Fire Police Forum
What we'll do here is to publish the comments we receive about the site. For example, one of the first things that we received is that some loved but most hated the green front page. We changed it.
But, what we're really looking for is input about the "state of health" of Pennsylvania's Fire Police. One guy had responded to the Pennsylvania Fire Police survey stating everything was just perfect in his FD and we shouldn't criticize. Must be nice.
This forum gives us a place to vent. I reserve the right to edit for grammar, spelling, language, but the ideas will be yours. Just be sure to throw a name (or pseudo-name) and County.
A Fire Police Lieutenant contacted us - he states that he and his boss have basically the same background. His concern is that the FP Captain took him off of a TCP without relief to do a different task. When he balked to the Captain, the Captain's reply was "You do what I tell you to do!"
This incident has occurred more than once across the state - indeed, across the US Military and others! The military's way of handling "conflicting orders" is to bring the prior "order" to the superior officer's attention. If the superior officer does not change his order, the superior officer has taken full responsibility on him/her self.
In the Lieutenant's case, it means he simply tells the Captain why he is at that spot doing what he's doing and names who put him there (even himself, if that's the case). If the Captain persists in moving him, so be it - it's the Captain's responsibility.
This situation really underscores why we at RSC push Fire Police to take the ICS-100, Intro to NIMS, and the ICS-200 (Incident Command) classes. Also, the NFPA 1091 standard requires us to be fully ICS trained!
These are two citizen complaints plus our response to all FPOs...
1) There was a fire out the road. Instead of blocking the road up past my house, they closed it so I couldn't get home. These roads met together - both before the fire, so it didn't matter where they shut it down. I stopped and told the guy that I live in the fourth driveway up - you could see my house from where they had the road shut down. He wouldn't let me past. So I went onto the other road and had to park there, then walk through people's yards to get to my house, carrying a bunch of stuff. I get everything put away and there's a cop at my door. He asked if I was walking through people's yards. I took him to the front and showed him where they (still) had the road shut and told him they wouldn't let me through. He just shook his head and left.
2) I was going home, got off the ramp and the left turn was blocked. I could see the fire trucks about a mile up the road. By blocking where they were, no one could get on the freeway westbound, and none of us could get into our development which was 100 yards up the road. Traffic was sitting with nowhere to go. I pointed to my development and the fire guy just shook his head no. Fortunately, a police officer was coming from the incident up the road and recognized me and told the fire guy to move the stuff to let me pass. I felt bad for everyone else - don't these guys get training?
In both cases, the untrained firefighters (neither incident, it turned out, were staffed with FPOs) simply didn't understand the concept of "service to the public." A road may need closed at and immediately adjacent to the incident site; however, the public still has a legitimate need to get to their house, a store, a friends house or even a playground provided their route does not invade or endanger the incident scene. PennDOT would usually post "Road Closed - Local Traffic Only" signs, and if the motorist goes past and has to turn around when they can't go any further, tough cookies. We've had FPOs state they'd check IDs. Why? Until the actual closure area, it's STILL a PUBLIC road! In both of these cases, fire personnel lost respect for their lack of training and lack of understanding of the actual mission. FPOs also make this mistake and must learn from it.
Two of our staff stopped by a FD as they passed through a town, just to say "hello". They were treated well, and were surprised at finding a covered utility Traffic Unit vehicle in a bay. The Chief stated the FPOs didn't like the vehicle - they wanted one where they could get inside and warm up in the cold. Fair statement - to a point - but when the back was opened they'd installed a bench seat to the empty cargo area. Not quite empty, but only about 18 cones and two signs - nowhere near the equipment needed to do the job properly! FPOs - PennDOT doesn't distribute people at an incident, they distribute equipment! Learn what we should be doing, and transition from PEOPLE to THINGS...it's safer that way, too!
Clear as a bell, a photo in the newspaper showed a typical crash on a freeway. The vehicles ended up on the shoulder but real close to the right lane, and some crash debris littered the right lane. This area's super high traffic, and closing this freeway totally screws up traffic on all the side streets. Yep, the FD closed the road. The left lane could have easily remained opened with good traffic control resulting in good flow. This is a good FD, with great people and leaders, but without any Fire Police they default to closing the road as they feel it makes them safer... How is this "serving the public?"
Fire trucks from three companies plus a chief's vehicle and an ambulance responded to a rollover crash. PD was on scene upon arrival, and the drunk had gotten out of his vehicle on his own denying injury. The vehicle, now back on it's wheels, was off the roadway as was the police cruiser. The six - yes, six - fire trucks plus the fire chief's marked vehicle were the only things blocking traffic - at a nasty curve, highly-traveled road during fog... The drunk realized he was going to get arrested and threw his pills out, on the shoulder. The Officer had thanked the FD for their response and advised them they could leave. Instead, they crushed most of the pills and nearly caused several more crashes. The PD supervisor arrived and again thanked the FD for their response and asked them to leave - they decided they weren't going to go. At that point, they were threatened with arrest (Obstruction of Highways and Other Public Passages) and they left. The Fire Chief wrote a letter of complaint - in all capitals and including swear words - to the Township Board Chairman, ignoring the Police Chief and Township Manager. A meeting was held - the Fire Chief was nearly fired. Fire Departments are a resource at crash scenes, they are NEVER in charge once police are on the scene. Yet, Roadway Safety Consulting has met this attitude several times recently among Fire Chiefs...wow...
The NFPA Standards are now here! This will be the standard we're held to in Court. If you do not know what Pub 213 and Part 6 of the MUTCD say, then you'd better start studying...
Pa Fire Police Meeting, July, 2008 - Tony Riccardi and Commissioner Ed Mann both speak of the need for Fire Police to be fully trained and actually perform in the manner in which they were trained, also that Fire Police need to EARN the respect from the public. "Wearing pink spandex shorts, a sleeveless T-shirt and no hat does not engender respect from the public."
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