Reading one of my favorite blogs Statter911 he ran an article about a department that was in a parade and on the way back they ran into a pick up truck fire. They out the fire out that had extended onto another truck. the thing is...they had on dresses with no PPE. I'm not worried about the dress thing because I'm not that judgemental about what people do but I REALLY hope it had something to do with the parade.

People are making issues that they are fighting a fire without PPE. My comment and thought is "its what we do" When I joined the fire service in 1978 I used to hear stories about how some guys responded to a working building fire in their parade uniforms. It was a great source of pride witin the department since they really helped by being the second engine in, laying in and pulling aditions lines to help a short crew.

But back to the FF's in dresses and not PPE. Question if they got hurt wearing PPE would it have been any better then not wearing it? When you're riding the road and hear a dispatch for a fire nearby and you respond and when you get there the people out front are yelling theres an old lady inside do you tell them I can't do anything because I don't have my PPE or do you try to make the resuce if you think you can?

You ride up on an accident. Do you stop and help because your a firefighter or EMT or keep going because you don't have all your equipment?

Car fire up the street from my house. I get there and the lady is screaming "my baby my baby". I'm thinking FUCK I got to try to get this ladies baby out of a fulling involved car. As I'm trying to get close enough to open a door someone yells its not a baby its her car shes yelling about.

I see a car accident happen behind us on the road. My wife is yelling about me going there since I don't have any gear or anything. I call it in even though I see people on phones. Dispatch had it at the wrong location and I was able to triage the situation before FD/EMS got there. Wrong address, subject trapped and unconscious.

We took our not yet in service rescue to a funeral. We didn't take our gear which was wrong. On the way back there was a serious MVC. If we went right we would go pass the MVC left to home. Everyone in the back wanted to responded to the MVC even without PPE. We had everyting we needed including an EMT, But the officer (1st yr capt) and driver didn't want to respond we so we didn't. Turned out to be 5 trapped with very serious injuries and they requested an additional resuce. We would have made a difference if we responded.

We put our lived on the line for other people. We try to do it in a safe manner but is there really anything safe going to a working fire? Or standing on a busy highway taking care of an MVC. Like police and doctors we're o n call 24/7. Your neighbors are going to bang on your door when something happens because its what We do.

So once again back to the orginal question I wanted to ask, Do you stop to help or do you keep going when confronted with an emergency situation?

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In simplistic terms I would say it is what we do. I understand the reference to which you are alluding to, so I can agree with the PPE aspect in a way too.


What I mean, is I wouldn't hesitate to stop and help (and have done so) despite lack of PPE....however, I also size up and know my limitations. If I had my gear with me, yes I would put it on. This leads to my next point......


In the situation you are talking about and other parade type responses, there is one consistency, A FIRE APPARATUS, and as such, any FF who is riding on such a rig should have their gear with them before that rig rolls....if anything because of situations like this. You never know if you run into an emergency during transition, you don't know if your dept needs a response as you get closer back to the station, etc.


There really is no excuse for NOT having gear with you while on any fire apparatus. Chances are most likely you will not need to use it, but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.


Quite frankly, you are looking at two completely different circumstances of an individual FF who decides to stop and do what they can.....and a moving billboard of the represented dept without adequately prepared FFs. You have the rig, you should have your gear, that simple.


One final consideration.....As mentioned the rig is a giant moving billboard representing your dept and community.........when that dept becomes a talking point, it usually is not a good thing.

From the perspective of a 30+ year volunteer FF and 15 yr Chief Officer, this is never an easy decision to make.  BTW, I'm also a Registered Safety Professional, so I have some basis for my opinion.  However, I have to say that I think we have allowed a few safety zealots to hamstring us when it comes to doing 'what we do'.  I fully support proper use of full PPE, and have pulled people back from the front line when they got too close without proper protection, however I have also 'done what had to be done' regardless of PPE when the circumstances demanded. 


To the point that a fire truck is a rolling billboard advertising the fire service, in my small community, my personal vehicle and my very presence is also a billboard representing our fire service.  Most everyone knows me by name or at least by appearance and knows full well that I'm a Chief Officer in the fire service - thus expect that I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, stop locomotives, etc, etc. 

I think this is a case where plain old common sense (truly a rare commodity) has to be applied judiciously.  If, in your reasonable, rational judgement, you can safely undertake the task required without undue risk to yourself or others - then DO IT!  If someone better equipped or more protected arrives, promptly get out of the way and let them handle IT.  We have statutory Good Samaritan protection in most of this continent, so be the Good Samaritan and help your neighbour; don't be the Zealot who passes by on the other side of the road, because you 'weren't prepared' to do the unexpected.

To the point that a fire truck is a rolling billboard advertising the fire service, in my small community, my personal vehicle and my very presence is also a billboard representing our fire service


Which dept is being discussed on the internet for their actions???? Case in point.

Bottom line is that if you are riding on an FD rig then you must be fully prepared for action, parade or not.  Car fires require full PPE including SCBA, there are far too many hazards in today's vehicles to treat them otherwise.  Also, the fire service did a lot of things in 1978 that would get you fired today, so that is an unfair comparison.  We all know that firefighters will "do what they have to do" to make a difference, but they should also be fully prepared to do it as safely as possible.  In my opinion, fighting a fire without our safety equipment is "NOT" what we do.

We drive fire trucks, not bookmobiles full of NFPA regulations. Men and water put out fires, not SOPs. Risk a lot to save a lot... that's what we're supposed to be doing anyway. I think that if firemen ran firehouses instead of mayors, councils, and lawyers this wouldn't even be a question.
Prepare for the worst, Pray for the best and tell it like it is. Sometimes it's not in the book. Stay safe. My philosophical limits.

Risk a lot to save a lot... that's what we're supposed to be doing anyway


Not really in this case. There really is no good reason for such actions and not have your PPE with you while operating a fire rig. Besides, one could argue tactics even with what they had. Had something happened to them, there would be a completely different conversation going on, wouldn't there?


I think that if firemen ran firehouses instead of mayors, councils, and lawyers this wouldn't even be a question.


If you have elected officials or lawyers writing SOP/Gs, then yes, there would be an issue. However, realistically most policies are drafted by the FD, not elected officials. The chief is the dept head who thus runs the dept....and while arguablly, not every chief is a FF, the majority are.


Yet, such actions have been caught in the public and are being and other sites, not politicians or lawyers. It is because of issues like this, NIOSH reports, incidents, LODDs and so forth that we do have SOP/Gs, better equipment, protective gear and so forth......not because of lawyers and politicians.


So what does this incident thus go to show? Is this how you would want your dept represented and talked about? How difficult is it for a person to throw their PPE on the rig before going to such an event? One would think they would have access to their gear in proximity to the location of where the rig was picked up from. This is stuff departments should be looking at........this particular incident, eh, easy to second guess and debate, but its over and there should be a lesson learned. Yet, this isn't the first time there was an occasion of a rig stopping to intervene without FFs geared up........Seriously how tough is it for a FF to put their gear on a rig? And why should that decision be that of elected officials or lawyers, and NOT FFs?


My chief isn't a firefighter and I would never trust the man with my life on the fire ground.  In large cities, the chief is basically a politician. 

I agree with the concept of "Risk a lot to save a lot" but we need to remember the risk/reward analysis is not only one sentance. In complete form it reads, “We will risk a lot to save a lot, We will risk little to save little, We will risk nothing to save nothing.” Therefore a vehicle on fire is already lost and as such we should risk nothing - so putting ourselves in harm's way without PPE makes no sense. The phrase "its what we do" can't be an excuse to forget about risk/reward analysis. Be safe.


It is the difference between having the access to PPE and not....


If you are on shift, or on the rig you should always have your PPE with you (parade or not) and if you have your gear you should wear it plain and simple.


When we come up on something, and have no PPE we typically do what we have to do.


I thing I will offer is that when this conversation has come up at work, people use the "This is what I was trained to do so I am going to do it" when talking about coming up on a fire, or incident. I often wonder was it really what you were trained to do? I do not remember any fire service training in jeans and a tshirt with no PPE. I was trained to operate with PPE and SCBA.

Not saying anything against anyone doing anything to help someone just do nto say it is what you were trained to do, cause in reality it wasnt at least IMO

This incident took place here in Minnesota.  You can have all of the PPE discussions you want, but has anyone seen the entire video.  On the clip they showed on the news the first guy in a dress was on the nozzle, a very respectable distance from the car.  This is still good fodder for a PPE discussion.  The second guy was on the pump panel.  If there is a good safety argument to be had, it is the guy who is in civilian clothes, and is right up at the drivers window with a pike, working to break the glass.  Here is someone, we wil assume a firefighter, who is in the hot zone, no protection, doing something for no real benefit.  As one of the respondents wrote, "what are you saving?"  There was no regard for personal safety, and nothing to gain at that point in the fire.  If you ask me, the only people exercising any judgement in favor of personal safety it was the two men in dresses.  I wonder if our State Fire Marshal will honor them this year with a service award????? 

Can you provide a link to the news clip video or the original story?  I'd like to get the whole picture. 

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