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  1. #1
    Forum Member martinm's Avatar
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    Default Firefighter collapses during "Hell Night"

    From the home page of FH.

    Having read the article, the first time in disbelief, I find myself asking the question, Is there any need for this? .

    How can there be any justification in requiring recruit firefighters to go through eight continuous hours of arduous activity, with a minimal standard of health monitoring, with only minimal rest periods and the fire dept concerned be surprised when someone collapses and may possibly die?

    Have they not heard of heat stress and its individual effects on well, individuals? They obviously considered deyhdration, seeing as some of the other unfortunates in the group were given an IV and a "free ride to the hospital", a very, very poor choice of words I feel.

    The FireFighter who has yet to regain conciousness may have suffered a stroke or a heart attack. I am not surprised, given the unrelenting series of tasks he was required to perform.

    Where in the world do we go from car fire, to house fire, to gas fed fire, to crawling through tunnels humping hose, preceded by a run carrying 80lbs of equipment and a 40lb packed hose? One of the fire depts officers has been quoted as saying that they would rather they got dehydrated now than when trying to put out Mrs Smiths living room. Again, a very poor choice of words I feel.

    Which officer, crew or even colleagues would allow one of their own to become victim of dehydration whilst attending an incident? Not one I am sure.I thought these days had passed sometime ago when a recruit died whilst taking part in training and it was found he had been denied water. 20 minutes between each of these exercises, where recruits had their heart and pulse rate measured and were offered a drink is not nearly getting on for any sort of rehabilitation time.
    Was there a limit set on what a persons maximum heart rate was allowed to get to before they were removed from the exercise? I would venture not. It seems from the article that the recruits were allowed to say when they had had enough. Fair point, but who is going to do that if they feel their career depends on finishing? I know the article says that there would be "no punishment" for dropping out. What punishment could there be for failing this? More of the same?

    This is'nt the Marines or the Special Forces. Firefighters will not be required to spend days in a fire with no hope of relief, pinned down and needing to depend on themselves. If the fire gets to big, we call on help and help comes, if we take a beating, we get help and help comes.

    Although the organisers of this particular event have stated they were not trying to create a "fraternity" type atmosphere, the ackknowledgement that it brings "bragging rights" and a "hoorah" spirit to the group makes it, I feel, just that.

    Is the fire service not supposed to be about working as a team, looking out and after one another and getting the job done, together? Where was thatgoing to happen here?

    A final quote, "We're not trying to kill anybody".

    Well, I think that just might have changed.
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  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    This is'nt the Marines or the Special Forces. Firefighters will not be required to spend days in a fire with no hope of relief, pinned down and needing to depend on themselves.

    I agree with what you are saying completely, but the sentence above sounds very very close to what fighting a remote wildfire entails.

    Wildland firefighters, especialy those in the more frontier areas (IE Smoke Jumpers, Hot Shots, Helitak, etc...) are often on their own for days, sometimes weeks on end fighting very very hot wildland fires.

    But nobody is retarded enough to deprive them of drinking water.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member martinm's Avatar
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    I concede your point entire;y. Except this is'nt wildland firefighting. Its Memphis, a city of 650'000. And more than a few firefighters I imgaine.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

  4. #4
    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    While I understand the thoughts behind a "right of passage" (having been a Marine myself) but there are both goods and bads to this.

    I should say a good is that there are some nights on a busy company in a large city that you will hump all night long.

    However you are responsible to prepare yourself for this happening.

    These guys are in training and whne you are dealing with people in training who are not accustomed to such physical exertion you need to watch them like a hawk. Most people do not know their body's limitations and don't recognize that they passed the breaking point until it is too late.
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  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber Medic162's Avatar
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    I too read this story from the home page. As none of us (except maybe a few Memphis guys who may frequent the forums) know all the details, it is certainly hard to pass judgement. That being said, if the remarks made by some of the people "interviewed" for the story indicate the overall mentality, they have a problem in Memphis. Hooyaw cooter, lets work dem boys... You don't need to hurt recruits to make them good firefighters. Just my opinion.
    Brian Rowe
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  6. #6
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    I think that I am less concerned about the training regimen then I am about the comments of the director of this FD. It sounds like he is a dinosaur without the slightest concept of the way that FD training should be accomplished.

    "free ride to the hospital"
    "that's pretty darn rare"
    "We're going to call it 'pansy flower training?"
    "We don't do any of that ... fraternity junk, the hazing and stuff ... it's not like that," he said. "We're not trying to kill anybody."

    These are not statements by a fire service adminsitrator of a major metro FD. These are the statements of Billy Bob sitting on the porch at Flloyd's Barber Shop.

    Eight hours of training with proper rehab, hhydration and medical surveillance is not outrageous. But it would certainly seem that one would have to admit that something went wrong here.

    The best thing that this director could do would be to quit...today.

  7. #7
    Forum Member stretch13's Avatar
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    Well it is evident that you don't know Chief Arwood, and are just spouting off, because you couldn't be more wrong about him, he is pretty much the opposite of everything you just said, enough said about that.

    Everyone is reading this, and passing judgement. Get the whole story before you start saying how wrong it is to work recruits constantly for eight hours in the heat, or how many of us have gone from a car fire to a house fire to and auto extrication?? Well I have on more than one occasion. Let me say that "Hell Night" isn't as bad as the media is making it out to be. I wonder if it could have anything to do with the way that some departments have had to lower their standards for hiring because of fear of lawsuits??

    Don't be so quick to pass judgement on a department because of something you read in a newspaper.

  8. #8
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    Originally posted by stretch13
    Well it is evident that you don't know Chief Arwood, and are just spouting off, because you couldn't be more wrong about him, he is pretty much the opposite of everything you just said, enough said about that.

    Everyone is reading this, and passing judgement. Get the whole story before you start saying how wrong it is to work recruits constantly for eight hours in the heat, or how many of us have gone from a car fire to a house fire to and auto extrication?? Well I have on more than one occasion. Let me say that "Hell Night" isn't as bad as the media is making it out to be. I wonder if it could have anything to do with the way that some departments have had to lower their standards for hiring because of fear of lawsuits??

    Don't be so quick to pass judgement on a department because of something you read in a newspaper.
    Well stretch, I am not spouting off. Unfortunately, (as we have seenon these forums, for example) a person is judged by the words he chooses. It would seem to me that, in a time of crisis, this chief chose a very poor manner in which to express himself. His words come across as cavalier and arrogamt.

    And also, I agreed with you on the training part. But, if someone died, something went wrong somewhere, didn't it?

  9. #9
    Forum Member stretch13's Avatar
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    Yea something went wrong somewhere, but I don't think it was the training. They have been doing this for a while now, sure some of the recruits get dehydrated, but that happens, and it will happen after they graduate and get to a company.

    No one died, the recruit is still in the hospital.

    The comments made by Chief Arwood, are comments made by a fireman, to me, they aren't arrogant, they're down to earth, and realistic.

    I think part of the problem may be the type of recruit that is being hired. Height/Wieght requrements have been dropped, because of "discrimination", there is no maximum age, which I think leads to getting an employee that there is no way will make 25 years, and will wind up taking an early medical pension.

  10. #10
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    I stand corrected about the extent of this recruit's medical condition.

    I think part of the problem may be the type of recruit that is being hired. Height/Wieght requrements have been dropped, because of "discrimination", there is no maximum age, which I think leads to getting an employee that there is no way will make 25 years, and will wind up taking an early medical pension.
    Well then, that is something wrong. We agree. I STILL didn't say there was anything wrong with the training.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber Medic162's Avatar
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    Originally posted by stretch13
    Height/Wieght requrements have been dropped, because of "discrimination", there is no maximum age, which I think leads to getting an employee that there is no way will make 25 years, and will wind up taking an early medical pension.
    If someone is an overweight slob, they shouldn't get the job and NFPA 1582 should provide for this. The age thing is another factor. I'm retiring soon after 20 years in the Air Force. I'll just have turned 40. No ego here, just fact. We routinely run a "Combat Challenge" type event at our firehouse. Do the "20 something" kids beat my time. Nope! I run 3-4 miles every morning and consider myself in better shape than almost all of the couch potato youngsters I see in departments today. I know this is not always the case, but in all honesty, the young people I see applying today are not the physical specimens of the past. For whatever reason, and you all know what I'm talking about, the fire service attracts heavyweights. If I didn't work out like I do, I'd be one of them. Age, when combined with poor fitness levels should prevent a fire career, age alone shouldn't be a factor when the old guy smokes the kids.
    Brian Rowe
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    Colleton County Fire/Rescue

  12. #12
    Forum Member stretch13's Avatar
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    Agreed that some people in their late 30's and early 40's are in good shape and could put in a good 25 years in the fire service, but I think they are the exception. What we are seeing is more and more "older" people starting a career in the fire service and wind up "looking for rehab" right after getting on the scene. As for the NFPA 1582, I don't know what it says, but if it has to do with hiring standards, I wish more places could or would follow it.

  13. #13
    Forum Member MOTOWN88's Avatar
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    Eight hours of training with proper rehab, hhydration and medical surveillance is not outrageous.

    True, I am thinking back over the past several years and can recall many times training went this long if not longer. The officer in charge has to have the common sense to say enough is enough, to recognize the fact that there are physical needs as far as rest and water and to see the need to give both out when needed.

    On the same note the recruit has to know when its time to chill. I can see the recruit mentality of not wanting to disapoint or get tossed from the deal though.
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  14. #14
    Forum Member allineedisu's Avatar
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    It is ashame that training divisons try to cook the recuits or wear them down. I have known Dick Arwood for years. In fact I remember him when he was a Firefighter at the Training Center in 1975 and his Dad in Prevention.

    I have been in classes, and other activities that Dick was part of. I remember him when he was a Division Chief and Chief of Training, when the terrible incident at the Regis Tower in 1994. Dick was at home and heard the Brothers on his scanner that were in trouble when the Communications Center didn't.

    The remarks that he said or was quoted in the Memphis Commerical Appeal and local television stations were not called for. A "free ride to the hospital" Nothing is free. Unless policy has changed, any transport to the hospital, firefighter, police officer, civilian, etc. is chargeable.

    Pretty rare and pansy flower training, if he said this, then he should have some action taken on him. This is uncalled for for a Director of a major fire department to be saying.

    I am not saying that you can't give the fire recruits a lot of fire and action in training, BUT, there is a limit as what you can do. If the NPFA standards are followed, there should be any concern. If the member did in fact have a health problem that caused him to slip through the cracks, then who ever is doing the physcial health screenings should check what they are doing and comply with the set standards. Maybe, this is a wake up call for Memphis and other fire departments. It may have saved this young mans life, by finding out that his health isn't up to par, before he got assigned to a fire company and maybe put the lifes of the brave mambers in harms way.

    I hope he will recover and will see that this may not be his calling and seek another career path.

    A good lession should be learned here. Lets not wear out, beat them down or kill the recruits during their training. I am sure that Memphis as well as other fire department are sitting up and taking a real good look on how they train and what they do to members of recruit classes.

    We haven't heard the end of this one!!!
    Last edited by allineedisu; 10-15-2004 at 10:36 AM.

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    Reading the atrticle I noticed some important points:
    1. It was not 8 continious hours - there was a 20 minute rest/rehab
    break between evolutions.
    2. There were fluids avaialable at each break.
    3. There was medical monitering at each break.
    4. Student/Instr. ratio was 7:1 which seems adequate for close
    supervision.
    Given the above facts, the night's actitivities seem reasonable given that a firefighter in a metro department may experience this level of activity once on the job. Having never gone through a 40-Hour per week fire academy this is just an opionion though, but to me it seems like reasonable steps were taken while remembering that they are preparing them for some physically demanding situations.

    Just my thoughts.

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    In the UK for a situation like this to arise would surely point to a system failure. It does not matter if you are old hand (veteran) or a new trainee. If someone goes down with dehydration then someone is not managing the situation correctly.

    This is by no means a personal attack on anyone present at this incident. But we cannot accept that dehydration is acceptable in any form in 2004.

    Impaired performance due to dehydration will lead to injury or death. We cannot or should put people under unneccessary risk.

    So systems should be in place to prevent this happening again. It could be in the form of itineray change, better monitoring, better Fire Gear etc. Because whatever systems were inplace, have failed at some point leading to this injury.

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    while this is an issue that needs to be looked into, I do agree that we do not know the whole story so I can not really pass judgement on that chief "though some things he said were kind of surprising," or that department. I know it was said earlier and I can not agree more, that an even bigger problem we have in the fire service is the departments that lower their standards to hire certain individuals for whatever the reason "sadly it is usually the wrong reason." be safe men.

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    Water and Gatorade were available, Arwood said. But no one makes recruits drink.

    "They're going to hydrate themselves," he said. "They're adults.

    "You can get dehydrated mowing grass."


    Are you kidding me?

    This guy should be relieved of command today.

  19. #19
    Forum Member stretch13's Avatar
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    Relieved immediately?? Are YOU kidding me?
    They have stations at every break for hydration, and are told to make sure they stay hydrated. If someone has to hold their hands to make sure they do, then maybe they need to find another line of work.

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    News should be taken with copious quantiites of salt, but
    taking the quotes as they were typed, implies belief its not hazing unless you were trying to kill them.
    So likely those were two quotes spaced far apart in conversation, and put close together in text.

    I'm still unimpressed, and it still all sounds over-the-top.

    Out here if people start dropping we stop and rethink.
    Last edited by permaprobie; 10-15-2004 at 05:17 PM.
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