National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: What Happens If We Just...

The air line hose cap described in this week's featured report is a common sight on apparatus throughout the fire service. Many of the devices were fabricated in the fire department shop and in some cases on the fire station work bench. In addition, many were created when fire departments were using low pressure SCBA cylinders, and then carried over from rig to rig as the SCBA evolved to high pressure.

"...We have a modified hose cap set up to fill fire hose with compressed air so it can be used as a flotation device during water rescue or for a boom during a Haz-Mat response. During the daily vehicle/equipment checkout, 2 firefighters decided that they were going to test it to determine if the threads on the airline coupling were long enough to work with (name deleted) SCBA air cylinders. Instead of connecting a regulator and using a fire hose, they just capped off the hose connection. When they opened the 4500 PSI air cylinder charging the high pressure line (the cylinder knob never made it more than a half turn) the cap set exploded…Both individuals were taken to the hospital with injuries..."

The action of the firefighters suggests an issue many departments struggle with: a lack of formal, documented training on every piece of equipment in the inventory. That training should ensure all users understand the mechanics and physics of each and every tool. This is a daunting task given the diverse cross-section of the population that is drawn to the fire and emergency service and the ever expanding mission. Once you have reviewed this week's report (Click here), consider the following:

1. Is your apparatus equipped with a fabricated air line hose cap?
2. Does your department have a comprehensive, standardized training program that documents training for every piece of equipment in the inventory?
3. Does your department allow "in-house" creation of tools and equipment?
4. Is there a supervisory responsibility/accountability for the firefighters' actions in this near miss?
5. Place this incident in your fire department. Would your department follow the same procedures as this department?

Experienced or witnessed a near miss involving "home made" equipment? Submit your report to today to keep others safe.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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