Lessons learned from Ga. truck fire video

It's important to learn from our own responses and those performed by others in our service

By Chief Adam K. Thiel
FireRescue1 Editorial Advisor

I guess I can't help but join the lively debate about the video showing a truck fire in Bainbridge, Georgia, which was highlighted on FireRescue1 this week.

You can view the video here.

First, we all need to remember that it's relatively easy to second-guess decisions from the safety provided by time and distance from a scene.

I doubt any of us can say we've never made a mistake or took a safety shortcut; I know I've done it.

Still, it's important to learn from our own responses and those performed by others in our service.

So, let's set our feelings and emotions aside for a moment and consider what we know about this incident:

  • It's a truck fire;
  • Nobody is inside the truck; and
  • There are no exposures threatened.

From a risk-benefit standpoint, no matter who's fighting this fire (or where), what's the point? What are we trying to save by risking the lives of our responders?

Let's say, hypothetically, that everyone on a hose line was wearing full personal protective equipment and SCBA; they would still be exposed to the traffic hazards that kill and injure many firefighters and law enforcement officers every year.

Maybe, just maybe, we all need to rethink how we do business when the only lives at stake are those of our fellow first responders.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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