Below is a link to a new NIOSH report related to the investigation of the tragic Line of Duty Death of Inwood Firefighter (Nassau County, Long Island, NY) Joe Sanford Jr.
While there are numerous aspects of the report well worth reading, understanding and learning from, one specific aspect is especially important.
This Firefighter died in the Line of Duty on a mutual aid fire-which forces the discussion of common, policy driven command, control, accountability, communication and regular training-with mutual aid departments.
Unfortunately, these problems are not unheard of in so many areas:
-Lack of crew integrity, firefighter and scene discipline.
-Problems with span of control.
-Ineffective personnel accountability.
-Lack of assigned rapid intervention crew.
-Lack of regular and standardized training between mutual aid fire departments.
-Lack of common policy and procedures between mutual aid departments.
-Ineffective radio system communications.
With so many departments responding with one another these days, each and every day, the report underlines the importance and responsibility of POLICY that clearly identifies how departments will operate and function on your-and their fire scenes. Better yet, it further forces the point that departments regionally should be training and operating with the same POLICY, guidelines and compatible equipment.
Once again, in this most recent case, the best way to honor the life of this fallen Firefighter, Joe Sanford Jr, is to take the report and overlay it to each of our own departments and honestly and critically ask the question…could this happen here? In most cases, the answer is not a solid no and it’s another chance to get our collective acts together so these problems start to be rare and un-common.
Please take time to use this report as means to make a difference in your own department, neighboring departments and region. No longer can any fire department operate independently without incorporating their neighboring departments (in policy development, training and operations) regardless of whatever excuses anyone comes up with-and this report proves it.