Tolerance

Understanding

Reacting to a terrible situation

Image

Add responsibility

Standards

Equipment

Funding

And the list goes ON and ON... 

 

Here is whats on my mind, as I sit here thinking of all that has to be done for my Fire Department. 

We respond to all kinds of calls most of the time with minimum or bearly enough members to get the trucks to the scene.  Some of our peers don't understand this type of problem but the majority of our fire services are suffering with balancing all the requirements with shutting the doors.   This leads me to the way firefighters respond to this type of post.

*Don't Stop reading here and start posting, READ all my thoughts before you pass your Judgement*

Voices in our social media are quick to point out, Like a Monday morning Quarterback, problems with a scene photo where someone was doing a major mistake or omission of a piece of equipment.  I have spent time looking into a lot of these issues and I have found that as many times the observation were correct.  It must be pointed out, the safety issues have to be corrected.  The manner that most use is not that of promoting, correcting the misbehavior or poor response.  Much like the continued Volly vs. Paid this has become unproductive.  Knowing that you could address so many problems with our service without subjecting our ever shrinking members list to the "Should have________?" or name calling, Pointing out "My Department is Better than yours, becasue you are untrained socail Club"...

 

Here is what I suggust to our Professionals in fire Service.  If you are a true Professional don't look to correct an incident that you are not attending in person.  We can learn from the mistakes but that must be in a learning enviroment or after action reviews.  I know this isn't much but if anyone sees and comments on a missing SCBA what good does it do?   I am sure that this will continue because like all professions you are going to have members that will not follow the rules.  Does that member reflect on the whole department?  YES, But it may not be the whole department breaking the rules. 

 

I can go on with this but I am trying to get some response as to the lack of civil response to issues.  We have our Truckies, Medics, Engineers and leadership that do not approach the problems with a "Fix the Behavior" Attitude...   Lets fix it ...  What Say YOU?

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When one steps foot in a firehouse, the conversations, banter, busting of chops and so forth can be quite apparent. At the same time there will be critiques and outside reviews from internal members who may have not been on a scene, and yes sometimes those reviews can be harsh.....so what. It is also how people learn, from other mistakes

 

Sure critiquing on the internet may not fix the issue at hand, but should send a message to other people reading to learn from such mistakes to as not repeat the same said mistakes. Mistakes happen, but should we just sit by and accept them instead of learning from them? I would say no.

 

Yes, tactics and decisions will depend upon what is available and resources, that isn't the issue. I would say most people understand that there are depts that are barely scraping by and others with tons of resources for a single call. It doesn't matter, what matters is how the situation is handled given the resources in the most safe manner possible. This means if your small dept can barely get enough people to get rigs on scene shouldn't be sending people inside until other resources arrive (sans a rescue issue). If a building burns down because of lack of resources and personnel, well that is the chances one takes for living in such an area and not looking to adequately fund the resources. Sure, do what you can, but tactics change.

 

Where you start to see the issues of "pissing matches" etc are when you start seeing people take things personally regardless of the bigger picture. Sure one could be a volly and take offense to a "get what you pay for comment" but in reality, that is what it is. What baffles me and where I will engage in such matches is the attitudes of those who promote a social club mentality, or defend having "exterior only" firefighters or the worst of the worst....those who advocate the use of children on a fireground because of the "take what you can get" approach.

 

Sure there are definately ways to engage in discussions and to keep things professional, it is something to strive for, yet we should learn from mistakes and there should be a realization just because "it works for you" doesn't make it right either. Sometimes it takes some harsh tones to get the point across.

I appreciate the response... John we agree and I support your points.  My point with this is not the specific types of incidents or issues.  As far as feelings hurt, Keep in mind I stated these are issues handled on a face to face basis.  You will not find anyone harder on saftey and meeting the standard than me.  Members are afraid to do wrong because they know I am going to drop the verbal hammer on them. 

Here is my point the social media/comments on scene photos are that of people second guessing what they see in a photo without knowing what is going on. There are times that the scene is secure and firefighters are starting to gear down for rehab.  I saw one shot that the Safety Officer walked up to tell the firefighter to bleed off the attackline in the yard because they were picking that line up.  At that time a photo was taken of a firefighter wearing full gear and another in only his pants.  What did the socal media do with this picture?  They unloaded and a conversation that was less than complimentary to fire service began.  Very colorful and more inappropiate statements than you could count.  Station banter, foul language and mean comments have no place in the public eye.  Again, the point I am making is the internet is in no way helping draw in new members with this kind of "Pissing Matches". 

I am suggusting we deal with this in a way that is one on one addressing the issue even going as far as document for displinary action. I hope John you understand I do not support lowering the standard or not bringing to the attention of others violation of the operations standards and training.  We have a responsibiltiy to correct behavior, maintain the standard BUT not at the expense of the image of the Fire Service.  We brothers and Sisters are not the only ones reading the posts.  There are future Firefighters, parents of Future Firefighters, elected officials, our supports and the community at large that is just looking for a reason to cut funding. 

 

Not really the part of the discussion I had in mind, referring to the the Social Club, I want to address it briefly.  Members of the Fire Social Club is being part of the community and helping others we have to embrass this every chance we get.  We are extended family and care for each other. Now to the Exterior Firefighters not an issue.  Everyone has a mission and maybe you have the ability to pick and choose only the young, strong, and physically fit recruits/Rookies.  Good for you my friend but we have more than 200 square miles and the population of our town is 246, the district is around 4500.  A county that is only 14,000 ppl total 30 x 25 miles the number of ppl that qualify are about 1 %.  NO, Pay schedule when someone is on duty to respond. 

We run on the 2 in 2 out and we live by that edging on SAFETY first.  Risk a lot to save a lot... Risk nothing to save nothing.

Children on scene NO way is that exceptable.  Age 18 and that is if high school graduate.  Draw the line there.  You can go to our FaceBook site and you will see kids in some of the photos those are at the station and children of parents.  We even have some old turnouts that they wear around the station.  They come and are around during some meetings and events.  We are building there interest and as most departments the kids growing up around it will be part of the future firefighters. 

Maintain civil conversations and keep in mind your fire department has its own special situations but to think that realistically there isn't going to be issues around the country or world in maintaining a standard would be rediculous. This is a people game and each situation must be handled differently.  There is a place to get red faced spitting Fire and putting someone in there place.  Along with that there is a time in a place that someone just needs to be retrained or instructed in the inproper response. 

I will continue to believe that on any of the socail media sites it is better to not comment or judge the snapshot... a simple question and less finger pointing will keep our image of helpful public servants and not a bunch of self appointed judges basing a rude comment on the quick snapshot.

Thanks John... 

Chief Stephen, I will agree with you here. I have seen some pics on here and other sites and from a safety officer position i have posted a question to the poster of such photo's. Some are miss leading while others should not be posted at all anyplace but the chiefs office but they get posted and guess what others are going to pick it apart and point out the problems it is our nature. The person adding the pic should be watching for post or better yet should add a post of what the photo is ( When- What and where) type of post this would prevent a lot of the problem. Just my opinion. Stay safe.

I agree. I will not post photos showing unsafe practices on sites. Those stay within the dept only and are used to train upon for what not to do in the future. I only post the positive shots that help show what is being done right or some action.

Chief,

I'm still not quite sure what it is that you're asking, or looking to address.  It appears that one of the issues you're bringing up is that of people commenting on pictures posted on social websites?

If this is the issue you're raising, it seems a bit impractical.  First, who posts a picture is difficult to control.  Whether it's a FF or a civilian there's little that can be done to prevent it.  As for subsequent comments; again no one can stop the rude or insulting comments but as for comments that point out faults or failures, it's certainly one way for some people to learn. 

Pointing out issues even if, as you say they are taken out of context (no gear on, bleeding the line), comments can still drive home safety issues.  However much you might prefer to have people not commenting on pictures its probably easier in the long run to teach people not just what or how to do things correctly, but to ensure that they do so all the time.  And that being said there are always going to be people/departments that won't live up to that goal.  And as Derek pointed out, if a picture is going around depicting something other than fact then either the person posting it or someone in that department should step up and correct the misunderstanding.

I'd like to address one other comment of yours; that of 'exterior firefighters.'  In another post there was some discussion of this issue but one comment made the point clear: Exterior people provide a necessary function performing duties that free up 'interior firefighters.'  I think that this concept, while necessary (and probably widespread) needs some clearing up.

In my opinion, a firefighter is a person trained, qualified, capable, able and willing to perform any function assigned on the fireground.  If a person has limits to what they will do, whether it's just that they don't want to go interior but will do roof ventilation (SCBA trained), or they don't want to be SCBA trained and work only outside and on the ground, in my mind those people shouldn't be called firefighters.  NFPA Standard 1001 pretty much describes the duties and training to be a qualified firefighter.

So maybe, and to help downplay the 'social club' comments (of which I am one who often refers to that) instead, let's start referring to people that are ONLY exterior as Support Personnel (or just label them as members of the Auxiliary.)  Since they aren't trained, able or willing to perform any function as needed they are not truly firefighters.  This is not to say they don't have a place on the fireground (tools, ladder, defensive attack hose sitting, changing out bottles, serving refreshments, repacking hoses), clearly they do, but they are not firefighters.

Thank you all for your thoughts on these issues.... 

Jack I do like your points but let me try to clear up my original post...  by no means do I want to stop the posting of those in Fire Service going what we do on scene.  I am ask/commenting on the need for us... Firefighters, Support, Auxillary from making inappropiate Comments about photos that leads to damaging the image of the Fire Service.  A community member reading 2 Firefighters fighting in a social media forum and using less than desireable profanity is my point.    That is the reason I raised this issue.  Thanks again everyone...

 

There are levels of preparedness and abilities that must be addressed.  I do like the Support point of view.  Keep in mind that there is no one that is on fire ground that is not essential to our mission.  That being said a management approach to abilities is a must when your numbers are down.  I have a firefighter or support member that can easily man the pump, which he has for 30 years.  His 70 year old knees can not make the crawl into the structure, he can man and operate the masterstream, He can provide the duty as Safety Officer, He can drive the tanker shuttle, He can shuttle equipment...  AND the list goes on...  This man has done all the training, He has been there for the community for years and in his younger days he was the hard charger, Kick down the door guy... and he knows his limitations as do I.   Now that all being said I dont see me taking or changing his title from Firefighter.  He is and has been a Firefighter.  So, let me expand on the way we are able to address your point.  Our department has established a way of ensuring that only members with proper training can participate in interior attacks.  The department requires that every member must participate in a Live Burn training each year after completing the standards training.  Arkansas has a Structure Fire Series that  consist of 4 classes with 16 hours of training each.  64 hours of nothing but Live Fire Training.  Once a member has completed this I require them to take at least one of the 16 hour class in the next year.  Thes members are identifed with Red leather helmet shields.  So, any officer can identify who is qualified for interior attack.

I got on a little Rant here but if I had a waiting list of young Healthy candidates I know that our old members would step aside to only support but we do not have this kind of list available.  We are 14 strong down from 25 last year. 

I will close by saying that maybe in some other departments there is not a need for a 30 year vet and they are discarded but in out department we recognize our members as Firefighters once they have earned the title they deserve to keep it.  Who do I want on a Pump a 3 year hotshot fresh out of the academy or a 30 year vet that can listen to the pump and know how to react to a equipment failure.  I let others answer that question.

Thanks again everyone what a great way to address our Fire Service...

While there are as many opinions out there as there are negative comments, one way to clear it up in your own dept is to address the issue of posting by fire service members. As well as evaluating your own safety training and practical application.

On the flip side weather we like it or not 2 of lifes best educator are pain and humiliation. They leave a lasting effect that will have someone that experienced either think twice the next time a similar situation happens.

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