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  1. #1
    Forum Member fireguy919's Avatar
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    Default Question about reponding to the post office

    Greeting all I did a search and found nothing. The other day we have a fire alarm call at our local U.S. Post Office. We responded with full response(not the debate I want to start), our post office has open lobby for post office box customers that is open all the time. The main counter and storage room is locked up. Our police where first on scene and advised nothing was visible (again a debate I do not wish to start on listening to the pd for such things or not.) We continued in and found there to be nothing. Our dispatch has a key holder book and made contact with the post master. He lives two blocks away way and arrived shortly after us. Here is where we get to my question. He went off how it would be illegal for us to make a forced entry on the post office and we would go to jail for this. And we should always wait for the post master to get in the the building. I would disagree with that, but when we had the police in to review traffic laws there is something they brought up about if there is a fire truck, police car, ambulance and a mail truck at a four way stop the mail truck has the right of way(no matter if the emergency units have lights and sirens going on). I tried to find something in the codes about this and came up empty was hoping maybe someone here knew or could tell me where it is. I cant see it being wright if the building was on fire but it is the federal government. Thanks


  2. #2
    Forum Member FyrGuy176's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about the situation you describe, but, in the city I work for, we cannot enforce fire safety codes or even do a fire safety inspection at the post office.

    It will be interesting to hear other peoples take on your situation and others.
    Marc S.
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    (Previously posted as Hobbitt. Registered December '02,)

  3. #3
    Forum Member FFTide's Avatar
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    Since the Post Office is a Federal service (whether privatized or not) they do not have to adhear to local/state laws they abide by the Federal laws. That said, they are techincally higher ranking than us all. However, I doubt you will find any post carrier that would be stupid enough to challange a fire truck at a 4 way intersection.

    As for the forced entry... I really don't know. I would think if you had a local officer of the law with you, you should be covered for any theft/damage you do (or don't do hopefully).

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  4. #4
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Originally posted by FFTide
    Since the Post Office is a Federal service (whether privatized or not) they do not have to adhear to local/state laws they abide by the Federal laws. That said, they are techincally higher ranking than us all. However, I doubt you will find any post carrier that would be stupid enough to challange a fire truck at a 4 way intersection.

    ~Jeff
    Go reread your Constitution and then the Federalist Papers, the Federal Governemtn does not "out rank" anyone, they are just in a seperate playing field. You are right that they do not have to adhear to local/state laws when they conflict with federal statutes, instead they follow the rules of GSA rather then the local fire code.
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  5. #5
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    Treat the post office like you would any other building with an automatic fire alarm. If there is no visible smoke, fire, or other emergency, then just wait for the keyholder. If there is a visible emergency, then you got to do what you got to do. The mail is very important and I'm sure they're not going to argue with you about breaking into the post office to save all the mail from burning up. I have a feeling the post master was simply refering to breaking into the building for an automatic fire alarm when there is no visible emergency. Of course, I don't know the law and this is only my opinion.

  6. #6
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    There is a police force with exclusive jurisdiction over postal facilities. The Postal Inspectors. I have investigated a few fires and other types of incidents in postal facilities, including mailboxes. They always take the lead, but they always welcome help.

    There are a host of security problems with forcing entry into a post office. I seriously doubt whether you would ever be prosecuted. But it is unreasonable to force entry into any building with nothing showing when an EC is two blocks away and is responding. I can tell you from experience that if there is an actual fire, this is not an issue. Expect to spend an enormous amount of time on overhaul if the fire involves items in the mailstream.

    As far as the mail truck is concerned, this is one of the biggest urban myths out there. If you review the code in your state, you will find that a driver must yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle. There will be a definition of emergency vehicle and it is not going to include a mail truck. Ask the officers to show it to you.

    http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/fourway.asp

  7. #7
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    As far as the mail truck is concerned, this is one of the biggest urban myths out there. If you review the code in your state, you will find that a driver must yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle. There will be a definition of emergency vehicle and it is not going to include a mail truck. Ask the officers to show it to you.
    That is correct, at least here in Fla. The only thing we have to stop for is a school bus which is loading/unloading. At one time, I heard we cant break a funeral procession either, but have never seen it in writting.
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  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber AFD368's Avatar
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    OK, I work for the USPS. As stated by many above, I don't think that if you arrive on scene and have a working fire there is going to be any problem with putting the fire out. I would be careful to do only what is necessary to extinguish the fire. A few years back, there were two or three small town post office fires that I can recall, and the volunteers didn't hesitate to fight the fire (they were working fires). The Postal Inspectors will be contacted, and when they arrive they will make sure that you do only what you have to do to extinguish the fire. Postal employees will be called in to carefully overhaul the remains. Local fire investigators will work with Federal investigators to determine a cause, as the Fire Chief is responsible to have a cause and origin on his fire report. If it is just an automatic alarm, with nothing showing, there are usually contact numbers on or near the employee entrance. I would wait for a keyholder, unless contacted and told differently.
    As for the Postal vehicle at intersections...... ALL Postal drivers are instructed to drive defensively and if rerouted around an emergency scene must do so. I had a working structure fire on my route last year and had to drive around it, but was allowed to deliver the neighboring houses.
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    Our local post office is more than willing to provide us with a tour of the layout and pre-planning.

    Ours also has a lobby open 24/7 but the rest of the building is not staffed on nights and weekends. We would not do forcible entry unless the situation dictated doing so (smoke showing, sprinkler activation etc). We will otherwise wait for the keyholder.

    Part of our plan is to use the carts to dump the loose mail into and move them outside to a safe area if conditions permit. We would have either fire or law enforcement guard the carts until the Postal Service arrived and took custody.

    I also work for a federal agency (not USPS). Federal vehicle operators are required to comply with the traffic laws of the state in which they are being operated.

    There is a provision in federal law for a fire deaprtment to bill a federal agency for service rendered. It was put there because federal property does not pay taxes to the local government. I can't recall the section but I believe it is under "Tort Claims".

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  10. #10
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Question

    I have to look and see what our SOG says ........good thread ......
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  11. #11
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    It is all about how you approach the situation, our Post Office welcomes us each year to do a Fire Inpsection it helps them with all the safety requirements they have. As far as entering the building if nothing is showing on any property we wait for a key. If no key is coming we take each situation and deal with it as needed.
    GFIRE

  12. #12
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    Okay, I didn't read the other responses, so sorry if this was already said.

    It's actually quite simple. They're part of the federal government, we're lowly municipal employees. That's why it is the way it is...

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    Not to sure about the training that the USFS has, but if there were issues on jurisdiction, just let them fight the fire.

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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    We have had a few fire alarm activations at the local post office. As others previously stated, the USPS is quasi governemantal agency and as such is not required to adhere to the local rules and regulations in regards to fire prevention.

    If we have an alarm at the post office, which is in my district, our sog is to roll the standard response. If there is nothing showing, do a 360 of the building. If nothing is showing on the inside, release the companies with the exception of the 1st due Engine and await the arrival of the keyholder. Smoke showing, well that's a horse of a different color.
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  15. #15
    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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    The PO is federal property, so everyone's right in saying you don't just go waltzing in without due cause. In fact, as I understand it, residential mailboxes are also considered federal property, and to screw with them is to screw with the Postal Inspectors.

    I never heard the 4-way stop thing, but I did hear that if we're blocking traffic and a PO vehicle wants through, we can't stop it.
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  16. #16
    Forum Member fireguy919's Avatar
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    First off thank you to everyone who answered. We treat alarm drops as structure fires until proven other wise. One department was burned on that on a commercial build they run on for 2 days before heave smoke showing (but that is another story). We respond with two engines, engine 35 went into lobby area with T.I.C.. Engine 39 went around the back where shipping and receive is. We only made entry into the main lobby which is open 24/7. Had no intentions on forcing entry with nothing showing. But we had taken the tools in to do it if we had to. We also had an uncharged 1 3/4 line with entry crew. Our plan was once there was nothing showing and nothing showing on the TIC we was going to wait for key holder. Engine 39 did extend a ladder to the roof, but they did not go on the roof. Our SOG on alarms drops is nothing showing we wait for key holder. When the post master showed I donít know if us being ready to make entry was what made him go off or not. We do have a meeting set up with him this Monday coming to talk about this and what could be.
    As for the intersection thing that was thrown in for input also. That was what a police officer had told us once a traffic review class. Didnít think it was true thanks George. All information is appreciated. Will let you know how the how the meeting goes.

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    Our chief is the fire marshall and for us we are allowed to do anything we want, as long as we don't force entry and we are under no circumstances allowed to touch any mail until a postal manager is on scene.

    Same goes with a mail truck. If it flips or gets into an accident, we can't do anything until a postal manager is on scene...even if it requires extrication.

  18. #18
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Originally posted by shvfr4
    Our chief is the fire marshall and for us we are allowed to do anything we want, as long as we don't force entry and we are under no circumstances allowed to touch any mail until a postal manager is on scene.
    You can do anything, but you can't force entry? That kind of precludes the anything part to a high degree doesn't it?

    Originally posted by shvfr4
    Same goes with a mail truck. If it flips or gets into an accident, we can't do anything until a postal manager is on scene...even if it requires extrication.
    B.S.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
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  19. #19
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Originally posted by shvfr4
    Our chief is the fire marshall and for us we are allowed to do anything we want, as long as we don't force entry and we are under no circumstances allowed to touch any mail until a postal manager is on scene.

    Same goes with a mail truck. If it flips or gets into an accident, we can't do anything until a postal manager is on scene...even if it requires extrication.





    Then why respond IF you can't do anything until a postal manager is on the scene.

    Maybe this is what you guys do in your burg, but in the real world, if the post office, mail truck or mail box is on fire, we go into action as soon as we are on the scene.

    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  20. #20
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    Originally posted by shvfr4
    Our chief is the fire marshall and for us we are allowed to do anything we want, as long as we don't force entry and we are under no circumstances allowed to touch any mail until a postal manager is on scene.

    Same goes with a mail truck. If it flips or gets into an accident, we can't do anything until a postal manager is on scene...even if it requires extrication.
    I want to be driving that mail truck when it flips in your jurisdiction.

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