“Sad but True”Not everyone died in “Those Fires”

We're all going to die.          Eventually.

Author Note: A mistake was found in the data I record. Asheville, NC Captain Jeff Bowen was not included. This post and the Fire Service Sabremetrics page have been updated. – Bill

You will recall that we called your attention to an article which reported on a USFA department chief speaking at the Volunteer Chief Officer Symposium in Clearwater, Florida. During his presentaton, Ken Farmer is quoted as saying,

""Stop fighting interior fires," he said. "Don't go into those fires anymore. It's not worth it. They build disposable houses these days. Our lives are not disposable."

By fighting fires from the outside, he believes firefighters will be safer and more line of duty deaths will be prevented.

"Every day I drive by the flag. If you've ever been to the National Fire Academy and never seen the flags at half staff, you haven't been there for more than 24 hours.""

The reactions and discussions have been interesting, to say the least. As expected the range goes from chest-beating fatalisim to mother-may-I policy proposals.

It is important to consider, especially when one raises the issue of line of duty deaths as their reason, their support, that the proper understanding of data is known before joining an internet lynch mob. Below are our line of duty deaths specifically involving firefighting for this year, to date. 77 firefighters are officially recorded as having died in the line of duty. Of them, and not countng two that are officially linked to the effects of working at Ground Zero (according to USFA), 10 firefigters have died to date specifically, actively, fighting fire, either inside the burning structure or atop it. This does not include six who died fighting wildfires.

Deaths involving Disorientation: 1 [1]

Deaths involving Building Collapse: 3 [1, 2, 3]

Deaths involving Flashover, Backdraft, Explosive Incident: 5 [1] [2, 3] [4,5]

Deaths in 1- and 2-Family Dwellings: 2 [1] [2, 3]

Deaths in Multi-Family Dwellings: 2 [1, 2]

Deaths in Educational, Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Occupancies: 5

1: Church

1: Medical Office

1: Store

2: Coal Bin

Deaths in Vacant/Abandoned Structures: 0

10 out of 77, or if we include those linked to Ground Zero, 12 out of 77.

Why the fear? Why the absolutes, the "stop fighting interior fires" and generalization of "those fires"? Why, when the numbers tell us greater things are killing us?

More later…

Hey, I'm your fear
I'm the one who takes you out
Hey, I'm your fear
I'm the one who doubts
They, they betray
I'm your only true safety
They, they'll betray
I'm forever out
I'm your dream, make you flee
I'm your eyes, you cannot see
I'm your pain causing you to flee, sad but true
I'm your dream, mind astray
I'm your eyes while you're away
I'm your pain keeping you away
You know it's sad but true, sad but true

Video image courtesy Metallica. "Sad but True" lyrics, revised by author.

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Backstep Firefighter

“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”

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Comments
Ron Ayotte
What is Experience?
Excelent post. Evey day of duty and every run should be a learning experience. Far too many firefighters just look at the duty tour and incident as what I like to call "the shampoo mode"... wet hair, apply shapoo, lather, rinse and repeat".. Our version is put on the gear, get on the truck, go…
2014-10-31 14:23:15
Bill Carey
What is Experience?
You're correct Ed. What did we do with that experience? Did we take as many lessons from it as we could or did we simply file it away as a run in the logbook. Thank you, Bill
2014-10-30 12:55:18
Ed
What is Experience?
Excellent post. The same question may be framed for other than working on the nozzle (e.g., if delivering pump operator training). In addition, even if you went to a lot of fires on the nozzle or as the first in company officer, what did you do with that experience? Reflection and integration of the experience…
2014-10-30 12:37:50
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Ed.
2014-10-22 14:26:50
Ed Hartin
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Excellent article Bill!
2014-10-14 12:47:14
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