Editor’s Opinion Chris Mc Loone
Let’s Get to Work
FDIC International 2019 has come and gone. By all accounts, it was another successful show. Attendance was more than 35,000, and the aisles were clogged—literally.
It was a little tough getting from point A to point B on many occasions. As always, there was a lot to see, and it might just be that folks were taking a little more time to really take a hard look at whatever was grabbing their interest.
As has become customary, our June issue devotes a good deal of space to our FDIC International Wrap-Up where our Editorial Advisory Board members cover what struck them at the show based on their focus areas. Last month, I mentioned that the “Clean Cab Concept” probably would be a big part of the show, as well as other products developed to reduce our exposure to contaminants, and that prediction was accurate, although it did not take a rocket scientist to see that coming. These products will continue to roll out, and manufacturers will continue to devise solutions to the problems we uncover.
Our wrap-up issue also features new products introduced at the show, which you’ll find more information on in our product news section.
Now, with the frenzy leading up to the show behind us, it’s time to get back to business as usual. A top priority now should be revisiting our guidelines for operating on highways to ensure our firefighters can concentrate on their tasks at hand without worrying about getting mowed down. It seems Texas departments are being very proactive when it comes to repurposing rigs as blocking trucks. Dallas (TX) Fire Rescue has just rolled out a pilot program for taking retired rigs and repurposing them as blocker trucks, a similar program having been started in Irving, Texas, in 2017. The Dallas program started at the beginning of April.
Working highway incidents is getting a lot of much-deserved attention. The fire service is looking at many different ways to help keep responding firefighters safe and protect the millions of dollars’ worth of equipment staging on the roadway. Chevron striping, brighter lights, arrow sticks, smartphone app integration—you name it. We’ve tried it. In some places they work, in others they don’t. What’s the solution? It seems we are at the point where we’ve done practically everything we can, and it’s up to the drivers we share the roads with to start paying attention. And for that, it looks like it will come back to us to educate our customers about sharing the road. Add that to your Fire Prevention Week messaging, or your newsletters, and don’t forget your social media messaging. Many departments are already doing it, but there are many more that need to start.
A sobering moment at FDIC International 2019 came when it was time to present the widow of Lieutenant Bradford T. Clark of Hanover County (VA) Fire-EMS with the 2019 Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award. Clark was killed in the line of duty when he was operating at a highway incident. The rig he arrived on scene in was hit by a tractor trailer. The impact of the collision drove the engine over the top of Clark, pinning him underneath the fire apparatus. His warning yell saved members of his crew.
I think we owe it to the memory of Lieutenant Clark to make a concerted effort at our department levels to look at our response guidelines to highway incidents. Review them constantly to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our firefighters operating on roadways. It doesn’t always have to be a highway where drivers are distracted. It could be on a side street in suburbia, a main thoroughfare in a city, or a country road. It doesn’t have to be a tractor trailer involved in the accident. If you need more resources to start blocking traffic farther down the road, then build them into your response. Insist that the road be shut down. Mr. Smith can wait a few more minutes to get his gallon of milk, and Mrs. Dolan can be a few minutes late to work. Nothing will be perfect, but we owe it to our personnel and the communities we serve.