1. #1
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    Default How important is crew integrity at a fire?

    ok, so maybe the topic subject isn't the clearest, but going on 3 hours of sleep, I am hoping you can forgive me. here is what I mean.

    at 0030 this morning, my FD was dispatched for smoke in the area at xyz location. first arriving engine company had crew of 3 FF (2 + a driver) found smoke coming from the attic (according to what I could make out of the radio). the driver forced the front door (and then returned to the pump panel), and then the crew made their way to the attic, and using a water can, began to knock down the fire. good job to those guys.

    second arriving piece was our heavy rescue with 4 FFs. we pulled a line off the engine, and also made our way to the attic. all 4 FFs from the rescue went up to assist with the supression. good job to all who were on the rescue.

    after we got back to the station, the driver of the rescue and I were discussing what happened. he said we probably shouldn't have had all 4 guys in the attic, and should have had two guys in the attic, while 2 others doing a primary search. looking back, I would say that probably would have been a better choice.

    however, if you do that, you are splitting up the crew, and a former career Lt. of mine stressed that crew integrity (having the crew all together and focusing on accomplishing one goal) was essential on a fire scene, and is often overlooked.

    so I'm a little confused, can you split up a crew to do multiple tasks (assuming everyone has a buddy), or should you all stay together?
    Last edited by DrParasite; 05-06-2005 at 01:31 PM.
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    Default yes you can but..

    You have to keep track of where you send the members and what you want accomplished. We do it all the time 2 in 2 out, split crews to search a larger area, OV to the roof, irons crew to force doors for the engine. The only time you shouldn't split a crew is when you perform a task that requires the whole company...RIT , large area search are a couple that come to mind. There are many task that can be done by small units of the whole ...you just need to keep track...accountabilty....IC !!
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    LTmd has hit it right on the nose ... often you will need to split a crew simply because there are multiple jobs to do and you more than likely don't need the whole crew for one job. Spliting them up into teams to accomplish multiple tasks is fine as long as that officer knows where his people are and what they are doing.
    I saw an extreme example one day at a diaster drill we were running in VT. We had a mutual aid rescue show up with a 6 man crew and we asked for 2 of his folks to assist at the LZ landing medic choppers and the other 4 to perform recue tasks. He refused to split them and we had a 6 man rescue crew landing choppers .. what a waste.

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    Absolutly spilt the crews, unless a specific task requiers every guy( stretching a line ) So it depends on the task. Does it take 4 guys to force a door, or search a small apartment?? It is a waste of manpower to have all guys together doing a task that can be done by less. I even say that guys CAN work alone. An Outside Vent man can certainly (and usually does on my job) work alone. Can a guy get to the roof and start primary roof ops alone? absoutly. Does a chauffer HAVE to have a guy help him set up the rig?? You need to decide what actions can be performed alone, and what needs 2 or more guys to accomplish, as a policy or at least discussed before hand.
    As Im sure some will respond, that you never split a crew. It is not realistic, and is a waste of manpower. If the members on your job are not capable of working independently, and making safe and proper decisions, than the job needs to seriously look at their training program.
    As far as keeping track of members: If your job has pre-set positions (Roof, OV etc..) Then keeping track is already done. Again, on our job, the boss knows where the OVM,Roof and Chauffer are operating without even asking. And the chief knows where the 1st due Engine and Truck should be operating, and where the 2nd due Engine and Truck should be. The only time a notification is made is when they are positioned other than where they are supposed to be.
    Last edited by MattyJ; 05-06-2005 at 12:23 PM.

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    Why did the entire 1st due engine crew go inside instead of the Officer & FF going inside & the engineer staying out to man his apparatus.

    Why did the 1st due engine not take a attack line with them & instead went in with only a water can?

    Smoke coming from an attic indicates a working fire & a attack line is mandatory.

    From my perspective this is not only stupid it's extremely dangerous.

    Then you say:

    When the heavy rescue arrived they pulled a line off the engine & all 4 went interior.

    Who was manning the engine & ensuring the attack line was fed water. Or did ya just charge the hand line & hope/pray that nothing would happen to the engine as nobody was supervising the pumping operations?

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    Originally posted by Rottie
    Why did the entire 1st due engine crew go inside instead of the Officer & FF going inside & the engineer staying out to man his apparatus.
    They didn't, and I appologize for the confusion. The engineer forced the front door, and then the officer and FF investigated what they had. After the door was forced open, the driver returned to the pump panel.
    Originally posted by Rottie

    Why did the 1st due engine not take a attack line with them & instead went in with only a water can?

    Smoke coming from an attic indicates a working fire & a attack line is mandatory.

    From my perspective this is not only stupid it's extremely dangerous.
    to be honest, I don't know. I wasn't on the engine. I would imagine (and this is only a guess) that they wanted to see what they had before they pulled the line, but that may not have been the reason. they did say that they made their way to the attic, they found the fire. I'm not sure what the their exact size up was, I was only going on what I heard on the radio.
    Originally posted by Rottie
    Then you say:

    When the heavy rescue arrived they pulled a line off the engine & all 4 went interior.

    Who was manning the engine & ensuring the attack line was fed water. Or did ya just charge the hand line & hope/pray that nothing would happen to the engine as nobody was supervising the pumping operations?
    again, the first arriving driver/engineer was supervising pump operations. it was he that charged the line. I will edit the original post to clarrify that.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 05-06-2005 at 01:34 PM.
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    There's absolutely nothing wrong with splitting the crew as long as they can do the task with the manpower at hand as Matty says. The Rescue in my city has 4 FF's and an officer. Unless it's something unusual,a highrise or are all needed in one area they always split into two teams,captain and 2 inside and the other two O/V-roof-top floor search...who usually team up with the O/V-roof team of a split 4 man truck crew. Many times the "roof team" wouldn't even see the officer until the end of the fire,but he knew where their task would take them,and the IC knew what they were doing from portable radio reports from them. It doesn't take a 4 man truck crew to shut the electric meter. Even searching a 4-5 room apartment,nothing wrong with splitting a 4 man crew into 2 search teams.

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    Absolutely split crews. We operate much like MattyJ described. All suppression equipment in Memphis is staffed with 1 officer, 1 Driver, and 2 firefighters. Engine companies routinely split up to facilitate fire attack and water supply. Truck companies split into inside and outside teams. The 2 outside guys will very often be performing different tasks. Guys inside may work independently to perform a common task.

    Everyone standing close together and holding hands sounds like a nice, sweet, safe way to fight fire, but it isn't very practical.
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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    They didn't, and I appologize for the confusion. The engineer forced the front door, and then the officer and FF investigated what they had. After the door was forced open, the driver returned to the pump panel.
    to be honest, I don't know. I wasn't on the engine. I would imagine (and this is only a guess) that they wanted to see what they had before they pulled the line, but that may not have been the reason. they did say that they made their way to the attic, they found the fire. I'm not sure what the their exact size up was, I was only going on what I heard on the radio.
    again, the first arriving driver/engineer was supervising pump operations. it was he that charged the line. I will edit the original post to clarrify that.
    Thanks much for clearing that up!!!!!

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    Ya you can split crews as long as everyone has a buddy, and IC knows where he sent them. I mena you could feasibly get all clogged up and not accomplish squat. Also works better when everyone has a radio.
    Last edited by Weruj1; 05-06-2005 at 08:31 PM.
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    I agree that you can split a crew. In this situation communication is the key. Without communication offices can lose track of where their crew is working, and without communication people can get lost or even hurt. I think that communication is deffinitely the issue here.

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    You can split a "company," you cannot split a "crew."

    If four folks show up on the rescue, they're your rescue company. To accomplish multiple tasks, you can split them up into smaller crews. Once assigned a task, the crew should not split up or detour from their assignment.

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    Yes, split them if you need to...... We do it if needed. Our engine seats 6, but the Squrt only seats 2......... Pull them when you need to, just make sure the officer knows where his people are and command does also........
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    In this situation, I would have split the rescue crew. Two take a line in to back up the engine crew. The other two set up RIT. You have crews inside, you need RIT, period

    Now, in my little corner of the world, we can split crews but only do so in rare situations. We try and keep crews together if at all possible. Makes accountability much easier.

    How would we have handled the situation? Officer and FF from the engine go inside WITH A HOSE LINE (sorry, no cans here). Three FF's from the squad would be RIT, the other would set up for PPV.
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    I'm a little late on this one (changed internet providers and was out of commission temporarily )

    I agree with split them up for the job in question. Like someone else said unless you are talking about a task that needs all 4 guys like RIT or a located victim that is going to take all of you, etc I would definitely split them up.

    In the situation you mentioned, fire in the attic, you had the initial 2 guys in the attic and then committed 4 more... I don't know what type of house you were in, but with all the junk that is in peoples attics and the reduced space to begin with, jamming extra guys in there can make working conditions pretty cramped.

    Also, you mentioned (and I know it was on 3 hours sleep...) maybe you should have split the 4 man crew and sent two for primary search. If you haven't confirmed no occupants, I would say you definitely should have split up and sent 2 guys on a primary. Let the other two advance the handline up and assist the initial 2 guys in the attic.

    I think someone mentioned it already, but this is exactly where accountability comes in. There are some gadgets out there that, to me, are actually worth the money and one of those accountability boards with the squares on it and rings attached is one of them. In our case the accountability officer takes your crew's tags, puts them on a ring and in the corresponding box writes what task you were assigned to so if your 4 man crew gets to the door 2 guys give their tags and get hung on the ring with the initial two labeled something like "attic hoseline" and the other 2 from your 4 man crew gets a different ring labeled something like "Primary search - 2nd floor"

    Is that clear as mud?????

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    Dan:
    You can do anything you want as long as you can account for everyone.
    But if you commit everyone, then who is RIT?
    You posed an excellent question, though.
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