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Low Man Power Operations

This is a problem that is plaguing the fire service all across the country, no this is not a volunteer or career problem this is an US problem.

All across the nation we are trying to do more with less, while the numbers out there show that the more people we have the better job we can do, fire departments are still being met with cuts to staffing. Those cuts range from reduction of firemen on the rig, company brown outs, or even layoffs.

While I belive that we need to continue this fight to ensure that we are getting what we need to do our job, we have to prepare for the fires we are going to fight, and that means training with realistic conditions, and staffing levels.

In the video, you can see two engines arrive on scene one with 2 and the other with 4 for a total of 6 (with only 4 that are actually working). The both begin engine company operations and put a good knock down on a rapidly extending fire. While this is good, we have to remember the other jobs that need to take place on the fire ground. Did anyone search? Did anyone secure utilities? Was a 360 done? While we would like to assume that some one searched off of the hoseline, we know that this will only search from the point of entry to the fire room, and leave a good portion of the residence unsearched. Typically if no one is assigned search, or those other functions they often get forgotten especially when a ladder, or rescue company is not on scene. While engine work is the backbone of the fireground we have to ensure that the other vital tasks are taking place.

Instead of stretching two lines on this fire, perhaps splitting the crews and having 2 stretch the line, and 2 search while the driver of the second engine (since they did not lay out) would not have to pump and could perform outside truck functions.

The point is to seriously asses your response, and staffing and figure out what you can do on the fireground, then train on that until you can not get it wrong.

Thos of you that are faced with similar situations what are you doing? Have you had to “no go” certain tasks due to your staffing? Let us know your plan in the comments section. Also any other feedback is always welcome via email, or twitter at www.twitter.com/averagejakeff

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

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