Here's a sample of what we'll be discussing.
Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. EST on The Front Seat we look at minimum staffing, particularly two and three man companies in career, combination and volunteer departments. We've started the subject as a means of research and contest to see who is doing what and with so few. The best write up that shares good tips and encourages smart firefighting will receive a Firefighter's Edition Monopoly game courtesy of Firefighter Play.com.
We've written before about various "rules" and "guidelines" as well as the transition many have to do when bringing big-city tactics to their suburban or rural department. Riding assignments as well as being prepared, "Expecting Fire" and having a game plan before the box are also main subjects in many of our posts. Unfortunately, we've read and heard from many who believe that when it comes to minimum and below-minimum staffing, these subjects are a crap shoot and firefighters simply have to 'do what they can' to get the job done.
Two posts on minimum staffing have covered both the engine company and the ladder company. Here they are:
Captain Joesph Kelly of Gastonia's Engine 8 (NC) told us how his four-man crew is regulary reduced to three and how his engine is set up to not only make the most of his minimum staffing but helps the second due engine company as well.
"We can stretch either load with the engine in a static position on a hydrant or like Detroit, drop the 200” bundle and wye and reverse out to a hydrant with the other load. This is our plan due to the other quint or engine may be delayed. It gives us our own water supply and leaves the front of the structure open for the ladder/quint. It also allows for the whole crew(3) of the next arriving engine to go to work and not waste a man at the hydrant laying in to us."
Does your department pair short-staffed companies together to work as one or do they all have to flounder around, working to the limits?
Take a look at this pair on the left. This is Pine Bluff (AR) Ladder 1. This is their ladder "company" – two men. Senior Firefighter John Buchan told us how this working truck company defines its fireground mission, outlines smart firefighting and has detailed assignments for the crew of two. I've come across departments that regulary ride with five and six and have no riding assignments at all. How can two guys stick to assignments?
"As we all know not every fire is the same and what worked on the last fire may not apply to this fire. Each firefighter knows the importance of being in close contact with each other. This basic system has worked for our department for many years on most of our fire. The crews of Ladder Company #1 have received honors locally and nationally for their heroic efforts on the fire ground. It has been a great honor of mine to be able to work with the highly trained firefighters of this company."
So, what does a two-man truck company do about 2-in/2-out when they're first arriving?
It's not too late to share how your minimum staffed crew works, and it doesn't matter the department type; career, combination, volunteer, especially volunteer and especially if you have to deal with POV repsonse. The brings us to another subject in tonight's discussion, how do you deal with accountability and assignments on the volunteer side with POV response? That has to be a nightmare for some chiefs. To kick it up a notch, we'll also go over what it is the public expects, or at least what we think they expect.
In additon to the articles above, here are some related posts we encourage you to take a look at before the show so you can jump in on the discussions:
Be sure to tune in tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on Firefighter Netcast for the show. You can listen in, chat, and more importantly, call in and share how the fireground works on your end. Click the Firefighter Netcast image below to take you right to the program.
We hope to see you in The Front Seat!