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Two Probies in the Back

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Hi all,

I'm just after your opinions on two probies riding in the back and if other brigades allow it. I recently had a house fire as No1 with my No2 having less than 1 month on the job and I'm still in development myself. The job came through as 7 persons Rep but thankfully only ended up with a few dead cats, I made a mistake by telling No2 to exit as we were low on air while I stayed and tidied up some tools for the incoming crew, no fire or real smoke at this point.

Some old hands picked up on it and rightfully gave me an earful, it kinda highlighted to me how little experience I have and how it's unfair on the newer bloke to have me as his mentor (I had a 25 year FF when I started). It's a loaded question but, do you think two DFF's should be allowed to be in the back together? Cheers

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Tough one this, I know in my Brigade there is never (usually) 2 DFFs on the same watch however that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen on RDS pumps or overtime shifts etc. Our probation period is based on time in effect, so after two years you are competent, only if you’ve passed all the benchmarks obviously. However, you could have someone in development in the back who’s had 18 months at a really busy station and had a lot of working jobs, but is still a DFF.. or a firefighter who’s been in for 2.5 years at a really quiet station and had next to nothing on the BA front, but is competent.

I think due to the vast amounts of new recruits coming through, to every brigade, there is always going to be a case where this will happen. Not just this, but the huge amounts of experience retiring and the mass decline in working jobs, experience will take a lot longer. 

Personally, and honestly, I don’t think there should be two DFFs wearing BA together, but I think it’s inevitable. On the other hand, as I previously mentioned, just because you’re in development doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing.

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We avoid it at all costs, but some single pump stations now have two FFID on the same watch, and a few multi pumps have three. With no number fives, it is inevitable that they ride BA together.

The skills loss at the moment is huge and it could all go wrong very quickly. 

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Big no no for me.  Employers have a duty of care so 2 trainees shouldn’t be going in together.  This happened to me once so I rang the nearest station and we did a swap for the night, sending one of the trainees to them in exchange for a competent BA wearer.  Wasn’t hard to manage. 

Dont recall ever seeing a learner driver being taught by a learner driver, have you? 

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We had a similar situation where I was fresh off my book and put forward as the mentor to our recruitment (nobody else wanted the job despite her being a fantastic FF). I felt a lot of pressure on station and on jobs as I was from a slow 1 appiance station and didn't have much experience to pass on or help guide her. It's definitely an issue across all FRS with less experienced FF gradually replacing the experienced senior hands

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Outside in the real world, a key part in health and safety strategy is ensuring where there is high risk of death or injury, the competence of those being engaged in that role is paramount.

Only Part P electricians can alter or extend wiring in your home and likewise you can only use Gas Safe engineers on gas apparatus 

In the fire safety world, the person maintaining your fire alarm system or certifying emergency lighting have to be competent

Meanwhile the UKFRS send unsupervised DFFs into fires in BA. That's not to say they will be unsafe, but they haven't passed the recognised test of competence that others in less hazardous roles have to do

Its a MASSIVE risk corporately,  reputationally and of course to those put in this awful position and should be stopped

If you haven't got an ALP operator but Gary has Hiab experience , would it be ok for him to drive the ALP tonight? After all it's only one shift

Its nonsense and the FBU should stop sitting on their hands as its been going on for years 


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From the job your talking about point of view, I really don’t think you did much wrong if the fire was out. It sounded like things where under control. So why not send him out, whilst you tidy up what you where doing. If you weren't far behind.The BAECO knew where you were and the dangers of any fire wasn’t there anymore. ( ask the OIC next time if your unsure, especially in the non emergency phase

the most important bit from this is you searched and rescued any casualties (cats in this case) you extinguished any fires. Job well done in my opinion. 

also this happens a lot in my service two probes riding BA together. It’s one of them things and experience and jobs will come to learn from in time.  the recruitment freezes and poor resource management from 10 years ago are to blame but we are in the situation we are in. Can’t do anything about it unfortunately. 

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2 hours ago, Vema11 said:

. It’s one of them things and experience and jobs will come to learn from in time.  the recruitment freezes and poor resource management from 10 years ago are to blame but we are in the situation we are in. Can’t do anything about it unfortunately. 

@Vema11- with the greatest of respect, I am hugely suprised a disappointed by your attitude as you are seemingly willing to allow fellow FF's lives to be put at risk as a legacy of poor management and with a shrug of your shoulders 'Its one of those things'😳

Of course its your opinion and one which you are perfectly entitled to hold, but there is much that can be done before effectively raising a white flag.

Is your somewhat passive approach shared by others you work with? It just sounds like you are defending the indefensible. 

The LFB (& others maybe) are adopting a position of not recommitting BA wearers into a job for a significant length of time after a wear.  The rationale being based on scientific research that FFs run health risks if they become overheated.

The old 4PF is now a 6 or 8+ tho throw crews in when others are sitting on there backsides cooling down. That's a huge change and one solely aimed at protecting the FF's H&S

Meanwhile crews of DFF sprogs are being sent in and perhaps a culture of acceptance is developing allowing this to happen 

What a strange world this is sometimes 😕 

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I’ve no idea what firefighter rotation has anything to do with what I just say. 
yes this is a practice my service use but has nothing to do with what I said. 

what would you like me to do, write a strongly worded letter to someone in charge. Are they suddenly going to magic up alot of experienced firefighters back into the job who have recently retired… I think not. 

this is the situation we find ourselves in and have done for a few years now, are fires still going out.. yes. We are well trained and still professional firefighters.yes. Is it right that experience levels are low at present.. no! 

what exactly would you want me to do about it? 

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I know of some brigades where the no.1 or team leader/experienced wearer of the team is a separate qualification, and one of the hardest assessments you can do and rightfully so. The BA team has to be made up of at least one experienced wearer.

This assessment can be done whilst still on development so you could have two development firefighters in the same team which isn't ideal, but a step in the right direction by having that extra assessment in place that they are safe and effective in leading a team.

Wholetime wise as Noddy said if there is already one development ff on the back and you're riding four, they won't be paired with another dev ff. If someone is being sent in to ride the truck it is the done thing to inform the station that it's a dev ff going over in case a competent one needs to come over instead for BA competency. 

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It is something which we try to avoid, but in a small, RDS-heavy brigade, two probies in the back is sometimes unavoidable, particularly with how common detachments to RDS stations are these days.

We do have to sit a BA team leader assessment once we’ve been on station for a few months where we’re independently assessed by a BA instructor from training department and they make the call on whether we are competent as no 1 or not. This is separate from our main FF development process and overall competence though.

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Up here, north of the border, we wont let a DFF be TL until they have passed their 3yr green phase, that's the rule and that is what happens. We do have watch's with 2 or even 3 DFF on them but with good management you can staff BA teams on the pumps correctly. On a side note, don't knock all DFF some of these straight out of training may not have the real world experience but their skills and drills can be considerately better than some of the 20 yr FF's.

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Did a CFBT course years ago, did the attack hot fire training and the instructors told us (at that time) basic recruit did not do that bit, it was pointed out if any one was going to wear it would be the new fftrs

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