01/04/13 152 W - + 4 - 2 Year in the Life of a Highland Park Helmet Cam

Found via Statter911 via Huffington Post, here's a Friday morning video treat. This is an eight-minute compilation of helmet cam clips from Highland Park (MI) firefighter Scott Ziegler (who posts his clips to YouTube as HPZ1542). They show the dramatic reality of a year in the life in their shots. Highland Park is located within the city limits of Detroit. It's a three-square mile city with a population of about 12,000 people. In recent years (decades?) it's experienced severe economic difficulties, as well as growing fire problem. The city's fire department has also been impacted by budget cuts over the years. Among the fires seen in the video is the burning of their former headquarters fire station. See that structure and other historic Highland Park fire stations in photos of mine. (Here's a tour of Detroit's historic firehouses.) Enjoy the virtual ride-along.

Warning to Safety Officers: you may sh*t yourself after seeing this video. Advice to probies- watch this with a seasoned member. Mute Eminem and listen to that seasoned member’s advice it will probably save your life. I know the Detroit brothers and sisters are going through some tough times, and God bless’em; but Holy Complacency Batman!
J.Boggs (Email) - 01/07/13 - 23:14

I’m not sure I really see the issue the Mr J Boggs. There was no overly aggressive interior fire attack. It appears most everything was defensive. Risk a lot to save a lot risk a little to save a little. Abandoned structures, no victims, looked pretty straight forward, defensive and safe? At what point should I be Sh*itting myself? And as Mr Legeros said, haven’t heard of any LODD’s out of these parts and they see more fire in a day then we do in a year.
J Brantley - 01/08/13 - 23:27

We should look at the LODD and injury perspective from a forecasting perspective rather than an immediate effect. One example; repeated mild/moderate SCBA use = serious long term health issues. As we all mature in the fire service, we should “look ahead” more often.
A.C. Rich - 01/09/13 - 08:39

For starters, as A.C. points out, the lack of SCBA use in many of their fires. Are we allowed to call ourselves experienced professionals if we are apathetic to our training, and what long term effects we may endure from lack of SCBA use? Go ahead, tell me its a small fire, and I’ll ask you if you know exactly whats burning and what you’re sniffing. Your "occupational exposure" begins the moment you enter that house with light smoke showing, and continues as you pass through rooms 1 and 2, then down the hall, and when you reach the source of the light smoke and find something "SCBA" worthy- well sir it’s to late by then.
Secondly, go back and count how many times the firefighters exited the rig while it was STILL MOVING- which means they werent wearing seat belts. I know a few locally who can attest to the importance of seat belt use, dont believe me, ask them. This video provides a view of only a few minutes of what they are so proud of doing all year. Yes, thank God they didnt have any LODDs, but other departments across this nation DID, and their firefighters are sitting at the station, watching this video and many others like it on You Tube. The message they are getting is "this is how the bad ass big city guys do it", and they emulate that behavior. I’m not criticizing their tactics, yall can do that. I’m criticizing their lack of simple safe behaviors that DO make a difference. Still dont see the issue? Culture change people.
J.Boggs - 01/09/13 - 17:25

There are several issues that should be discussed regarding this video. Beyond you hurting yourself by not wearing your SCBA, dangerous driving habits affect others. In the first 45 seconds of this video, the responding apparatus blows a stop sign and red light. The video goes on to pause the music so people can cuss about things. I am not saying that saying a few bad words is a problem (for those that know me). Putting a video of the cussing and dangerous driving on YouTube is absolutely a poor choice. In an area of the country that has already experienced extreme fire service cuts, do you want to be providing negative PR for your department? Bad driving not only endangers the people that we are supposed to protect, but is one of the most visible parts of what we do. While responding, we are making lots of noise and calling attention to ourselves; all eyes are on you. Do you want to be perceived as dangerous or as being mindful of the public’s safety? Most of our public will never directly benefit from our services; all they see is us responding to a call or walking around the grocery store. Make your impression a positive one.

This should have been stopped at the company level. The person in the front right seat should have control over the driving; if you ignore it, then you have condoned it. The video recording of calls and pictures being taken is nothing new. As with any press release (because that is what you have done), it should be released with department approval.

I agree that these guys run more fires than anyone who is going to comment on this post from our area. Volume, however, is not a reason for complacency or dangerous acts.
Bob P. - 01/10/13 - 10:59

I think that the rush is always there, especially in those departments where fires are a rarity. The rush must be tempered with restraint, and I feel that is acquired over the years. Hence, the officer must restrain his/ her people from making mistakes due to being in too much of a hurry in respect to driving.

In respect to fireground operations, your movements should be with haste; not hurried, but purposeful haste. I can’t stand watching videos of companies that lollygag around while work needs to be done. This haste also needs to be tempered; you can’t let the rush overtake your need for a walk-around size-up.

In respect to whether it becomes safer the more you drive to fires, I will answer a resounding “no.” You should always practice safe driving habits. Try to plan for the vehicles in front of you to be not paying attention due sensory distraction. Anticipate that those vehicles will not only not see you until the last moment, but that they will then do the least intelligent thing a human could ever conceive. Always have an “out” and don’t plow through traffic with nowhere to go but through that minivan full of kids in case traffic doesn’t comply with your request to advance. If you hit someone in an intersection, you do a lot less damage after accelerating from a stop than if you blow it at 20 mph. I would rather answer (in court) that we came to a complete stop and that we ensured the way was clear before we entered an intersection against a red signal. Due regard means stop, not “I looked” and we breezed through it.

I personally have been in an apparatus accident. We were complying with all traffic laws and were on our side of the double yellow. We were actually going 10 mph below the posted speed limit due to traffic conditions. The other guy hit us. We pushed him 50 feet down the road while I watched him bounce around the cab of his truck with no seatbelt to restrain him. I thought he had been killed. The man survived, thankfully for my Engineer’s sake. Even though it wasn’t our fault, I don’t think you want that “on you” for life.

Mike, other than helping people, the rush is the main reason why we are all here.
Bob P. - 01/10/13 - 13:19

Research data is already present regarding the long term effects of smoke and particulate exposure. Most of the data is only recently coming to light (over the past 5-10 years), mainly resulting from the FDNY 9/11 responder illnesses and the prevalence of specific cancers in “modern firefighters.” To answer you initial question, as with any dose/route/duration/response relationship, the effects of exposure on firefighters will vary from individual to individual; and from fire to fire. ...AND it will occur over a career.

We simply need to wear our SCBA when there is smoke or particulates present and wash all of our gear after a fire. It’s just that simple. Here is a link to some inclusive information from the IAFF: http://www.iaff.org/hs/Respiratory/Respi..
A.C. Rich - 01/11/13 - 00:33

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