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  1. #1
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    Default Boston Globe Special Report on Fire Response Times

    http://www.boston.com/news/specials/fires/

    Just starting to read it myself...
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    I just read the Globe spotlight series' first installment. All I can say is
    [size=huge]

    "wow"...
    [/size]

    The public and the mutts may not believe it coming from our mouths, maybe they will beleive it because it is in the newspaper!

    A few key quotes from the article...


    "Fire protection in America is a myth....These subjects are the dirty little secret of the fire service: The response times outside of the center cities are too great, and the personnel responding , inside and outside the center cities are too few... Vincent Dunn, FDNY retired Deputy Chief.

    "Life safety isn't a priority here... saving money is"... Brewster Fire Chief Roy Jones.

    "it's a question of what level of risk the community us ready to accept. People don't know about the Fire Department. I need parks because my kid plays soccer. Ineed roads bercause I drive to work. I need the schools. Do I need the Fire Department?"... Concord Fire Chief Ken Willette.

    From the story.. Few communities in Massachusetts are adding firehouses to serve new subdivisions. Stow had no fire station for new homes in the southern end of town. Marlborough's west side is uncovered (side note: Station 4 has been proposed every year for the last 15 years. The city has the land, but they don't want to fund the building, a truck or the salaries for the firefighters to man it. Station 2 covers that district. It's our oldest station and has 1 engine company running out of it, minimum staffing is 2 and 1, 3 and 1 if everyone is in. It is the largest district geographically and has a mix of residential, commercial, retail and industrial occupancies.)

    Fire Chiefs are barely able to hold onto the resources they have: Gloucester has closed it's Bay View Station on and off since July. Springfield closes two when there is no one to work at them, which is quite often. Carver closed one of four stations, Andovcer one of four, Bridgewater one of two (ironically, the station in Bridewater is brand new!)

    And this one sums it up....
    "They don't hire us to go to a fire and stand in the doorway. We're going to get it done, or we're going to try, on the other hand, we're not in the suicide business"... Captain Mark Cotreau, Concord Fire Depardment.
    Part 2 of the series...the cost in firefighters lives will be published in the Monday edition of the Globe.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 01-30-2005 at 01:40 PM.
    ‎"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."
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    A summary of this story and links to the other stories with it and downloadable reports is available here:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=38892

    Please continue to discuss this story on the forums. It should provide an excellent basis for reaction by America's firefighters.

    Thanks
    WebTeam

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    "Life safety isn't a priority here... saving money is"...
    That pretty much sums it up

    "it's a question of what level of risk the community us ready to accept. People don't know about the Fire Department.
    Ya dont say. And whos at fault? We are. We need to get more involved in our comunities and do a better job educating the public. When our new chief came in, he started sending us out on all kinds of public functions. And what do the crews do? Bitch and moan that they have to get out of the Lay-z-boy on a Saturday and do a stand by at town function. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    we always seem to fix the fence after the horse gets out.

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    I noticed this story was picked up by AP (it was on Yahoo news as well). Hopefully it will get a little national exposure.

    The Globe story has a link called "Twenty questions you should ask your fire chief" that is worth reading.
    ullrichk
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    It's a shame that people will look at the times in that spreadsheet and think their dept is good to go if it is above 90%. An example-a neighboring community to me is rated at 95% for response times. Too bad that they count their response time as when the first squad car is on the scene-they are public safety. The engine is back in the station waiting for someone to come in off patrol to drive it. There is no explanation in that survey that says how many FFs showed up.

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    Another question I have about the results is whether they are calculating for the first on scene unit from the department whose jurisdiction the fire is in, or the first unit on scene from any department. In my town we have two FF on duty during the day, but are On call overnight, but we are bordered by 2 FT departments that are dispatched automatic to fires. A good example is there was a fire in a neighboring community where an engine from my town was first on scene and the 2 FF from that engine entered the building, with a officer from the town where the fire was working the pump, and the second engine on scene was from a third town.

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    Angry NFIRS should be required!

    I note the articles point out that NFIRS is not required so the problem could be even more widespread. As I have said before, we know more about crime in this country than we do about fires. Bean counters like to deal with stats and ours are poor compared to law enforcement. The squeaky wheel will get the oil.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
    Pete Sinclair
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    Take part in our survey about the report here:

    http://go.reachmail.net/surveys/Take...=3507935I7l91G

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    Communities commonly touted on lists of the most attractive places to live, in part because of low tax rates, also commonly have failing fire departments. The telecommuting haven of Bend, Ore., ranked in a Forbes magazine cover story as one of the best "cheap towns" in America, has an on-time rate of 18 percent.
    I ain't no rocket surgeon, but well, duh! You pay low taxes, you get less services. You pay high taxes, you get better services. That's simple.

    The problem with these bedroom communities is that people are moving there from the cities partly for the lower cost of living, but expect the same level of service they got in the city. The two don't go together. Also, the concept of a volunteer or combination department is foreign to these city refugees. They've lived their whole lives under the assumption that fire protection was provided by, well, somebody , someone is at that fire station down the street, they'll come when I call. It's a service that they expect will be provided by somebody else. It doesn't occur to them to join their local volunteer department to make their community a little bit safer. Many of them live there for years before they become aware that there's nobody home at the fire station down the road.

    Growth, unplanned growth, is the downfall of both paid and volunteer departments. More call volume, more services being provided. If there is not a corresponding growth of the fire department, response times increase, work load increases, property loss increases, life loss increases. In the city departments it happens when suburban sprawl expands beyond the area that the existing department can effectively cover. In rural areas it occurs when the local politicos fail to recognize, or act, when their "free" volunteer fire department is no longer making the grade.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Unhappy Response Times

    I know that up here in Maine response times are bad. I have worked on fire departments in several states and I have fund one thing that is true. If we want to better our response times and increase our numbers we need to allow firefighters to go code 3. I know this will start a big fight, however I found that red lights and sirens with the proper police respose to violaters of the not giving the right of way laws, will greatly increase times and numbers. I have been there and back. This is a fact! Get over it and get with the program!

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    first of all let me say that i am sometimes guilty of driving fast myself. second of all there are safe ways to drive fast. you can have your clothes laid out when you go to bed. you can learn your streets so you dont waste five min. looking at the map before every call. you can back your car in the driveway instead of pulling in, that way you dont have to take time to back out. you can cover your windsheild so you dont waste time scraping ice before every run, you can take a emergency vehicle operators course (its called EVOC down here). then, and only then do you need to drive code 3. however, i do STRONGLY agree with you that law enforcement needs to help us in enforcing laws against people who do not yeild right of way to an emergency vehicle.
    now back to the subject, i think that we are between a rock and a hard place on fire coverage. people simply dont give a s### about us if it aint their stuff on fire. also people dont like taxes, hell, none of us like taxes, but taxes are what pays for fire depts to operate. perhaps we should try what some depts in Louisiana do and have a flat rate that each resident pays per year for fire protection. citizens may be happier to pay that since they would know it goes straight to the fire dept. and not to the general fund that we all fight each year to get a piece of

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    The problem I have with what I have read so far is that in most of the 100% Volunteer fire departments in this area use the first unit on scene as the response time. The way it works is that the fire chief and the assistant chiefs have marked command vehicles (chief gigs) with them 24 hours per day. When an alarm comes in they respond from where ever they are to the incident and when they call on scene that is the response time. It could take the first due engine another 5 minutes, and then maybe with only one or two people on it. That first due engine is what the NFPA is talking about when they say 6 minutes. Not a Chief, an ambulance, a cop, or an engine with less than four firefighters.

    The NFPA also says that the full first alarm assignment should be on scene within ten minutes with a minimum of an Incident Commander, one attack line with two people, one back up line with two people, one pump operator, one support person for each attack and back up line, one search and rescue team with two people, one ventilation team with two people, one aerial operator, and one IRIC with two people. That's 15 People, and that's for a fire no larger than a one room and contents in a one or two family house that is 2000 square feet or smaller and not attached to any other building.

    The point I'm tring to make is that the response time is only part of the problem.
    DKK
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    I'm still trying to figure out which Ohio Washington Twp. we are

    As far as the report and the article-

    First a bit of a rant:
    These times are definitely skewered.

    There are some departments in my area that have phenominal response times according to this report but I can guarantee that they are counting the first guy to show up in a POV as the on scene time.

    Also, (and not to pick on you guys who's departments do this), what about departments that only staff an ambulance or medic unit? If they go to the scene and stand around while the home response members are getting the engine, should this count as "on scene"?

    IMHO, On scene time should be arrival of an engine and 4 firefighters (no matter how they got there).


    OK, now that I have that tirade out of the way:

    There are lots of things communities could do to lower their response times & increase their membership for all volunteer home response departments:

    - Firefighters get a percentage off their property taxes and the closer you live to the fire station, the bigger the discount.

    - Aggressive recruiting and more importantly retention of shift workers for daytime responses.

    - Dayrooms, kitchens, workout rooms, even bunkrooms at the fire station so members want to hang out there.

    - Eliminate fund raising events. I doubt many of us joined our department because we enjoyed working bingo games, card parties, etc. Make the local gov. pony up what they should and stop making members who are supposed to be fire and emergency response professionals beg for money!

    - If you feel you just have to have fund raising events, members with higher run attendance get their choice of jobs or excusal from the event altogether.

    I'm sure others have some great ideas as well.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Default good reporting

    In the 1970s, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that after a fire breaks out, people have about 17 minutes to escape before being overcome by heat and smoke. Today, the estimate is 3 minutes.

    From the NFPA:
    Nearly half (44%) of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
    Add to this the recent report that George posted from the NFPA that 75% of Americans have not developed and rehearsed an escape plan in the event of a fire. Part of the problem is the sad fact is that people do not take fire seriously.
    Last edited by superchef; 01-30-2005 at 05:59 PM.

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    Red lights & sirens don't make up for lack of resources -- people, equipment, stations, or mental.

    Rural/Suburban areas have structural issues. Many of us can't justify the amount of resources it would take to assure 6 minute coverage 24x7.

    Especially in rural areas, lights & siren don't add much. They don't magically make it safer to drive a vehicle on a wide open road and faster than it is to drive it without the lights and siren. The city boys have a better case to make, where they can move traffic out of the way, and a lot more intersections to worry about, of RLS saving time. Ok, and so some of the rural areas at certain times of day...but on average, if you don't have traffic to deal with, you don't gain from running lights & siren.

    The decision is what level of service your community is able and willing to pay for.
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    Numbers are numbers and here, as in most cases, they only tell part of the story.

    Take my department for example. In 98% of our area, we are in the 4-6 minute range for responses. The other 2% we are well over 6 minutes. Its due to the "lay of the land". We just cant get to that 2% in 6 minutes, even if were sitting on the ramp when the call comes in. Nothing is ever going to fix it, except building another station which will never happen. The call volume barely supports one station.

    My point is, because of that 2%, we cant say we meet the standard. Is that fair? I dont think so. But again, its just numbers. But depending on who looks at them, we either are or are not doing a good job...
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    This issue has me fired up. So I figure I'll run my mouth a little more.

    Why in the name of all things holy doesn't California do NFIRS? Do to their standing as the nations most populated state they should have the most fires.

    I also think that the fire act and any other federal grants, for that matter should only be awarded to jurisdictions that participate in the NFIRS program.

    A few years ago the state of New Jersey bought every fire department in the state a TIC. It was free as long as you participated in the NFIRS.
    Last edited by TruckSkipper; 01-30-2005 at 07:14 PM.
    DKK
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    Where did they reseach for this information. I'm on a Career/On call department with 24 hrs coverage and we recieved 53% and the town right next to us with 0700-1700 weekday coverage got 93%. We get to a call in any part of town within 5 minutes. We cover a area of 28.9 square miles.

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    I think the info is fairly accurate .......especially if you are POC/Volly. We have been back to bare bones people during the day with some of our younger members getting new or just a job. Last week alone the engine could not roll to back up dayshift (medic unit personnel) twice .....no one was around .......starting in a fgew hours I will be unable to make calls for 72 hours since I will be Mr Momming it ........I hope it is a quiet 3 days. Also I would like to say that I would rather have a fully staffed engine than a partially filled one staffed with full time people which is common around here.
    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

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    I found the article intriguing and frankly fairly accurate, our numbers seemed accurate among the 20,000 fire departments, It does bring the problem front and center and hopefully will open some eyes and we can work on our response times.
    NYS FF1/AEMT-CC
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    They don't hire us to go to a fire and stand in the doorway," Captain Cotreau said. "We're going to get it done. Or we're going to try. On the other hand, we're not in the suicide business."
    ..from the "Who's Watching the FD" section of the story ....I think that unfortunantly sums it up.
    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

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    I don't think they took into account that the lowest ratings are from volunteer or combination departments. For example, my department recieved a 9.3% and the City we work with got 96.0%. The difference is that they are all career and we're combination. The 9.3% of fires we make it to "on time" are probably ones we get during the day shift when they part time crew is on.
    Last edited by engine1321; 01-30-2005 at 07:59 PM.

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    Originally posted by TruckSkipper
    I also think that the fire act and any other federal grants, for that matter should only be awarded to jurisdictions that participate in the NFIRS program.
    Skipper it is a requirement for the Fire Act grants.

    Another sad thing is this data has been on file with USFA for years but it takes a newspaper to do this kind of report. With the threats to USFA's funding it will only get worse.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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