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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't Be Owned - The Fire Version

Last night I remembered a fire-based story I read online some time ago that was a perfect example of pushing responsibility where it belongs. I am not sure of the specifics so I am probably taking literary license here, but the core message is the same.

A crew member of an engine company had damaged one of his structural fire gloves on an earlier shift. Upon morning inspection the problem was noted. The Captain told his guy to chuck the gloves into the can, and they summarily traveled to whatever station where the department's personal protective equipment was stored.

Apparently, the battalion chief at this location in charge of this stuff was under the impression that the guys working on the job were out to destroy gear or steal from the agency. Heaven forbid they actually perform work and wear stuff out. He wanted proof that the gloves were damaged, but the bad gloves were not present. He refused to issue new gloves.

The Captain noted the portable radio on the BC's desk, waited several beats, and asked if he could use it. The BC, perplexed at this unexpected request, complied.

Dispatch from Engine 45.
Go ahead, Engine 45.
Engine 45 is out of service, due to a crewmember not having full PPE.


Oops. The whole world heard that.

You see, that department's SOP's, like pretty much everywhere, do not permit a firefighter to engage in fire combat without full gear, nor allowed crews to engage in tasks without a minimum crew size. The good Captain was merely following SOP.

So, what to do now? Well, E45 is out of service, and unless the BC makes a move to fix the problem (as he is the only PPE guy), these guys can just go to Delmonico's for an early lunch and then chill by the riverwalk and watch the ladies stroll by for the rest of the day.

The FF got his gloves. E45 went back in service over the air a few minutes later. The whole department, in minutes, figured out what had just transpired, and how to own the BC if he ever tried that trick again.

Don't be owned.


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