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  1. #1
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    Default Officers driving apparatus

    I was wondering if anyone knows of a department where the line officer drives an apparatus on a regular basis.

    We respond with 2 engines and 1 ladder from one station. We have a vounteer company that provides support only when called upon. When on duty staffing is full, there are 3 ff's and an officer. Minimum on duty staffing is 2 ff's and an officer. When on duty staffing is at a minimum, the officer has to drive an apparatus.

    Minimum staffing is in effect for approximately 3/4 of the year due to vacation leave etc.

    I am curious haw many are in the same situation.


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    My department does not allow company officers to drive apparatus. We can drive any of the support vehicles with the exception of Car 7, our brush fire unit, as it carries a hose, a pump and a water tank.
    ‎"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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    Forum Member Smoke20286's Avatar
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    The LT's on pur rescues drive when they are transporting as the paramedic is in the back with the patient
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    We run 3 man rigs, 1 officer and 2 FFs. Occasionally, both FFs will accompany the ambulance to the hospital on a Priority 1 patient, so the officer will drive the rig to the hospital to pick them up. Rig is out of service with less than 2 on board.

  5. #5
    Forum Member tfd181's Avatar
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    Though we don't assign officers to drive, they do in certain circumstances - such drivng the medic unit to the hospital. However, on OT officers often end up driving. OT is by strict senority regardless of rank, and most of the guys let the on shift personnel stay in thier normal spots and fill in where needed, even if that means driving.

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    Default OT regardless of rank

    So an officer will work out of rank, for the day? If driving, he will be chouffer and pump operator? This could be a first due engine or ladder company? Does this mean he could be the nozzle man etc.?

    Because of very limited man power, it is possible for me to do just about anything onthe fire scene.

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    Thumbs down Officers driving apparatus

    Sounds like working out of title to me

  8. #8
    FJ40Dave
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    As a Lt, I rarely drive the fire apparatus.....not out of choice mind ya - I thouroughly enjoy being the Engineer.....but I have a bigger picture to consider with the position I have. (ok, I made the choice to become a Lt. )

    As a Paramedic.....we take turns driving and being the primary....but driving the med rig is nothing like our quint or engine.

    Should I drive the fire apparatus as a practice.......I don't think so.

    As an officer, I see the apparatus and crew as part of the orchestra.....the tools I have to mitigate the situation we're responding to.

    "Ya can't play in the band, and be the conductor at the same time".

    Lt. Dave

  9. #9
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    We do it here quite frequently. WE have a lot of knew people with less than a year on and they are not qualified, nor are they ready to be primary drivers. However, on my shift when I have my regular driver off, Schedule another on OT and I have an unwritten agreement with my driver that when he wants shift swaps he should first try to swap with a driver from another shift. If he happens to get a swap with an officer (acceptable as long as another officer is working on the Payback day) I may end up with the officer on "swap" driving.

    However, one shift constantly has the LT driving, because that is what he wants to do.....so I say....make him a driver. He was made Lt by virtue of him being the only one at that time who had the qualifications....

    Now...I will finish by saying that I do not feel the officer can drive and effectively manage the crew.....it just is not the best practice!!
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  10. #10
    Forum Member cellblock's Avatar
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    Happens all the time here. Most days the staff at the main station is one (maybe two) FF/FRs and the Chief. When the tones drop the Chief will be behind the wheel of a pumper or rescue truck for most calls. The other Paid guys will each take another truck.
    Every fire call requires a service truck and two pumpers which means if there are 3 people working, including the Chief, 3 trucks will roll and volunteers will be paged to respond POV to the scene to meet the trucks.
    Last edited by cellblock; 12-16-2005 at 11:36 PM.
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    we have 2 stations with min staffing of 2 on the truck if were full we have 3 on the trucks so it might be a capt, lut, and firefighter on the ladder and a lut sargent and firefighter on the engine some days work out to having no officers on duty. so out officers drive all the time. before i came on they didnt let the low men drive at all the senior guys drove so they could stay outside and be command and pump. our department only has 16 guys and 1 chief with 2 stations that run 1 quint at hq and 1 pumper at st2 on all fires if it is bigger than room and contents the truck has to pump itself and we call in the off duty guys to come help.

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    I don't think it is the most efficient way of operating. Thats one reason for the post. Another reason was to see if there were many departments in the same boat. The other reason was to see how those who had to drive as officers operated. What kinds of innovative ideas are out there to help compensate for this lack of manpower. I have heard of an officer of a department who would carry a ball on a rope and when crawling down a hallway would throw it through a window to vent. Not an ideal way to vent, but sometimes people do with what they have.

    When we arrive at a structure, first eng. goes a bit past house, second eng. pull just past the house leaving room for the ladder. first eng. operator helps stretch first line and charges it. second eng. operator (could be officer) stretches first line with operator of ladder, then officer and ladder operator advance to seat of fire. Yes, the ladder operator leaves the ladder unattended, remember only one person per apparatus on most shifts. After charging first line, the operator of first eng. goes for water(we are blessed with a very good water system) secures source and returns to operate pump of second eng. We call out for vols. for every structure call. can get between o and 15 for most calls. only about 7 are certified interior. Needless to say MA is a virtue.

    This system works well for us and has been in place for many eons. Any other suggestions are welcome. Good luck and stay safe.

  13. #13
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    In the department which I work for (it borders southeast Raleigh) as well as the City of Raleigh, the LT's drive and the Captains ride the seat. If the Capt. is out then the LT rides the seat. So pretty much our Lt's are what most people call Engineers.

  14. #14
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    our department is getting better at step ups in general, we have an out of rank pay clause in the contract so you are paid accordingly. most of the time a FF will be stepped up to FEO vs having an officer step down. It does happen when an officer is in on a call back, he or she may have to assume the role of FF or FEO depending on staffing needs. I think this is a good thing, keeps the officers fresh on all duties.

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    Now let me ask you this. Lets say you have 4 guys on the floor. 1 Capt. or Lt., and 3 FF's. A call for a structure fire comes in and you roll with the 4 in an Engine. Now if that Capt. or Lt. is the one ( do to rank ) who is going to take command on arrival, would you rather him drive/run the truck and be " outside the structure " as " IC " or him being " IC " inside the structure???? I know this is a debate in one of the departments around here... They roll with a crew and the Lt. or Capt. takes command but he is command while inside the structure... Any opinions?? I know one of the other options would be to have the driver take command until another officer comes to the scene, but at what point do you make a desicion like this??
    Last edited by FF2303; 01-08-2006 at 10:21 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Default 4 on the floor

    I would relish the idea of having 4 on duty. Do to an illness, I havn't had the fourth man in 8 months. We also bring all the apparatus.

    With that being said. I go inside with the ladder driver. and IC inside until the chief arrives or an off duty officer arrives. A volunteer officer will act outside for a manpower pool but will not IC the job.

    I love to go inside so I make the best of it,plus I won't send anyone in by himself (goes without saying). If I had another officer, on duty or off duty, wouldn't hesitate to put him inside. As soon as line is charged and water source secured, first engine operator will take control of outside and run pump until officer takes over. If no other officer shows up I will IC outside after an initial attack,ie; go thru a bottle.

    I guess what I am saying is, IC inside first. The enginge operator will report any changes seen from the outside to me.

  17. #17
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    That sounds about right I guess... It does make sence... Thanks
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  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E1E2TL3
    We respond with 2 engines and 1 ladder from one station. We have a vounteer company that provides support only when called upon. When on duty staffing is full, there are 3 ff's and an officer. Minimum on duty staffing is 2 ff's and an officer. When on duty staffing is at a minimum, the officer has to drive an apparatus.
    Are the vollies qualified to act as operators? Are they responding to the scene in POV's? If so, could the officer easily hand off the pump operations to a qualified volly? That way, he wouldn't have the panel for long.

    Is this a question of should the officer have to drive the apparatus, or just a concern of having the officer tied up running the pump at the scene? Both valid concerns, but with different answers.

    I'm the chief, and I drive trucks to the scene. Often. It's just because I live close to the station...I get there quicker, we get a truck out the door quicker once I have a couple of FF's on board with me. Generally, once on scene, by the time I park, engage the pump, help get the attack lines cleared of the truck, and charge the initial line, one of my designated operators has arrived and I'll hand over the pump ops to him, and take formal command of the scene. Of course, for simple stuff like car or trash fires, I can pretty much run the pump and command the scene, if one of my regular operators doesn't show.

    Of course, you are referring to a paid/on duty scenario, so it's a different situation, but if the officer could turn over the pump operation shortly after arrival, does it really affect the operation much?
    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"

  19. #19
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    I have to say that my district (5 stations) is set up more traditional, in the station I'm in there are 4 of us NO matter what, a Capt. sitting shotgun, an engineer and two firefighters. We use to be lucky to have three but new rules have been set in place so you aren't left short handed nearly every shift like most stations end up having. The station is the headquarters so it runs a brush truck, rescue, engine and a ladder, so after the main rig heads out we also have the option to request volunteers FFs to be toned, some that have operator cert. to get more equipment if another station doesn't have the unit needed, If its for something other then a structure, like a wreck, our firefighter ranking paid personnel can also drive (required to be POII cert just to be a FF at HQ) but they cant run the primary unit out.

    So during a fire the Capt. never goes inside and never has to do anything besides command the scene, because that's what he's "Titled" to do and nothing else, if he starts having to multitask beyond his span of control mistakes can be made, and if it starts to get very large scale an on duty chief responds out and the Capt. gets put in the command stucture somewhere.
    I'll add this is not a rural setup so its run all by specific steps, I know the volunteer ran stations don't get the benefit of FFs at the house 24/7 and have use what they have to get the job done and I have ran plenty where one or two persons easily handle everything, running four people out on an ems respiratory call tends to get old after a few times a shift lol.

    Hope everyone has a safe day.

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  20. #20
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    The vollys respond in pov's. Some are qualified on the pump and take over at the pump when they respond. The officer only operates the pump for still alarms,IE: car fires, etc., due to limited manpower.

    For structures, the on duty officer (capt.) will drive when only 2 ff's on duty, but will not operate the pump. He will be inside on the line.

    It is not really a question of should the officer drive the apparatus, but how many depts are in this position and how do they operate? I do not believe it is efficient for an officer to drive the apparatus. It takes away from initial size up and can delay some tasks. Remember, the first five minutes can "make or break" a fire.

    Lets go back to the pump. The first due eng. operator charges the line on the 2nd due eng. (attack eng) then secures water from the hydrant. He returns to the attack eng. and runs the pump untill relieved by a qualified volly. This is done to free up an interior ff. Not all our vollys are interior certified. Also, the ladder operator "parks" the truck and becomes the nozzleman.

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