1. #1
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    Default "Did Two-Man Fire Trucks Cost Lives?"

    BY TOM MOONEY
    Journal Staff Writer


    WEST WARWICK -- The first fire engine arrived at the burning Station nightclub with two firefighters. Each grabbed a hose off the pumper, says their chief, and ran for the front entrance clogged with fallen patrons.

    That left no one at the truck to immediately start the pump and fill the lines with water.

    "Turn the hose on!" someone screamed across the parking lot.

    About 35 seconds passed with one firefighter standing ready with a hose near the entrance before any water flowed, according to a videotape of the fire.

    Arriving with West Warwick's Engine 4 was the town's Ladder Company 1 truck. It, too, had two firefighters aboard -- half the minimum complement of firefighters that a national fire-prevention group recommends for each fire truck.

    In the weeks that have followed, Governor Carcieri has led the praises of the scores of firefighters who eventually responded to The Station to save lives.

    But more quietly -- and with great deference to the efforts of West Warwick's first responders -- leaders of local and national firefighting organizations have also been asking questions:
    • Should more firefighters have been on those first two responding trucks?
    • Did West Warwick's response to the nation's fourth deadliest nightclub fire reflect the risk many communities accept in weighing the cost of fire protection?
    • Would additional firefighters have made a difference in the tragic toll of 99 dead and about 200 injured?


    Full Story
    Last edited by CollegeBuff; 05-04-2003 at 11:01 PM.

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    I honestly think they were behind the 8 Ball to begin with. I think an Engine & Truck company staffed to the NFPA 1710 standard wouldn't have made a difference in the carnage. My department still runs 1- 2 man engine. Everyone I know who knows we do reminds me of it. Can I (or in this case, WWFD Brothers) do anything about it? NO... The leaders of the community, the Fire Chief and other important people are the one who can. I'd bet the WWFD Chief knew they were running 2 handed. Where does the fault lie? I don't know...
    I think the Brothers that responded to that incident from all over are to be commended.

    *Mark
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    I have always believed that during a call, such as a fire, you can NEVER have enough firefighters.

    Budgets and staffing problems, however, tend to make things hard on firefighters everywhere. It puts us at risk, and it puts the public at risk.

    I wish government officials would wake up and notice this, but chances are, it will not happen to anytime soon. We can throw all the recomendations and guidelines at them we want, but they wont take notice because the only thing that matters is the bottom line and whether it is black or red. They don't realize that Engines should have (at least) 6 firefighters, not 2.

    Anyhow, I had better end it here before I start ranting to much...
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

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    in reality ...............2 people ........ there are places here that run like that and call themselves a full-time fire department.... are they ? I dont know ..........do I think that it would have impacted this incident.........16 years in the BIZ ...........HELL NO !!!!!!! good job Bros !
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Umm.... the driver of WWFD's second due engine that night is one of my EMT instructors, and was/is a personal friend before that.... I don't think I'd recommend telling him he doesn't work for a full-time fire department.

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    I am not slamming anyone or dept ..........I am just saying .........2 people ...........what can they really do ..... in our area there is a place that has one 2 man engine company ......waiting for POC backup........but the entity by me says they have a FT fire dept that is all ........you started this not me....
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    With few exceptions, four person rigs make a huge difference. This case is one of those exceptions. The first engine is on the same street about 8-10 blocks away. They pulled up to a building with fire coming out of every orafice. Fifteen people could have gotten off of that truck and not made much of a difference. The guys that showed up put in a super human effort and saved hundreds of lives. I knew it was only a matter of time before the two person apparatus was brought up.
    If this town or most communities in this area were to meet the 1710 standard, no new firefighters would be hired, companies would be closed and manpower consolidated. Imagine if this were true and Engine 4, the first due rig, was closed and the manpower from there was added to Engine 1 in HQ. Engine 1 would now be a 4 person rig and is about 5 minutes from the Station Club. In a fire, every minute counts. It took Engine 4 less than two minutes to arrive and begin rescue efforts. How many other people would have died if the first engine didn't arrive for another 3 minutes?
    Departments that operate with reduced manpower know that they are shorthanded and request help right away. They also know how to make do with what they have and I can tell you from experience that WW gets a hell of a lot done with what they have.

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    Default 1710 Requirements

    cfdeng3;

    Previous quote: "If this town or most communities in this area were to meet the 1710 standard,...Engine 1 would now be a 4 person rig and is about 5 minutes from the Station Club."

    NFPA 1710 establishes response criteria as well as manning. Turnout time should be at one minute, with a four minute or less arrival time for the first engine and/or 8 minute for the balance of the first alarm assignment. The performance objective for meeting this time is 90% of the time as listed in the standard.

    I won't argue with you that time is important and I won't knock those who did what appears from here, to be a yoemans job. However, your comments don't appear to be based upon the facts as they exist in the standard. Does the 5 minute response time that you mention in your comment, include turnout time as well? If so, then Engine 1 would have been in compliance with 1710. How that would affect the rest of their first due would need to be looked at to ensure arrival in the rest of their first due 90% of the time, but this response to this fire would have been within the performance parameters set by 1710.

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    Hello,

    I have posted in several other threads my opinion on two man crews, and will do so again.

    Most people who pay taxes and are protected by a career fire department think they are better off than some of the other options out there. They are being misled plain and simple. A two person crew is NOT fire protection. In response to the "station" fire we all know they did what they could and I'm sure lives were saved. BUT how many more could have been saved with the proper staffing and response. I'm not bashing anyone who responded. Let's forget that fire and look at any other. I'm just saying that for the first apparatus to pull up with two people and be expected to initiate an aggressive attack is a joke. The whole problem with the system is the right person has not died yet (i.e.: a politicians family member), after that happens some day you'll see a change (maybe only local to that area).

    Gary

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    What good would having an attack line done. I mean, the people where clogging the entrance, so your not going to be able to get an attack line in. What these people needed was to calm down and exit one at a time.


    It is to bad that panic set in the way it did. There was not much that the Fire Department could have donw IMHO, other then what they did. If people would have been calm, and used other exits, or not tried to all stuff the same door, then more people would have gotten out. But as it was there was no way for the Fire Department to get in there, unless they used a side entrance to make there primary attack.

    But with that said, why they both pulled a hose line does not make much sense. I mean you know some one is going to have to start the water flowing, so why not send one guy out, and charge his line once he is ready, then the other guy could have pulled a line, and went bac and charged it himself.

    But this is all a case of should have, could have, would have. I hope they take the club owners and the pyro tech guys and string them all up by there balls. They all knew what they where doing, or should have known and that my friends means they murderd all these people. Please that club owner was so pathetic, if you did not know what was going on that makes you just as guilty as knowing and letting it happen. And the Pyro guy should have known better then to place they sparklers next to that foam. There all a bunch of Dumb asses that cost alot of lives.

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    Glowpop,
    The second due, E-1, was there within 5 minutes of the receipt of the alarm and the remainder of the appauatus was there within 8 minutes. Actually the apparatus at HQ gets a jump on all other companies because the dispatch is there also. I would love to see every department comply with 1710 but I know it is not going to happen. The city I work and live in runs mostly with 4 man engine companies. In the western end of the city, it takes Engine 6 almost nine minutes to arrive at the furthest part of their district. Both the department and the city knows that another engine is needed out here but with the city having the worst bond rating in the country and teetering on bankruptcy, it isn't going to happen. This end of the city is growing by leaps and bounds. I don't even think someone dying would get another engine out here. I don't advocate 2 man engines and am happy to work on a 4 man rig but it not going to change any time fast.

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    Thumbs down Here we go again

    Again, another example of stupidity on the part of whoever makes the decisions on how the FD is staffed. I can't find anything but praise for the folks who responded to that incident, but whoever makes the rules for that department, and any other that runs with anything less than 4 on the engine/truck/squad need to understand that they have a responsibility to add enough people to the department to insure that this happens all the time. Where I seem to differ with some of my brothers is that I feel that IF there is no way a City/County/Whatever is able to fill the empty seats with fulltime people, (and the economy certainly has a big impact)THEN WHY IN THE H..L CAN'T THEY USE VOLUNTEERS? In fact, MOST FD's in America would benefit from having a volunteer force to fill the empty seats. There is no good reason for not using Volunteers, only poor excuses. Stay Safe....
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    Originally posted by Airborne
    What good would having an attack line done. I mean, the people where clogging the entrance, so your not going to be able to get an attack line in. What these people needed was to calm down and exit one at a time.
    Perhaps a wide fog in the door would have pushed the heat and products of combustion off of the crowd until they could have been disentangled? Kinda depends on the situation though, considering steam burns and all.

    But I don't think the criticism has really been directed at the WWFD. It seems like they did everything they could do with what they had available - and you can't really ask more of anyone, can you?

    I think the real criticism belongs with the citizens of WW. They decided (through their elected representatives) what level of risk they were willing to accept when they funded FD staffing at those levels. I hope they are willing to accept some of the responsibility.
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    But woods, don't you remember? Volunteers take away paid guys jobs. It's not about what is best for the public, it's about the jobs.
    "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?

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    Although I agree with the 4 man Engine crew concept, my guess is that a large number of the people that died were doomed the second the material on the walls ignited.

    The key to saving lives in this instance rests with the elimination of the flammable foam material that was present on the walls and ceilings. This isn't an uncommon occurrence apparently. I saw on the news recently that hundreds of violations have been written for similar material being on the walls of the nightclubs all over the country.

    Properly written fire prevention regulations, and aggressive enforcement of thes regs is the best chance of survival. Not as visible as the fireground operations, but far more effective. Had the pyrotechnics not been permitted, or the flammable materials on the wall not permitted to begin with, we would in all likleyhood not even be having this discussion.

    This is no different than the fires like Coconut Grove or the Beverly Hills Supper Club fires. Historically speaking, the current fire code regs will be reviewed and changed as necessary. Procedures for enforcement will also be reviewed. The fact is that nearly every line of any fire code you read is written in blood. Someone died as a result of conditions that were in existance at the time of the fire, and the code tries to eliminate those conditions.

    The codes don't enforce themselves. Most people see the Fire Inspector as a nuisance and a pest. We all tend to overlook that many of these tragedies could have been prevented had a good solid enforcement program in place. In a lot of departments, inspections and enforcement take a distant back seat to suppression responsibilities

    The problem partly comes from today's officials who have a hunger for numbers like never before. I bet there's not a person on these forums that can't tell me how many fires they had last year, and a lot of the facts surrounding them. How many of you can tell me how many fires your departments prevented last year, and how they were prevented?

    I'm not finding fault gang. This's only illustrative that the juicy numbers aren't there. It's impossible to say factually how many fires were prevented, much less how. So now how do you justify enforcement programs to the politicians? Not really looking for or even expecting an answer to that question. Just food for thought.
    Last edited by Steamer; 05-05-2003 at 12:53 PM.
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    Originally posted by Bones42
    But woods, don't you remember? Volunteers take away paid guys jobs. It's not about what is best for the public, it's about the jobs.
    Total BS.. Had the city had the balls to staff the fire department with the proper manpower.. It has nothing to do with jobs it has to do with what is right. I agree with the capt247 the wrong people died and the ones that did most likely died in vain.
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    Talking Hey Bones!,.......

    Thanks for supporting my point that there are no good reasons, only poor excuses.......... Stay Safe....
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    Your the reasons why we have these types of dicussion on these boards
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    Originally posted by Ltmdepas3280
    Total BS.. Had the city had the balls to staff the fire department with the proper manpower.. It has nothing to do with jobs it has to do with what is right.
    I'm guessing there was just a little bit of sarcasm in Bones' post.

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    Smile Thanks, Lt.

    You're the reason we have these types of discussions.......
    Few have ever paid a higher compliment. Thank You
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    Good question Chief Woods. I understand the union argument that if you meet your staffing needs with volunteers may prevent the creation of new career positions or lead to the elimination of some positions. Having said that, it seem to me that once you decide that the city/county/whoever-pays-the-bills is unwilling to provide more funding then you do whatever it takes to meet your department's needs.

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    Oh I guess its better to wait the 10 minutes for the home response of additional manpower to the station while the two on duty guys sit with the engine running on the station apron.....give me a break..a properly staffed engine will do more than waiting and hoping someone shows up
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    Two quotes:
    If this town or most communities in this area were to meet the 1710 standard, no new firefighters would be hired, companies would be closed and manpower consolidated

    And...

    Total BS.. Had the city had the balls to staff the fire department with the proper manpower..

    Are both pretty much right on the money.

    West Warwick is one of many places near Providence where the volunteer fire systems petered out in the 50s/60s/70s/80s and where replaced by career services. And it's not fair to bash the unions over this -- if you want to maintain a strong volunteer fire service, you have to have a strong volunteer fire service that can demonstrate leadership & professionalism.

    West Warwick may not be able to meet full 1710 requirements for the total number of firefighters (they're a little small by New England standards at about 24,000 people), but they could consolidate and staff a few four person units without significantly changing the response times NFPA 1710 wants.

    But that would require closing stations that where built back in the days when they where located near the homes of the vollies. And that has political ramifications.

    Would've four man engines, located in their current locations, made a difference at the Station? Maybe a few. But it's not like it would've changed the outcome in any significant way except to the families of those few who died. The Station would've still had an overwhelmingly tragic loss of life.

    But ya know something, if you had sprinklers, the only reason for the four minute response time in NFPA 1710 is to deliver an AED to heart attack patients.

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    Oh I guess its better to wait the 10 minutes for the home response of additional manpower to the station
    Probably not. But my on scene time of less than 5 minutes with 2 trucks with 4-6 guys each won't hurt. And hwoods can give you plenty of examples where it works for MD.

    Would it have changed the outcome? Probably not by much. But, why give up the option? Will complaining about a 2 man engine make things better? Would having extra hands on scene be better? I'm not starting/continuing "the fight", there is no one way or the other. It's an option. In someone's perfect world, every firefighter would be paid every engine would be staffed with at least 4. Yes, that would be better, no argument. But then again, the sky is not purple, the grass is not orange, and the real world is different. Push for more paid guys...yup. I hate the thought of 2 man engines. But if I were one of those 2 guys, I would like the help.

    Stay Safe.
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    Im not here to pick a fight either, but the fire service(Paid and Volunteer ..yes I said it) need to come up with some hard discision on staffing not the NFPA bull***** because everyone has different needs, its not a cookie cutter world. The city I come from has cut us back to the point of us operating like a suicide squads and the word volunteer has not even come up to supplement our staffing. I don't know what the answer is but there must be a compromise somewhere.
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