1. #1
    Halligan84
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Do the feds have a clue?

    I’ll start this out by saying these are only my OBSERVATIONS and I have NO wildland firefighting experience, so in other words…. I could be wrong but…

    There seems to be a general arrogance on the part of the federal government and various “land management agencies” regarding US structural firefighters being unfit for wildland firefighting (lack of red card, etc..) To combat this, the federal government decides it is easier to train NON-FIREFIGHTERS (military) and foreign countries rather than qualify our OWN willing structural firefighters. Today I read that American Samoa has sent personnel that were completely unprepared and had to be supplied with coats for warmth. New Zealand is also sending personnel.

    As I stated, I have no experience, but if a firefighter in Manhattan can strap on full structural PPE and SCBA and climb the World Trade Center, might he be able to function in brush gear? I realize the terrain and work times are different, but if MORE firefighters were available, wouldn’t they work SHORTER shifts?

    As was pointed out in another post, why is the EMAC not being used? Why aren’t structural firefighters at least being brought in to fill in for those deployed in the woods?

    This year certainly appears to be worse than most, but I personally wouldn’t want to rely on the federal government for help in a life and death situation. The guys fighting these fires are busting their asses every day, but their not getting any help from the guys in charge. After the Los Alamos debacle and reading various posts from frustrated firefighters in the West I'd question whether these interagency fire centers are becoming too much of a bureaucracy to operate with any kind of effectiveness. I’d use the ICS or what’s left of it as a case in point. Take a look at the I-100 course and test. That’s the basic level for a new firefighter. What part of that is applicable to his job? Does a new firefighter really have any need to know that this guy can have a deputy and this guy can’t? We started with Fire Ground Command, which I personally liked, the National Fire Academy introduced ICS, which was also good and an improvement to FGC because it included more agencies. Then comes Incident Management System (for people too PC to accept that we sometimes have to COMMAND in this business) As I sat through the first several sections of the “new” IMS I was amazed to see terminology changes made solely to placate wildland forces (tanker/tender) and an incredible amount of time being spent on things the average US firefighter will never, ever use. These items need to be covered, but at a more advanced level. I think it’s similar to making wildland guys understand how to set up IMS at a high rise fire.

    OK.. I feel better, have at it.


    [This message has been edited by Halligan84 (edited September 02, 2000).]

  2. #2
    RDWFIRE
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Halligan84, good questions. I have done both wildland, and structure firefighting, and my first questionis.....seriously, how many firefighters, of ANY type, do you know that could do the trade center more than 6 or 7 floors, let alone all the way up, and be any good for firefighting? I'm not picking on you so don't get your back up! There are a lot of differences in the physical requirements for each group. We structural firefighters mostly concentrate on strength training, where a wildland firefighter needs strength and LOTS of stamina. I'm not saying that most of us couldn't do wildland activities, but we would be hard pressed to keep up with those guys for a whole shift, let alone a three week fire. Wildland hand crews TRAIN by cutting fire line every day, do we structural crews do that? Also, shifts at a wildland fire are not set by the number of firefighters on scene. They have a standard work shift. It is necessarily long because of travel times from camp to the lines, and back, etc. In a nutshell, there are some major differences between the two jobs. I, like you, don't see why, with a little pre-planning and dialouge between your administration and the USFS, Park Service, or whoever is close, you couldn't work out a strike team program. However, plan to meet certain minimum physical requirements (i.e. red cards) simply so the agencies you are asisting have some idea of the abilities of the crews they are getting. Lastly, without the Incident Command System, could you imagine the chaos of trying to manage, say 150,000 acres of fire and 3500 firefighters? It really does work.
    Good luck! Wildland firefighting is a blast!!!

    Be safe. The dragon lurks!!!

  3. #3
    Halligan84
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    "seriously, how many firefighters, of ANY type, do you know that could do the trade center more than 6 or 7 floors, let alone all the way up, and be any good for firefighting? "
    Probably not a tremendous amount, but I was more referring to why a non-firefighter was easier to train than a structural firefighter.

    "Lastly, without the Incident Command System, could you imagine the chaos of trying to manage, say 150,000 acres of fire and 3500 firefighters? It really does work"

    I certainly support the use of an ICS, I have been a proponent since i went through Fire Ground Command in the 80's, i thoroughly disagree with the direction it took recently (I-100,etc..).



    [This message has been edited by Halligan84 (edited September 05, 2000).]

  4. #4
    mtnfireguy
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    My two cents worth (and just facts not really personal opinion)

    The Interagency Fire Centers work well for the most part. Yes, there are always some issues that need addressed/resolved. But, you will find that anywhere. Look back to the Oakland Bay fire, neighboring cities had incompatable hose coulplings.

    The ICS/IMS system being taught by the federal wildland agencies and some states is by no means new. The NFA ICS system was developed based on Firescope which is very similar to the federal system.

    The term "tender" has been in use for many years and no one is asking you to change. Just be aware that if you work with the feds and order a tanker, look up.

    Some of the folks coming from other countries are "trained" wildland personnel. Some of our county crews have been working with some Canadians and had nothing but good to say about them.

    As for I-100... this is not a required course to be red carded as a firefighter. It is recommended. It is a basic overview. And if you are at a fire with a full blow incident command system in place it helps to have an idea where you fit in the system and how things work.

  5. #5
    monte
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Good job my friends. Ok, I have been in wildland firefighting since 1967, started my first unauthorized prescribed fire when I was 8 or 9 years old. In the beginning life was good, hard work, the job was straight forward, and you could see the accomplishments as the day progressed. Times change as does the better mouse trap. ICS is just a way of organizing and getting the job done. Wheather we change the word tender or not makes no difference. We have so much blasted jargon and anacronyms sliming around we have forgotten how to talk the language. I need a vomit thesaurus to figure out what is being said by anyone. It's the first cultural symptom of an out of control bureaucracy. Now to what you were originally talking about. Since my office is next to the "Big MAC" group here in Missoula, I could hear and feel the frustrations they were experiencing with communities threatened with fire and the incredible national demand for human resources, and the allocation of a few crews to large fires. As an example, the Valley Complex in the Bitterroot Valley had 140 miles of open fireline, other than the incident management team, they 5 crews at one point. With resources very scarce, crews and incident management teams both needing R&R, coupled with the shear number of fires, I am certain they reacted to political pressures from Washington, DC to use out of country teams and crews. I worked with some of them, good folks, big hearts, and depending on where they are from, lots of savy and also needing an orientation to fighting fires in the mountains of the west. Professionally oriented structure firemen I will take any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Non- professional firemen, that I have been around these past few years, who are grossly out of shape and unable to provide the physical and mental stamina we require, do us and themselves no good. We fight the same thing every year on the firelines with some of our own folks. Our fitness requirement is a minimum requirement, and we can all pass that. It's a snap shot in time. I have also been displaced off of fires, and sat without an assignment because of out of country firefighters. So please know, the master minds are not discriminating against east of the river structure firemen, they did it to their own too. There were lots of poor decisions made this summer, but a larger number of good ones. So far in MT with all the migrant firefighters, our injury list shows minor cuts, strains, and sprains. Keep up the talk maybe someone important will hear and actually listen.

    P.S. Let me clarify my "professional" firefighter. I am referring to the state of mind, the actions of a serious and dedicated person committed to doing their best. It has absolutely nothing to do pay status.

    [This message has been edited by monte (edited September 07, 2000).]

  6. #6
    SWIDFCWINS
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    The federal fire folks, for the most part, have a pretty good handle on dispatching wildland firefighters to where they are needed. The dispatching of structural firefighters and their apparatus by the feds from the various regional coordination centers is another matter, especially east of the Mississippi River. The dispatching system was overloaded during this record setting and hectic wildfire season. There were errors made. Example: I'm a Red Carded Structural Firefighter and a Structure Protection Specialist. On July 26th I was finally dispatched to Helena, Montana, at the Buck Snort Fire. By the time I arrived the fire was 3 or 4 days old and the structural damage was done. Over 30 structures burned. I was then sent down the road to the Cave Gulch Fire where our structure group saved 4 out of eight structures that we were protecting. I was demobbed and sat at home, awaiting another fire assignment, that finally came about one month later. I found out that somehow someone made a computer error and left me assigned to the Cave Gulch Fire for the month that I sat at home. Duh!!! And I've heard of other glitches and snafus as well. The federal dispatching system needs tweeking and fine tuning, especially when it comes to structural fire folks and their equipment.

    What this country needs is a national mutual aid system and that means that every state needs to become a member of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a.k.a., EMAC.
    That's the best way to train up, equip and catagorize our structural fire folks and their many types of fire apparatus. Once done then all of that can be plugged into the federal fire dispatch system and this country will have itself one darned good national mutual aid system and we won't need to call upon other countries to help fight our fires.

    ------------------
    DFCWINS

  7. #7
    SWIDFCWINS
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    The federal fire folks, for the most part, have a pretty good handle on dispatching wildland firefighters to where they are needed. The dispatching of structural firefighters and their apparatus by the feds from the various regional coordination centers is another matter, especially east of the Mississippi River. The dispatching system was overloaded during this record setting and hectic wildfire season. There were errors made. Example: I'm a Red Carded Structural Firefighter and a Structure Protection Specialist. On July 26th I was finally dispatched to Helena, Montana, at the Buck Snort Fire. By the time I arrived the fire was 3 or 4 days old and the structural damage was done. Over 30 structures burned. I was then sent down the road to the Cave Gulch Fire where our structure group saved 4 out of eight structures that we were protecting. I was demobbed and sat at home, awaiting another fire assignment, that finally came about one month later. I found out that somehow someone made a computer error and left me assigned to the Cave Gulch Fire for the month that I sat at home. Duh!!! And I've heard of other glitches and snafus as well. The federal dispatching system needs tweeking and fine tuning, especially when it comes to structural fire folks and their equipment.

    What this country needs is a national mutual aid system and that means that every state needs to become a member of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a.k.a., EMAC.
    That's the best way to train up, equip and catagorize our structural fire folks and their many types of fire apparatus. Once done then all of that can be plugged into the federal fire dispatch system and this country will have itself one darned good national mutual aid system and we won't need to call upon other countries to help fight our fires.

    ------------------
    DFCWINS

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