The plentitude of opinions on risk versus benefit in the conduct of fire service operations is heightened just a bit this week with the multitude of pipe bombs found in the Midwest. Several threads have addressed the bomb issue. Another thread asked when it is time to pull firefighters back from a dangerous situation. Combining these two, I would like to offer the following comments and solicit responses. First, a thank you to Dalmation 90, for digging up the picture that provoked some good debate – research is his forte’.
1. The fire service finds itself called out for a variety of calls. It is often hard to focus on just the fire protection and emergency medical roles that we provide. The fire service provides hazardous material response as well. Are we to add bomb determination as well? It is my contention that bombs are a law enforcement problem and if you are lucky there may be a military base nearby with explosive ordinance teams. These professionals have been trained in the mitigation of explosive situations (No pun intended). However, as someone on another thread has pointed out, what does someone do when there are no competent “other” authorities around? What is the choice if a department has 15 mailboxes with potential bombs in them yet no way of knowing for sure if it is a hoax or not. Do we allow citizens to open them? Should we open them from a safe distance? It is my contention, and I will differ from some friends on here, that the fire service, unless so trained, should stay away from opening mailboxes etc. The fire service role is life safety first so that would be removing those who are in the danger zone. Another item that comes to mind is that we could use a 400-foot cord and crouch behind a large stationary object, or a fire truck, and open the mailbox. What if this device in the mailbox is much more powerful than others that have been dealt with? What if the device is dirty, i.e. containing some radioactive material? Evacuate the surroundings and let the experts handle it. If it disrupts peoples lives that is unfortunate but the fire service is simply not trained.
2. What about risk versus benefit? Is there a dangerous mentality that pervades the fire service that we “must go in every building” because lives are at risk? On the other hand, is it just a part of the job? We can’t remove danger from the job entirely…right? So do we charge into poorly constructed vacant buildings and lose firefighters or do we lose victims?
It is my contention that we should evaluate each incident and apply risks versus benefits.
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05-09-2002, 10:11 AM #1
On bombs and vacant buildings... Are firefighters being sacrificed?
05-10-2002, 10:37 PM #2
Put your balls on kid, your on the truck today
EOD is the function of the Cincy Fire Department. We don't wait for the police. They may or may not show. Our people are trained to the highest level available. It's nice not waiting for the fuzz. If you've followed me through some previous posts, you know I believe that firefighters go inside, as long as possibly tenable. This BS about responding like the phone company, cannot be acceptable. We are respected because of the things we have done. You are as good as your last job. I will continue to do those things. Living is what a firefighter does inside a burning building. My wife knows this is where I live. I checked, she would rather live with a MAN who is happy going inside (she knows FFs die) than a ****ed off old guy who stood outside saying "What if we went in". I do my work inside, where the fire is. Look for me there when you go in. If you don't, you will never know who I am. I have yet to see a fire widow say her old man wasn't doing what he truly loved to do. My wife knows what I love to do. She'll be be by the coffin saying so, if it happens. We love each other for who we are, and we know tomorrow is a dream.
Just so you know who it was,
Cincinnati, OhioSee You At The Big One
05-11-2002, 12:54 AM #3
- Join Date
- Sep 2001
- The southern shore of beautiful Lake Michigan
I couldn't care less if someone disagrees.
I'm going in!!!
....And aside from the obvious (life safety), my reasons are my own.
If you want to respond like the phone co., electric co., or gas co. I suggest you get a job there.....please don't try to work near me.
... And please don't tell how to do my job from your desk!
Don't confuse my statements for recklessness. I don't go into buildings that are "loosers" without reason...I don't drive the rig at 120 mph.... And I don't check for bombs (Dept. s.o.p. ~ 1 block away), I am not trained for E.O.D.
Every time I hear comments such as these, ( and I don't know why ) I hear it in my head as though Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh) is narrating. ( "Oh, bother" ) His house keeps falling down too.
(my daughter was a big fan....what can I say?)FTM-PTB
05-11-2002, 11:51 AM #4
Re: Put your balls on kid, your on the truck todayOriginally posted by fireman george
I believe that firefighters go inside, as long as possibly tenable. This BS about responding like the phone company, cannot be acceptable. We are respected because of the things we have done. You are as good as your last job. I will continue to do those things. Living is what a firefighter does inside a burning building. My wife knows this is where I live. I checked, she would rather live with a MAN who is happy going inside (she knows FFs die) than a ****ed off old guy who stood outside saying "What if we went in". I do my work inside, where the fire is. Look for me there when you go in. If you don't, you will never know who I am. I have yet to see a fire widow say her old man wasn't doing what he truly loved to do. My wife knows what I love to do. She'll be be by the coffin saying so, if it happens. We love each other for who we are, and we know tomorrow is a dream.
Just so you know who it was,
I couldn't have said it better myself. It's nice to know there are still a few of us around who feel this way.
"Risk Analysis/Management" is all well and good, there is such a thing as the taking of foolish risks and I don't condone that, but at some point men have to go into burning buildings - to put the wet stuff on the red stuff and to save lives. I seem to remember an old Chief referring to this as our "proudest endeavor." Too many of us seem to have lost sight of this sacred responsibility. How do we know that a "vacant" building is actually vacant? How do we know that there are not homeless people, crackheads or kids dying in there? The answer is - We go in when possible and search within the limits of safety. And yes, it is a dangerous business, it always has been. I respectfully suggest that those who cannot accept that should find employment in a field better suited to their temperament.
I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best:
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
Last edited by SquadHog; 05-11-2002 at 11:57 AM."Go ugly early."
05-12-2002, 10:25 PM #5
EOD is the function of the Cincy Fire Department. We don't wait for the police. They may or may not show. Our people are trained to the highest level available.
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
I'm not being a smartass, I really want to know.
05-13-2002, 12:28 AM #6
Before I say what Im going to say I'll tel you im on a very aggressive fire dept. We do interior ops all the time. Window shooting is a very bad thing, unless u have to. Im a very aggressive firefigther myself, but the toic isnt about house fires. Its about terrorist activity. Unless u are trained to resolve a given situation the ultimate life safety is yourself. The Dept in any given incident of terrorism and this goes well with haz-mat should only operate up to its training. If that only means identify potential bombs, secure the area, and notify the properly trained agency to deal with the situation then that is what u do. We are trained to go into house fires, ill kick someone in the ***** to get them into a burning building faster, but to open a mailbox or open a tank of HazMat while not being trained is pure foolishness, its not being a man. Being a man is knowing when he cant do something and then not doing it. That is the tougher stand, but its the right one in the case of terrorism/haz-mat.
05-13-2002, 01:09 PM #7
George (I feel like I'm talking to myself),
Our bomb techs are certified. They are members of our Engine 14. They operate a separate piece of equipment known as Engine 14B. I am not a tech myself, so I am not sure where the training occurs. To be sent to school, you have to commit to a certain tenure on the unit. Cert pay is provided as an incentive.
They are not part of the Rescue Company, but run out of the same house. The rescue boys receive a cert pay also, but it is for hazmat. You can receive only one or the other.
fireman georgeSee You At The Big One
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