But They’ll Die as “Valiant Heroes”

A slight observation commentary

Earlier this week some of us were shocked and surprised with the confined space close call in Indiana. Two men were found unconscious at the bottom of a well. Two firefighters went down to rescue and them and became incapacitated as well. Reports state that vapors from muriatic acid were the cause.

Would you like to be shocked again? Here is a comment reportedly from a Indiana firefighter, on the news story at FFN:

“yes the should but the sad thing is that in indiana you don’t. and even if you did have to its still just the good ol boy system in the rural depts. its kind of the dont ask dont tell method hell in my dept. there has been a person with NO certs packing up and making entry. and only like 3 or 4 people even have hazmat awareness. and now im the training officer and am trying to take care of the problem and not getting much done. if that was my dept dipatched to this run i think i would be the only one not to jump in the hole.”

It is 2010 and we still have civilians putting on a fireman’s costume and trying to mitigate emergency situations. Unfortunately if one of these civilians dies, then their death will be investigated, most likely declared having occurred ‘in the line of duty”, and memorialized with a department funeral, flag-draped coffins and tons of electronic condolences on Facebook. A year later NIOSH will release an investigative report and we will read of their department background and errors. We’ll hear their names read aloud at Emmitsburg. Maybe OSHA will fine them.

This is where I have a problem. In the fire service ‘learning disconnect’ how will we get beyond the subculture of acceptable errors and faulty inbred thinking? Maybe it will have to take the first refusal of PSOB benefits for having operated in defiance of convention and common sense. Maybe it will take rethinking our social networking and whether or not such venues as FirefighterCloseCalls and Firefighter Near-Miss have desensitized firefighters and failed to alter cultural norms. I don’t believe that is the case, but it should be considered. It certainly merits discussion in a post other than this brief one.

When civilians, and that is what you are when you operate without outside of your required education and guidelines, don the costume maybe they should be punished. Of course you can’t do worse than dead but, if these civilians aren’t concerned about their own lives, maybe they’ll stop and think abut how their actions will affect the benefits intended for their family. If that doesn’t work, let them sell memorial t-shirts.

Good luck Indiana training officer.

Munice Gazette
“What Happened?”
“Rescue Attempt Was Nothing New for Veteran Firefighters”
“Victims Evidently Unaware of Confined Space Precautions”

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4 thoughts on “But They’ll Die as “Valiant Heroes””

  1. Or…In the converse you have departments that have every cert under the sun and think they need to be rope, water, confined space, haz-mat, ect..ect… and have only 1 or 2 people show up for runs and still think they can do it right…

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