1. #1
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    Default Accidents - They Happen

    Question to put out and see if fellow firefighters agree.

    Brief senerio - Dispatched at 4am for a reported Co Detector Activation - Unable to make initial response due to lack of qualified manpower - Once able to go after 12 minutes and mutial aid coming truck rolls. - Now I know this happens - Truck makes wrong turn and is forced to turn around in a court - As the officer you feel a slight sway as if the driver has currbed the truck. You assign a spotter from the rear to make sure your driver hasn't hit anything which your spotter says nope just a curb you're ok......We proceed on to the incident.

    Discovered later that the truck struck a retaining wall in a court parking lot, damaged {Actually crushed} the wheel chock brackets and marker lights on the driver side. This same spotter {Probationalry firefighter keep in mind} hooks up the Exhaust hose which is on the driver side of the apparatus just 18" from the damage and never notices it or says anything. Anyway damage is done -

    Driver gets a 90 day suspension and must re-qualify, I receive 30 days for not realizing the driver hit the wall and not making a visual inspection when the truck was "curbed" and the new Probie gets no time off at all. This department is volunteer with about 12 firefighters that actually ride {850-900 calls a year} no EMS, and what appears to be a govering body of revengeful people {Not officers but fire commissioners} - Chief agrees that disipline was served since the incident 3 days ago the whole crew was on administrative leave pending the investigation

    Now I understand the driver getting some time but 90 days ? besides the Chief, Asst. Chief, captain, and Lieutenant he is the only other qualified driver - I can't drive even though I'm a career firefighter in another jurisdiction I'm still considered a probie as well because I've only belonged for 3 months. And where does my 30 days come from ? would that be the norm because I was the apparatus officer or because I spoke my opinion to the commissioner ? - and the probie who was the spotter gets nothing ? somehow I smell foul odors here. Maybe I'm wrong but I think this is why I'd rather get paid to ride and oh yeah drive apparatus which I do at work.

    Looking for thoughts on this one.

  2. #2
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    You wanted an honest opinion, so here it is. I don't think the probie should've been the spotter in the first place. Does he really know what to watch for? Probably not, no, especially when it's dark out. A more senior guy should've been sent out, and if that left only you, then you get out of that officer seat and do the right thing. So no, I don't think the probie should've gotten suspended. It's not his fault he was put in that position in the first place, and as far as him not reporting the damage back at the station, he was probably nervous. You and the driver, on the other hand, should've used better judgment. I also don't understand why neither of you inspected the truck when you got to the scene, much less not noticing the damage back at the station. I'm also curious if I'm reading your post right, that you sent the spotter out AFTER you felt the truck sway. It sure sounds like it, which would make it that much worse, especially if the truck was backing up at the time. As far as what the driver got, if there was no backing involved and he couldn't manage to navigate the truck forward without seeing and hitting a retaining wall, then perhaps he should be requalified. I realize there aren't many drivers in the company to begin with, but that's no reason to allow just anyone to drive if they're not competent. Better the trucks stay in the bay than have them being operated by bad drivers.

    Yes, sometimes accidents happen no matter how hard we try to avoid them or how careful we are. Some accidents are very preventable though. Driving over a retaining wall is one of them, in my opinion anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    Maybe I'm wrong but I think this is why I'd rather get paid to ride and oh yeah drive apparatus which I do at work.
    Now now, no reason to be bitter or take a cheap shot at the volunteer service in general. There are many highly motivated and professional organizations out there. I'm sorry the one you happen to volunteer for seems not to be one of them, but if there really are so little members, I don't see how it would be too difficult to affect some real change. If it's the commissioners that are the problem, then line up a few good guys to run against them when their terms are up. It might take a few years to turn the board over, but you'll be doing good for the citizens. If you're not willing to step up and effect change, then maybe volunteering isn't for you afterall. No shame in that.
    Last edited by Chauffer6; 10-27-2006 at 03:35 PM.

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    Chauffer6,

    You bring up some really good points....I strongly feel the truck should have ben inspected upon returning to the station - Infact it is an SOG that apparatus drivers are supposed to do this. Obviously it wasn't done. - The probationalry member probably doesn't know what to look for and for that I can understand why he may not have noticed anything wrong with the truck - but a wall down in the middle of a parking lot should seem kind of obvious. I have no problem with the probie not getting any time....he's new to the fire service and learning every day. I honestly didn't feel getting out of the officer seat and looking at the driver side of the rig was nesessary when 1.... I was told we were on a curb and 2....performed nesessary spotting for the driver on the right side of the apparatus seeing how we were in a tight spot that no doubt we had no business being in.

    The punishments have been handed down and I sort of understand why. I was even told that even though I too am on probation I assumed responsibility for that crew being the officer. I can live with that.

    In general I have learned from this expirence and will make visual inspections no matter what position I ride in the future. - Now as far as this board of commissioners is concerned.....yeah they all need to go. There has been some harsh business going on between the fire company and the commissioners since last May leading to the firefighters being locked out of every room in the fire house except the engine bay and a bathroom. They used this accident to further bolster their power against the Fire Chief and his officers not to mention continue to lower morale among the firefighters.

    I'd go further into it but I don't believe it fits in this forum. Thanks Chauffer you helped to make me understand a little more. To add though I'm not harsh against the Volunteer Fire Service just because I get a paycheck in another jurisdiction. I love both sides of the business and wouldn't trade being a volunteer for anything. I've been doing it almost 19 years.

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    Don't get me wrong, but I'm trying to figure this one out. Which side of the truck was it that got the damage exactly? If it was the driver's side (I assume not since it was the exhaust side), where was the spotter spotting? If it was the passenger/officer's side, why didn't you see the wall? Better yet, why didn't the spotter see it coming and advise someone there was a wall close on the right side? Sounds like a bit of a training issue. Probie or not, guys should be trained to do their jobs (which as a firefighter is backing apparatus). That's one of the first things we do as we're training new guys, they help back trucks back into the station, during which we discuss backing signals, what to watch for, etc.

    Personnally (and please don't take it personnally), I don't see any excuse for a multi-hundred thousand dollar truck being backed into anything. I drove trucks for a while before I got into the fire service. One thing I learned doing that was to know my surroundings. Even as a driver/engineer, I still keep an eye on what's around me before I have to back; what's beside, what's behind me, how close I am, etc. I think if anyone actually took a look at it, you'll see that a lot less guys how have experience driving big trucks and trailers prior to entering the fire service have considerably fewer incidents than those that the only non-passenger vehicle they've driven is a fire truck. Seems to me there's a training or experience gap in there.

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    You joined 86??

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    CATCH 22,

    If you read my original post a bit closer you'll see that the damage occured on the Driver's side of the apparatus, The exhaust tube is on the Driver Side, and although I did leave this part out the probationary member was riding on and spotted the driver side. I assisted the driver from the cab and spotted his right side as there were parked cars directly in front of the vehicle.

    Halligan - Check your PM I'll be happy to answer that one

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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    CATCH 22,

    If you read my original post a bit closer you'll see that the damage occured on the Driver's side of the apparatus, The exhaust tube is on the Driver Side, and although I did leave this part out the probationary member was riding on and spotted the driver side. I assisted the driver from the cab and spotted his right side as there were parked cars directly in front of the vehicle.

    Halligan - Check your PM I'll be happy to answer that one
    OK, so he was spotting from inside the rig?

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    No -- Again I appoligize.... When it was realized that we were up on a curb The Driver asked the Probie to get out and make sure we handn't struck anything and to help spot the driver.

    He got out - looked around - and told the driver you're on a curb you're ok. We than slowly proceeded. When we returned to the Station we have a policy that the driver is to be spotted backing in. This probie was handling that as I was starting the paperwork - The station was well lit and the plymovent hose attatches to the driver side a mere 18" from where the crushed wheel chock brackets were as well as the marker lights.

    I never saw the truck after I got out of it which was outside the station. I did the paperwork and went home back to bed until I got a phone call at 9:30 that same morning telling me there was a problem. Neither here nor there damage occured and punishments handed down for actions or non-actions if you will regarding this accident. What I was generally looking for was opinions on how other departments would have handled the incident - Apparentley the governing body of mine boasted it township wide before the actual punishments were handed down.

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    OK, please don't think I'm picking all this apart, that's not my intention. Just trying to see how in the world it occurred. So, was the probie outside of the truck when the driver was backing? The reason I ask is your statement, "When it was realized that we were up on a curb The Driver asked the Probie to get out and make sure we handn't struck anything and to help spot the driver." If there was no spotter while the truck was backing, I'd say that there's an issue.

    Now, if there's a policy to have a spotter present whenever backing and there wasn't one, I can see why the driver and officer got in trouble. If it's up to the driver's discretion, I can see why he got into trouble. Now, if the spotter allowed the truck to back into the wall, I think he's the one that should have got punished. Just trying to figure out which was the case.
    Last edited by Catch22; 10-29-2006 at 03:30 PM. Reason: another bad spelling day

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    I'm just as confused believe me....We never backed up. The truck was "curbed" and foward movement felt very sluggish {That was probably yhr wall coming down} it was at that point I told the driver to stop, asked him if he hit something. He said he didn't think he did and had the probie guy get out and check. After the probie was outside that's when we found out we actually curbed the truck. Apparently this wall {about a 2 foot high planter wall} had already been struck by the left side of the apparatus while making the turn in the court.

    Hopefully it helps....believe me it helps me understand by talking with fellow members of this fourm to better understand. -- No doubt this is a learning expirence

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    OOOOOK, that's interesting. Now I have a better idea. Can't say as I can argue with the driver getting punished (don't know how policy works if 90 days is too much), especially if he was to check the truck after the run and didn't do it. I'm tossed up on the officer thing, but if you're responsible for the truck, you hold some responsiblity. I do agree with you, the probie should have noticed the damage. Don't know that I would have done much for punishment either (he is knew and may not be knowledgable about how things work), but should have at least had a sit down about it.

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    Yeah - We were promised a "sit down" about it. Still waitin' for that one.

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    I think the newbie should have at least got a reaming, if you know what I mean. How can you not see a 2ft planter practically under the truck? As for the driver, that's understandable and you, well, you were the officer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413

    I can't drive even though I'm a career firefighter in another jurisdiction I'm still considered a probie as well because I've only belonged for 3 months.

    That's the million dollar quote!!!!

    Unless I am reading this wrong, there was only one "senior firefighter" on the truck.. the driver. Whether you are a chief in another department or not.. aren't you still a probie on the truck you were on? Therefore the driver is in charge, being the only senior man or "firefighter". Therefore, why is one probie being punnished and the other not?? I don't care if you are riding the front seat.. if you are a probie, you are NOT in charge of the rig!!!

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    So if I'm reading this right this all happened while the truck was pulling into the parking lot to turn around? The punishment is a bit harsh in one way and not in the other. Does the rookie have any training yet? I think I would punish all the people on the truck. And considering that we're all a team while on the truck no matter what you're doing. Did the truck fly into the drive or did you take your time. You stated that it was a tight spot and had no bussiness being there. So why could'nt the truck be turned around in a bigger lot? I'm sure by now that mutual aid was close to being on scene or allready on scene so take the time and get the truck turned around ,I know the mindset is when you have a call all people think is you got to get there quick, just take the time and get the truck turned around safely. I know this is easier said then done. And I'm not siding on anyones side but I usually find it ironic when people classify the run as a bs call this early in the morning that only 3 people can respond. What if the call came in as a structure fire I'm sure that more than 3 would show probally 10 or the whole dept. Why can only 5 people drive your truck when the dept has 12? I'd look into getting people trained in driving the apparatus.Thats it for now BE SAFE!!

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