Should the pump operator stay at the engine or wander around the scene? I'm asking because one of our people has a habbit of setting the engine and walking of. We are a volunteer department and have two engines with the computer operated pump. Supposedly set your pressure and watch. We lost prime momentarily the other day and he was at the rear of the engine away from the panel(top mount). Seems that if you are not at the pump when something happens you stand a good chance of either screwing up a pump or getting someone hurt. This is why we have the top mount so the operator can watch the fireground.
I believe that a good operator has far more to do on scene than just pumping. He has lights to raise, ladders to throw, egress to establish, tools to stage, bottles to fill, etc...so, in my opinion, no the operator should not be chained to the panel. Yes, he must monitor his panel, but he must be mobile.
We all understand there are other things to do. but they don't all have to be the responsibility of the operator. Your responsibility while the pump is in operation is and should be the guys/girls on the other end of the line.
OIC should be grabbing some of the yard birds (you know-we all have them- the ones standing in the yard with their hands in their pockets and critiquing the call before it's over.) to do some of the tasks you mentioned. Give them something to do and make them help rather than have them stand there and tell everyone how they would have done it
Sorry had to vent , just blowing off steam about the ones who don't do their part.
I'm not going to read all the responses but. As an experienced pumper operator I hav e never Lost "prime". If you're flowing water and water is coming to you there shouldn't be any issues AT ALL. I don't see how you can lose water if the engine is operating properly. As if you know you engines you can tell by the sound something is wrong. The higher the pitch the less water you're getting in (a vacuum). NO ONE SHOULD EVER TOUCH THE PUMP PANEL EXCEPT THE DRIVER....PERIOD
Now when I went from a FF to primarily driver I would get in trouble all the time for leaving the pump. One thing I really hate is when you have a bunch of equipment sitting around and drivers doing nothing. How about a staging driver and the rest coming down and helping out.
The driver/operator should not leave the area of the apparatus he/she is driving for in the event of a loss of pressure or a pump malfunction, someone is there to take immediate action. If his/her ass wanted to be in the fire then they should have rode in the jumpseat.
This has been my point for some time now. To be aggressive on arrival...and make a serious difference, we need to be fluent. Sorry folks, but we do many things the textbook says we shouldn't. If we were to wait for enough manpower to fill out all the tasks of the textbook says, then we should just sell all of our toys and buy an excavator. Better yet, the textbook crew should petition for mandatory sprinkler enforcement for everythiing, then we can respond in a pimped out utility truck with a bunch of wet vacs.... come on? After reading the responses, I have to wonder as Dave does, what does your fireground operation look like. For those who repeatedly state, must remain on the panel and monitor for loss of prime or water flow, guess what? by the time most operators figure out they lost water, the brothers on the other end are F*cked in a "worst case" scenario. I train my shift, on every possible what if for the operator to mitigate and very few "fixes", work to correct the problem before da brothers burn up. So my training includes the pump operator communicating PRIORITY over the radio (if equipped) or blowing the all-out when the immediate fix is IMPOSSIBLE
Many of the people here on FFN appear to be either black/white on policies / procedures, but that mentality is not possible when the working environment is not consistent.
Example: The VES what were they thinking thread? Probably more than half the nation has never done VES, and by the responses like...Why didn't they just bring a line with them? Anyone who has ever been professionally trained to do the VES function can tell...those posts are BS.
Unless you are arriving on the scene with 17 personnel, (ALL AT THE SAME TIME) per the black and white textbook standards, then OK my pump operator is not going to leave his/her panel.
Until then though, we do what we feel needs to get done for the public... its called reality.
Deff stay at the pannel, we actually have a plugged in headset for the driver/operator so he/she cannot get more than 5 feet from the pump pannel, now sometimes if u have a side pump pannel like ours its good practice to check the outputs on the oppisite side OCCASIONALLY if there is hoses on that side. and an added bonus of the headset is you can here every transmition clear as a bell!
Regardless of where your pump panel is located, the pump operator/engineer should stay there. When I'm the engineer, I do things like set up the scene lights if needed, or lay out spare air cylinders, etc... but I'm never away from the panel for more than 30 seconds or so before I check the panel gauges again to make sure everything's going the way it should. This is especially important if you've got a crew operating inside the structure. Stay safe!
I don't think "staying at the pannel" necessarily meanst LITTERALLY STANDING with your hands on the controls. To ME staying on the pannel means the operator is close enough that if hears something change in the sound of the pump/engine, it takes only seconds for him to reach the pump pannel. But he is NEAR the engine, taking care of the equipment or working the lights etc. anything that involves THAT truck. But being totally somewhere else is not acceptable. Our pump guys are often responsible for more than one engine. That can be tricky but someone who is not a certified fire fighter can help out. For us putting a junior member with the pump operator makes sense and works well. The operator has extra hands and can pay more attention to other things going on. The junior is in training yet can get equipment off the truck and put it back on as well. Our drivers/operators are responsible for all the equipment on the apparatus.
Yes there are gray areas and we all have to do what we have to do but we also need to consider that the pump operator is an important role on the fire scene. IC is also an important role and I know the same body can do both operations because it happens in my world all the time. Lines often get crossed as far as what is who's job but the job gets done when people are used to working together and they KNOW what to do.
Generally speaking, the pump operator should stay close to the panel, but there are several situations or tasks that may require the operator to be elsewhere.
1) Engines with side or top-mount pump panels and rear supply intakes. Our new pumper fleet has side-mount pump panels and rear LDH intakes. The pump operator has to leave the pump to break the supply line and hook it to the intake.
2) Starting generators and setting up floodlights may require the operator to leave the panel if the generator and lights are not accessible from the pump panel.
3) Initial attack with a three-firefighter crew can be facilitated if the pump operator acts as an outside vent firefighter. For an unvented fire in the rear of a single-family dwelling, the pump operator can charge the attack line, then take a tool and vent the rear windows to make the interior attack easier for the nozzleman and officer.
I'm not advocating freelancing, but there are simply a few situations when it is not only OK, but it is desirable for the pump operator to be away from the pump panel for a short time.