1. #1
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    Default The Death of a Firefighter

    Something to think about.



    HOW WE DIE
    " THE DEATH OF A FIREFIGHTER "
    By Glenn Usdin (Reprinted from the New Jersey Fire Focus March/April 1999 issue)



    Firefighters don't die in peaceful scenes right out of the latest tear-jerking movie, with the patient's life oozing away as the immediate family gently sobs and watches as their loved one goes to a better place. It ain't that pretty for us. When we go in the line of duty, it's cruel and painful and far too ugly for most of us to even imagine.



    Not very many of us want to re-create the last living moments of our fellow firefighters who have given the ultimate sacrifice. But for that very reason, our own inability to come to terms with the manner and reasons that our fellow firefighters have perished while performing their assigned tasks, it is so vital that we study and analyze the cause of how we die in this profession.



    We die fearfully, hopelessly lost in the myriad of rooms of buildings surrounded by flames and smoke,separated by mere yards (that for all intents and purposes could be miles away) from the nearest hoseline, our air supply gone, choking and vomiting into unconsciousness, while crews are unable to mount a rescue attempt, if they were even aware that we were missing or trapped.



    Sometimes we even drown in the water that fills the basement that we have fallen into, without our colleagues even knowing that the thousands of gallons of water they pour on the fire is rapidly choking our life away.



    We die in unthinkable pain from the massive burns after being trapped in a flashover, first an instant flash of light as bright as an atomic bomb explosion, then an overall scorch so intense we roast in the flames as our skin chars and our nerves are destroyed, our breathing apparatus harness and face piece, and our protective clothing melted away, allowing the superheated atmosphere to engulf our breathing passages and burn our throat shut, and leaving our burnt carcass lying seared to the floor like any other bit of fallen fire debris.



    We die in fright as sections of wall and roof collapse on us without warning, massive loads of thousands of pounds of wood and bricks and metal and concrete, crushing us, tearing apart our skin, our bones, and finally exploding our internal organs and suffocating us as we bleed out internally, just seconds and feet away from the relative safety of a collapse zone never set up or intentionally disregarded.



    We die instantly from a massive cardiac event that comes on so quickly that we don't even have time to signal for help. An instant flash of chest pain, and then a sudden collapse as our diseased heart's weakend muscle just vibrates and wriggles out of control, pumping not even a single drop to our brain. Not an entire battalion of nearby paramedics can breathe or medicate or even shock a single moment or life back into us.



    We die on the express lanes of the highway, fighting a lousy car fire at 2:00 in the morning, as a drunken driver nods off and his 5,000 lb. car plows into us without even a hint of braking action, crushing our helpless torso from the 45 MPH impact and folding the back step of our engine around the shape or our broken body. (Yet we still proudly drink too much on our own time).



    We die a sad 100 or so every year, and the way that we die has not changed a single bit from the time that organized firefighting began. The numbers of us who perish have declined in recent years, but so have the number of fires that we fight (Oh, remember the good old days when we had lots more fire activity!). We still need to lower the number significantly more.



    Firefighting, an art, not an exact science, is still a very dangerous occupation. But we can, and must, manage our risk. Let's ask the widows of the latest batch of 100 firefighters who died in the line of duty a very simple question, "Was the death of your firefighter husband worth the building he was trying to save?" Anybody want to answer that one? If you, or those under your command, cannot justify the loss of human life, the lives of firefighters, for the sake of a burning building, then we must address the means and methods to carefully manage the risk to avoid loss of our precious lives.



    Make no mistake about it, we are not dying as we try to save women and children trapped in the bedrooms of their homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are dying in commercial structures and vacant unoccupied homes, warehouses and tenements, caught in fire and collapse situations that were, or should have been, recognizeable for their hazards to our lives.



    There is no glory to give your life to save (or make) a parking lot. More often than not, the public will not even stop for a moment to pause at the spot that a firefighter has perished. If our customers don't recognize a need to die for their building why should we?



    Tom Brennan, perhaps the finest tactical thinker our fire service has ever seen, showed our comany a slide of a single family dwelling during a drill one afternoon. He described the scene to our group, saying that a family was inside sleeping before the fire broke out. "What is this building?" he asks, and the answer quickly comes back from the group, "an occupied structure!" Then Tom puts the same slide back up, and simply states, "Same building, but this time everyone is 100% confirmed to be out of the home before the FD arrival...now what is this building?" Puzzled looks around the room until Tom declares in his wonderful New York tone "A piece of ****, are you willing to loose your life for this?" Your life (and the lives of those who serve with you) depends on your correct response.



    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) now investigates every firefighter fatality in the U.S., and issues a comprehensive report based upon their investigation of these fires. You can access these reports directly from the NIOSH WEBSITE at www.cdc.gov/niosh/firehome.html. These reports are sad reading for those of us in the fire business.



    While each of these reports condenses into a few pages a whole series of tragic events that led to the death of a precious firefighter, they are nonetheless an important tool for us to use. These investigative summaries can never capture the human side of the tragedy of these events, the feeling of hopelessness and failure on the part of those involved, and the unbelievable sequence of events gone wrong that lead to a line-of-duty-death. The simple fires are sometimes the most tragic.



    Please, be Safe.


  2. #2
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    Interesting isn't it.

    Average 100 deaths a year for 10 years.

    1,000

    New Zealand with a population of 4 million has had 7 deaths in the same time.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 1/21/2005 at 1:24:42 AM EST is

    295,295,525

    so for every 2,952,955.25 people a Firefighter dies.

    That means New Zealand should lose 1.35 Firefighters a year

    Or 135 in the last ten years.

    Is a national service and a national training standard such a bad thing after all?

    And don't give me the B.S. about we are hicksville in the wipwops, not FDNY.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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    1 is too many.


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    A timely reminder Jerry.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Uh Kiwi, Check your math again.

    at 1.35 deaths a year in NZ you are looking at 13.5 (or 14) over 10 years NOT 135. So you are about half the rate of the US, NOT 5%.

    Jeff
    Piscataway Fire Dist #2
    Possumtown V.F.C.

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    Thanks, jerrygarcia. Every fireman in our department will get to read this. You know, it just turns my stomach to read it but brings home a powerful point.
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
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    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    jerrygarcia, may I post your thread on another forum?
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
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    Southern Division

    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
    FireFighter/Pilot James Archer
    1946-2005
    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    Post this where ever you want. Please give the author the respect as I have.


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    jerrygarcia, Thanks
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
    IACOJ
    Southern Division

    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
    FireFighter/Pilot James Archer
    1946-2005
    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    ^^^A timely reminder, again. I remembered this thread as our department was battling a 4 alarm used tire warehouse fire today.

    Last edited by jerrygarcia; 07-20-2005 at 09:07 PM.

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    You mean you dont let the tyres burn like they do in the simpsons?
    Always a good reminder.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

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    Thanks Jerry. I am going ot post this in our training room for everyone to read.
    Training does not make perfect. Training makes permanent!

    IACOJ probie

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    It takes a lot of control and experience to know what is a big vacant 'dumpster'. I myself have been in fires that we really shouldn't have been inside.

    Think about it for your brothers/sisters and your family. Decide your risk carefully. A fire that has absolutely no gain(life or property) by going inside, isn't anything but a big trash fire.

    I work on a department that is very aggressive, but we're learning. It won't stop us from going inside, but opens our eyes to backing out when neccessary. My view is that of taking your crew into a fully involved dog house, what's to gain?

    Be safe and think. Everyone goes home in the morning.



    Last edited by jerrygarcia; 07-21-2005 at 05:09 PM.

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    Thanks for bumping this back up Jerry. I missed its original posting on January. This is a very sobering read.

    We had something similar to this in the academy. Towards the end of our "recruit" time, all the guys were feeling like hot ***** and we all had our chests puffed out like we were Vulcan the Fire God. Then our Chief Instuctor invited some older guys come down and give us a speech similar to your article. On top of that they showed slides of FFs who were seriously injured and killed while operating on the job. Burns, pin-ins, collapses, flash overs, and even a decapitation. It was all pretty gruesome stuff, but it let you know that it could happen to you to if you weren't careful.

    Anyway...great message here Capt.
    I enjoy the fight as much as the next guy. No place I'd rather work than a long, hot, smokey hallway, humping the tip...but at what price. Gotta pick your battles.

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    Another bump, make a mental note of it.

    Something all firefighters should remind themselves of at times.

    Thread Killer Extraordinaire!

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    Excellent post. Thank you!




    Kevin
    Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
    IAFF Local 2339
    K of C 4th Degree
    "LEATHER FOREVER"
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    "Fir na tine"

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    Its been another long and tragic year.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    WOW. That really makes you think.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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    Thanks Jerry. I missed this post the first time around. It will be distributed to all our stations tomorrow. It is indeed a reminder of what our job truly is.
    K-9 hunt, the ultimate challange.
    EVERYONE GOES HOME
    IACOJ

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    Wow, gets right by the gonads don't it.......

    Very good slap or reality right in the face. Going to post that one. Thanks!
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
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  21. #21
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    Remember Fallen Brothers
    Keep The Faith
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    FTM-PTB EGH RFB KTF DTRT
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    Another reminder, please read the first post in the thread. Our department has 4 members in the hospital from a flashover that occurred yesterday in KC.

    Stay safe! EGH

    Last edited by jerrygarcia; 02-17-2007 at 10:42 PM.
    Thread Killer Extraordinaire!

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    Thanks for the reminder Jerry. Your brothers here from the south of you are pulling for all to make a speedy and full recovery.
    FTM-PTB-RFB
    IACOJ

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    Exclamation

    I too missed this the first time around .................GREAT POST Jerry....may the borthers there make a quick recovery.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    A very timely reminder... thank you Jerry...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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