A real valid issue is being raised in our fire departments among our front line first responders..carrying concealed weapons. Depending on where you live, this is a protected right under the current laws. But, this law can create a whirlwind of liability for on-duty or off-duty public servants. Whether we agree or disagree with CCW, we must be proactive in these discussions and in developing policies to protect our teams, our departments and our citizens.
Taking the Heat
by Steven “Doc” Bernard
You arrive to a reported structure fire and it is fully involved. Fire is through the roof. The first thing you do is send all available personnel into the fire on interior attack mode……… No? Why not? Is there some written guide or training on how it is to be done? Of course there is. We size up the scene. We follow guidelines our department has adopted. We follow our training. That’s how we do things. We have bookcases full of regulations, manuals, operating guidelines, policies, and operating procedures. NFPA alone takes up a couple of those shelves. The more complex or potentially injurious an item is, the more manuals and information there is on how it is to be used. But we are used to that, because they are meant to help us do a dangerous job with some potentially dangerous tools.
Lately though, it seems the job has gotten even more perilous. This is not due to the fire, but from a section of the public that has been making threats against our departments, and in some cases where units have been struck by gunfire. And logically, our personnel want to be protected from these assaults. We see departments issuing bullet-‐resistant vests and helmets, and some organizations have been calling for or allowing their personnel to be armed while on duty.
But in polling a number of departments that I have some connections with across the country, I asked two questions of them. First, “Does your department allow concealed or open carry of a firearm on-‐duty or on scene?” And secondly, “Does your department have a written policy about it?” What I found, in my unscientific poll, was that if the answer was “No, it is not allowed”, there was a written policy in place. But, if the answer was “Yes…well…only certain calls…” “Only certain people can”, or “If the Chief says okay”, I found that there was usually no written policy associated with it or only a verbal/assumed policy, if that. This article is NOT being written to promote or prohibit our personnel from being allowed to carry. That is for the individual department to decide, in my mind. But for there to be an allowance to carry this new potentially life-‐threatening equipment in our workspace, there must be a policy in place that sets out how, where, and what level of training must be achieved. Otherwise, those departments could very well be setting themselves up for a lawsuit and sorrow. Personally, I have my CCW permit and the blessing from my state to carry as a private citizen and I want to protect that right. But on a fire department, whether career or volunteer, we are not private citizens while we are doing the job. We are invited into people’s homes, and sometimes we don’t even wait for permission to enter private property. John Q. Public does not have those same privileges.
We represent the department/agency/county/city/township that has hired us. We are now held to a higher and stricter standard than Joe Citizen with his carry permit. So I ask all of you, what is your department’s policy on the carry of firearms while on a call and/or at the firehouse? If you have them established, then this question is already answered. But if you haven’t, this article is addressed to you. We are looking at major liabilities if we do not seriously address this within our departments.
I am not against protecting ourselves, but I am also not ignorant to the fact that both the department and the individual could face severe civil and legal penalties if there was no policy regarding it. You see, now we need talk about responsibility and liability.
There are some laws that might defend a person’s actions but that does not mean the departments are immune from a case being brought forward and need to be defended to prevent it from going further if someone is shot by a department employee while on duty/call. A case being sought incurs attorney fees, and if they name the individual as well as the department…and should there be a motion to sever the case…the individual may be left holding the proverbial “bag” if there was no written policy that the individual was to follow, and if there was any hint of impropriety, negligence or acting without authorization. Or the department could be held liable for not having regulations in place that addressed this issue for that employee. And yes, a volunteer, while representing a department is still an employee and an agent of that department. How many departments accept that Ricky Rescue, new on the department, can properly and adequately get on the pump and get us water…when his experience is just playing with his sump pump in the backyard? No, we put him through Pump Operations Class and we can verify he can do the job properly. We won’t even talk about driving the rig… How about something more lethal that we see nearly everyday, a defibrillator/monitor? Will we allow Freddy the New Fireman run around with the paddles without confirming he is certified and trained how to use them? The spreaders? But yet we are allowing our personnel to bring personal equipment on to scene and to the station that has lethal implications and yet we have no policy governing it’s carry or use while on the job. We have no record of their training with this equipment, other than a CCW permit, which is fairly easy to get in many states, and some states don’t require any actual education or training to carry a firearm legally.
So I have been becoming more and more concerned with the calls to allow firefighters and EMS personnel to be allowed to carry while on duty, yet not seeing any written guidelines or policies about it. Some departments just allow it to happen and don’t think anything about it and have set no policy as they are afraid of Constitutional issues.
We must remember that we can set standards for the use of equipment when it is used in the line of duty. A choice by the employee has to be made: adhere to the policy, or seek employment elsewhere if they feel the standards are too strict.
We have to protect our departments by setting policy and standard. But not having that policy to be able to benchmark off of, is opening us to high levels of liability. Firearms and their place at the station and on a scene need to be addressed, and department policy needs to be written as to who can carry and when they can carry a firearm while on duty.
Mind you, I am on the range at least 2-‐3 times a month, have extensive firearms training, and a veteran. So, to even hint that I am anti-‐firearm or anti-‐self protection is a non-‐starter. I just want to see any department that does not have a policy about carrying while on duty to establish one.
Whether it is accepting of it, or forbidding of it, let’s make sure everyone on our department knows what the policy is and what the requirements are should they be allowed.
Steven Bernard is a firefighter, conributing author, writer, video and photo journalist.
Chief Alan Brunacini is perhaps the most iconic figure in the American fire service. From his beginning as a firefighter in Phoenix, AZ he has taken his knowledge and experiences on the road, for a 2nd time beginning in 2016 with Command Symposium 2016.
February 9 & 10 Chief Bruno along with a host of expert instructors brought this new series of incident command to Plfugerville for Command Symposium 2017. The list of instructors included Chief Dennis Rubin, Captain Richard Miller, Chief Cecil Clay, Chief Scott Kerwood and Captain Michael Anderson. We also had a special join the panel, Mr. Bobby Halton of Fire Engineering Magazine.
The attendees learned about the functions of command and organizational structure. The class is very interactive and all instructors encourage students to ask questions. Chief Brunacini is also known for coining the phrase BE NICE, and follows this philosophy throughout the 2-day program.
Chief Kerwood lead an afternoon session on the importance of Standardized Operating Procedures (SOP). He has been recognized by numerous organizations for the implementation of SOP’s within his own department and Williamson County Emergency Services Division.
Captain Richard Miller of IAFC’s FSTAR Project discussed the importance of the work done through FSTAR (Firefighter Safety Through Advanced Research) A large part of keeping our firefighters safety is consistency in fire ground and incident command. FSTAR also fights for legislation such as firefighter physicals.
Chief Cecil Clay (ret) City of Oklahoma City also joined Captain Miller with another segment involving firefighter safety and statistics.
Pflugerville, TX has already confirmed to host next year’s first class of Command Symposium 2018! Dates February 8 & 9. Details to follow
SWFCA recently launched their 6 month leadership training coaching and mentoring program at the Oklahoma City Fire Training Center. The class was filled to near capacity for this inaugural class of 2017.
Participants traveled from other regions to take advantage of this remarkable training program.
State Fire Marshal Robert Doke welcomed the class to Oklahoma and emphasized the importance of leadership skills and training in all aspects of community. Also President Tom Bradley, Fire Chief of Stillwater Oklahoma and current President of the division spoke on behalf of the board of directors and state of Oklahoma about the decision to bring this unique opportunity to the IAFC-SW membership.
As your division elected leadership, we are committed to offering you the benefits you’ve asked for and deserve as a member of the IAFC.
Here is some feedback that we have already received after the initial 2-day classroom group:
The course was great. Honestly better than I expected
Training officer & volunteer fire chief – Oklahoma
I am looking forward to the online classes to see how they turn out and what the interaction is like.
Oklahoma volunteer officer
First time I’ve worked on my personal skills and I look forward to the follow-up classes
Fire officer, Lexington, SC
We want to thank Chief Richard Kelley, OCFD for hosting this class!
There will be a wrap-up session and graduation ceremony in October in conjunction with the division’s executive leadership conference in Houston, TX
If you or your department would like to host a class, please contact Lisa Moatts email@example.com or call 843-694-2768
Discount offered to Southwestern Division Members!!! Register now and save $60
We’re excited and honored the 4th Annual Station Design Conference will be held in the historic, 80-acre Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth, Texas, May 3–5, 2017.
This renovated 500,000 sq. ft. complex is shared by Fort Worth fire and police headquarters and expansive training venues.
Located in one of two pre-WWII warehouses, the Fort Worth Fire Department has repurposed the historic facility into modern offices, auditoriums, classrooms and offers extensive training scenarios—a must-see facility!
This year’s program has expanded to provide three days of immersive education on fire station design presented by award-winning architects and project managers of fire stations and public safety facilities to guide you through the journey to your new fire station.
- Meet one-on-one with expert architects for an objective review and discussion of your department’s plans.
- Gain insights into the bidding/construction process.
- Learn about the newest technology and innovations designed to boost performance and response times.
- Become knowledgeable about the latest design trends in security, safety, firefighter health and more!
- Network with fire chiefs, officers, public safety officials, award-winning architects and project planners from across the country.
Special Discount for Southwestern Fire Chiefs Assoc. members!
Register now and save an extra $60 on top of Early Bird pricing—That’s $160 off on-site pricing! Use promo code: SWFCA (Early Bird pricing ends on 3/15/17)
Whether you’re thinking about your next fire station, or already in the process, you won’t want to miss this event!
The Gatlinburg Firefighters Association has established the Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund to aid those Gatlinburg Firefighters and Police Officers who lost their homes and contents in the fire, which in part spread from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into the eastern Tennessee resort city of Gatlinburg. The fire burned about 1,000 buildings in Sevier County, including hundreds in Gatlinburg, killed 13 people and injured about 85 people.
Donations should be made payable to The Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund, Account # 1090021864. Donations may be mailed to Smartbank, ATTN: Gatlinburg Public Safety Employees Wildfire Relief Fund, PO Box 1910, Pigeon Forge Tennessee 37868. Electronic transfers may be sent to Smartbank. The routing number for this fund is 064209216.
For additional information contact Kandra McCarter Phone: (865) 936-7130; Daniel Lindbert (865) 430-8687 or David Puckett (865) 712-0726
Thanks to our local sponsors for making this class possible!
Don’t miss the first class of 2017!
Special introductory pricing to attend this interactive training class
Registration: $199 for members , $225 non-members
COMMAND SYMPOSIUM 2017: The Basics of Incident Command by Chief Bruno & Friends
Who Should Attend: Fire Command Officers, Company Officers, and Firefighters that have Incident Command decision-making responsibilities.
This is a 16 hour course that will provide the attendees with several new leading edge must know command lectures, case study and scenarios, from one of the American leading ICS pioneers, Alan Brunacini. Topics include critical decision making under stress; improving hazard zone communications and a review of several pivotal case studies.
Incident Command essentials include: Functions of Command; Case Studies; Managing Large Events… learn this and so much more
Chief Alan Brunacini
Chief Brunacini is one of the most highly respected figures in the fire industry. He has served as fire chief of the Phoenix Fire Department and as the Chairman of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 Technical Committee for Fire Service Organization and Deployment Projects. He was the first active fire service member to hold the position of chairman of the Board of Directors of the NFPA. His impact on the fire industry is widespread. Brunacini has authored or co-authored a total of nine books and has been referred to as “The Godfather” of Fire Service by those who he has mentored.
After serving as a firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief at the Phoenix Fire Department, Brunacini was named chief in 1978 after more than 20 years in the fire industry. Brunacini is a graduate of the Fire Protection Technology program at Oklahoma State University and a graduate of Arizona State University where he earned a degree in political science. He completed the Urban Executives Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a master’s in public administration from Arizona State University.
Chief Brunacini has authored Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service, Fire Command, Timeless Tactical Truths, and Command Safety.”
Chief Dennis Rubin
Dennis L. Rubin was first appointed as a Fire Chief in December of 1996. Chief Rubin’s experience spans more than 35 years. He has served as a line firefighter, company officer, command officer, and chief of the department in several major U. S. Cities.
In 1994, Rubin was the President of the State Fire Chiefs Association of Virginia. Chief Rubin hosted the 1999 Southeastern Fire Chiefs Association Conference held in Dothan, Alabama. He was appointed to several committees with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, including a two-year term as theSafety Committee and Program Committee Chair. Rubin is the Ad Hoc Chair for the Wingspread VI Conference.
Chief Rubin’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Administration from the University of Maryland and Associates in Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Management from the Northern Virginia Community College. Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) and the Naval Post Graduate School’s Executive Leadership Course in Homeland Security. Rubin is a certified emergency manager (CEM); and a certified incident safety officer as well has obtained the Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD) and Chief Medical Officer Designation (CMOD) bestowed by the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
Rubin’s teaching credentials are significant. Rubin is an adjunct faculty member with several state fire-rescue training agencies and at the National Fire Academy. Rubin is a popular lecturer at local, state, national and international venues. Rubin has been a member of seven National Fire Academy course development teams. Included among the development teams that Rubin has served on are: Incident Command, Infection Control for the Fire Service, and Tactical Operations
Chief Bobby Halton
Chief Cecil B. Clay (ret)
Chief Cecil Clay served 28 years on the Oklahoma City Fire Department, and retired as the Deputy Fire Chief of Operation.
Chief Clay holds a B.S. in Fire Science and A.A.S. in Municipal Fire Protection. He worked his way through the ranks in the Operational Services Division, Suppression.
Chief Clay serves as a Commissioner on the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal Commission.
Captain Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson began in the fire service in 1998 and has been employed with Travis Co. ESD#2- Pflugerville Fire Dept since 2000. Michael currently holds the rank of Captain assigned as a Training Officer. As a fire service instructor, he specializes in Incident Command, hazardous materials, and driver operator classes. Michael has an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology and holds Instructor III and Fire Officer IV certifications.
Michael currently serves as the Western Advocate Manager for the NFFF EGH program managing the Advocate and training programs of the NFFF for FEMA regions 6 -10.
Michael currently resides in Hutto Texas, outside of Austin. He and his wife Gena have two children, Jocelyn (9) and Luke (5). Michael continues hard work to have a lasting impact on firefighter safety and the reduction of line of duty deaths and injuries.
Chief Nick Perkins
Nick Perkins is an 18 year veteran of the fire service beginning his fire service career as a volunteer fire fighter in the San Antonio area at age 18. He began his professional career with Travis County ESD#2, Pflugerville Fire Department and progressively rose through the ranks to his current position as a Battalion Chief supervising the Training and Safety Division. He serves as National Fallen Fire Fighter Foundation Advocate in Texas. Additionally, he works part time as a Lead Instructor for the LBJ Fire Academy, and an assistant instructor with Texas Rope Rescue. He holds a bachelors degree in occupational education, and an associate’s degree in fire protection technology. He hold certifications as a master fire fighter, master instructor III, and fire officer III/IV from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. He served for seven years as a Staff Sergeant and a medic in the Texas State Guard.
ATTN: EXHIBITORS OR SPONSORS:
PLEASE COMPLETE THE CONTACT FORM BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION
OR REGISTER ELECTRONICALLY >>>Vendor Registration
2017 Executive Leadership Conference
October 5-7 Houston Clear Lake
For Discounted Online Reservations www.hilton.com/group/iafcswgrp
Special group rate: $109/night
Save the Date!!
This exclusive 2-day training symposium led by
Chief Alan Brunacini known as the Godfather of the American Fire Service
February 9 & 10, 2017
Chemical Safety Board to Convene September 28, 2016 Public Meeting in Charleston, WV to Release Final Report and Safety Recommendations Resulting from Freedom Industries Investigation
Washington, DC, September, 15, 2016 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will convene a public meeting on, September 28, 2016, at 6:00 pm EDT at the Four Points by Sheraton located in Charleston, WV, to release its final report and safety recommendations into the January 9, 2014, chemical storage tank leak that contaminated the drinking water of up to 300,000 residents of nine West Virginia Counties.
At the meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from the investigative staff on their draft investigation report and related safety recommendations. The Board will also hear comments from the community. At the conclusion of the staff presentation, the Board may vote on the final report.
Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Protecting people and the environment is the cornerstone of our mission. The CSB is focused on the completion of the investigation into this incident which affected hundreds of thousands of residents in West Virginia. By sharing the lessons learned from the Freedom Industries investigations, we will raise communities’ awareness about the possible impact of a similar event. The Board looks forward to sharing its findings and hearing from the public.”
The meeting is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but to assure adequate seating attendees are strongly encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting will also be webcast live and free of charge. Details about the webcast will be available at www.csb.govcloser to the time of the meeting.
The CSB is an independent Federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s Board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA and others. Please visit our website, www.csb.gov.
For more information, please contact the CSB’s Office of Public Affairs at email@example.com.
Earlier this year, International Code Council (ICC) members voted down a proposal to place the requirement to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes into the annex of the 2018 edition of ICC’s International Residential Code (IRC). However, public comments on this proposal have been submitted and will be heard at ICC public comment hearings in October. ICC’s governmental voting members will get the chance to vote on keeping this requirement intact.
What’s at Stake?
The future of home fire safety in America hinges on winning this vote. Home fire sprinklers represent our best chance of striking at the heart of America’s fire problem, since they reduce the risk of dying in home fires by an astounding 80 percent. Sprinkler requirements have made it into the 2009, 2012, and 2015 editions of the IRC. Placing this requirement into the code’s annex—thereby making it an option for states and local municipalities—would be a huge setback for home fire safety.
Take Action Today
ICC primary representatives must validate their governmental member voting representatives by Sept. 19to vote at the 2016 Annual Business Meeting public comment hearings, or the online governmental consensus vote that follows the hearings. The electronic voter validation site will remain open through Sept. 19. Please make sure your state’s governmental voting representatives are validated by this crucial date and vote in support of safer homes.
Please contact NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative team with any questions.