12/20/13 443 W - + 7 - 3 Baltimore Video - Fast Truck Ops, But...

Saw this on Statter911, his posting of a pre-arrival video of a rowhouse fire on Saturday in Baltimore. The address was 1725 Poplar Grove Street. The videographer is Rick Rumbarger. The footage shows Truck 18 arriving and deployed in about 75 seconds. Just like that. Then the driver/operator continues up the ladder, saw in hand, to perform ventilation. Except, he's not wearing SCBA. This and other observations are subsequently discussed through over 200 (and counting) reader comments. There seem to be two distinct schools of opinion: that's real firefighting there versus that's really dangerous there. 

The clip:

Some comments:

Your thoughts?

Yes, wide-open field there. The practices depicted in the video. The culture(s) of the fire service. Social media, quarterbacking, and discussions of fire service culture(s). Go nuts.

Having spent some time in Baltimore, I’m sure BCFD has their rowhouse tactics down. Yet when things get treated as “routine” is when accidents happen. Sure, ding the guy for no SCBA, but isn’t that how firefighters earned the title “smoke eater”? My concern would be hitting the roof solo, no partner, no extra tool to check stability. Was he showboating since the camera guy went up to the O side of the truck? But hey, I wasn’t there, it’s just my opinion.
Charlie - 12/20/13 - 09:44

Well look at that….a sound firefighting procedure followed, everyone performing their assigned tasks (front and rear), and the fire was confined and went out. No “showboating” here, these guys go to row home fires daily, and have nothing to prove.

The guy going to the roof would be the driver of the rig, in OFFENSIVE MODE, due to the fact that everyone else is in OFFENSIVE MODE. He placed his ground ladder (aerial), went to the roof, performed his duties, all which contributed to the success of the operation. The one thing I will say, he probably should have grabbed his SCBA. The culture “up there”, at least in some areas, is if we are on the roof we aren’t in the IDLH and we don’t need it because it slows you down. It’s debatable from both sides, but just speaking for me, I would have thrown mine on.

Notice, the roof man later comes back to the ladder to retrieve his hook. That may have been his way of doing things, or he may have forgotten it when he stepped off the tip.

Also note, the videographer was on the phone, presumably with 911, and he told them “there’s nobody on either side”. Take it a step further, the crews still went in, because squatters are all over the city. WE MUST BE THE ONES TO DETERMINE A BUILDING IS VACANT. I’ll ask this; if you pull up to a fire, and a bystander tells you to “take a 3” line in there”, would you do it? Of course you wouldn’t, so why are we letting someone else determine when our searches are all clear? If someone tells you the building is vacant, log it into your brain for “good to know info”, evaluate the advancement of the fire, and then make a determination if we can make a stop and initiate search and rescue functions.

These are urban firefighting strategy and tactics, but cancer is baaaaaad, bad stuff. We have to protect our lungs and bodies.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to all!
Silver - 12/20/13 - 13:03

Just because they run lots of row house fire, or that’s “how it’s done” there, etc. Doesn’t mean it’s good decision making. The idea that being on the roof isn’t in the IDLH environment (for those who take that view) is pretty silly (to put it mildly). The IDLH is right below you. If there is a catastrophic situation you’ll be right in the thick of an IDLH environment pretty quickly (Hmmmm, where did I put my SCBA?). I’d argue that sound firefighting procedures encompasses FF heath and safety concerns as well as tactical priorities. To continue borrowing from the military…. Positive health outcomes would be considered a strategic priority. But the fundamental question is whether or not an SCBA is a designated piece of proper PPE. If SCBA’s are not mandatory for roof ops by procedure then I’d call that a faulty procedure, BUT I don’t make those decisions so these views and 50 cents will get me a cold drink out of the box… Merry Christmas (and stay low)!
Bob - 12/20/13 - 21:08

Awesome truck work. I’m sure everyone will agree he should’ve had his SCBA, though. I remember trading time with someone on B-shift some time last year. We went to a worker and the guys on L-2 were just as smooth as these guys. Same thing, air brake popped and the truck was up and on the peak with a hole cut over the fire in what seemed like a few minutes. Really made me proud to know Raleigh does have some aggressive trucks and are being used more than just a place to put the guys a year from retirement.
Rescue Ranger - 12/20/13 - 22:32

I’ve thought and thought about what I would comment on this. Have I done things that were unsafe, yes. Did I learn from them, yes, both mentally and disciplinary. So for me to judge his actions would be hypocritical IMO. I don’t know how BFD operates. I know if that was my PDA, I would have to have an SCBA on by my departments guidelines. Right, wrong, indifferent, it’s our policy/rules. I guess their Fire Chief has accepted these practices. I guess as we mature through this profession, we learn that things we’ve done in the past weren’t always in our best interest when it comes to our personal safety and we change our way of thinking of our safety. In my case, the addition of two kids and a wife at home, my thought processes changed substantially when it came to what I was doing and making it home at the end of the shift for them. I guess one way to curb unnecessary LODD’s from occurring is to start denying LODD Benefits. What a s@#* storm that would create!!
Truckie - 12/21/13 - 13:27

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