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    Question GOLDFEDER disses ID Tags....

    Am I missing something here? Did the ID tag sytem fall into disrepute while I was on vacation? Why would the safety-minded contributor at Firehouse.com dis the ID tag system? We use it with excellent results for scene and interior operations. Anyone else agree with the quote above? What are you using instead of ID tags?

    Goldfeder QUOTE
    "Accountability. Now, when I say accountability I am not talking about some rarely effective luggage tags that we pretend to track firefighters with. I am talking about personal accountability at the level of every member of any fire department to focus on making sure we don’t get hurt or killed."
    END Goldfeder QUOTE

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    I believe you are missing his point. Accountability as Chief Goldfeder is talking about in this commentary is seeing a brother or sister firefighter doing something unsafe and/or stupid and stopping them from doing it.

    As far as accountability tags, it is definitely better than no system at all. However, can you positively say where a given firefighter is operating at on the fireground based on a tag hanging in a rig or on a clipboard?
    Last edited by WTFD10; 05-25-2004 at 12:30 PM.
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    I got his broader point about accountability, which you repeated. My point, which 'you' may be missing, is in regard to his reference to ID tags as "pretending to keep track of firefighters", and only "rarely effective".

    Is the ID tag system foolproof? Of course not, what system can "guarantee" 100% accountability?? BUT - is the ID tag system a "pretend" system that is only "rarely effective" as Chief Goldfeder states?? I think when used diligently with effective IC, PAR's etc,it is a vastly superior safety tool than Chief Goldfeder does, and I think he should back up his statements and offer a scene accountability alternative when offering professional advice to FFs on the issue of safety.

    The best criticism includes a constructive alternative.

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    My department uses accountability tags" bt in truth they are no more than to tags to find out who got killed in collapse, explosion, or other misfortune. If the tag says nothing about where you are, what you are doing, and (most importantly) when you are due back, your system is no better.

    Even the best tag system is no substitute for a company officer who knows where his members are - with him (or her).
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    We find the 2-tag system effective for managing interior ops, knowing who is inside, when they entered, how many bottles they've been through, ensuring rehab. etc - all easily marked on the back of the tags and tracked by an officer at the door. We also use them for PAR.

    If you are using tags in this way, why do you consider them so useless? If you're not using ID tags in this way, what system do you use for keeping track of interior crews? If there is a better way to keep my crew safer, I'd be willing to learn about it and adapt! Thanks.

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    Sarcasim is used at times to make a point.

    "I am talking about personal accountability at the level of every member of any fire department to focus on making sure we don’t get hurt or killed"

    THIS IS THE POINT.

    We are all responsible for accountability. Making sure we stay with our crew, making sure others are being safe. No tag system in the world can do that. And many places assume that bvecause they are using tags, they are being accountable.

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    If you are using tags in this way, why do you consider them so useless?

    Nearly no one in the U.S. uses accountability tags that way.

    Britain has very effective entry control procedures; the use you outlined above approaches their entry control system.

    In most of the U.S. the tags are simply something used to meet a regulatory OSHA requirement and have zero effect on firefighter safety, their usefulness limited to giving a starting point to figure out how many bodies you need to account for afterwards.
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    All that a tag system does is tells you who is dead and whose wives and families you have to call while you search through the rubble to find the bodies. Nothing more. Finding out that somebody is dead 20 minutes after they go down isn't going to help anybody.

    If you really want to account for your firefighters, invest in radio-transmitting PASS and GPS accountability systems. And if you're looking for constructive criticism, Chief Goldfeder advocates those very things. Have you ever listened to him or spoken with him in person?

    Dog tag accountability systems are nothing more than a pat-on-the-back, warm fuzzy feeling for departments that aren't really doing anything to protect their firefighters. Radio transmitting PASS has been around for years - isn't it about time we do something about this?

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    Thumbs up "to focus on making sure we don’t get hurt or killed"

    I strongly agree with HFDCLanger and Dal90.

    This was posted under a recommended course of action following a LODD:
    Recommendation #5: Ensure that fire command always maintains close accountability for all personnel at the fire scene.
    Discussion: Accountability for all fire fighters at a fire scene is paramount, and one of fire command's most important duties. In this incident, accountability was not given the highest priority. After the collapse, it was not known who was trapped and exactly where they were located.
    I think this proves their point: all-too-often it's viewed as a reactive way to find out who's in deep *****, rather than being proactive from the get-go and preventing something bad from taking place.

    How about some definitions of accountability?

    Who What When Where Why How (5WH)?

    That's what I use at least, both at the company and incident level. I think it is fair to say there are at least a couple different levels of accountability: the company level and the incident level, for example. Maintaining crew integrity is a critical part of accountability at the company officer level. Knowing where Engine 3's crew is, what they are doing, when they started, when they're done, when a crew member is in trouble, where the crew is at all times, why they are doing it (re-evaluating incidents), and how the crew is accomplishing their task.

    So...labels, passports, tags, medallions, stickers, magnets, velcro'd nametags etc AD NAUSEUM... do these tell you 5WH? Let's get more advanced. Scott's GEMS, Grace Industries TPASS 3, quasi-avalanche-type beacons, etc... do these give you accountability?

    Personally, I feel that if you buy into any of the above and think "hey I just got myself a system of accountability," often you are operating under a dangerous assumption.

    What I consider to be components of accountability:

    - Use of ICS
    - Knowing and Tracking the 5WH of everyone from IC on down
    - PAR, Mayday, and Evacuation policies that are Drilled into the heads of all, and followed
    - Leaders that demand and enforce crew integrity
    - Good, effective, and timely communication between individuals, and between officers and command... whether in person or via radio
    - Monitoring incident progress using benchmarks, education, training, and of course, experience

    Now can you honestly say that any system of dog tags or GPS tracking devices can give you a GOOD and MEANINGFUL accountability system? Or does it take something IN ADDITION to these TOOLS?

    I didn't do any research on this as I'm running low on energy, so it's off the top of my head and probably not in an order that makes sense. And I'm probably missing a bunch of stuff.

    *After I posted this I went and read Chief Goldfeder's article... haha I wish I had beforehand, as it would've saved me some typing... the article really didn't pertain to a conventional view of accountability... more about being responsible and not doing questionable things. But that's still part of being accountable. And actually, his own clarification makes a great definition:
    "to focus on making sure we don’t get hurt or killed."
    Last edited by Resq14; 05-29-2004 at 02:34 AM.
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    I am not going to disagree that there are better ways out there, but unfortunately those "better" ways also involve a lot of $$$$$.

    Tag systems can work. They are not just post mortem id devices. The problem is that most dpeartments do not use them effectively. One reason for this.....lack of a dedicated accountability officer. Why is that? We tend to be too shorthanded.

    If your company officers keep track of their crews, and command keeps track of the companies(or accountabilty officer) the system can work.

    One question? With the GPS systems, can they tell height difference? Like if I am on the first floor and the missing guy is on floor 3.

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    GPS can indicate elevation... the receiver simply has to use technology to be able to calculate and display it.

    However, as I'm sure you're aware, there are still many issues:

    - Reception: hard inside a building. Newer units are getting better though.

    - Building Layout: while you can formulate a "heading" to a target firefighter based on where you are and where they are, things like walls and ceiling will always get in the way.

    - Accuracy: GPS technology is very accurate, especially those with differential computation or multichannel/parallel channel receivers. But still, even a few feet is enough to confuse which room or which floor. But, the technology to make these calculations at the end-user level is getting better all the time. USFA published a document on this stuff, but it's a little old these days.

    Granted, it's better than nothing. But until we have digitized layouts of all buildings in our area, and a system that can locate firefighters and place them within this digital world, I don't think we're any better off. Since you're not going to know exactly where people are inside a structure, I don't see what you're gaining except a homing beacon to find a body.

    (and I agree HFD... tags can work... it's just that I feel a tag is only a tool in an overall system of accountability, and that some feel it IS accountability. I think we're saying the same thing.)
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    Originally posted by Resq14
    (and I agree HFD... tags can work... it's just that I feel a tag is only a tool in an overall system of accountability, and that some feel it IS accountability. I think we're saying the same thing.)
    YUP!

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    Default re: Dissing of Tags

    Thanks for the various comments on "DIS" subject!

    ....When I talk about being accountable-I am talking about personal, individual accountabilty by the FF's and the officers. If there is a tag system, use it. If there is a passport system - use it. Heck-in a rural area I just visted they use a grease pencil on the window of the apparatus to track their personnel-whatever works!...but it's gotta be used!

    As far as I am concerned, the problem with the "hook on" ID tags (luggage style tags) is that they simply aren't used in many, many cases which is the real issue of all of us being accountable. And in the cases I have seen them used, in an emergency-they are very difficult to organize initially as well as to "at a glance" look at to see who is where. I recently witnessed a very well run working dwelling fire in NW Pa....they had multiple lines stretched, water on the fire quickly, good truck work, victims treated, 2 sources of water etc etc--but when their Safety Officer did a PAR-he was very frustrated and he said to me, and the IC-there has got to be a batter way. His frustration was all the tags hanging on their board-and no simple and easy way to use it when needed.

    I think the BEST system will be electronic (true tracking of "us" on the fireground with little human behavioral requirements) when it is invented-and many are in the works. Until then, I am a fan of the passport system that allows us to use simple Velcro and plastic to ID firefighters. The "hook on" luggage tags usually have blood types, family contacts, name of the FD and lost of other not-needed info-at least not needed immediately in an emergency. The Velcro "passport" system gives ya the name and what crew they are in-and where they were last assigned...and that should be all that is needed. The "passport" is then placed on a board that allows the AO or IC to "at a glance" see what crew is assigned to what task-and who is a part of the crew...no hands required! With the luggage tags, they have to be moved around, adjusted, turned over etc etc-which may not be the best use of our time in a mayday.

    To me the real issue is the organizational and personal discipline of our firefighters and officers, your firefighters or any firefighters USING the chosen system-ANY system..(but preferably one that is simple, easy and works when we need it)..that is really true "accountability"...until then, nothing will work. It (whatever ya use) must be used on every run no matter what so our use will become second nature. Tags, passports, grease pencils, riding assignments or whatever else ya use-I think it has to be real simple and give us the critical info we need-immediately....otherwise we have a problem. Also-no matter what the system, if the bosses don't enforce the policy of it always being used-none of this will matter. Just ask my pal Tino-THE Accountability Boss!

    Thanks,
    BillyG

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    Default Re: re: Dissing of Tags

    Originally posted by ChiefBillyG
    Until then, I am a fan of the passport system that allows us to use simple Velcro and plastic to ID firefighters. The "hook on" luggage tags usually have blood types, family contacts, name of the FD and lost of other not-needed info-at least not needed immediately in an emergency. The Velcro "passport" system gives ya the name and what crew they are in-and where they were last assigned...and that should be all that is needed. The "passport" is then placed on a board that allows the AO or IC to "at a glance" see what crew is assigned to what task-and who is a part of the crew...no hands required! With the luggage tags, they have to be moved around, adjusted, turned over etc etc-which may not be the best use of our time in a mayday.
    We use the velcro passport system and it works great, when it's used.......

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    Default Re: re: Dissing of Tags

    Originally posted by ChiefBillyG
    ....When I talk about being accountable
    And there you have it! Straight from the hawses mouth!

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    Default Re: re: Dissing of Tags

    Originally posted by ChiefBillyG
    Also-no matter what the system, if the bosses don't enforce the policy of it always being used-none of this will matter. Just ask my pal Tino-THE Accountability Boss!
    Tino is the bomb BillyG. He has helped me on numerous occasions with the whole accountability thing. For those interested Rapid Intervention Tino has more accountability than anyone I know.

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    The way most of us use tag systems, the best we can do is narrow down where a firefighter might be in a 1,000 to ???? square foot area.

    If you want the best accountability possible today, radio communication, a transmitting PASS are a must. If nothing else, you at least know the firefighter you cannot see or talk to is at least moving or not.

    If you want any chance of finding a downed firefighter in a hurry, then a system currently sold by Exit Technologies might do the trick. (Just heard about it, haven't seen it work yet, but trying to get one to try out.) Other systems are being developed that may be able to do real time tracking, but I imagine they're years away from reality, and a couple more years for cost.

    We have to take what BillyG says to heart. Remember IC training when it became the thing? What we learned was to use it on every call, even the piddly ones. Get used to using it and it'll be second nature when the big one rolls around. Same thing with accountability. Use it on the piddly calls and when the big ones roll around you'll be ready to go. Not only will command have a good handle on the system, but the line guys will too.
    Last edited by ScottCook; 06-09-2004 at 10:30 AM.
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    Good posts by all - thanks for sharing your thoughts directly, Chief.

    One clarification (I noticed this after re-reading my post): I did not mean to imply that radio transmitting PASS, GPS accountability, or any other 'new technology' will magically create an effective accountability system. Clearly the single most effective method of preventing firefighter LODDs is implementation of the type of 'accountability' that Chief Goldfeder and Resq14 talk about. My post was simply meant to compare the physical 'tools in our toolbox' - and note that as a tool, tag systems provide VERY little benefit when compared to other other systems that are on the market (some for many years).

    Are tag systems better than nothing? Well....slightly - when properly designed and implemented. Are they cheaper than these other systems I speak of? Most definitely! I just don't think that that is an excuse that should hold as much ground as it does when we are talking about the safety of our own firefighters.

    However, to paint a full picture, I should have also mentioned my support of the type of "personal, individual accountability" that Chief Goldfeder speaks of. THIS is clearly the MOST effective and cheapest (although perhaps not the easiest to implement) accountability system out there, with the potential to make the biggest impact on our firefighters' safety.
    Last edited by HFDCLanger; 06-09-2004 at 06:32 PM.

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    I just don't think this is a technology problem. At least not something were the money is well spent.

    Radio direction finding can help, but it's not 100%, and you'll still end up with the scenarios of confusion -- say somebody ditches their airpack to make an emergency bail.

    You're still in a situation of command confusion going, "Ok, I know we transported 1 FF by ambulance, but I still have a freaking alarm coming in from inside..." How fast can I take a PAR? How confident am I it's a false alarm from ditched equipment? At what point do I committ resources to a Search & Rescue for what may or may not be a FF down?

    Radio direction finding in environments with good visibility is excellent. It's good for finding bodies afterwards too. I'm just leary of it's value for rescue.

    Is this something that the money is better spent on other tools -- or perhaps different training?

    The British entry control procedures still allow aggressive attacks (probably more aggressive than many American departments when you compare size of line & length of time till next due units for the size of fire). But they build up and increase entry control and 2nd due units arrive.

    As I understand/recall it, 1st due Pump operator has the grease-pencil board initially -- including actual bottle readings. Never mind 10 and 20 minute PARS, they're figuring based on how much air you brought in. A FF from 2nd due piece takes over Entry Control, and on large incidents an officer becomes the E.C. Officer to supervise the access points.

    We can change our behaviors by repeated, effective training. I'm betting the money spent on technology of questionable worth would pay for a lot of training. Many airline trips over the pond included!

    Part of the issue certainly is training and not having it ingrained into us to be "automatic" on the accountability systems.

    The other issue is command/supervisory staff -- many of us recognize & complain of understaffing operational roles like advancing lines/venting/searching/etc. But we also by and large have a lack of supervisors to keep track of what's going on. Is it Pittsburgh that dedicates a company to being command aides? At the risk of heresy, would we be safer to train firefighters to keep track of what's going on and whose doing what (the Chief has way too much going on to remember it all, and also know what he said is actually what's going on) than on "RIT" training -- you know, actually improve command & control of the situation than have a force of questionable reactionary value.

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    I'm trying to remember where I read about the British system... it was recent, so I'm sure one of you knows where I saw it! I think I even read some type of Adobe Acrobat SOG/SOP or training bulletin, and I'm pulling my hair out because I can't find it again!!!

    Anyhow, I think Dal makes a great point about how they do things over there. I think it's safe to say that they are more serious about accountability than we are. And it's a pretty low-tech system.

    An inherent function of RIT should be proactive fireground safety measures, provided they won't suffer or hinder the team should RIT be activated. So yes, this might necessitate extra resources for incident command and control.

    On a semi-related note, I'm trying to locate a recent article by Chief Goldfeder (I'm pretty sure) that contained a letter concerning the rescue of a firefighter from a basement... I think it involved dropping a ladder down in. I read it a short while ago, and I'm not sure where... haha, you'd think these memory issues would hold off for at least a few more years! Any leads on this story would be appreciated!
    Last edited by Resq14; 06-20-2004 at 09:55 PM.
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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    Is it Pittsburgh that dedicates a company to being command aides?
    I know that California is big with having a company dedicated to accountability. If I remember right, its the 1st engine from the next alarm. They also started a system, and I am trying to remember where, where the dispatchers responded as part of a command aide/accoutabilty team. Thus freeing up companies for firefighting.

    The problem with any system is going to be the manpower to operate it. I am not trying to be overly negative, but I know in my place, one guy off the initial response could be one quarter of the manpower present.

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