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March 12, 2003

Sit down shut up, buckle in and hold on!
Chief Billy Goldfeder
WithTheCommand.Com
WE FROZE IN DISBELIEF. As the apparatus sped by, we saw a firefighter standing up-facing forward (open jump seat rig), hanging over the sides and looking over the roof, no gear, no helmet...enjoy'n the ride. Yee haa. We felt like we had gone "back in time"....

Before we go any further, it looks like the Fire Service has been able to hold onto it's FIRE ACT GRANT 2003 funding for now. On the other hand, if you don't think some of YOUR "Federally Funded Friends" aren't STILL after that money like a Jenny Craig dropout attacking the Happy China Village Restaurant's All-You-Can-Eat $6.95 Buffet......then ya need to wake up. Stay on your reps from Congress and Senate, make sure that your FIRE related Associations are ALL OVER THIS and get them to commit to our continued funding and FIRE visibility at the FEDERAL level-loud and clear.

We were driving back from Atlanta a few weeks ago and stopped in Chattanooga, Tennessee for lunch. As we got out of the car, we heard our LOVE CALL. The sound of a Federal Q2B siren with a wonderfully abusive over use of their Grover Stuttertone Air Horns that were "calling us" as they rolled down the block. So, like we are REQUIRED to do, we stopped and watched the apparatus go speeding by.

THEN WE FROZE IN DISBELIEF. As the apparatus sped by, we saw a firefighter standing up-facing forward (open jump seat rig), hanging over the sides and looking over the roof, no gear, no helmet...enjoy'n the ride. Yee haa. We felt like we had gone "back in time"....

This is the kind of stuff that makes us nuts. Unless newspapers, television, fire magazines and Internet haven't yet made it to that area of the country, something is wrong. Now, don't get us wrong...-for years we did the same thing.... But then one day, some slick attorney in BOSTON took a law suit in which a firefighter was seriously injured and disabled because he fell out of the apparatus, riding in the same manner. That law suit put an apparatus manufacturer out of business. Yeah-they got blamed.

And then, much like everything else that occurs in our business, the lawsuit (vs. common sense) created the need for change. And so, after nearly 100 years of firefighters falling off apparatus, we figured we probably oughta tell'm (thru an NFPA standard) to sit down and put on a seat belt. OK, OK...I know, as a friend recently said "Garbage collectors "get" to ride on the outside and aren't belted in"...yeah-they are driving at 3 mph. We drive a lil' faster....and are allegedly a lil' smarter.

RECENTLY a firefighter in San Francisco was killed when she fell out of her apparatus. Now, the article we read stated "out of respect for the family, the actual cause of her death will not be made public"....We may be missing something but it doesn't take genius to figure out that she PROBABLY didn't have her seat belt on while riding in a side-open cab rig....and she fell out..

Predictable? Preventable? Without a doubt. A tragic loss of a much beloved veteran seasoned firefighter. As we were absolutely saddened by her loss, as we are anytime one of our Sisters or Brothers lose their life-we get even sadder when it is pretty avoidable. We get even more annoyed when a FD doesn't go out of their way to share the information in order for others to "get it"....

Who knows...maybe our "In The Wind Brother" in Chattanooga might have read the article and sat down to think about it for a while. Even better, maybe the Chattanooga and the SF "officers" riding in the front seat would consider making sure that their crew is safe....even before arriving.

QUESTION:
What's one of the best assurances that "everyone goes home" ?
ANSWER: A good, disciplined and trained Company Officer..
Got One?