Why Roanoke City is the best
The thing that caught my attention was that while talking about the loss of Engine 7, and how the “Quint” Ladder 7/Medic 7 has been operating, he said that the reason why it is working is not because of anything other than “The guys (firefighters) make it work”.
How true that is, not just about #7 but about everything that isn’t peachy in the department. We push ourselves because it is our job. We make the job what it is. We make it as good or bad as we want to. In the face of all the issues surrounding our job, we do what we can to make it the best department around. If only we didn’t have to always put on a fake smile to make everything look great at face value.
Not everything in the department is bad, actually far from it. However, the truth is that we work for decent wages, increasingly expensive benefits which could be better, on some great firetrucks and others that are terrible, in stations which are average or better, with rules that span from fairly straightforward City POP’s to unwritten rules that shouldn’t matter, in a City where the Citizens (most of them) love us, yet powers that be just want us to show up to work and keep our mouths shut and be happy.
The initiatives of the Department aren’t all that far fetched. The direction the department has taken in the past few years has good merit, but the planning and implementation is missing a key ingredient – buy in from its members.
You can come up with the best plan, but if you don’t sell it to your constituents it is worthless. For example, by removing Engine 7 you can easily change the numbers to make your point whichever way you want it to go. Statistics and Analysis are used to prove that point. However, the guys on the street running the calls are effected. We make due with what we have to work with.
In the fire service, tragedy dictates policy.
FDNY – everyone gets self rescue rope after two firefighters die jumping to their deaths to escape fire.
Charleston – A potential full system overhaul after 9 firefighters die tragically fighting a sofa super store fire.
Prince William County – several initiatives, one big one being staffing after the death of Firefighter Kyle Wilson.
Lairdesville – numerous initiatives, most notably NFPA 1403 after a senseless training death.
However, those are more recent than some others. A lot has been done in the past after historic fires resulting in improved building and fire codes.
The most progressive Fire Departments learn from other Departments tragedies, mistakes, misfortunes, Firefighter deaths, Civilian Deaths, and otherwise lackluster policies and operational procedures.
We have reaped the benefits of some of these changes following others tragedies, but not all. We follow 1403 very closely, one of many NFPA Guidelines that are strictly followed by the department. There are so many other NFPA guidelines which we fall a little short.
What about the self escape ropes? I carry one, because I have taken the time and money to put one together – but it is not issued to me. I carried it before the FDNY tragedy because I felt it was a necessity. Why aren’t we issued them? Will we have to see a similar fate before we see them.
What about staffing?
What about a fine tuned set of SOP’s to follow?
The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department is the best because of its Firefighters, nothing more nothing less. Without as much adversity, we could be so much better.