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Safety – Offensive Attack – No PPE

By, Alan Rufer, MBA
January 22, 2011

 A 13 second video of a firefighter being assisted with an offensive attack from the porch roof of a residential structure has been circulating over the past few days. It can be found in many places but I watched it on the www.firerescue1.com website with an article written by Jason Poremba dated January 19, 2011. The firefighter is in full PPE, but it is unclear whether the other individual (who does not have any PPE) is a firefighter or a citizen. In fact, in the video there are several individuals standing on the ground, none of which are wearing PPE. It is also unclear whether these individuals are members of the fire department or merely bystanders.

As you can imagine, there is a great deal of discussion throughout the fire service blogs regarding PPE and what should or shouldn’t be allowed in the name of protecting our neighbor’s lives and property. For the most part the tone of the discussion is predictable, life safety must come first, and we must do more in regards to safety training. Of course you have the snide remarks concerning the individual on the roof without PPE, however, most of these remarks assume that the individual is a firefighter and not a civilian, which as I noted earlier, is not clear.

This is only one of many videos that can be found on the internet where someone is doing something that simply does not make sense. This is where I disagree with the comment that we need more safety training. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for safety training, but how about using some common sense. Regardless of whether the individual on the roof was a member of the fire department or not, common sense should tell us that going on the roof of a burning building is not a good idea.

Even at a mere 13 seconds, this video has several talking points. There are some that are citing station closings, volunteers without turnout gear because of budgets, and a lack of personnel, as possible reasons for the individual on the roof without PPE.  All I can say is that these are nothing more than excuses.  This video aside, if you need to make an offensive attack for any of the above reasons then you should not make the attack, period.  We cannot continue to do stupid things and then make-up excuses when someone calls us on them. Show some accountability. Safety is part of your culture, it is either there or it isn’t, it is a way of doing business. Those not willing to change their safety culture will someday find themselves out of business.

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