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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SMFD: Serious fall taken by a veteran firefighter from the roof

Sacramento firefighter fall highlights staffing shortage

ROSEMONT, CA. - A serious fall taken by a veteran firefighter from the roof of a burning home has raised some big questions about staffing shortages.
Sacramento City Fire department Captain Gene Dibble along with Engine 60 and several other crews responded to the house fire on Huntsman Drive Saturday night.

Because they were short staffed, Dibble climbed onto a ladder to help cut a hole in the roof according to Sac City Fire Battalion Chief Jay Glass.

Firefighters said Dibble had one foot on the gutter and one foot on the ladder. The ladder slipped and the firefighter fell onto his back on his oxygen tank on the driveway. He fractured his lower lumbar spine.

Glass said no one was spotting Dibble.

"Short staffing could have played a role in this because there was no one there to foot the ladder," said Glass. "It could have been prevented because there probably would have been someone holding the ladder at the base and it wouldn't have slid out."

Also, Dibble and Engine 60 were doing someone else's job--ventilating the burning home-- because a ladder engine had not showed up.

Dibble, a 24 year veteran, is expected to fully recover from his injuries. Firefighters showed up at UC Davis Medical Center Sunday to show their support.

Meanwhile, neighbors Diane and Mark Stayton were surprised to learn about the staffing issues. Their home is right next door to the house that burnt.

"Firemen shouldn't have to take unnecessary risks," Mark said.

"I think it's a major shame that these guys are already at risk now their crews are short staffed and there are not enough guys to go around and do the job right," Diane said.

According to the Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) more than 81,000 fire-related firefighter injuries happened each year in the U.S. between 2006 and 2008. About 87 percent of those injuries happened during structure fires.

Glass said structure fires can be dangerous and staffing shortages may make things worse.

But, some changes are in store for Sacramento area fire departments.

Last week, $11 million dollars in federal funds was awarded to Sac City Fire and Sac Metro Fire. That will allow both departments to hire a total of more than 50 firefighters.

Source: News10 - Link

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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