... 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.