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  1. #21
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    Originally posted by BLACKSHEEP1
    What do you say we critique Prevention and Inspection divisions with the same vigor we go after Operation units.
    This is the most intelligent thing anyone has said on these forums in a long time. But it's probably not totally fair to go after the grunts in these divisions. How about we look at the resources devoted to prevention? How about manning? How about the role that suppression people are asked to play, between fires, in this process.

    I hace commented here a million times that prevention in this country gets nothing but lip service. We ride around in $500 K engines, but the prevention guys ride around in cars with over 100,00 miles. What about prevention as an assignment? It's often a punishment. There is no career path in prevention in most departments.

    Blacksheep is right on the money and I would love to hear about the prevention issues as they relate to this incident.


  2. #22
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    Default Hmmm....

    I wonder if inspections for target hazards should be expanded include the hydrants nearby....?

  3. #23
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    If the hydrants were private, there should be a paper trail of who inspected it and when it was followed up on by prevention, this however was a city hydrant(if I'm not mistaken). Still,another line was laid from another hydrant but it didn't matter, the standpipe was non-functioning. When things don't progress or flow in a logical manner is the point at which problems start. Units waiting for water get aggressive and try to remove occupants, They burn energy by trying to establish another connection, etc etc. It's most likely that the firefighters natural aggression worked against them. This is when the IC has to be on top of his game,and to keep track of everyone. Clearly there was an organizational breakdown at this fire, but the chain of events that precipitated that breakdown, in my opinion, could not have been anticipated by the IC. This chain of events started with the actual ignition and progressed through the failure of several of the building safety systems. I feel that a absolute belief in the building safety system as foolproof, is the basis of the problem. The system(s) failed, there weren't enough firefighters to recover.
    This is most relevant in the fact that virtually all operations units base their tactical decisions on the belief that the building systems will operate (at least partially).
    With regards to prevention divisions having no career path, I would suggest in this area that the career path is mostly one of EMS, or at least EMS related. Keep in mind, we only fight fire 7% of the time, however it accounts for 97% of LODD. It pays to train, and even build up operations forces because of these numbers, but operations numbers are falling, and are being bolsterred by running ALS engines. These engines are then run as EMS units to a great extent, and possibly at the cost of fire related training. (but the ledger books look good).
    The other issue that I have, is that I would be extremely wary of a fire inspector who was not also a certified firefighter. There appears to be a trend where civilian inspectors are hired because they are less expensive than fire/inspectors. A friend of mine, who was an inspector, recently went through the fire academy. His eyes were now wide open to the ramifications of his decisions made as an inspector, they took on a new and practical meaning.
    Many prevention/inspection divisions are now focusing of things like public education, child car seat installation, block parties (as part of pub ed), all noble and worthwhile goals, as long as the primary function of building safety is met.( a better way of saying it would be applied public safety systems).
    Remember 7% is 97% LODD, that's the facts when crap hits the fan. And , one more time... how many fatal flaws are understaffed operations units expected to overcome?
    Last edited by BLACKSHEEP1; 01-11-2003 at 01:11 PM.

  4. #24
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    Any and all public ed is good. Remember the vast majority of our fires occur in the one place we can't inspect...private residences.

  5. #25
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    Yes, it's good, but there are some problems with it, one is that it is hard to quantify, not impossible, but difficult. The other problem is that it is done relatively easily, so you can do a lot of it with out much effort. Fire related training on the other hand usually uses up resources for the small amount of time you actually spend firefighting(7%) So it's harder to justify. (But then there's that 97% LODD number, maybe if we ignore it,maybe it will go away). I have actually heard a fire chief say that with only a 5 mil fire loss, the city could disband the fire dept and just pay off the property owners.So fires aren't a big deal?
    Let's look at this differently, maybe instead of fire loss, we should estimate what we have saved (including exposures), maybe instead of saying we had X amount of fire calls last year we should do what the military does and establish numbers based on individual units(sorties).
    For instance we ran (about) 50,000 calls last year. If 80% were EMS it would mean we ran only 10,000 fire calls. Or did we?
    Those 40,000 EMS calls were usually single unit, sometimes with an engine assist(such as codes,motor vehicles etc), but of that 10,000 calls that were fire related, they had from 2 to 7 units going on the first alarm (more if a hi-rise) so lets pick a number, say 5. Five units times the 10,000 is...whaddya know 50,000 calls!
    Here's another item, last year a department in our area had (about) 37 FF injuries, these were injuries caused by fires. However, if you look at the NFIRS (national fire incident report)those numbers almost double to (about) 70. These would be all injuries between the time the bell rang and the unit going available, on all calls. So it would seem that firefighter injuries at scenes other than fires don't count? Let me put that into perspective, at the end of the year 70 FF's would be almost equal to the minimum staffing of one shift(79).
    Now back to your original comment, yes all pub ed is good, but you can't quantify it, and I can quantify firefighter injuries, number of calls, and fire loss. So what is the higher priority, arbitrary pub-eds that look good, or public education through superior service deliverythat pays direct dividends to all invovled.
    I bet you right now, no one is looking at Clearwater Fire Dept and saying, "Gee....I don't know what the problem is,they give great pub-ed programs".

  6. #26
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    I have actually heard a fire chief say that with only a 5 mil fire loss, the city could disband the fire dept and just pay off the property owners.So fires aren't a big deal?

    I have heard this philosophy before Blacksheep. But in this life you get what you pay for....having just seen the first fire statistics to come out of eastern europe since the 'walls' came down I would most certainly NOT want my family living in a society where fire protection was seen as an unnecessary luxury creating wasted dollars! There is no doubt here - reducing levels of protection will increase life and property losses and the effects will be obvious and disproportionate to what some might believe!

  7. #27
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    Now back to your original comment, yes all pub ed is good, but you can't quantify it, and I can quantify firefighter injuries, number of calls, and fire loss. So what is the higher priority, arbitrary pub-eds that look good, or public education through superior service deliverythat pays direct dividends to all invovled.
    The flaw in your theory is that you are taking one approach at the exclusion of the other. In reality, an aggressive and proactive fire prevention program, combined with a state of the art, highly trained and motivated fire suppression force would be the ideal world. Fires would be down, and when one did occur, a highly effective fire suppression force would be there to minimize loss of life and property.

    BTW; All pub ed is good and it doesnn't matter if you can quantify it. You will never, ever know how many fires you prevented with that program. It's worth every bit of the effort.

  8. #28
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    I have no problem with pub-ed programs. I'm involved with our neighborhood association on some of these matters, we do pub ed programs on a routine basis. You probably do prevent injury, and accidents through pub-ed programs, but all of that won't save you when things go bad. Now, you have a finite amount of time,and you have a finite amount of money, where do you place those programs? I'm tired of hearing this is our highest priority, or that is our highest priority (this week). To me, as a company officer , my highest priority is having my crew go home tomorrow the same way they came to work, that is my highest priority, and it doesn't change, and is not based on funding, attitudes, policies, or politics. If I ever have a higher priority, I don't deserve to be a company officer.

  9. #29
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    I'm tired of hearing this is our highest priority, or that is our highest priority (this week). To me, as a company officer , my highest priority is having my crew go home tomorrow the same way they came to work, that is my highest priority, and it doesn't change, and is not based on funding, attitudes, policies, or politics. If I ever have a higher priority, I don't deserve to be a company officer.
    As a company officer, you are 100% correct.

    The highest priority of a fire department, as a whole, is to prevent the fire before it happens. We have lost this somewhere in the past 200 years.

  10. #30
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Hwoods...I am not sure I ever saw the staffing levels that morning. But, from what I know, Clearwater is usually pretty beefy on their staffing. However, I do not know the numbers. I suspect that Blacksheep may be able to shed some light on that subject as he is in the same County and may have access through some research channels. It is my understanding that there is a gag order in effect on this incident.

    There have been some very very good comments since the latest information has been posted. I agree with those that say their highest priority is to see that their shift goes home in the same manner in which it reported....

    As far a inspections and preventions.....Can of worms! I agree that prevention is where it is at. But if we as engine companies do inspections and make notes for follow up by the Inspections Division and nothing is ever done....how effective is that??? In my old department...way back when...I would inspect the same business each time it came up and not the same items of concern, some of which were life safety issues and mark the inpsection for a "follow up" and guess what...each year the same violations were present and the same answer was given....send it up for a follow up..and we will get to it.
    That is effective isnt it???

    It seems to me that I read in earlier articles that the hyrdants had been noted as out of service but were not marked and that work orders had been done on them... But I looked back and can not find it.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  11. #31
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    Post More Law Suits Filed

    ST. PETERSBURG TIMES---NORTH PINELLAS

    5 more file suit in condo fire
    Dolphin Cove owners and occupants claim equipment to fight fires was not properly maintained.
    By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 8, 2003


    CLEARWATER -- Five people who owned or occupied units at Dolphin Cove condominiums on Island Estates have filed a negligence suit against their homeowners association and building manager over a deadly fire last June. They say in five separate Pinellas-Pasco lawsuits filed Tuesday that the association and manager failed to properly maintain its fire extinguishing system. That led to a shortage of water to fight the June 28 fire, the suit said.

    A crucial valve that closed off the water supply had been closed, the suit said, which worsened a fire that killed two residents and sent five firefighters to the hospital, including three with severe burns.

    "As a result, the city of Clearwater's emergency personnel and firefighting personnel had no immediate water with which to attack the fire, thereby losing crucial time . . . to control the blaze," the suits said.

    The suits say several automatic door closers had also been removed, which endangered residents.

    The five separate suits add to a growing wave of litigation over a blaze that called into question the tactics of firefighters and problems in the building. So far, seven lawsuits have been filed.

    The suits seek damages to speed up repairs and allow displaced residents back into Dolphin Cove. Work is expected to begin next week.

    Association president Frank Pound said Friday that the lawsuits were without merit. And he blamed Clearwater building inspectors for delays in beginning renovation work.

    "That's just accusations. None of it is true," Pound said. "You can sue anybody. We've got the records to prove it's not true. The only thing not working was a valve that was shut off. We don't know who shut off the valve."

    Representatives of the building manager, Greenacre Properties Inc., could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Four condo owners who are suing are John Aggeletos, George Tomaras, Paul McCoy and John Sokolich. A fifth person who filed suit, Anne Yaro, was a tenant who was renting a unit.

    Tomaras, who lives in Chicago and used his condo as a vacation home, said Friday that he was impatient to get back to his home. He estimates he and his wife, Christine, lost at least $50,000 in belongings.

    "I don't know how this happened," said Tomaras, who was at the condo when the blaze broke out on the fifth floor. "It's terrible. We just want to go back. I don't understand why it's taking so long."

    Maxwell Battle, an attorney representing Tomaras and the others, said his clients had reserved the right to later file suit against Clearwater.

    The fire started in the kitchen of a unit on the fifth floor of Dolphin Cove, then smoldered and grew for 28 minutes before firefighters were able to hit it with water.

    Fire officials said the building suffered a "flashover,"' a rare kind of explosion in a confined space that causes the air to catch fire amid extraordinary temperatures.

    The fire killed Robert Kelly, 75, and Jean Zetterberg, 81. Fire investigators blamed the blaze on the electric range in the kitchen of Zetterberg's son, Charles Zetterberg, who has previously filed suit against the association and Greenacre.

    His attorneys, who dispute that the stove was the source of the fire, have questioned firefighters' tactics in battling the blaze and said the city would be named as a party to the suit.

    A city firefighter burned in the blaze has also filed suit against Dolphin Cove.

    The suits seek damages in excess of $15,000.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  12. #32
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    Post Another Lawsuit Is Filed

    ST PETERSBURG TIMES--South Pinellas

    Condo owners file suit in fire last June

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 11, 2003

    CLEARWATER -- Owners of a condominium at Dolphin Cove on Island Estates have filed a negligence suit against the company that manages the building and the homeowners association.

    Filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court last week, the lawsuit by Gus and Carol Lewis claims the association and Greenacre Properties Inc. failed to properly maintain the building's fire extinguishing system, leading to a shortage of water to fight a fire on June 28.

    The fire killed two elderly residents and badly burned three firefighters. Seven other residents have filed suits against Greenacre Properties Inc., and the homeowners association. A city firefighter burned in the blaze also has filed suit against Dolphin Cove.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  13. #33
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    Post Leadership criticized

    St. Petersburg Times--Pinellas

    Review criticizes firefighter leadership
    The study, prompted by a fatal fire in 2002, calls for major changes at a high cost. Fire officials say the report is flawed and challenge its conclusions.

    By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
    Published January 31, 2004

    CLEARWATER - Clearwater's Fire Department lacks training, discipline, cooperation and effective command structure and needs sweeping - and expensive - organizational changes, according to a scathing management review of the department.

    The independent audit, ordered by the city last year and released this week, outlines two options for restructuring, one with a $232,562 annual price tag and the other rising to $619,141. The report follows the fatal high rise fire at Dolphin Cove condominiums that killed two elderly residents and seriously injured three firefighters in June 2002.

    The draft report, which cost $48,420 and took three months, comes on the heels of a critical examination of Dolphin Cove by the United States Fire Administration and a review by the St. Petersburg Times that found firefighters violated department guidelines and failed to follow basic tactical procedures.

    The report, prepared by Tallahassee-based consultant MGT of America, criticized department leadership, particularly for being slow to respond to major fires and for poor management at those scenes. And training in a host of areas, from fire safety to high-rise procedures to large-scale incident management, also was found to be lacking.

    Drills, the report found, are not automatically monitored by a senior fire officer. And top fire administrators should have a background in firefighting, which the current chief does not.

    The report concludes that coastal Clearwater's emergency management functions are potentially ineffective and should be removed from the fire department altogether. "Currently, disaster management planning does not appear to enjoy a high priority in the city of Clearwater," the report says, before suggesting the functions be transferred for supervision by the assistant city manager.

    Meanwhile, the report says the department's staffing level is adequate, a finding union leaders dispute.

    On Friday, Chief Rowland Herald, at odds with the union for months over the direction of the department and nasty contract negotiations, also criticized the report, but for different reasons.

    Herald contests the consultant's claim that the department averaged one fire fatality a month between May and September last year, and that during the same period the city averaged three structure fires a month. City officials said there were three deaths, not five, and the number of fires averaged between 10 and 11 each month.

    Those differences, Herald said, could be enough to substantially change the results of the report.

    "If they're drawing conclusions on errors of fact on how we operate, then perhaps their recommendations will be amended," he said. "I want to make sure that they're drawing conclusions based on the best information available."

    Jim Carino, vice president of Clearwater Firefighters Local No. 1158, scoffed at any conclusion that the department is well-staffed. Saying the department has just one more firefighter now than it did 20 years ago, Carino said increased call volumes have stretched firefighters too thin.

    "It's like making a whole bunch of sandwiches but only having a tablespoon of mayonnaise," he said. "Sooner or later you don't taste the mayonnaise."

    City officials downplayed the recommendations Friday, saying their staff will review the report after it is finalized next month, then decide how to proceed.

    "I don't get shocked anymore about anything," said City Manager Bill Horne.

    Horne, who asked for the review as a tool to help remake the embattled department, said he suffered sticker shock at the cost of the proposed changes. Nonetheless, he wanted an honest look at the organization. Horne said he expects to make more personnel changes, but declined to reveal a timetable or identify individuals.

    "What I'm not going to do is just run out and fire people," he said. "Change occurs over time."

    On Friday, Mayor Brian Aungst said he was not surprised by some of the report's findings and pledged to push for reform, especially with labor-management relations.

    "I think we really need to tighten the reins," he said. "The department's almost running itself backwards. That's absolutely got to be corrected."

    Carino, the union vice president, said he hopes this report, unlike others he has seen in the past, sparks meaningful change.

    "I have true, true concerns," he said. "When's it going to stop? At some point we need to do something."

    - Jennifer Farrell can be reached at 445-4160 or farrell@sptimes.com

    [Last modified January 31, 2004, 01:00:44]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  14. #34
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default

    Review demands prompt response in fire department
    A Times Editorial
    Published February 1, 2004

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "At some point, we need to do something."

    We couldn't say it better ourselves.

    The comment is by Jim Carino, vice president of the union local that represents Clearwater's firefighters, and it was offered Friday in response to the release of another outside review that rips the management, training and procedures of the Clearwater Fire Department.

    The draft report of a management audit of the department by Tallahassee-based MGT of America lists many criticisms, including these:

    The Fire Department suffers from internal conflict, public disagreements, ineffective communications and impaired relationships.

    There are not enough senior officers to provide oversight of the rank and file during all hours of the day, and even when senior managers are available, they respond too slowly to major incidents.

    The department doesn't do enough training in high-rise firefighting procedures, firefighter safety, tactical fire problems and management of major fire incidents.

    Training of new recruits is too brief.

    Top management is "isolated" from the rest of the department.

    The preliminary report suggests a major and expensive overhaul of the department to increase training and accountability of rank-and-file firefighters and paramedics as well as officers; to add more officer positions so that round-the-clock supervision of fire crews and fire incidents will be available; and to improve internal communications and career development opportunities for Fire Department employees.

    The work by MGT of America is not finished. City officials are working on responses to the audit's initial findings and recommendations, and a final report will be released later.

    Though the findings are preliminary, this is now the third outside review of the department since the fire at Dolphin Cove condominiums in June 2002 that left two residents dead and several firefighters seriously injured. All three reviews found shortcomings throughout the department that could endanger the public and firefighters.

    Yet, city officials' response to the MGT report Friday seemed almost nonchalant. Some had not read the report. Others said it held no surprises. City Manager Bill Horne said his staff would review the report after it is finalized weeks from now, then decide what to do. And he added, "What I'm not going to do is just run out and fire people. Change occurs over time."

    Horne is not one to go off half-cocked, and that kind of deliberative approach often serves him well. But in this case, the MGT audit seems to mirror many of Horne's own conclusions after the Dolphin Cove fire laid bare the department's weaknesses. That was almost 20 months ago, and for most of that time, Horne has known that his top officers were too weak to provide proper leadership, that the rank and file was insufficiently trained and supervised, and that too many people in the department felt they were not accountable for their actions.

    If he was looking to the MGT audit to confirm his suspicions, he has that confirmation now. It is crystal-clear that a housecleaning and reorganization are essential so the Fire Department can provide the services and protection Clearwater residents expect. Delaying action only puts more lives at risk.

    [Last modified February 1, 2004, 01:45:59]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  15. #35
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    Default Firefighter Sues

    St. Petersburg Times



    Condo residents sued by firefighter
    David Hogan is the second firefighter to sue the Dolphin Cove Homeowners Association for a fatal 2002 fire.
    By AARON SHAROCKMAN
    Published May 21, 2005

    ------------------------


    CLEARWATER - A second city firefighter who burned in a deadly 2002 Island Estates condominium fire is suing the high-rise's homeowners association for negligence.

    David E. Hogan claims members of the Dolphin Cove Homeowners Association knew an emergency pipe that provided water to the condominium had been turned off, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in a Pinellas County civil court.

    Without that pipe, firefighters needed 28 minutes to put water on the fifth-floor kitchen fire that killed two residents and injured three firefighters, including Hogan.

    The fire prompted a citywide investigation and has resulted in several lawsuits.

    Hogan, 50, and another firefighter attempted to rescue Jean Zetterberg from the floor where the fire erupted. As firefighters helped Zetterberg toward an exit, flames exploded down a hallway, according to fire department accounts.

    Hogan ran down a smoke-filled hallway, saying he was burning. He suffered burns on his hands. Zetterberg, an 81-year-old resident, died as a result of the fire.

    Hogan, who is also the secretary of the firefighters union, is seeking more that $15,000 for his injuries.

    Another firefighter, Steven C. Colbert, also sued for injuries resulting from the fire. That lawsuit, according to court records, has been settled.

    [Last modified May 21, 2005, 01:03:17]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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