Thread: Quite Run on Alarms
08-05-1999, 09:47 PM #1FIRE549Firehouse.com Guest
Quite Run on Alarms
Any comments about the "quite run" on certain types of alarms. Our chief just instituted a policy on it and it has created some controversy. Any comments would be appreciated. Our first in engine will respond "emergency" with siren/lights and all others will respond non-emergency to all board or alarm company calls to 911 unless information is received that indicates a possible fire then all units respond emergency.
08-05-1999, 11:23 PM #2rickyFirehouse.com Guest
We have been running what we consiger "still alarms" non emergency for several years. "Still Alarms" are defined as any alarm in which no life or real property is involved. Such as ground cover fires, dumpster fires, fire alarms, smell of smoke and gas leaks outside of structures, ect... Many times we respond to vehicle fires non emergency. The officer on the apparatus has the flexability to upgrade any still alarm to emergency should conditions warrant. Conditions such as heavy traffic and a high KDI index will get a ground cover fire upgraded fairly quickly.
08-05-1999, 11:35 PM #3FIRE549Firehouse.com Guest
So, you think the "quite run" is a good idea?
We can also upgrade depending on the situation.
08-06-1999, 08:37 AM #4PTFD21Firehouse.com Guest
Our dept. just instituted that change also (just yesterday as a matter of fact) District station - first due apparatus runs lights and siren, Second station runs normal traffic, unless or until there is a report of a possible fire condition. If there is a reported fire condition, reponse is upgraded to full structure response..
"Doin' it for lives and property !"
*** UPDATE *** Had our very first alarm run under this new procedure turned out to be a working fire - sprinkler put it out... still think it is a good procedure.
[This message has been edited by PTFD21 (edited August 11, 1999).]
08-06-1999, 03:40 PM #5e33Firehouse.com Guest
Why would you do it any other way? Cuts the risk to engines and crews as well as public...and the lights arent always gettin ya there any faster. My vote goes to the "on the quiet" response. St. Louis did this within the last few years for a number of call types. This followed a series of needless apparatus crashes if my memory serves me correct.
08-06-1999, 08:42 PM #6resqcaptFirehouse.com Guest
Your right, after numerous accidents St. Louis instituted the on-the-quiet policy. The last thing I read this policy has dramatically reduced their number of accidents. I read an article recently that also stated as an added bonus, nuisance fire calls were way down for the first half of the year. It seems that since fire trucks weren't coming code 3 it took some of the thrill out of it for those who like to set fires in dumpsters just to see the big trucks makin' all that noise.
I think this type of policy is an excellent idea. Every time we roll out the door we are putting ourselves and the general public at risk. Even with a strict driving policy accidents are bound to occur. Add to that multi-company houses with 2 or 3 pieces responding to an alarm and odds start to increase. There are several types of calls we now run non-emergency. This has worked well for us in the past two years.
In the future, I see this being applied to certain EMS calls as well.
08-06-1999, 11:03 PM #7FIRE549Firehouse.com Guest
Can anyone fax me their SOP's.
Thanks in advance
11-10-1999, 05:38 PM #8LT 1E4Firehouse.com Guest
Our department started using a priority 1 or priority 2 type of response 2 years ago. We use the priority 2 response for "cleanup from a motor vehicle accident" and "carbon monoxide detector" runs where we don't run with lights and siren. All other runs for now are lights and siren.
It just makes good sense in some situations.
11-11-1999, 12:13 AM #9
- Join Date
- Feb 1999
- Roswell, GA, USA
I like the idea of one engine running emergency to QUIET runs (darn rented fingers!!) and the others non-emergency. Gets possibly needed apparatus out of the station, but not in too much harm's way until determined to be necessary.
Way to go St. Louis. First, the quints (I know, they didn't invent the concept), now the quiet runs. Chief Sventics has the guts to do what's right, good, AND innovative, it would appear. It could be neat if more chiefs were like that.
11-11-1999, 01:13 PM #10DED1645Firehouse.com Guest
At least your chief lets you respond. Our dept. is usually held at station when the chief is around and responds to alarms systems or activations. Most of the station doesn't agree, but he's the chief. We haven't got caught w/ our pants down yet! But it will only take one for the station to be ridiculed for not responding. I have heard of disticts that had the same procedures for alarms till the got bit! The had a working job that came in as a alarm. Two lives were lost. No one knows for sure if the imidiate response would have saved the lives or not. Why take that chance? The last thing I needed to add is that we respond to cover assignments lights and sirens. Sounds stupid doesn't it?
Presently Lindenwold,NJ(I'm not a member of any of this District's dept's.)
11-11-1999, 04:45 PM #11wannabe-EMTFirehouse.com Guest
As a civilian, let me say this: If there's an odor of smoke, say, in my house, and I can't find it (probably in the walls, given the nature of my house), I want to know that the FD is responding. IE, I want to hear them. A CO or a washdown, I can understand non-emergency. But if there's the possibility that property and lives are at risk, the sooner the fire department gets there, the better. The person will know that help is on the way, as they'll hear a Q2B from blocks away, and they will hear more and more.
I'd rather the department that's supposed to be protecting me take my safety seriously enough that they'll run emergency. And they do. Wires arcing, transformer problems, they get emergency responses. In fact, judging by dispatch transmissions, if they are supposed to respond non-emergency, the dispather will tell them to respond non-emergency.
In my city, we have fairly good fire coverage. A full box assignment can be on my street within 3 minutes of dispatch. But in more suburban/rural areas, I can envision the following happening: Odor of smoke at a house, a standard box of 4 engines, 2 trucks, and a battalion chief dispatched. Engine 1 and Truck 1 respond emergency, the rest on the quiet. Engine 1 pulls up, reports nothing showing, units continue on the quiet. Then they get into the house/apartment, and they find that the sucker was in the floor, in the ceiling, the walls, or that a central room was going. All of a sudden they're screaming for the rest of the box alarm. Of course, the rest of the units are responding from farther away, and must really put a push on it, increasing the risk of an accident. By the time they get on scene, the whole thing could be lost.
Now that I've mentioned accidents, how about we consider this: By responding emergency, the overall response time is shortened, even if the drivers are slow and careful. By responding non-emergency, response time can be longer. If, while en route, it upgrades, and you respond the same speed as you do normally with emergency response, you have indeed lost time. And if you increase the speed to make up for lost time, you run an increased risk of an accident.
Responding emergency doesn't mean pedal to the metal. Responding emergency means red lights and sirens, gaining the right of way in traffic to expedite a response. Perhaps a compromise can be reached for departments set on running on the quiet. IE, maintain speed limit, but run with lights on. If approaching a red light or stop sign, cut on the siren and make sure it is safe to continue on. Then cut if off again. Basically how the city does it at night here. You're still making good progress, but you're not making an excessive racket, you're not striking fear (and stupidity?) into the hearts and minds of drivers. What do you all think?
Peace, and stay safe.
11-11-1999, 11:46 PM #12e33Firehouse.com Guest
Great thought wanna-be..but you need to be on the streets to understand that its lights on or lights off. You cannot say that for a certain call you will only use the siren this way and drive that way etc. I see the point...but fires dont usually just appear w/o notice. Fire alarms..ike i always say, what is a fire alarm? It is an alarm..a bell that is ringing in a building. i am sorry, but the risk we present to us and them by going emergency to fire alarms isnt worth the 99% false rate. Potential fires, ie smells and visible smoke..full response in emg mode. I can see first due unit responding to most calls emergency and all others reducing their response.
11-12-1999, 07:01 AM #13FIRE549Firehouse.com Guest
I agree with e33. The safety of our firefighters is the number one priority. Driving an emergency apparatus is very dangerous. If we can make it safer why not do it. Don't get me wrong. If we think there is a good possibility of a fire or that something just doesn't sound right we run emergency.
11-12-1999, 01:49 PM #14CFD-E3Firehouse.com Guest
I think wanna be is exactly right. Get everyone to the fire/emergency as fast as safely possible. If you have never been in your Fire Alarm office then you should spend some time there. People usually call and tell you there is a car fire and hang up. They don't tell you it is in an attached garage, no matter how hard you try to ask them questions. How do you try to exlplain to the home owner that he should be happy we sat through the light 6 times before we made it through but at least we didn't hit anyone or get hit by anyone on the way. What do you tell the neighbor who called the fire department for the CO detector for the house next door and while you were taking your time , the family was actually dieing of CO poisoning. I have been on the streets for 8 years in a semi large city. There have been very few accidents involving fire apparatus in that time. If dept's are getting in that many accidents then maybe it is not a problem of how you are responding but who is driving.
11-12-1999, 02:15 PM #15wannabe-EMTFirehouse.com Guest
E33, and others: Isn't the fact that the situation is never the same, and that there really can be no SOPs for responding the perfect reason to respond emergency? There's a 99% false rate, you say. What about that other 1%? What if that one house out of a hundred is a multi-family dwelling? Three or four kids, mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather, possibly wheelchair-bound? I recently saw a NIST demonstration. A match dropped in a sofa got the fire roaring awfully quick. It reached flashover conditions in about 4 or 5 minutes. My city's response time is about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on traffic. Now, say I have an alarm company monitoring my house. 30 seconds into the whole thing, it goes off, notifies. About a minute in, "Engine 42, Truck 30, respond, residential fire signal being received." Three minutes later, they're on scene. But it's already been four minutes. Flashover conditions, the sucker's really rolling by then. Grandparents and kids are stuck on the second floor. I would surely like to see the face on E42's lieutenant when he rounds the corner to see, "Two and a half story wood frame, heavy fire showing, sides one and two. Multiple victims visible in second floor windows. Give us a full box!" Can we say "oops?"
I don't much favor non-emergency responses for potential fires. The city will always respond emergency with enough units to do something should a pot of food turn into a fully involved kitchen or a residential alarm become a heavy fire, people trapped condition.
What is an alarm? An alarm is a bell, yes, or a gong, a buzzer, a siren... An alarm can be going off for any reason. A prank, a system malfunction... Or a fullblown fire. An alarm is supposed to notify the occupants, the monitoring company, the FD, or all of the above should it detect something that should not be that way. This is true for a fire alarm or a breakin alarm. Do you think the police would say "ho-hum, I'll take my time" when a silent burglar alarm is going off? I doubt it. They'd flick on their lights and proceed, lights, no sirens, to the scene. No sirens in order to keep the suspect from being alerted. Of course, the FD doesn't need to keep suspects in the dark.
On the news, I have seen several police-involved accidents while they were responding emergency. Not once have I seen or heard anything of a FD-involved wreck while responding. Fire engines are larger, louder, and, yes, a tad slower than police cars. They're more visible. They sit higher, affording the driver a better view. Perhaps CFD-E3 is right. If the FD keeps getting in wrecks, it's the driving that needs improvement. If this is so, train the drivers. But if you want to make things safer, why say "don't hurry at all?" It's like running, jogging, and walking. Lights and sirens, running. Lights, sirens when needed, jogging. Obeying all traffic laws, no lights, no sirens, walking. Send the first due engine and truck running, the rest jogging, if you don't want to have them all "running." It just makes sense to me.
Peace, and stay safe.
11-12-1999, 03:57 PM #16e33Firehouse.com Guest
Ask the family of this man about apparatus crashes.....They happen all the time.
Theres their rig...it happens.
Now how do we feel?
There is no way that you can truly appreciate the use of warnng devices to respond to nuisance calls. We take the chance on every call that it will be more than it was dispatched as. Sirens are swell and have a place, but i don't want to go much farther than this. i am going to get too frustrated too fast. Yes..its actually safer to go non-emergency to all calls..if you want to know. But we do something called a risk benefit analysis. We risk alot to save alot (dwelling fire with occupants entrapped), risk a little to save a little (dwelling fire w/o entrapment but still savable property) and risk nothing to save what is lost(fully involved dwelling). Apply that globally to whatever you do in life...you will go far. A finger injury could end up being a person who fell 10 stories..who knew? We are more at risk while in emergency mode than not...i understand its cool to see the fire engines cruising by with the lights on..but look at this rationally. Think safe and act appropriate. We are #1 ALWAYS
Now, as far as fire alarms..lets go over this process.
1. Fire alarm sounds. This is wonderful...our alarm is telling us that there is a fire, or tha some ****bag pulled the box on the wall, or theres dust in the head, or someone was taking a shower, or someone was cooking..but anyway. If it is a local alarm, it will not transmit anywhere..too bad. Relies on human element to report it. if there os no fire..most likely wont get too many calls regarding it as a fire..right, after all the person has to call to tell the bell is dinging. Remember the alarm has to sense the problem..which means the problem must find the sensor...Time delay number 1.
2. Alarm transmits: If hooked to a central station, the alarm now tansmits the signal..time delay number 2.
3. Alarm company does one of several things..they will call premesis and confirm, or call keyholder/contact names, or call fire dispatcher to req fire dept..time delay number 3.
4. Fire dispatcher gets info and looks up plan and sends the units...time delay number 4.
4. Fire units respond and finally arrive to find....a bell ringing, food burned, steam from the shower, a ****bag kid laughing his all off etc. Hardly ever a fire.
Let me remind you in the time frame we just covered..usually at least 10 min prior to a unit arriving..it could have flashed 2 or 3 times...and if the fire board isnt getting numerous calls from the area reporting a working fire...I'll be damned. So, how do I know this? i am a fire dispatcher..thats how it wrks here brther..trust me..the system isnt in your favor if you have a fire alarm. Well I rest my case. Fires dont just appear outta the thin air.
[This message has been edited by e33 (edited November 12, 1999).]
11-12-1999, 04:57 PM #17wannabe-EMTFirehouse.com Guest
As I recall, the Texas City crash was due to error on the part of another vehicle which failed to yield to the fire apparatus. Of course, the overpass supports in the way didn't exactly help either. And a roll-over? Come on. It is the responsibility of the driver of the fire apparatus to make sure the intersection is safe before proceeding through. That's why fire vehicles slow down considerably here, even when the light is green. And there's one simple rule for preventing a roll-over. SLOW DOWN. You can still run emergency. Just slow down on the curve, hill, or whatever you're on. Running emergency doesn't necessarily mean pedal to the metal.
Perhaps things work differently where you are, but here there are certain buildings that have the Silent Knight alarm system, fed directly into the dispatch center. So what's the delay then? As for residential, yeah, it's often "accidental activation" or "system malfunction." But I'm pretty sure that if people died in a fire where apparatus responded non-emergency, those firefighters would feel safer in a wrecked rig than at the mercy of the public.
Oh well. You do it the way you want to do it, my city'll do it the way it wants to do it. And so long as my city takes my safety seriously, then I don't have any problems.
11-12-1999, 05:36 PM #18e33Firehouse.com Guest
have you ever answerd an emergency call on a fire apparatus? Have you ever driven a fire apparatus? Have you ever been a member of a fire department? have you ever taken and dipatched a call to a fire dept? I respect you for your opinions..as i should, and i also respect that you seem to be a rather intelligent individual..esp for a high school student...but you need to realize whats going on here before you can say so dead certain...trust me. i used to think the same way you did.
11-12-1999, 06:15 PM #19Halligan84Firehouse.com Guest
I have a hard time with a high school student buff taking anyone on here to task for an operational policy. Thanks 33 for saving me the time of going through the last few vehicle accident LODD but I will point out that consistently, year after year, Responding and returning deaths make rank the 2nd leading cause of firefighter LODD. Let me get you right.. you want to hear sirens? Does that do something for you? Maybe your looking into the wrong business. We have a responsibility to #1 our firefighters and #2 everyone else we come in contact with, including those on the roads while we respond. In 22 years I have seen drivers do more moronic things upon seeing lights and hearing sirens than you can imagine. Hopefully when you get your drivers license you'll pull to the right and STOP when you hear us. A fire alarm activation is nothing more than a report that a circuit has closed in a structure and set off some bells. If it is a bonafide report of fire you couldn't prove it by my experience. A verbal report of a fire and even some alarm systems get an emergency priority response in my department. A significant percentage of our runs in the past 2 years have been handled "on the quiet" Some were upgraded, some we found something we had to act on upon arrival. In no case did anyone suffer harm or loss by our response time. Information received at dispatch and while responding is key to making the correct decision in setting response priority, not some notion that everytime someone picks up the phone we come screaming. By the way, a number of police departments are reducing responses to burglar alarms due to the incredible number of false calls and yes accidents. Get your people home in the same shape they arrived for work!
11-12-1999, 06:27 PM #20wannabe-EMTFirehouse.com Guest
Halligan84, e33, and others, your perceived hostility is not appreciated. I am thus leaving this particular forum. You may rejoice as you deem appropriate.
And sir, before you draw conclusions in the future, perhaps you should consider the circumstances of what is said. Not once did I say I wanted to hear sirens. I merely stated that for a person in need of emergency assistance, hearing a fire vehicle approaching would quite possibly be comforting.
I have plenty else that I could say, but I refuse to be drawn further into this petty bickering. Good day.
11-12-1999, 06:32 PM #21e33Firehouse.com Guest
Not hostility..sorry..merely frustration.
11-12-1999, 06:33 PM #22Halligan84Firehouse.com Guest
It wasn't perceived, have a nice life. Get some experience before you act like you have a clue.
11-28-1999, 12:08 AM #23e33Firehouse.com Guest
[This message has been edited by e33 (edited November 28, 1999).]
11-28-1999, 12:08 AM #24e33Firehouse.com Guest
This was a food on the stove run which left a 6 man ladder crew and several civilians hospitalized and the bus driver dead.
**Disclaimer**I mean no disservice to those involved in these accidents, for I do not know all of the details..I m merely trying to illustrate a point.
[This message has been edited by e33 (edited November 28, 1999).]
11-28-1999, 09:37 AM #25Raptor557Firehouse.com Guest
The department in my hometown runs "Quiet" about %80 of the time because most of the calls are ambulance transfers or grass fire/mutual aid. This is especially true at night. The police run the same way going to semi-emergency/non-life threatning calls like silent alarms. Use the lights and the airhorn if you need to get someone out of the way. Statistically, our crime rate is higher than a close metropolitan area and you almost never here a siren. My opinion, use your best judgement.
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