Who Wants to be a Fire Officer?

Issue 1 and Volume 14.

On behalf of my entire family and I, we sincerely hope that you and yours have a peaceful, happy and healthy 2019.

Speaking of peaceful, how would you like to be on the receiving end of this lawsuit?

Please take five minutes to look at the time and effort being used by the plaintiffs (link below) to prove their point against this California fire department. The below are links to media reports as well as a link to a WEBSITE set up by the plaintiffs’ attorneys against the fire department-who they are suing. The website provides fire department officer names along with video and related links. This is nothing you or any of us ever want to experience.

The lawsuit, filed last Monday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, alleges the City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department purposefully burned down the structure rather than put Firefighters in harm’s way.

While “who knows” how this will come out in court, it’s one heck of a reminder (at so many levels) about literally every aspect of what we do prior to and when responding to/operating at a fire related to:

  • Fire pre-planning, 
  • Fire inspections, 
  • Fire response, 
  • Response times,
  • 1st alarm staffing, 
  • 1st alarm resources,
  • Fire size up (initial and continued)
  • Command, 
  • WHO IS in command at your fire,
  • Command certifications/qualifications, 
  • The command decisions,
  • Scene and company responsibilities,
  • Water supply/water on the fire,
  • Control, 
  • Communication, 
  • Risk / benefit management (when do you risk your firefighters/when don’t you)
  • Responsibility, 
  • Accountability,
  • Along with state laws, standards and best practices at every level.

And while this appears to be a very extreme lawsuit the reality is that this fire department and its fire officers are now under the gun in at least by their having to defend these allegations.

The Sub Burndown, lawsuit website
The Sub owners say SLO firefighters burned down store. Now they’re suing for $5 million, The Tribune

Owners of SLO store destroyed by fire suing city, fire department for damages, KSBY

So, who wants to be in command? Be a fire officer? Are you sure?

Under “there but for the grace of God go we” this lawsuit issue is an excellent opportunity to take a close look at yours/mine/our departments related written policies, procedures, related laws, and usual behaviors and ask:

Do we train based upon our written policies and procedures?

Do we consistently operate based upon our written policies and procedures?

While so many want to become fire officers, make sure the aptitude and complete understanding of the job is there and when being so, that you clearly understand what you are expected to do-based upon department policies and not what you necessarily “feel” like or want to do. 

It is not easy.

Unlike Ferris Bueller, not showing up is not an option for us.

No, seriously.