things a little different when you come into the service and start to see how things operate. Since I'm on a dinosaur kick today I will blame them, not to say the older guys can't run circles around some of the younger or can't teach some tricks that you might not have thought of or might not be in the book, but I am talking about non-progressive dinosaurs who way that's how we did it when i came in and there is no need to change now. It seems I'm surronded by them at this time but your ideas aren't new and have porbably been brought up in your local area to just get shot down. So like I said wait until you get in to see.
    the truth never hides for long

  4. #4
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    Jul 2001
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    Houston area
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    Well, where to begin? We have a nearby town that uses a different size hydrant steamer size. It's been that way for a really long time, and, honestly, it's a whole lot easier to simply carry an adapter on the truck than it would be to replace all of the city's fire hydrants at once to be like everybody else. If you didn't replace them all at once, but tried to phase them out, then responders would rarely know what size hydrant would be near the call they were going to. Therefore, the status quo just works better.

    Emergency light laws: I think it's important to realize that most of the laws on the books today are either state or local, as opposed to federal. It's really just a matter of the powers (and limitations) of the Constitution. The founding fathers favored strong states rights and a weaker federal government, which allows localities and states the ability to focus on local needs rather than national ones. What colors lights are, and what driving rules are, simply aren't things that the federal government needs to concern themselves with. And there's really no need to standardize any of these rules, because it simply doesn't matter.

    Yes, fire trucks should be red. This coming from someone who drives yellow ones. I like red trucks better, but can't convince the old-heads that we need to change them. But again, so what? Why should anyone limit the individuality of any fire department? The people in charge have a right to be unique if they want, and I wouldn't want anyone to try to force all departments to be exactly alike.
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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