Thread: BOX ALARMS

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    Default BOX ALARMS

    I WORK IN A COUNTY THAT HAS BOX ALARMS, SOME ARE REALLY WAY OUT OF HAND. I COME FROM A COUNTY THAT DOES NOT HAVE BOX ALARMS. I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF THEM THEY ARE NOT NEEDED, IT SHOULD BE UP TO THE RESPONDING OFFICER TO DETERMINE WHAT AND HOW MUCH IS NEEDED GIVEN EACH INCIDENT,TIME OF DAY,LOCATION ETC.WHAT DO YOU THINK?????
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    I have to disagree with you on this topic. With the box alarms you have what is called automatic aid, coming to assist at the time of the alarm. One big rule of thumb, is it is better to have to much coming, and then find out that you don't need them, rather than not having enough, and needing to call for more.
    I will agree that it should be up to an officer to decide what needs to be responding, however if that department has already pre-determined the responses for a geographic area, then that is one less thing that he/she has to worry about while enroute to the scene. This makes his/her life alot easier.

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    I do agree to some extent but for example, one department here has 5 departments on the first alarm assignment for all their boxes,maybe a little bit of overkill. Most boxes (residential that is) should be kept to nearest company,right or wrong???
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    I like the idea of having 1 & 1 responding to all activated boxes. This is a fairly even response that can get the ball rolling in the event that you do encounter a working fire. Many communities around me, and the one I work for, all took the boxes out, with the implementation of full enhanced 911 a number of years ago. The only thing I would recommend if we still had them also, was upgrading the response automatically if a box was pulled/activated, and there was a telephone call back up. The only downfall I feel as far losing all of these boxes, is in the event of a massive power failure, and/or loss of phone service.

    Now, in regards to the type of box alarm I think you are describing, I think it all depends on what type of structure/occupancy you are dealing with. And I also believe in the its better to have and not need, then need and not have saying. But within limits. Why send 6 pieces of apparatus to a hosp. AFA, especially if they are all code 3. All your looking at is the increased chance of an accident to occur.

    --------------------------------------------The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.

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    alsfirefighter - you have a piont this happens to be a rural area,1-2 storie houses,trailers,etc. no industrial buildings and that box has 10 pieces responding, only 3 of which are tankers,at home 4 pieces including 2 tankers and special call 1 engine and tanker if needed.
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    Yes, I do agree that 5 departments is overkill. However, I should have defined what I meant. If you have a residential box assignment, I believe that the responsible department should respond, and one company, whether it be an engine, tanker, or ladder, respond with the responsible department. The only exception to this rule would be a high life hazard occupancy, ie: hospitals, high rises, etc...

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    Hey FD111, I just noticed where you are from. I have a great-aunt and uncle who lived in Spring, TX for years. He passed away 2 years ago, and my aunt moved just outside of Spring. He played for Houston when they were the Colt .45's. Been down there several times, and when I was a teenager my parents almost moved us down there.

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    ALSfirefighter, funny you should say that, I am originally from LongIsland,NY, in the Farmingdale area, although I cannot quite place Westchester. My parents moved us down here in '79.

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    Whether we as dispatchers like it or not, box alarms are becoming the trend. I say that as a firefighter. On the dispatch side of things, box alarms need to be easy to follow, and if possible able to be brought up when the CAD is recommending units to respond. Where I currently work, those companies that do have them, have them in binders, which are not always easy to work with. Now, speaking as a fire line officer, it is much easier to have a pre planned response to certain areas dictated by occupancy, building type, etc. When I arrive on scene and size up what I'll need, it is much easier to call for a 2nd alarm assignment for that box area than to go through in my head who is the closest and has what I need. With box alarms, it has already been done for me, and I can call for multiple alarms if the situation warrants it.
    As a dispatcher, if modern systems are used, I can bring up the alarm assignment and dispatch from that.

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    We have a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) in Wayne County, Ohio that has served us rather well. Prior to this system, the problems "paj" describes were common. The arriving fire officer would call on who he thought was close for mutual aid, only to find out that a closer department was missed. The other problem was that mutual aid departments would send you a "mystery response"... sometimes just a tanker, sometimes their entire station. Sometimes a full crew, other times just a driver and an officer. With the MABAS, each department has a list of what they respond to that box and that is what you get.

    The only bugs I have seen with our system is that in some remote areas of a "box", you still end up not calling the closest departments. Unless you overlap the geographical areas of the "box", I don't see how this can be fixed. At any rate, it is much better than things were prior to the MABAS.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    In the county where I volunteer and dispatch it is left up to each department whether or not to have box alarms. About 3/4 of the departments have them. Mine does not. I see all too often when depts have resources coming from 3 or 4 mutual aid depts to an incident and no one has even gotten onscene to assess the situation yet. Cover up assignments are the worst ones. We call it "the Bradford County Shuffle". Everyone thinks they need someone standing by in their station. It is more practical to have your mutual aid auto-dispatched if you happen to get another call while you're out.

    When the county fire chiefs got together a couple years ago and started using box alarms, I told another asst chief sitting next to me that my dept wouldn't be using box alarms. He said "Oh no, they're great! You don't even have to think about it. You automatically have units coming." My response was that I like to think, it keeps me sharp. Besides, that's what my dept elected me to do.
    Assistant Chief
    Department 19
    Bradford County PA.

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    I'm confused. Are you saying the closest officer to a particular incident should call for each unit he feels he wants to respond. If this is true, you're out of your mind. At least, it wouldn't work here. It should be up to the fire department to develop run cards for areas in their response district. Where I work, the CAD will pull, at minimum, the closest 3 pumpers, a ladder truck, and an equipment truck for any reported residential fire. Of course, certain areas have heavier boxes and it's all up to the dept. how to set up the run cards. This allows responders the leisure of not worrying who else to call, because the computer will always pull the closest trucks. Where I dispatch, we have several departments that have their stuff set up a little differently. The dept that I work with, we'll pull 3 pumpers, a ladder, an equipment truck with cascade, and a rehab. We'll add a pumper and a ladder to make a heavy box for areas with bigger houses or commercial buildings. Boxes are the best way to get the proper resources notified. Of course, boxes are only pulled for residential or commercial fires, for the most part. Different natures have entirely different run card responses...
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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