05-01-2000, 04:24 PM #1LarryMullikinFirehouse.com Guest
Riding on the front of wildland trucks?
We have been riding on the front of grass/brush trucks in caged platforms for some time. We are trying to stop the practice; however, the older officers are convinced we can do it safely because we have never severely injured or killed anyone. Does anyone have knowledge where some one has been severely injured or killed riding in front platforms on grass/brush trucks?
05-01-2000, 05:59 PM #2Aerial 131Firehouse.com Guest
In the volunteer department I belong to (www.bcfd1.ourwest.com)we gave up this practice of riding on the front bumper many years ago, about 1981?. We stopped (if I remember right) due to the potential of placing a FF in an exposed position without the proper PPE, we at the time had very old PPE and the potential for getting one of us hurt was pushing the envelope. Several times we drove the bumper FF right into the flames and it is a wonder we did not hurt someone.
Since then we also stopped all riding on the tops/sides of apparatus due to a terrible accident we had which resulted in a FF death. We now drive to the scene, use preconnect with hose back packs, hand tools, dozers, and aircraft. It is a much safer operation than it ever was before. We also use ICS to the max.
Around here in Southeast Washington I have not heard of any other incidents, but maybe you also ask about the near misses.
I also can email you the 1999 NIFC Safety Gram with Near Misses, shelter deployments, and deaths on wildfire.
05-01-2000, 06:30 PM #3mtnfireguyFirehouse.com Guest
Riding on the front of wildland trucks is very similar to sticking a hot dog on the stick and putting it in the fire!!!
05-02-2000, 10:37 AM #4ks_wildlandfireFirehouse.com Guest
Last fall in western Nebraska, a 23 year old firefighter was injured while riding on a front platform. I haven't been able to get much information but it sounds like the truck was in the green and for whatever reason, stopped running. Evidently the fire must have been running pretty well because the firefighter and the truck were overrun before he had a chance to get out of the way. I've heard since then that he has recovered and is back with the fire department but I don't know how serious his injuries were. I believe he had burns to his face and arms and spent some time in a burn hospital in Colorado.
Do you know what Oklahoma State Forestry feels about front platforms? Do they have an opinion about it? I'm curious because it's a problem here in Kansas as well with the same response - "We've been doing this for 30 years!" I'm always amazed how the same firefighters can be so strongly against riding the tailboard of a structural engine and at the same time believe it's alright to climb on the outside of a grass rig while it's bouncing across some field.
05-02-2000, 04:38 PM #5monteFirehouse.com Guest
This is an interesting topic to me because it highlights some of the basic information we tend to overlook when making a decision.
1) The "old timers" say since nothing has happened we should continue the practice. I guess anymore I am an old timer, but .....
2) If you objectively look at serious accidents and fatalities, the resulting situations developed and occurred because people were doing what they always did, ignorant or obtuse to changing conditions, or a series of smaller events line-up and the serious nature of the final event became obvious all too quickly, and unavoidedly.
3) Because a fatality or serious injury has not occurred, does not justify continuing a practice that has obvious indicators for trouble. Such as:
a) The person sitting in a cage, or strapped onto a platform is more exposed to convective and radient heat loads. Keep in mind, it's the convective heat that carries the particulate and poisionous gases to the lungs. You won't filter those out.
b) A person in a cage or strapped on a platform cannot use flight response when subjected to intense heat. At least a firefighter on the ground can drop and deploy a shelter if cornered. The firefighter is in control. Not so when strapped to the vehicle.
c) There is greater exposure to roll-over injury and death when attached to the vehicle. We all know about the influence of center of gravity on sidehills, consequently the kind of vehicle used is important. Many of the wildland engines and "trucks" with slipon units, etc. naturally carry a high center of gravity. On flat terrain not as great a concern as operator skill, but very much a concern in the open hilly country throughout the US.
Experience may show success and it may show that the serious consequences of an act has not yet manifested. I would suggest the decision should be made by identifying all the hazards, rate the hazards based on risk to personnel and equipment, and how the risk can be mitigated. Is this a low frequency high risk situation, or a high frequency low risk situation. If it carries a high risk, and you cannot mitigate or eliminate it, sounds like a time to rethink the importance of the job, or change how you do business.
[This message has been edited by monte (edited May 02, 2000).]
05-02-2000, 05:49 PM #6Aerial 131Firehouse.com Guest
To ks wildlandfire, you could contact Stan Palmer of NIFC in boise Idaho at 208-387-5507, he may have information on this. He is an SO for NIFC. He has a lot of information regarding wildfire safety issues. Tell him I gave you the number.
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