07/26/10 114 W, 1 I - + 6 - 4 Two Firefighters Killed in Apparatus Accident, Rocky Mount, VA

The Roanoke Times has posted information about a fatal apparatus accident this afternoon in Rocky Mount, VA. Two firefighters-- Fire Chief Posy Dillon and Firefighter William Daniel "Danny" Altice-- were killed when their pumper overturned after being struck by a sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Old Franklin Road and School Board Road. The apparatus was responding to a house fire, when it was struck. It flipped at least three times, and landed on a passenger vehicle. Two civilians were also injured. The two firefighters were the only ones aboard the apparatus. Read the entire story.

Jared Soares, Roanoke Times photo

See VAFireNews for more coverage, http://www.vafirenews.com/
Legeros - 07/26/10 - 21:20

A fire truck gets hit by an SUV and flips 3 times? Something about that doesn’t make sense to me
Paul - 07/27/10 - 09:22

The current news about this is that neither firefighter were wearing their seat belts and were both ejected. Guys put your seat belt on! I know that it is tough if trying to get dressed, so get dressed and then put it on. But there is no reason for the driver of any apparatus to not have on your seat belt
Mike - 07/27/10 - 09:30

A true tragedy. Remember… seatbelts are actually a secondary or supplemental effort to protect us. The impetus for the accident or “negligent act” should be our focus. Although we cannot control the actions of other drivers, we CAN reduce OUR occurrences by slowing down, clearing intersections properly, and driving accordingly. For the fallen, rest in peace. Prayers to their families in this tragic event.
A.C. Rich - 07/27/10 - 13:32

Two brothers in Bridgeport, CT perished at a job as well yesterday. Stories are a little sketchy, but seems they were opening up, checking for extension and then the sh#t hit the fan. Open up early/often guys, we’ve become too worried about destroying evidence for our investigator friends. While it’s important to maintain the scene integrity the best we can, we still have to put the fire out first. DROP THOSE CEILINGS!!

WEAR YOUR DAMN SEATBELTS GUYS!!!! Enough with stacking your gear in the rig when you come on duty. Set it up outside the rig, put it on before loading up, arm in the strap of the SCBA of same shoulder your seatbelt is on, then fasten that thing!! You can don the opposite shoulder strap with your seatbelt ON!!!

Practice, practice, practice….it will become second nature. How many more have to go before we’ll get it through our thick heads?

RIP Brothers….
Silver - 07/27/10 - 14:15

I wish gearing up before boarding the rig was an option where I work. Seatbelts are mandatory, but taking the time to gear up before boarding the rig increases response times, and our turnout/response times are heavily criticized by the command staff, which leads to gearing up while enroute w/o a seatbelt; we are also expected to right to work upon arrival, so gearing up once we get there isn’t an option.

Our command staff will burn people for not being belted in, but will turn around and burn you for increased response times because you geared up prior to responding. Companies are so closely spaced in most of the city that it leads to getting beat in your still area because the other company hit the road and geared up enroute while you at sitting in the house putting your pants/coat on. Donning an SCBA with a seatbelt on is no issue, but trying to don my pants & coat is nearly impossible. Unfortunately, it will take someone getting seriously hurt or killed to change this mentality.
Rides An Engine - 07/27/10 - 16:30

It is amazing how we can see what can prevent injuries and fatalities- buckling up and gearing up before you get on that truck. But like RAE points out, some chiefs (and other officers) don’t get it (rectalvision is sort of limited!). It is a shame in 2010 that I can go around in Wake County, or in just about any other jurisdiction you choose, and see firefighters standing up in the cab of the apparatus gearing up, while that same apparatus is careening (yes- CAREENING!) down the road just as fast as that engineer can make it go. You guys don’t have to ride the back or side step anymore and for the most part, your trucks are designed with safety in mind. Take advantage of the safety features. They’re for YOUR safety.

LISTEN TO SILVER, PEOPLE! WEAR YOUR F***ING SEAT BELTS! I don’t know what happened in Virginia so I will hold off. It will be in a NIOSH report soon enough. But based on what I see just about everyday, it is probably only a matter of time until one of our departments around these parts is the subject of a NIOSH report.

BUCKLE UP! It’s gonna hurt your for a second, but your family from then on, when that fire truck lands on your a**!

SLOW DOWN! It ain’t your fault the world is combustible. It will be there when you get there.

SLOW DOWN AND CLEAR THE INTERSECTION BEFORE YOU GO THROUGH IT! And be paying attention even if you have the green light. Soccer mom in the minivan may be too busy on the phone to pay attention to you.
DJ - 07/27/10 - 17:25

Rides An Engine, what happens to the firefighter that takes a stand, and gears up before getting on the rig? B&ll busting at the company level? Lower performance ratings and reviews from your officer? Actual disciplinary action?

Sounds like a nifty grass-roots safety campaign, though perhaps considered treasonous by those that want to be the fastest and the first arriving.

And that’s the path to aggressive driving…
Legeros - 07/27/10 - 17:40

Donning before responding will get you: All that Mike listed, left at the station, $$ chewing from the Captain for taking so long, story passed around to other stations and blls busted by them. Depending on how big of a stand you take, and the command staff gets wind of it or gets involved can get you denied future promotions (black balled)and further @$$ chewing i.e.: good for wearing your seatbelt, bad for delaying the company’s response.

For being a large, municipal department, we still operate very much on the “Good Old Boy System” or cliques, as well as politics that rival the most dysfunctional volunteer FD.
Rides An Engine - 07/27/10 - 18:14

Lest we forget, wearing your seatbelt does not prevent an act of negligence from occurring (aka what we call an “accident”). Youíve got to drive accordingly. I am glad I am in a position of control at RFD Station #8A and have a great staff that believes in the precepts of common sense. We dress first, regardless. Yep, it’s just that simple! Operators of emergency apparatus should always engage their brains before engaging the transmission.
A.C. Rich - 07/28/10 - 01:31

“Operators of emergency apparatus should always engage their brains before engaging the transmission.”

I like that. Permission to quote on the blog, AC…
DJ - 07/28/10 - 17:02

@Mike RE: “fastest and first arriving.” That is the main problem on why seat belts don’t get worn en route to fire calls. You have to get on the truck ASAP which requires getting dressed en route just so you don’t have to hear “We beat you in!”. I chuckle to myself in disapproval when I hear somebody spout that statement. In fact, I still can’t believe a local fire dept. still has the phrase “We beat you again now lay us a line.” on the back of their shirt! What does that promote?
RescueRanger - 07/28/10 - 19:48

That promotes that they want to be like Kentland and can’t come up with their own slogan
Mike - 07/28/10 - 22:56


@RescueRanger…I think it’s a good idea to set up our regular structural responses like the hi-rise response. If you’re dispatched third, you’re RIT. Dispatched second, laying in. Unless extreme circumstances (train crossing, etc.), this, I think, would help slow EVERYONE down from “racing to the tip”.
Silver - 07/28/10 - 23:21

Silver (or Wayne if your reading), correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t DCFD set up like that? The first due company’s area gets the first due assignment even if the second due arrives first (in the same block, or arriving at a turn at the same time, not where the arrival difference is a few minutes).
Rides An Engine - 07/28/10 - 23:46

Not sure, but I know our hi-rise procedure is set-up this way. You want to reduce the “we gotta beat ‘em” mindset, put this in place.
Silver - 07/29/10 - 01:00

Sure DJ… we are all in this together!!
A.C. Rich - 07/29/10 - 09:57

Thanks, AC. Got a question. Email me.
DJ (Email) - 07/29/10 - 21:25

My two cents worth-an incredible tragedy that needn’t have occurred! Seatbelts-Seatbelts to pile on some more!! AS for our responses and assigned roles: It is impractical to limit each unit to perform only the role designated by response order. AS we all know CAD is not infallible, and is prone to mistakes with respect to response area and times. Companies are not static in location, and different areas and even the time of day may have major impact on the order of arrival. Dumbing down the response process and eliminating company level decision making is not the proper response. A cultural change communicated very clearly and personally from C-1 to every member of the department-and especially the staff positions above us giving complete buy-in – while time consuming is a more reasonable and appropriate approach. I stress the command staff buy in because there seems to be continuing disconnect in that area between the big Chief and the station level-something we are all familiar with. Propagate the message and expect the officers to enforce it-properly! But please get away from the attitude of one size fits all or dumbing down our job processes. (i.e. responses and actions) My 2 cents!
Goose - 07/30/10 - 12:31

Ok brothers i will be short on this, Seat belt saved my life! If you are not wearing your seatbelt and you die in a wreck, you are negeligent! With that said your family looses it’s chance of receiving some of the big death benefit money like the fed which is over 300k. So go ahead and worry about the ribbing from others and the bull crap from the white hats.This mind set is stupid! we are here to the right thing for our citizens, but we choose not to do the right thing by our family! MY family comes first! FTM-PTB GEEZZZZZZZZZZZZ! So go ahead and risk it! Please buckle up and drive smart! To the drivers out there YOUR job is to get your crew to the call and back to the station safe!
Jason Lane - 07/30/10 - 23:28

From 1998 to 2009 62 firefighters have died in the line of duty in our great state! Out of those 18 have been MVA or MVC, out of those only 1 had their seat belt on! Majority of the others were ejected. It only takes about 20 to 40 seconds to get your pants and coat on and get in the rig and buckle up! It takes that long for the bay door to close!
Jason Lane - 07/30/10 - 23:53

You’re my hero Jason!! Everyone… pass the word… We should always “do the right thing” (DTRT). So our new mantra is “FTM-PTB-DTRT”. A chief or any other officer who complains about your time spent to be safe is NOT worthy and is categorically a “MUTT.” Let’s all do our part to change our culture!!!
A.C. Rich - 07/31/10 - 10:41

Why does it take people so long to get dressed before boarding a truck? Is it because we arenít practicing the basics, of doing gear drills every so often? How long does it take to maybe do one gear drill a day, every day weíre at work? If you do one a day that averages out to be about 121 gear drills a year. It also keeps you familiar with your PPE. That stuff shouldnít have been left back at the academy. 120 seconds is the state standard for gear drills correct? I know personally I can have all of my gear on and breathing air in about 90. So letís take the air pack out of the question, we can logically take about 30 seconds off of that. Now weíre down to roughly 60 seconds to done your gear, and thatís everything from your boots to your helmet. But we donít wear our helmets in the rig and we normally donít put on our gloves till we get to the call or when we actually need them. So we can again logically take of roughly 15 more seconds. So now we are down to 45 seconds. Is 45 seconds to long to make the rig wait? I personally donít think so. And if I get left or heckled because I made the rig wait, Iíll heckle them right back for putting my safety in jeopardy. When youíre in your own car its fine if you donít want to wear your seatbelt, but when you put your tail on a department apparatus you better be buckled up. Remember itís not a recommendation; itís the law to wear a seatbelt. Our brothers in blue just look the other way when they see us not wearing it. Some say that is professional courtesy, I say we shouldnít expect that kind of professional courtesy when not wearing a seatbelt. If youíre a company officer and youíre letting your guys get away without wearing a seatbelt then shame on you. Do your job, remember this service is a family, and sometimes families get mad at each other. The company officer is the lead role model (fatherly figure) on the truck. I remember getting mad when my dad told me to do things but oh well I did them anyways because he told me too. I personally would rather have a mad to the tee firefighter at me because I made them wear their seatbelt than a dead firefighter, wouldnít you?
Adam Brown - 07/31/10 - 10:43

@ RAE- Yeah DCFD dispatchers announce the assignments while units are responding to calls. There are several reasons for it, but the main one is safety and accountability for apparatus and personnel.

J. Lane, Chief Rich, and Adam-
100% agree with you all. Lane and Rich, like you both I am a company officer and take the safety of myself and my crew very seriously. We have gotten it pretty much down pat…get in our pants, put our coats/hoods on while walking out the bay/closing the bay door. 30 secs tops. Like Adam said, it takes remembering the basics and training on them. My $.02 worth…too much time and effort is spent on “training” on “advanced” skills, that many people forget the basic skills. It’s the basic skills that are going to give us the best chance to stay alive when we roll out there. It’s great to master the skills that will get you out of trouble, should you get into it, but what about mastering the basic skills (air management, situational awareness, ensuring your PPE is on correctly, proper searches, stretching handlines, fire behavior, fire attack, ventilation) that will more than likely keep you from getting in trouble in the first place. Again, do it for your families and your crew’s families.

Stay safe out there folks
Wayne - 08/01/10 - 17:08

I am in an interesting paradigm – Chief and Captain. Regardless, we are all the same. Leadership knows NO RANK. “DTRT”
A.C. Rich - 08/01/10 - 19:06

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