Aerial Waterway Failure: Final Report

•January 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A friend that works for the City of Fairfax (VA) Fire Department provided this report. It’s an excellent summary of the incident, and highlights some major failures during (and before) the training evolution that ultimately resulted in the sudden failure of the aerial waterway.

Moving the pinnable waterway from the ‘rescue mode’ to the end of the aerial is something that has to occur on our ladder trucks prior to placing an elevated master stream into service. It is important to understand the process that needs to occur prior to the start of flowing water. If you have any questions, ask the Engineer assigned to station 155 on your shift.

In addition to this incident in Fairfax, there was a fatality caused by the same lack of appropriate actions. You can read about that here.

One of the things that blaringly stands out in the report as a contributor to the failure was the fact that there were several people nearby that saw it happen, knew it was wrong, and didn’t take any actions to prevent the accident. We all know that somebody training for a new position needs a little rope to work with, but if anyone sees anything that will cause potential injury or damage to equipment, it is up to you to put a stop to it. Don’t be afraid to say something…even if you are the newest member. It’s all part of Crew Resource Management….

Here’s the report (click on the link, then on the next page, download it): fxcity-aerial-ladder-failure-final-report

Provided for training and learning purposes by Chief Tim Butters (Assistant Chief of Operations) City of Fairfax (VA) Fire Department.

Open Phone Lines At Homes

•January 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

I heard rumors that there was an e-mail about this some time ago, but I’m not sure if it went to everyone, or just the command staff. We learned/were reminded of this information and thought it worth while to pass on. 

Q155 and M154 responded on a medical call last night, and the phone at the patient’s house would not stop ringing. Whenever someone would answer the phone, there wasn’t anyone on the other end. This is apparently caused by dispatch keeping an open line with the 911 caller, even after the caller has hung up. When we contacted DCSO, they said that the line was no longer open. Turns out that the original 911 call went to CRPD, and when they transfered the call to DCSO, they didn’t ‘hang up’ the line. Once the were contacted, and released the line, the phone stopped ringing. 

So, in case you encounter the same problem, check with both dispatch centers to see if there is an open line. If both say that they phone line is no longer open and the phone is still ringing, unplug the phone and and throw it out the window. Kidding of course, but that would present a problem that we might not be able to fix.

Air Management And Rope Assisted Search

•January 11, 2009 • 3 Comments

Information (estimates) compiled by Brett Johnson and Scott Eckels during B-Shift’s Rope Assisted Search drills.

While doing the search drills at the Outlet Malls, it was realized that using the 30 minute bottles generally allows for about 7-8 working minutes when following the new concepts of the air management policy. Times were checked and marked against progress, and there was enough similarity between each crew to draw several conclusions.

Using the concept of ‘thirds’ when applied to air supply (one third to work, one third to get out, and one third reserve), it is the goal to be out of the building before the low-air alarms start to sound. The IC of the drills (Johnson) would call for the first air check at the 5 minute mark of work, the next check two minutes after that, and the third check one minute after that. At the 5 minute mark nearly every crew was at the 3000PSI mark….the LT’s relayed the pressure of the lowest member of their crews. But just 2 minutes later, at the next check, the crews were reporting a pressure of about 2000PSI. This marked decrease in pressure coincided with the crews being in the midst of the toughest part of the search: body temps increasing, 6-7 minutes of hard work, etc. The third and final check showed that most crews were right at the 1800PSI mark, indicating that it was time to leave the building. 

Only a couple of times did someone exit the building after their low-air alarm started sounding, reminding us of two things: make sure that you are reading your guages correctly, and remember the amount of work it is going to take to leave the building. 

One more glaring nuance came to light: if there are going to be anywhere between 1 and 3 air checks with every crew, that’s a lot of new radio traffic. It was also noted by Lt. Johnson that there would need to be someone solely dedicated to air management and keeping track of the different companies. 

As the other shifts do their training at the mall, we are looking forward to learning more about this concept and how it relates to our department. Hopefully we can confirm or change the initial findings and shape future operations and policy through this information sharing process. One more note: it is the direction of the department to move to 45 minute bottles at the next opportunity….thus changing the working times for the companies. New training and information gathering will have to take place when we get those bottles to apply the same concepts to the new equipment.

What’s 500 PSI Worth?

•January 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It was brought to the attention of crews at a recent Chief’s Breakfast, that upon looking at the trucks, people where finding bottles that were in the high 3000 – low 4000PSI range. This is caused most likely by two primary culprits: hot-filling the bottles, and morning SCBA checks. Our bottles are rated to carry 4500PSI, and should be kept at that mark. With the new air management policy around the corner, it’s imperative that we start with the most amount of working time as we can….let alone leave ourselves with the most amount of escape air possible. Here is a post taken from another site – Traditions Training – a few months ago, written by Nicolas Martin. 

Look at the picture…it’s the pressure gauge on an SCBA bottle. Is this bottle full? I Say it’s not….In the DC Fire Department the “books” say that when you check an air pack, the minumum acceptable pressure is 4000PSI. But these are 4500PSI bottles, so that’s 500PSI you’re giving up! By my math, that is a little over 10% of the SCBA’s overall capacity – or about 6.5 minutes.

Unfortunately, bottles like this get an ‘ok’ during the AM checks everyday – and I’m sure it happens all over the country. You can call me ‘anal’ or tell me it’s no big deal, but it is a big deal. What is that 10%?

  • It was the last 10′ to the seat of the fire you couldn’t make.
  • It was the last bedroom you couldn’t search…the one with the civilian in it.
  • It was the last 5 minutes you wish you had before you died after you got trapped/disoriented.

Sorry to be the Grim Reaper, but that’s how I see it…These bottles take just a minute to change, just a fraction of the 6. minutes it’ll give you later when you REALLY need it.


Boston L-718 Digest, Truss Article

•December 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

There is a great article about truss construction on page 20….besides, we thought you might like to read the rest of it….enjoy!

Boston Local 718 Digest

Interesting Christmas Decorations

•December 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Thank you to Mike Moore and the crew from M151-B for sending this information in: 

Last shift we came upon Silver Dollar Ct. in Metzlers where they had an interesting X-mas display.  All six houses has a string of lights that met in the middle of the culd-a-sac.  While they’re just X-mas lights and the ariel would probably just break them down,it good to look at. Here’s the pics. Don’t forget to DUCK!!!!!!!!


The Wye Line

•December 17, 2008 • 3 Comments

This is an excellent article on the uses and features of the wye-line that is in place on the engine companies. The article was written by Lt. Cameron Nelson. 

The Wye Line .pdf (right-click to download the article)


Welcome To The New Adventure

•November 30, 2008 • 1 Comment

A member of the local approached me a few weeks ago with an idea: let’s make a place where we can all share our stories, ideas, and thoughts about doing our job better, safer, and more efficiently….otherwise known as our’ best practices.’

It’s a place where we can openly discuss new ways of doing things, changes to the way that we have been doing things, interesting articles that you have found, strange/interesting building construction that you have found in your first due, a new method to accomplish a basic evolution, and a place to share and discuss what happened on that call last night. It’s also a place to ask ‘why?’ Why do we do it that way? 

The intent? Let’s continue to develop and open the communication and learning flow. Let’s not hinder ourselves by filtering the content. If it’s worth sharing and you have found it interesting in your firehouse, let’s have it. We will all be better for it. 

Rules? Simple: Keep it operational or firehouse based. Keep it appropriate for all ages, peoples, and readers. Don’t hold back on submitting something. Don’t bash someone for submitting something. Have fun. Learn. Try. Share. There is no rank here. EVERYONE has a voice.

How to post: Take the opportunity and write an article or an e-mail. Find a good video on You Tube. Take some pictures of that new way of doing things. Ask a question. Once you have done that, send it to me in an e-mail and I will post it. Once it’s posted, anyone can write comments at anytime – which is where the discussion will happen. The only changes that will be made will be made by you (other than grammar or spelling; I will take care of that)….you might receive a reply asking to change something to make sure that your post is inline with the intent of the blog. If you want to create a post or ask a question without submitting your name, just let me know.