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    Post cops being sent to smoke conditions,burning smells etc

    our dispatchers like to send just cops to smoke conditions,smells of smoke/burning and other little smells and bells without dispatching us for 5-10 minutes or until the officer requests us. any body else have these problems?
    9/11/01 forever in our hearts

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    At the fire department on campus that I belong to, security often receives a lot of calls that should be directed to the fire dept. They usually just investigate it themselves without notifying the operator to dispatch us. It gets very annoying to the point that I have often responded to the station when I hear the security call and notifying other members by radio. This includes car accidents, smoke investigations, fuel spills. We are working on changing this though so we are dispatched first.

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    [ 01-07-2002: Message edited by: engine117 ]


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    Our police department is really good about stuff like that. However a university down the street has a major problem with calling us. Reports of fires, gas leaks, alarms, and smells of smoke. It seem the only time they do call us is a 3:00am or when they run out of water cans. They even bought air packs! We got a real good joke out of it when they tried to get us to fill them. In 1990 they called fire dispatch and said they had a little fire in the wall where renovation was going on. They said we only need to bring a small truck nothing else. Well 26 hours later all 9 towns went home.

    [ 01-08-2002: Message edited by: Kyle Wickman ]


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    I have "seen" this type of operation a number of times over the years. Sometimes it takes a major incident to change things. Normally the mayor, county commission, sheriff or police chief doesn't want to explain why the fire department wasn't notified for ___minutes when property or lives could have been saved by immediate dispatch.

    A chief that I once worked for explained to the mayor that the ISO had a problem with the pump and hose capicity of a standard police cruiser. Would the mayor be willing to explain to the citizens why their fire insurance rates went up?
    We were suddenly in the loop for calls we should have been notified of immediately.

    At times we are the cause of the problem. Do you sent multiple units "hot" to a smoke in the area or an odor call? Do the volunteers show up on the scene in their own personal vehicles on the same type of call and cause a traffic congestion problem?

    Sometimes just a meeting with the person who sets the dispatch protocol will identify the problem areas and get things changed.

    Stay Safe

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    [quote]Originally posted by postal79:
    our dispatchers like to send just cops to smoke conditions,smells of smoke/burning and other little smells and bells without dispatching us for 5-10 minutes or until the officer requests us. any body else have these problems?


    I also liked the comment about the police cars ability to carry water and hoses or lack there of. Once the police realize that there is a liablility factor in delayed responce to notifying the FD. Some rural responce times can be high 20-30 min?! You can lose a lotta home or life in that amount of time.
    Tell the police you will stop doing gun complaints or domestic complaints when they stop doing fire calls!!
    We had a call several years ago and it was for a neighboring FD to a Residential structure fire The Dispatcher refered the caller to the appropriate FD and gave them the wrong # (new disp got excited in the heat of the momment) It took only about 30 seconds for the caller realize that they were given the wrong number. Called us back and we relayed the the other dept the particulars (they were already responding anyway as they heard the call come over our radio system) To make a long story short they wanted to sue us because they claimed the wrong # delay cost them a 30 min delay in responce time. All our emergency phone lines are recored and time stamped (tied to radio system to record on scene times etc) Needless to say once they found this info out they dropped the threats. Point of interest tho is it was their DAUGHTER that torched the house (at least tried to) because she was mad at her parents!

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    The RCMP (yes here in Canada) used to sometimes send 1 memeber to an mva on the highway 20 min away to only realize that they need extrication and an ambulance. Of course as everyone knows fire trucks cant fly like a police car and then we cant get there fast enough when they realize they needed us 30 min ago. The member feels pretty useless as he watches people suffer or die while he waits for us to get there. Had a call w/30 min responce time in a blizzard and waited to call till he got there to decide we were needed. He called via cell phone every 5-7 min asking what our ETA was.
    Every so often we have to remind new members of the protocol. MVA on the highway get us and ems rolling as soon as you get the call. If we are not needed we will find out when we get there. I would rather get there and not be needed then be needed and not get the call for 20 minutes. They have made the mistake of calling us, canceling us, then later deciding they need us.
    Some days yer the fire hydrant and some days yer the dog.

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    My voly department had this very same problem about 10-12 yeasr ago. It was a year or two before the county invested in the E9-1-1 system.

    Before the E9-1-1, callers had a choice of calling the police or the fire dispatch (two different numbers) as they are two seperate agencies. Some people called the PD and they would either call the fire dispatch via radio or by telephone. The problem was the PD, as a backup in case fire dispatch ever lost power, had the ability to dispatch fire departments in their area. They would hold calls, have patrol cars check out the suspected fire call and then dispatch the FD if necessary. They got burned, excuse the pun, more than once with house fires which were called in as smoke investigations. We also had the problem of members with POV's going to the scene, multiple apparatus responding etc. which apparently did not sit well with the PD. They actually called us the "blue lighters" over the police radio.

    This stopped for good when the E 9-1-1 went in and county clamped down on them but it also stopped because some of our members hooked up recorders to scanners and had audio evidence of PD holding fire calls. These tapes were presented to the Chief of Police during a meeting of the area fire depts. He was quite shocked at what his dispatchers and officers were doing and vowed it would never happen again. It didn't.

    As the others stated earlier, I would hate to be the police chief and the town officials trying to explain to ISO, NFPA and the insurance company why they waited so long to send the proper equipment to a scene. Let's pray nobody gets injured or worse due to their shenanigans.

    Peace brothers and sisters,

    Lt. Kevin C. (aka Pokey)

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    Glad to see we ain't the only one's with this problem.

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    [quote]Originally posted by Ray R:
    I have "seen" this type of operation a number of times over the years. Sometimes it takes a major incident to change things. Normally the mayor, county commission, sheriff or police chief doesn't want to explain why the fire department wasn't notified for ___minutes when property or lives could have been saved by immediate dispatch.

    A chief that I once worked for explained to the mayor that the ISO had a problem with the pump and hose capicity of a standard police cruiser. Would the mayor be willing to explain to the citizens why their fire insurance rates went up?
    We were suddenly in the loop for calls we should have been notified of immediately.

    At times we are the cause of the problem. Do you sent multiple units "hot" to a smoke in the area or an odor call? Do the volunteers show up on the scene in their own personal vehicles on the same type of call and cause a traffic congestion problem?

    Sometimes just a meeting with the person who sets the dispatch protocol will identify the problem areas and get things changed.

    Stay Safe




    Ray, this is an excellent post.

    Generally speaking, police should not be sent alone to any incident which should be handled by the FD. At least in my corner of NJ, there is 0 hours spent in the academy on fire fighting. The PD would not want you to investigate assaults and burglaries, so they should not be investigating fire calls.

    Ray brings up a good point about the fire service being their own worst enemy. My pet peeve is sending multiple pieces of apparatus hot to a CO Detector activation when everybody is out of the house with no symptoms.

    If you want to be treated as a professional, youhave to act like a professional.
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  11. #11
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    Here's a twist to this situation....how many of you get cancelled by the P.D. enroute to a call....and when we decide to continue in at a reduced rate...the cops act like *********s when we get on the scene.

    They'll run code 3 to a smells or bells call and act like it's their responsibility.

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    Excellent topic and excellent comments, guys... My department still has the same problems...Our 911 center is staffed by the sherrif's office and they also dispatch the fire deparments directly (no FD dispatchers). Despite numerous requests to the sheriff he has not addressed the problem. The problem is worse with MVA's than with smoke alarms, etc. They will normally send a deputy first to MVA's and then based upon his extensive medical and rescue training he will determine whether the occupants need medical attention. This, of course, causes a delay in our response. Smoke alarm calls we will normally get dispatched correctly. The problem is beginning to get better now with some of the turnover in the dispatcher's office....some of the old dispatchers who came up strictly from a sheriff's office background are being replaced by newer folks who have a fire department background (one is a captain in my department, two others are an assistant chief and a firefighter in a neighboring department). But I also feel that we are sometimes our own worst enemies. First, we fly down the road with multiple apparatus and multiple POV's for minor investigation calls....we need to learn to show some restraint with our response to certain types of calls. Next, and perhaps more important, we need to KEEP OUR MOUTHS SHUT and not complain if the call ends up being B.S....It's all part of the job. If we want to be viewed as professionals we must act like professionals. Some of our FF's have a bad habit of mouthing off (including over the radio) and complaining about being dispatched to certain calls. We had an assistant chief who was terrible about it and he really set a bad example for some of the younger guys. Too bad he was such a smart aleck because he was a damn good firefighter and all the younger guys looked up to him for his knowledge and experience. But the public (and our brothers in law enforcement)don't see how good he is at what he does, only what a smart-***** he is on the scene and on the radio. And that reflects badly on all of us.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
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    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    This is my first reply to any forum on here, but I just couldn't pass this one up. My Department has seen an increase in the way police officers take it upon themselves to see if the fire dept. is truly needed. Its not an uncommon occurance for them to be coming out of the front door with an exinguisher in hand when the first in engine and truck are stretching lines and throwing ladders (keeping in mind that they usually park right at the front door or block the closet plug to the fire). Just like was said before in some of the posts prior, we do not case your criminals or do drug raids so stay out of or fires. On a recent single alarm fire they held true to form. They parked right at the front door and quickly found themslves (2 crusiers)blocked in by the 1st and 2nd due engine and 1st due truck. Needless to say they were committed on the seen for 1 1/2 hrs and had some explaining to do to the Police chief as to why they couldnt leave.

    Stay Safe

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    that is also a good topic, the way the police officers always park right in front of the house like they have a handline in the bumper, and go charging in like there uniform is turnout, this usually just makes our jobs harder because now there is an extra rescue,the officer. we had a call about a year ago, a dry cleaning chemical caught on fire, the chemical(i dont remember the name) removes the oxygen out of the air, so what did two of our officers do, they ran in and made it about 25-30 feet in and passed out and had to be rescued by us.
    i have nothing but respect for police officers but we have our jobs and they have theirs.

    thanks for the great comments,and keep them coming, glad im not alone
    9/11/01 forever in our hearts

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    All good posts.

    While I'm not a police officer, have never been and don't plan on it, there are some things to keep in mind.

    One, police officers also swear to protect life and property. Some of our officers in this area are also volunteer firefighters. They know what they can and can't do, and frequently they have been of great assistance. An example; we had a garden apartment fire early morning, well involved even when they got there. They were able to sound their sirens and use their PA on their vehicles, to alert the occupants and get them out of the involved struture. This allowed us to concentrate on fire attack. Building was saved and no one was seriously hurt.

    Two, many times the problem is small enough for a fire extinguisher to control and if the officer is trained in its use why not have them use it. I would much rather go home after the fire was put out with an extinguisher than rap up hundreds of feet of hose, regardless of how it was put out and by whom.

    Three, communications is normally the key here. If the sherriff doesn't want to take care of the problem he has to have a boss. This should be the final step though since going above the offender to their boss will normally **** off the person that didn't do their job.

    And George is right. If you want to be dealt with like a professional, you need to act like one.

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    Would a letter to your local newspaper cause these problems to be addressed?

    Sometimes I want to ask people, "are you really that stupid??"

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    Our Public Safety Director was thinking about changing our response proceedure to send an officer to a "smoke in the area" call or a burning complaint. We then informed him of the liability of when a "burning complaint" from the person who says my neighbor is burning leaves turns into a garage fire or something else. Also the police officers said they would not agree to accept that responsibility because they are not trained to recognize the signs of a fire or what to look for in a "smoker investigation." Besides, how much fire can the police officer put out with his pepper spray?

    That's all it took for some reason.
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    I see this isn't a localized problem! We had a neighboring department get dispatched to a possible house fire. Off corse the sherrif dept was already enroute and arrived first. He called back to dispatch saying that the fd could cut the assignment to 1 engine routine "as there is only a small fire on the outside of the house". Little did he know, the basement was fully involved and the fire had breached the wall from the inside out. Fortunatly the Chief of the department kept crews going!
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    You gotta love those loveable blue canaries. I wouldn't chase an armed robbery suspect because I haven't been trained for it, It' not my job. Entering a burning structure to make that hero save or assesing a victin of an MVC incorrectly is not only arroganve but a disservice to the communities they serve. Pride is not worth a life.
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    It's one thing to discuss a valid complaint about the way the police department is operating in regards to dispatching. I actually thought this might be a productive discussion.

    It's quite another to post blatantly anti-cop rhetoric (*********s, Blue canaries, hero-save, etc.). Time to grow up.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I have nothing but respect and admiration for the police and the difficult job they have. I don't believe that caling them blue canaries is anything other than a way of poking fun at the few who don't know where to draw the job line. They ARE out there. Lets not be so sensitive and nieve to believe that impropriety in the police ranks doesn't exist.
    "Never trust a smiling dog"
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    In our town, the cops are sent to the scene first (of every fire call regardless of nature), then because the First Aid Squad is on the same frequency as the police they hear it and usually get a rig out even before our tones go out (well that's when they get enough manpower to roll a rig). Though its only like a 30 second - 1 minute gap, not like 5-10 minutes.

    Though sometimes they try to put out, say a car fire they'll use up all their extinguishers before our chief gets on scene, which i admire their heroism, but they really should wait for us, who have the protective gear, and hose lines, to get there.

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    "Engine one... ill be out with a 2 door honda civic occupied 2 times...request another engine on this traffic stop"

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    I have found that police only dispatchers tend to send the cops first to anything including fires! The ideal situation would be to have trained FIRE dispatchers dispatch the fire calls and trained POLICE dispatchers dispatch the police incidents. I work in a regional dispatch center in southern NH doing police fire and EMS. We do send the proper responders to the reported situation and in the right order. For example, a reported house fire, all fire departments on the runcard are dispatched FIRST, then the police are told of the situation. It pretty much comes down to common sense. You would not dispatch a fire truck to a drunken domestic dispute, so why would you send a cop to a fire related call. You don't call a plumber when you have an electrical problem do you???!!!!!

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    [quote]Originally posted by Smokeetr4:
    I have nothing but respect and admiration for the police and the difficult job they have. I don't believe that caling them blue canaries is anything other than a way of poking fun at the few who don't know where to draw the job line. They ARE out there. Lets not be so sensitive and nieve to believe that impropriety in the police ranks doesn't exist.



    Vol. FF are the first people to scream if a Ford Truck commercial paints them in what they perceive to be a bad light. So I think it is disingenuous to say that terms like blue canary are all in fun. It's derogatory. Period.

    Naive? I have been a cop for 18 years. Naive was gone about 16 years ago.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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