Another careless "training" incident, obviously done wrong (not in accordance with NFPA) where a jr FF nonetheless was injured.

 

I have made no bones about my feelings about jr FFs operating on fire scenes or even doing fire training like this.....there really is no reason. This jr (and potentially others) should have never been in this training in the first place and this training was obviously done wrong.

 

Yet, I can't point fingers at the juniors here, but the leadership of the dept is clearly lacking. There should be no reason for such a live fire burn to train juniors....let alone using gasoline. And now this dept is finding itself in the midst of an investigation where training violations are being looked at and even the CHILD LABOR LAWS. Much of the same stuff several of us have been harping about on these forums over the years and seeing such comments weakly debated by other junior members and even worse, adult FFs advocating the use of juniors on emergencies. This was a training incident.....why in the heck would a 16 y/o need to be doing live fire training???? (it is a rhetorical question)

 

This incident should have never happened, but those depts that keep insistently advocating the use of children better start taking heed. This is the first this story broke, so I hope they follow the progress. There really is no good reason to use children on firegrounds, let alone a reason they should be trained in live fire evolutions as a junior.......and there is absolutely NO EXCUSE to use gasoline for training burns.

 

I have a feeling some pretty significant fines will be handed down...if not some jail time involved...................Was it worth it???

 

 

 

Excerpts from the news report by PAhomepage

Jackson Township, Monroe County - A 16 year old junior firefighter is in critical condition after a training exercise went wrong. It happened in Jackson Township, Monroe County Monday night. The young man suffered first, second, and third degree burns when someone doused a brush pile in gas then lit it on fire.

Several agencies are investigating the situation. Sources say they include the State Police Fire Marshall, The PA Department of Labor and Industry, and the Jackson Township Fire Company.

Earlier this week fire company members met to talk about the botched training session. Chief Lester Wolcott said,"We are gonna do a full internal investigation to try to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and try to get to the bottom of it, get it so it never happens again."

The chief told Eyewitness News the training incident happened on Mountain Spring Drive in Jackson Township. It was organized to teach new members how to work nozzles and other equipment.

It was supposed to be a controlled burn but things quickly got out of control. Someone used a 2.5 gallon can of gas to start the fire. Chief Wolcott said,"They were gonna use a little bit of gas and it was just a little too much gas."

The chief said there was a big flash. He also said the young man apparently did not have his fire suit jacket closed properly. He suffered burns on his arm, neck, and shoulder. Wolcott added,"Myself and the Assistant Chief were not on the scene. We had a younger junior officer underneath us who was doing the controlled burn with them."

State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann was disappointed to hear about the incident. He told Eyewitness News certified instructors are supposed to oversee junior trainees during burns. Mann said since gas was used it is unlikely that an officially trained officer was there. He said someone with the proper training would have made sure the boy was suited up properly and would not have allowed anyone to use gas. He noted, "Gas is just absolutely too volatile to be used as an accelerant with anything. Do not use it period. I do not care the amount."

Mann said if he finds that a certified trainer allowed that, he will move to revoke that trainer's certification. His office is investigating.

The PA Department of Labor and Industry is also investigating to see if the controlled burn violated any child labor laws.

Wolcott emphasized that he will also do a thorough investigation. He said the young man and the young man's family are his first priorities. "They know that we are here for him. The fire company is here for him whatever they need financially, medically, whatever. We are here for them," he said.

It is too early to tell if Jackson Township's workers compensation plan will cover the young man's medical bills.

Chief Wolcott said the family did not want the boy's name released at this time. Eyewitness News is not releasing it to respect their wishes while they focus on the teen's recovery.

http://pahomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=276722

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Holy cow, John! I'm in total agreement. What was that young officer thinking --- or not thinking???

Thankfully our chief would never allow juniors to be on a fire ground with any live fire, whether it be training or not. Our insurance company made its guidelines regarding juniors very clear to us. And that has been communicated to all.

I seem to recall hearing and seeing a lesson during my younger years about the explosive behavior of gasoline...

All firefighters please share this lesson regarding the use of gasoline with everyone on your department and in your community.

Chief Wolcott said,"They were gonna use a little bit of gas and it was just a little too much gas."

So they use gas to begin with.....  The next red flag I see was "No Chief's on the scene" but they entrusted a "Younger Junior Officer" to handle a live burn? Is this a junior firefighter who is an officer? Like another 16 or 17 year old officer?

 

This has lawsuit writen all over it, big dollars for care and treatment of burn injuries, and more than likely career ending regardless if this is paid, call or volunteer organization for many involved.  

Is this a junior firefighter who is an officer? Like another 16 or 17 year old officer?

 

I have the same thoughts and if this is another child as the "officer" that just makes things that just more scary. I'm holding out some hope that this "officer" was an actual adult member of the dept, just junior to a chief officer.

 

I agree, this does have lawsuit written all over it and the State Fire Commissioner, really didn't mince words. What is even further appalling is to see depts out there that still don't get it, that still don't learn from past incidents, that still are stupid enough to use gasoline for "training".

 

This is not a trained fire dept that does this crap......how does it go???....It is a mob with access to water.

I have to say this qoute from the original post above made me go WTF?  Why wouldn't this kid be covered?  He was at a fire department sanctioned training!

Frankly, if I was this fire department, and the Jackson Township governing body, the least of their worries should be whether they will pay worker's compensation or not.  My bet is this will cost the fire department and community BIG BUCKS.  As well as some officers their positions with the fire department.

It is too early to tell if Jackson Township's workers compensation plan will cover the young man's medical bills.

 

I'm from not to far from here, a county or two away. And cannot believe what has happened. I'm not familiar with the area, or the fire company, but I'm familiar with the explosive effects of Gasoline. one of the first things I learned when doing live fire training is to always use Diesel or Kero because Gasoline tends to give an explosive effect upon lighting. I was 15 and knew this. Up in Lackawanna County we do not use Gasoline anywhere for any type of live fire training. Hell we dont even like to use anything we don't have to.

For structural firefighting there is no reason to use any flammable liquids at all.  Straw, cardboard, newspaper, and wood(pallets) are all that is needed to create a heck of a good fire.

 

For brush fires or brush piles a drip torch is a safe alternative to splashing 2.5 gallons of gas on a brush pile.

NFPA 1403 - Do Not use flammable liquids for Live fire training.  Always use common combustibles with known burn characteristics.

This is unacceptable yes.  The department went against all rules for the Juniors on top of the NFPA 1403 regs for live burns and it is totally unacceptable.

I am a past Explorer Post Advisor and I can say, from experience and first hand knowledge, that if the Explorer program (or Junior Firefighter Program) is done appropriately and supervised by competent and responsible experienced firefighters it can be a successful program.  We have had explorers on the scene of fires and it has never been a problem because we A) Supervise them 100% of the time, and B) never let them do dangerous activities.  They are only supposed to assist firefighters change bottles, set up the portable tank operations with the MPO's, move hose around, and set up staging areas.  The only other thing they are allowed to do is watch and learn, and it is an effective training tool to prepare them for when they take Firefighter I.  The Explorers are covered under the Boy Scouts of America's insurance and the department is sponsored by the BSA as well and supported with training (advisor training, including how to mentor kids and handle special situations), and there is a list of things they can and cant do that has to all be approved ahead of time by either both parents, or legal gaurdians of the teenager, and the ages are 14-18.  The program works and I will defend it as needed.  I do not think its fair for someone to judge these teenagers simply because some moron decides to let them run a live burn training on their own, or attend training without the gear on and closed up appropriately.  When I ran drills for the explorers they were not allowed within 20 feet of me without full turnouts on the whole time.  This lack of responsiblity this department displayed is disgusting, and it will ruin any chance the future teens have at becoming explorers or Junior Firefighters.

People forget that these teens are found on fire scenes all over the country on a daily basis and we do not hear many injuries to them at all.  You get these sporadic training mishaps that can be easily blamed on careless, irresponsible firefighters who do not supervise them as they should be and it becomes a hot topic.

These teenagers decide to do something for their neighbor to help them, instead of partying, getting drunk and wasting their lives away, knocking up their teenage girlfriend and having kids at a young age and getting into drugs and other bad things, these kids are doing something right.  When they turn 18 they are already trained in basic firefighting skills and ready to take their firefighter I, and already have a working relationship with most if not all of the department.

Live fire for Junior training?  NO.  I have never, nor will I ever use live fire to train Juniors or explorers.  The most they get is smoke machines in the training tower to do basic air pack drills so they get comfortable with them.  Other then that it is drills with turnout gear donning and doffing, how air packs work, how to handle hose lines and move them around, the basics of the hand tools and what they are used for.  The training should be basic firefighting skills needed to advance when they turn 18, and should never be anything advanced as live fire training.  This department should be severely punished, officers removed, and a proper leadership established. 

Prayers to the young man as he recovers, and I hope he recovers completely.

Very good Moose. Agreed! Prayers, and lots of them to the victim. Moose, something tells me, that if this had been a training scenario for the regular members, and there were no jr. or explorer (or any other title these junior members are referred to as) on scene - it would have been one of those firefighters burned! My gut tells me that the department is lacking in leadership..or I should say quality/effective leadership, therefore in my mind this was a typical scenario, being played out the way they have done it probably numerous times. Complacency has no place on ANY fire department, and the lack of a chief and/or assisant chief and/or SAFETY/TRAINING officer, tells me that is exactly what took place. Maybe these young men were doing what they have seen done previously. The real sad thing is that this young man is now scarred for life and for what? WHY? Because the head honcho's were not interested enough? Don't get me too wrong, I feel bad for the Chief, as he now has to answer and live with this nasty reality of " poor judgment and leadership". Now, having all that said.. my hope and wishes are simple. Sadly this has to be directed towards the POC/ Vollie depts. ( by they way.. before anyone jumps on that.. I AM A POC  & VOL. firefighter, on two dept. so save your rebuttal..this is NOT a career vs volly thing) who for many reasons install unqualified, uncertified, and low experienced officers and chief officers. These positions are serious business, and need to be filled as such. In this litigious society, it simply is not worth it to THINK you are good enough to be in charge. You HAVE GOT TO BE good enough to be in charge. So, please use this as a learning experience and say to yourself as members and officers.. I will not let this happen in my department. EVER!

Again, prayers and good wishes to the victim and his famiy for a safe and successful recovery. Also to the Chief and members of the department. When the going gets tough.. well, you know what has to happen right!  Get it done!  Stay Safe!

 

Brian,

YOU made it a career versus volly thing with your comments.  Truth is poor judgement, poor training, poor leadership and inappropriate use of flammable materials has killed and injured career firefighters too.

 

I am both a career FF and a POC FF on 2 other FDs.  So I have no bias either way.  Incompetence has no pay grade...and we see it all too often.

What's the difference between firefighters and boy scouts? Boy scouts have adult supervision...

Where was the "adult supervision" with the Jackson Township's firefighters? Obviously no where to be found but this was not a full time paid fire department but a volunteer fire department that does not have hard and fast rules that they must follow. 

What the Fire Chief described as a small amount of gasoline was 2 1/2 gallons of gasoline poured on this pile that created one hell of a vapor cloud that was ignited.

"State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann was disappointed to hear about the incident. He told Eyewitness News certified instructors are supposed to oversee junior trainees during burns. Mann said since gas was used it is unlikely that an officially trained officer was there. He said someone with the proper training would have made sure the boy was suited up properly and would not have allowed anyone to use gas. He noted, "Gas is just absolutely too volatile to be used as an accelerant with anything. Do not use it period. I do not care the amount."


Give me a break, this sounds like no one is going to be held accountable. It's a given that the individual was not a certified instructor and that the fire chief had full knowledge that the training was going to take place. The local township and others are completely liable for the actions of all of their firefighters, including Junior Firefighters and Officers. 

Just another reason why we need to rethink this whole thing about letting children play with fire, literally.

The chief said there was a big flash. He also said the young man apparently did not have his fire suit jacket closed properly. He suffered burns on his arm, neck, and shoulder. Wolcott added,"Myself and the Assistant Chief were not on the scene. We had a younger junior officer underneath us who was doing the controlled burn with them."

I would think that the fire department would be looking for a new Fire Chief about now... I feel very sorry that this child, because of incompetence suffered 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns because he was wearing a turnout coat and PPE that was not buttoned up to protect him from the flash. What a sad day for the fire service.

Mann said if he finds that a certified trainer allowed that, he will move to revoke that trainer's certification. His office is investigating.

When someone is critically injured, more than losing one's instructor certification should be involved...

About 95% of the fires we fight in my battalion are arson fires. A number of these are
set by gang members. Many of them are under 18. I have never had one get burned
while using a molotov cocktail or other niffty back ally combustible boom device.
Point is the officers on that department know less about combustible liquids than a
15yr old school drop out rap sheet makin gang member.

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