1. #1
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Posts
    268

    Default questioning authority

    I responded to a mobile home fire about 3 weeks ago with my department. Since Iím a jr. firefighter I wasnít involved in the actual firefighting instead I was pulling hose (which I was okay with.) While still on scene one of the chiefs came up to me and told me to watch the pump panel on the engine and to shut the tanker off when the pump panel on the engine indicated that the tank was full. Like I said before I am a jr. firefighter and am unable to become an operator. I was told by some of the other firefighters in my dept. a few days later that I shouldn't have done that. My reply was that I had always been taught by my father (who is a career ff) to never question authority on the scene of any emergency. They said that doesnít matter next time I shouldnít do it. The guys that were telling me this were not officers they were operators. What should I do if this situation faces me again??? Thanks in advance for your input.
    LADIES LOVE ME.
    FLAMES FEAR ME.

    "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THIS FLAG, IF THAT BOTHERS YOU WELL THATS TOO BAD!" AARON TIPPIN

    If you wish to burn our flag please remember to wrap yourself in it first!!!

    ALL SOUTHERNERS ARE EXEMPT FROM ANY AND ALL OF MY YANKEE COMMENTS ON ANY AND ALL FORUMS.

    THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Generally speaking, in a para-military organization, you DON'T question authority, unless you are given an unlawful order. It seems to me that it was clearly happened in this case. If an incident occurred and you were unable to react because you were untrained, it is true that the orher FF would have been hanging. But I operate on the theory that stuff rolls down hill. You would be fried. Tell the guy to go to hell and let him try to explain to the Chief why yo should be in trouble.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    explr985's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    the other end of all that LDH...........
    Posts
    791

    Default

    Have you ever worked a pump panel before? If not I would tell the person who told you to watch it that you are uncomfortable doing so. I would'nt have done it because I have never worked one before.
    No longer an explorer, but I didn't wanna lose my posts.

    IACOJ 2003

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    3,120

    Default

    Should you be operating a pump panel? No.

    Is that the same as operating a tank-fill valve? No.

    The guy running the tanker pumping into you can't tell easily when you're full (unless you have big lights on the side!). What's the alternative for the Chief? Have a young buck shut down the tank fill when the lights say it's full and open it again when they go down...or have water overflow the tank and be wasted on the ground?

    Not all trucks are designed well. I've gotten this task before on a truck with rear tank fills...and a center mounted pump panel! With the pump operator tethered in with his headset and a nice "view" of the scene, he couldn't control his rate of intake. And the supplying tanker was 200' down the driveway, so their pump operator couldn't see if the tank was overflowing either.

    Drafting from your own tank, with the tank being refilled by other trucks, is a pretty reliable operation 'cause your not at the mercy of a sudden drop in hydrant pressure or loss of a laid line causing your pump cavitate. But you do need a set of eyes that can open & close a valve to the pretty colored lights, and enough brains to go and tap the Chief on the shoulder if you're down to half a tank and the supply line is still limp.

    I wouldn't worry about it much. Chief told you to, you weren't running anything that could've endangered anyone. You were just shutting off the tank fill when full, and as long as you had brains enough to open it back up when you could take more water and tell an officer if you got concerned 'cause you didn't have any one pumping water to you and you're getting low, there really isn't any way shape or form you endangered anyone.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Wheaton IL
    Posts
    1,767

    Default

    On the fireground you should follow orders as long as you know how to do the task you are being asked to preform. I would have no problem telling one of my explorers that when water dumps out the bottom of the rig push in this handle.
    If you don't feel comfortable tell the officer that you don't feel comfortable, I'm sure he would understand.
    As for the other guys telling you that you have no business touching the pump pannel, that is just bull. Every incident, every minute at the firehouse should be a learning experience for you at this point.
    Where was the rig's chauffer? If it is so important that an operator work the rig then where was he?
    You weren't asked to drive, or pump while guys were on the line or something similar then I'd say their was a problem. Who better to judge what you should and should not do then one of your own chiefs. Tell the guys to take it up with the chief that gave you the order.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ChiefReason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
    Posts
    5,636

    Default This one's easy.

    Matt:
    Doing what the pump operators tells you to is wrong.
    Doing what the chief tells you to is right.
    Here's the difference; if a pump operator tells you to do something and something goes wrong, you are going to get the blame.
    If a chief tells you to do something, right or wrong, he will take the responsibility for it. He's a chief and that's what chiefs do.
    You don't see the chief pulling any pranks on you, do you? No. That's because he tends to the serious stuff. Throwing salt in your bed or filling a manila envelope with shaving cream, sliding it under the bathroom door while someone is taking their daily and jumping on it is, quite frankly, for guys like pump operators.
    You need to know who your friends are and the chief is definitely your friend. Need to borrow money? See the chief. Want to switch duty days so you can go see the opening of E.T. II? Chief is there for you. I see a strong bond developing between you and the chief.
    And let's face it; he told you to watch the pump panel. He never told you to touch anything.
    I see no harm done here. You've got a good chief. Tell him I said so!
    Take care and stay safe.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  7. #7
    District Chief
    distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post

    I will concur with Chief Reason, however, I would say that an appropriate response would be this: "Chief, I will do this but are you aware that as a junior I have not been trained in this operation.?" Then, at least you have made him aware of the fact that you are not properly trained. That is not questioning authority. It goes back to the philosophy that you should not be doing something you are not properly trained in. Operate within your level of training.
    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.

  8. #8
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    S.E. Idaho
    Posts
    915

    Default

    I agree with comments posted above. You shouldn't question authority on an incident, unless it is something you don't know how to do, don't feel comfortable doing or puts your safety at risk.
    This being said... Are you qualified to shut a valve off when the water tank is full? Have you ever filled your bathtub? Do you know how to shut off a valve? It isn't like you were calculating flows.
    If you were in my company, as a supervisor, I would only ask you to do things that I am confident you know how to accomplish. I wouldn't ask you to do anything that puts you in harms way. I wouldn't ask you to do anything that put any of the Brothers in harms way.
    Stick with the Chief, he won't lead you astray. But the Engineers & Firefighers are another story....

    *Mark
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

  9. #9
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Posts
    268

    Default

    Thanks for all the input yall. Chief Reason I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on the subject but I was told to throttle down the engine and stop the flow of water from the tanker to the pumper after watching the panel show that the tank was full. Like yall said he is the chief and he wouldnít lead me astray. Im not saying that yall are accusing me of questioning his authority (because I haven't interpreted any accusing in your replies), but I didnít question his authority at the scene or even after I was just asking this question just incase. I did feel that I was capable of doing what I was asked to do but the operators were saying that if something had happened to the truck while I was "operating" it I would have been held accountable even though I was told to do it by one of the Asst. Chiefs. When I told them that the Asst. Chief told me to do it they said that didnít matter so I was just curious on yall's opinions on the subject. Anyway thanks for the input and if you would like keep it coming.
    LADIES LOVE ME.
    FLAMES FEAR ME.

    "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THIS FLAG, IF THAT BOTHERS YOU WELL THATS TOO BAD!" AARON TIPPIN

    If you wish to burn our flag please remember to wrap yourself in it first!!!

    ALL SOUTHERNERS ARE EXEMPT FROM ANY AND ALL OF MY YANKEE COMMENTS ON ANY AND ALL FORUMS.

    THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,744

    Default

    And in the name of next time...there is always a next time...have you talked with the Chief about it? Maybe he wasn't aware you were not trained, maybe he was and thought you could handle it.

    A little different perspective on the "other guys", giving them the benefit of the doubt, they too are looking out for you, making sure you don't get in over your head and also making sure they don't get hurt in the process.

    You need to weigh everything said and form your own opinions too. Yes, if the Chief tells you to it is his responsibilty, but you have to work and get along with the others too.

    Ideally you should never be put in a position where you are asked to do something you have never done, or are not qualified to do. My guess is that the Chief felt comfortable asking you to handle this task....so handle it.

    Dave

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    540

    Default

    Hey buddy, I agree listen to the man with the most bugles.
    He is the one you have to worry about.

    Here is another situation for you.

    Extrication on the border of two cities, both cities dispatched and arrive at the same time.

    I am working the door, my captain tells me to back out and to cut the hinge, the firefighter from the other department is telling me to spread it (which I agreed with), who do you listen to?

    After I get some replies I will tell you the answer I was told.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,703

    Default

    MikeF25, if I'm using my tools, I listen to my Captain. It's up to the Captain to determine whether he is IC or they are IC.

  13. #13
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    105

    Default Oh dear

    I have been taught to tell your officer whether or not you are comfortable with the tasks that he or she gives you. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PERFORM A DUTY, SAY SO!! Whether it's the chief or not, if you aren't sure what you have to do, speak up so somebody can help you. That's what we're here for.

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    ThNozzleman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Jefferson City, TN
    Posts
    4,339

    Default

    Monitoring a level indicator is a far cry from operating a pump with multiple handlines in operation on a working fire, especially if they are operating inside of a structure. Sounds like it was a straight forward order that wasn't that complicated and shouldn't be a problem. Oh, yeah; I think you should revise your signature...it's very inflammatory and I assure you, flames do NOT fear you. Just some friendly advice.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    raven911's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Southern New Mexico
    Posts
    320

    Default

    A little Strategic Tactfulness goes a long way. It is a skill you must learn to survive in the fire world. CapStanm1 and ChiefReason both hit the nail on the head.
    IACOJ Military Division
    NM Office
    ------------------------------------
    "There are three kinds of men: The ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

  16. #16
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    ST.PETERSBURG,FL,USA
    Posts
    202

    Default

    Hey newguy, just a thought... maybe this was a test, and only a test, at no time would you have been held responsible.

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    PA, USA
    Posts
    71

    Default

    He is the chief and probrably for good reason. He was maximizing his resources and he knew the training level of his men-therefore knew that you were capable of doing it. And a rule of thumb-unless something puts you in danger-work now grieve later. If you dont feel comfortable doing what you did-then talk to him but the bottom line is you got it done and your chief either made a good decision or got lucky. So just tell the "operators" that you were following orders.

  18. #18
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    S.E. Idaho
    Posts
    915

    Default

    Originally posted by MikeF25
    I am working the door, my captain tells me to back out and to cut the hinge, the firefighter from the other department is telling me to spread it (which I agreed with), who do you listen to?
    As taboo as it is... the Captain isn't always right!

    If I'm the one operating the tool, I'm going to cut it my way. There is more then one way to do everything, and I'll take thier advice & suggestions, but then accomplish the task in the most effective, patient oriented manner possible.

    *Mark
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

  19. #19
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    540

    Default

    Ok, well I backed out and let the next guy in with the cutters. The door was ripping pretty good, but I could have popped it. The guy with the cutters wasn't as expperianced as me and he got part of the door and it basically bent the metal back to how it was before I started. I tried to spread it again and my tips were a little too thick to get a good bite, and being the other department had a little smaller tool they got in and popped the door.

    Afterwards I asked my chief how I should have handled it. His reply was listen to the guy at the door, he is closer and can see what is going on better.

    I just wonder if his answer would be the same if he was the one telling me to back out and I didn't.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    ThNozzleman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Jefferson City, TN
    Posts
    4,339

    Default

    If a Captain tells you to do something, you'd best do it just like they said. He/she may know something you don't know. Freelancing can get you hurt and, perhaps, fired.

  21. #21
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    105

    Default

    When responding to a call, the officer of the truck assigns the roles of attack and hydrant to the firefighters before we leave the hall. The officer makes darn sure that we are all comfortable with our positions. On scene, if we're assigned a task that we aren't sure about, the officer will make sure that someone helps us. That way, we learn how to do the job properly and safely, and the officer can be assured that it will get done. Peace of mind, you know?

  22. #22
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ChiefReason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
    Posts
    5,636

    Default Call me crazy, but.....

    On scene, if we're assigned a task that we aren't sure about, the officer will make sure that someone helps us. That way, we learn how to do the job properly and safely, and the officer can be assured that it will get done. Peace of mind, you know?
    Call me crazy, but I would want to work on "function and form" during training exercises and NOT at the fireground or the scene of an MVA. Since we work in an environment where seconds do count, on-the-job training should be limited to a bare necessity. Training is "show time", but response is "go time". Once the incident has been mitigated, training can resume in the de-briefing.
    Sorry, but for me, when I tell someone to do something at a scene, they'd better know how to do it, because they have been trained to do it. Officers are there as an extension of the Incident Command. And they are assuring that it is GETTING DONE.
    Peace of mind? Yeah. Mine.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  23. #23
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    105

    Default not crazy...well...not THAT crazy

    That's a good point, ChiefReason. I guess what I mean is that if someone tells you to go and shut off a pump or whatever, and you don't know what to do, you should ask for help. Everybody is at different training levels and experience levels on our deparment, so people are constantly learning new skills through training and on scene. I don't know other departments do things, so I'm sure there's many, many different ways that things get done. And I'm sure they all work just as well.

  24. #24
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ullrichk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Deleted by the forum gremlins
    Posts
    1,663

    Post A general comment on questioning authority

    Some excellent points have already been made.

    Under most circumstances I would agree that you should always follow orders on the fireground.

    A good discussion of when and how to refuse an order (for cause) was outlined in a series of articles in Firehouse Magazine. Do a search for "crew resource management" on this site and you'll find them.

    The reader's digest of the Cliff's Notes version of the article is that the aviation industry discovered that pilots (Incident Commanders) are not infallible, and that crew members had damn well better speak up if something's amiss, irrespective of rank.

    It was a well-written series and is definitely worth reading.
    ullrichk
    a.k.a.
    perfesser

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register