Let's talk about the Fire Service

Move along, nothing to see here!
Posts: 729
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: EE

Re: Let's talk about the Fire Service

Post by henrik » Mon May 14, 2018 9:18 am

ffj wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:49 pm
We follow the Incident Command System /.../ Somebody is always in charge of the scene and command is transferred seamlessly as more personnel show up that are trained to run an emergency situation. /.../
Hope that clears up some of what you asked.
It does and it makes sense, thank you for the explanation. The system seems quite similar to what's followed in many EU countries, right up to a national staff being set up to lead, which I imagine in the US would be run by FEMA.
As IC on site, how much authority do they give you to seize private resources (eg fuel, machinery) or task private persons?

Posts: 1836
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Let's talk about the Fire Service

Post by ffj » Tue May 15, 2018 9:13 am


We are expected to carry the equipment and personnel necessary to execute the tasks on hand, so it is a rare occurrence that we would ever commandeer private resources or *task private citizens. At least in the professional world of firefighting.

Now in the volunteer side of things, there will be occasions where private citizens will be put to use or their resources, namely water sources such as a pond or swimming pool. We don't want to use them for firefighting because they aren't protected or trained, but sometimes they will help you carry things such as hose or extrication tools. But we really don't want untrained people involved for too long, especially with real hazards. I've been to many car accidents where Good Samaritans stop and render aid as best to their ability, and most are relieved to see us walking up so they can relinquish that duty but sometimes due to the number of victims we will let them stay and comfort the victims with non-life threatening injuries while we focus on serious injuries. At least until more professionals show up. We don't want screaming and crying people unduly adding chaos while we perform our duties.
Btw, it has been my experience the ones making the most noise are usually the ones the least hurt. That's why it's always a good sign when a kid is wailing even though it's upsetting to hear. The ones that are sitting or lying there either unresponsive or very quiet are many times suffering from a lot of trauma.

*An exception would be at large facilities such as factories or hospitals or jails/prisons, etc. Many times we need someone to either alert us to highly specialized operations or simply unlock highly secured doors. As an aside, I highly suggest never going to prison and if you do, never having a major health set-back such as a heart attack while incarcerated. The number of hoops we had to jump through just to access our patient added a lot of time to our arrival, and if you aren't breathing then it sucks to be you. They will not deviate from their protocols just because you decided to die that day. In my old district I had two prisons, the jail, a mental hospital, multiple charitable organizations that took care of the indigent, and the Greyhound Bus station where future customers arrived every day. A lot of cities will pay for bus tickets to literally ship their problem children out to some other city that has a generous policy towards people that are homeless or addicted. We responded to a lot of the less fortunate among us.

We've also used equipment from farmers too such as skidsteers and front-end loaders for nuisance fires such as hay or mulch. Until you spread that stuff out you can't put it out. We used to respond at least once a year to an operation that mulched horse shit and hay to sell to mushroom growers. So much internal heat would build up that it would ignite and since they had acres of this stuff we would be there for an entire shift. I still remember groaning when the call would go out because I knew I would be spraying horse poop down for hours. Nothing glamorous about that, haha.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Let's talk about the Fire Service

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed May 16, 2018 9:14 am

If you'll look next time at hydrants, you'll notice that each top(bonnet) will be either light blue, green, yellow or orange, red, or black. These all indicate what they are rated in gpm with the light blue the best and the black a dead hydrant.
I was driving around yesterday so I started watching for hydrants. I passed at least 10 of them and they were all light blue.

Posts: 1369
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Let's talk about the Fire Service

Post by Jason » Wed May 16, 2018 10:07 am

ffj wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:25 pm
arson is suspected.
What's your best arson story? Wife loses house in divorce and burns it down? Husband catches wife in bed with boyfriend and sets the bed on fire?" The Jewish lightning "I need money, what's this insured for?" Or the "Oops, I just burned my own shit to the ground?" via fell asleep smoking, put out grease fire with water, thought I just burn this pile of leaves and before I knew it the entire neighborhood is a raging inferno.

This is on my reading list.

https://www.amazon.com/American-Fire-Lo ... 1631490516

Posts: 1836
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Let's talk about the Fire Service

Post by ffj » Thu May 17, 2018 10:01 am


Now you can start looking for FDC's and PIV's. :D


Most arson fires aren't glamorous or exciting, but an absolute pain in the ass. And it's usually the kids that are responsible for a ton of work on our parts. There was a doughnut shop in our district with a dumpster out back and every evening they would throw all of these doughnuts away that had expired. The dumpster was next to a fence and on the other side were bales of cardboard to be recycled from a furniture store. These kids would use the cardboard to climb on to hop the fence and steal the doughnuts until one night they decided to burn the cardboard and their ladder. When we arrived on scene there were about twenty huge bales on fire and the only way to put it out was to cut the bands and spread all of the cardboard apart. I ended up having to call two more companies out that night to help and it took about six hours.

We had another kid that loved to burn these huge tires behind a cross-fit gym. You know, these people that flip tires for a workout? Well, he would wait until about 3 a.m. and light them up and boy did they burn well. After the third incident and the destruction of an entire bank of electrical meters, the gym decided not to replace them. We had another kid that loved to burn wooden fences and so and so on. Dumpsters are frequent targets too.

Abandoned homes or buildings are frequent targets for arson too. We used to respond a lot to an abandoned apartment complex that saw some huge arson fires in my district. The funniest one though occurred while the arson squad was investigating an earlier arson fire the day before and the arsonist lit another one while they were on the property! I vividly remember this because I was there with my engine company helping the investigation and we had just left the property when the arson guys called in a structure fire at the same place. So we turned around and sure enough we had a fire in the apartments about two buildings down from where we had just been. And the fire was big enough ( a room and a hallway) that it had to have been started while we were there.

Not an arson story but kind of funny too. We once responded to an alarm drop at a school and we noticed a kid running from the school and he runs right in front of our engine. Now the burglar alarm had been alerted too so we instantly surmise this kid just broke into the school and was making a run for it. One of the guys on my truck jumps off and tries to run him down (which is not our job btw) but I wasn't going to let my buddy face this guy alone so I start chasing too. Ever seen the intro to COPS? People jumping fences, running through yards, etc? That was us and when I would get close to this kid I would yell STOP! and he would turn around and yell FUCK YOU! and keep running. Haha. Now keep in mind we were wearing full turnout gear and this kid had on shorts and a T-shirt but the adrenaline had kicked in and two of us finally cornered him in a backyard and I vividly remember thinking "what do I do now?" Haha. But we just blocked his exit and waited for the police to come arrest him while he called us every name in the book and made fun of how much we were sweating. Hell yeah I was sweating, jumping fences with twenty pounds of hot turnout gear on, you little shit. I would guess he was about 14 or 15 at the time and on a fast track to the prison system. Come to find out he had broken into the school and had smashed and destroyed a bunch of stuff inside.

On a more serious note there are people out there that use arson to either cover up a crime or are actively trying to kill somebody. One of the first murders I responded too in my career was like that; the victim had been beaten to death with a lamp and the guy that killed him set the place on fire to cover it up. Fortunately we put the fire out quickly so most of the evidence remained. We had another guy burn down an entire apartment complex because he was pissed at his girlfriend. Very fortunate for him that nobody died in that fire because several people came very close on that day as he started the fire in the common stairwell. He ultimately received a very lengthy prison sentence for that as was proper. Fires like that are dangerous for us because many times an accelerant is used or a large fuel load is ignited first which greatly accelerates the burning process making the building much more unsafe.

There are also arsonists in the fire service. At one of my old volunteer fire departments we had a rash of fires in the remote part of our county, mainly barns and unoccupied houses. Whenever homes without electrical service or barns start going up in flames for no obvious reason, then arson is always suspected. So an investigation was started and what finally led to the capture of the arsonists was a phone call. Someone had placed a phone call from a country store to report a fire and when the location of the call was noted and compared to where the fire was located, it was surmised that it would have been impossible to have covered that distance in that time frame. Fortunately, there was surveillance footage at the store and although the phone booth wasn't in view the callers vehicle was, sans the license plate, and in the back corner window was a sticker of our fire department. Even better, the caller was a female, which ruled a ton of people out, and the vehicle matched hers. Now there were several other people involved and through questioning her and noting response times of these other people in question, ultimately four were sent to jail, with a couple others under strong suspicion, with some being juveniles. Apparently they were just bored and wanted some excitement.

O.K, tired of typing but that was kind of fun remembering some of those runs.

Post Reply