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Amateur hour on the first line at a Pennsylvania house fire. Room & contents put out through the window in a gutless move. Plus, helmet-cam of the second line to the fire.

What's wrong with these people? Can you believe this fire was put out with a hose line through the picture window of the living room? On top of that, their choice of a line was pitiful. Undersized to say the least and the wrong color. Real fireman don't carry a hose that is green.

I don't care if it was a couple of neighbors who dealt with this house fire before the first engine arrived. If they are going to do the job of firefighters they better do it right or not at all. I hope someone gave them a good talking to and some training.

Thanks to Bill Rohrer at for pointing out this travesty. Click here to read more from Bill. Personally, I'm outraged.

Below is helmet-cam of the second line to the fire. The one that goes through the front door.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    how is this a gutless move?

  • Dick Z. Normis

    Just watched bits and pieces of the second video, could not bring my self to view it all this early in the morning. I had to play it back and focus my eyes a bit, but yes indeed, it did say on the rear compartment door, "professionally staffed by volunteers". Well that's the advertising misrepresentation of the century. HAHAHAHA, you've got to be kinding me, these guys actually have the baiis to run around with this logo on their rig. Shameless!! I saw "fat guy 2" pulling, what I thought from vid1 was aminute man load, but it's ovious it was the "Muellers Pack o Pasta" load instead.  Lots of yard breathing going on as well, for Christ's sake, clip the regulator in when you get to the door there "huff and puff".  Maybe, just maybe, the clown with the can, instead of gripping it tight for the fight, should have left it at the rig and helped flake out and chase kinks in the 1 3/4". I did notice they had all the tool handles wrapped just like they read on and of course there was the obligatory cache of helmet stickers galore on all those salty lids. What I did see of course, was an uncoordinated, mismanaged, poorly trained, over anxious little (in some case BIG) boys "playin like they was Firemen". I would have loved to heard all the hero stories told back at the firehouse after this one. Like I mentioned earlier, if this is the best suburban/rural American has to offer in the firefighting arena, GOD help us. I just pray that none of these guys gets hurt or God forbid, killed, performing in this manor.  Paying the membership dues and wearing the company jacket does not make a Firemen. Step up and get it right. As well, before anyone starts the career/volley thing. I started in the volunteer service at 14 (cadet), then on to regular status before starting my 25 year career with a department serving in the region of 1 million population. No excuse for this!!

  • Legeros

    It is hard enough to appropriate bash vollies if you're a career guy, or career guys if you're a vollie. Now you've added citizens into that debate. Do you realize how much harder it will be now!?!

    • dave statter

      I am a little concerned that my theory is wrong and I completely blew it. The green line is nowhere in the video. Maybe they had time to re-rack it before the FD showed up. That’s what I am hoping. If not, maybe they took it through the back door. Now wouldn’t that be funny and wouldn’t Dave once again have egg on his face.


      • Legeros

        This in fact could be the start of an insidious movement by citizens to start fighting their own fires. Better get with the 'geezer guys on this one. Might need some hard-hitting investigative reporting. I can donate the Hawaiian shirts, if you need to travel incognito.

  • northchief

    Can we please have a fire without a fat guy in shorts and a white hat???

  • careervolly

    Did these guys ever attend fire school or did they just get a pager and start riding??!  Ok, so here's my questions…..
    If you know you're going to a working alarm, why not be packed up and ready to go?  Why wait to  turn your bottle on( or in the one guy's case, have someone turn it on for you) and mask up?
    To the chauffer(ie the person driving), what was the deal with the suppy line?  If that place or the exposure lit off, how quick could you have gotten hooked up for water supply?
    To the back up man(ie the second person on the hoseline), Why not help flake out the hose instead of walking over the pile of spaghetti on the top step?
    To the nozzleman(ie the first person on the hoseline), It's a friggin townhouse!!  Why carry all that hose through the doorway?  How much hose could you really have needed in such a small place??!
    To the can man(ie the one carrying the water extinguisher), why run to the door like your going to do something, only to be stopped by the wisp of smoke coming out of the front door?  Also, when you were done carrying the can around, why leave it on step for everyone to trip over?
    To whoever was on the second floor, making sure the screen is out doesn't matter if you're not going to clear ALL glass out of the window frame.  Poking holes is futile.  Next time, take your hook and pull or push(pushing is better) on the middle sash and WA-LA!  Both window frames(and the screen) will just pop right out most of the time.  Try it, you'll be amazed!
    Not sure who's idea it was for the PPV but, what was the point.  How can you effectively clear smoke when at least 4(ok, ok…3.5, the second floor window wasn't completely cleared)are vented?  That's not to mention the several people standing on the step attempting salvage and overhaul in front of and over top of the fan!
    Listen guys, I'm not trying to be a hard ass nor am I anywhere near perfect, but we have to remember the basics!  We kill an average of 100 firefighters a year, mostly because of stupid mistakes.  With all the technology we have in the fire service that number really hasn't changed much.  Learn your role, execute it, and go home in one piece.  Don't become a statistic because you didn't know.  THINK!!!!  
    If you feel like you gotten to the point where you know everything, STOP RIDING!!!  You're going to kill yourself or someone else!


    Isn't there some sort of figure-of-speech about "Setting the bar low" that would make everything "all better"?

  • Get What You Pay For

    Noticed on side of engine it stated Professionally Staffed By Volunteers……That says it all right there. I will not point out all the errors here but I loved all the dry line wrapped around the nozzle man as he went in and all the supply line charged and in knots behind the engine.


    Ya know what guys, Its all in the training, Career or volunteer. You can bash a volunteer because your career. I have to tell i Know some volunteers I would put on my truck any day, and i also know some career guys i wouldnt let look at the truck let alone work with me. 

  • In The Hood

    Career volly, you stole some of my thunder!  If the home owner or a neigbor put this fire out, they should be handing them an application and paying their $2.00 annual dues because it appears they have a better idea of firefighting than these jokers.
    Lets see (in no particular order):
    1. Fat chief in front yard in shorts, very small vest, helmet and radio.  Way to set the example for the troops.  Do as I say, not as I do.  I'm the Chief!
    2. Engine stops directly in front of townhouse.  My guess is there is no ladder truck near this place so the concept may be a bit foreign to them.
    3. More white hats than yellow hats.
    4. The guys uses his leg instead of all the expensive tools they bought and mounted to break the door in.  Then walks straight in and immediately turns and walks out.  "I did a search and didn't find anybody."
    5. Many waist straps dangling (I'm sure they saw that on a fire video and thought it looked cool).
    6. Hose deployment was horrible.  If that line had been charged, the guy pulling it would have looked like a swordfish in a fishermans net.
    7. Must have been a deep townhouse to need so much hose inside.
    8. Thank goodness the guy with the can got in front of the 1 3/4" hoseline.  You never know when that 2 1/2 gallons might just be the difference if 150 gpm doesn't cut it.  Of course if the hose guy gets wrapped up in his hoseline no water may make it to the nozzle.
    9. We break windows to let the smoke out, but more importantly firefighters out.  I guess they just like the noise when you break it.  Good luck bailing out any of the windows broken.
    Well that covers the first minute of the video.  I can't bear to watch anymore of part 1 or 2.
    Happy Mothers Day! 

    • http://30+ Theo

      In the Hood says it all but I would like to add pulling the line through the door then allowing the door to close on an uncharged line.  And the big guy with the helmet and vest in the front yard, what was his role.  At least his head was protected and he could have been found easily if something really bad happened.  Doesn't matter if your career or volunteer, do the job right and as safe as possible.  The fire does not care.  (the one guy should sell that forcible entry foot. It would save money for all of the departments across the country)


    At least the neighbors had the common sense to know the difference between "snowblower season" and "garden hose season".
    Sounds like a good topic for a series of PSAs, Dave.

  • Shhh…

    Hey Dave,
    That chief with the shorts on looks a lot like a volunteer chief from PGFDs 5th battalion about 25 years ago. You know who im talking about and he wasnt from Oxon Hill. 

    • dave statter

      Yes I do.

  • fedup

    I imagine this is a joke fellas…the green line was the neighbors putting the fire out with the garden hose.  Sounds like the first arriving "fat guys in white hats" told them that.  Probably why they pulled off the can.  The first due engine pulled a line, searched and establshed a water supply.  Do I really care if the outside safety officer and assistant po had ppe on? No.  I work for a maj NE fire department, your not gonna see our POs in anything but cotton pants and shirt and sneakers.  Was it all guts and glory/ no… but I really dont think it was all that bad..

  • RESCUE 1

    WOW!!!!!!!  HMMMM……… I wonder what they would do with a 5 story multiple dwelling?!!!
    WAIT…….. not fair, Lets used the same structure with fire on the second floor,……. My guess, they'll use there secret weapon; "The other end of the street"!!!!!! {HUH}?!! They 'll lose the block!!!!!
    THANK GOD I DON'T LIVE IN THAT TOWN…….. Better yet , state.

  • Anonymous

    No matter how low you set the bar, some guys will always limbo under it.

  • SOF

    Sort of raises the question, one that was NOT answered by the MoCo staffing study: is it better to have 6 men in one station, 3 men in two stations, or 2 men in three stations?

    2 men in a station isn’t ideal, but 2 men four minutes away might save more lives than 4 men eight minutes away. Apparently, 2 untrained men can put out a fire: what happens if we give them a fire engine?

  • NFPA, Schmem F P A

    Not overly impressive but when you say about packin up to a worker…NFPA has eliminated that. The new air pack mounts make it hard to do that..pull the yellow chord and theres no spring clips to hold the pack in…iut falls out…and you're supposed to wear your seatbelt…blah blah blah…NFPA has turned us into plumbers.  NFPA hinders all firemen in doing their jobs…hell we might as well wear a 3 piece suit to work and have NFPA require all apparatus to have a built in changing room.

  • anonymous – but pissed

    After reading these comments all I have to say is WOW, I mean I would love to see clips of fires from anyone that has this much time to sit and trash there fellow firefighters.  I agree that things went wrong and that brings on the nobody is perfect.  I hope that the crews in this and the other video in this township take what they see and learn from it.  I will admit that I watch a lot of videos from all over online but honestly folks why don't we all keep to constructive comments and not pure bashing, I know that paid guys do it to vollies and vollies do it to paid no one is perfect everytime and mistakes will happen no matter what town or city you fight fires in.  The most important thing is that everyone including the neighbor that did what they could to help went home after it was all said and done, and if you think you are perfect you are not and I will bet  you that if you  show everyone video of every fire you ever fought they will find plenty of things wrong.

  • CLT FF

    ok…I'm not going to pile on too much, but did anyone else notice the PPE problems? Fat guy, fire hat and SHORTS?
    Then there's the LT in the house with no hood on at all, but he's on air, the guy that kicked the door with the water can, the hood is not all the way down in the front with skin exposed, then there's the 'chief' with the stupid jumpsuit on again.
    This group needs help – god be with Whitehall.

  • mark

    I think I'll just put it this way, their definition of professional is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar different than mine.
    But hey, the fire went out and no one was hurt, right? Never mind looking like the fire version of Keystone Kops in the mean time.

  • Smitty

    Forget the volley and professiona stuff. I have been on both sides and this is all about training. I have to admit there are some very dangerous things here. They have all been said and they are all important to take back to your own department. You never know when the camera is rolling.
    I am curious though. How many of you are willing to be the "Training Officer?" Its tougher than you think.    

    • CHAOS

      Being the Training Officer is a tough job, sure.  However, ALL the officers, and senior troops for that matter, have day-to-day training responsibilities.  It shouldn't be completely up to the Training Officer to make sure the FFs know how to flake out a line, or take a door, or select the right hook for the assignment, or where to park the first in Engine.

  • Anonymous

    In reading the comments it seems the primary focus is on what appeared to be a lack of some, Basic Firefighting Training Techniques. The comments about "Professionally Staffed by Volunteers" doesnot appear to be in any conflict with anyone. Yes that includes the Career IAFF agitators. Was this a rural jurisdiction with little or no Tax Base? The Over weight Chief in shorts with a Portable does in all aspects go against the very Core Values upon which the 21st Century Fire and EMS Service is all about. Do the citizens pay a Dedicated Fire Tax or pay an amount of Money Annually to guarantee Fire protection? Whatever the course of Fire Protection is handled this Fire Chief must set some sort of example for the members. (1) Health and Wellness (2) some formal Training with the NFPA Firefighter 1 through Firefighter 3 Training. These elements are designed to ensure Firefighters have a Basic Body of Knowledge in understanding what they are doing, and what they are supposed to be doing. What is/are the political Authorities in this area? had this been a real working fire where no "ICS was either in place or being Managed". The issues here are were there sufficient Personnel Resources, Apparatus Resources, either Locally within County/District or was a Mutual Aid Plan in place to request needed additional resources? In today's Fire and EMS Service it is absolutely outrageous to think/and/or believe any Fire Chief/Fire Dept. either Volunteer or Career would/could function in such a sloppy hap hazard manner. "What is wrong with those people"?   Just thinking if there was a working fire at that Location, and no Direction/orders given, some Firefighters could have been inside and "May Day May Day Dreaded Call" happened. Roof collasping in on Firefighters, floor collasping. The integrity of that Structure compromized by either ire/Fire Spread a Terrible outcome could have occurred. Shouldnot/isnot some authority State/Local Political Authority in place, where some immediate changes in how,why, whynot, when, where, who That Fire Chief and that VFD operate? Without any doubt a Total lack of ACCOUNTABILITY was not present. That was/is unacceptable by Standards. NFFF// "FIREFIGHTER SAFETY, EVERYONE GOES HOME"
    Thank You

  • E1LT

    I've said it on here before and I'll say it again. If you're reading this post and you're a firefighter, practice stretching a line.  When you're done, keep practicing. It's one of, if not the most overlooked tasks performed on the fireground. Career of volunteer. Every video we watch it's the same thing over and over. They grab a bunch of hose, take off towards the fire, drop it, and keep going. Nobdody flakes it out, and nobody removes kinks. PRACTICE.

  • 20740

    What was gutless about this? My biggest thoughts are, poor engine placement, poor line handling, total lack of supervision and acoutability and poor poor vent practices. Explain yourself Dave.

    • dave statter

      Read it again. It was directed at the firefighters and it was sarcasm and Dave’s poor sense of humor.


  • 20740

    OK. As long as you are not going to be one of those old guys that just complains about everything. HH doesn't need that!

    • dave statter

      I am not a complainer. In fact you don’t see me writing anything about tactics (except my self-proclaimed field of expertise, the green line). I leave the complaining to everyone else.


  • Newsworking

    I am the videographer who shot the video.  I was an assistant chief with this department, particulary for the  Engine Company first arriving on this scene.  First, this department is a large volunteer department outside the 3rd largest city in Pennsylvania, and the busiest Engine company in the county (Volunteer).  9 Engines, 1 ladder, 1 rescue, Dive team and numerous support vehicles. 13 sq miles / pop, 26, 000.
    This call had a driver, officer, two FF & a probie.  A Lt. was on scene.  The "fat guy" at the door IS NOT A CHIEF, but a safety / accountability officer.  The other "white helmet" is the Deputy Chief of the Fire division. 
    When I was in command of this company, the engine and truck had riding / seat assignments –  can't do the job, DON'T GET IN THE SEAT!  
    This was a BASIC fire.  I would have like to see this:  Search team (VES): Officer (Entry tools, Light), Can Man, the LT. on scene (Can, light).  This 2 man team should have forced entry with the tools and proceeded to second floor for search, venting on the way.  
    The suppression team: Nozzle (deploys hose to front door).  Door man / back-up: Assist in flaking out the hose and helping get the hose into the front door. This two man team to hit the seat of the fire (there was none) but to keep it in check and protect the stairs as the search team completes its primary search.  
    Hydrant Man: (Probie) tie into the plug and await orders.  Driver: Connect supply line into the pump.  Wait for orders to wet the handline and order the hydrant to be turned on. Stop short of the house to allow room for the truck. 
    Safety Officer: Full Gear
    Deputy Chief:  Full Gear
    When I left, the men were trained, seat assignments in place, the truck operated as a truck.  The company was disciplined.  Whatever happened since I left, I don't know.  AND, I paid (out of my pocket) two FDNY FFs to come down and train us on a weekly basis UNTIL our Chief of Department put a stop to that too!  
    This department has some good men that are very dedicated and trained.  Don't let two fires ruin it for the good ones!
    Strong Leadership.  Discipline. Training.  Makes for a good image and Professional Department regardless of pay.  Good Luck to the Whitehall Fire Department.  You have my support!  Maybe its time for a change.

  • jack coleman

    Nice stop guys!!!!! Let me know if you need help with training. Trying wearing the gloves,hoods,etc. Do many of your fires go to second and third alarms? Let me know. Thanks

  • anonymous – but pissed

    Wow that is all I can say you are all pitiful people if I have said it once I have said it a million times firefighting is a professional brotherhood no matter if its paid or volunteer.  I am glad to see that all the super hero firefighters are watching videos and bashing everyone else I guess no one else ever had something go wrong on a scene.  Yes like I said before there were some issues but christ folks lets all make the same comments and trash other departments.  Way to go you all proved that you can watch a video and type a comment, now get off your computer and go fight a fire if you know how to do that….

  • Anonymous

    I would like to respond to the comments by Newsworking says. My congratulations to you for speaking about this particular VFD. As a former Assistant Chief you obviously know the proper, way to Manage a Fire ground. Specifice riding assignments and the necessary training for each member is admirable. The over weight  Chief Officer is, what "SAFETY Officer" and ACCOUNTABILITY" As you point out there are some good Volunteers in that VFD. The issue at hand is what has happened with the BASICS of Managing SAFETY with,ACCOUNTIBILITY"?  Thye video on the surface seems to reflect something was either ignored or lost somehow . One can only believe some element of ICS was in place. The actual Deployment of Personnel and Apparatus was not as it should be. Sir my most Professional thanks to you for being upfront straight forward and most of all HONEST What has gone wrong or lost needs some attention in the form of Training, and Dedication. This effort must start at the Top and set "Lead by Example in the most Professional Positive way.
    Thank You

  • youngvollydude

    Ok as my name says im young 21 years old only 5 years in the fire service and this is embarrising to watch…. Really is. If i was a citizen of that town and that was my fire company. Id be scared. it looked like 6 guy coming outta a clown car… Kicking the door? easiest way to hurt your knee. Why not pop it with a haligan ? hum…. Just seems to me they need training….

  • Mnfirechief

    Hmmmmm ……… Here is what i seen ….. a few issues to be sure …. but no safety issues and no one got hurt,,,, every fire we have … we learn and improve, maybe it is better not to video tape fire scenes , cause as always everyone looks at it from their computer with no stress on them and decides what they would do different…easy to say…no one got hurt nad the fire is out ! sound like a save to me

  • slackjawedyokel

    million dollars worth of apparatus and they cant afford an XXL vest? Seriously – basics like flaking/ choosing the right stretch of hose , scotching the door open etc shouldnt be skipped.