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  1. #1
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    Default Going Interior with Unsafe FF's

    Here's the setup/problem -

    Totally volunteer dept. First crew out of a night time usually consists of Officer, Driver, 2 other firefighters and me. The 2 other FF's are both young, very aggressive in their attitude (and firefighting), don't have a lot of experience, and believe that they know everything there is to know about interior firefighting. Neither of them are team players, neither of them will listen to anything anyone tries to explain to them, and neither of them show any discipline. One basically sulks and refuses to help pull hose if he isn't the nozzleman. At a structure I'm usually paired up with one of them for interior attack. It's got to the point where I feel distinctly uncomfortable going in with either of them because as we all know interior firefighting is dangerous, and the way that we minimise those dangers is through discipline, teamwork, communication etc - which is only happening in one direction in this case.

    Do I...
    a) Keep going in and hope that nothing bad happens
    b) Tell the officer that I don't want to go in with either of these two renegades
    c) Accept the fact that I am getting older and retire to leave the firefighting to the indestructible young wannabe-hero guys

    Your thoughts (and any other suggestions not covered in a, b or c) would be appreciated
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

    ...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!


  2. #2
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    stillpsfb, some things in the CFA never change!!! I'd mention the problem to the Captain or the Lt in charge of training, you definitely need to resolve this issue. (Incidently where is "PSFB")

  3. #3
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    The Captain and the Lieutenants are both very aware of my feelings with this issue. They are trying hard to bring the renegades into line. The teamwork and discipline problems is really affecting several of the members, as it's just not a pleasant place to be at the moment. It's bad enough that they won't listen to anything we try to explain, but then we also have to endure being told by them how useless we are and that we are doing everything wrong. I did kindly point out to one of them that years ago when I was graduating out of the fire academy, he was graduating out of nappies (diapers for our U.S. Brothers & Sisters).

    the FB in PSFB doesn't stand for fire brigade, PSFB is actually an acronym of the nickname I was christened by my brigade.
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

    ...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!

  4. #4
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    Exclamation

    Your department should have policy covering disciplinary procedure for that kind of conduct. If these guys are not following orders given by an officer or not following safety guidelines they should be called on it. If they have been and are still acting that way, they should be put on suspension. It is your officers responsibility to ensure your safety. It sounds like you have done your part by informing them of how you feel...press them to do something about it.

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by ffmeyers
    It sounds like you have done your part by informing them of how you feel...press them to do something about it.
    I'm pushing all right, that's for sure. I have gently pointed out that I could also take a bit of extra time getting to the station and ride on the second out truck instead, which would hopefully mean that I don't have to go in with the dynamite duo (or is that the handgrenade heroes?). Time will tell I guess.
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

    ...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!

  6. #6
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Taking your time to get to the station. If these guys are as bad as you say thet are, by letting them two go in without someone who knows what they are doing can jeopardize their lives, any civilians who could be in there, the property, and even fellow brothers and sisters...... Keep pushing for your superiors to correct the problem.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    Default There is no "I" in team!

    stillPSFB:
    As long as you feel that way, a true team effort cannot be achieved. This situation needs to be addressed ASAP before something serious happens. Veterans should not have to leave the fire service because there are a couple of cowboys who simply need to be reined in. Your chief officer needs to take the time to instruct these two on proper and safe conduct at a fire scene.
    There's more to being a firefighter than squirting water. These two need to be reminded of that. And if they can't accept that, then they need to leave; not you.
    The bridges have to be mended. A department doesn't need acrimony. With each depending on the other, there is no room for free-lancing and carelessness. If they have the heart of a firefighter , then they should know that.
    Take care and always be safe.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  8. #8
    kevinr
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    Until they get in line and work with the rest of the team, I would go to the IC and say "I do not feel right going inside". If asked a reason, be honest.

    Our department has a policy that states (parapharsed) "if you do not feel comfortable doing interior work, tell the IC such and you will be given another task". This has worked well with us, and most people have learned from it and have overcome whatever that prevented them from going inside.

    Your situation is a little different, but works out to be the same. Those guys are putting their lives at a greater risk than normal. If you are with them, you are at a greater risk. Remember if the crap hits the fan, you both will depend on each other.

    Regarding them, until the Captain and Lt. get them in tune with the rest of the department, I would not let them do any interior work.

  9. #9
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    Many thanks for your replies, they have helped steer me towards a safe, workable approach to this problem. The plan (derived from your replies and discussion with the officers) is to
    a) Take a little extra time getting to the station to hopefully avoid that first-out truck
    b) The officers are aware of my objections to going interior with these two clowns and so have agreed to not ask me to go interior with either of them unless there is no other alternative available and they really need a team to go in.

    The officers hope to get these two reined in pretty soon, and once a few facts of where they sit in the experience tree are understood then hopefully we might be able to get back to doing the job properly.
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

    ...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!

  10. #10
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    I've just been reading posts and coming here for a short while, and came across this one today...

    ....wondering how the situation resolved, if at all, and how your cowboys are doing? Are they both still very Gung Ho?

  11. #11
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    I'm a new volunteer FF as well. On a recent call, I'll admit to getting a little more excited in responding to the station.

    The Chief Engineer saw me driving a tad fast and running into the station and called me on it. Not in a tone like, "slow the *&#(% down!" but simply as, "slow down". His stature and position conveys the tone and I was humbled right then and there. I was more mad at myself than embarassed because I knew better.

    Later, he said that when the FFs are walking, you walk. When they're running, you try and run faster.

    THe point: I've learned my lesson and I'll try damn hard not to make the same mistake twice. If the gung-ho dorkwads aren't willing to listen to experience and their officers then they're a liablity to the organization, not an asset.

    I'd be interested in finding out what the end result was as well.

  12. #12
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    Talking

    Originally posted by NeilMcD
    I've learned my lesson and I'll try damn hard not to make the same mistake twice. If the gung-ho dorkwads aren't willing to listen to experience and their officers then they're a liablity to the organization, not an asset. I'd be interested in finding out what the end result was as well.
    Neil, if you learned nothing else you learned a very valuable lesson - don't make the same mistake twice. I've told our newer members for years that there is no problem with making mistakes, that's how we learn. Just don't make the same one again. Welcome to the volunteer fire service.
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

  13. #13
    Forum Member PAVolunteer's Avatar
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    One minor detail has been missed. If it is not safe for you to go in w/ one of these guys, then it is not safe for these guys to go in with each other, or anyone else (okay, not so minor). Something else has to be done to solve the problem.

    1. Do you have a standard training qualification? Do you have to have at least FF1 (or whatever your equivalent is) to go in?

    2. Are they not following orders from the officer's? If so, then what is the problem? Not following orders once is a warning (unless severe enough). Twice, and you're suspended 15 days. Thrice, and you're probably gone for good.

    I'd rather have a few disciplined, trained firemen, then 15 rogue idiots.

    Stay Safe

  14. #14
    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    As I know StillPSFB is a CFA volunteer like me I can answer your first question. We have 5 firefighting qualification levels, which are:

    Q0002 - Wildfire Firefighter
    Q0003 - Wildfire-low structure Firefighter
    Q0004 - Wildfire-structure Firefighter
    Q0005 - Structure-Wildfire Firefighter
    Q0006 - Structure Firefighter

    (Not sure what happened to Q0001...)

    Now each of those individual qualifications have certain training modules contained within them that you must complete to gain the qualification. For example, the lowest, the wildfire qual, contains:
    1.07 Personal Protection 1
    1.09 Map Reading 1
    1.12A Wildfire Behaviour 1
    1.12B Wildfire Suppression 1
    CFA074 - Wildfire Communications

    To obtain a higher qualification you must first have obtained the lower qualifaction (and hence all modules contained within it). There is nothing stopping you doing all the Q0003 modules, but you wont be certified until you get the Q0002's....

    Now these quals make up our Minimum Skills levels .... each brigade is assigned a risk profile that matches these minimum skils. IE. Brigade Y is designated Wildfire so to turn-out you only need Q0002. Yet brigade X is designated Structure-Wildfire so you need Q0005.

    Unfortunately, this is how things are going to work in 2005. Currently, the system is just being phased in.... up to I think around 1999 we had no offical "minimum skill" level. After thinking up these levels they gave brigades until 2005 to get all their members to their appropriate skill levels before stopping people turning out. If they hadn't done this and just "flipped the switch" overnight our fire service would've ceased to operate, pretty much statewide.

    So up until that date the only qualification you need to have in order to turn out on an appliance is Q0002 (Basic Wildfire), irrespective of the risk profile for your brigade. However in order to operate special equipment (including CABA, Gas Suits etc.) you must also hold the INDIVIDUAL training module for that peice of equipment. So it's entirely possible that these guys are only qualified to a bare minimum of Q0002 and hold CABA modules* that allow them to go internal.

    I understand the system as it stands is totally stupid and ends up training people in a kind of "baptism of fire" scenario.... but it has been identified that it needs to be changed and it is being changed as quickly as possible.

    * They would also need to hold the Search and Rescue modules that are pre-requisites of the CABA module. Incidently, CABA comes into the qualifications at Q0004.

    Lastly, to answer a section of your second question, as the system currently stands individual CFA brigades do not have the power to discipline their members in this way, it's actually against the law, under the CFA Act. Under our act the only person allowed to pass down a suspension is the Chief Officer. It's just not feasable to be involving him (or anyone above your own brigade officers), he can't be dealing with pety brigade level disputes. Just to put it into some perspective, our Chief Officer is the George W. Bush of the CFA. He's the guy in charge of all 1,240 brigades and 2,664 fire trucks... he's got much bigger fish to fry.

    So again, this is being changed to a system that allows for such disputes to be resolved at brigade level. The way it is at the moment issues are dealt with Inhouse and hoped that no body makes a fuss.... because if they do, all hell breaks lose. So generally speaking for minor disputes, nothing is done. Hopefully the new disiplinary code (due out late this year) should solve this problem...
    Last edited by Dave1105; 10-13-2003 at 09:58 AM.

  15. #15
    Forum Member PAVolunteer's Avatar
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    Looks like you're addressing the issues and working towards a solution (which is more than I can say about the Pennsylvania Fire Service). Good Luck, and thanks for the info.

    Stay Safe

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber AFD368's Avatar
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    This appears to me to be a self ending situation.
    Your Chief has the ultimate responsibility of the safety of all firefighters. If the Captain and Lieutenants have not resolved this situation already, it should have already been taken to the Chief.
    If the Chief fails to remedy the situation, it should be pressed to the Board of Directors, Municipal leaders, or whoever governs your Department.

    Your experience, safety and training should not be compromised for the young "freelancing" firefighters. This is an issue that should have been resolved the first time it was mentioned.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
    Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
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  17. #17
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    Default I hope I didn't confuse anyone....

    The original thread from stillPSFB was posted back in March. I hope no one thinks this is a current problem for him. I was just curious as to how the situation had been resolved, if at all, since then.

    Thanks!

  18. #18
    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    AFD368, Our system out here works a little differently than yours.... but most of it just comes down to terminology. We have a few different brigade structures that can be used but the most common one is this:

    Captain - Each Brigade has only 1
    1st Lieutenant
    2nd Lieutenant
    3rd Lieutenant
    4th Lieutenant (optional, depends on needs of brigades)

    Our brigade Captain is similar in rank to a Dept chief... except from my understanding a Dept chief can in fact be in control of more than one individual station.... it doesn't work like that generally* out here, a Captain runs one station and one only. Lieutenants aren't on equal ground either, 1st is senior to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd etc. Each Lieutenant is given a portfolio of responsibilities, ranging from training to appliance maintenance, which will change from brigade to brigade... some of which (like mine) will deligate tasks out even further to brigade members. But this results in no change of operational rank on the fire ground.

    These 4 (or 5) members make up the Brigades Management Team (or commitee, there are slight differences, but not relivant here) which is similar to your board of directors. Some brigades will add an additional person, the president, to this mix. But generally speaking he is just there to chair meetings as an impartial member.

    * There are some brigades that are an exception to this rule that will operate a main station and a smaller, satellite, station. This is due to geographical reasons in their area, such as a large train track that runs through the center of town.. you can't get a fire truck accross a train track with a train crossing no matter how bright your lights are or how loud your siren is... These stations are generally just a shed with a fire truck in them and they aren't a fully functioning fire brigade in their own right.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber AFD368's Avatar
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    StillPSFB & Dave1105

    I admit that I really did not notice your location(s) and the date of the original post. I understand that things are probably different where you are located, but, the safety of all firefighters still remains in the hands of the people in charge and is the number one priority.

    I hope this situation has been resolved and the young, gung-ho lads have seen the light, not only for your safety and the other firefighters' safety, but for their own safety as well.

    I am sorry if I sounded blunt in my post, but that's the way I feel about people like this, and I know what dedicated firefighters go through to protect the public and themselves from unnecessary injuries or worse.

    I am a past assistant Chief, in a previous department, and am now just a firefighter in the department I am in now. With 34 years experience, I do my best to help all the young firefighters respect the job and protect themselves and others, and try to become the best firefighters possible.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
    Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
    I.A.C.O.J. Member

  20. #20
    Temporarily/No Longer Active July36's Avatar
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    If they was in MY Dept..I would boot them immediately just for possible "endangerment" reasons.
    Had a similiar firefighter just like that except he was very "dangerous" so to speak...to others as well as himself.Unfortunately he only lasted TWO days on my Dept before I booted him.The story was I came in one night and caught him harrassing my other firefighters(fighting with them and swinging tools)...and it wasnt that he was mad or nothing at anyone..it was just he was young and spunky(18) and thought HE was better and tougher than anyone else so he thought hed try SHOWING it...to EVERYONE...ALL the time(except for when I was around).When I came in the firehouse and seen this...I immediately booted him...just by luck he was still on probation! :-O
    The moral is...I have zero tolerance for the horseplay,whiners or dangerous types in my Dept.

    Donna C
    Fire Chief
    Bridge Canyon VFD
    http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ

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