Monday, August 10, 2009

Let Us Now Praise Firefighters

The facts are out on the table for all to see. This is the fire service, a place where men and women knowingly go in harms way in order to protect people and property from destruction. There are no guarantees about a particular tour and how it may work out.

Safety is always a component of fire ground operations and if not the department operating should be held accountable. However, with this in mind, it serves no useful purpose to try to build a cockpit voice recorder around a firefighter. The black box isn't available.

There must be a marriage of the tactical and practical, with safety in mind, but with an understanding of the realities of fire ground operations. From the benefit of a computer simulation or 20 working fires a year many people assume firefighting can be turned into a sterile environment. This is absurd.

Utilizing risk benefit analysis and crew resource management aggressive interior attacks are still the way to prevent death and injury. When an interior attack is not warranted defensive operations are called for but make no mistake - firefighting is dangerous.

The author recalls studies done in the 1980's on how to prevent combat deaths on the battlefield. Some advocated the position that in the 21st century soldiers wouldn't be dying because military commanders were adopting new ideas.

What they failed to realize, sitting in the think tanks that dot the beltway, was that there is always a risk. It's the same in the fire service. People want to make a hero out of the safety manager and a demon out of the firefighter who goes in harms way.

Both have a role and they must be combined. It's the same of humanity as it is civilizations - if you take no risk you will see no gain.

Stay Safe.
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