Friday, April 1, 2011

Journal Entry 8-What if the FAST/RIT/RIC Can't Make It?

First and foremost, what about FDIC 2011? Yet another incredible week in Indianapolis. If you've never been there, it's a must. Open an FDIC Club account. (Better than a Christmas club!) Put away $20.00 a week. Get yourself to Indy next year, somehow. You'll come back every year after that. After 21 FDIC's, take it from me. There is something for everyone. See you in 2012! Now to the business at hand. A fire department got a call to respond FAST to a structure fire in February. It was 0430, there was 6-8 inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming heavily. On a good day, it would take 17-20 minutes to respond to this town. This morning, it took them almost 45. In this area, this department was asked to provide this service to 20 area fire departments over time, as they are one of a few career departments in an area dominated by volunteer departments and they can guarantee a response most times. Some towns appear to be too far for them to be effective. One chief when questioned explained that it will take him 15 to 20 minutes to get on scene and get set and we'd be arriving right on time. (It's the nature of the beast.) The front seat officer admitted that a half mile from the firehouse, he said to the driver "this is pretty bad." That was the point to return and tell dispatch to contact the town in need and to get a closer unit. In fact they should not have the firehouse in the first place. So, they adjusted themselves, recounted the safety issues involved and went forward. The next thought was what was the incident commander thinking by even calling them on that morning, knowing that they so far away. He just followed his run card and ignored a good common sense approach. Tunnel vision. What good could they have done if within 10 or 15 ninutes into his operation, a crew went into the basement with the kitchen appliances on top of them? Were they going to wait for a far away FAST? WTF? In discussing this part if the issue with fellow chiefs and firefighters, my thoughts were that if you can't get a known, trained certified FAST/RIT/RIC team in to the scene quickly, call anyone! Every single firefighter has been trained to do search and rescue. Do I believe in the FAST/RIT/RIC concept? Yes. Do I think it's something we need? Absolutely. Am I willing to wait a half hour or 45 minutes for a unit to get my guys out? No way! Get me an engine or a truck company to stand by to get my guys out. At the very end of the day, a rescue is a rescue is a rescue. Taking the emotional part out of it that a brother or sister may be lost or trapped, there's little difference between FF Smith and Mrs. Smith laying unconcious on the second floor of a 2 1/2 story frame house. Send in a team and get them out. Let's not let the swing of the pendulum blind us to what else we can do for our people on the inside. Let's get out of the box and be aware. Your thoughts? Be well, stay well, stay safe, Ronnie K

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ronnie,
    Interesting story about that (not so fast) FAST team traveling in inclement weather. It is good that they relooked at the feasability of responding in those conditions. I have been in the management field myself for twenty some odd years, and have noticed that most managers find it easy to point the finger, yet fail to see their own involvement with failures. Accurate problem diagnosis is common. Let's use that case as an example: Did the folks who treked out to the call understand that they could have refused to go, or were they under the impression that they were obligated to respond? They may have thought it was expected. It may not be a "bad call" problem as much as it is management's failure to convey the leader's scope of authority. If the officer who said it was really bad out, had known he could have refused, he probably would have. I find that quite often the wrong people are blamed and management does not look at itself and ask where the true failure lies. With any luck, the chief of that deparment will read this and consider how he may have failed to empower his people.

    What do you think?