Una visión crítica sobre la “actitud” de los bomberos de EEUU.

El papel de héroe está muy arraigado en la sociedad norteamericana. Olvidándonos de los distintos actores/actrices (policías, funcionarios del gobierno, un vecino, una maestra,… ) que pueden convertirse en héroes, como de una película de Hollywood se tratara… nos ceñiremos al papel de los bomberos y su actuación ante las emergencias.

El ingeniero y bombero sueco, Stefan Svensson, criticó en la International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire-Rescue International Conference, el papel de héroes que asumen los bomberos norteamericanos en sus intervenciones; lo que hace que su índice de mortalidad y accidentalidad sea demasiado elevado respecto del de otros países, como el suyo.

Ser un héroe lleva implícito el reconocimiento de los demás… y no se puede ir así por la vida. No obstante, todos los que de una u otra manera estamos en este mundillo, vemos como se ven a si mismos los bomberos norteamericanos (sólo es necesaria una búsqueda en google para ver cientos de fotomontajes con banderas, frases que evocan al héroe, plegarias divinas, etc). Tienen la necesidad de sentirse héroes, así es que cuando surge la oportunidad no lo dudan un momento… aunque se estén enfrentando con un incendio forestal que, si bien es triste ver como desaparece bajo las llamas, a todos nos habrán dicho cuando empezamos en esto aquello de: tu solo tienes una vida y el monte vuelve a renacer.

Un bombero tiene vocación de servir a la sociedad sin esperar nada a cambio; se preparará física y mentalmente, en cuerpo y en conocimientos técnicos para hacer bien su trabajo junto con el resto de compañeros… así se salvan vidas (incluidas las del propio bombero) y bienes materiales.

Por todo ello, es interesante la lectura del siguiente artículo y seguro que suscita el debate.

Notas/traducción de la web http://www.contraincendioonline.com

Stefan Svensson es bombero en Loberod (Suecia), además de ingeniero especialista en incendios y asistente de los cuerpos de bomberos en Suecia, participo en la exposición internacional contra incendios de Atlanta.

Suecia a tenido en estos últimos siete años solo un bombero fallecido comparativamente con los EEUU que llevan mas de 84 Bomberos fallecidos y solo en 2007 “hasta ahora” en agosto un incendio en Charlotte le costo la vida a 9 bomberos.

Por supuesto es también importante observar la diferencia de población de 9 millones de habitantes de Suecia contra casi 302 millones en EEUU, como así también los 16.000 bomberos suecos en comparación de 1.136.650 bomberos norteamericanos.

A pesar de estos números que llegado el caso podrían demostrar matemáticas estadísticas pero no justificar la probabilidad de casos de fallecimientos de Bomberos en incendios, el expediente de Suecia es impresionante, principalmente cuando la Administración Nacional del Fuego de los EEUU el pasado 2006 reporto unos 106 bomberos fallecidos dentro del incendio a causa del fuego y por ataques cardiorrespiratorios.

Svensson no se basa en las estadísticas nombradas, simplemente observa las técnicas de combate que se usan en EEUU, de cómo hacen su trabajo los bomberos norteamericanos a diferencia de los bomberos de su país.

Una de las diferencias que aparecen a la vista es que el bombero en EEUU juega al papel orgulloso del héroe anteponiéndolo al de la seguridad, el bombero norteamericano esta adoctrinado en que es heroico morir por salvar a otro, Svensson afirma que es bueno morir en la vejez.

Peor aun es lo que muestra la realidad en los últimos accidentes graves ocurridos en los EEUU con un saldo de bomberos fallecidos dentro de los incendios y hogares destruidos (en referencia a las familias de esos bomberos) ninguno cayo por rescatar alguna victima, al contrario fallecieron a causa de garrafales errores operativos y aparte de perderse las vidas de los bomberos, se perdieron los inmuebles que estaban en llamas, ganancia cero absoluto.
Otra diferencia es como se entrenan los bomberos en ambos países, en Suecia los formamos en los conocimientos de la física y química del fuego, de entenderlo, comprenderlo, saber manejar todo tipo de situaciones, desde las más básicas hasta las complejas, evitar el atrapamiento, fomentar la seguridad, la autoprotección, se enseña a comprender el porque y el conocimiento del agua cuanto mas es cuanto mejor!!

Los bomberos en EEUU están más interesados en como salir del apuro que de cómo evitarlo.

Otro pensamiento de Svensson se baso en los equipos RIT, algo similar al conductor de un autobomba (por ejemplo) que tenga puesto un cinturón de seguridad no lo habilita a desplazarse mas rápido, en consecuencia al contar con personal especializado RIT no se debe interpretar que podemos animarnos a mas sin respetar los conceptos máximos de seguridad.

Por ejemplo hubo incendios con una probabilidad importante de riesgo y sin embargo enviaban a mas gente adentro, eso es estupido!

La propuesta de Svensson es que deben trabajar muy bien y mucho en cambiar la conciencia y la doctrina del héroe, la exigencia física y el correcto uso del equipo de protección, llegando a mencionar que el mal uso del equipo o el no uso del equipo de protección personal sea sancionado con importantes multas de dinero.

Deben cambiar la manera de entrenar, sus actitudes, deben ser más realistas y dejar de jugar al héroe, están pagando un muy alto costo por ser como son.

A continuación reproducimos el artículo original, publicado en la web Firehouse, en el que se basa el texto anterior.

Swedish Expert Outlines ‘Stupid’ U.S. Practices.

ATLANTA — As an outsider looking in, Dr. Stefan Svensson – a firefighter from Loberod, Sweden, who is also a research and development engineer – thinks the fire service in the United States only pays lip service to firefighter safety. “You can talk…

As an outsider looking in, Dr. Stefan Svensson – a firefighter from Loberod, Sweden, who is also a research and development engineer – thinks the fire service in the United States only pays lip service to firefighter safety.

“You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” Svensson asked. “I dare say you cannot.”

Svensson’s comments came almost four years to the day when he first shared similar criticisms of the fire service at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire-Rescue International conference and show. This year’s presentation was part of the Institute of Fire Engineers International Forum program, which was co-located with FRI’s show.

As he did four years ago, he apologized in advance of his comments saying he would likely offend people.

“I will insult you,” Svensson said. “I will make you upset and I apologize for that.”

Svensson then launched into a 40-minute critique of the fire service in the United States.

In the four years since he last visited the states, he’s noticed a lot of talk but not much action to promote firefighter safety.

“I am afraid to say you have not made it any safer,” said Svensson, who is also a firefighter in his local brigade and a Ph.D. researcher for the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

“There are some things in the U.S. Fire Service that are kind of strange, and when I say strange, it might mean stupid,” he said.

At the top of his list of strange behavior is the concept of venting a roof. “Why do you do that?” he asked while showing a few examples of firefighters in peril on roofs that had already been compromised and were self-venting.

Svensson drew a comparison between a fireplace and a fire in a building. A fireplace has a chimney, which he said was an upstairs window. It also has a damper which is an exterior door. The fire itself would be in a room of origin.

He suggested that like a fireplace, the fire in the building can easily be controlled by limiting the amount of air that will make the fire flair up.

A piercing fog nozzle jammed into the building, into the roof or side will smother the fire.

“If you cool hot gases and put water on the fire you will prevent it from spreading and if you put enough water on it, it might go out,” Svensson said.

There’s no truth to the idea that a house will blow up and knock out windows and worse if the smoke gets too dense in the building, he said.

“You need a good scientist, and no myths to teach you about fire behavior,” he said, noting there are many in United States that would help with the education.

He sees no reason for people to vent roofs that have already self-vented through a burned out hole in the roof or the windows in the gable ends.

On top of that, he sees even less reason to climb into a chimney (a broken window) that is issuing heavy smoke, he said. “It shows a lack of an understanding about what’s going on… Venting a fire causes a lot of problems and if you don’t have the knowledge, you might not want to try it.”

Svensson said he’s heard a lot about aggressive interior attack firefighters, but he doesn’t understand why that kind of firefighter would repeatedly go into a building with a compromised floor.

“I wouldn’t go in at all in that situation,” he said. “No way. Being aggressive requires a great deal of knowledge.”

He criticized the nation’s apparatus which he claimed is getting bigger while all of Europe is going with smaller and smaller apparatus that are smarter and smarter.

There’s also a dangerous culture of rewarding the worst behaviors, Svensson said, noting a recent award to a firefighter who ran into a burning building without PPE and got second degree burns on his face, to save a woman inside the building.

“Does anyone see a problem with that?” Svensson asked. “You are promoting dangerous behavior. You are showing stupid behavior… You can reward, but you have to give them something for the right reason.”

The debate about 30-minute bottles versus 45-minute bottles is also something he doesn’t quite understand. An air bottle is only going to last as long as the individual wearing it sucks it down, he said.

“You spend too much time training on how to get out of a situation rather than avoiding problems in the first place,” he said. “…When you need a R.I.T., it’s too late. You should have been out way before there is any need for a R.I.T.”

Examining the line of duty deaths, Svensson said it looks good on paper that the numbers are going down, but at the same time so are the number of serious fires at an even higher rate.

Overlaying the L.O.D.D.s on to the chart plotting fires, it actually shows a trend indicating firefighter deaths are on the increase in proportion to the number of fires.

He also commented on the practice of going in to a fire without any hose line at all.

“I’m not going in without a hose, no way,” Svensson said.

He was also critical of firefighters who don’t use hoods to cover their ears because they want to feel the heat to gauge whether they need to get out or can stay in.

“There should be a fine for firefighters who don’t use all their PPE,” he said. “…There’s a fine line between being a hero and being stupid.”

Firefighters in the United States also have egos that can, and often do, get them hurt or killed, he said.

“Are our egos of greater value than our lives?” he asked. “…You risk a great deal to save nothing,” he said.

Svensson wasn’t completely critical of the U.S. fire service. He praised the incident command structure here in this country as well as our ability, and willingness, to flow large volumes of water when the fire requires it.

Conversely, he said his department in Sweden wasn’t perfect and if someone from the states were to critique his department and practices they would seem strange.

The thing that unifies the two countries is the desire to save lives and property while keeping firefighters safe.

“I can’t see any injury that’s acceptable,” he said, noting that there are still accidents on the scene which can’t be avoided. And, there are times when risking a minor injury to make a major save might be expected.

“If all I got were first degree burns on my hands because I reached in and grabbed someone and saved her life, I can live with it. My boss might not like it, but I could do that personally.”

In a closing remark, Svensson admonished the fire service leaders to make rational decisions.

“If you can’t do it in a safe way you shouldn’t do it,” he said.

In questions and answers, Billy Goldfeder, deputy fire chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, and the host and sponsor of http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com, said while no injury should be acceptable, there may be some instances were firefighter make a calculated risk.

To do that it takes a lot of knowledge that needs to be “front loaded” into the firefighter before they ever face the situation.

“There might be a situation where survivable burns are acceptable,” Goldfeder said. He added there has to be a level of acceptance that there are inherent dangers with the job.

John Sullivan, the deputy chief of Worcester (Mass.) Fire Department, who had presented a class in the morning FRI sessions, said there were probably no, or few people who would disagree with most of what Svensson said.

“We do some strange things, some stupid things,” Sullivan said, noting that he feels changes are coming slowly. “It’s just taking us time to turn this aircraft carrier around… I can see the changes. I hear the changes in discussion. We can see it because we live it on a daily basis. We will get there.”

Una respuesta a “Una visión crítica sobre la “actitud” de los bomberos de EEUU.

  1. Pingback: LA VIDA DE UN BOMBERO: CUESTIÓN DE TÉCNICA O CUESTIÓN DE SEGURIDAD – ARTICULO DE YSRAEL SALINAS (CARACAS, VENEZUELA) – memoria de la compañía

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