... and I don't mean as a firefighting procedure.

I started this as a blog but decided to post it on forums. Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters.



To date, 28 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2008 as a result of incidents that occurred in 2008. USFA does not have a Line-of-Duty-Death (LODD) criterion nor does it make LODD determinations. “Please note, running totals of firefighter fatalities used on these initial notices do not necessarily reflect the number of firefighter fatalities used in totals for the (provisional) monthly year-to-date USFA firefighter fatality reports, or year-end (provisional) reports posted online http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats....

So, here we are not even 3 months into 2008 and already I have lost 28 Brother Firefighters in the Line of Duty. If this trend continues, 2008 could result in just about 150 Firefighters dying in the Line of Duty. This is totally unacceptable. There are far too many Brothers and Sisters being killed and the trend, according to statistics I have seen, shows it ever increasing. In 2006 there were more deaths than, the previous year and in 2007 there were 9 MORE deaths than in 2006. Now we may be looking at close to 150 this year. This cannot happen, should not happen and something has to be done about it.

I'm tired of seeing the wives and children of people I know suffering through the loss of a husband and a father. I'm tired of seeing that long blue line of Brothers and Sisters bidding a last farewell to another hero and I'm tired of seeing that long red line of fire apparatus carrying the flag draped caskets of another lost to the beast. And that long blue line and that long red line just keep getting longer and longer every time I look at them. Every footstep in the march to the graveyard getting heavier, every beat of the drums, even though muffled in black crepe, getting louder and louder. I'm tired of seeing the tears in the eyes of men stronger than I mourning the loss of a friend and I'm tired of the air of "Amazing Grace" from the pipes and the trumpeting of "Taps" from the horn. I'm tired, tired...

And why are we dying? And more important, what the hell can we do about it? Last year the majority of deaths were still on-scene, meaning the deaths occured at a fire, 37 and then there were 8 more onscene-other, whatever the hell that means. But the next 2 highest losses were while responding to the calls (24) and in training (11). I can see losses on-scene, one things for sure, Firefighters die fighting fires. And we also die in MVA's responding to calls but for that to be the second highest cause of LODD's is amazing. Why? Is it our fault? Are we not teaching our people the proper handling of Fire Apparatus? I'll tell you one thing, if any of my Firefighters think that those few extra seconds they make in getting on-scene by speeding to a call are not going to be apparatus operators for very long. Us getting there 30, 60 or 90 second sooner in most cases isn't gonna make a shit. But us not getting there at all because of stupidity in speeding to a call and being involved in an accident WILL have dire consequences on those in need of our services and on those involved in the MVA. Rule #1, slow the fuc# down and get there. And the third highest loss, TRAINING. I can see guy's dying for not being properly trained, and BTW, training NEVER stops, but why the hell are we killing them before they even have a chance to fight a fire?

I'm an old school Firefighter, maybe some of the things we did way back when aren't the way they do it now-a-days but I'll tell you one thing, we didn't lose as many Brothers. We had our training academies, being what they were at the time, but what you learned about the job you learned on the job. The best partner you could have back then was the oldest guy on the group. He's the guy who would show you the tricks of the trade and he was the guy who would throw your ass into a situation and then show you how to get out of it. It weren't no book lernin' sitziation either, it was real flames, lickin' at your ass and you having to figure out how to get out of it. I guess it doesn't work that way today. Everybody is an expert and every other guy is a "specialist". Kinda like being a Doctor I guess.

And here's a couple of good statitics, in 2007 the 2 main "causes" of LODD's were Stress/Overexertion (55) and 26 vehicle collissions. Vehicle collisions accounted for more causes of deat than caught, trapped, fell or lost, COMBINED. Stress and overexertion, translates to me to stroke, heart attacks and too much rigorous training. Of the 100 and something LODD's in 2007 FIFTY-TWO (52) were from heart attacks. And I'll bet half or more of the 11 training deaths were from heart attacks. Some say the deaths are the "youngsters" because their new at the job and are more likely to become a LODD or it's the guy getting ready to retire that is too old for the work. Think again, the main age group for LODD's is between 30 and 50 years of age. People who have been at this line of work for more than a few years and people who should be young enough to still handle the rigors of the job. So what do you say now, it's not the youngun's running off half cocked and it's not the old fuc#s keeling over with a heart atatck or stroking out. It's what should be middle-aged, well experienced, somewhat health people who are dying.

Let's tackle a few more. On-scene, now that's the way to go. I swear that when my time comes to pass into another world if I don't die in the sack getting.... er, never mind, I want to die at the end of a hoseline on the pipe, cutting a hole on a roof or rescuing a victim of a blaze. I want a Fire Chief's funeral. And that will add one more piece to the long red line. Why are we losing Firefighters on-scene, TODAY. We have to talk about today because what happened in the past is gone. I will compare however, today and the "old days". Some say, I love that, some say, anyway, some say that we are losing more Brothers today because of all of the new products which give off more gases that in days gone by. I say, in days gone by we didn't have SCBA's which, if used when they are needed and how they should be used, SHOULD keep and protect us from harm. They are lighter and last longer than the ones I first used. So how come we weren't dying in the old days from overexertion from carrying these heavy taks around on our backs? When I first started we didn't have SCBA's, all the people I knew way back when are dying now from old age. Way back then, and I'm going back to the early to mid 60's, we had wooden stick that we had to crank to get it up, crank to turn it towards the building and crank it to extend. Now-a-days you push a button here and a lever there and voila, your in position. We weren't dying from overexertion from doing that. We didn't have Nomex suits, Nomex hoods, Nomex gloves, fire retardent station wear. We wore chambrais shirts (look it up) and dungarees. Our boots were made of rubber and so were our turn-out coats. We bought our gloves at the hardware store just like everyone else and we didn't have hoods to protect our ears. Our ears, if you listened to that old-timer that I told you about, were part of our firefighting experience. The oldtimers taught me that when you are fighting a fire and your ears start to burn, get the fu^k out. If it is hot enough to burn your ears it is hot enough to melt your coat, your boots and your helmet. GET OUT... Today we equip our firefighters with the best gear there is and guess what? All it does is allow them to get deeper and deeper into situations they shouldn't be getting into in the first place. And you wanna know what happens then? Firefighters DIE. I don't wear a hood, never wore a hood and will not wear a hood.

And, as Fire Marshal Bill use to say on SNL, "let me tell ya sumptin' else". Some say, here we go again, that some LODD's are caused from the shock of FF's being awoken suddenly from sleep and the resulting stress from this, or mistakes caused because one is not quite alert, are contributing factors to their deaths. Well, in 2007 the majority of LODD's occured between 0900 and 1100 in the morning and between 1900 and 2100 in the evening. As a matter of fact, the number of LODD's which occured between 0100 and 0900 didn't even come to half of those which occured during the other two time frames. So there goes another one shot down.

And here I sit, still tired, tired of seeing the increase in the deaths in our profession and tired of venting to others about how I feel on the matter. But I'll continue to vent, bitch, piss, moan, whatever because, if by me doing that I can help save just one Firefighters life, it will be worth while. Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters, stay safe and take care. Don't do anything that is not going to bring you home to your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, the woman or man you love, don't do it. People die in fires, but it doesn't have to be you, your partner or any other Brother or Sister. Be smart enough to know when to get the hell out and to go home. One of these days I'll tell you about my good friend who lost his life doing what he loved to do. He went in to rescue two Brothers who were lost. They came out, he didn't. Don't put your loved ones through what his family and friends and Brothers and Sisters went through.

Da Chief

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Amen Brother! The one thing that bugs me the most about what you said is the old guys. I agree that the old guard should be the ones passing on the knowledge and lessons learned. However, too many of the old guys that I have come across at numerous departments are burned out. They refuse to train, or complain about it. This sort of attitude then trickles down to the probies and the attitude and morale goes down at the house. We as a fire service need to get off our collective asses and train to survive. Our gear is better these days and the fires are hotter. Plastics and man made materials burn hotter and faster than wood and paper. Too many guys go in thinking that they have seen it all from the pallets that they burned in the academy. Too many of these guys are not being led around by the hand by the senior guy or an officer with experience. I too agree, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Everyone Goes Home is not just a cathcy saying, it should mean something to all of us.

Stay safe.
Amen, Chief!

The cause of those "Stress/Overexertion" isn't too much rigorous training....it's just the opposite. NOT ENOUGH rigorous Training. Firefighters need to PT (Physical Training) and PT HARD - three-five per week. What kills a brother, or sister, is sitting around the firehouse, or at the house is they're a Vol, watching "American Idol" and eating crap. Burger King Kills. McDonald's and Wendy's are killers. Too much Huddle House, Duncan Donuts and IHOP are killing us. When you sit idle for hours at a time, them you jump up when the tones drop, get your gear on and go to work, the fatty deposits in your arteries get hit with surge of blood pressure and a pulse of 180-190 bpms, and tear free of where they had been building up for years, and that is when the heart attack begins.

Just like all Americans, we're getting fatter and less physically fit. We are dying we because we sit back in comfortable recliners and think "I'll work out tomorrow." Well for too many Firefighters "tomorrow" never comes and they just go buy pants with a bigger waistline and take some sort of perverse pride in having XXL T-shirts.

Maybe if we still carried those heavy air packs, maybe if we did have to crank the stick, maybe if we had to work as hard just to live as people used to (split a cord of wood lately?), we would fewer fat firefighters. I see a lot of beer bellies wrapped tightly in blue T-shirts in some places, and in some firehouses bacon is a considered an essential ingredient to almost everything. Greasy home-made hamburgers taste good, but they clog your arteries and make you less fit to do the job.

If you are a Firefighter, then you have got to make a commitment to the Firefighter lifestyle (I know, I hate the word too). We've all seen the T-shirt slogans "Firefighting is a way of life," etc... And it is. As someone who is a first responder, someone whom others rely upon in their times of need, you have to live in the manner required to be there and stay safe and go home at the end of the shift. If you don't PT HARD three-five times a week, if you accept another inch on the waistline, if you don't quit the fast-food habit, then you are winding the clock yourself for an early death by Cardiac Arrest, Stroke, or "Stress/Overexertion."

If someone doesn't know how to start working out, that's no excuse. There are plenty of folks, both here on FFN, and elsewhere that do know and would love to help a brother or sister get started. You just have to ask.

Those treadmills and dumbbells under the stairs are there for a reason – use them.

If all you’ve ever cooked is fatty, grease-laden food, then pick up healthy cookbook and learn how to make some great chow for the crew that will give them plenty of energy, but won’t turn them all into cardiac time-bombs waiting to happen.

Just my 2¢

GM
2007

Cause of Fatal Injury:

19 Caught/Trapped 16.5%
1 Contact with 0.86%
4 Fall 3.47%
55 Stress/Overexertion 47.8%
4 Collapse 3.47%
3 Struck by 2.60%
26 Vehicle Collision 22.6%
2 Lost 1.73%
1 Other 0.86%


2008

Cause of Fatal Injury:

1 Caught/Trapped 0.05%
1 Contact with 0.05%
10 Stress/Overexertion 47.6%
2 Struck by 1.0%
7 Vehicle Collision 33.3%

So far in 2008, cardiac related cases are running even with 2007.
However, vehicle collisions are definitely on the rise.
In only one case this year, was a firefighter stricken at the scene. The other (9) passed away AFTER the call.
In ALL vehicle collisions, it was going TO THE SCENE.
It would appear that the ability to reduce the number of LODDs is still within OUR control.
Until we TAKE control, I wouldn't expect the number to drop. If anything, it will go up.
It is time to get serious about reducing the number of firefighter deaths.
TCSS.
Art
You have every right to be pissed. Shocking statistics are what they are. I was brought to tears. A lot of the stressors that also contribute are from home with non understanding family members and friends. Sometimes we have only each other at the firehouse when there are people at home in our personal lives who we can't talk to about what happens in the time frame of 24 hours.

Having each other's back is the only way to fight ans survive the beast.
Erin
I will give my stupid two cents. I am family of LODD and I have been a fire fighter for 20 years. I heard to many bag pipes played in my life and there are some things I feel are true. Yes training now is different and better in some ways but in others its not. One the goverment says you cant do live burns? So people learn about heat and fire action in fires? they need to learn before panic kills!!!! and they get flashed on they panic. I asked after a recent death in a near by town of a young man to a bunch of younger guys all with FF1 AND 2 what do you do in a flash and all had very good out of the book answers and some even talked about learning how to read couplings to go the right way and I was impressed but not one of them said roll on your back and take your hose and aim at the ceiling? I agree that a lot of the near gear gives you tooooo much a false sense of security I to started with boots long coats and no hoods and yes I rode a tail board and even got dressed on a hose bed was it smart or better no but we did know when to get out and I think some are poor at that.
LAST POINT ...RISK AND GAIN...Why are some many people getting hurt in fire that have low gain high risk? If you have a vacant building no gain of life why are we still pushing so far? If you have entrapment then yes high gain high risk but an empty mill with high risk are you sending in people??
I always want to go in hotter better and be the MAN but I also know I want to hold my kids and never want to hear bag pipes again except on St. Pats
Here are some things to think about:

In my department, the truck doesnt move until everyone is strapped in. Its the individual firefighter's job to be buckled up, but I think there should also be a check by the engineer/right seat officer to make sure. I can't tell you how many stories I have heard so far of firefighters being thrown out of the rigs and having that thing come down on top of them.

Rehab. Do it, dammit. In our department, it is not optional. You either do it, or you go to the ER. No questions asked.

I was a little surprised to hear Da Chief say he would never wear a hood. Listen to Goldfedder: No exposed skin. Ever. If you are relying solely on your ears getting crispy, that might be a problem, with all due respect. I think those kinds of statements by distinguished vets set a bad example. We dont have a choice in my department on this either. We use al pieces of PPE all the time, no questions asked.


As for Risk and gain...absolutely. We dont send firefighters into save an empty building. Its a useless and stupid risk. Now if its a relatively contained room and contents fire, thats one things. But if its a working cooker, defensive is the only way to go. Besides, if you roll up as first due, and that monster is working hard, likely anyone left inside has long since had their lungs cooked. I understand that need to help the family standing outside, but often these kind of scary heroics can just take a rescue for one person and get two or three more killed. We recently heard about a fire in a mattress warehouse where 6 firefighters were sent in to save mattresses. That is utter nonsense and all six of those men died following antiquated orders
Chief...that was an amazing blog, you made excellent points and I respect the hell out of you sir. I will be waiting for future posts from you and reading every one of them. Excellent points, but unfortunately, there will be a lot of the younger generation that will argue with us till theyre blue in the face...Its the way they are trained nowadays...and its not like it used to be I agree.
To you younger guys, the only thing I can say is just listen to these guys like Da Chief here, listen deeply to what he says in his message here and dont let your minds flood with all of the warning buzzers and reminders of recent training. Just listen. Some of what these EXPERIENCED guys have to say can save your life one day, regardless of all the fancy training you receive today. Nothing can replace good old fashioned experience, and senses. I dont wear a hood either, I want to know if the situation is getting untennable or not. I wont get burned because I will know when its too hot...you cant tell being buttoned up in the full Nomex Envelope and thats why people are getting themselves into bad situations, they think they are "Invincible".........WRONG. Just dumb.

Dan Hoey, excellent points also brother. Too many new recruits are sticking to book smarts, and not taking the book smarts and turning them into "Street Smarts"...THATS what makes a firefighter. Im sick of seeing younger brothers that graduate Firefighter I and think they are gods gift to firefighting, strutting around the firehouse, running for OFFICER??? (that always gets me!) Classroom is only the VERY beginning...you need to then go to fires with older, experienced firefighters and apply that knowledge...for MORE THAN ONE FIRE. You need to actually see first hand what a flashover looks like, what different smoke patterns look like, reading smoke is soooo important for a successfull operation but yet you get some of these newer firefighters with "Firefighter I" and they will stand there and stare at you when you ask them why the smoke is dark grey and pumping out of the openings...

Erin Tarver, I will back you up on that point 100%...We are a family here in the fire service, a brotherhood/sisterhood if you will. We should be looking out for each other but that isnt like it used to be either. When I was a kid, going to the firehouse every day with my dad, I used to see a family...Hell, I had 100 "Uncles/Aunts" that weren't even blood related!! lol
We should drop the "Macho Image" we seem to all show more often than not, and learn how to talk with each other back at the station, and how to cry a little bit even when the feeling is too much to bear...too many of us succomb to depression and other health related issues because we dont vent anywhere near enough to maintain a healthy emotional state. We all see and hear of BAD SH&%!! We dont need to take that home to wives/husbands, kids, friends who are not in the service...they dont understand. They dont know what we go through...But our "Brothers/Sisters" at the firehouse do, we ALL do, so we should support each other more. Excellent points!!

Good topic, glad you shared it with us Chief!!

Brian "Moose" Jones
This is good stuff. (Bump).
Right on! It's time to stop these preventable deaths. Get in shape * Wear your friggin seat belt * Always wear the proper PPE for the type of call you're on * Watch your back around the "crazy" civilian drivers * And for God's sake, STOP at all red lights and stop signs when responding! Thus endeth the sermon. Stay safe!
we as fireman have a complex about us. we need a stirct and stringent pt test yearly physicals and
a way to draw in perspective ff through county or town funds. If that were to happen then everyone could take a much need call or two off!
Well, I have to agree with Da Chief on the hood deal. Having 25 years in August, I came up in the days of rubber coats and no hoods, for that matter I went to the hospital on my first structure when the county fire marshall took me in sans SCBA. Now that I never go without.
But...the hood. Lets jsut say I never have 100% of me totally clad in gear. The hood is either left a bit loose, or the collar is not closed completely. I need to know when its getting too hot. Parios, and Id guess most of the old guys concur on that point.

More later...time for Idol (that was a joke son...a joke)
I have a couple of ideas on the causes of LODD, I only hope I do not offend anyone as I do not mean to, scare someone in to doing something about it maybe.

Last fall we did a road trip down through Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, Naturally it involved several stops at fire stations both career and volunteer. I was amazed, and slightly scared, at the number of morbidly obese, firefighters. Front line firefighters at that.
How can you drag in a hose when you are in full bunker gear, and SCBA AND carrying 250 to 300 llbs of body weight? What do you think the outcome is ? Why do you think the term MORBIDLY is used ? (look it up),
Where are the senior officers to tell these people that they should not be going in and working as they are a LODD statistic waiting to happen.

Are we over protected? does this allow us to go where we are not supposed to? I would rather have my ears burned and be warned than push on in and be completly burned when the temperature gets way too hot.

If firefighters are hired due to race or sex, (on a quota system), rather than the best qualified then this impacts the accident statistics. YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO DO THE JOB! I have heared of too many firefighters who were hired, even after failing the physical. or what is even worse departments lowering the standards to accomodate "disadvantaged" persons.

And finally, what we used to term "the Cowboy factor" Everyone going hell for leather, hustle hustle, no control at entry points, screw the accountability officer as he will only slow things down.
SLOW down people, LOOK, LISTEN THINK even if you are not an officer. Read the signs, what colour is the smoke, how is it acting, what noises are being generated,
Do these things before you mask and hood up.
Where are the incoming electrical lines, if they fall will you and your crew be OK?

Do you have a rookie with you? if you do take the time to point out what to look for, you cannot be fully trained in fire school or in a drill tower for these things.
If the rookie gets too excited and starts running around and doing dangerous stuff, smack him/her (No not physically), Their saftey depends on the older hand.
If you are a rookie, watch the calmest person on the scene, model your behavior on that persons. Ask questions, why is the smoke that colour? What was that creaking and groaning sound? (These questions are a lot easier to answer than why is my bunker coat on fire).

Summed up it can be simply put,

Shape up and Slow down for safety

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