Friday, September 25

You Make the Call...Smoke Showing

Congratulations on making it through your first shift as the Engine Boss. Yesterday went well and here you are at 6 AM stripping the radios and whatnot from the engine as she is due at the yard for an oil change.

Just as you finish removing the ALS bags, defib, radios and headsets, a call comes over the radio for a reported working fire in the next district over. You are out of service for the yard, made the call not 5 minutes ago.

Not thinking much of it at first you go back to your morning paper. The first engine to go enroute on the air reports heavy smoke showing as they pull out of quarters. One of your firefighters has come running back in as you take your first sip of coffee and tells you it looks to be on the border of your two jurisdictions, maybe even closer to you.

"Are we going on this or what?" He has his pants and coat on.

You make the call.


emt.dan said...

I guess this would depend on how stripped the truck is. Do you have the personnel to staff the truck? Who is your designated coverage? Where are they? How long would it take for a truck to come from another engine?

Anonymous said...


You are out of service, and under-equipped. To put yourself into service, you would have to inform control that you have minimal equipment, and ensure that you only did work you were equipped for.

Taking the call would not only cause confusion, but no doubt lead to another resource not being assigned the call (as you are already going), therefore meaning that the fire scene is effectively under-resourced.

Don't go, unless there is no-one else

kbow18 said...

Agree with On The Road.


You are of limited use with no radios or medical gear. Showing up to the scene and unable to properly communicate will only cause trouble and confusion.

Ckemtp said...

How stripped are you?

Remember, not every department is the same. If you were in my FD and not a big one like you've got, get up off of your but, restock your truck, and get rolling. There's not anyone else coming. Oil changes can wait.

We don't strip trucks if they're staying in district. Out of town for maintenance... maybe, but not often.

At any rate, fires need manpower. There's four of you, aren't there?

Moose said...

OK, i'm not an emergency responder of any sort, but it seems to me --- well, what the others have said.

You don't go into service with out-of-service equipment. In the computer world, the smart administrator doesn't put into production a system that's been pulled for servicing, even in an emergency. And that's computers, not something where human lives are involved.

Fire Critic said...

Blah. Not enough information.

If all that is missing is the radios and ems stuff then you put the radios back on the rig and go in service.

Unless the Chief is expecting you at the garage for a set time.

You can always ring the Chief and ask him.

Either way, you don't let God's Gift to the Fire Department coax you into doing something you shouldn't.

What are the standing orders?

oh yeah, and going on my track record you probably did the opposite.

Lower than Crap Explorer said...

As an explorer, I'm going to limit my 2 cents to a measly 0.01 cent.

If the Engine is OOS, I'd place only the radios on the rig, wait until command asked for more help. Then switch a radio over to the fireground and ask him if he wants 3 additional personnel (yourself, and the 2 backstep FFs) in addition to what he's getting on the next alarm (2nd, working fire, etc., etc.) If he wants 3 guys, go to the scene, and get off the truck and STAGE BY COMMAND UNLESS THEY ASSIGNED SOMETHING FOR YOU. The driver will continue to the shop for the oil change.

My opinion being said, I agree with On The Road with all the potential drawbacks of doing so.

Ckemtp said...

Big cities can afford not to have one staffed engine running. My department cannot. We only have three staffed maximum, and drop down to only paid-on-call for a few hours each day. Most days we only have 1.5 engines staffed and use the rest of the staff for EMS responses.

So, taking the one company completely down would hurt us a lot. It probably wouldn't hurt Chicago much at all.

Anonymous said...
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Fire Daily said...

If you are not bound by SOG's this is a great opportunity to show everyone why you are the officer- that you can make a decision and back it up later.

Me? I put my engine back together as quickly as possible and respond.

There's never a problem if an extra engine responds to a working fire, It gives the IC more options early on.

As long as the engine and crew are intact and can function fully, it's better to respond and be called off than to stay away when your brothers could use your help.

You've never been called off before, have you?

Big Show said...

If its 'people trapped', go. Maybe place a call to the battalion chief responding (if there is one) and advise him of the situation, see what he says.

John Halbrook said...

the engine is in station, your gear (radios, headsets, medic bag, etc) is all available. Assuming your crew is around there is no reason you couldn't mark your availability on the air.

Depending upon your department roll orders/SOP's If you crew is of the eager type roll. check in with command, and do what's assigned. Assuming that job is appropriate for your staffing and equipment. capabilities

Anonymous said...

Yes sir you're going ! Your crew won't think much of you if you stay out of service while there's a good fire in your district. Throw the stuff on the rig that you need, advise Dispatch you're in service and to add you to the response.
(That's assuming of course that you would have normally shown on the initial dispatch........otherwise you regretfully explain to the backstep that you don't jump other companies runs)).
If your Batt/District Chief doesn't want you to respond he can hit you on the radio and have you stand down.

John said...

Depends on how stripped the rig is, crew available, and dept policy. We don't self dispatch. But if you have a crew available, and think that there will be a shortage of personnel/apparatus, then put everything back together and notify dispatch that you are available. Let them make the call-they know what is needed and what is available.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

There was nothing in your reasons for going out of service that makes the rig unusable, it is not as if it had a flat tire or bad transmission.

Assuming you have enough to form a crew, put the rig back together and go back online.

Dispatch should be capable of doing the rest without you interfering in the process.

Even if you don't go on the fire, you'll be in service to fill in for other incidents while everyone is tied up on the fire.

Anonymous said...

You throw the gear back on the truck, and take the run. If you can better the run by responding, why wouldn't you?

How would you feel if the first due engine became trapped inside, and you were sitting in quarters twiddling your thumbs.

In my neck of the woods, no one would fault you for trying to better the run.

Anonymous said...

As I am not in this field at all, all I will say is what seems common sense to an outsider: Your rig is operational. You have the equipment. If you have the manpower, you round up the equipment and GO. Your response alone could make the difference between life and death, including that of your brother firefighters who are the first responders. If the worst should happen, are you prepared to live with the fact that you were perfectly able (i.e., had everything necessary within reach) to respond, but didn't?

Triple Beeper said...

I would say check with your battalion chief/superior before you do anything. Although here, you typically don't go completely out of service for an oil change; you would already be in a reserve apparatus with most departments where I live. If you weren't already in a reserve apparatus, I would say just get that stocked and then see what happens. In our area, there are enough resources that having one down isn't usually the end of the world. If you have a specialty truck, like an aerial, tiller, or ladder, well... then as the dispatcher I would be checking with your chief to see if there was anything we could do to get you back into service. Those are mighty useful on big fires, and here the next one would be far away.