STOCKTON, CA (News10) - Stockton Fire Chief Jeff Piechura wanted to see News10's video of a Friday fire for a couple of reasons. And he didn't like everything he saw. "They've got to have their masks on. This guy's sucking in a lot of stuff," said Piechura. A few firefighters without masks could be seen in the direct path of thick, dark smoke. "We'll have to have a discussion to correct these behaviors," Piechura said after viewing the video.
Does your department have an SOP regarding SCBA use during vertical ventilation? Are you supposed to be 'on air' whenever you are on the roof?
How would your department review the actions of the two firefighters on the roof, if this was your fire?
Do you have a safety officer and does he/she review news and other multimedia to critique your firefighters' actions?
Policy says wear and use SCBA whenever in an IDLH atmosphere whether interior or exterior. In reality, exterior members often don't use SCBA unless conditions are severe. If the member uses SCBA because he thinks the roof may collapse (as the chief suggested), he should not be on the roof at all. Would the facepiece somehow make it OK to fall through that roof?
SCBA use is not the issue here. Poor size-up/situational awareness is the issue. We spend so much time and energy on learning HOW to do things that I think we forget about WHY and WHEN to do tings. Or not to do things. What do we accomplish by cutting a roof like that at a fire like that? Nothing. What do we risk? Everything.
It's great to do post-fire critiques, using all available information. The chief embarrassing his guys publicly was probably the wrong way to go, IMO.
Nobody ever died from embarassment.
Not following established policies can kill. Most of the videos I've seen from this department are pretty solid as far as tactics and operations, so this video was a little uncommon for them. Perhaps some were getting complacent with their attitudes concerning tactics and/or the policies.
Sometimes, embarassment works like a slap in the face wake-up call. Maybe to remind them to focus on their actions, and to remind them to think safety. If I were a betting man, the next video we see of this crew, will not show the same mistakes repeated.
First - KUDOS to the chief on scene immediately recognizing that the members shouldn't be on the roof under those fire conditions and ordering them off and as you can see he follows them to the back of the building to make sure they are off safely.
Second - risk vs. reward - its a vacant building. What are you saving and what are you risking. Seems like the first line off under those fire conditions might be the deck gun. Just my own opinion.
I wonder if the firefighters that were on the scene after they see this video if they would do the same thing all over again?
Also KUDOS to the Stockton Fire Department for realizing that "hey- maybe we ain't perfect" and taking the somewhat "embarrassing" video and making it a training video for all of us.
Nice job Stockton !!
I think the idea of embarrassment as a motivational tool sounds pretty good on an internet forum, but these people have to work together. Embarrassment can also cause resentment. It can cause members to tune out the chief and not get the message he's trying to send. It may not be the most professional, or mature, reaction but human nature is what it is. It's just not how I would have handled it, although it may work.
Couldn't he have obtained the video and then critiqued in-house without the ultra candid interview?
How many of you have been to a fire where the media was there, captured all of the facts on video and presented it as it happened? That's right, NONE of you!
Truth: Two story medical building, vacant 1 year, homeless camp. 1st due engine reports heavy fire with a report of children trapped. The fire did not "self vent" and two lines were pulled in the door on the side. A quick search was conducted prior to going defensive.
Granted a SCBA should be worn, but challenging tactics is a waste of time.
I admit that we never get the full story with these pics and videos we see on the internet. Critiquing operations based on them can be unfair to those involved. But fireground pics and videos can still be valuable learning tools. I don't think they should be discounted.
I don't believe challenging tactics is a waste of time if it helps anyone anywhere to operate more safely in a similar situation.
Like captnjak said, being on a roof of a burning building is definitely being in an IDLH atmosphere. Remember those who have had their packs on, but not their masks, fell through roofs and died of smoke inhalation. It happened recently at a large municipal department near here and it was very tragic. It just takes a few seconds...
Exactly. It is valuable to discuss both the strategy and the tactics from videos like this, even when a single video never tells the entire story.
It is also valuable to discuss the safety aspects, particularly of roof work.
We need to consider the risk/benefit trade-off for everything we do at a fire.
Three questions on this one - was there a need to go to the roof on this one a all? The fire had plenty of horizontal ventilation and appeared to quickly succumb to the exterior application of hose streams.
The second question is in regard to the SCBA. Even if you are not in an area that is IDLH, you have to consider two other points for SCBA wear; 1) Could the area I'm in quickly become IDLH? and 2) Are there enough potential toxins in the smoke that I need to protect my one pair of lungs even if the levels don't rise to IDLH right now? Remember the chronic way we poison ourselves and the cumulative bad health effects on this one.
The third question is in regards to maintaining a safe path of retreat from the roof. Normally, the best retreat path is the direct one. The fire took away the direct path of retreat on this one, and the retreat path to the ladder placement toward the D-A corne looked a little sketchy to me.
I'm glad everyone is OK, and I applaud the chief for having the intestinal fortitude to discuss this openly.
I'll agree that he showed intestinal fortitude and a willingness to lead. But I still maintain he showed a certain ack of compassion, empathy or judgement.
To answer your roof questions:
Yes there was a need to get to the roof. Initial reports: 2 kid inside bldg. heavy smoke upon arrival. 2 lines went to the door the kids were last scene entering along with an aggressive primary.
As for the chiefs comments, they were made without facts. He did not talk to anyone on the fire ground beforehand. Did not explain why we took such an aggressive approach which is our way of operating. To the public, it looks like we are reckless instead of showing us doing what we swore to protect. Your take on it is wrong but that's your opinion.
I am referring only to the point in the fire where the members were ordered off the roof. There was no tactical reason for that roof to be cut at that time. Structure fully involved, attic most likely included.