I'm trying to help a buddy with a problem. He came to me because i had it happen to me and since i'm retired all i could tell him was what i did in a certain situation

Backround: when i went through basic rope rescue (knots, rigging, rappelling, Zdrag) i was warned that when i go back to my department with my certificate, there could be a chance that they would view me as the "rope rescue expert" and i should emphasize how little i know at this time. The instructor was right on and every time a rope issue came up, i was called on because "i'd been to rope school". eventually i went to advanced classess and got more training and i tried to keep a low profile when it came to being called an "expert" but it was tough to dodge

some months later i was put in charge of all of the rope rescue equipment and the department program. it was later decided that an officer should be in charge of it and I got into a disagreement with a chief officer over a rigging policy he made a department SOP and he went on to specify how specific rescue's will be performed. In both cases i pointed out to him that what he proposed as "department rope policy" was outside the recognized good practices of the rope rescue community and rigging should be flexable because if you are presented with a situation that does not conform to what you have as an SOP, a rescurer would be in a jam.

I sent a copy of the proceedure (department name redacted) for review to several instructor contacts i had with some training companies i'd taken training with (without naming them lets just say that they are the biggies and have 3 letters in their company names) who all told me to have this stopped at once and wrote why

when i showed the responses to the chief i was wrote up for insurbordination "the rope chief claimed" that i made the department look bad in front of nationally recognized instructors and the entire country

I requested a hearing (figuring i would loose) because a firefighter cant fight a chief and win

In the hearing I pointed out in all my prior and current documentaton that the proceedures in the SOP were dangerous and i solicited outside review so it would not seem that my concern was personal.

He countered that because he attended the state fire college's course in rope rescue, he possessed "State Certification" which over rides my training because i took it from a "rope rescue company" and not a state certified agency to which i responded, the state does not "certify" anyone in rope rescue neither does the people i took my training from. He responded that state training trumps all other training because its recognized by the fire departments of our state

"then why did the top instructors from three training companies who are recognized experts in rope rescue take the time to tell me in writing that what you had on the books as an SOP was going to get somebody killed unless we stopped doing it?

i went on to say that if you dicipline me and keep the proceedures on the books to save face in front of a firefighter, dont you relaize that if somebody does get hurt or god forbid KILLED as a result of it in the future, the documentation in this hearing and I would become the primary evidence against you?

He backed off and the charge was dropped. The proceedure got changed to a safe one {thats all i wanted because what he had was not safe} and i let it go

I didnt "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" my winning but the debate opened up a can of wormes over whos credential(s) are better. A state fire college or one from one of the national firms?

My offical response in meetings about it was on a basic level either training was ok as long as the student knows the basic accepted proceedures that everybody else in the rope rescue business accepts as proper and safe and the equipment should be within NFPA 1983 guidelines, because we have some ex military members that thought it was still accepted to rappel with a carabiner (because thats what the military taught them and that is over anybody's certification) because it comes from the government

My question to the group is have any of you had this problem and if so how did you resolve it?

In retrospect i believe that i had a chief that was upset that a firefighter made him look bad and because rope rescue is one of those "high profile" things like dive, ice or swiftwater rescue and being in the spotlight at those things makes you look important. so he went and got the basic package fromt he SFC and came back and because he was a chief...he was an expert. years later he was in charge of a rope rescue and screwed it up. i was called in on my day off and simply helped him out and said nothing else about it

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't have an answer for your specific issue, but thought I'd give a slightly different look at how our training system in Australia works.


We have in place a national accreditation system where certified businesses (both public and private sector) can issue national recognised competencies and qualifications. Once you have this piece of paper, in theory, you can take it anywhere in the Country, and it will be recognised.


It's not 100% perfect, and it's not fail safe, but the end result is, an accreditation, is an accreditation.


To your specific issue- in theory, I don't have an issue with you removing all references to your FD before submitting the paperwork for review by the other instructors, but you know as well as I do, that it's highly likely they know you and they do know what FD you belong to. My point being, it's not really anonymous.


The input of these instructors is vital to discredit and prove that a technique is unsafe, however I also see the issue the chief has with his train of thought that you potentially undermined him and harmed the reputation of the FD. A catch 22, me thinks that no one will win.


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