More on Roanoke's Days Inn fire, NFPA 1584 and Staffing

Photo by Kyle Green / Roanoke Times

For us, Roanoke had a busy day this past Monday. Two fires within 6 hours and the second being a multi-alarm incident. Multiple fires in a tour is nothing new to Roanoke’s bravest or to firefighters all across this country for that matter.

Dave Statter reported just Tuesday on a “Busy day in DC …” where they worked two heavily involved house fires in a tour.

Bill Carey over at  Backstep Firefighter threw his hat in the ring to report  Metro Working where he updated us on multiple working fires for P.G. County and DC (note the “just kidding Rhett, Willie”  at the bottom..LOL.)

Those of you who follow my site regularly know that is by no means a “news” type site / blog. I can’t type or write, I don’t have the patience to research facts and I’m about as “politically correct” as George Carlin. That said, I’ll leave the reporting to the reporters .. Rhett, Statter and the like.

There were alternate reasons for my posting the Roanoke fires on Monday. Reason far beyond “breaking news”. You see, our “system” has changed dramatically over the past several years and, despite denial by some; it has drastically changed the way we “do business”

Our Department has approx. 220 members in suppression. We run 10 Engines, 4 Ladders, 8 Medics, 2 Battalions and an EMS Supervisor out of 11 stations. We typically operate with about 73 men on duty.  A “bread and butter” type of fire will see a minimum of 4 Engines, possibly 2 Ladders, 2 Medic units, both Battalion Chiefs, a support vehicle and  various members from the Chief’s office. These numbers could easily increase depending on the OIC and what is called for. Our investigators are also on duty suppression personnel so, when they are called in; it usually means another piece has to be marked out of service. Because of this, the units not assigned to the fire generally have to “move to cover”. We relocate to other stations in an effort to “fill the gaps” (of course, this just opens another “gap” or makes them larger).

Photo by Lt. Mike Overacker (Retired)

My point here is this … multiple fires in a single tour in our department, more often than not; has the same members battling both fires. Multiple fires in DC or PG County may not even see the same companies much less the same members. My concern or the point I’d like to make is of and for the health and safety of the firefighters.

Sure EMS runs “pay the bills” but all you need to do is look at sites on the Fire/EMS Blog Network to see that fires are up as well. Our brothers and sisters across the country are seeing plenty of work!

NFPA 1584 is the “Standard on the Rehabilitation Process for Members During Emergency Operations and Training Exercises”. OSHA also has strict guidelines for rehab. I remember reading an article on rehab and NFPA 1584 years ago on Firefighter Nation. I found that article by Mike McEvoy  HERE.  Firerescue 1 also had a good “power point” type version by Hamilton Lempert, MD, FACEP which can be found  HERE.  You can also visit for the standard.

What is your Department doing to ensure proper rehab of it’s members. Back on December 7th, Statter  posted of two 5 alarm fires in Baltimore in less than 12 hours. See that story  HERE. I jumped on Dave’s coat tail and posted on the fires  HERE and  HERE.   I asked in the post (or stated) that I hoped that Baltimore had thought ahead enough to relieve some of the Brothers and Sisters after the 1st fire so that they didn’t get caught on the 2nd.  How effective would you have been on your 2nd 5th alarm fire of the tour?

Now the Days Inn fire wasn’t a 5th alarm (I’m really not sure how many “alarms” it made officially) but the Department did implement some measures to ensure the health and safety of our members. The 1st thing that occurred was by direction of the 1st in Officer (Captain Chris Trussler) and the Incident Commander (Battalion Chief Terry King). They quickly escalated the incident to a 2nd alarm bringing in more resources. You can NEVER have too many members.

Administration didn’t try to “clear companies” from the scene and leave a “bare boness” assignment on scene to operate. They called in overtime to staff reserve apparatus and man the stations leaving adequate personnel on scene to handle the fire.

They fed the members. I’m not sure where it came from but I know the Brothers and Sisters received a hot meal on scene.

They also thought ahead and sent the members to our turnout gear storage and allowed them to grab a set of dry gear. We are not assigned 2 sets but allowing the members to grab a dry one for the remainder of the shift was great thinking.

Again I’ll ask … what does your Department do to ensure adequate rehab? Maybe an extra 30 minutes out of service for showers and away from the scene “rest”? Maybe after “X” amount of hours on an emergency scene your tour is over?

It took me a while to get here but that’s the points I wanted to make. I think my Department did a good job in looking after the members this past week and I wanted to pass it along and get you folks to thinking along the same lines. If you hit the links above you’ll learn that good rehab is everyone’s  responsibility … Fireman, Company Officer and Chief.

far to near .. Captain Chris Trussler, Willie Wines Sr. (Retired) and 1st Lt. Brent Berry

Ok, I mentioned Captain Chris “Lucky” Trussler above. He is the B-shift Captain at Station #2 “The Deuce”. Lucky was 1st in at the Days Inn Fire. I met him at a local “watering hole” the other night to discuss details of the incident. Wouldn’t you know it … I can’t hide anywhere. As we were sitting there talking .. in walks Pop (my dad .. Willie Wines Sr ) and Trussler’s 1st Lt. Brent Berry.

It made for a really good time. Some great old stories … a few lies and I even got some details on the Days Inn fire.

Upon arrival, they found smoke showing from a 3rd floor hotel room in about the center of the building (the hotel is “T” shaped). All indications were of a “room and content” type fire. Lucky gave his size up and had the boys stretch up to go to work.

They entered the 3rd floor room and knocked down some fire but Captain Trussler quickly recognized that something wasn’t right. They noticed a hole in the floor with fire coming from below but he also was getting high and  increasing heat from above. The smoke condition was also beginning to change.

He knew then that he had fire both above and below him and pulled his crews out. The alarms escilated and the operation was pretty much defensive from that point (the hotel was vacant due to renovations).

This is NOTan easy thing to do! Pull out? Are you kidding me? Trussler??

I’m proud to say that we are an agressive Fire Department. More than that, we are aggressively smart. In a city full of multi-story balloon construction houses, we are on scene in under 4 minutes and contain our fires to room and content greater than 60% of the time!

Captain Trussler (and Battalion Chief King) showed true fire ground discipline in pulling the boys out. I know it was the last thing Trussler wanted to do and applaud him for being Officer enough to do it!

A good friend, Fire Service Leader and fellow Blogger Chris Naum has a regular show over on Firefighter Netcast. Chris’ show is called   “Taking it to the Streets” The show is about “Advancing Firefighter Safety and Operational Integrity for the Fire Service through provocative insights and dynamic discussions dedicated to the Art and Science of Firefighting and the Traditions of the Fire Service.”

If you haven’t tuned in to one of Chris’ shows .. you need to. Chris has been talking for some time now on “redefining the fire ground”.  Chris has had me on as a guest before and we have spoken several times (on and off air) on these type issues. In one show, he made a statement or posed a question …. any Officer can kick a door or order his crew to the seat of a fire but is that same Officer good enough to go defensive when necessary? Do you have “Tactical Patience”?  Are you doing more than just giving a size up … are you doing a 360,  conducting a “Risk Assessment”  and developing an “Action Plan” before committing  members?   If you’re not … you should be!

Naum’s site,  Command Safety;  should be a “must read” for you every morning. You’ll find all kind of articles, advise and tools to help you become a better Officer. He has a great “Interactive Dynamic Risk Assessment” download  HERE .  Check him out.

So again, I took the long way around but wanted to say “good job” and “well done” for the decisions Captain Trussler, Battalion Chief King and the other Officers on scene made at the Days Inn fire. The members made a trench cut, hand jacked 5″, placed a “Mercury Monitor” as well as other master streams and were able to cut off and suppress the fire without committing to unsafe interior operations (yes… it’s me typing this ..LOL). Again .. WELL DONE GUYS!

Ok, real quickly… we are back to duty today and it’s been a busy one. We started off by getting a brand new bed of 5″ supply line. Our Department  recently committed near $70,000 to replace our old 180 psi (service pressure) 5″ supply line with 300 psi high pressure hose.

Today, it was our turn to get the new hose. Captain Graham at Station #4 is leading the project. We rolled in there this morning and his crew was on top of it! He took all of our old 5″ off, rolled it and moved it to a storage shed.

We then loaded the new hose onto the truck. It took about 40 minutes total and went a lot smoother than I had expected. Something that I haven’t seen before was that Capt. Graham used a “shop vac” to pull trapped air from the hose.

I’m not kidding here. He used a 5″ to 2 1/2″ reducer and taped the shop vac hose to it. He placed the cap on the section of hose that we were loading to extract the air.

It worked GREAT. The hose loaded nice and flat and looks good. Of course you know how my luck runs … now we’ll catch some work tonight and I’ll end up putting it all right back in the street ..LOL

Thanks to Captain Graham and his crew for a job well done this morning.

I’ll add one  more shot of that clean and  pretty green hose … while it still is anyway … and the crew finishing up the load.

The rest of the day has been just as steady. Normal / routine calls, picking up and bringing home the reserve ladder etc. We also had a “Cluster Meeting” with the Chiefs this evening.

I’ll post on the meeting next day but just so you don’t worry yourself … I’m NOT in trouble …LOL.  This is a regular type meeting where the Chief comes out and briefs the men on current happening etc within the Department. In the end, the Chief opens it up for questions, comments etc. All in all, a good meeting

I’m gonna wind it down for now. I have a few reports to complete and then I’m gonna try to catch a few winks.  My truck is still in the shop and the forecast  is for snow … yea … that’s  just my luck, so I don’t know what I’ll end up doing tomorrow. Whatever it ends up being, I can assure you it wont be easy or fun. Regardless, I’ll most likely live through it and be back in here on Saturday. I’ll catch up with ya then if not before.

As always, Thanks for reading and following along. I was nominated for the Black Diamond 2010 Blog of the Year and will hopefully make it to the ballots. Thats for the nominations and future votes ..

Don’t forget to “share”, “like” and “tweet” me … stay safe and in house!

Captain Wines