Fire Fighting in Canada

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Regular readers will know that I don’t generally write technical articles, and, despite the title, this one is no exception. A community in Seattle is in mourning following the deaths of five members of an extended family, ranging in age from five to 22 years, in an apartment fire on Saturday. These tragic incidents happen every month across Canada and the U.S., an unfortunate fact that we know all too well.

June 15, 2010 
By Peter Sells

I dropped my intended topic for the month to focus on this incident because there was a reported delay of up to 2.5
minutes in the attack teams entering the building due to an apparent
malfunction of the first-in pumper. The power-takeoff (PTO) could not
be engaged,
which resulted in no water being delivered to the attack lines. The
lines were hastily reconnected to the second pump once it arrived on
scene, and by the time the five victims were located, their time had expired.

Now, it is far too easy to play the role of Monday-morning quarterback on any incident that has
a poor outcome, and the only details I have are in the paragraph above.
In other words, it is not appropriate based only on this information to
draw any conclusions as to the root causes of the pump malfunction, or
even to assume that the victims would have been viable had there not been a delay.
It is appropriate, however, to draw some objective learning points and
to take steps to reduce the chance of such a delay in our local
systems. So here is a checklist for your consideration:

Have all of your firefighters who are assigned to drive pumping apparatus been certified as driver/operators?

Have they also been trained on the specific features and functions of each the apparatus in your fleet?


Are all your apparatus
fully maintained according to the chassis and pump manufacturers’
recommendations and are they all in proper operating condition?

Are all of your apparatus fully inspected and run through their paces each time a new crew comes on duty? Or, for volunteer systems, is there a regular schedule for inspection and testing?

Does your regular training schedule include a full range of pumping evolutions, from pressurized and static sources?

you maintain complete and accurate records of all of the certification,
training, maintenance, inspection and testing listed above?

And lastly, if you answered no, I don’t know, or anything other than yes to any of the questions above, can you answer the following question if asked by an innocent five year old in your town: “Why not?”

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