By Captain John Ryan The problem of using fire and police on the ?fire ground? has been a topic of discussion for several years. I think the main problem is the lack of understanding between the two different agencies. It is my understanding that police feel they are the protectors of the public and must be the main rescuers. Part of this is very true. The primary job of both our professions is to protect and serve the public. Each of us must keep in mind that we have our limitations and skills that could complement each other. For the fire services to even assume to take the role of enforcement of the various laws that govern our actions, such as the traffic control and crowd control, would be an undertaking that would require a great amount of our time. This would prevent the fire services from being available when needed.
There are several ways police can contribute great assistance to the fire department when arriving on a fire scene by: *letting the fire officer know if everyone is out of the house *locating the nearest hydrant *maintaining crowd control *getting the vehicles moved that are parked in the way of getting the fire trucks placed in the proper areas *keeping an eye on any suspicious people that are seen at a fire ground.
Police officers need to realize that the bullet proof vest is just that and not fire proof. Police also need to understand that the new materials that are being used in today?s furniture give off a deadly gas that must be protected against by the use of SCBA?s. If a police officer goes into a house to try to rescue the occupant and is overcome by fumes and smoke, that officer has become an addition to our problem of locating and rescuing victims. Most police officers do not realize the short time for a flash-over to occur with the new materials used in today?s furnishings. The amount of training required by both the police and fire services is too great for anyone to be proficient at either if they try to do both. The training for the fire services, just to get the basics, is at least 160 hours long. This by no means is the end of training, and it does not account for the experience that is needed to do the job properly. I have not had a police academy course, but I?m sure that it is just as intensive and encompassing as the fire training. I am a firm believer that no matter how much training you get, there is always room for more education and a continuing program to keep up to date with the new ways of doing the job. The number one priority is and always will be the good of the public.