Video begs us to ask why isn't the message getting out and why is this thought to be okay in the first place?

There’s little information on this fire but that is not relevant. It doesn’t take a Blue Card certification, Executive Fire Officer conferment or having been accepted to present at FDIC 2013 to see what is wrong. It also doesn’t take any of those to share what should properly be done.


Or does it? Despite the ease we can see and discuss this particular fire, we should be judicious enough to realize that not every fire department and firefighter is hooked up to the web. If they are, then we need to equally judicious to know that information overload can cause even the best of training information to go unnoticed by some firefighters and fire departments.

This spring and summer when FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation carried the news that World Trade Center related cancers may or may not be eligible for coverage, many expressed with incredulousness that it even had to be debated by scientists. Still officially unresolved the need for coverage is understandable, as well as the implications, given the historic scope of the event.

But this is a trailer fire. What the hell are we doing believing that it’s okay to take a feed fighting a trailer fire, and without any PPE as well? It is 2012 and despite all the information from the various popular websites, trade shows and etcetera the message evidently is not reaching everyone.

In 2010 NIOSH, the United States Fire Administration and the National Cancer Institute began a long-term study of cancer among firefighters. The purpose is to see if firefighters have a higher risk of cancer than other occupations. While the data is collected one can look at the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for impressive data.

“At the fire scene, firefighters are potentially exposed to various mixtures of particulates, gases, mists, fumes of an organic and/or inorganic nature, and the resultant pyrolysis products. Specific potential exposures include metals such as lead, antimony, cadmium, uranium, chemical substances, including acrolein, benzene, methylene chloride, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, perchlorethylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, trichlorophenol, xylene, formaldehydes, minerals such as asbestos, crystalline, and noncrystalline silica, silicates, and various gases that may have acute, toxic effects.”

If that doesn’t spell cancer then I don’t know what does.

Regardless of how much stock you place in science, the fact is, smoke isn’t good for you.

Wear your PPE. Go on air when you’re in the smoke.

Now, for the harder part; what makes a guy like this guy in the video believe that what he is doing is okay?


Firefighter Cancer Support Network

Study of Cancer among United States Firefighters, NIOSH

Cancer Risk Among Firefighters: A Review and Meta-analysis of 32 St..., Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

IAFF Cancer Study Newsletter, Issue 1, Bill Carey, Backstep

Ray’s Story, Bill Carey, Backstep

Making it To and Through Retirement, Dave LeBlanc, Backstep



Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

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So if there's different expectations of a volunteer department then how come so many on here keep claiming they are equal to career departments with the same training and that "all fire burns the same"?  Can't have it both ways.  If volunteers that run 400 calls every year have just as much training and are just as aggressive then they should be expected to perform in the same way.  

"...a VFD with limited manpower and resources, or with large districts with extended response times, is effective if they generally limit the fire to the structure of origin."

That's not effective structural firefighting, it might however qualify as effective wildland firefighting. 

If you "generally limit the fire to the structure of origin." it really is a failure on the part of the fire department and it certainly falls far short of what most people's expectations are of what a fire department is supposed to do.

Kind of like saying, 'we were halfway to the hospital before the patient died.'  You might have done your best, but your best just wasn't good enough.

At this point, Bob, I think you would make an excellent spokesman for the "This is the way we've always done it" campaign.

Jack D/T ..


Maybe I would.


Or maybe I just recognize some basic differences between many volunteer departme3nts, especially those with very large districts in rural areas and career departments.


It generally takes longer for the fire to be reported from the outside if not called in by the residents. In takes time for personnel to drive to the stations. It generally takes longer for them to get to the incident, especially in areas with 300, 400 or 500 mile districts (which is not uncommon in this part of the country). It takes longer for them to get a significant number of folks on-scene. Water is commonly an issue, as last year as an example, 5 of my VFDs 6 dry hydrants were above water due to the drought.


VFDs have more challenges that generally result in larger fires and more complete losses.


Nowhere did i say all VFDs as my oprevious VFD in a surburban setting hasd excellent response times, excellent staffing, a nice water supply and rapid automatic aid, so our numbers were quite good.


There are many VFDs that could make some changes that would increase thier ability to perform, but even then, there are just some issues that probably can never be overcome.

I fully agree with most of what you say.

No, you really don't agree.  because you continue to make excuses for these fiascos that keep occurring in the volly world.  While at the same time jumping on any career FD or career FF that seems to violate your standards that only apply to career firefighters.


I would love to see every VFD well funded and well trained with an adequate number of volunteers.

Then stop making excuses for them.  Because that holds them back every bit as much as piss poor funding and the good old boy attitude towards training and PPE.


While I do not support FFI, I support all volunteers being fully trained as dictated by local needs and apparatus for thier assignments. Interior personnel need to be trained for that job and based on your post, we disagree about what is required in a rural community


The issue is until there is a state wide minimum standard for each state, or a national standard, for ALL firefighters to meet to be able to operate in the hot zone of a fire the fact is many of your good old boy volly FDs will have no standards, not even local ones, to live up to.  The days of come on boys let drive the trucks and draft from the pond and spray some water as the only training needed have been gone for about 50 years.


Exterior personnel, who in my mind are extremly valuable,  need to be trained to operate as such. And support members need to be trained to do thier jobs.

At the fire shown here on the video would you have had exterior people, without SCBA operating this handline?  Because if you would you are exposing them to heat, toxic gasses, and smoke.  Quite possibly in the early stages of the fire even exposing them to heat from flames.  Your back up 10 feet does not allow the hose stream to be played on all the burning material.  So now what?  We have to utilize interior people outside the structure to effect a fire attack?

Exterior people have no business anywhere near the hotzone.  Hence they are little more than gophers.


Training needs to happen. We disagree on the extent.

Because it is easier for you to make excuses than to develop honest, workable, realistic, expectations of your volunteers.  You are a roster filler, not a firefighter creator.  "Look Chief!  We now have 40 members, 5 of which will actually go inside an fight fire! Dang we are good!!"


My point is that I fully understand that there are places, and departments, that have a different view than i do. Do I agree with that? No.  Would I like that not to be the case? Yes. But it's not my place to impose my expectations and them in regards to how they operate and train.

Then stop posting your absolutely classless attacks on career firefighters over on  You must spend hours searching the net for career LODDs to post derogatory comments about, you want to gig a guy in PPE other than a helmet for helping save a baby's life, and you want to gig that Philly firefighter for sharing his mask, yet you praise these guys with absolutely no PPE at all for being rural heros.  By the way, the Philly Fire Commissioner has said that Philly firefighter will NOT be disciplined for saving a life.


Either train and be able to do the true job of being a firefighter or stop kidding yourself about what you really are.


If they come to me, will I give them my opinion? Yes. And I will be honest. If they come to me and ask for my help, will I give it to them? Hell yes, as I have many times with departments smaller than mine. But it's not my place to walk into their station and tell them that they are wrong.

And what would that opinion be?  "AW, poor baby, it isn't your fault that you don't have proper equipment and worthwhile realistic training.  Just realize that you will never be more than you are and that's okay." 

IF you can't look at that video objectively, see the HUGE problems there, and then comment on them seriously, YOU ARE PART OF THE REASON THEY MAY NEVER BE MORE THAN THAT!


As far as the community, every VFD should be perfectly clear with the citizens about what they need and how much it will cost to provide quality interior firefighting within the limits of the number of volunteers available. And if the citizens give them a budget figure lower than that to work with, they have the responsibility to be upfront and tell the citizens exactly what level of fire protection that figure will buy.

And I have said that all along.  But the fact of the matter is not being funded at a level that allows proper PPE does not mean these rural fire departments have to place their FFs in the obvious danger that these guys did.  You stand up at a town meeting and annouce it loud and clear, even better if the local press is there, that 1)  We are not funded and equipped to provide any interior firefighting or rescue.  Then explain what that means.  We will not EVER be going inside any building on fire to fight the fire, or to attempt to rescue victims of the fire.  NEVER.  Not until we are properly equipped with appropriate PPE and SCBA.  2)  The decision was not an easy one but we will not risk our own lives when the community does not see fit to provide us with the minimum of proper PPE, as well as proper firefighting equipment.  We will do our best to extinguish the fire from the outside, or at least keep it confined to the building of origin.

The funniest part of this section of your post is you argued with me at that telling the community was necessary because the community already knows the level of fire protection they have.  Now you almost directly quote me and say that the FD needs to make sure the citizens know.  You are a funny Dude Bobby, really funny.


And the end of the day, the department works for the locals, and if the locals determine that $X is all they want to pay, and have been informed by the FD about what $X will buy, there is nothing the department can do but do what the funding and manpower will permit, and if that means buildings burn, so be it..

No, at the end of the day the members are still volunteers and they don't have to stay and work under conditions that threaten their very lives.  They don't have to stay and not have at least proper PPE an SCBA.  It doesn't get more simple or fundamental than that.  I am a big believer in community spirit, and community pride, and community service, but no where in any of those beliefs does it say I am expendable because those I am volunteering to serve don't care enough about me to make sure I have the proper tools to do the job I volunteered to do.


You are wrong when you say there is nothing the members of the department can do.  The most severe thing they can do is quit and walk away.  Harsh?  Of course, but so is being expected to work under those conditions.  They can say we will not do any interior work at all and all fires will be fought from the outside, from a safe distance, because we con't have the proper gear.  Further we make no guarantees that we will save anything or anyone.  Once again harsh, but no harsher than the reality that my so called neighbors expect me to risk life and limb while inadequately protected. 

I do disagree that most residents of small towns have no clue what the department is capable of. I would be willing to bet that msot folks have abetter idea than you would think. We respond and people talk about what they see. Things get around a small town pretty fast. Folks know if the local VFD does the job, or is a bunch of clowns.


The issue here is YOUR definition if doing the job and my definition of a bunch of clowns.  Showing up is not doing the job, spraying water in windows is not doing the job, not having the proper PPE to make interior ops a reality is not doing the job.

Wwe are not that far apart. I'm just not going to sit here and critize a bunch of folks doing what they can with likely very little.


Of course not because you are talking about your untouchable volunteers...Once again it is so easy to call you a hypocrite.

Don Catenacci,

Once again, you've stooped to personal attacks on someone just because he disagrees with you.

What happened to that brotherhood you shout so loudly about elsewhere?


I'm not defending the no-PPE scene at all, but your false dilemma demand that FDs in places that can't (0r won't) provide funding to the level that your community does or give up fire protection altogether completely is bogus and unrealistic. 


Frankly, it sound more silly every time you say it.



That's a pretty broad brush.  Different people made the differing statements to which you refer; one claimed that fires were the same and another cited the differing expectations.  It seems as if you were lumping them together as if they were one and the same.  (If I'm mistaken, feel free to clarify)


It's entirely possible for one volly to claim that there's no difference and another to make a rather obvious comparison without any "both ways" involved.  It simply means that at least one of them has an inaccurate opinion.

Ben - I was referring to the one saying they are exactly the same.  Sorry I posted under the wrong person.  To take it further though, not only is the job completely different between folly and career departments but it's different even at the volly level.  Small rural areas will be different than suburban.

Frankly Ben, you are beginning to bore me.  You seem to do this every so often, presume to lecture me on my post content.  If you don't like what I have to say don't read my posts because I have no intention of stopping saying whatever I have to say.


If anyone here feels they can somehow defend the so called firefighting that took place in this video I have nothing but pity for you.  Further, IF I choose to volunteer I expect to be properly equipped with at least appropriate PPE.  If not, buh bye, no matter how community minded I am I didn't sign up for that.


Have a nice day!


Thanks for the clarification and I agree that there are differences.  There are differences even between large urban FDs.


For example, FDNY, DCFD (I refuse to use that "other" acronym), and Detroit FD do things differently, as they have different fire problems despite the similarities.  FDNY has many more high-rise and very tall high-rise structures and more population in a larger area than do DC or Detroit.  DC has lots of per-capita resources, high station density, and gets a lot of fires while they're still small.  Detroit has more abandoned structures than most mid-sized cities has total structures, relatively low station density, and they have crazy amounts of fire. 


Compare that to a place like Fairfax County that has pretty dense population but that has a lot of lightweight, engineered SFD construction - something that you guys, FDNY, and Detroit don't have much of.   They fight them differently, too.  Does that mean "bad" or "wrong"?  Nope, just as you said - "different".

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