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  1. #1
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    Question Tell me if I'm way off base...

    Here is an example of a recent training that I did. A little background first...we have a Volunteer FD with approx 40 members in a Rural Area. Our response time averages 10-15 minutes (Time of dispatch, response to station, response from station to arrival). We are sometimes lucky during the day to have 5 people on a call, and even luckier to have 5 people that can "go interior." After surveying the district, and knowing that most of our fires end up as "surround and drown," I developed a SOG for "Rescue Mode." It was presented with the understanding that there are 5 personnel that can perform interior firefighting functions, that the Officer arriving notes that there may be savable victims in the house, and that there are either reports of parties trapped or very, very high suspicion of parties trapped. Participants were shown pictures and videos (we have a lack of experience, myself included) of house fires that were "well off" vs. house fires that may have the viability of survivable occupants. Participants were also told that this is the absolute most dangerous operation that can be undertaken; officers were asked to have the maturity to know if they can rely on their crews. They were told if there was any doubt that any one of their crewmembers could not perform their duties for a successful operation, that it should not be undertaken.

    Here was the plan they were taught...

    Must have 5 people--Officer, Driver, Nozzleperson, Outside Vent Person, Control Person.
    Duties--

    Officer--SCBA, Radio, Halligan--performs size-up, notes if Rescue Mode should be taken--If so, advises all personnel and dispatch by radio. Attempts to get a good idea of where the fire is located from the outside. Communicates Ventilation point to OVP.

    Driver--Radio--Sets up pump, assists with stretching line, lights the structure, takes medical bag to front yard, assists with laddering as needed.

    Nozzleperson--SCBA--Stretches hose to front door, goes in with Officer to knock down fire.

    Control Person--SCBA, Radio, Axe--Assists with laying LDH @ driveway as needed, assists with stretching handline, chases kinks, assists with forcible entry, maintains position @ front door of structure to feed hoseline, maintains this position until officer notes that fire is located and knocked down. When fire is located and knocked down, becomes part of search and rescue team, performs primary search.

    Outside Vent Person--SCBA, Radio, Short (or long) Pike Pole, Halligan--Creates secondary means of egress (back door) and performs the "10 foot" sweep of this egress for possible victims, positions himself @ ventilation point, ventilates as directed by officer and/or when he sees stream hitting fire. As soon as fire is ventilated, teams up with Control person and performs primary search.

    If victims are found, they are to taken outside for aid to be rendered by any other available personnel. If, at any time, water pressure is lost, crews are to back out. If the primary search is negative and the initial 5 personnel are the only ones on scene and the fire is not u/c, crews are to back out. If there are more victims to be taken care of, crews are to back out and render aid.

    Let me know what you think--I realize that this doesn't really meet OSHA/NFPA standards--it is put in place more due to the fact that citizens should be able to expect us to rescue them if they need rescuing. It is taken with a great deal of risk management techniques placed on the initial company officer.

    Side note--We peformed this evolution with two separate crews. The first crew took 9 minutes to get their hoseline in the front door upon arrival. This was unacceptable, and they were advised that if this can't be done in a more expedient manner, they shouldn't even attempt it. The second crew had the fire located, confined, with a primary search complete in four minutes after arrival. Hopefully they learned whom they can trust to perform this operation....

    Thanks for your constructive input...


  2. #2
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    You seem to be on point as far assignments and getting everyone familiar with their role once they get on the truck. Aside from OSHA/NFPA you have to adjust to meet the needs of your community which you have done. Did you factor in mutual aid in a response to a likely "worker"? Could help out big time. As far as well off vs. survivable fire, that is tricky. Don't forget that a waste paper with little flame but a lot of smoke can kill as well as a well involved house. A guide that you should follow is if you can safely put your personnel in the building. Check for sign of backdraft or flashover. How advanced is the fire? Is it confined to one room with a closed door or has it taken possesion of a large area of the house. If it is confined to one area then victims away from the fire have a higher chance of survival than if it is unchecked. Don't pass fire, look for hot, boiling, black "cotton candy" smoke which is an indicator of imminent flashover. The risk vs. benefit analysis performed by the officer has to be with utmost concern for the crew. There is no need to "cowboy" an operation ie: putting members in danger if it is too untenable. for pride or for appearance. Thorough training of fire behavior and building construction help tremendously. If your dept. does EMS, have officers make mental notes of residences and businesses for future reference, and share them with the dept. as a whole. The drills you ran are also indicators that you have to brush up on the basics, such as stretching hose, operating on SCBA, and working as a unit. The second crew obviously has this down, while the first needs some serious work, on this as 9 minutes is a really long time just to get to the door. Maybe training slower members to perform outside duties such as venting CLOSE to the fire to aid in attack may be the way to go. You might even be able to pare it down to 4 with the officer backing up the nozzleman if need be. probably the bare minimum for safety sake. Just a few thoughts..... Good Luck
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

    Edward F. Croker
    Chief 1899-1911
    Fire Dept. City of New York

    HOOK N' CAN of the I.A.C.O.J.

  3. #3
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    First, let me say "KUDOS" to you and your Department for stepping up to the plate and wanting to have a plan in place not only for your personnel to follow, but to protect the citizens in your community. With your manpower situation it places a hardship on your tactics & strategy during interior operations. I feel you are on track with your plan you just need to keep up the training to make the plan work, and make sure all your personnel understand there roll. Remember what your plan is calling for our Department, and others currently perform with 3-4 Engines, 1-2 trucks and 1 squad (20-25) personnel and it can be taxing on them at times. I agree with PUFFYNPFD "RISK VS BENEFIT" should be on your mind, and good Tactics & Strategy. Do you have the ability to use Mutal Aid to assist you in you plan. As with any plan have a back up plan for the times you only have 3 personnel to work with. Great Job on thinking of your personnel, and the Citizens you and your Department serves. Keep up the training, and seek some outside training from other departments, they are all willing to help. One more offer, look into buying a Thermal Imager it's worth the expense. Good Luck.
    Last edited by fdsq10; 02-08-2005 at 07:49 PM.

  4. #4
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    I think your plan is very well thought out and it utilizes the resources that you have to their fullest. I also agree that Automatic Mutual Aid is a great option..that is if your neighbors can get them selves moving..never the less it could double your man power..

  5. #5
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the backup, folks...yes, I agree. Mutual aid is extremely important. In fact, the first officer marking up on the radio almost always mutual aids at least one department. In our case, they still probably won't arrive in time to make an appreciable difference in the above mentioned operation, but hopefully can back us up soon thereafter. The other issue, of course, is that most departments around us (with the exception of Lincoln) don't provide a whole lot of training to their members. Many have quorums, meaning that they can't hold training or meetings according to bylaw unless a certain number of people show up. Yes, this is BS, but reality...henceforth my earlier post indicating how we plan on handling imminent rescues.

  6. #6
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    dont be afraid to call the (person) on the business end of the hoseline what he/she is...nozzleman! We're becoming so P.C. it distracts from the message. It is the most important, dangerous, and "ballsey" position on the job, Nozzleman!

  7. #7
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    Your major problem, obviously, is lack of manpower. How long will it take for mutual aid to arrive (if you have this agreement)? The officer should not be entering the structure on a hose line, period. He must stay outside and run the fire, maintaining the "big" picture for the interior crew, i.e. flashover conditions, collapse, rapidly deteriorating conditions, in order to alert the interior crew of these changes. There are definitely some scenarios where the captain may enter with the hose line, especially with a rescue problem, i.e. fire can be knocked down quickly; however, if the fire cannot be immediately found or is deep seated, the officer must stay outside for reasons aleady stated. It is also a major safety consideration to allow the driver/pump operator to leave the pump panel in order to throw ladders, set up lights, etc. What happens if a problem develops with the water supply or pump panel? There will be no one to remedy the situation or immediately notify the officer of this problem, causing a dangerous situation for all. I work for a medium sized municipal department where we are fortunate enough to avoid your problems. It appears your best answer is with mutual aid. With only five personnel on scene, you have to multitask many of your FFs. Your main decision on operations must be based on "risk vs. gain" as you already know. Good luck and be safe. It's good to see you are thinking about this major problem.

  8. #8
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    Default Thank you

    Thank you for your perspective, Kieran...yes, we do call mutual aid. The above "SOP" is only for extreme, extreme conditions when rescues must be made. Even with automatic mutual aid, the next arriving units are still 10 minutes away. The intent is for the officer to make a rapid walk-around of the structure to size-up and locate the ventilation point. Due to the fact that he has sized-up the structure, he will better be able to guide the nozzleperson to the seat of the fire. The pump operator has to leave the panel for short periods of time in order to assist with a few things, however his primary location once the nozzle crosses the threshold is to man the panel. The OVM and Control are important, as the OVM helps coordinate ventilation. The control makes sure that the hose line is able to move smoothly to the seat of the fire. While they are outside, they form the "two-out" until the fire has been confined in a way to facilitate a search. The OVM and Control man then move in and perform quick primary. This SOG was developed in order to get water on the fire (which solves most problems), but recognizes the high rescue profile of some of our structures in a rural area. All personnel are taught that if one person on the crew is not sure of what he should be doing, that they are not to initiate it and wait until reinforcements arrive. I truly hope that we never, ever have to do this, and would truly love to clear our house out with 15 people within the first five minutes, but that isn't realistic. I also don't want a citizen to die because we didn't prepare for every contingency....

    As usual, though, thank you so much for your posts...that's why they are there...to gain better perspective...

  9. #9
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    Good topic and I agree with a lot of the responses you have already gotten. But, when wanting to approve an SOP assigning task that need to be done make sure everyone knows how to do every job. I understand the problem with manpower and not having a lot of help show up. Not so much from my dept, but some of our local rural depts. Mutual aid is the other big concer I'd have as some replies have stated already. We are the only dept with full time employees, we listen to the radio and here these long response times. We could usually beat them there but they don't utilize mutual aid. WE are all in it together....use what you have available. I'd also a little more careful in all the tasks you listed. The officer needs to make the decisions not fight the fire. The person running the pump needs to stay there. Just little things. You have the right idea and thats' what matters. Later....

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Hopefully I can get everyone on the same page...then we'll be in the process of training in each position on drill nights. One night will be specifically for the OVM, one night for the Control, etc....then everyone will know what to do (hopefully)...

  11. #11
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    I read your post with interest, as I am an Australian and I find some of your terms/names slightly different, but I think I have managed to understand what you have put in place.

    Obviously there are some major differences between how your service is run in comparison to my own service (Queensland).
    If you would humor me by answering a few questions I would be very greatful.

    You mention the OSHA/NFPA in your post, I assume they have SOP's in place for incidents such as you've described, what are the main differences between these and your procedure?
    Does your service have an established training system that is to be used as a guide for station based training?

    The Queensland system requires that whenever Personnel don SCBA that there be a BA control officer also, this duty is usually filled by the pump operator, the BA controller is required to maintain communications with the BA crew, Log entry times, calculate time due out, maintain a log of the crews progress & estimated location,notify fire control and the officer in charge of emergency situations and when crews exit and enter the premises, This can get pretty hectic when your trying to run the pump as well. Do you have a similar position for your SCBA operations?

    As noted by others in replies the Officer in charge entering the premises would be unusual to say the least in our service, If due to the make of the crew the officer was required to enter a building he would hand over control of the incident to another officer before doing so. Is this a workable solution for your situation.

    I understand the need for multi skilling your team and applaud your approach. My situation is somewhat similar as we live in an isolated community where the arrival of a second appliance will be too late to assist with rescue ( 1hour 30 mins. @ best)

    The subject of community expectations is one that I understand very well.Our SOP's for operations with SCBA require a Two man crew at all times & and a further two man crew dressed and ready to go at the control point. Our standard turnout from our eight man brigade is 4 so you can see my difficulty immediately.

    I hope you can understand some of my rambling suggestions/questions/examples as I would appreciate any answers to my questions, or information on how it's done in other countries.
    If you have any questions on my or the Queensland fire and rescue services training methods please ask and I will do my best to answer.

  12. #12
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    It's always a pleasure to get a perspective from "across the pond." Thank you for your post. In an attempt to answer some of your questions: According to OSHA, a crew of two firefighters enters an IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) Environment, there must be two firefighters outside as a "rescue team." NFPA-wise, I'm sure that this falls under 1500 (or the new 1710 and 1720), but I don't have a copy in front of me so I couldn't tell you exactly where. Based on our scenario, we do meet these requirements, although I've always felt that just two firefighters waiting outside for rescue is more of a joke, when they can usually be put to better use that might prevent the need for "two-out." (I'm not against two-in, two-out, but in my experience, some departments do just that--two people standing outside totally unprepared for a rescue, but by golly they can put on paper that they had two out---sorry...that was a soap box for another post ) The difference is that when the fire is confined, the "two-out" actually come inside to perform search and rescue. Based upon most standards, if there is a known life hazard, you can break the two-in, two-out policy--but you'll have some expalining to do.

    As far as the BA Control Officer--I really like that idea, and I feel that part of the reason that Europeans and Australians lose fewer firefighters is due to their strict adherence to the BA Control Officer policy. Unfortunately, with our Volunteer department, we have some people that can fight fire, and some people that can't. We can't predict what order these people will arrive. We don't want to "waste" (again, using that term loosely) a person that will actually fight fire and perform rescues on the BA Control positiion, and then have the guy that won't go inside (whom we would normally assign a task like BA Control) with nothing to do. If the non-firefighter always showed up first, it would be easy...right now we can't predict that. Our solution for now will be training in air awareness. All firefighters will be put through a "physical fitness" test with their SCBA bottles on. Each firefighters average air consumption will be recorded, and then we will base our "time in structure" on the shortest time. Hopefully this will make everyone more "air aware," and also encourage a little physical fitness training. I know that I need it Furthermore, accountabilitywise, the positions are based on strict adherence to duties...the officer will always know where his nozzleman should be, he should always know where his Engineer should be, and he should always know where the OVM and Control man should be. If they are anywhere else, then there will be hell to pay...I know, it's not perfect, but it's what we have. The use of the Pump Operator to monitor BA times is an excellent idea, and I will try to figure out a way to incorporate it into the system.

    You are correct in that the Officer going inside is unusual. This is unusual for us, also. If staffing permits, or if the attack is offensive (without Rescue Mode), then the officer stays outside and takes command. Command is then transferred to a Chief Officer upon his arrival. The only time the Officer goes in is to make an appreciable difference on the outcome of the Rescue, hence his duties in this system.

    We practiced this once, and it worked out OK. We still need a LOT more training. Our biggest issue presently is getting everyone on board with some operational SOGs that I implemented. They feel that "we're volunteers," so SOGs don't apply. Some also feel that the SOGs set us up for more problems. I understand that the SOGs we're implementing aren't perfect, but we do need something. Hopefully we can get them put into place, and then change and tweak them to meet our needs as time goes by. The key is getting everyone on the same sheet of music.

    Thank you so much, everyone, for your excellent posts. It is encouraging to get different perspectives and ideas for this plan. Keep it up!

  13. #13
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    Teach people to think. Which you are doing.
    Nice to have the manpower to be able to assign positions. I work on departments that One FF will arrive on scene and work about 4-8 min. before help arrives, and I work where we might have 4 guys first due with another crew 4-8 mins out.
    People need to think and pratice different situations.
    If the crew is only going to flow a 2 1/2" and the hydrant is within 75 ft. Then I know that I Can get the connection myself with a 500gal. tank as a pump operator, because I have praticed over and over again. I know that depending on tank sizes, that when we are going to blitz attack it is helpful for the pump operator to get another guy to make hydrant connection.
    If you have a hydrant connection guy all the time and you don't want your officer going interior, then why can't he be the pump operator.

  14. #14
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    Default Great Job

    I think it sounds great, it is awesome that you cam up with that. This is incredible for a volunteer department. A lot of the "all volunteer" departments in my area are not aggressive with progressive approaches. How ever I think that Automatic Mutual Aid is the key. (My department is an all volunteer department, but we staff 365 days a year by the volunteers who get paid to work) We have 30 members, and are in an awesome spot for auto MA we are surrounded on all four sides of our fire district by Full Time fire departments so we are able to stack our run cards pretty heavy. On all fires we have 3 of the 4 resond with us to give us over 15 at the minimum personnel just in the first alarm alone.

    Jeremy Stocker
    PTB-FTM-RFB
    www.getchellfire.com
    J. Stocker
    Getchell Fire
    Bulldogs

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