In the late afternoon the department I belong to was dispatched to a working structure fire in a sparsely populated area classified as a Wildland Urban Interface upon arrival of the first unit the sizeup was reported as fully involved. first due engine and water tender were more than 20 minutes away. Minutes after command was on scene it was decided by IC to let the structure burn as it was determined to be a total loss. So this morning we were paged to the same location for a brush fire! Granted we have approximately 2 ft. of snow on the ground this brush fire has the potential of becoming a forest fire. I am writing this post out of anger because I was trained to put a fire out completely  and to be paged out for a second time to the same location  shows a lack of competence and professionalism on not only the department but command as well.Had I been IC on the incident it would have been put out the first time! Your thoughts ?

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I agree with your sentiment here and to ensure the fire is out. I can understand the aspect of the structure being a total loss and with the first due being 20 minutes out, the chance of saving anything is unlikely. I could see downgrading the rigs and have them continue non-emergency, but still continue in and ensure the fire is out.

It just boggles the mind. My wife who is also a firefighter and I were just discussing this and it came up that what if the fire was set to cover up a crime or later the department is sued for not fighting the fire?

 

Our county does this, but only after insuring no one is inside and the homeowners are questioned as to the events leading up to the fire.

Our intent is; why get injured when the house is a loss and there is no life threat?  Also; why make a larger expense for the homeowner to have to demolish a house to build a new one when we can just turn it into a "control burn" and make sure it burns down to nothing, then extinguish it prior to leaving.

Also; why leave a burnt out shell for some dumbass teenager or drunken homeless man to wander into and get hurt or killed?  Why leave a potential hazard when you can just get rid of it.  Around me, if the owners are well known, and the scene has been cleared, we will let it burn too.  We dont have too many serial killers my way, or any crime on a regular basis (unless you count cow tipping as a felony) and we know most all of our neighbors, if we can help them get back into a house of their own that much faster then we do it.  If there is any doubt, we put it out and do our investigation; then we will come back and burn it down for the owner so they do not have a demolition bill to pay. 

We never leave the scene and let it burn though, its always out completely before we leave so it can not spread anywhere.  We do this mainly with barns, but have done it with homes as well.

Moose there was not one drop of water used on this fire and the scene was cleared long before the fire was out

Russ, when I read members getting bent out of shape and criticising the decisions of command..I usually check the profile and learn that the person is someone with maybe a year or two of experience  being on a fire department. In your case however, I see much more. 9 years with one dept. 8 years with another.. and I am sure these have increased since you joined..( I didn't look further) so I will believe you have been around the block a time or two. As a Captain..you are in a pretty sticky position.. on one hand you have to represent, and support the chief and management..enforce the department policies and regulation..some of which you won't agree with..but too bad, and generally be in a leadership role and set good examples to the younger members. On the other hand...you have to have the best interests of the other guys at heart too. I am sure those guys and yourself hated the decision made..and perhaps there was some justification for the decision.. or maybe there wasn't. I guess the bottom line is, as an officer, it is incumbent on you to set the examples and lead ...and personally..I think that by complaining about the decision that was made by your superior officer..and to do it in a public forum.. is..hmmm  not good. As you ask..Had I been IC on the incident   Had you been, and you found this sort of attack here on the Nation.. would you be pissed at that? I believe you would be..and justifyably. If has been said again and again here.. no dirty laundry. IF you would have prefaced your comments with " I discussed this problem with the chief and just wanted more input from others"  that would be something quite acceptable...to me at least. My suggestion would be to ask the chief why he made the decision he did...was it money saving?  I am sure I know the answer..and trust me.. I would be irate if I was in your position. Nothing good can come from attacking a chief from behind.  For what it's worth.. I agree too with John and Moose. Also your wife's comment about the crime scene thing.. very valid point.. even more reason to keep it inhouse.

Cheers

 

Well said Brian.  I wasnt going to address the issue of dirty laundry but you did it nicely.

Russ, please be carefull with this matter, any kind of arguing or personal vendetta between officers does the department no good.  You need to be professional with each other and do whats right for the department and the people you serve.  As Captain, you should approach the chief in a professional manner and discuss your concerns and see if you can come to an agreement.  Another bit of advice; DONT let the members see you doing this here or on other forums, and dont let them see you arguing with each other, do it asside some where and talk privately. 

 

Rekindles....thats another topic but what the heck, since it was brought up...

Was this fire left burning after your department left the scene, or did you atleast put some water on it before you left?

You see; I think of rekindles as a fire not put out properly the first time around so I dont call it rekindle, its still the same fire you responded to earlier and its still burning.  In some cases it may well be a case of not being safe enough for firefighters to adequately extinguish all of the hot spots without being in a dangerous area, and you do what you can with large bore streams and soak the hell out of it and hope it gets to the hot spot.  Other cases, it might be poor overhaul or poor judgement on the officers case, and a hot spot is overlooked and you return to the scene later for the same fire...not a rekindle.

We just recently finally purchased our first Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC), so now we should have no excuse if we miss a hot spot.  Just about every dept has atleast one TIC, I see some that have one for every truck they own and one for each chief as well.  Use the tools we have to get the job done and stop the rekindle  or return trip to the scene because you didnt get all of it.

I'm in agreement with the other comments that have already been posted.

Just wanted to add myself to the list of those who would have made sure what little remained was overhauled before clearing the structure fire. Getting called back is embarrassing and we work hard to avoid that. Occasionally we will leave one company on the scene overnight to watch for hot spots. A lengthy overhaul is a pain, but it's something that needs to be done.

I, too, hope your chief doesn't see this discussion.

Stay safe.

I guess I should clarify a few things I forgot to mention initially. This was a mutual aid fire with pretty much a one man department which for some reason has two brand new command vehicles an old 70's brush truck and a duce and a half 1000 gal. water tender so any fire he has is pretty much auto aide. Also the Chief that I currently serve under may lack my experience but I do respect his position and follow his orders without question.And to give him credit he knows his limitations and on a couple of ocassions has turned over command to me we have a great working relationship and we communicate well.Furthermore The department in question I know the Chief very well I've done a considerable anount of work on his equipment in the past and we had a rather lengthly phone conversation immediately afterwards and his main reply was and I quote "The Fire Marshall told me I don't have to respond to fires if I don't want to" So you can see where my frustration comes from.

Unusual situation indeed.

Glad the district "served" by the one man department doesn't have anything of value in it as it might not be adequately protected (LOL). Actually it sounds like he's just fooling around with a serious endeavor.

I sure I still don't understand the full story, but hope you will continue to do the right thing and do the best you can. Those guys will eventually retire.

Stay safe.

Sounds like the county needs to step in and desolve that department and devide the territory up between the closest departments, you cant have a department with only one member and I am shocked this has been allowed to continue...

Maybe you and your chief should approach this wannabe fire chief and tell him that he needs to make a contract with your department to respond to all of their calls simultaneously until he can get more members, allowing the needed protection to still be given to the residents who deserve to have the proper protection for the taxes they pay.

What is he expecting to do by himself?????

 

Good luck to you brother, I hope you can find a solution to this problem, for the sake of the people this moron is endangering...

Unfortunately it's a little more complicated than that. Meaning the area we serve is one of the last unincorporated areas of the state ie no local government or tax base. All of the departments here are 501(c) 3 nonprofit entities. Each community is given what;s called revenue sharing each year by the state based on the population served.Most departments spend it wisely and have alternate means of generating sources of revenue like hiring out brush rigs to Forestry during fire season or like my former department does by selling potable water to the community.Also volunteerism is way down in our area which every department here is suffering from so automatic mutual is the norm around here. In all fairness he is trying to do the best with what he has but what little money he does get has not been spent wisely and is starting to show.

It sounds like he should trade one of those new command vehicles for a new brush truck. 

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