National Firefighter Near Miss Report: At what price…

By Amanda McHenry
National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System

TWe are on the road again for this week’s featured report, which was selected from a keyword search using “information” as the key. > has 165 reports that were returned on the keyword “information.” The versatility of the program continues to grow as more reports are submitted. This week’s report describes an event that could be just as easily be traced back to culture as collision.

“The department was alerted for an automatic residential fire alarm…All companies were alerted. The first due, Engine [number deleted] is approximately 4 to 5 blocks away. The truck company is located in the middle of town, approximately a .5 mile response. Engine [number deleted] had an approximately 1.5 mile response. Chiefs were enroute and received no additional information regarding the alarm. The area is prone to false alarms. The captain of Engine [number deleted] was driving. All lights and audible warning devices were operating. As the vehicle approached a red traffic signal, the captain said he brought the apparatus to a full stop before entering the intersection…As he proceeded further, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, a rapidly approaching vehicle coming from the left around the stopped vehicles in the left hand turning lane. The impact…” Brackets [ ] denote identifying information removed by the reviewer.

We often take for granted the trust citizens have for us. They expect us to be their protectors and saviors, yet we condone actions and environments that place them at great risk. Courts across the country have been overturning “right of way” laws when attorneys representing the people in the other vehicle successfully argue we have a higher obligation to look out for the other guy because we know they drive erratically and we know most automatic fire alarms are false. CLICK HERE to read the full report, then consider the following:

1. What are your conclusions regarding the description of the collision and the captain’s account?
2. Do you wear a seat belt on every run? Why or why not?
3. Have you been taught any specific techniques to account for the vehicle that moves around stopped traffic and “rapidly approaches”?
4. What is the percentage of automatic fire alarms in your area/department that turn out to be actual fires?
5. Has your department entertained charging a recovery fee to the owner of an occupancy that has multiple (3 or more in a 12 month period) false/malfunctioning alarms?

Had a near miss responding to an automatic alarm? Tell the fire service about it on today.

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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