Archive through August 08, 2006
Looking for any recommendations on a "good" confined space/trench
rescue class to take. I have researched a number of them, but want to
hear more personal experiences. I am from Washington State, and most of
the classes that are high on my list are in Arizona, Texas, and
Thanks in advance for your help.
I'm really wondering how anyone thinks that volunteers can be phased
I'm a volunteer (surprise!) in a rural district of 100+ square miles
with 15000 residents. Our fire tax rate is comparable to the nearest
'paid' department (less rural), and that makes our annual budget
somewhere in the $500K per year range.
We have six stations, each with a pumper, tender, and every other one
has a light rescue. We do about 800 calls per year, including fire,
EMS, MVAs, wildland, burn piles, and the occasional public service
(cat up tree or "I fell down and I can't get up..."). Most stations
are rolling within 3-4 minutes of toneout, and most scenes are within
5-6 minutes of the nearest station. Our volunteers are a mix of
younger men and women on their way into paid careers, and older folks,
happy with their non-fire careers or retirements.
We have four paid staff that handle all "duty", and they gobble up 1/3
of our budget. Another 1/3 goes to 'capital' (debt service, major
repairs, expansion) while the last 1/3 goes to supplies, equipment,
insurance, legal, temps, etc.
With OSHA requiring "two in, two out", it sounds like you need four
people on scene to do anything more than protect exposures, so lets
Due to faster response due to being at the station, we can close three
stations. Each of the remaining three stations (15 miles apart)
requires 4 man staffing, which means 16+ full time paid staff per
station, for a total of 48+ total staff.
Obviously, that won't work, so lets say that between paying overtime
for actual fires (on an callback basis) and second alarms to the
nearest station, we can "live with" half the manpower (this pretty
much guarantees that early offensive firefighting won't happen,
meaning more lost property and lives).
So, now we have 25 or so full time employees. If we just cut all
other spending, each one gets $20K per year including benefits.
Would the line please form to the right!
Of course all this assumes that the three stations have sleeping
quarters (none have them now), all three stations have running water
and other facilities (guess what!), and that the on duty personel will
be content to chase blackwidow spiders and wash rigs for
If an area grows in population, the call volume increases, and
eventually the volunteer system begins to crumble, due to over-working
the volunteers. Luckily, the tax base grows at the same rate,
allowing a transition to paid systems.
As long as there are fires, there will be volunteers!
Strong, erratic winds grounded firefighting aircraft Tuesday as flames from a 4,000-acre wildfire in the foothills jumped from treetop to treetop. About 350 firefighters used picks, axes and shovels to dig firebreaks through the forest as the blaze raced through tinder-dry pine trees and brush about 35 miles southwest of Denver.
When the Florida blaze was raging, I wrote a nice long presentation for a petition to the Congress, urging others to make use of it through the Yahoo message boards. Now again we have another blaze destroying or threatening precious resources, wildlife & their habitat & homes & people. The presentation went something like this. (I'm not going to draft the whole thing again because I half believe people care enough). But here's the gist of it:
The Forest Fire & Wild Fire Preparedness & Anticipation Program, a comprehensive program to be presented to the Congress to the purpose of installing & maintaining Forest Fire & Wild Fire Preparedness facilities & capabilities throughout the national woodlands & other areas of significant fire potential. To propose that a committee be established to manage and implement the program. The program consists of installations such as: accessways, berms, water towers, monitor stations & any other equipment and facilities as the committee shall deem appropriate to the mission of the program. The mission of the program is to maintain a provision for fire fighting preparedness, installed on location, complete with monitor capability & anticipatory capability. The object is to minimize the amount & extent of damage caused by fire in the national woodlands, grasslands, & other areas of significant fire potential. Having mapped the entire United States & having information concerning the areas of dense population which are bordered by/adjacent to large tracts of (heretofore) inaccessable woodlands, it is in the interest of the public safety & to the preservation of the national assets to install such facilities & capabilities in anticipation of any such fires as may spread unimpeded through large tracts of woodland, etc.
How many firefighters have wished that the woodland was divided into accessable subtracts? And with roads and berms and water towers conveniently located to replenish tankers? Berms provide a deadfall/no-burn zone which is a barrier against the forest fire spreading and taking the whole woods. They can also be driven on by forestry service & forest fire preparedness & anticipation personnel. During hot spells with little rain a simple compost can set off a blaze. It is important that people get the upper hand on these blazes. If the forests are chunked into managable fire areas with roads & berms, and equipped with other facilities for putting down a blaze, then people can minimize the losses. Single prop airplane sprinkler systems streaking over immense blazes will just not do the trick. There must be ROADS & BERMS & WATER TOWERS. There must be communications hubs, forestry management buildings equipped with surveillance & monitoring devices. We need to get on top of this thing....BIG TIME!