“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.

We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.



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Backstep Firefighter

β€œTo 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.”
Comments
John Pignataro
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bravo sir ...This battle began in the early 1990's having been a career DC Fireman for 30 yrs and a still active volunteer fireman for 37 the mentality has changed since 1977. Your article is clear and to the point but I am afraid the fire service maybe lost to the folks who preach the…
2014-08-23 01:12:28
Ben Waller
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Actually, the "Women and children first" idea cane from the sinking if the HMS Birkenhead. Now known as "The Birkenhead Drill", this stemmed from the ship beginning to sink, an inadequate number of lifeboats, and the Royal Marines and soldiers on board being called to formation and standing in ranks while the ships crew put…
2014-08-21 11:25:14
Ron Ayotte
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bing-freaking-o!
2014-08-21 02:49:30
Brian Gary
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Very well written. I couldn't agree more with your statements. The problems are many, but they perpetuate and increase with every new class of recruits that are poisoned with the idea that anyone who feels unsafe has a responsibility to act and stop whatever is going on. When I came on, my instructors told me…
2014-08-21 02:04:23
Ric Jorge
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Atta boy David, customer service or customer satisfaction? The line is fine, and more often than not we can accomplish both with action, and a kind demeanor.
2014-08-21 01:41:12
AFTDIMage
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