Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not Trained, But Experienced

About two years ago (give or take) I was asked to join the Fire Brigade here at Raccoon City Correctional Center.  I'd had a little bit of experience with Fire & Safety in the Army so I thought "Why not?  Maybe I'll get some fun training out of it or something."

Well, that didn't work out so much.  Haven't got a lick of training yet.  All I've gotten so far is the headache of running all over and clearing a building with a fire alarm screaming in my ear and the paperwork afterwards.

And out of maybe 20-25 alarms that I have responded to, only once was anything actually on fire and it got extinguished just as I came up on the scene.

I'm just saying that this Fire brigade nonsense hasn't really worked out to my expectations.

Since I've been here I have heard of only three actually "dangerous" cell fires and they have all taken place in the Hive.  And I know that three incidents is a small sampling to draw any conclusions from, but I have noticed something rather peculiar.

In two of those fires, chemical fire extinguishers were used.  In both of those incidences, the offender inside the cell was still functional and both willing and able to fight, while the staff were all affected by the chemicals used and some of them got injured.  Plus the mess afterwards is a pain in the butt to clean up.

In the other fire, a fire hose was used to extinguish the fire and the offender ended up wet and cold and more than willing to cuff up and come out of the cell.  Nobody got hurt and there was only water to clean up afterwards.

Yet, the higher ups never want us to use the fire hose.  Why is that?

It can't be the cost.  I'm sure it cost them at least twenty bucks to recharge a fire extinguisher.  I'm sure if we pumped twenty dollars worth of water into a cell it would probably fill it completely.

That would sure put the fire out though, wouldn't it?  Heh....

I'm just saying that we need to learn from experience and learn how to deal with these kind of situations.  They aren't going to give us any training in what to do so we have to figure it out for ourselves, obviously.  And from what I have seen, using the chemical extinguishers when there is a combative offender in the cell just doesn't work.  The only thing that is going to do accomplish both goals of putting out the fire and making the offender want to comply is the fire hose.

When someone is cold and wet and miserable they are less likely to want to stay that way.  And a fire put out with water smells a whole lot worse than one put out with an extinguisher.  They are going to want to get out of that cell and into some place dry and warm and smelling better as soon as possible.

Let's just try to keep that in mind, shall we?


  1. Maybe they're thinking that some fires are dangerous to try to put out with water. Usually I'd see their point, but I'm sure most of these fires are started by the inmates themselves burning matchbooks or something. Water works fine to put out something like that.

  2. Bryan- I think that they are afraid that we would abuse the inmate with the fire hose or something, I don't know. Even if they ended up getting soaked it would be preferable to being smothered with a chemical extinguisher, don't you think?