After a long debate last night with a few old guys, new guys and anyone that would listen we talked about how come fire numbers are going down and LODD and injuries are going up?
One point we all agreed on is new gear and equipment is part of the issue. Back in the dark ages when we had rubber boots and long coats and no hoods we knew it was time to get out when your ears turned in marshmallows and we had to back up, new gear and hoods are allow a false sense of security and pushing people in deeper then they should be, and then there is the 30 minute tanks that did not allow the same amount of time working and cutting back on the number of heart attacks and other exertion issues.
I am not saying we should go backwards on the gear, God knows I like my ears and back of my neck but I think we need to work on more training of warning signs when its time to get out or time to go to rehab. If heat can not be you warning something needs to be. So whats your 2 cents?
Yeah was a time I rode a tail board and now can't wear a helmet in the truck but I am not against progress!
Sean you hit that right on the head while my knuckles might drag a little bit I have far to much to live for, I had a guy tell me at our last job that when I was fire fighter I would have stayed in now that I am an officer I want everyone backing out? I told him stupid with my life is one thing but being responsible for theirs in another.
The problem I keep seeing is stupid risk with no reward people getting caught in buildings with no life to be saved. I understand high risk with high reward but seeing people go down in vacant buildings is really starting to get out of control. We all want to melt our helmets but sometimes the heads in the helmets need to work as well!
i feel training is the key to your problem.i learned all i know from the old guys that rode tailboard and didnt know what a hood was.in my 12 years i have seen alot of change in fire and not all are good but the gear is our first line of protection.we need it as good as they can make it.you have got to be the teacher that shows the new guys the way of safety.it starts with us to protect the rookies and show them the old ways and the new ways.so good luck and be safe.
Thogh todays technology in fire fighting equipment has greatly changed it has become more dangerous, extending the lengths of time one can stay in a fire situation,and get in to a tight spot. ''Remember you are fire resistant for a short time not fire proof''
I think you and sean are right there needs to be more training on reading fire and building conditions.
When I first got in the department we had what we called duct coats, pull up boots and old helmets some of us even used welders gloves to fight fires. Our first nomex coats came when we bought a truck off of Perrysville.
You new when it was hot and to pull back when your ears started burning and jeans right above the boots started steaming and getting hot.
Don't get me wrong I am glad turn out gear is progressing the way it is. But if the guys and gal's inside are pushing to far into to hot of temperatures maybe they need to design a temperature display in the face pieces that also gives a reading at the truck so the officer in charge or maybe a safety officer or accountability officer can tell them to back off because some get that tunnel vision when they see flames and don't think or realize how hot it is.
And we use a two tank and you sit policy but even that is not full proof because of peoples different states of health some might be more physically fite then others and that can have a role also.
The problem is not the gear per se. The problem is a result of the following:
1. Better trained firefighters getting themselves into situations that years ago only big city fire departments got themselves into. The average suburban and rural firefighter today has much better training (including live fire training) than was available 30 years ago - and as result these firefighters do not simply stay outside and play water through a window or doorway. That puts them at much greater risk. I regularly see small town fire departments making the kind of stops (not to mention rescues) that used to only be made in big urban fire departments.
2. Fuels in most buildings burn faster and hotter than 30 to 50 years ago - the result of more and more plastics and synthetics
3. Buildings are tighter and more difficult to ventilate. They also flash sooner.... creating a greater risk to firefighters.
4. More and more building are made of lightweight construction and are prone to early collapse than buildings built 30 to 50 years ago.... again increasing the risk to firefighters.
So - yes - new gear does insulate firefighters more so than the old gear - but it also provides more protection. Firefighters are at greater risk today than ever before. Don't kid yourself by saying that because fires are down the risk is down. The risk is not down - and the solution is not less protection. I agree with Sean - we need to be smarter!!!!
I never said the risks are down in fact they are higher and yes the things you say are true but I will say this High risk should go with HIGH REWARD! Too many time you see people getting stuck in places they should never have been. The reward for going into a vacant comerical structure at 3 am and getting caught in a roof failure is not worth the risk. Life of the public and ourselves need to take the risk but saving property is not worth losing a crew.
We all need to evaluate when and why we put others in that spot. I know I have played the game of going in because I wanted to beat back the beast but as a fire officer I dont want to tell someones family I ordered there son or daughter into a building that had no life to save and they died trying to save insured materials. We all need to look at what we do and when. Yes the number of fires is down and thats because of changes made in building but the risk never drops each fire is dangerous and when you get complacent and say things like I heard the other day from a guy with less then 1 year on the job that he has no fear of fire I worry.
I started taking all new probies to the burn center just so they can see the results and then I show them a tape of a funeral I had the honor of being a pole barer at from an LODD of volunteer years ago that was killed in a fire on main st in his home town and just for knowledge this lost brother also worked in the south Bronx for FDNY.
color tape wouldn't work. Remember in fires you are either in pitch black or you are in close to the fire (and the color red will mask other colors) What they should start is transferring a temperature guage thats viewable in the mask. They have it for air levels, why not make it for temperatures.
I have a feeling that the packs of tomorrow will have built in multi gas meters and temperature guages. These both would add critical aspects of safety to our daily operations.
I have studied this long and hard.
First; we have to get there to make bad decisions that might get us killed. Lately, we have been making bad decisions on the way to the scene that are resulting in LODDs. Is anyone else reading Goldfeder's newsletters? We HAVE to buckle up, slow down and make better decisions when operating apparatus on the roadways.
Second; fire gear is NOT killing firefighters; nor is wearing the newest gear even contributing to fire deaths. What is killing firefighters is what's inside the BRAIN BUCKET; you know, the HELMET. It's called a "brain". For some, it doesn't engage until the "oh, shit" light comes on. Then, it's probably too late. No one wants to sit in those boring building construction, fire behavior, fire cause and origin classes. No, no, no; they want to sit their asses in a flashover simulator so they can purchase the cool T-shirt. You want to sit in the simulator instead of sitting in a class that will teach you to recognize the signs of a flashover/smoke explosion/backdraft? WHY? So you can get your new gear smelly and your face piece appropriately scorched?
The human body is NOT designed to experience the types of heat that are being generated by the many petro-chemical products found in room furnishing these days. Gear keeps heat out, but it also keeps heat-body heat-in. When you start experiencing heat related symptoms, you HAVE to recognize it, because the next symptom will be that you no longer recognize the symptoms. You become disoriented, lost and DEAD. Ask Phoenix FD about this one.
Yeah; we can discuss the whole "better gear is allowing us to penetrate deeper". The fact is, WE are allowing it.
Injuries are gonna go up as the fire service tries to make do with less. When a city has a tight budget the first place they look is to the firehouses to make cuts. Volunteer departments are not much better off as many departments have a much older base and the new blood is not coming in like they used to. As for LODD they are going to be artificially high as compared to other years due to a change in the way the calculate a LODD. I believe now the rule is if you die within 24 hours of coming off busy shift(paid) or call(volunteer) then it becomes a LODD its not so much that we are killing ourselves more often it's just that the reporting has caught up to the dangers of our beloved profession.
When you couple light wieght construction, the higher fire load of homes today with what xchief stated its really amazing that LODD and injuries have stayed mostly the same year after year.
The newer gear does play apart in all this because it prevents the bodies basic instinct to save itself from overriding an adrenaline soaked brain that keeps saying one more minute and this is where training comes in.