At a possible structure fire call with my volunteer FD, I was driving the ladder truck, which was third to arrive on scene.  There was a light smoke condition coming from the basement of the structure.  The two engine companies were stretching a line and searching through the house, along with the truck company assisting and staging by the front entrance.  The fourth apparatus arriving was the FAST (or RIT) team.  I was the driver for the ladder truck, so I stood by the rig and observed the scene to see if they needed anything.  One of the FAST team members came up to me and asked for a ground ladder.  I started to the rear of the truck for the ladder compartment but I turned by head to the structure and to the ladders and back to the structure.  I was baffled why he needed a ladder since the structure is only one and a half story stucture with only windows on the first-story.  I asked him, "Are you sure you need a ladder?" and he was insistent.  So I gave him a two-fly 28 foot just to be an ass. 

 

I understand you need to ladder all four sides of a structure at every level but seriously....a one-story structure??  Again, get back to the basics and put the fire out.

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At a structure fire with my volunteer fire department, I was an officer on the second due engine and had my crew stretch a line to the rear of the house. The house was a 1 and a half story wood-frame with fire coming out of the rear of the house and progressing through the roof. By the time water was on the fire, the fire had self vented through the roof but the fire was stopped before it endangered the crews inside (away from the collapsed roof). While at rehab, I was told the FAST team was going to throw ladders for a one and a half story stucture! Really?? Basics and size-up are a must for everyone. Don't become tunnel vision with the fire scene and don't ALWAYS need to perform every task at an incident.
Hi,

Maybe we can ask the question of watch the problem a different way.

First the point of view of "do you need a ladder?" The answer is yes. In fact the max heat release of a fire is "vertical" (convection) so when the fire spread, in max % of time that's to the top. Also, we must consider accumulation of smoke at top level. This mean that top locations are dangerous. Also, at the end of the extinction, some guys will go to the top to check for hot spots and so on. When the fire re-ignit at this time, it's often in the upper part, where FF are. So, even when there is a fire in the basement, preparing ladder is a good choice.

The second point of view is fire-ground organisation. Nice to have a FAST team asking a ladder. But when I'm chief of my team, I want to know what tool and what guys I have. So, if I'm the chief of the attack and truck team, I want my driver for me, and I want to have the tools I need so I want to know where they are. If the FAST team want a laddder, OK, but:
1) the must have their own to not disturb all my tactic
2) if they don't have, they must ask ME for the ladder. Then, if I agree, I would ask my driver to help them, or, I will tell them "OK, take the ladder but don't disturb my driver". In that case, I will know where my ladder is.

That's organisation. And when we read a lot of NIOSH report, we see the major fatality reason is lack of synchronisation and lack of organisation.

Best regards
Pierre-Louis
Yes, it's nice to have a ladder but in this situation it was for the wrong reason and usage. The roof is assembled in trusses where if one members gives way then the rest fall like dominos. We try to minimize having firefighters on the roof if theres fire through the roof or is "spongie"/soft. I would prefer a tower ladder, so this way theres a safe platform. Also, with the houses being one and half story, there's no problem with getting to the hot spots with pike poles/hooks and water streams.

If these structures were two story or more, then yes they can take a ladder and ladder all four sides.

FAST teams seem to take away from common sense and the basics of firefighting. There's been too many situations and testing where it can take a FAST team an average of 10 to 20 minutes to get the firefighter out if trapped or lost. Question is, will that firefighter still be alive and salvagable?

Does your fire department practice FAST/RIT operations? If so, what are the procedures?
Hi Timothy,

Even if is was a bad idea, I think we can use this case for demonstration of organisation problem. On the fire ground, thing happened quickly. If I see I need a nozzle, I must not have to search it for minutes: I open the door of the "box", pick up the nozzle and that's it. You can see how it's easy to break an organisation, only by changing the location of a tool: you will see the guy opening tghe door and stay "paralyzed" in front of the empty box. In half of a second, the entire world is falling over him.

In that case, we mus perfectly know were OUR things are.

The A team work perfectly when the A chief give order to A team, the B team work perfectly when B chief give order to B team. If team need to work together, if A team need some tool from B team, OK: A guys ask A chief, A chief ask B chief and B chief give order. That's the way things must be done. Here the questions are:
- Did the FATS guy had a higer rank than you?
- Did the organisation of the Fireservice, descrive the FAST can give order to attack team?
- What was the opinion of your chief?

From my personnel opinion, I would have replied to the FAST guy "Who are you? I receive order only from my chief, and you are not my chief". :)

Best regards
Pierre-Louis
Concerning the fact we have FATS/RIT or not, first answer can be "No, we don't have". Maybe this answer is disturbing, but I've another one, more disturbing "We don't have, because we don't need". :)

In fact, for years I'm studying US FF way of doing, and try to understand why European way of doing is so different. I just discover, a few month ago that the reason were not technics, ventilation, kind of nozzle and so on, but the fact that the global approach is very different.

We can make the comparison with vehicule. With a vehicule you can go from one place to an other. With all to tools we have, we can fight the fire. That's a goal, needing actions and we perform action for this goal.
If you tell me "do you wear seat belt?" and my answer is NO. You will probably think I'm not "safe". But if I ask you "do you wear a helmet when using your vehicule?" you will answer NO, and maybe I'll think you are not safe. But we are all safe. Why? Because you use a car, and I use a motorcyle. :)

For firefighting, this is the same problem; we both fight the fire but with a different approach. So you need ventilation, you need "roofer", you need FATS and RIT. We don't need that. We need fog nozzle with many fog technics and we use them during many actions, and especially at some times when you would not use nozzle.
In fact you fight the fire with a "small" use of many tools, and we fight the fire with "many different use" of a small amount of tools. The phylosophy is different.

Today, US FF face problems not because the way of fighting fire is not good. It's good on both side. US FF face a budget problem as using many tools need to buy them. So the decrease of budget will have an impact on the number of tools, and this impact is more important for you, than for European FF. Also, by using many tools you need many team and face a problem of organisation. So you need ICS, and so on. We don't need that as we fight with smallest team, but we need to have team with a higher level of efficiency.

Best regards
Pierre-Louis

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