Video answers critics about delay in getting water on the fire and shows that chasing kinks is everyone's job.
Earlier this week FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation and various bloggers ran that rescue story of the Alameda County apartment fire with rescues on video. Among the comments were some readers that quickly found fault with the engine company over a perceived delay in getting water on the fire. Not realizing that such critiques come easily from the calm of a desk and failing to take into account the whole environment, the entire helmet camera footage offers more to think about.
Staffing on Alameda County apparatus is three; Company Officer, Engineer and Firefighter. We can easily see that the first engine has laid out at the alleyway and the street; no hydrant is nearby. Expect the second arriving engine to complete the primary water supply. The Rescue Company has arrived, after returning from an earlier fire. Staffing on the scene at this time is six.
The supply line hasn't been broken yet and we can see that the first engine company officer and firefighter are faced with an obvious rescue and a progressing first floor fire.
Verbal transfer of command, followed by a sizeup and assignments via handie-talkie, the Rescue Officer is now out of the active attack equation.
The obvious rescue completed, the adult victim is no longer a priority to the first engine company. In the communication we hear that the second engine company is tasked with securing the water supply and stretching a second hoseline.
Vent, enter, search begins as the first hoseline is charged. For a relationship to time, almost three minutes has elapsed since start of filming.
As the firsts line goes, so goes the fire. Rescue Officer steps in and begins fixing this problem. It is easy to criticize the engine company engineer, but we don't know why this wasn't taken care of earlier. Regardless, chasing kinks is EVERYONE'S job. As you pass a hoseline, remove kinks and free the line from obstructions.
Water on the fire. Staffing on the scene is still a total of six. The second engine company has just arrived. In almost four minutes two obvious rescues are dealt with, incident command is established and assignments are given. VES is begun.
Keep in mind, when you critique videos, that you are really only seeing a small part of what transpires and you are doing this without being under stress. In my opinion, The first engine company and the rescue company accomplished quite a bit, successfully, in the first minutes.
Read more about obvious rescues and engine company sizeups below. Use the Alameda County video and have your shift consider what actions they would have taken.
Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.
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