IAFC: Firefighters Should Refrain from Self Dispatching to Louisiana Areas

September 8, 2005

Fire department officials in New Orleans are reporting that 150-200 firefighters are self dispatching daily to the city and surrounding areas. There are currently 1,000 firefighters at the staging area in Algiers, Louisiana; however, the staging area is reportedly set up for 500 firefighters and cannot logistically support additional personnel.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is urging all firefighters to refrain from self dispatching to New Orleans because of the significant accountability issues and increased risks to firefighters, civilians and others who are operating within the parameters of the incident action plan.

“Freelancing is an unacceptable, dangerous practice that poses a
tremendous risk to the safety of the local community and to emergency personnel,” said IAFC President Chief Bill Killen. “When resources show up that have not been requested, the incident management system fails.”

In several past disasters, the local fire department command structure, while struggling to organize and control resources at the scene, has reportedly had to commit additional resources to the management of those people and equipment that self dispatched to the scene.

“We know you would like to be helpful, but we are creating our own
problems. We ask that if you want to be of assistance, please work through your state emergency management agency,” Killen said in a statement issued to the fire service Sept. 8.

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