Comments show that our beliefs are hypocritical once we find a body.
Two videos, among many heavily critiqued, show the odd irrational, illogical beliefs many in the fire service have towards safety, job duties and rescues. To be blunt, they reveal a large number of hypocrites riding fire apparatus.
Two videos of fireground operations, while very different in many ways, show a striking similarity in comments. The first was of the Hackensack, New Jersey Fire Department's initial operations at a fire in a two-story residential dwelling. Many viewers took on multiple actions recorded, but what is interesting is the complaints about the deputy chief who entered the foyer without any SCBA on.
Now, fast forward to a video from Lake Station, Indiana of a fire in a single-story residential dwelling. Many minutes into the video we see a chief come out of the structure carrying a child, and not wearing any SCBA.
Comments on various sites and FirefighterNation, FireRescue Magazine's Facebook page criticized the Hacksensack deputy and praised the Hobart chief. Of course there were both good and bad acts in each video, some more important than wearing SCBA. One has to realize that videos only show one side at a time and don't include pertinent information such as staffing, department operations, etc. No excuse for either but it helps to be in context when critiquing.
The larger question remains, begging to be asked, why are you such a hypocrite when it comes to safety and firefighting? Why do some of you condemn the Hackensack chief and out of the same mouth praise the Hobart chief? Apparently the act of finding an occupant inside a fire and removing them negates all blatantly obvious acts of safety in the minds of some firefighters.
"But what about when you are on air and find someone and you remove your facepiece to give them your air?"
"Deal With It"
There is a simple answer to that. You went inside, fully inside, with your SCBA on. Perhaps that is why many of the same hypocrites who chastised the Hackensack deputy believe the support of their argument lies in the body of a victim found. That is illogical and quite stupid given all the availability to don SCBA prior to entry. Unfortunately when a safety conscious or rather common sense-conscious individual questions why there is no SCBA worn, the usual answer is that the subject was "getting the job done."
No PPE! The Sky is Falling!
The very technology that has affected our education also unfortunately allows for clothing intrepid viewers to treat each firefighter seen as if he or she was being judged on the red carpet at the Oscars. Leave your gloves in your pocket for a brief moment, fail to don a chin strap or in this case SCBA, and you may have well shown up carrying nothing but the can and wearing boxers. It should be understood that in most urban departments chief officers are, initially, at a fixed command post or are in the street slightly roaming, taking in the scene and operations as they develop. Communication as the beginning fire attack unfolds comes in many forms and is not limited to the handie-talkie. In nearly every article, blog post and training information I've personally seen, avoiding unnecessary radio traffic is proper. Why key the mike when they person you are going to talk to is just down the hall? In the Hackensack video, we must first recognize that you and I were not there. Hard as it is for many of you to believe, all you are seeing and hearing is limited. Everything else is assumption.
Many commentators took apart the Hackensack video for errors they understood themselves. In the time that these two video were online and shared the deputy seen was critiqued for micro-managing and not having SCBA on. Is it true that the chief may have taken in some smoke during his brief time in the foyer? It is possible. Was he micro-managing? I would say no and that since I wasn't there who cares? What I find disturbing in this electronic fire service is the PPE hypocrisy. Would there be no problem if the Hackensack deputy and gone in, past the nozzle team and emerged some time later with a child in his arms, much like the Lake Station fire?
Some of you think so.
While it is true that at times, rare times possibly, firefighters might have to commit acts that increase their risk of injury for a greater positive outcome, these are individual exceptions and not universal norms. To criticize one chief and praise another, with the sole difference between acts of the two being a body rescued is hypocrisy.
If you believe this is perfectly fine, that a body found is the proof you need to dismiss lack of SCBA or other PPE and you point out the lack when no body is found, then you are a hypocrite, playing the rescue card.
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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