WCSC
Reprinted with Permission

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the North Charleston Fire Department said they are committed to safety in the face of recent citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stemming from a July 5 fire.


In that fire three North Charleston firefighters sustained burns battling a house fire on Purity Drive near Rivers Avenue.

This month, the city and fire department received two citations from OSHA stemming from the house fire. Both citations claim the department put their men in a dangerous situation.

A statement released by OSHA said, "The employer knew or should have known that on or about July 5, 2010, firefighters performing interior structural firefighting were exposed to the hazard of being trapped in a burning residential building."

OSHA contends there were three rules that were not followed while trying to extinguish the fire.

The department must have at least two people in contact with each other at all times while inside a burning structure, two firefighters must be outside the structure at all times and everybody must be wearing a self-containing breathing apparatus.

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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Those seem to be some well thought out guidelines. Definitely some common sense came into play when coming up with them.

I like the disclaimer at the end, though. Still gives SCOSHA the ability to fine if it goes in the crapper.
Tony P - I don't mean to have a go at the Australians, and I apologise if my tone was a bit direct. The difference between the US and the rest of the world is one of attitude and expectations.

I really don't want to type it all out here and have the conversation devolve into which country does it better. Both have their merits, both have their weaknesses. Without seeing the numbers, I get the impression that the US kills more firefighters, but in Sydney, we seem to lose a lot of civilians and buildings.

Maybe my impressions are wrong, as they only apply to a small slice of NSW, and one of the more aggressive, hard-charging departments in the US.

Please accept my friend request, I'll put together some more thoughts in a private message and send it when I get a moment.
it is NOT safer to enter the building when you have no back-up outside
You sure?

Every single time?

Why do RIT\RIC have 4 personnel, generally?
I disagree that 2 in 2 out was established just to justify staffing. In fact there is arguments out there that 2 in 2 out is already antiquated and should be increased. Along with that NFPA recommends at least 4 personnel on an engine, 5 on a truck, etc, but NFPA can be "adopted" meaning some standards can be pick and choose. The issue of staffing is not just about a theory or some type of conspiracy just to have more staffing because there are numbers proof from the NIST that 4 on a pump is quicker in attacking a fire, etc.

It's about a certain organization trying to increase their membership roles by attempting to require more staffing that many municipalities and fire departments can not justify due to population, call volume, tax base.

Fire is fire and it comes down to the structure, building type, construction, hazards and so forth and does come down to a risk/benefit as well as "getting what you pay for". To make a case about increasing membership against depts unable to justify is ridiculous. Why is only staffing the issue that is at stake? Why not turnout gear? Why not apparatus? Why not equipment?

I mean it is easy to justify hip boots and 3/4 length coats because they are cheaper, but isn't as effective protecting the FF. Sorry I don't buy into 2 in 2 out being about inflating staffing....it is a fairly weak regulation, it is an old regulation, but at least it is something to help protect FF's vs the proverbial "no budget" excuse. Besides if a home so happens to burn down because a company was waiting for back up, then fix the problem to support the FF's rather than fixing the standard to justify a budget. You get what you pay for and if a community wants cheap, then that is what they get.

We keep hearing how fires are increasing in heat and size, in about half the time that they use to because of all the synthetics. And how lightweight construction is our enemy, so do we put the fire out when it's small or wait 1, 2, 3 or more minutes 'til the next company arrives?

Depends completely upon the situation upon arrival. There are several tactics and steps which can be taken while awaiting second due, as well as what the stage of the fire etc. A lot of smoke doesn't mean a raging large fire and 2 in 2 out doesn't apply in rescue situations either. Besides, all these factors support the issue of staffing, these are dangers we do face, they are real dangers, so it would only make sense to send more people initially to accomplish all fireground tasks.


it is NOT safer to enter the building when you have no back-up outside

You sure? Every single time?

It does depend upon the situation at hand and what conditions are presented. It is part of our job to take some risks, especially when the issue of savable lives comes into play. Too many factors are at play to make blanket statements. Having backup definately is more ideal, but may not always be safer to wait for backup.

Why do RIT\RIC have 4 personnel, generally?

This one goes to the learning from LODD. In fact 4 people is about 1/3 less than what it may really take to perform a successful RIT. This is what has been learned after 2 in 2 out was established and supports the argument the standard is out of date.


It does boil down to risk/benefit from the get go. Yes budgets are a problem, but without any standards, I would hate to see how archaic the fire service would be today without them. After all there are enough clueless bean counters and politicians who would readily rape the budget of the fire service because the number of fires has decreased typically in most communities....so why justify the staffing, equipment, PPE, etc? Whereas it doesn't matter how much fires have gone down, it could be the next one, the next month, the next year that throws that pattern in the garbage. We as a fire service are still reactive driven....perhaps getting more proactive, but we are an insurance policy as well. Buy cheap insurance, don't expect high price quality.
I get the impression that the US kills more firefighters, but in Sydney, we seem to lose a lot of civilians and buildings.

Vic,
As I mention in my reply to Heather, the FF LODD is a matter of perspective. While 1 is still too many FF's lost, the bigger picture needs to come into play. For many years the number of FF's deaths in the U.S. was around the 100 mark, yet the number of those deaths actually being due to firefighting is small. The majority of many LODD are health related in nature, typically occuring after an event, driving to and from, being at the station or within 24 hours of an event and so forth.

Then there is no real standard as far as health and safety goes. You have FF's on depts who really physically can't do the job, and many depts don't even do physical screenings etc. Yet, the catch 22 there is the definition of a LODD to qualify for survivor benefits.

The other factor goes to numbers themselves too. America compared to any other country is bigger, has more FF's, and more incidents as compared to other countries. So sheer numbers alone increases chances of deaths, injuries, etc. So while in the U.S. we do lose more FF's than other places, the definition of a LODD should be considered, as well as numbers.
I am sure I can ONLY see the area that I am working. I can not see the whole picture and what is going on with the rest of the buildling. So YES I am SURE I want guys on the outside watching my back while I am in the building 100% of the time. LIVE to fight another day!

And it is arrogant to say that rules are established just for financial staffing issues.
Good Point John - a lot of deaths are health related.

BUT way too many firefighters die in an empty building collapse - long after search and rescue should have been done.

And a few of you made points towards me earlier:

Fight interior while searching - they are equal.

I don't feel the same way...

Search and get out can be done much more quickly than sticking around to fight the fire from the inside... even you carry a water source while you search... the more this discussion progresses the more this bothers me.

And to say - if a bldg is safe to search, then it also safe to stick around for an interior attack - this may only be true for a few minutes. But perhaps it needs to be re-evaluated eery few minutes in.

The interesting point that some make about the fire quickly getting bigger and badder is exactly the point of why it is important to keep re-evaluating the situation and keep evaluating if you are taking the best approach for THAT MINUTE - not the best approach for the beginning of the fire. Since the fire moves and changes - so must the plan for attack.

I wish more of the comments discussed times when they re-evaluated their attack and made adjustments. And when the protection of the firefighters outranked the protection of the building as the fire fight progresses.
BUT way too many firefighters die in an empty building collapse - long after search and rescue should have been done.

To what are you basing this off of? What numbers are you using here? Do you know the circumstances involved? Are you just arbitraily making the statement?

Take a look at the following link and let me know your take there. This is an incident of a LODD due to a collapse. I would like to know how you decipher this to make the statement you did. Not being a smart ass, I would really like to know how you would analyze this.
http://www.ci.green-bay.wi.us/Fire/documents/FINALReport.pdf



Fight interior while searching - they are equal.
I don't feel the same way...
Search and get out can be done much more quickly than sticking around to fight the fire from the inside... even you carry a water source while you search... the more this discussion progresses the more this bothers me.


What do you mean by equal? They are not equal. It is possible to search with a handline, but it is slower and cumbersome, but you do have a means of defense. However, you really can't do both, fire attack and search, simultaneously off a handline. Either you are fighting the fire or you are searching.

The point Capcity made and what I'm making is that if you are committing crews inside to search, then you should be able to send crews in to attack as well. Keeping the fire in check and putting it out enhances search, whereas just sending in a quick search team and then fight the fire from the outside doesn't make much sense and can be considered more dangerous than having crews interior. A search team can get caught up in any myriad of hazards to say do a quick search and get out. If they do get caught up, are you writing them off? Probably not, so why not send in a line to attack and eliminate the main hazard (the fire) in the first place? It only does make sense.


And to say - if a bldg is safe to search, then it also safe to stick around for an interior attack - this may only be true for a few minutes. But perhaps it needs to be re-evaluated eery few minutes in.

Absolutely re-evaluation is taking place. Consistently and constantly, even within those considered to be more aggressive depts like FDNY, DC, etc. Do you honestly think that this is not happening?

The interesting point that some make about the fire quickly getting bigger and badder is exactly the point of why it is important to keep re-evaluating the situation and keep evaluating if you are taking the best approach for THAT MINUTE - not the best approach for the beginning of the fire. Since the fire moves and changes - so must the plan for attack.

Already mentioned about re-evaluating. What you need to remember here is that the situation will dictate the strategy and tactics. Such issues are also based off a myriad of facts on hand at the time, like staffing, time, tools, tasks, etc to help base the decisions for the best strategy.

It is a given fact a fire grows the more time it can burn, the faster the fire is out, the faster the hazard is eliminated, which enhances safety and still protects lives and property. However, don't think that even an aggressive dept will always go interior....the situation itself determines the course of action....which is why blanket statements don't apply.

I wish more of the comments discussed times when they re-evaluated their attack and made adjustments. And when the protection of the firefighters outranked the protection of the building as the fire fight progresses.

Why do you think this is NOT happening? I will guarantee you that it is, in every dept out there, it is called a risk/benefit analysis. There are countless, numerous examples of this occurring. The discussion topic has never been brought up to discuss, but such evaluations are always taking place. The issue again is all situation dependant and too broad to truly narrow down. There have been too many times on my own dept to count how many times strategy was changed based on the situation.
John, I appreciate your input. Anyway, we look at the problem there are lots of variables to consider in each situation - there is no perfect answer - no matter how long we discuss it.

I think in this S.C. issue - they should be fined like $500,000 if they violated basic safety rules. I think they are not taking these matters seriously enough which leads to some firefighters acting like cowboys. If their Chiefs and other officers are supporting such behavior which endangers their lives - then shame on them.

I will read your report - though I am concerned that since it is local to you that my comments may be seen as insensitive.

And my comments are based upon research. Paul Montpetit is the expert on research, but if you do some, you will find out some very scary details about the U.S. especially in comparison to other developed countries.

Why do you think OSHA, etc. is getting more involved - because the LODD toll (and injuries) is out of control? Large numbers of firefighters are dying each month. This is not opinion - it is fact !!!

Large numbers of firefighters are dying together - outside of the disaster of 9/11. I can be more understanding of 1 firefighter here or there in a random situation, but that does not seem to be the case of late.

It is not just about a country comparison - but Australia has 1 LODD per year. An entire country with only 1 death - WHY ??? must be asked.
I think in this S.C. issue - they should be fined like $500,000 if they violated basic safety rules. I think they are not taking these matters seriously enough which leads to some firefighters acting like cowboys. If their Chiefs and other officers are supporting such behavior which endangers their lives - then shame on them.

OSHA only has so much control in such cases. This is not just here but even in the private sector. What is more scary is big business like the WV mine where 20plus miners died had a long record of safety violations. Problem is, that it can be easier and cheaper to pay a fine than conform to safety standards. This is why many labor unions have taken a harder stance with safety issues.

I will read your report - though I am concerned that since it is local to you that my comments may be seen as insensitive.

Not really. I am interested in an outside perspective and to see what one would come up with just by reading a report without knowing the details. We did extensive review and look at ourselves after this, made changes and even took the message across the state/local states. Like any LODD, lessons should be learned. My reasoning to put it there is to see how you would respond, and to respond with personal factual knowledge.

Why do you think OSHA, etc. is getting more involved - because the LODD toll (and injuries) is out of control? Large numbers of firefighters are dying each month. This is not opinion - it is fact !!!

OSHA has always been involved, however, not all states have OSHA standards. Like in WI, we fall under the Dept of Commerce for health and Safety regulation. In a case like this/ Indiana confined space, the state reviews if fines are to be levied. NIOSH is part of any investigation with a LODD or significant FF injury. Such entities are always involved, but you just hear about many more incidents. For instance there was a LODD today and a report released from a LODD last year, both reported on this site today.

As for large number of FF's dying is also to be taken in context. The definition of a LODD is there moreso about benefits than it is for nature of death. Sorry, I don't concur with the 24 hour standard after an event, but it is all about context.


Large numbers of firefighters are dying together - outside of the disaster of 9/11. I can be more understanding of 1 firefighter here or there in a random situation, but that does not seem to be the case of late.

The context has to be viewed on a case by case basis....which is why I posted the link. If you look at Buffalo and Bridgeport, where double LODD, is about fireground operations, operating with a partner. It is because of standards like 2 in 2 out and incidents like the reason for this thread, NIOSH reports, LODD reports, etc that the standards have changed. Sometimes things just go bad and which is why you do see several FF's LODD together.

It is not just about a country comparison - but Australia has 1 LODD per year. An entire country with only 1 death - WHY ??? must be asked.

Australia's landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi).....population 2009 21,828,704

The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1.9 billion acres...... U.S. Census Bureau projects the country's population to be 310,297,000

The sheer number difference has to be accounted for. There will be more chances with incidents with more people and larger area. The number of FF's compared to the two countries is different. Then the question about what constitutes a LODD should be asked. There are just so many factors which can come into play, but the disparity doesn't mean one country is doing things safer or we are more dangerous etc, there are many things to consider. What works in one country may not work in another.
I was just talking about those same miners too. Even worse problems in their industry. GLARING PROBLEMS.

I know I am not fond of Monday Mornning Quarterbacking - it is difficult to evaluate any situation AFTER the fact.

We make the best decisions we can at the time with the information we gather as quickly as we can gather it. When we know more we can make different decisions.

I have no answers - just questions...

There is no perfect answer. I never challenged that you do not do the best that you can do with the resources and information that you have.

I wish OSHA or NFPA or whoever would step up and make rules for current firefighting needs in the U.S. You make valuable points - what works in one country may not work in another - but I want it to work better here in the U.S. - However that can happen!!!

I wish firefighters would rise up and say NO MORE DEATHS in our industry !!! Even 1 death is too many !!!

I know I am being idealistic - but then again - someone needs to say it !

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