Monday, December 17, 2012

Saving Our Own





"How best could the Sandy Hook Massacre been prevented?"

by: Lou Angeli

Many will take issue with me regarding the following comments -- however I pose the following question: How best could the Sandy Hook Massacre been prevented? 

Consider the following: The weapons were legally purchased by Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter. Police report that she owned stash of handguns with extended clips and at least one assault rifle and other long guns. Perhaps a strange cache for a mom, but legal nonetheless. The son, Ryan Lanza -- who most believe was mentally disturbed -- turned the woman's own weapons against her, shooting her down in their shared home.

It's at this point where I lose my gun control friends because they don't get it at all. From the moment he shot his mother, Ryan Lanza's mental condition was no longer a consideration, because he had transitioned into a terrorist. Leaving home, he took his mother's car and drove to the school with one mission -- to take the lives of children and teachers. No one, other than Lanza himself, knew anything about what he planned to do.

It wasn't until Lanza opened fire in the Sandy Hook Elementary School that the first 9-1-1 calls were made to Newtown Police. Radio tapes reveal a very calm, professional dispatcher, who notified immediately notified mutual aid departments and the Connecticut State Police. As the tape continues, the caller at the school reports more shots fired, information which the dispatcher passes on to responding units. Depending on whose timeline you follow the first police officer arrived between 5 to 7 minutes after the first 9-1-1 call. But sadly, by then the children and teachers were shot dead, and the gunman lay on the floor, dead from a self inflicted wound. Reports are that the children had been shot anywhere from 3 to 11 times.

Since Columbine there have been some 30 mass shootings that have taken place here in the states. On a few occasions psychological testing has detected distressed individuals, but many of them showed symptoms and sought help. But neither gun control or testing could have prevented the Newton shootings. In this case, and others like it, the only concrete way to intervene and STOP the massacre was with an equal show of force.

Until some entity comes up with a better idea, we must establish an armed presence at every school, whether it be duty assigned law enforcement, National Guard or a volunteer group made up of teachers, administrators and service employees, who have been trained and licensed to serve in such a role. Before the rhetoric in DC, before the shrinks begin to expound on Freud and Adler, the only viable interim measure is to form immediate response teams who operate within the school, ready to take arms at a moment's notice.

I know I'll be getting my ass ripped on this one. But please consider this. Ask the parents of school children whether they want to wait several generations for gun control to take effect? Or do they prefer to provide their schools with the only clear cut way to deal with a terrorist.


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Lou Angeli

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Training Chicago Fire's Actors

In anticipation of NBC's new Fire-Rescue-EMS dramatic series "Chicago Fire," I spoke to CFD Deputy District Chief Steve Chikerotis about how the series' acting ensemble is being prepared to perform as firefighters and paramedics.


Firefighting, EMS, the Web and Social Media



Veteran responders: Remember back in the day -- before the internet -- when contact with one another was through print magazines or via "pen pals?" Back then we learned of LODDs, huge incidents, apparatus deliveries and job notifications through magazines like Firehouse, Fire Engineering, Fire Chief, JEMS and monthly regional newspapers.

For example, in the 1980's and early 90's, it might take us months to read about a story like Detroit's major staffing cuts. LODDs were honored 10-12 at a time in the trade magazines, with very little information about the specifics of those deadly incidents. And photos? We only had access to a few images from the largest of incidents. If we wanted to see additional photos, we purchased them from the photographer.

These days there are millions of online images of firefighters, EMTs, medics, apparatus, stations, incidents and more calendar shots than Hooters could ever muster. All free for the viewing. And within moments of a brother or sister dying on the job, notes of condolence and tribute are posted on discussion forums, blogs and, of course, Facebook.

Most importantly, though, we're able to read and view what's happening in departments throughout the world in real time through Twitter, YouTube and sites like Flickr. In addition, there are millions of pages of training and information, SOPs, SOG's, powerpoint presentations and features that allow departments to share valuable research, especially in areas of firefighter and EMT safety.

What are some of your recollections from the past when communicating with one another required a stamp, subscription or long distance phone call?

Lou
 
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Quints: Tactical Solution or Cross-Staffing Guise?

St. Louis Engine-8 -- 2nd Generation Quint

Emphasis on Rolling Stock -- Not Tactics

by: Lou Angeli

(St. Louis, MO ) - Ever since Neil Svetanics, former Chief of the St. Louis Fire Department, popularized the "Quint Concept" some 20 years ago, the nation's fire departments have gone crazy for quints. The concept that some said was a only a passing fad is still claiming new ground.

Admittedly, I'm a big buff, the perennial kid when it comes to firetrucks. But ever since March's FDIC Exhibit, with its hundreds of apparatus and machines on display, many fire officers are beginning to question where we're going -- and why.

At issue here is not the motive of fire apparatus manufacturers, the machines they build, nor their cost. After all, firefighting machines are no longer bought off the lot. We design them ourselves -- every nook and cranny -- from the ground up. But the concern for many is that in the year 2012, too much emphasis is placed on rolling stock and not enough on solid tactics.

In Neil Svetanics case, history shows that his original reason for developing the Quint was more an issue of STAFFING rather than MACHINE. When he assumed command of STLFD, members were operating what could best be described as ancient apparatus with bare bones staffing. It was a department in distress, where three-man engines and two-man ladders were the norm. So, the Quint concept was originally born out of a manning deficiency, and for Svetanics the long term plan was to enhance staffing, not limit it.

It was the late 1980's, and the fire service was begging for new ideas to increase efficiency and use existing manpower more effectively. Needless to say, Svetanics and his idea were at the right place at the right time. But some administrators abused Neil's original game plan, and Svetanics had unwittingly provided them with a way to reduce manning, in the guise of some new nationally recognized procedure.

Flexible Response 

Unfortunately, the "kid" in many of us didn't look beyond the red and chrome of those original LTI 75 footers. In fact, very few of us knew the real reason why St. Louis had initiated the Quint Concept in the first place. Many of us were blinded by the originality of this new fangled machine and the importance of the Truck or Support Company was lost in the smoke.

St. Louis dubbed their new SOP "Flexible Response", a procedure that did away with the traditional notion of Engine and Truck Companies. In essence, Neil Svetanics bucked tradition in a big way, and that's not necessarily all that bad. But in the rush to emulate St. Louis' success, many departments ordered up quintuple rigs without a solid plan as to how they were to be used on the field of streams. And that's my hand you see raised, because I sat on the apparatus committee of my own department, when we recommended the purchase a Quint.

Even after we signed the contract, and the rig was online in Wisconsin, our committee still wasn't sure how they quints would be used. As an Engine with an aerial device? Or a Ladder with a pump? Would it be the first responding machine, or the second-out piece? And most importantly, what would be the crew assignments in a volunteer organization where manning on the rig might fluctuate from three (during the day) to eight (at night).

Wilmington (DE) Fire Department -- Ladder Company-1

A Return To Basics:

In a recent article by John Mittendorf, the former LA City Battalion Chief took his exacto knife to flexible response, and cut the Quint concept to shreads. A bold response by a seasoned fire officer to a procedure that he felt was making the fire attack less efficient and more dangerous.

Mittendorf suggests that the introduction of Quint operations has caused us to neglect a very important fireground function - Truck or Support Company operations. Many believe he's right. The Engine Company cannot mount a fire attack, without the coordinated efforts of the Truck or Support Company. And that's where Quint operations fall short. Because as a first responding rig, the emphasis is exclusively on engine work.

So, before we begin making plans to build another Quint, let's step back and examine why Truck Companies were developed in the first place.

Although aerial ladders and towers exist in the fire service worldwide, the Ladder "Company" itself is a concept that is specific to North America. The origin of the Hook and Ladder Co. goes back to the early volunteer brigades of the 1700's. Back then, H&L members were responsible for separating the fuel from the blaze, and were often closest to the fire. Because they carried ground ladders, they were undeniably an integral part of the rescue operation.

While members of the pumper crews worked with the bucket brigades to fill pumps and extinguish the blaze, the Ladder Company performed all other necessary duties. Today, the Ladder Co. still serves much the same purpose, although dozens of generations have refined this multi-mission job. But no where else in the World is the distinction between Engine and Truck members so clear-cut as it is in the USA and Canada.

The $1 Million Quint -- Garden City, PA

As new tools and equipment are introduced, chances are they end up on the Aerial Apparatus. But how many more compartments can we fill? And at what point does the Ladder Apparatus become a burden, rather than an asset?

Examine the American LaFrance Tractor-Drawn aerial of just 25 years ago. Most equipment was carried in open bins and a few lockable compartments. The rig was lightweight, perhaps a GVW of 40,000 lbs, and could be maneuvered easily through streets and roadways. Its cost in 1974, $150,000.

But at $750,000 to $999,000, today's aerial apparatus have become Land Yachts. Most are built with six and eight man cabs, that rarely see more than four firefighters. Add a 1500 gpm pumps and 500 gallons of H2O, plus hoseline, and the NFPA allows us to call them Quints. They are the Carnival Cruise Ships of the fire service, which are used for every type of emergency -- from EMS to nuisance fires.

Many agree with former Battalion Chief John Mittendorf. The focus they say should be on the traditional function of the aerial apparatus and its crew.

Remember -- Even if your department doesn't operate a Ladder apparatus, the Truck Company function still must be addressed. In part two of this series, we'll examine the importance of the Support Company, and how some departments have enhanced their programs with the addition of Squads, Ladder Tenders, and even an old stand-by, the Quad.

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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Takin' It To The Streets

Tower-Ladder 2 operating at a 3-alarm blaze along the Riverfront

Firefighters and Supporters Must Educate Citizens

Wilmington, DE -- (August 4, 2012) -- There was a time in my life when Fire Departments were set-up to handle worst-case scenarios, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Today, city administrators are content to operate with just enough resources to mitigate a single room and contents fire. They claim that the BIG blazes of the 70's and 80's are a thing of the past. So, they play a numbers game and each time a box alarm is toned out, someone at city hall is shaking his fist and rolling the dice. This drill will continue, with half of the city's current fire-rescue resources, if a certain democratic candidate wins the primary here in Wilmington, Delaware.

The general public isn't privy to this never ending, high stakes crap game.The wager? Their lives and the lives of their families, friends and neighbors. Unless the community wants to see another Scranton or Chester right here in Wilmington, firefighters and firefighter supporters MUST take their important message to the people. Share it on the radio, in the news and go DOOR-TO-DOOR.

William Montgomery -- from Google Images

Drastic cuts to the Fire Department are being recommended by Democratic candidate, William Montgomery, an administrator who is no stranger to cutting firefighters and fire-rescue services. As Mayor Jim Baker's Chief-of-Staff, Montgomery implemented "Rolling Bypass" (closure of an engine company each day) and disbanded the State's ONLY career staffed Heavy Rescue, Rescue Company-1. Montgomery makes no bones about his disdain for firefighters -- and one can assume that a Montgomery administration would bring hard times to Wilmington's Bravest. One plan is to cut the WFD by 50% -- to a 3-Engine, 1-Ladder Department. That would leave 16 firefighters - citywide - to protect a daytime population of 100,000. Another idea places 2 engines out of service, and converts the existing Ladder Companies to multi-purpose Quints.

Montgomery and his mission must be discredited publicly if the Wilmington Fire Department is to remain at its current strength -- 6 engines and 2 ladders -- which is 2 companies short as is. There are just a few weeks remaining until the Democratic primary -- and there a lot of neighborhoods for firefighters to canvas. 

For Wilmington firefighters, this is the MOST IMPORTANT election of their careers. With cutbacks of 50% awaiting Wilmington firefighters, and under a Monty Administration, there will be mass layoffs, dozens of demotions and a once proud department will lay in ruins.

Keep the Wilmington Fire Department a mufti-faceted, well staffed emergency agency -- That's the message that needs to be taken to the streets and shared with the citizens of Wilmington!

Lou Angeli



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wilmington Firefighters Reveal Political Endorsements

Rep. Dennis P. Williams: Local 1590's choice for mayor.

Wilmington, DE -- Following a closely watched Meet the Candidate's Night, it didn't take long for Wilmington Firefighters (IAFF Local 1590) to decide which contenders they would support in the 2012 elections. Topping the list is Mayoral candidate, Dennis P. Williams, who once worked side-by-side with Wilmington's firefighters as a law enforcement officer, but who for the past few decades has served in the State Legislature as the powerhouse Democrat from District 1, north Wilmington.

Some in the community feel that endorsements from union locals and their representatives have come too early, but the reality is that Wilmington's mayoral election will take place a full two months before the general election in November. Why? There is no substantial Republican opposition, so the Mayor will be selected during the Democratic Primary, which this year falls on September 11th. And with a little over a month until the primary, candidates are rounding the final turn and racing toward a tight finish.

In light of Mr. Williams decision to run on a public safety platform, the Firefighters' endorsement is an important one -- equally as important as that of the Fraternal Order of Police. Because some believe that for the past several years, the current administration has been misleading the citizens of Wilmington when it comes to fire-rescue protection. 
The biggest rub has been that of "Rolling Bypass," more accurately known as brownouts. Each day Rolling Bypass closes one of three city engine companies, leaving the 6 Engine department (see city website) with only 5. Then, 2 years ago, the mayor and his staff (which includes mayoral candidate William Montgomery) ordered the closure of Rescue Company 1, the state's only career staffed rescue unit. (see Wilmington's Rescue-1 Disbanded)  Seventeen firefighters were lost as part of that closure, and one of the state's most valued fire-rescue resources vanished. Net loss: 8 firefighters per shift and with it the inability to handle multi-alarm incidents.

When I interviewed Rep. Williams this past spring, we discussed problems related to fire-rescue at length.
"The day I become mayor,' he insisted, 'I'll order the fire chief to end this rolling bypass nonsense immediately."
When asked about Rescue-1 he was just as insistent.
"Closing Rescue-1 makes no sense at all to me...it's like telling the police department to disband their SWAT unit." He continued. "Since Rescue-1 is an important state resource, my plan is to approach the state to help us re-open that company."
When it comes to state money, Williams knows where it is and how to get it because he heads the Joint Finance Committee. Unlike the current administration, which has done a super job of alienating the Governor and Legislature, Williams connections in Dover run long and run deep.
I applaud Wilmington Firefighters for their decision to endorse Dennis P. Williams as mayor. There is no doubt in my mind that he will restore the department's capabilities and morale to where it was under Chief James Ford. Although I can't speak to the law enforcement side of his campaign, he has released a plan to stem the current rash of shootings -- a plan which is based through consultation and 20 years on the mean streets as a police officer.

As a fire service advocate, the job's been tough these past few years. I've argued positions for Los Angeles, Detroit and Scranton, PA, where firefighters are now working for minimum wage. However, as a Wilmington resident, my advocacy will remain strongest in my hometown. Dennis has my vote -- all I ask Sir, is that I can post some POSITIVE commentaries about the Wilmington Fire Department in the near future.

Lou Angeli




Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tactical Changes at FDNY?


Bold Change in Firefighting Strategy

Governor's Island, NYC -- The FDNY is considering changes in the way they do business. Research being conducted at Governor's Island reveals that early ventilation endangers firefighters and victims by accelerating fire growth. Another practice being considered, cooling a smoke filled room before the location of the fire is identified. Sounds very much like 3D firefighting.

Read the story published in the New York Times


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hot Fun in the Summertime



SOPs and Protocol for SEVERE HOT Weather Firefighter Rehab
 By Lou Angeli

Simply stated Firefighter Rehab is designed to ensure that the physical and mental well being of members operating at the scene of an emergency (or a training exercise) don't deteriorate to the point where it affects the safety of any other members. After all, "stressed out" is not a good thing when you're working at America's most dangerous job.

Back in 1993, the US Coast Guard conducted a study dealing with the effects of interior firefighting on the human body. The results of the study are posted in the Coast Guard's Firefighting Initiative, but in short, researchers noted that our body core temperature (even for short exposures), often reaches 104 degrees (F) during the firefight.

A multi-alarm blaze: The heat index was 104F
(1) Primary Mission

The primary mission for fire command is to identify, examine and evaluate the physical and mental status of fire-rescue personnel who have been working during the emergency incident or a training exercise. Following a proper survey (see below), it should be determined what additional treatment, if any, may be required.

According to FEMA, "Any activity or incident that is large in size, long in duration, and/or labor intensive will rapidly deplete the energy and strength of personnel and thus merits consideration for rehabilitation."

 2. Launching The Rehab Operation

A specially designated Rehab Area, (or Group) -- remote from the fire or emergency incident -- should be established at the discretion of the Incident Commander in consult with the senior Safety Officer. If the Incident Commander determines that Rehab is necessary, qualified EMT-Ps or EMT-Bs (assigned to the first alarm response) should be assigned to manage the Rehab Sector under the command of a fire or EMS officer or supervisor. Note the emphasis of the "first alarm response."


EMS personnel must be on scene and available to provide treatment to fireground personnel at a moment's notice. If EMS does not respond as part of the initial turnout, consideration should be given to the fact that OSHA will certainly ask why they weren't... especially if anyone is injured.

Because they work side by side with the front line troops, company officers play an important role in Rehab. In fact, the federal government suggests that the safety of the fireground rests here, at the supervisor level. If a company member shows signs of fatigue or illness, the company officer will likely be the first to recognize the problem.

Anticipate Rehab needs early in the incident. During large-scale operations, Incident Command should consider augmenting existing resources by requesting additional EMS personnel or even another engine company or squad, to assist in the operation of the Rehab Sector.


(3) Locating the Rehab Sector

It is crucial for Command to establish The Rehab Sector away from any environmental hazards, or by-products of the fire, such as smoke, gases or fumes. During hot months, the ideal location might include a shady, cool area distant from the incident. In winter, a warm, dry area is preferred.

Regardless of the season, the area should be readily accessible to EMS-Rescue personnel and their equipment, so they may restock the sector with supplies, or in the event that emergency transport is required.

Rehab sites can also be established in the lobbies of nearby buildings, parking facilities, or even inside municipal buses. Misting/cooling systems, heating systems, SCBA refilling and canteen service should be stationed in or around this area as well. During large-scale incidents, like multi-alarm fires, Command should consider establishing Multiple Rehab Areas as the situation warrants.

(4) Coordination and Staffing

Command of the Rehab Area should be assigned to a chief or company level officer, who is designated as the Rehab Officer under most Incident Command structures. The incident itself will determine just how many people you'll need to do the job, however a minimum of two trained EMS personnel should initially be assigned to monitor and assist firefighters in the Rehab Sector. Utilize volunteer canteen or auxiliary members to assist EMS personnel in making "working" members as comfortable as possible.

(5) Evaluation of Fire-Rescue Personnel

 It is important for command and company level officers to continually monitor personnel for telltale signs of exhaustion, stress, and or physical injury. Individual members are encouraged to report to the Rehab Sector at any time that he or she feels the need to do so. Symptoms may include weakness, dizziness, chest pain, muscle cramps, nausea, altered mental status, difficulty breathing, and others. Regardless of physical well being, all fireground personnel should report to the Rehab Sector immediately following.

- Strenuous Activity
- Forcible Entry, Advancing Hoselines, Ventilation, etc
- The use and depletion of two SCBA bottles
- Thirty (30) minutes of operation within a hazardous/dangerous environment

- Failure of SCBA

 (6) Examination of Personnel

Arriving personnel should be examined by qualified EMS personnel, who should check and evaluate vital signs, and make proper disposition, i.e. return to duty, continued rehabilitation, or transport to medical facility for treatment. The workup should include:

- Scoring for Glasgow trauma scale.
- Checking Pupils
- Checking Vital Signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate
- Checking lung sounds
- Administration of a 2-lead EKG, when chest pain or irregular heartbeat is presented
- Skin condition and color Body core temperature


- Heart rate should be measured as early as possible in the rest period.
If the firefighter's heart rate exceeds 110 beats per minute, it is recommended that an oral temperature be taken. If body core temperature exceeds 100.6F, the firefighter should not be permitted to wear protective equipment or re-enter the active work environment, until temperature has been reduced and heart rate decreased.
It is recommended that re-examination occur at ten minute intervals. Using standing orders or existing protocol, Rehab Team Members should record examination results on medical evaluation forms as indicated by the local jurisdiction.
(7) Treatment During Rehab
Upon completing the physical examination, the following steps should be taken to minimize further risk to fire-rescue personnel: Turnout gear, helmets, masks and hoods should be removed immediately. Prior to ingesting anything orally, fluid or solid, it is recommended that the firefighter clean his/her hands and face with water and a cleaning agent, as provided by Rehab Sector personnel.

- The firefighter should rehydrate
- Oral re-hydration and nutrition is recommended in the form of 1-2 quarts of fluids
- Body core temperature should be reduced by cooling the body
- Cool body temperatures gradually using misting systems, fans, etc
- Individuals should be offered Oxygen therapy via nasal cannula or O2 mask.


The firefighter will only report to manpower staging when presentation is deemed normal by the attending EMS personnel. Note: According to FEMA and the NFPA, Water is the best re hydration agent, however some agencies suggest a re hydration solution of 50 / 50 mixture of water and a commercially prepared activity beverage administered at about 40F. Avoid cooling the body using ice packs or hose streams. Cooling should be gradual, limiting further shock to the body.


In the event that presentation appears abnormal, the Firefighter should immediately receive additional treatment, especially if conditions persist following fifteen minutes of rest. As is appropriate in most locales, those complaining of chest pain, difficulty breathing and altered mental status must receive immediate ALS treatment and transport to definitive health care. Follow your local jurisdiction's ALS protocols in this event.

 
 (8) Accountability

Members reporting to the Rehab Sector / Group should enter and exit the Area as a team. Their company designation, number of personnel, and the times of entry to and exit from the Rehab Area should be documented. This can be done either by the Rehab Officer or his / her designee on a Company Check-In / Out Sheet. Keep crews together, and don't allow overanxious members to freelance the event.

 (9) The Vital Importance Of Firefighter Rehab

Very few firefighters who wear the badge are athletes. But, from the moment the alarm is sounded, and that first surge of adrenaline reaches the heart, we're asking our bodies to work triple overtime. Couple that with 55 pounds of business suit, 1200 degree temperatures and another 50 pounds of hand tools and equipment, and the importance of effective rehabilitation at the fire scene becomes crystal clear. Make it part of your command strategy.

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Originally published in Fire Chief Magazine -- written by Lou Angeli

For written copies contact Lou at lou_angeli@comcast.net




 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Replacing Heavy Rescue With Lightweight Trailers

Pumpers will tow Rescue Trailers to the scene
(Heavy Rescues to be shut down and sold)

by: Lou Angeli

Wilmington, DE (May 11 2012) -- On January 1, 2011, the lone career Heavy Rescue in the State of Delaware was disbanded by the Wilmington (DE) Fire Department, and 17 jobs eliminated, in an effort to cut “tough times” spending in the state's largest city. At that time, the technical rescue mission was handed over to 2 of the city’s Engine Companies (Engine 1 and Engine 3), which were renamed Squads. During a rescue response, the Squad’s 4-person crew would split up, with 2 firefighters staffing the Engine and 2 responding with a Heavy Rescue.

A few weeks ago, an arbitrator ruled that the Wilmington Fire Department's Squad program  violated its contract with IAFF Local 1590 (Wilmington Firefighters) specifically a clause dealing with 4-person Minimum Staffing. The arbitrator instructed the Fire Department to staff every apparatus with 4 firefighters.

In a somewhat bizarre effort to meet the arbitrator’s demand, the Fire Administration has proposed purchasing three (3) 18-foot trailers, which would carry rescue and haz-mat equipment to incident scenes by towing them behind the existing Squad Pumpers (Squads 1 and 3) and the Haz-Mat pumper (Engine 6). The city says that such a change would allow the 4-person crew to remain together on a common apparatus, while at the same time carrying the tools needed for technical rescue.

Fire administration supports their decision saying that the use of pumper-trailers by fire suppression units is “a popular trend” among the nation’s departments. It is true that the concept of using trailers to haul specialty equipment has been around for several years now, however the towing vehicle is never a pumper with a ball hitch, but rather a dedicated vehicle like a Ford F-550 or even a small 5th wheel tractor.

View samples of emergency service trailers nationwide

For the past few days, Wilmington’s firefighters have been walking around their stations as if a huge question mark had been stamped on their foreheads. The decision is not popular among Wilmington’s rank and file, and comments from fire officials nationally leave dozens of questions unanswered.

 Pumper as Prime Mover?

The most common question among many responders is whether Wilmington’s Pierce pumpers were designed to pull 7 tons of trailer and equipment.

”You’re going to have all sorts of mechanical issues with the proposed idea,” says a retired Battalion Chief with the FDNY. “You need air assist breaks, a chassis and frame designed for towing, beefier suspension and tires to take the load.”

An Illinois Fire Chief comments, “They’ll (also) need a trailer which is designed to carry several tons of equipment, one with heavy duty suspension, and  adequate breaking system and a sturdy frame.”

According to a Pennsylvania manufacturer of similar trailers, “We build these for
construction contractors and landscape companies.” He adds, “They were never designed to serve in an emergency scenario.”

The use of a lightweight trailer has practical drawbacks as well. There is no compartmentalization, interior shelving or ability to mount equipment to the walls. The inability to drop a supply line from a hydrant limits the team’s firefighting power to the 500 gallons of water carried aboard the pumper’s tank. 

During a motor vehicle accident -- the city's most common non-fire rescue response -- rescue tools, like the Jaws of Life, will no longer be pre installed as they are on Heavy Rescue units. The jaws, cutters, spreaders and power plant will need to be retrieved from the trailer, set up and tested, thus delaying the rescue operation.

If you Google "fire pumper with trailer" http://tinyurl.com/8xs8qkc you won't find a single image of a fire pumper with a trailer. You will however find plenty of purpose-built trailers manufactured by companies, which specialize in fire-rescue equipment. You'll also note that they are towed by dedicated prime-movers or towing vehicles.

Incredibly, the most obvious solution to arbitrator's demand seems to escape the mayor and his staff. That answer sits in one of the city’s fire stations – an apparatus which the city already owns -- Rescue-1. Staff it and the city and fire department will be spared the consequences of operating a dangerous system, which has no track record.

 Wilmington's answer: An apparatus which they own!

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Historic Friends School Heavily Damaged

 by: Lou Angeli

Wilmington, DE (April 17, 2012) -- A major fire at one of America's oldest schools destroyed an auditorium and damaged other sections of the historic facility. There were no serious injuries but the windswept 3 alarm fire caused damages in excess of $1 million.

Talleyville Fire Company (Station 25) was dispatched for an alarm sounding responding with Quint 257. Back at the school teachers and maintenance staff found that there was indeed a fire, calling 9-1-1 with the additional information. New Castle County Fireboard upgraded the call to a full Box Alarm assignment as well as adding a RIT Team and ALS units.

On arrival, Quint 257 found heavy smoke rolling from the roof of the 4 story brick auditorium, part of a complex of connected structures. Talleyville firefighters made their way into the building with a hoseline searching for the source of the blaze. Outside, the aerial ladder was raised quickly in order to give firefighters access to the roof to cut vent holes. Using K12, chainsaws and hand tools, the roof team was unable to cut through slate and copper roofing material. 

"The heat was tremendous," one firefighter said. "I thought my boots were melting."

The 3-man team was ordered off the roof and not one second too soon. Once they had reached the aerial, heavy smoke and flame vented through the roof at the position where they had been standing just moments before.

Arrival conditions: Quint 257 and Engine 253

Talleyville Chief Tom Looney immediately radioed for a 2nd alarm, which included companies from Pennsylvania and the Wilmington Fire Department, Delaware's only career fire-rescue agency. New Castle County EMS responded to provide ALS coverage for fire-rescue personnel. 

As first alarm companies continued to arrive, ladder trucks and towers were positioned at sides A, B and D. Elsmere Ladder-16, Claymont Ladder 13 and Wilmington Ladder-1 joined Quint 257 setting up along the A side while each was fitted with a water supply line in the event that the fire attack became defensive. Tower-11 was assigned to the D side with Ladder-18 covering the B-C side. A collapse sector was established as a precaution.

A firefighter climbs Ladder 13's aerial early in the firefight.

The blaze was difficult to fight. Command was presented with a windowless, brick building with a roof which had been covered with copper and topped of with slate shingles. Inside, non-trussed, thick wooden beams hung high above the audience area making access difficult and providing the fire with plenty of fuel. Winds were gusting to 40mph blowing smoke over North Wilmington and into New Jersey. The roof began to burn with a vengeance.

With collapse eminent, Chief Looney ordered the evacuation of interior personnel and requested a 3rd alarm. The operation evolved into an aggressive exterior attack using elevated master streams from the pre-positioned ladder apparatus.

Engine 165 laid 5" supply line to feed Ladder-16

After nearly 3 hours, the fire was placed under control with many of the companies still working as they checked for hot spots and hidden fire. 2 firefighters were treated by New Castle County Paramedics, then transferred to nearby hospitals for examination. The Delaware State Fire Marshall's office is continuing their investigation.
comments: lou_angeli@comcast.net
All photographs:
(c)2012, Lou Angeli, All Rights Reserved 
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Monday, April 09, 2012

2 Philly Firefighters Killed in Massive Warehouse Fire

                                                                                                                  photo by: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Ladder-10 Officer and Firefighter Killed During Collapse

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Two Philadelphia firefighters died early Monday and three others were injured when the wall of a building collapsed as they battled a five-alarm fire, officials said.

The collapse occurred about 5:50 a.m. as the five were inside a furniture store, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernest Hargett Jr.

Four of the firefighters were trapped inside, he said, but the fifth was able to get free. Firefighters were forced to move brick and timber by hand and cut through some materials to rescue the others, Hargett said.

The initial report of the blaze came in at 3:13 a.m., Hargett said. Command requested four additional alarms as the flames burned out of control for two hours and embers set surrounding buildings ablaze.

The firefighters who died were 60 and 25 years old and assigned to Kensington's Ladder-10, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. "We have a veteran firefighter and we have a new firefighter," he told reporters. The firefighters' names will be released later Monday, officials said.

The last time multiple Philadelphia firefighters died in the line of duty was 2004, Ayers said, and the last firefighter death was in 2006. The cause of the fire was under investigation Monday, Ayers said.

###

Friday, April 06, 2012

Fire-Rescue-EMS News via LexisNexus and News Aggregators


OPINION

Wilmington, DE (April 6, 2012) -- It's been a busy week for volunteer firefighters in New Castle County, Delaware, and fire departments across the nation have learned the details thanks to software known as a news aggregator. In this case, the automatic system discovered the terms firefighters, structure fire, injured firefighter on DelawareOnline, the web version of Delaware's News-Journal.

These aggregators make life easy for news editors (TV, radio, print and the web) providing stories and features that may be of interest to specific demographic audiences. A prime example exists right here, FirefighterNation.com. Several times each day -- or based on a pre-determined delivery schedule -- news aggregators from major newspapers, wire services and TV stations update fire-rescue news headlines, automatically publishing a story before a site editor has an opportunity to review. Back in the day, these were known as rip and read stories, with the announcer going on the air without ever having previewed the story. Although the idea is similar, the current process is completed electronically in nanoseconds.

Here on my blog, I use the GOOGLE aggregator which sends stories to my email address, and allows me to post or pull.                                                          This is my aggregator section-->>>

Even though it's a Godsend to editors of fire-rescue-EMS websites -- often times those of us who are subjects of a story are thrown under the bus, often being ridiculed by our peers and citizens we protect. Admittedly, there are times, for example when a firefighter is found guilty of arson, that the story is accurate -- simply reporting a statement of fact. Unfortunately, other feeds come from the dregs of the earth -- the yellow journalists. Dennis Smith is cringing because he was not only a firefighter advocate but the consummate journalist.

Last week, The New York Post, long known for its disdain of firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers, ran a story with the following headline. "FDNY Retiree Works for NASCAR Fire Crew While Collecting City Disability Pension." The headline writers at the Post are well trained, knowing that if they include terms like FDNY, NASCAR and Fire Crew the news aggregators will kick into action forwarding the story to sites like Fire-Rescue-1, Firefighter Nation, Firehouse.com, and hundreds of others. I've been told by adding NASCAR to the title, the story was distributed to thousands of other sites -- mostly country music radio station websites.

I was horrified when I saw that so many fire-rescue sites ran the story, because as a journalist I instantly recognized that the piece was riddled with inaccuracies and fabrications. The paper boasts that they've exposed a hero firefighter, claiming that he asked for a disability pension so he could volunteer as a NASCAR firefighter. Unfortunately, many firefighters and citizens take the Post's false allegations as gospel truth because they aren't savvy to such journalistic tricks or, more importantly, aware of how the disability system works.

The firefighter accused, once assigned to Rescue Company 3, had served at Ground Zero for months determined to bring the brothers home. We know that to be true by simply confirming the story with others. Unfortunately, during his time on the pile, the firefighter sustained long term injuries and the department called him in for testing. Physicians recommended that he be retired and so ruled the Disability Board. One day he was assigned to one of the great Rescue Companies in the USA...the next he's sitting at home at the kitchen table sipping on coffee.
I suspect the Post maintains hard and fast rules regarding release on medical disability. Sitting on the front porch in a rocker is acceptable -- sharing your knowledge through teaching is not. When you retire, is your plan to sit in a wheel chair, watch the flat screen until you flatline?

The conditions of employment with the FDNY are clear, with one of the most important being able to do the job without causing injury to yourself or endangering fellow firefighters. That's what happened to the Rescue-3 firefighter, like thousands of others who were put to pasture in 2002. And like his colleagues the respected member of Rescue 3 had no intention of leaving the job as he was looking forward to having his own command someday. The events of 9/11 changed so many lives, but in particular veteran firefighters of the FDNY.

Without citing specifics or naming names, I've checked with attorneys and the Manhattan Prosecutor's office and firefighters who have been released on disability have done nothing whatsoever to break the law.

"The system was in place long before he took his oath" one attorney said. "If there's a problem, it's not with the firefighter...it's with the pension system."

Of course, what I've just noted in these previous paragraphs were never included in the NY Post story. Why would they? As I mentioned earlier, the writer is tasked to develop a story based on the headline -- not by truth and accuracy. And it's that headline that places sites like Firehouse.com on my "never return to list." (No reflection on you Chief Eisner)

In all honesty, I must give props to Fire-Rescue-1 because not long after the original Post story appeared, senior editor Rick Markley asked me to post my OP ED onto FR1's online edition. Here on FirefighterNation I posted the same OP ED, once again with positive results. Guess what? Firehouse.com wouldn't allow me to post -- but they did allow our brother firefighters to respond to the NY Post article. That's when I became disgusted and angered.

Here's a sample of responses which appear on Firehouse.com.

Reader: "You can talk all about this crap about being assigned to Rescue 3 for FDNY (so what?). The guy is a piece of sh!t and should be in jail."

Reader: "Not all fireman abide by the honesty creedo.......there are alot of public safety personnel that are in these jobs to see what they can get for themselves."

Reader: "Let's not kiss this guy's ass because he was a fireman. There are no SAINT's riding on any fire trucks in this country. This guy deserves to lose his disability."

None of the responses listed here are informed. I asked the individuals via email to site some of the specifics from the story and as I suspected they could not. Their entire opinion regarding Firefighter Cliff Stabner was formed based on what an aggregator told them -- the story's headline.

I urge the major Fire-Rescue websites and the dozens of excellent emergency services bloggers, to keep an eye on their aggregator feeds. Stories about the convicted arsonist need to be shared so other departments can learn how to weed out the stray member. But to publish a one-sided, factually incorrect story isn't fair to Cliff Stabner -- nor the remainder of us who ride the jumpseat for a living or as an avocation.


Your comments are invited.


___________


Monday, April 02, 2012

NY Post Continues to Defame FDNY Hero

Lewes, DE (April 2, 2012) -- Cliff Stabner has done nothing wrong! He is a former soldier, law enforcement officer and NY City EMT. As a firefighter he was assigned to the most prestigious firefighting unit in North America, FDNY's Rescue-1. The New York Post has this information on hand, but won't reveal it because it doesn't support their comical headline. 
"Disability Duplicity" 
 Who says there are no second acts in American lives? FDNY pensioner Cliff Stabner retired as a “disabled” city smoke eater in 2003 and — presto chango — is now working as an emergency responder . . . at a NASCAR speedway in Delaware.  New York Post Editorial
Like thousands of others rescuers, Cliff was injured at Ground Zero and in 2002 placed on disability by CITY physicians and a CITY board. He never requested to be taken off the job! Why would he? His life was the FDNY. The Post suggests he hired his own attorney to petition for his dismissal, which is a fabricated notion.

To be quite honest, I'm the only person with actual hard evidence of Cliff's role at the speedway. Pictures. I'm a photographer who covers many of the races at Dover and I have specifically covered Cliff -- and the infield safety crew -- in the past. I have never seen him run onto the track to rescue trapped drivers. I learned that as a VOLUNTEER, he drives a utility truck which carries rescue tools, but is mostly involved in training other firefighters and rescue personnel.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion in this matter, therefore my comments won't include attacks on individual posters. However, to those of you who sit in the easy chair passing judgement on a good man based on a story that the Post never attempted to confirm -- I urge you to take a few moments and perhaps do a little research of your own.

If you're going to serve as Judge and Jury, conduct a proper investigation. I believe that you will find that without a doubt, the problem is with the system -- not Cliff Stabner. Apparently, politicians have been aware of the problem for years, because as the Post noted last Tuesday, "The controversial new pension law approved by Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature slashes disability pensions for new firefighters by 50 percent."

On September 11, 2001, Cliff Stabner was an American hero -- assisting in the rescue of Captain Jay Jonas, the crew of Ladder 6 and a civilian who were trapped in a collapsed stairway of the North Tower. Today, the law firm known as the New York Post -- always known for their editorial acumen and honesty -- steals a family's good name without ever confirming the source of their tip.
 
###

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New York Post: Discrediting Firefighters Whenever Possible

by: Lou Angeli

Lewes, DE (March 27, 2012) -- I don't know where to start, but first allow me to make this personal statement. The New York Post, one of America's largest newspapers, is also one of its worst. It serves up yellow journalism on a daily basis and "...is best used to line the bottom of bird cages."

Yesterday, Monday March 26, 2012, The Post ran a story about a former FDNY firefighter, who the paper claims faked a medical condition in order to retire early and collect a disability pension. For the sake of this discussion we'll refer to the firefighter as Ray. This news piece hit home here in the First State, because not only is the story a total fabrication of the lifestyle and activities of a fellow Delaware volunteer, but the venerable NY Post lifted one of my photos, one that I shot 2 years ago, to illustrate a story on Track Safety at Dover International Speedway.


For the record, I been photographing firefighting and firefighters for 30 years, and those who know me understand that I would never allow any image or video clip to be used to disparage a firefighter, paramedic, EMT or law enforcement officer. Indeed, I never signed a license allowing the newspaper to use the photo -- and I instructed the writer NOT TO USE IT on three separate recorded telephone conversations.

Ray is a former FDNY firefighter who had a sterling career, so much so that officers of Rescue-1 (Manhattan) and Rescue-3 (The Bronx) fought over him. He served under Capt. Terry Hatton and learned the ropes from fellow firefighter Joey Angelini, who at 65 continued to hold an honored spot on Rescue-1's rig. But all of that came to an end on September 11, 2001. Hatton, Uncle Joe and most of Rescue-1's crew were lost to the towers that day. Ray was off, but responded from home arriving just before the north tower collapsed.

Although I'm not using the firefighter's true name, many of you will recognize him by his voice. When Jay Jonas, serving as Captain of Ladder 6 on September 11th, reported that he and his crew were trapped but alive, it was the Ray who responded by radio. "We're coming for you brother...We're coming for you." Those nine words remain one of the most chilling radio transmissions from that horrible day.

During Rescue and Recovery, Ray searched for his brothers day-in and day-out, spending many, many weeks on the pile. It was hard work but Ray was determined to bring his colleagues home. His decision to see the mission through had its ramifications though. Ray started suffering from pulmonary ailments and after testing, the city released him from service on disability at just 45 years of age.

Fast forward ten years: Ray, now living in downstate Delaware, became a member of his local volunteer fire company -- not so much to ride the apparatus, but to work with the department's junior members. Imagine the quality of education those kids have received!

Because of his rescue expertise, Ray was asked to serve as a consultant to Dover International Speedway's Track Safety Crew, where he worked with NASCAR safety personnel to come up with the SOPS for the extrication of drivers. During the races, Ray drove the utility truck that carried the rescue tools. But everything about NASCAR is fast, and by the time he would arrive, four other fast response vehicles were on the track with a total of 16 firefighters -- enough manpower to attack a well involved room and contents fire.

It must have been a slow news day for the New York Post yesterday. Working on a single tip from a angry individual who didn't care for Ray, the newsrag ran the following headline "Disabled FDNYer with 95K Pension Now a NASCAR Rescuer." The writer was Creepy Carl, as he's known by some, a Mr. Carl Campanile. One individual who has been following Campanile's career notes, "Carl one time was an idealistic journalist, but after years at the Post he has become nothing but a mindless, brainless robotron who does the bidding for his master Rupert Murdoch."

The story is written in the first person narrative as if Carl knows Ray personally. In reality he's speaking for a single individual who called the paper with a tip -- actually a series of tips, all of which are hearsay.  The tips deal with Ray and Campanile ran with the story because the Post seems to discredit firefighters (and law enforcement) whenever possible.

Campanile claims that Ray "may have received his disability...(because) he was overweight." Well, anyone who knows Ray would never describe him as overweight at 6' 5" and 200 pounds. Just check out the picture that I shot -- and the Post ripped off. Curiously, the information and research regarding Ray comes from a sole source -- a whistleblower claims the journalist. Unfortunately, the whistleblower wouldn't allow the newspaper to release her/his name. Perhaps Campanile should have done a background check on his source before ripping into Ray and ruining his life.

The issue of firefighter salaries, pensions and disability benefits are currently being taken to task by the press, citizens and citizens organizations. But how can one fault Ray? It wasn't his decision to leave the FDNY!  His salary, pension and other benefits were determined before he came on the job. And who could have predicted the events of 9/11 and the long term medical issues suffered by tens of thousands of responders? It was the City of New York who gave Ray his walking papers. His preference would have been to remain on the job and work into a command position in special operations. But once a firefighter has been dropped from the roles, there is no appeal process -- no back door to the firehouse.

As for any firefighter or police officer who was forced to retire on disability, what does the Post and unnamed sources of information expect them to do? Sit in a wheelchair in front of the TV? Perhaps have them monitored by webcams 24x7?  Any individual, ill or healthy, should be given the opportunity to pursue a lifestyle that makes them happy, healthy and whole. That's all that Ray wants. And what better way then by serving the community by sharing his incredible knowledge of firefighting and rescue -- whether it's with the young people of Lewes Fire Company, or the Safety Crew at Dover Speedway.

Ray won't be defeated by a nameless accuser that's for sure. He's a Firefighter -- a member of the brotherhood. And if ever a brother needed a lift, Ray is the guy and today is the day.


-------
Photo of "Ray" which was used illegally by the New York Post.  The writer said that "...without the photograph I don't have a story."





comments? louisangeli@yahoo.com

  

Monday, March 05, 2012

Fire Station Lost To Tornadoes


Milton (KY) Fire-Rescue Station-2 Leveled by Twisters

Milton, KY (March 2, 2012) -- The National Weather Service confirms a EF3 and an EF2 tornado touched down near Milton, Kentucky. Fire chief Jason Long's dash cam video captured the moment he arrived at Milton  fire station 2 only to find it destroyed. 2 firefighters rode out the tornado in the men's room of the firehouse

The lone fire engine at station 2 took a beating and though the winds walloped every inch, it seems to be no match for the spirit in Milton. "When it rained and hailed they were putting flags up there," says Vicki McQueary. "We will make it through this. We will rebuild."

Video from Chief Long's dash cam can be found on CNN at:
 http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-757516

The Department needs to replace the engine and equipment that was housed in Station 2, including a fish fryer trailer which generates most of the department's income for the year. If you can help, contact Chief Long through the department's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Milton-Fire-Rescue/105322572843196

------

Minquadale Firefighters Welcome Their NEW Ride

Rescue-Engine 22

Minquadale, DE (March 1, 2012) -- This 2012 Pierce Velocity/PUC is now in service with the Minquadale Fire Company of New Castle County, DE. It will soon become one of the busiest rescues in the State of Delaware, with the department protecting I-95, I-295, I-495 and US Route 13 in addition to mutual aid response both south and north of the city.

For the members of Station 22, this is a landmark occasion. This Pierce is the first NEW apparatus that they've purchased in 20 years. The company also received delivery of a new Type-1 ambulance on a Dodge chassis.

Congratulations.
Website:  http://www.mfc22.com/

photos by: Lou Angeli

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Truckies Come Home!


Emphasis on Rolling Stock -- Not Tactics

 by: Lou Angeli

 St. Louis, MO ) - Ever since Neil Svetanics, former Chief of the St. Louis Fire Department, popularized the "Quint Concept" 20 years ago, the nation's fire departments have gone crazy for quints. The concept that some said was a only a passing fad is still claiming new ground.

Admittedly, I'm a big buff, the perennial kid when it comes to firetrucks. But ever since March's FDIC Exhibit, with its hundreds of apparatus and machines on display, many fire officers are beginning to question where we're going -- and why.

At issue here is not the motive of fire apparatus manufacturers, the machines they build, nor their cost. After all, firefighting machines are no longer bought off the lot. We design them ourselves -- every nook and cranny -- from the ground up. But the concern for many is that in the year 2012, too much emphasis is placed on rolling stock and not enough on solid tactics.

In Neil Svetanics case, history shows that his original reason for developing the Quint was more an issue of STAFFING rather than MACHINE. When he assumed command of STLFD, members were operating what could best be described as ancient apparatus with bare bones staffing. It was a department in distress, where three-man engines and two-man ladders were the norm. So, the Quint concept was originally born out of a manning deficiency, and for Svetanics the long term plan was to enhance staffing, not limit it.

It was the late 1980's, and the fire service was begging for new ideas to increase efficiency and use existing manpower more effectively. Needless to say, Svetanics and his idea were at the right place at the right time. But some administrators abused Neil's original game plan, and Svetanics had unwittingly provided them with a way to reduce manning, in the guise of some new nationally recognized procedure.
  
Flexible Response 

Unfortunately, the "kid" in many of us didn't look beyond the red and chrome of those original LTI 75 footers. In fact, very few of us knew the real reason why St. Louis had initiated the Quint Concept in the first place. Many of us were blinded by the originality of this new fangled machine and the importance of the Truck or Support Company was lost in the smoke.

St. Louis dubbed their new SOP "Flexible Response", a procedure that did away with the traditional notion of Engine and Truck Companies. In essence, Neil Svetanics bucked tradition in a big way, and that's not necessarily all that bad. But in the rush to emulate St. Louis' success, many departments ordered up quintuple rigs without a solid plan as to how they were to be used on the field of streams. And that's my hand you see raised, because I sat on the apparatus committee of my own department, when we recommended the purchase a Quint.

Even after we signed the contract, and the rig was online in Wisconsin, our committee still wasn't sure how they quints would be used. As an Engine with an aerial device? Or a Ladder with a pump?

Would it be the first responding machine, or the second-out piece? And most importantly, what would be the crew assignments in a volunteer organization where manning on the rig might fluctuate from three (during the day) to eight (at night).


 A Return To Basics:

In a recent article by John Mittendorf, the former LA City Battalion Chief took his exacto knife to flexible response, and cut the Quint concept to shreads. A bold response by a seasoned fire officer to a procedure that he felt was making the fire attack less efficient and more dangerous.

Mittendorf suggests that the introduction of Quint operations has caused us to neglect a very important fireground function - Truck or Support Company operations. Many believe he's right. The Engine Company cannot mount a fire attack, without the coordinated efforts of the Truck or Support Company. And that's where Quint operations fall short. Because as a first responding rig, the emphasis is exclusively on engine work.

So, before we begin making plans to build another Quint, let's step back and examine why Truck Companies were developed in the first place.

Although aerial ladders and towers exist in the fire service worldwide, the Ladder "Company" itself is a concept that is specific to North America. The origin of the Hook and Ladder Co. goes back to the early volunteer brigades of the 1700's. Back then, H&L members were responsible for separating the fuel from the blaze, and were often closest to the fire. Because they carried ground ladders, they were undeniably an integral part of the rescue operation.

While members of the pumper crews worked with the bucket brigades to fill pumps and extinguish the blaze, the Ladder Company performed all other necessary duties. Today, the Ladder Co. still serves much the same purpose, although dozens of generations have refined this multi-purpose job. But no where else in the World is the distinction between Engine and Truck members so clear-cut as it is in the USA and Canada.

As new tools and equipment are introduced, chances are they end up on the Aerial Apparatus. But how many more compartments can we fill? And at what point does the Ladder Apparatus become a burden, rather than an asset?

Examine the American LaFrance Tractor-Drawn aerial of just 25 years ago. Most equipment was carried in open bins and a few lockable compartments. The rig was lightweight, perhaps a GVW of 40,000 lbs, and could be maneuvered easily through streets and roadways. Its cost in 1974, $150,000.

But at $750,000 to $999,000, today's aerial apparatus have become Land Yachts. Most are built with six and eight man cabs, that rarely see more than four firefighters. Add a 1500 gpm pumps and 500 gallons of H2O, plus hoseline, and the NFPA allows us to call them Quints. They are the Carnival Cruise Ships of the fire service, which are used for every type of emergency -- from EMS to nuisance fires.


Many agree with former Battalion Chief John Mittendorf. The focus they say should be on the traditional function of the aerial apparatus and its crew.

Remember -- Even if your department doesn't operate a Ladder apparatus, the Truck Company function still must be addressed. In part two of this series, we'll examine the importance of the Support Company, and how some departments have enhanced their programs with the addition of Squads, Ladder Tenders, and even an old stand-by, the Quad.

updated 2/7/2012




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Haiti: 2 Years Later

HD Video clips of the dire situation in Haiti just 36 hours following the massive earthquake that shook Port-Au- Prince to pieces. Now, 2 years later, the debris has been removed from the streets, but the people still live in make shift shanty and tent cities. They are tired, malnourished, and tens of thousands remain ill and injured.


Top 10 Fire-Rescue-EMS Photos of 2011


From massive earthquakes to the nation's most damaging tornado season ever, 2011 proved to be one for the records for those of us who work in the Emergency Services. Here are photos of the Top-10 worldwide disasters for Twenty Eleven. (Top 10 Photos)