08/08/08 104 W - + 8 - 11 State Issues Fines After Salisbury Millwork Fire

Turning to serious matters, the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the state Department of Labor fined Salisbury and Locke Towneship fire departments this week, after investigating the fatal Salisbury Millwork fire on March 7. Salisbury firefighters Justin Monroe and Victor Isler were killed. Though the story was well-covered, from FireNews to Firehouse to Statter911, discussion on the topic has been harder to track down. Firegeezer has offered some preliminary thoughts. Readers of the Salisbury Post have generated a couple dozen comments, as did a handful of WRAL readers. What are your reactions to the labor department's actions?

Interesting comments…

Anytime a firefighter is killed (or an LEO or paramedic/EMT) people want to know why. The families want to know why Hopefully the departments/agencies want to know why.

We hope that is is something that happened that was unavoidable. That it is something that we could not have forseen. We hope that we have covered all of the bases. Or maybe that not all of the bases had to be covered.
We hope that our situation is different from what existed in such places as Worchester, Patterson, Charleston, or Kingman. Or even closer to home in Salisbury or Goldsboro or Shelby.

These reports and findings are news so they will be covered. Partly becasue they satisify society’s insatiable appetite for ‘blame’. Things don’t just happen, we need to blame someone. Of course, when the fingers are pointed at you (or your department), the natural tendencies include ‘circling the wagons’.

And usually, when all is said and done, although so few are killed in the LOD each year in non-helath related situations, it is the same old stuff everytime-


Is it that we are not learning? Or do we think that “our situation is different” and those terrible things that happen “every where else” will not happen here?

Or can it really be just summed up as “Crap happens”?
DJ (Email) - 08/09/08 - 13:41

Happy B-day DJ (50 !!). ...and well put. To add…We all know that we’re in a dangerous profession and that Pandora’s box is opened when something goes wrong. In reality, it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” before we see another local responder tragedy is upon us.

So, here’s some simple advice to reduce the investigative issues that occur “post event.” Review your procedures, and if you’re unsure as to their proper application or effectiveness, ask for help. NCOSHA, OSFM, and even your insurance carrier have capabilities to provide guidance with your procedural development. Just ask. A LODD within itself is stress enough, so we definitely don’t need the added problems associated with the ensuing investigations.

Make sure you’re covered: Training, Supervision (actual and/or procedural), and Equipment are the main areas where deficiencies equal liability.

Everyone be safe and remember that “we did not start the fire…”
A.Rich - 08/09/08 - 23:14

Thanks, AC.
DJ (Email) - 08/10/08 - 12:12

This is not meant as a hit to any body. WHY DO REGULAR LICENSE CHECKS?
A Japanese firefighter who has driven fire apparatus and ambulances hundreds of times over 20 years was sacked after it was discovered that he never had a driverís licence.The manís family was in on his “secret” and would drive him each day to and from the firehouse, from where he would get behind the wheel of fire apparatus and ambulances. But the firefighter in Takaoka (NW of Tokyo) was busted last week after he hesitated to show his licence during a routine (?) FD inspection.
ďAn inspector thought he was looking awkward and yanked the driverís licence from his hand and discovered it was his fatherís,Ē said a FD Official.
The Firefighter, who is in his 40’s, was a FF for some 20 years…during the five years to this March, for which records were available, he drove ambulances 309 times and fire trucks 97 time.
The city ALSO cut the salaries of the Chief of Department, his Deputy Chief and other senior officials by 1/10th for one month as punishment….the FD only began monthly licence inspections in November.

What would happen here if this starting happening to command staff for not doing there job?
Adam Brown - 08/10/08 - 13:49

They would never cut a chief’s salary here, especially in NC, as punishment….but I agree with the strategy. I know quite a few chiefs, here in this county ALONE that could use this kind of discipline-if not a permanent salary cut. They are much stricter over there, but have higher respect and discipline values too.

Capt. Rich is exactly right, we didnt start the fire, and it IS only a matter of time. Unfortunatley it wont be long before the “antics” that some departments call fireground operations bite them in the tail. Just go look on youtube (why they post video of themselves being stupid and show it off lkike a bravery medal is beyond me…) I was in a class somewhere and this Chief was telling us how to avoid labor and OSHA penalties. He said if you do these four things, you could rest with a clean(er) conscious if the unthinkable ever did happen:
1)Give your people the tools they need to do their job
2)Train your people, consistently and properly
4)NEVER order an unsafe act.

You have 2 eyes, 2 ears, and one mouth. Thats a 4:1 ratio on what you should be taking in on the fireground versus spitting out. Communication is a must, but thinking before you act and before you order is the real issue.
J.Boggs (Email) - 08/10/08 - 14:30

You know, the Takaoka incident reminds me of my military time. Eseentially “he who is in charge is responsible” rules. If one of my soldiers did something that was ‘less than stellar’, there were consequences for him of course. But there were also consequences for me, since I should have been on top of things and taught him/her better.

Maybe if we held those in charge responsible…then maybe we would not see the same old things over and over and over again.
DJ - 08/12/08 - 09:11

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