“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.”

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Comments
Ron Ayotte
“FEAR” by Ric Jorge
Ric, excellent article. Your FD is not the only one that suffers from TAS (Training Anxiety Syndrome). Same circus, different community. As far as seeking help from an EAP, I did take advantage of my community's EAP 8 years into my career. I was heading down the road to a separation/divorce after I got promoted…
2014-12-04 16:04:47
Mike McAdams
Who Looks After The Victims?
Captain LeBlanc, Great point in the blog debating the new and old techniques and how to blend them into that first minutes on the fire ground. One of the first points stated was “Unless they know your manpower, resources and abilities, and are standing in that front lawn at 2:00 a.m., all they can do…
2014-12-02 14:45:23
Ruel Douvillier
Who Looks After The Victims?
I suspect these new tactics are all related to the NFPA standard that came out a few years ago recommending higher manpower on apparatus than the authorities having jurisdiction were prepared to implement. For the 30+ years that I've been fighting fires, UL and NIST have been using the data that they gained by setting…
2014-12-02 11:48:44
Joseph carroll
Who Looks After The Victims?
I work in a dept with 2 man Engine cos, man powers is an issue with our first due assignment. (3 engs,2 Trks , Batt Chief). Usually 13 Firefighters on the assignment. At times the exterior attack has no option, heavy fire too include exposures etc. some new leaders feel that this exterior attack is…
2014-12-01 19:05:51
Brian
Who Looks After The Victims?
Am I missing the old SSLEEVES-OCD pneumonic??? seems that one. It addressed alot of the things we have to think of, and the new Slicers is something that I think in right circumstances and construction would make sense, but at other times might be completely useless. I have watched and read alot of the NIST…
2014-12-01 02:10:06
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