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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Riding on Bumper

    Okay, I'm 'just' a fireman's wife, but let me see if I have studied up on the laws correctly. NFPA 1500 6.3.1 states " . . .standing or riding on . . . any other exposed position shall be specifically prohibited." To save space I left out much of the standard (you can find it on NFPA's website).

    So, if I understand this correctly, why is it that so many departments paid and volunteer not only allow but REQUIRE their firefighter's to stand on a platform on the front of a booster truck, unharnessed, to fight wildland/brush/grass fires?

    During the horrific, deadly wildland fires that the Texas Panhandle experience in March & April 2006, my husband was just so perched on the front of a booster truck while fighting fire. The fire truck hit some type of hole or something and threw my husband off the front. Luckily he was not killed or seriously burned, but he came close. He did receive serious injury to his shoulder, which look as if he will deal with for the rest of his life.

    What can be done to stop the practice of riding on the outside of a fire truck? Who do we write to or contact. My husband has mentioned this to his superiors and now they are on a witch-hunt against him, threatinging demotion or termination (almost 18 years if service). So, obviously, we cannot handle this in house.

    I appreciate your input and advice.

    TexasFireWife19

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    NFPA is not a law, only a reccomended standard-a FD or town may elect not to follow the standard.

    Have you looked into motor vehicle laws for riding outside vehicles? I'm sure you could not do this on a private vehicle without getting pulled over.
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    Default Follow up

    Sorry for the typos above, any way, I forgot to mention the following:

    After the Fire Chief ordered the truck(s) which were delivered without the front platform and railing, the Chief asked why the truck was not delivered as ordered. The Chief was told by the rep. from the manufacturing company that NFPA standards prohibit them to build a truck that way and they only build truck according to NFPA standard. Our departments solution . . . modify the booster trucks themselves. They had the trucks modified locally by someone who wouldn't know the difference as they don't build fire trucks. Therefore, it shows they had prior knowledge of the laws.

    Thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenNFD1219 View Post
    NFPA is not a law, only a reccomended standard-a FD or town may elect not to follow the standard.

    I did not realize that this isn't law. It should be.

    Have you looked into motor vehicle laws for riding outside vehicles? I'm sure you could not do this on a private vehicle without getting pulled over.
    Thanks for the tip. I will look into Texas laws, but if a fire truck is a municiple/city vehicle with exempt tags, would that mean it isn't private?

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    It is a practice that should be outlawed, unfortunately in many states it is common. Even the BLM, a Federal agency allows firefighters to ride on top of an engine in some areas.

    A firefighter was killed doing this when I was in Texas during 1998, in the smoke his engine hit the engine ahead of it cutting him in half at the waist.

    Not sure if Texas is an OSHA state of not but who ever handles occupational safety in Texas should be putting a stop to it, why they havn't I have no idea.

    That is not a nation wide practice but I have seen it outside Texas, it would never be allowed in California. Pretty much the same tactic can be done using bumper mounted sprayers, a fairly inexpensive and much safer technique. Of course on my '98 trip I also saw that PPE was lacking as well on brush fires, many wore structure pants and boots, shirt & helmet optional.

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    Texas is an OSHA state. By the way, our guys use there full structure PPE when fighting brush/grass fires (bunker pants/jacket/boots, airpacks, helmets, etc.).

    Thanks, I will look into both Texas and OSHA laws. I appreciate the input.

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    [QUOTE=TexasFireWife19;755262]Texas is an OSHA state. By the way, our guys use there full structure PPE when fighting brush/grass fires (bunker pants/jacket/boots, airpacks, helmets, etc.).

    your Guys wear Bunker Gear, Airpacks and helmets when fighting Wildland fires? Just wondering...

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    Okay, I goofed, they wear their bunker gear and helmets, not their airpacks. I thought they did wear their airpacks but my husband corrected me this morning. They do were their bunker pants/jackets/boots. They have been told to wear their airpacks but my husband said that it is nearly impossible to stand on the front bumper and wear an airpack. He did say that they are required to wear an airpack when fighting a dumpster fire (in addition to grass fires, we get a lot of dumpster fires around here).

    I'm not not have I ever been a firefighter, but I think the standard that NFPA sets need to be law. You guys would be a lot safer if all departments followed NFPA standards. They are there for a reason.

    Our Chief follows the standards that the Chief picks and chooses. In my opinion, the chief is out for numbero uno. This chief could care less if a guy is lost. I know my words seem extreme, but the chief has been quoted saying in a company meeting . . . "I feel bad for you guys, but me and my family come first." This was in reference to budget issues and not wanting to put the chiefs job on the line to do what was best for the department and the firemen. Like I said "numbero uno."

    Thanks again,
    TexasFireWife19

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasFireWife19 View Post
    Texas is an OSHA state. By the way, our guys use there full structure PPE when fighting brush/grass fires (bunker pants/jacket/boots, airpacks, helmets, etc.).
    Okay, Texas may not exactly an OSHA state, we "follow OSHA guidlines" but apparently it is not exactly law. Exactly Law? It is or it isn't. I will investigate further and get back to you on this. But it sounds like we follow laws/guidlines/standards when it fits within our budgets and the lives of our firemen don't exactly matter.

    I know you guys and your families (as well as my husband and I) knew the risks and dangers when you signed up for the job. But lets not take advantage of that fact and require you to risk your life and limb any more than absolutely necessary. In fact, in appreciation for the risks you take day in and day out, we should make every effort to assure your jobs are a safe as possible.

    Thanks again for letting me vent.

    TexasFireWife19
    (should have set myself up as NotReadyToBeAWidow)

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    My province (the "state of Alberta") finally put into place a law a few years back prohibiting people from riding in the back of a pick-up truck (etc) for any reason ... but specifically exempted firefighters performing their duties. I disagree with it, as I'm even MORE likely to slip and fall when I'm standing on a wet, slippery truck bed bouncing over uneven terrain, never mind lying down going over smooth pavement, which is why the law was established in the first place.

    My department modified our brush trucks after seeing what another local department did. On their trucks, there is a short length of hose connected to a fitting on the right front corner of the service body, with a pistol-grip nozzle clipped to the body, within reach of the passenger door. The passenger (usually the officer) can then sit in his normal, inside seating position, belted in and all, and fight fire with the short handline. The only time either person has to leave the cab is to start the pump in the first place, when the truck first starts off into the brush.

    I may have a photo of this - I'll have to look after I get home.
    --jay.

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    Correct me if I am wrong but I did not see anything about who told your
    Husband to take that position on the front of the truck or did He do it on his
    own?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dashman View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong but I did not see anything about who told your
    Husband to take that position on the front of the truck or did He do it on his
    own?
    That was a common practice at least in the part of Texas I went to. Most of the departments either had a "cage" set up on the bumper for a firefighter to stand in or they had an old tractor seat mounted on the hood. The tractor seat was by far the most common.

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    Our older truck has a front bumper you stand on.It can be dangerous buy you can also get to the fire.The driver can also see the FF on the front.When we built a new truck we went to carrying the FF behind the cab.There is a box on each side to stand in.It is much safer.Here are some pics.

    http://forums.firehouse.com/attachme...9&d=1139191350

    http://forums.firehouse.com/attachme...6&d=1139277117

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    Here's the picture I promised. Looks like they didn't have the pistol grip nozzle on it when I snapped the shot, but you get the idea anyway.

    --jay.

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    TexasFireWife,

    Talk to the Texas Forest Service about your issues. They can help with the bunker gear issue also. If I remember right they had a program to help VFD's get wildland protective clothing (PPE's). From time to time I get e-mails from our State FMO that are forwards from a Texas Forest Service Employee and there was a reference last Spring, I think, to a program to purchase wildland PPE's for Texas VFD's. As cheap as wildland coveralls or jacket and pants are, I find it hard to believe any Fire Chief would allow his firefigters to use bunker gear on a grass fire.

    The federal wildland fire agencies will not allow riding on a fire truck, even behind the cab like in the pictures provided by BDVFD784. We have spots behind the cab on several of our trucks but are only allowed to use them at fires on private land. If I had my way we would have bumper turrets and fight fire from inside the cab but we can not afford the $3500 + for each engine. As for riding the front bumper, there are some not too bright departments in this part of the world that still do it.

    Glad your husband was not more seriously injured. Do not give up. Some chief are harder headed than others. You just have to get the right people to help.

    Brad

    PS: You also might try the department's workers compensation insurance company. You should be in contact with them anyway on the injuries suffered.

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    Riding on the front of a wildland rig either on a platform or I have seen some with a seat (usually an old tractor seat) mounted on the front, it equivalent
    to a placing a hot dog on a stick and putting it in the fire.
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
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    We have never used a front mounted seat/bumper/hot-dog-cage/ on any of our rigs. We do however have riding platforms on the back of our units that are almost completly closed in. These have always worked good for us, but there has been a instance or 2 when a FF got dumped on his *** getting on to a rig. Recently we had our FF's (not the people that right the checks) put our heads together and we came up with a safer design. (IMHO) It lets the nozzle man talk to the driver, and has considerable more protection.

    The reason you see a lot of the Forward racks is that they are able to see the fire, put it out, and to a degree allow the nozzle man to guide the truck. They work, there is no way around that. If we where to Follow OSHA, NFPA, and every other saftey organiaztion to a tee, we would all be out of a job. Not saying that you shouldn't look into diffrent attack methods, or trying to defend anyone, there are some dumb ideas that work.

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    Dashman -- although department 'written' policy quotes NFPA standards, our Chief has the men trained to (in the chief's own words) "perch on the front of the truck like a hood ornament" to fight grass fires. The verbal and actual policy of the Chief does not follow the written policy of the Department.

    mtnfireguy -- I love your terminology - my feelings exactly!!!

    Bowbreaker/Brad -- Thank you for all your information. I will try to get a pic for you to look at. Trust me, we will hang in there to the highest level!!!

    Everyone else -- thanks for your help and info./pics. Keep 'em coming!

    I personally think ANYWHERE on the outside of the truck is completely unsafe! Your jobs place your lives at risk enough without stupid, irresponsible practices added on top of the already there dangers.

    God proctect you all,
    TexasFireWife19

    I will post a pic as soon as I can get one.

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    Go to the city council and have them adopt the NFPA standards you like as law. Until then they are just suggestions.

    The Chief doesn't care if you men are killed. That's pretty strong. Perhaps it's actually mission first? IE. put the fire out before it spreads to those houses?

    How about getting your friends together and doing some constructive improvement work. Do the fund raising to put remote monitors on the wildland trucks. Or rebuild and install a gated platform behind the cab for the hoseman.

    Every FF is a safety officer. You husband is also responsible for safety. Sounds like you're just looking for someone to sue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasFireWife19 View Post
    What can be done to stop the practice of riding on the outside of a fire truck? Who do we write to or contact. My husband has mentioned this to his superiors and now they are on a witch-hunt against him, threatinging demotion or termination (almost 18 years if service). So, obviously, we cannot handle this in house.

    I appreciate your input and advice.

    TexasFireWife19
    Nobody's supposed to be riding on bumpers or back steps from what my training has taught me.
    I agree with those that say a brush rig should have a gate or strap across where a hoseman is riding to reduce being thrown from the truck.Maybe a belt to physically secure him to the rig as well?We had two seater Jeeps with a 50 foot reel of 1" hose and a garden hose rigged between the seats so no one had to ride anywhere but under the roll cage,in a seat and belted in.
    Anyone trying to punish someone injured by riding the bumper is probably trying to keep his own butt out of trouble for letting it happen.My old volunteer department had a policy of firefighters first,and putting out the fire second.You can always buy a new house but firefighters are more expensive to come by,especially if you want one that knows what he's doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasFireWife19 View Post

    Our Chief follows the standards that the Chief picks and chooses. In my opinion, the chief is out for numbero uno. This chief could care less if a guy is lost. I know my words seem extreme, but the chief has been quoted saying in a company meeting . . . "I feel bad for you guys, but me and my family come first." This was in reference to budget issues and not wanting to put the chiefs job on the line to do what was best for the department and the firemen. Like I said "numbero uno."

    Thanks again,
    TexasFireWife19
    I can't believe a Chief would say something like this. If this is true I'd be looking to replace the current chief. I worry sick about my people all the time. As far as riding on the trucks, never seen anyone ride on the front bumper. I've seen people ride in the back of the truck holding on to the headache rack and spray water. How fast was the unit going when the incident happened?

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    I had heard rumors of stuff like that but never actually saw it, now that I have all I have to say is "WOW". CDF still has a couple of open cab fire engines, the model 4 and 5's with the penalty box in the back and the Ford model 9's but they are rapidly being phased out, and as far as I've seen we dont do any firefighting from these open area's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa View Post
    Go to the city council and have them adopt the NFPA standards you like as law. Until then they are just suggestions.

    The Chief doesn't care if you men are killed. That's pretty strong. Perhaps it's actually mission first? IE. put the fire out before it spreads to those houses?

    How about getting your friends together and doing some constructive improvement work. Do the fund raising to put remote monitors on the wildland trucks. Or rebuild and install a gated platform behind the cab for the hoseman.

    Every FF is a safety officer. You husband is also responsible for safety. Sounds like you're just looking for someone to sue.
    Definitely not looking for someone to sue. I just want my husband and the rest of the men as safe as possible. And yes, I do feel that the Chief doesn't care . . . you don't know our Chief. If you did, you would understand. As a Captain, yes my husband is responsible for safety, including his own. However, he is not allowed to disobey a direct order. And, when he has tried to bring this to their attention away from a fire scene, he is repremanded for it.

    Maybe you have never worked in a small town 'professional' department. The politics are unbelievable unbearable to say the least. I would hope that the policies could be enforced without a law suit. However, if there were one, it would be for policy change or for existing policies to be enforced. I would rather have my husband alive than any amount of money. Maybe you can understand that.

    By the way, I do like your idea of raising funds to improve our trucks. However, our Chief doesn't really have a history of spending Federal Grant monies like directed to and has gotten in trouble for that. What would make us think that the money would actually be spent on fixing the trucks? And yes, I do have an axe to grind with the Chief. But like I said, you don't know the Chief.

    Thanks,
    TexasFireWife19

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    Arrow PICTURE of where they stand Riding on Bumper

    Okay, here is a picture of where they stand to fight wildland fires. Notice there is no side railing, seat, strapping, harness, or any of the like. Litterally, they stand on the front bumper on the passenger side in their structural bumper gear (helmet, bunker pants and jacket). They use the hose that is curled up on the passenger side of the bumper. I am not sure how fast they are traveling but being on rough terrain, I wouldn't think it would be very fast. They guy that was driving the truck told me that he had thought he had ran over my husband and that the smoke was so thick it was extremely hard to see well enough to even find him. Luckily my husband was able to get up to get back to the truck and climb back on the bumper so that they could get out of there as the fire was raging towards them. I know they both could have perished, because that driver would not have left without my husband.

    Sorry I had to blur out the identifying information. There is enough retaliation already without anyone spotting this on here.

    Thanks again & looking forward to hearing additonal comments after you look at the picture.

    TexasFireWife19
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    I don't want to be harsh, but your husband being a Captain and all needs to stand up for what he believes in, and if that includes him ,telling the chief that this is unsafe practice so be it.Your husband also needs to watch out for his people (fellow firefighters) as well as himself.The number one thing on the fireground is YOUR OWN SAFETY AND YOUR FIREFIGHTERS SAFETY. And if the Chief doesn't like it tough s#@^. I still can't believe this Chief acts and performs the way he does. After all he's responsible for everyone on the fireground. Why haven't we heard from your husband? It seem like were missing a piece of the story or maybe I'm wrong. Brush trucks where you're from and where I'm from are alot different. We use pick ups and jeeps etc. We don't have flat ground around here to use equipment like in your photo. And after viewing your pic it and what you typed ,maybe they were going to fast and in some place where they shouldn't have been. Bottom line is if I was told to stand on the front bumper I'd tell them to FO. That really is'nt to good of a place to stand in my opinion. Like you typed the "driver couldn't see him from the smoke" so what happens when someone does fall off and your in to much smoke along with the size of that truck it wouldn't be hard to run some one over. Take care.

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