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  1. #1
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    Default Volunteer Department & NFPA

    Hello,

    My volunteer department which I have been a proud member of for 5 years has gotten motionless. Nothing is getting done & I am looking for a way to make a wave or a typhone. For instance our ground ladders have never been tested after purchase. I have read a lot of NFPA guidelines and brought them up but every time I get the same thing, "we are just a volunteer department, so we don't have to follow NFPA". The chief and board of directors have been led to believe that volunteers don't have to comply with any standrds, NFPA, NIOSH & even OSHA. Can anybody help me?

    Bryan
    lfd433@msn.com


  2. #2
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    First that is ALL total BS !!!!!!!! every attempt should be made to follow these standards, as in your instance.......a fire ladder doesnt know wether it is on a Volly, POC or fulltime dept now does it ? It can be hard to follow all the standards , that I agree with but it should be the vision of your department to make an attempt because if that ladder fails , guess whose rear is in a sling ? Does the Chief there think that since he is a Volly Chief that he cant get sued ? I hope that someone (or even yourself) can do some looking , check with neighboring departments and get a GOOD copy of the NFPA standards.......I wish you luck and pray nothing bad happens to you.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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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

  3. #3
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Default

    normally I would edit my post ...........but have your BOD and Chief check out an incident about a little town in NY called Lairdsville.......If that wont wake them up then GOD speed my friend
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    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

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber Duffman's Avatar
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    Default

    There is a potential solution to your problem. If you are prepared to take your issue public, you may find the chief might come around.

    I know that it isn't always wise to "air dirty laundry", but if you really feel the public and the firefighters are at risk because of the inaction of your department it may be the right thing to do.

    Even the smallest communities have some sort of local newspaper. A letter to the editor might be a start.
    "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."

    IACOJ

  5. #5
    Forum Member Smoke20286's Avatar
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    Default

    It is my understanding that no one HAS to follow NFPA standards, however, if something goes wrong and you wind up in court, the bottom line is that NFPA is the "accepted industry standard" It could be that a Dept or municipality that is not making at least an effort to reach those standards could be found negligent. Often municipalities use risk managment in this matter, How big is your ept? How big is your reponse area. How likely are you to have a big incident in the near future. Your civic leaders are just rolling the dice.
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    Default Hoo Boy!

    Here we go again.
    lfd433:
    First of all, you are not required to follow NFPA standards unless your state has adopted them as law. Josh might know something about that. BUT, if your department goes in to a court of law, NFPA WILL BE THE STANDARD USED FOR GUIDANCE TO DETERMINE IF PROCEDURES WERE NOT FOLLOWED.
    You don't even have to follow OSHA federal regulations unless you want a whole world of hurt to come down on your department. You can ignore and violate OSHA laws without any problems....until there's a problem.
    You are an employee of your fire department. The OSHA Act of 1970 says that every employee is entitled to a safe and healthful workplace "free of recognizable hazards". Known hazards must be corrected or the employer can be cited for a willfully negligent act.
    So, though you may not be required to follow NFPA, you are required to follow OSHA. If you are an OSHA state, they are a little different. Your laws may come at the hands of your state department of labor. Also know that OSHA is MINIMUM requirements.
    What I would suggest is slapping a copy of the regs into their hands, ask them for permission to get costs on ladder testing, find out if anyone around you is testing ladders and piggy back your ladders with them to get a better price. We partner with Galesburg and other departments with a company who comes in, tests all of your ladders and give you the price break, because they are doing a bang up business and only have to go to ONE fire station to do it. Win-win.
    Good luck. I agree with Duffman though. If you don't get their attention, the public has a right to know.
    CR
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    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
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  7. #7
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    Default

    "we are just a volunteer department, so we don't have to follow NFPA".
    Have your Chief and Directors look at this:

    NFPA 1720: Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments, 2001 Edition

    This all-new document addresses organization and deployment standards for initial attack structural fire suppression capabilities in volunteer fire departments. NFPA 1720 also provides guidance for those volunteer departments that provide emergency medical services and special operations. (Approx. 14 pp., 2001)
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

  8. #8
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default

    You are an employee of your fire department. The OSHA Act of 1970 says that every employee is entitled to a safe and healthful workplace "free of recognizable hazards".

    Arguing with lawyers...is their anything more fun What Art (CR) is forgetting that the Fed OSHA act doesn't apply to State or Municipal employees, which many volunteers are considered to be, unless that state adopts a "State-OSHA Plan." Incorporated fire departments may fall into a gray area -- if most of their funds come from tax money though, I'd suspect a good attorney could successfully claim they fall under the municipal exemption -- using the same philosphy that in my state considers fire companies "public agencies" and requires their meetings and books be opened at least to the extent of showing any tax-derived funds involved.

    Even in FedOSHA states, you *may* have state labor laws that apply. Florida, for example, is a FedOSHA state but on a state level has adopted it's own variation of 2in/2out. Since FL is a FedOSHA state, they could adopt state/municipal labor laws that aren't as strict as FedOSHA. A state that becomes a StateOSHA state *must* have regulations at least as strict as FedOSHA.

    Now, beyond whether or not you're under a regulatory requirement to follow OSHA or NFPA or some state labor law standards, you also have the general liability issues involved.

    Weruj mentioned Lairdsville. Firefighter Golden was not killed in Lairdsville because NFPA Standards weren't followed -- he was killed due to reckless behavior and general apathy.

    Even if you're in a department that operates under some weak state labor laws, a blanket rejection of NFPA standards might be apathetic, and it's that attitude that'll land you in court where what you were doing is being questioned. Statements like lfd433's raise that red flag. It may be a red herring, but it also may be a red flag but that's not something we know over the internet.

    There are very few of us who have, in life, lived in perfect compliance with all the laws & regulations that apply. Sometimes we have to balance conflicting laws with common sense. Yes there is something called common sense -- in the eyes of the law it's called the "reasonable man." And it's also true you can often get away with violating the law -- speed as much as you like, just don't get caught.

    You know there's industry standards out there that recommend the annual testing of ladders.

    You know there isn't a regulatory requirement mandating you follow it.

    You look at your budget. You know, we're a small, rural department and we simply can't afford to test every ladder, every year. This isn't a question whether we get rid of the broadband internet access at the firehouse, this is a fundamental budget decision if we buy a needed set of bunker gear for an interior guy (a big safety item), or keep the electricty turned on (a required operational issue), vs. testing every ladder.

    But we could afford to test half our ladders each year, and we made the effort to attend a county-wide or area-wide ladder testing program to get the most bang for our buck.

    Are you in compliance with NFPA Standards by testing only half your ladders each year? Nope.

    You may not even be in compliance with applicable labor regulations, and subject to fines because of that.

    But you know what? If you got sued, you're in a far better position to defend yourself legally showing you where aware of the regulations and made reasonable trade-offs to be in as great of compliance as was was reasonable and practically possible. Have department policies/memos/etc that show you're aware of the standards and trying to comply? Your defense attorney will appreciate it since it at least gives him at least a leg to stand on even if the stool is still wobbly, and the plaintiffs/prosecuters will probably be much more willing to settle quickly.

    You'd also be in the moral position of knowing you made your best effort to follow industry standards -- you didn't hurt a guy because you weren't required to test ladders so you used the money to buy a new TV, Coffeemaker, and Pool Table instead last year. And a plaintiff/prosecutor looking at your expenses last year and finding stuff like that while ladder testing went ignored...well, frankly it's best said as "bend over, grab ankles..." -- a rightfully so.

    Failure to follow OSHA/NFPA/Whatever doesn't kill firefighters. Apathy kills firefighters. Stupidity above & beyond reason kills firefighters. Stubborness kills firefighters. If your not trying to follow standards due to apathy/stupidity/stubborness (***), then red flags should be flying all over the place. 'Cause that same *** attitude is probably not limited to just the regulations, and probably affects all aspects of your operations. And that's where it becomes dangerous.

    Matt
    (I guess I'm officially back from vacation with a post that long!)

  9. #9
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Default

    CR,
    Ohio has not adopted the NFPA as law but as you stated it is certainly the standard for which we are measured. Moe great post as well ......... lfd are you getting this ?
    Last edited by Weruj1; 09-01-2003 at 09:42 PM.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    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

  10. #10
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    Default

    You might also introduce your fire dept "leadership" (and local government) to the ISO standards. Also not "law" but the industry standards of performance (minimums) expected of a fire dept. The ability of the fire dept (and water department) to perform to ISO standards is directly related to the cost of insurance for the citizens that pay the taxes that fund government and the fire dept.

    Discuss trivial things like; pumper capability, test and capacity; hose tests and availablity; training; water requirement and supply; etc etc etc.

    read up at www.isomitigation.com and www.isoslayer.com

  11. #11
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default ^

    This is an important topic so I am moving it back to the top. It is so important that everyone "get it" when it comes to rules, regulations and standards. You can chose to follow them or chose to ignore them. All will be smoothe until the proverbial "poop' hits the fan and someone is injured or dies.

    ChiefReason and Dalmation90 sum it up very well!
    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.

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