Thread: Was I Wrong?

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    Default Was I Wrong?

    About two weeks ago, we responded to a fire in an apartment. The apartment was VERY small. probably 20x30 with 3 rooms. The building is single story CBC, with a flat roof.

    I was acting as Lt that day. When we pulled up, I really didnt see anything from the street (the set back was about 60'). When I got of the rig, I saw what looked like a little haze , so I had a FF pull a line.

    When we got to the door of the apartment, all I could see was a little bit of smoke ozing from the top of the door, and a little of the same from the edge of the roof. There was no push at all from the smopke. Couldnt see anything through the windows except that the room was fully charged with smoke.

    I read this as a smoldering fire, one that was just looking for a big influx of O2. So I had the nozzle man carefully, partialy open the door, waited and watched for a couple seconds, opened the door fully, waited and watched for a couple seconds, then we made entry.

    Come to find out, it was a smoldering fire (just as I had thought) in a closet.

    Now, we only had 3 on the engine, so our standard of venting first wasnt really an option. Yeah I could have taken a window out, if I had brought an axe with me (my bad ). After 23 years you would think Id know better then to climb off the rig with nothing but a radio. Brain cramp, what can I say


    Anyhoo, my question is, was I wrong? The reason I ask is the DC is all kinds of ****ed that I just didnt kick the door in and haul butt. I got quite the leacture about not being "agressive enough". He didnt want to hear anything about how it didnt "look right" to me.

    So what do you all think?
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

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    What would he/she have had you do more "aggressively"? The fact you weren't aggressive enough seems a tad bit subjective.
    Steve Gallagher
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    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

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    Making entry in a smoke filled building with only 3 guys total is agressive enough for me. Would busting the door and rushing in have made any difference? Probably not. Might it have given a better chance at someone getting hurt if there was different fire conditions? Possibly. Personally, got no problem with what you did.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Agressive isn't necessarily about speed but I guess your DC disagrees. Its one thing to say you pulled up and had fire blowing out a window and still tip toed around inching the door open. In your case it appeared that you had a either a smoldering fire or a fire that burned itself out already so what are we storming in for.

    It didn't look right to you, you did not want to introduce copious amounts of air all at once so you eased in on it wheres the problem that deserves an ***** chewin? Would he rather have had you throw the door open and give the fire it the O2 its starving for? Then what??? Agressively get the f out of the way of the ensuing fireball? Nobody in the joint?? Our life and safety is first!

    Sounds like he was hoping for you guys to screw up and is disappointed that you didn't and is making up a reason to rip you.

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    Did the fire go out? Yes
    Was much more property or structure lost between the time of arrival and the completion of extinguishment? No
    Did everyone go home? Yes

    Where's the F'ing problem then? - you safely protected life and property - which is the nuts and bolts of our job.
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

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    I hae seen this too many times. More and more, chief officers are becoming more worried about how fast we are running in than our crews being safe. We as a fire service are not seeing nearly as many fires as we used to, and with construction becoming less and less dependable, we need to be taking our time and watching our *****es out there. If this chief officer felt you werent aggressive enough, he needs to really evaluate the situation you and your crew were in.
    On a personal note, I have been in your situation before. The chief officer was a rusty retiree from the "big city" (as he puts it) who was a line officer in the 70's when everything was burning. He chewed me for taken my time making an entry into a room and contents fire because something didnt feel right to me. He proceeded to tell me that "back in the day" they would just run in and bust the door down balls to the wall. Right or wrong, my crew all went home to thier families that night.

    Stay Safe out there.
    Loo
    Lieutenant / EMT- Paramedic
    Protective Services Officer

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    Dave1893,

    A couple of questions.....

    1. The fire was extingushed and with minimal property damage correct ??

    2. You were riding light but did all the members make it back home un-injured ??

    3. Was there a life hazzard situation {Suject{s} Trapped ??

    4. And most important was this idiotic D/C even there ?? -- If he wasn't how can he size up and critique your decisions ??

    The D/C needs to stop his drama and move on -- From reading what you posted you acted accordingly with the situation and the resourses you had.

    Next time bring your tool....lol lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1983
    He didnt want to hear anything about how it didnt "look right" to me.
    The power of the "gut" shouldn't be underestimated. I am assuming that you have been around a while and have seen a bit of fire. This sounded exactly like a good time to play it cautious. Don't worry about it. Some "leaders" complain just to throw their weight around to prove to themselves who is in charge.

    Along those lines we worked a call a few months ago where it went out as a smoke detector activation in a duplex. We rolled up and I started my walk around. This windows were completely blacked over but were not hot. I couldn't feel any heat from any of the exterior doors. I thought we had a heavy burning fire in a back room of a well sealed structure. We made entry through a garage door (unlocked) with a 1 3/4" handline. No smoke in the garage. We eased the door open from the garage into the building. It took a few seconds for it to register that there was no smoke in the building but everything was blacked over. The apartment had burned the night before and no one had noticed. The demarcation line was clearly visible about 2 1/2' off the floor. Everything was coated in heavy black carbon but the fire damage was minimal. I shudder to think what would have happened if someone had just kicked in the door when it was going.

    Pics from the call:
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    Last edited by Skwerl530; 09-18-2005 at 01:25 AM.
    We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering.

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    Nice pics... Christmas tree fire by any chance or was it just a casualty of the fire.

    I don't think I could paint a line that straight on the wall. Even the furniture shows the same demarcation line.

    Just amazing how that fire can burn without anyone knowing it yet the next day someone can hear the smoke detector (I assume a 3rd party heard it outside?) especially in a duplex!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFTrainer
    Nice pics... Christmas tree fire by any chance or was it just a casualty of the fire.

    I don't think I could paint a line that straight on the wall. Even the furniture shows the same demarcation line.

    Just amazing how that fire can burn without anyone knowing it yet the next day someone can hear the smoke detector (I assume a 3rd party heard it outside?) especially in a duplex!
    I can say that the fire was "suspicious in nature". It was an artificial tree BTW. The occupants were on vacation and the people next door heard the smoke detector.
    We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering.

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    Excellent sizeup and critical thinking. You did everything right. Sometimes the gut feeling, or odd feeling, or somthing that doesn't feel right can save you from toasting yourself. We had a garage fire about two years ago, upon arrival we had grey, yellow smoke under pressure from the edges of the doors/windows. One of senior guys, who is overly aggressive opened the garage door without doing a quick sizeup, or waiting for the line to be charged. He got a faceful of flame. Melted part of his mask, shield/helmet, and cooked his coat, from about the nipple line up. He obviously didn't learn, and did almost the same thing a year later. Cowboys are a dangerous thing, don't be one, and don't let someone who is one, bust you on somthing you did right. You were there, and unless he was sencond on the line, he shouldn't have questioned anything.
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    Dave
    Always trust your gut feeling. I do not feel that you was wrong in anyway. What would of the DC said if you just rushed in and it did get you. You guys where to aggressive. I think you did a great job in making sure that your crew was had the best chance to go home. No matter what else comes from it know that, A you read what you had on scene not with the information of 15 minutes after you was there. Iím sure we all could make the wright call if we could see what was going to happen a head of time. B you made sure it was a safe for your crew as could be. C you didnít rush into what could of been a very bad situation if not done properly. I would ride with you as an officer an time brother be safe.
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    Reading most of the other posts has me agreeing that if you put out the fire,and everyone went home safely,you did the right thing,even with your initial mistake.
    We all make them and I am glad to hear that an officer would admit it when he does as well.
    I think that we should all make sure not to repeat the same mistakes but learn from them even as we make others,because,we're sure going to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stillPSFB
    Did the fire go out? Yes
    Was much more property or structure lost between the time of arrival and the completion of extinguishment? No
    Did everyone go home? Yes

    Where's the F'ing problem then?
    'Nuff said!

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    You did more than I would have. We typically don't pull any line on smoke. As an officer, I go see whats on fire first.
    RK
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    I agree that with the lack of manpower, and evidence of a smoldering fire, you definitely did the right thing.

    One point however.....If you were to grab one tool of the rig, PLEASE dont make it an axe. I was always taught, an axe by itself on the fireground is not a tool. Take a halligan. You can basically do anything you could with the axe, (taking the window, for example) plus minor overhauling is much easier, as well as forcing doors and self evacuation manuevers.

    Sorry to kinda hijack the thread, just had to get that off my chest.

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    Your attack meathod is just what we preach on most residential fires. Low, Blow, and GO. By opening a door slowly, I believe I can get a much better size-up on actual fire conditions than doing the standard 360 walk around. Construction meathods these days can seal a house rather nicely. By opening the door slow and positioning low, you will find out instantly the interior smoke conditions and do it safely. If there would be heavy smoke or fire conditions, you are in position with your line to take action or close the door and wait for further backup. You are also allowing as little air into the mix as possible and you are in control of it. Breaking a window takes that control away. Open the door low, let the fire/smoke blow, and go for attack/investigation as needed. I've worked with the "kick & run in" people in the past and watched a number of them do a rapid 180 headed out the same door when things went bad. Now that we've all agreed with you, I suppose the Chief is still freaked!

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    Back a couple of years ago we had a house fire. The people had moved away but there were still vehicles in the driveway and the neighbors couldn't tell us if the residents were home or not. I was on the second engine in, solo. When I got on scene the engine from station 1, which is the paid station, only had 1 guy on it. So here we are, working house fire, 2 engines and 2 firefighters. Well, the chief from a neighboring department showed up followed by one of our Batt. Chiefs. He ordered myself and the other firefighter to pack up. By this time a few more people had showed up and we started to set up water supply and whatnot.

    We noticed heavy smoke showing from eaves and from the windows in the basement. A Chief from that same neighboring department showed up and ordered me to follow him around back with an axe. He was going to have me break out the sliding back glass window with the axe and a Sheriff's Deputy was going to inform him when I did so so he could have the front entry team kick the front door open and attack the fire. I asked him if it was safe for me to do so since the smoke was huffing and puffing front the eaves and there was a great pressure on the front door, it was bowing. He told me yeah, its fine, nothing will happen.

    Well, I proceed to break the back glass and a backdraft occured, or at least thats what it felt like. I stood to the side, not exposing my body to the open door, and swung the axe to the window. It broke and I felt air rush in, then blow out, blowing all the glass and blinds and curtains with it. I made my self extremly small and as soon as I felt it dissipate I jumped off of the deck I was standing on and went to the front. The Chief was like "hey, good job. Uneventful huh?" I was like,"No, it caused a backdraft. It blew all the glass and stuff out the back door. I could of got hurt." Well, that didn't go over to well with him. He went to my Chief and told him I had second guessed him and that I didn't know or understand how to operate on the scene of a fire.

    I explained myself to my Chief and he went to the back and saw the debris and the situation I was put in. He defended me and told the other Chief that he did not appreciate him putting my Chiefs men in situation of risk such as that. It ****ed off that once Chief and he told my Chief that if none of his men could operate on a fire and take orders then we had no business in the fire service. We are here to take risks, thats the nature of our job. That whole thing just made me mad, and left me with a bad taste in my mouth about firefighting. It wasnt until a few months later that I felt confident enough in my abilities to do anything other than support roles.

    I just think that a Chief with that kind of mentality and attitude could get people hurt or killed on a fire. I mean yes, we are in a very dangerous profession but we should not be placed in a situation like this. If I am in the wrong, feel free to let me know.
    Firefighter/EMT-B
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    Davey boy, sounds like you did just fine IMHO. A cautious approach to that fire was wise. The DC and John Wayne may not like it but tough sh--!

    On the other hand I'm gonna give a little simpathy to the DC. If you were seen by him to be a little overly cautious throughout the years, he may have been gettin on you to make sure it isnt gonna happen in the future. It might have been a concern of his that he feels he took care of now. I bet you are more motivated than ever to "keep it movin" after gettin your ars chewed. Just like fire tactics, there's Chief'n tactics.

    God bless and pull the ceiling as you go.

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    Was the D/C aggressive on the exterior and have the truck bust open all the windows? You done good.

    BTW, what started the fire?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFTrainer
    Agressive isn't necessarily about speed .
    Well said....

    Taking a few seconds to cautiously open the door and check conditions before going barelling in there is a wise thing to do, IMO. The fire is not going to spread significantly in those few seconds....may flare up a bit, but there won't be any appreciable spread or additional damage (especially with the slow-burning smoldering conditions you correctly predicted). Tunnel vision is a bad thing. Cranio-rectal inversion is a worse thing, and it sounds like your DC has it...

    Dave, with 23 years on "da job", I'm sure you already know you did the right thing....maybe just looking for somewhere to vent?
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 10-02-2005 at 09:40 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAPPYY
    I bet you are more motivated than ever to "keep it movin" after gettin your ars chewed. Just like fire tactics, there's Chief'n tactics.
    Well, no. I told him to take me off the acting officer list. This isnt the first "problem" Ive had with him.

    He's one of thoese who, as a company officer, did no wrong. Ive had about enough of "well ya know, back when I was the truck Lt.".

    Its not all him though. I just cant seem to adapt to my new surroundings. I was a company officer in my former department and pretty much ran things as I saw fit. Very little (if any) "input" from the higher ups. Not that way here. I swear, I think micro-manegment is part of the departments mission statement (lol).

    I think it would just be better for both sides if I just stick to driving the BRT. I enjoy that more anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc
    Dave, with 23 years on "da job", I'm sure you already know you did the right thing....maybe just looking for somewhere to vent?
    Pretty much. Thanks Bro's
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Was the D/C aggressive on the exterior and have the truck bust open all the windows? You done good.

    BTW, what started the fire?

    Mice with matches?


    I think the "offical" cause was electrical. Then again, it seems all our fire are either electrical, lightning or arson.
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    Davey boy you gots to hang in there.
    Keep in mind that it will be hard on you to have to work under this guy but a time will come when someone different will come along, have the power, and be lookin to make changes (maybe it will be you) but if all that new guy has to work with is guys that got along with this DC, hows he gonna make those changes. You would be his inside guy.
    Over the years (since '74) I have worked under some real chuckle heads at times! I swear some of them were on a mission to get us all killed! But I hung in there and made leui and captain and now chief. Now I'm the a--hole!!! Things run my way now and from years of humpin hose I got a real good idea of what my guys need and want. The key thing here is that I was here when the time of change arrived. The chuckle heads came and went, seeking glory elswhere. IMHO- hang tough! But good luck in whatever you do Bro.

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