Fire Service Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1776 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

Fire Service

The Hackensack Fire Department was established in the year 1871, and its origins in fact date back to 1864, when a meeting was held in the city of Hackensack with all the citizens present, in order to find an effective way to deal with the constant fires ravaging the village and surrounding areas. However, when it was discovered that the village commission had no money for the cause, nor could it promise to raise any money, it was decided that the fire committee would raise the money necessary to purchase ladders and buckets needed to fight fires. It was in 1871 that the State legislature commissioned a real Fire Department, and thus was born the City of Hackensack Fire Department. Soon, voluntary fire companies like Bergen Hook and Ladder Company, Relief Hook and Ladder Company, Protection Engine Company, Vigilant Engine Company, and Liberty Hose and Steamer Company were formed. (History of the Hackensack Fire Department)

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In the year 1909, motorization was brought into the fire departments, and it was in 1911 that the need for a full time Fire Department was recognized, and therefore, the Hackensack Development Commission passed an order to that effect, and the Fire Department was created. At that time, there were two ways in which a fire could be reported, one was through a telephone, and the other was through the alarm boxes which were kept throughout different parts of the city, which when used, would ring a bell in the fire department. However, it must be remembered that a fire department is a high risk and a hazardous department, where firefighters have to put their own lives at risk when dealing with a fire so that citizens' property and lives are saved.

Term Paper on Fire Service Assignment

In 1988, Captain Williams, Lieutenant Reinhagen, and Firemen Kresja, Radumski, and Ennis were killed while fighting a fire at Hackensack Ford, 320 River Street. This was an unforgettable incident in the history of the Firefighters Department in the city of Hackensack. What happened was that these five brave men were within the structure, which was a bowstring truss building, attempting to put out a raging fire, when the roof of the building suddenly collapsed on them. Four men died on the spot, while Ennis died later due to carbon monoxide poisoning. (History of the Hackensack Fire Department)

An important question must be asked at this particular juncture, which is, what exactly is an 'on-duty fatality'? It means that the person on duty was at the scene of the incident when the fire was raging, or he was en route, or returning from an alarm or he was performing other duties related to his work, like for example, maintenance, etc. however, the largest number of deaths or fatalities occurred during fire ground operations, like for example, the truss roof that fell on the fire fighters of Hackensack, killing them on the spot. (Analysis report on Firefighter Fatalities)

It must be stated that numerous fatalities of firefighters occur due to the floor truss or the roof truss system collapsing on them, and when it happens with absolutely no warning at all. What this means is that all firefighters must take certain recommended steps to tackle the problem, so that death and injury may be minimized to a considerable extent. Therefore, they must know how to identify accurately a truss roof or truss floor construction, and they must also report the presence of these constructions and the fire involvement in them to the supervisor. They must also use extreme caution when operating in a truss roof or floor construction, and move with deliberate care and also open immediately all the open ceilings and other concealed spaces if a fire is suspected of being present in a truss roof construction. The firefighters must also have a charged hose available to them when they require it, under the circumstances. It must be noted that, according to the Wood Truss Council of America, more than 60% of all buildings in the United States use the truss roof or floor system, and while the truss system may work fine under engineered and normal circumstances, when there is a fire, the truss system can in fact become completely weakened and eventually fail, and this will then lead to the collapse of the roof and the floor, and quite possibly, the entire structure as well. (Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Truss System Failures)

What makes it even worse is the fact that when there is a fire in the truss system, since the truss system is kept well hidden, the fire therein goes unnoticed for long periods of time, and this would result in a loss of integrity. The fire degrades the structural members, and all firefighters in general rely on the typical warning signs of an imminent structural collapse, like for example, a sagging floor, or a spongy floor, and when the truss system is about to collapse, thee warning signs are not exhibited, and the firefighter remains within the structure, completely unaware that the roof or the floor is about to collapse on him and his team, and this is what happened in the 1988 Hackensack firefighting tragedy, where five brave men lost their lives just because they were not aware that the truss roof was about to collapse on them and kill them. (Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Truss System Failures)

Special Report by the United States Fire Administration on selected fires across the country is generally brought out every once in a while. The purpose of the Report is 'lessons learned' after the fire has happened. Sometimes, these reports bring to light certain new knowledge about a fire, and sometimes, the lessons may not be new, but can be brought to one's attention once again due to the extent of the fire and the tragedy surrounding it. The report helps in researching what went wrong, and at times, this helps in learning more about human behavior during a fire, or even about the types and methods of construction being used at that time, and how they contributed to the fire and its aftermath. These various Reports are usually sent to fire magazines and are also distributed at national and regional fire meetings. (The Aftermath of Firefighter Fatality Incidents: Preparing for the Worst)

They are extremely useful for policymakers who need detailed information on the nature of the fire incident so that they may be able to improve codes and change them wherever necessary, and the Fire Administration sends its team of officers to investigate the incident only after the dust has settled down on the incident. It must be noted that in spite of the recent emphasis on safety and on health within the fire service across the United States of America, about a hundred firefighters continue to die each year during the course of their duty, while some others become seriously injured. It must be remembered that even though only small percentage of these fatalities occur in actual firefighter incidents, the impact that these casualties will have on the affected fire departments, and on the firefighters and on the department in general is tremendous.

The grieving members of the department, and also the entire concerned community must be made to feel that any operational problems that may have led to the fatality are indeed being addressed in a proper manner, and probably, certain changes must be brought in to the fire department so that such an incident will not occur again. Although the reaction to a tragedy would differ from one individual to another, in most cases, the firefighter will not let a fatality stop him from placing himself in the danger zone again, when it is required of him to do so. After-action reports are therefore extremely important in dealing effectively with the aftermath of a firefighting fatality incident, and there will be an increased potential of attempting to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring any time in the future. One fact to remember is that every firefighting fatality would inevitably attract a lot of media attention, and this means that the Department must maintain a positive relationship with the media if there is to be fair coverage of the incident. (The Aftermath of Firefighter Fatality Incidents: Preparing for the Worst)

However, what actually happened in Hackensack resulting in the death of five firefighters may be due to bad supervision, or due to plain human error, or due to mechanical malfunction, or due to any other reason, and this is what happened on that day: three firemen were trapped in an upstairs bedroom, and were calling out to others through hand held radios, for help. No one responded, and this was because, as was found later on, their radio communications had in fact been going out, but were being received on the general channel, which firemen would not listen to. The charred remains of the firemen and the radios were all found at the scene of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Fire Service" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Fire Service.  (2005, October 25).  Retrieved April 9, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Fire Service."  25 October 2005.  Web.  9 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Fire Service."  October 25, 2005.  Accessed April 9, 2020.