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  1. #1
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    Default Would like your opinions on this

    The fire department I run with recently went to a fairly large
    building fire as mutual aide.

    The roof operations chief made a decision that I'm not sure was smart. Granted, I am not an officer, I am a firefighter, but I feel
    that his decision was unsafe. I'd like your opinions.

    The chief decided to send his lightest firefighter out onto the roof tied to a rope which was secured to a ladder truck and apparently some firefighters were also holding onto it. He said he was doing this for safety reasons, I'm assuming so he would know before he sent his crew out. At least 2 crews had already vacated the roof because they knew it wasn't safe. When the tied off firefighter got a few feet and the chief realized it was unsafe he stopped roof operations.

    But my question is this, most of the time, roof operations are not done with people being secured to a rope. If you have an idea that the roof is not stable, so much so that you tie a rope to a firefighter, isn't smarter to just stay off the roof?

    I have received too many biased opinions and would like some unbiased ones.


  2. #2
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    Two crews, who were placed on the roof have already discontinued operations as they feel conditions are unsafe. Roof operations are suspended. Period. No second guessing, and no questions.

    I get the impression that you were the guinea pig ladergurl?

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would like your opinions on this

    Originally posted by ladergurl
    The fire department I run with recently went to a fairly large
    building fire as mutual aide.

    The roof operations chief made a decision that I'm not sure was smart. Granted, I am not an officer, I am a firefighter, but I feel
    that his decision was unsafe. I'd like your opinions.

    The chief decided to send his lightest firefighter out onto the roof tied to a rope which was secured to a ladder truck and apparently some firefighters were also holding onto it. He said he was doing this for safety reasons, I'm assuming so he would know before he sent his crew out. At least 2 crews had already vacated the roof because they knew it wasn't safe. When the tied off firefighter got a few feet and the chief realized it was unsafe he stopped roof operations.

    But my question is this, most of the time, roof operations are not done with people being secured to a rope. If you have an idea that the roof is not stable, so much so that you tie a rope to a firefighter, isn't smarter to just stay off the roof?

    I have received too many biased opinions and would like some unbiased ones.
    Hmmmm..... two crews had already reported that the roof was unsafe, yet this "chief" still put someone on the roof secured with a rope!

    The way I see it... if this "chief" has a problem trusting the instincts of the personnel on the roof (I am willing to bet that he was standing on the ground well out of harm's way!), he is either a fool, has no business being a chief or a combination of the two!

    Maybe this "chief" should have been the one to tie himself to the aerial and ventured out to check the roof.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  4. #4
    Forum Member PAVolunteer's Avatar
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    Here ... wear this gear into that fire to see if it will hold up.

    There are a multitude of ways to sound a roof w/out physically walking on it. If there were already two crews on the roof, and came down, then I'm guessing this was pretty far into the incident. Why did they want to get back on the roof anyway? Was there not sufficient vertical ventilation?

    Stay Safe
    Last edited by PAVolunteer; 09-04-2002 at 11:38 AM.

  5. #5
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    I don't know if this chief had gotten word that 2 crews had already
    vacated the roof for safety reasons. I was not on the roof but my husband was and he was part of a crew that had left the roof because his foot fell through twice.

    I'm just trying to figure out if my instinct is right that they should have known they shouldn't be on the roof. Any fire I have been at that had roof operations, the firefighters were not harnessed to anything. Sometimes operations were done out of a bucket but if they were cutting a hole in the roof, they were not attached to anything.

    No, I wasn't the guinea pig but the person he did choose was a "light" person.

    I believe the reason for still being on the roof was because they needed to hit a fire. But there were 8 trucks there. At least 3 of them could have flown water from there. I don't know why they weren't used.
    Last edited by ladergurl; 09-04-2002 at 11:40 AM.

  6. #6
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    Wow! With j@ckasses like this, is it any surprise firefighters are being killed?
    A ROPE????? If you're that worried you've got no business on that roof.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    I was going to by-pass answering this one because it had already received the same considerations I had for myself however.... there was this detour.

    I am in full agreement that if the current roof crews had already deemed it to be unsafe for operations and had or were coming down, then that is good enough for me too.

    The next couple of statements are from experience in more places than just my fire dept:

    If you know for a fact that the guy ahead of you is truely intellectually challenged, then sure go ahead and challenge his decision on any issue... but remember even the stupidest animals on the planet know when it is time to leave when a situation becomes unsafe. If he is someone you completey trust with your own life, then you will do what is needed.

    Never send your crews into a place or to do a job unless you are very willing to lead them into it. Leading from the front not the rear.

    Check with the State or Provincial Labour Codes and Health and Safety Laws, but I am pretty sure that ANYONE has the right and is expected to refuse to enter into or engage in an activity that is unsafe. Now this statement conflicts with the fact that as Emergency Service Providers, our job intrinsically places us in exactly those conditions, however, if a person feels that the situation is certain to cause injury to him or herself, then he/she has the right to refuse. This is not an exact quote from our books, but it does give the essence of the intent.

    I am an Army guy as well as a FF and am expected to follow orders pretty much without question, but there are times and places where questions and or refusal are expected and anticipated because of the additonal dangers in the particular situation.

    I can't speak for everyone, but to me, being tied off to a ladder truck and suspended by a rope to do roof ops strikes me as being one of those times where first I am NOT GOING TO VOLUNTEER for the job and second I am going to question the validity and necessity of the job. If there is good reason for it and that happens to be the only viable solution, then maybe I would do it, but to be ordered up "because its the thing to do", well then I would likely have a huge safety issue with that. You can bet that I would be voicing my opinion on it after the event and again at the next safety meeting.
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  8. #8
    Forum Member MOTOWN88's Avatar
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    There is a time where you stand and fight on the roof and there are times where you get off of the roof and take up the fight somewhere else. I think this situation is a "take your fight somewhere else"
    If you are on the roof and its gettin crappy its time to get off. Roof guys can fight elswere in the structure contrary to popular opinion of engine guys. Sorry lads had to throw a shot in there.
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  9. #9
    Temporarily/No Longer Active dfdex1's Avatar
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    This is just my opinion..... But I dont think you should of been on the roof. Like it shows in Essentials you should vent from the areial,not the roof.

    Crusties, correct me if I am wrong,I just started doing ladder ops.

  10. #10
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    Just a little more info, not to change your opinion but it was a very large building and a very large roof. I still don't think that matters because if any part of the roof is bad then it's all going to be bad.

    Also, once the tied off firefighter walked across the roof and the chief saw that the roof was bad, he stopped the operations. I just don't think that he needed to take this measure to see the roof was bad.

    I'm glad to see that the opinions on here are similar to that of mine. Most of the other opinions I got from our local people was that he was a smart chief and knew what he was doing, and that he is a chief for a reason etc. etc.

    I know that I am not a chief or captain or lieutenant but I would have never agreed to such an operation.

  11. #11
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    ladergurl, you mention that you aren't sure if the Officer was aware that the two crews had abandoned roof operations or not. If this is the case, then the issues within this Department go far further than whether or not Officers trust their men.

    1. The two crews on the roof should have reported directly to the Commanding Officer or the roof operations Chief that the roof is unsafe. This is then to be communicated to ALL personnel, including anyone working inside or contemplating going in.

    2. Where was accountability if the roof operations Chief didn't know his guys had either already been on the roof and deemed it unsafe, or had come down already?

    If this is your Department, I would work on some new leadership. If we are talking about the Department you did mutual aid for, I would seriously consider some ammendments to your MA agreement, like only following the orders of YOUR Officers.

  12. #12
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Default

    Was in the middle of a long reply, but LadyCapn beat me to it. Sounds like there was some big communication errors. Having a rope tied to the firefighter as extra safety measures is not all that bad an idea, but not too practical at most fires. The amount of time lost setting this up and coordinating the different ropes for each member would take more time than the roof crew would be up there anyway.

    Overall, sounds like some bad decisions made based on some bad communications.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  13. #13
    Senior Member shammrock54's Avatar
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    My question is who was the numb nut that agreed to be tied off and go on the roof? If two seperate crews got off a roof and suddenly a "chief" told me he'll tie me off and I should walk out there I would have some rather choice phrases for him "^%&*($#@" If i did not fire his hind quarters off the roof for even suggesting that idea!
    Member IACOJ & IACOJ EMS Bureau
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    As always these are strictly my own opinions and views

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber E229Lt's Avatar
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    Any questions about roof integrity should be transmitted immediatly. If two crews already deemed it unsafe and failed to notify command, they are dead wrong. On the other hand, had the crew, or crews, made the proper notifications this chief should already know. That being said...

    A questionable roof deck needs some questions answered:
    1, Flat or peaked?
    2, Truss or joist, or other?
    3, Fire location, are roof supports "involved" in fire?
    4, Visual condition of roof surface, sagging, smoking, bubbling?
    5, Physical condition of the roof, solid, bouncy, soft?

    Always try to answer numbers 1-4 BEFORE you answer #5.

    If there's still question about roof integrity,

    6, What will be our gains for having a member on the roof?
    7, Does the gain outweigh the risk?


    If this person was sent out on the roof with no tools and no purpose other than to see if the roof would collapse, your chief made a terrible decision, in my book. If this person was sent out to begin a vent or other duty under his watchful eye, I may be able to understand, not agree, but understand.

    In any case, a straight ladder should have been laid down, as a precaution, for the member to stand/crawl on, also tied off.

  15. #15
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    forgive me for my ignorance,

    I do not have any experience with truck co. operations just yet,
    (in fact-if anyone has any idea where I can obtain resources for the same online, it would be appreciated) but I am getting the impression that it is the majority's opinion that one should NOT be tied off when working on the roof from a plaform or is that thought pattern based upon this incident only and the notion that the 2 crews had already indicated that the roof was unsafe?

    I seem to remember seeing video of FDNY Truck crews tying themselves off which would imply that it would be commonplace tactic/safety measure.

    As a relatively inexperienced FF, these forums provide the best place to learn short of training and actual runs. Thank you in advance.

  16. #16
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    If anyone knows the "Chief" who is central to this situation, see that he gets a copy of Frank Brannigan's "Building Construction for the Fire Service" ASAP Stay Safe....
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  17. #17
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    Once you play out say 7 or 8 feet of rope behind you, guess what? If it gives way, you fall that 7-8 feet down into the burning attic. At this point, you are not only hanging by a rope, but you AND THE ROPE HOLDING YOU UP are being burnt. This is assuming the rope doesn't break due to something sharp when you fall.

    So, the rope is great, they can pull you back up when you fall through and you will be alble to get back to work once your out of the Intensive Care Unit.

    If two teams already said the roof isn't safe (one of them actually putting a foot through it), sending someone out there with or without a rope is ludicrous. Now, obviously he had this person put on a rope so he must have know about the other 2 teams that said it was no good. Otherwise the rope wouldn't have been involved.

    So, my opinion is REALLY BAD MOVE.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    That was a good point made about the communications involved. And an extrememly important question to the original query too. My original answer was made on the "assumption" that the Roof Ops Chief knew that the other crews were coming down. That all taken to account, if either they had not communicated that the roof condition was unstable, or was it that the Roof Chief didn't get that info then maybe his original decision was based on incorrect info.

    My first answer was based on his "disregarding" the Roof Guys decision to get down. On the premise that he was not aware that they were dismounting from the roof makes it a slightly different story and answer. After that the only question I have is:

    Was there any real need to have crews up there at all?

    Something else that Ladergurl pointed out in the beginning is that her unit was called in as Mutual Aid. Could there have been a comms problem with radio freqs and that not everyone was on the same command net? We have occasionally had that problem where either the freq on an idividual radio getting accidentaly got switched over or that the two units were operating on different freqs from the start. That starts to get into the relm of Incident Command and Control... and to paraphrase a historical figure in a statement to an investigating commission: "I am not an officer..." and I am not going to go out on that limb.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  19. #19
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    Stay clear of that chief on the fireground

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    No life is worth risking to save a building.

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