Last night we had search and rescue training with several different scenarios, the last scenario was a child lost inside of the building with the mother outside "freaking out" and attemtping to access the building. I have been at several fire scenes where the home owner has had to be told several times to stay back. I have never heard of any firefighter training on how to control an out of control Mother, and I know it happens.

My questions to everyone are:

1) Does your department have policies in place for distraught parents of missing/trapped children trying to access the building?

2) what are they?

3) Who should be assigned to the task of controling the parent?

4) How much "force" should be used in restraining the parent, if they are insistant on entering the building?

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Since this was posted a few years ago the county I live/work in has added "Victim's Services" with personnel who are trained for such incidences. They will respond and take care of the relatives, steer them in the right direction if they do not have family support, no relative who live close by, they will assist the victim family in funeral arrangments if needed. It is a great asset for the community.
We usually have LE on scene at most of our calls (I think they wish they were us) and in a situation like this they would be conscripted to take care of the distressed party.
Every call in the the county has either a sheriff Deputy or a city Officer dispatched as well, be it EMS or fire.

1. No, and I would expect that it would not be common to see this type of policy because we all know per OSHA rules who and who cannot make entry into a structure that has any kind of associated hazards. We can't enter buildings during certain conditions unless we have backups, etc., so to ask if a department has a policy for allowing a civilian to gain access is silly to me.

2. If a parent or anyone is that out of control, which can equate to compromising the rescue operation, law enforcement or ambulance medics standing by if necessary would be brought in to control / restrain the distraught parent.

3. If the parent does not get it, has mental problems or has lost it, then they are no longer considered responsible for their actions because of emotional distress. It's not worth hanging your ass out to dry because for some reason you feel the need to get warm and fuzzy. There are mental health professionals who can be called into play here, but it's not your job, unless you have unlimited manpower to have someone babysit the person. Keep in mind how many people it takes to restrain someone. Is this the scope of your training? Do you want photographs of firefighters tackling a distraught mother?

Bottom line is that no one should interfere with a rescue operation. Your job is to do your job sans any emotion. It's called being professional. Focus on the tasks at hand, and let crisis intervention professionals do their job.

Finally, you may want to be careful with developing a policy for everything. I would rather have to follow department guidelines instead of policies. Should something go south on you and you find yourself in court, be prepared to justify how you followed the department policy step by step. It's much easier and a lot less individual liability to have a department use guidelines. That enables you to make the call on your best judgement at the time compared to a lawyer hammering you why you didn't follow the department policy to the letter.

However you go about restraining the family member(s) the critical point is to communicate with them. They need to be reasured that despite their impressions, everything is being done to effect a positive outcome. They need to be told exactly what is being done and why. Talk, answer questions, respect their emotional termoil and keep reassuring them.
I'm with the school of thought that the restraing is the province of the police but it requires a Fire Officer to do the explaining.
While Bz has mostly covered it, I'll give what our department has in place for us down southerners

1) Does your department have policies in place for distraught parents of missing/trapped children trying to access the building?

No, we do not. However I've typically noted that MOST distraught parents stand together at the road, mailbox, etc and wait for any info as is comes. While obviously distraught, they don't typically try to interefere with the operations of the FD. In the instance that it does occur, we usually will have a LEO tend to them as on a fire, they are mostly utilized for crowd contol. How the officer conducts themself (whether trying to be reassuring and helpful or a pompus ass flashing their badge and cuffs) is in their own control. Hopefully the former over the latter.

2) what are they?
See above

3) Who should be assigned to the task of controling the parent?
We typically task this with law enforcement as it is their job. We have no LEOs in our department and don't have training and knowledge to deal with a victim should they become combative or even worse, start brandishing weapons. I'm sure there'd be a fireman waiting to issue them a haligan bar, but that's not the professional way to handle such a situation.

4) How much "force" should be used in restraining the parent, if they are insistant on entering the building?
Once again, to be determined by the LEO on scene. The best one can do in this situation is try to reassure and reemphasize that all that can be done is being done to the best of their ability. Never lie to them or give false hope. Telling them that everything/one will be fine is a HUGE fatal error. The FD is there, because their house is burning (Everything is not ok) and the FD is currently searching for a lost child in a IDLH atmosphere(Everyone is not ok). Finally if all the above fails and detainment is necessary, then so be it. All the "good cop" tactics have been exhausted and it's time to keep all parties (FD, PD, distraught victims, etc) safe from harm.
I agree that law enforcement should be there as any type of crowd control / family member control. IC has enough on their plate controlling the fire scene. Law enforcement is better prepared to control crowds and onlookers. In my county we have a department called Victim Services which specialize in dealing with victims of disassters and crimes. We have utilized their services many times with a victims of house fires.
We do anything and everything to prevent additional injury including full manual physical restraint.

Our PD rarely paid it on scene in the immediate crisis stage. However, as soon as they arrive we place the distraught person locked in the back of the police car.

We found having neighbors/friends/other family members do a good job of calming the distraught people down and keeping them out of harms way.

And commonly the distraught person is also already a patient who needs immediately medical treatment - so we also are required to sustain their life and health and will have police ride with us in the ambulance to restrain the patient (distraught family member of a dead, lost or injured patient... or distraught owner of property) to get them to the hospital and get them treated.

Property owners that are showing concerning behavior / decision making around the fire/property and/or medically at risk - are assigned a FF/EMT to stay with them throughout the scene to manage them - and permit the Chief to stay focused on the rest of the scene.
FF in my country have the authority given by the law of firefighting:
- to enter in home without permission, if the act removes the danger for residents, health safety or property safety...
- to forbid traffic and access to unauthorised persons in area of work, untill police arrive
- to call police for securing the area of work, and take other measures to prevent unwanted cosequnces
- to remove residents and property from endangered area
- to cut off eletricity and gas suply in area of work
- to partially or completely cut off water suply in large area if it is needed to secure enough water suply for fighting fire
- to use water from any source without any refunding
- to partially or copletely demolish endangered buildings to prevent fire spread
- to use others vehicles for driving casualties to hospital, or for transport of forces to the scene

The commander on the scene use these authorities (must have license).
The commander can order to civilians to help FF in minor works without endangering their safety.

On the scene FF and police work together and exchange informations, without interference to other job. Only the fire commander can decide if the scene is (not)safe from his aspect of work, then the investigation can start.
We had problems with civilians in some interventions, but the presence of police changed their attitude.

On the scene we talk with residents to gather as much information is possible, but never let them to go in. There is also a an obligation to preserve any evidence that might help the investigators.The responsability is all on the commander, and no one wants to finish in jail for allowing civilians to wander around in unsafe zone.
Exeption is alowed when the scene is secure, and there is a presence of authorised personel.
There is really no policy written for us.. but i can assure you that no parent is going to make it back into a burning house if we are there... most of the time we have law enforcement on scene before we get there and they remain on scene throughout the duration of the call. But even if there was no law enforcement present... I dont think some of the big ol boys we have would let that happen.
As much force as nesscery including hand cuffs and in the back seat of a police car. We have had to do this a number of times. The reason being is because if the parents go in while ur there you are responseable for them to and u dont need any other victims then u already have. We have had this before in real life not training talking to them does not always work it only works after they see there kid is ok and breathing on the own u should bring a kid out thats not breathing and let mom or dad see then u will have a fight on ur hands. Been there done that more then once. Training is good but not if ur the parent put yourself in there place and ask urself if u would stay out of the way and be calm i bet the answer is no.
Some pretty good responses here.

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