1. #26
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    You guys have all hit the nail on the head in a lot of different areas. The most important thing I see from all of this is that there is no one single answer to any of the problems and issues that the American fire service has before it in today's world.

    We certainly need to stress fire prevention efforts more, but at the same time we also need to ensure that the safety of our responders is not neglected or put aside in favor of prevention efforts.
    We need to see a return to training on the "basics" of firefighting, but at the same time we must prepare for the new scenarios that our 21st century world presents.
    We deserve better staffing on our crews and shifts, but we also need to learn how to use our personnel more effectively and to make sure that they know what their job is and isn't.
    And we do need change at the upper levels -- but we all have an individual responsibility to change our own lifestyles, our own actions, and our influence on those around us.

    It's not that any of these tasks are particularly difficult on their own, but rather that jurisdictions, departments and firefighters are frequently stuck with finding some compromise between this and that. And in doing so our effectiveness, our safety and our strengths are often compromised. Are there easy answers when we're stuck with choosing between the lesser of two evils? Rarely so.

    Those sixteen points are all good ones, but I wager that any group of fire service personnel anywhere in this country could've come up with them -- despite our differences, we all seem to face some of the same problems. The solutions, however, are not so easily noted.
    And will what works for FDNY work in rural Alabama? Sometimes, but not always. Do the answers for Maryland also do the job in Colorado? Yes and no.

    Just some observations -- didn't mean to ramble on too much. This is, as noted, a really good discussion and I've enjoyed reading it and considering the points that each of you has mentioned.

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    Good topic Dave and some great replies.

    I feel a large part of our problem is the lack of realistic live fire training. Even large city departments are going to fewer and fewer fires, but those of us in small volunteer departments may only go to an actual working fire once every two to three years. In this business, experience is definitely the best teacher. When experience is few and far between, we need realistic, quality training to enhance our skills. If most of the people in your department have very little experience with an actual hot burning fire, how can they be expected to recognize signs of flashover, structural instability, etc. They're going to end up all bunched up on the nozzle trying to get up front to see the fire.

    Yet all of the hoops needed to jump through to get EPA permits, etc. just for a flashover trailer, let alone burning in an acquired structure makes it very tough for many departments to do this training, especially volunteer departments that don't have the personnel to devote hours to the paperwork and phone calls to get the permits. It would be good to see the USFA make it a priority to streamline the process for getting permits for live fire training.

    Aside from that, we (especially small volunteer departments like mine) need to spend more time drilling on the fundamentals like stretching hose, etc. It was a multitude of "little" mistakes that ended up killing a brother in Cincinnatti.
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    Originally posted by whflhff
    hfd66truck,

    I find it interesting that the first topic on the list is about changing the culture, I think the authors realize what the hardest change will be too.

    Bill.

    PS This is a great thread/topic. Anybody want to bet on how few responses it gets?
    Its not that the authors, which were working groups at the LODD Summit and a follow up meeting in Phoenix, thought culture would be the hardest to change. It is the one thing that each of the five working groups came up with. Across the board, wildland and structural, the culture needs to be changed. Yes, it will be hard.

    On the subject of fire prevention. No one will disagree that more needs to be done there. But the focus of the LODD summit and the 16 initiatives is to reduce LODD's when we do have to roll out the door.

    At the Opening of the summit the facilitator made it clear, "We know what is killing firefighters, our mission is to identify ways to reduce those deaths.

    And almost everyone there agreed, we will probably never get to zero.

    If were could just get the seat belt issue and apparatus crashes under control we would be off to a good start.

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    Random thoughts:

    1. The cultural change may start a the top, but remember one thing: THE TOP AIN'T DYING! Its a change that must be demanded and expected by the bottom. (And continues with the bottom taking off their stupid t-shirts and taking off the light bars-seriously).

    2. We will never know if we can experience a zero death rate UNLESS WE TRY!

    3. I have said a bazillion times that fire prevention could be the one tangible thing that we could improve that would make a dramatic and immediate impact on fire loss and fire deaths. To repeat myself: fire prevention is treated as a punishment, or a pasture to stick the old guys, or as an affirmative action vehicle by most departments. The result is a bureau staffed by people who either don'tr want to be there or don't care. There are so few departments, especially volunteer departments that have aggressive, accountable FPB's that it is sickening. You could give out those stupid Fire Act Grants for 100 years and not save one life. If you put that money to the sole use of improving fire prevention, and then making the departments that recieved the money accountable for action, in three years you would so dramatically reduce fire loss that we wouldn't know what hit us. BTW< the USFA already has the framework in place to target the areas where the effort would do the most good.

    4. We should treat fire prevention as a respectable career track.

    5. You can be aggressive and smart at the same time.

    6. The culture MUST be that we will expect nothing less than 100% accountability from every person on the fire scene-from the Commish right down to the hydrant man. It is everyone's job to make sure that everyone goes home in substantially the same condition as they arrived in.

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    Random thoughts from an insomaniac:

    Carelessness. It doesn't cost anything to think about what we're doing.

    Money isn't the big obstacle -- many good departments started off on shoestrings and found the training. Paper and photocopiers are pretty cheap these days.

    Attitudes, in some areas, are slowly (maybe glacially) changing. Our "Signal 50s" (Fires) are down by 50% in the last three years. That ain't fire prevention (sorry George) -- it's our dispatch center re-classifying things over to a "Signal 64" which is an inspection for a (possible) hazard. When they say "64" it's a no lights or sirens response unless further information comes to upgrade it. As of July 1 we've gone to Priority 1 (emergency) and Priority 2 (non-emergency) categorization of medical calls regionwide (spent a while at officers' meeting tonight discussing what that all means to us -- basically if dispatch says Priority 2, unless they or someone on scene says to upgrade, we go with normal flow of traffic -- period.) This ain't a bottom up culture change but at least it's the dispatchers pushing down more formally what calls we should run "hot" too.

    It's all about the basics. When you come down to it, basic structural firefighting ain't that difficult. We muddy it up with a bunch of colored vests and radios and more equipment than what we know what to do with sometimes. And then we forget about while we're going to haz-mat class and pathogens class and learning the latest way to slide someone down a ladder. Firefighting's not that hard, it does require basic leadership, and it requires teamwork. Some of the city boys can go more on "auto-pilot" than some of country kids but the principles remain the same -- what's burning, where is it, who or what is most threatened by it, where should the hose go, and how do I vent to support the fire attack. There's a lot of NIOSH reports, read the narratives. The findings are usually fluffy junk, the narratives are where you draw the mental picture of firefighters who never figured out where the fire was burning, or the only vent for the fire was the front door they came in, or were complete keystone cops on the fireground.
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    Between the years 1979 and 2002 there were over 180 firefighter fatalities due to structural collapse, not including those firefighters lost in 2001 in the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. Structural collapse is an insidious problem within the fire fighting community. It often occurs without warning and can easily cause multiple fatalities.
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    Ok, so everyone admits that Prevention is an area that needs work. Training also. But what about this Cultural Change? From the very core of what we are about.

    Are the authors saying that we shouldn't fight interior fires?

    Are they saying that interior ops should only begin when a bizillion(nice word George) firefighters are there?

    Imagine what a new recruit would be trained like under this change. What would be his focus? Could he expect days of Company level Fire Prevention duty, patrol style, like the PD? Hmm, maybe MANDATORY recertification training, like in EMS or Law Enforcement, on the basic duties of his job. Combined of course with training in the "new stuff".

    George is right, Fire Prevention is either a retirement home, jail cell, or choice left for the guy with the short straw. Maybe a solution is to hire "non-fire" personnel for code enforcement and inspections. Hire people with talents in areas of Public Speaking, Engineering, with great attention to detail. Then these people would be "suited" for the job. Lets face it; it hard to take someone used to the stress and excitement and challenge of suppression, assign them to Prevention, and expect them to excell.

    Great discussion so far, but there are about 20,000 more members that must have something to say.

    ED -
    Keep on keeping on Brother...I wouldn't expect anything less.

    I made the pledge, you guys can do whatever ou like. But if we focus our time on this, who knows..maybe we will figure out a way to make it work. At least we will have increased everyones awareness of the problems - and thoughts about what the brothers and sisters talked about at the summit.

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    LODD SUMMIT

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    c) 2004 Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., L.L.C., By permission of Harry R. Carter, Ph.D.

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    Originally posted by whflhff

    On topic, I just donít understand why we have such a flawed FF culture.

    I find it interesting that the first topic on the list is about changing the culture, I think the authors realize what the hardest change will be too.

    I think it is tradition that holds us back in many ways. Go ahead, blast at me but thats my opinion.

    It might be a cold hearted thing to say, but the culture and tradition IMO are changing as the older Firefighter leave or retire. There has been a lot of change and the rebelious nature of the Gen XYZ results in their rejecting of some of the old ways and adopting new ways quicker, IE technology, tatics, etc...

    It just takes time and new people with new attitudes.
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    Maybe a solution is to hire "non-fire" personnel for code enforcement and inspections. Hire people with talents in areas of Public Speaking, Engineering, with great attention to detail. Then these people would be "suited" for the job. Lets face it; it hard to take someone used to the stress and excitement and challenge of suppression, assign them to Prevention, and expect them to excell.
    I absolutely could not disagree more with this comment. That is the whole cultural issue in a nutshell!!! Look at your job description, fire prevention is YOU! I have been a career firefighter in an industrial setting for 20 years, fires are an EVENT, when they happen its because the Fire Department failed. We don't let fires happen, we spend our day making inspections and testing systems. Obviously the municipal department can't test systems. Want a culture change? Get the apparatus on the street all day doing inspections. Spend the remaining time training, if your working 24's.. time after 2100 is yours. Maybe then, when we start to show a productive workday in the face of declining fire duty can we stop sending fire apparatus on every single EMS run so we can have something to do. Insist on doing ALL of our job and shut off the TV.

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    Samson, maybe things will improve as us "dinosaurs" move on, but from my experience the "Gen xyz" crew has their own set of issues. The fire service "culture" problem is not simply a result of adherence to tradition or resistance to change. Many of the "kids" in my company have no concept of team work, no desire to do their part in restocking or maintaining the equipment, and very little desire to train. Those attitudes have to be changed as well if we're serious about safety and doing the job correctly. These problems aren't about tradition or lack thereof. They are grounded in attitudes.
    Last edited by CJMinick390; 07-09-2004 at 11:29 AM.
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    Early detection, coupled with automatic fire sprinkler protection, can do more in the first few minutes of a fire emergency to safeguard lives and property than can a prompt response by the local fire department.
    I quoted this from FFFred. Go through FH.com news stories and see how many FIRE DEPARTMENTS are not following this simple logic of having detectors and/or suppression systems. We set the example for fire safety. Unfortunately, you hear way more often about our BAD EXAMPLES than you ever do on the good ones.

    The change needs to start from within. Every FF, from rookie on up to Chief, needs to start being accountable for their own decisions, safety, behavior, etc.

    The Fire Service needs to stop being it's own worst enemy.

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    Hmm, maybe MANDATORY recertification training

    I believe the beginnings of that is in the pipeline. What I've heard is Connecticut is looking at doing that starting with the Fire Service Instructors themselves -- eventually I think you will see some kind of mandatory refresher/continuing education to keep your Firefighter I/II, Instructor, and Officer certs.
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    Samson,

    You can have your opinion but I feel it is greatly misguided.

    Exactly what is wrong with tradition? Tradition is the the passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.

    A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage.
    A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners.
    A time-honored practice or set of such practices.

    What is wrong with the senior man in the company having the final say on house issues. What is wrong with jonnies stepping up to work for a senior man on Christmas.

    I get a feeling many of you denounce tradition without really having a clue about what you are talking about.

    I gaurantee every one of your depts has a tradition... whether it is
    cooking breakfast every Saturday as a company...or giving the Chauffuers seat to the senior man, or the method in which you decide who is to wash the dishes. The social culture of your dept, that is all tradition.

    As far a your comments that you are waiting for all the old guys to die off so you can re-write the book on firefighting...that is the most foolish thing you could say or think.

    In my dept one could consider it traditional that the roofman Always makes the roof and nothing shall deter him from this duty. In my Engine the Senior man in Groups usually gets the knob for that tour. The officers in my dept are the 1st ones in and the last ones out by tradition. We don't give the knob to anyone, not another Engine, Truckie, Rescue Anyone...If we are to back out...we don't leave until all the Truckies and Rescue guys are below the fire floor...it is a matter of Company pride...that is tradition.

    Much of what is now written down in procedural manuals was at one time passed down orally from the senior men to the junior men who in turn passed it on when they became senior. Much of what I learn from the senior men in my house isn't in any book and it is passed down orally from senior man to junior man...time and time again.

    Experince is what makes up tradition.

    Who am I to say...that isn't how you force a bulkhead door (ooops BOU I shouldn't have used a maritime term!) Or the senior man tells me this is the best and most reliable way to remove a window and VES.... or this is how you determine if you can perform a well hole stretch.

    Perhaps the reason many of your younger members are more apt to try other methods is because they are arogant enough to think in their short time that they know as much as the senior men. Perhaps when they get older they'll realize that the easiest and most profiicent way at xyz task was to do it the way the old guys said it should be done.

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    Last edited by FFFRED; 07-09-2004 at 12:14 PM.

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    Originally posted by CJMinick390
    Samson, maybe things will improve as us "dinosaurs" move on, but from my experience the "Gen xyz" crew has their own set of issues. The fire service "culture" problem is not simply a result of adherence to tradition or resistance to change. Many of the "kids" in my company have no concept of team work, no desire to do their part in restocking or maintaining the equipment, and very little desire to train. Those attitudes have to be changed as well if we're serious about safety and doing the job correctly. These problems aren't about tradition or lack thereof. They are grounded in attitudes.
    Cant dispute that either.

    I should amend my statement to "good" attitudes are what we need.

    Sure, there are trouble some young punks, but I think that has been a constant throughout the history of the fire service since it began.

    Here is a thought on some traditions that are flawed and dangerous, IE riding tail bord or standing up in open toped apparatus.

    It has been said simply eleminate the hand holds/tail board/open cab and you get rid of that problem. We were talking about this at a fire meeting last week.

    We dont have this problem except during parades.

    But one of our dinosaurs made a comment that struck me as funny and yet disturbing. He said something like "if you take away the hand rail on the rear then people will just try to hand off the hose or some fitting and then they will fall off for sure."



    We can used technology to counter act some fo the stupidity, but those who are determined enough to be stupid are unstopable...
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    Some of you are confusing history with tradition.
    Firefighters dying in the line of duty is part of our fire service history. Firefighters have been dying since the day Nero set fire to Rome. In this country, it has been since Ben Franklin formed the first volunteer fire department.
    Firefighters dying in the line of duty should not be used in the same breath as "tradition", because that would infer that it is somehow accepted practice and NOBLE to die while on duty. Holidays are a tradition. Firefighter funerals are not; or at least the reason for them.
    The national attention doesn't come to us who do the job everyday, without incident and without fanfare. The national attention comes when someone dies while on a call. But few details are ever revealed as to the nature, unless it is something sensational and will sell more newspapers. Firefighters getting busted at a porn ball will sell more newspapers than a firefighter dying while trying to save a life. The general public doesn't care that heat exhaustion, stress or anything else is killing firefighters. They only care that we will be there if they need us.
    Which is why it is up to the fire service to get control of its own destiny, identify the problems and fix them before another firefighter dies needlessly.
    As a full time safety director, it is absolutely absurd for me to believe that employees die as a matter of course. Getting seriously injured or killed while on the job should never be accepted as part of the risk of the job. Firefighting is a risky business, but thank God, there has been enough scientific study done to reduce the number of risks. People should not have to die to improve the science. And especially where we as individuals can control some of it through proper diet and exercise.
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    We can used technology to counter act some fo the stupidity, but those who are determined enough to be stupid are unstopable...
    They may be unstoppable, but not at the Fire Department. THROW THEM OUT. If people can't get a simple safety rule, FIRE them. But thats another culture change......officers that will discipline

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    Dal, NJ requires CEU's for Fire Instructors and such already. FF1 CEU's is also under consideration. It's a nice idea, however, to keep everyone "happy", the CEU courses are a little lax at best.

    At least, it is a step forward, although small. And yet, people fight against it.
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    Originally posted by Halligan84


    They may be unstoppable, but not at the Fire Department. THROW THEM OUT. If people can't get a simple safety rule, FIRE them. But thats another culture change......officers that will discipline
    NOTE: MY FOLLOWING STATEMENT IS IN NO WAY A SLAM ON UNIONS - IT IS SIMPLY A PERSONAL OBSERVATION OF HOW THINGS WERE HANDLED IN A SPECIFIC DEPARTMENT.

    In a department where I used to serve, contract terms and union intervention made it difficult to get rid some of these folks. Officers tried to discipline, and actions were often overturned.

    There has been mention of top-down and bottom-up transformations, but what about side-by-side, with the union and the administraion working together to bring about change. Too often these two groups - who have the ability to bring about tremendous change in the culture of the department - are on opposite sides of the room.
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    Since you bring that up Rev,, How do departments handle discipline where the officer and firefighter are in the same local? Is there a conflict where the officer may work for a union official? My department never had unionized officers (part of management) so I have never encountered it.

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    Speaking of culture change, tradition and peer pressure: it's been noted in numerous articles and recent threads on here of the reluctance of firefighters to call a "Mayday" (or whatever phraseology you prefer Bou ) because they are worried about comments from fellow firefighters afterwards.

    Now I can break and get my balls broken with the best of 'em but this is one thing that would be off-limits for me. If you think you need help, call for it right away. You'll never hear me making fun of you for it. I suspect most of us feel the same way.

    Is this really something to be concerned about or is it one more common misconception that can be dispelled?
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    Not so fast on the nay-saying to non-FD personnel in FP.

    There is a whole slew of people grduating from UM, OK State, UNH, WPI, etc. with degreesin fire protection engineering. They learn to approach fire protection from a systems standpoint. They look at things differently than non-engineering people do. Maybe that is not the right way to look at a blocked exit, but it sure seems to me to be the right approach with the overall fire protection structure of the hogh hazard occupancies.

    There will always be a place for FD inspections, but there are a few seats at the table for civilians as well.

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