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Editor's Note
by Rick Markley, editor-in-chief

A good list: What police can and can't do at a fire

It is critical for everybody's safety that we get police on board with how to act when first on scene

By Rick Markley, FR1 Editor-in-chief

This past weekend Chief Billy Goldfeder sent out a list of do's and don'ts for police officers who are first-arriving on a structure fire. It is something all police departments need to adopt.

New York City and now Cincinnati have operating procedures for what police can and cannot do when they arrive before firefighters at a structure fire. As you recall, the New York procedure review came in the wake of one of their officers dying trying to rescue residents in an apartment fire.

This is long overdue and a shame that it takes a tragedy to bring about needed change. But, what's passed is past, and we can only control what we do from here on out.

The list is in no way a knock on police officers' courage. There have been many times police have made civilian saves at great risk to themselves. There are many other instances where police involvement has made the situation worse — worse for firefighters, police and civilians.

As Chief Goldfeder wrote: "This issue isn't them 'getting in the way' — the issue is, in so many cases, the lack of understanding of the conditions they are placing themselves in. While the intent is admirable, the goal is to help people with a problem — while not becoming part of the problem."

Many of us have hazmat awareness-level certification. The aim of that training is to teach those firefighters who are first on scene at a hazmat incident to keep out of harm's way and relay critical information to those who have the equipment, training and experience to deal with the situation.

The do's and don'ts do a very good job of laying out what police should do when they arrive on scene, especially when they choose to attempt a rescue. The list essentially does the work for fire and police departments everywhere.

The heavy lifting will come from acceptance and implementation. Yet, this must happen. Keeping egos and turf battles in check will go a long way to getting safer procedures put in play.

As with hazmat awareness-level training, having police understand how to keep themselves out of harm's way is not only good for them, but for the firefighters about to arrive on scene.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Dusty Gay Dusty Gay Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:16:08 PM Soooo, where is the list? I hope it is to help keep everybody safe, and tell them where not to park.
Shawn Engelman Shawn Engelman Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:19:18 PM Click the link in the first sentence to see the list...
Benny Authement Benny Authement Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:20:47 PM Dusty, the link is at the top of the article
Katie Moon Katie Moon Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:26:17 PM Great list. Needs to be widely distributed.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:27:16 PM Maybe rather than prohibiting cops doing rescues they get proper training & equipment? Maost have the firepower to handle bank robbers or hostage situations but they don't have turnout gear, SCBA, & the skill set to enter a building. Many PDs are moving towards an SUV fleet. this provides more space for rescue gear. A cop should have the bare basic training & gear to enter a burning building till th4e FD gets there then go back to being a cop.
Dusty Gay Dusty Gay Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:35:50 PM It worked the third time. Thanks.
Dusty Gay Dusty Gay Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:38:23 PM Does the inverse hold true for FD and EMS?
Robert Fikac Robert Fikac Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:41:44 PM I don't see a necessity to respond unless FD requests us for crowd / traffic control.
Jeff Stone Jeff Stone Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:50:05 PM There is a rule called "2 in - 2 out"...... its an OSHA / NFPA Standard for a reason...... As a former police officer, and now professional firefighter, we don't do ANYTHING as a solo cowboy.... that's how people get hurt or die. Try taking a look at the NIST studies on Fire Behavior....... there is a reason we are changing up how we fight fires....... SCIENCE..... FIRES BURN FASTER, HOTTER, and DEADLIER. Lets think about risk management here....... as Gordy Graham says...... "SLOW DOWN.......... SLOOOOOOWWWW DOOOOWWWWNNNN"
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:52:17 PM Dusty Gay I'm sure there are LOTS of times FFs wished that could place someone under arrest Like for example Drunk Drivers. Maybe some LE training would benefit the FFs as well?
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:57:58 PM Jeff Stone Many Departments don't have two officer cars They don't here in KCMO. Time is of the essence & waiting is not always an option.. there was a situation last year where cops had to arrest a father as his kids burned alive in their house. Maybe had those cops have had the training & equipment to effect a rescue they MAY have saved those kids. The cop could act as a fifth FF for a VFD & free them up to fight the fire.
Jeff Stone Jeff Stone Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:59:56 PM Sorry, not buying Kevin...... using your theory, maybe we should arm all firefighters with a sidearm and handcuffs so they can back up the cops when they are short handed.
Brian Bell Brian Bell Saturday, June 07, 2014 1:47:42 PM Make room for the big red truck.
Taylor Leturgey Taylor Leturgey Saturday, June 07, 2014 1:53:19 PM Lets just give Fire Fighters Guns, Tasers, and Handcuffs... Same with EMS, if a Patient isn't cooperating, why not just taze them? Lets just give the cops ALL of our jobs, let them just drive engines around.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:02:03 PM Jeff Stone I'm sure you have encountered situations where someone was out of control & you wished you had a pair of handcuffs to detain someone. why not have cuffs to detain someone till Law enforcement can take over ? Same in reverse When you was a cop would you rather sit around waiting for them to come as you heart a child screaming for help in a burning bulding knowing you don't have the training or equipment to rescue them. The situation that killed these two NYPD officers is they went into a building & was overcome by the carbon monoxide. had they had been able to gear up Everyone would have gotten out alive... That IS the point everyone going home at the end of shift?
Taylor Leturgey Taylor Leturgey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:10:30 PM Kevin Casey So we should pay our officers to go through their State's Fire Fighter 1 and Fire Fighter 2 so they can save the lives of maybe 1 life in their police career geared up? By the time the cop gets out, positions his car properly, gets our, gets his gear out, puts it on, and gets to the front door you're looking at 5-7 minutes since dispatch. By that time the Fire Department is rolling on scene. People are going to die in fires Kevin, and more LODD will occur if we give cops the ability to go interior without a hose-line and by themselves. It is EXTREMELY easy to get turned around in 0 visibility. The NFPA states that there needs to be 2 fire fighters out side, and 2 fire fighters inside. You need 4 fire fighters to go into a burning building. 1 cop is not going to be able to save a life. often 2 fire fighters are needed to save a life from a burning building. Try pulling a 200lb person out of a house you've never been in before, by yourself, with 0 visibility and no reference of how to get out. You can't.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:12:33 PM Taylor Leturgey NOT what I'm saying. I'm saying there is situations that my require you to detain someone out of control to prevent them from harming a victim Themselves or you. I'm not saying arm FF or let cops drive around ion Apparatus. The situation listed here was two cops ran into a building & overcome with Carbon Monoxide. One died the other barely survived. Had they have had the basic training to perform a rescue safely & had the gear to enter such a situation everyone would have gone home at the end of the day. Maybe you have not had to deal with someone trying to kick the crap out of a victim or a parent willing to kick your ass to go back into a burning building.
Taylor Leturgey Taylor Leturgey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:19:16 PM Kevin Casey And obviously you've never been in a burning building. There is no reason a cop shouldn't be at a structure fire, Because he needs to control residents and traffic as-well as the possible investigation that the Fire Marshall takes if he is called. Cops would need to go through a minimum of 180 hours of Fire Fighting courses to be allowed to go interior in any state. That costs money. Guess how much an SCBA costs? Minimum of 5,000$ Dollars for everything you need to start off with, EACH. How about Structural Fire Fighting Gear? Another $5,000 EACH. you're looking at $10,000 dollars to equip 1 Officer with gear to go into maybe 1 house, to save 1 life in his police career. Need to be more realistic here kevin. Allot more realistic. What if the cop is inside when the FD shows up and there are people trying to attack the FF's that are going in, while there is a perfectly good officer inside? Police are here for LAW ENFORCEMENT. The Fire Department are here for RESCUE AND FIRES. theres a reason we have jobs...
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:19:58 PM Sometimes law enforcement stumble upon the scene as had happened several times here. You may serve in an area dependent on VFDs so response time is going to be very slow & being able to advise incoming Fire or do a rescue may happen at some point Having the training & equipment to do that rescue will save your life & the victims life.
Jeff Stone Jeff Stone Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:23:32 PM Sorry Kevin, but you clearly have no idea what you are talking about, nor any understanding of the Bill of Rights. There is a well established precedence for false arrest and imprisonment. As a police officer, I knew my role, and would gather information for the appropriately trained and equipped firefighters. The 2 NYPD officers were not merely overcome by CO...... they were overcome by the products of combustion which limited their visibility, caused them to become disoriented, and immediately disabled them. Your insinuation of screaming children and EMS workers handcuffing people without police presence are completely far fetched. Have you actually listened to the Radio transmissions for the NYPD LODD's? Making a run for the fire floor without full PPE is not a sound decision. Gathering information and relaying it to the properly trained people is.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:34:27 PM Taylor Leturgey This is from another article here:"An off-duty Dallas police officer was first on the scene and says he's upset because of what he saw in the car and because he was one of the only witnesses who tried to save the victims. “That’s when I started asking the gentleman in a white shirt who was standing there amongst the crowd of all these people, ‘Is there any way…does anybody have fire extinguishers? " Had this guy been able to do more than watch helplessly MAYBE the victim could have been rescued. Had any of the witnesses been able to do more than just stand around & film who knows. But hey win some lose some as long ads you get to play hero right?
Taylor Leturgey Taylor Leturgey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:40:11 PM Kevin Casey WHAT COULD HE HAVE DONE MORE!? HE was an OFF-DUTY police officer, in HIS PERSONALLY OWNED CAR, No Equipment, nothing. What was he suppose to do with structural fire fighting gear and an SCBA? Absolutely nothing. He needed a Fire Department Apparatus with water, rescue tools, and gear to have saved those people. Read the entire story before assuming things. I do believe you are just trying to troll us now, because your argument makes 0 sense.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:44:38 PM Jeff Stone start at 1:44 I guess these FFs should have done nothing right? This cop should have done nothing till the fire department go there right?
David Daniels David Daniels Saturday, June 07, 2014 2:48:14 PM Surprisingly a good list, as a cop and a volunteer I'm used to hearing cops say that I can go ahead and do everything on scene, and firefighters telling me to wait the 15 minutes, sometimes longer, it takes them to arrive. Not too restrictive, while still enough to keep cops safer than blindly running into a lost cause.
Kevin Casey Kevin Casey Saturday, June 07, 2014 3:27:41 PM Taylor Leturgey you may find this of interest it covers this very thing. We have Firefighter/Paramedics because of this TV show. Oh a little background before you say it... The Captain was a REAL LACoFD Captain The Driver a Real LACoFD Firefighter, the dispatcher heard was LACoFD Dispatcher Sam Lanier who played himself. "KMG365" is a REAL call sign in use today. Each episode had at min. An LACoFD FF/Paramedic assigned to it. So every action of the day every technical word said WAS 1970's authentic.
Taylor Leturgey Taylor Leturgey Saturday, June 07, 2014 3:38:49 PM Kevin Casey You do realize that Benjamin Franklin started the First Organized Fire Department? That TV show is not the reason we have Fire Fighters and Paramedics, you might find this video interesting for all your arguments:
Jeff Stone Jeff Stone Saturday, June 07, 2014 6:58:27 PM Taylor......... you hit it right on the head........ I'm pretty sure Kevin is the type who thinks Bigfoot still exists.... SMH...
Jon Barlan Jon Barlan Saturday, June 07, 2014 7:24:45 PM 15+ minutes arrival time? Whoa.
Kevin F. Casey Kevin F. Casey Sunday, June 08, 2014 12:22:57 AM @Taylor Leturgey: Lemme guess your a VFF right? the over inflated ego Well kid you are wrong Prior to 1968 there was no such thing as a Paramedic. the rest I take from the Wiki article try reading it or have someone read it to you: While doing background research at Los Angeles' UCLA Harbor Medical Center for a proposed new show about doctors, television producer Robert A. Cinader, working for Jack Webb, happened to encounter "firemen who spoke like doctors and worked with them". This concept developed into the television series Emergency!, which ran from 1972 to 1979, portraying the exploits of this new profession called paramedics. The show gained popularity with emergency services personnel, the medical community, and the general public. When the show first aired in 1972, there were just six paramedic units operating in three pilot programs in the whole of the US, and the term paramedic was essentially unknown. By the time the program ended in 1979, there were paramedics operating in all fifty states. The show's technical advisor, James O. Page, was a pioneer of paramedicine and responsible for the UCLA paramedic program; he would go on to help establish paramedic programs throughout the US, and was the founding publisher of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). clearly KID there are those who do know more than you...
James Sanders Jr. James Sanders Jr. Sunday, June 08, 2014 4:39:00 AM Complete Common sense Approach, long time coming and welcomed!
Wayne E. Hendrix Wayne E. Hendrix Sunday, June 08, 2014 5:31:43 AM The biggest and best thing police can do is to gather intel and feed it to us enroute such as Occupancy and how many times, Gas and electrical service locations, How involved is the structure and type, Exposures, Access info, Hydrant Info, Etc.
Kyle Melkert Kyle Melkert Sunday, June 08, 2014 6:24:03 AM Here is the link to the actual list
Michael Meixner Michael Meixner Sunday, June 08, 2014 7:37:27 AM These are good suggestions for law enforcement officers. If a police officer chooses to go beyond what is suggested in this list, he/she does so at great risk. Many municipalities have tried the idea of PSO, public safety officer, where fire and police are combined and dual trained. As I understand it, this doesn't work well for several reasons, one being, the amount of training to be dual role. Also, most firefighters and police officers are required to complete continuing education requirements just to stay proficient. It seems to work best when police do law enforcement and firefighters do fire and rescue.
Brad Ladislaw Brad Ladislaw Sunday, June 08, 2014 3:56:41 PM Where have you ever been a cop that it takes 15 minutes for firefighters to arrive on scene of a working fire?

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