Can you blame a guy for not running towards a fire?


Let’s reword the situation:

On the morning of 14 February the M/V Douglas suffered a casualty. A fire formed in a passenger lounge. While personnel attempted to evacuate the space the fire suppression system failed to operate as expected resulting in increased fatalities. This model of fire suppression system is known to fail frequently. Despite this knowledge the company did not increase maintenance and upkeep, and regularities bodies did not require a back-up system. Cost was cited as a primary reason for forgoing upkeep and redundancy.

As written above it’s easier to see where the system failed.


In 2007 off duty officer Ken Hammond was having a Valentins Day dinner with his wife in a mall in Salt Lake City. An 18 year old mass shooter started his rampage of killing as many people as possible in the same mall. Mr. Hammond left the security of the restaurant and his wife to hunt for the shooter. He only had a small caliber hand gun & a few rounds. I think it was a Keltec .380. By taking cover & peppering the shooter with pop shots he managed to prevent the shooter from killing any more people. Eventually more heavily armed on-duty officers arrived & killed the bad guy. The bad guy still had a duffle bag of unspent rounds. He only killed 5 people, not 17 or 50. More recently an old man in in Texas didn’t like the idea of everyone in the church across the street being killed so he grabbed his AR15 & saved dozens of lives by shooting a mass murderer who was in the process of reloading & getting more rounds.

I know our maritime training teaches us to report, the emergency, muster & then fight it as a team. But I have read many reports & seen many scenarios where a rapid responder extinguished a problem or prevented it from growing while waiting for more help to arrive. I have seen a few station bills that have designated rapid responder positions. If we are all trained to be fire fighters & first aide providers then the ones who can should use that training to prevent a bad situation from getting worse until more help arrives or even better, extinguish the problem if possible.


I run with a rescue squad when I’m home and we are training jointly with the cops and fire to form small teams that go into what’s called the warm zone of a CMCI (Criminal Mass Casualty Incident) and pull out the wounded. The team consists of two cops, two EMTs and a paramedic. We got some classroom work this winter and we will be running drills this summer. The approach to these incidents evolves every time something goes down and they learn from it.

I can’t speak for Broward county cop. It could be that given he was alone, he panicked and froze. Only he knows and he will have to live with the thought of it. I wonder, what kind of training has he had and how recently was it done? Other cops from a different agency showed up and ran right in. I would look closely at how Broward County does things. Training and teamwork can and does make a huge difference in how people respond to things.


I thought it has been reported that the deputy has explained that he remained outside because he thought the shooter was already outside. Was he in his mind forming a perimeter of some kind? Waiting for him to run by?


It takes solid core training and constant reinforcement of muscle memory for most people to not freeze and instead respond effectively to a life threatening situation. Federal LEOs get months of core training at FLETC and their individual agencies maintain their skills with monthly drills. Most small police forces lack the resources to support that level of training.
Without passing judgement it doesn’t surprise me that a cop patrolling school grounds for nearly 30 years, likely without training specific to the situation, out of shape and facing retirement, would hunker down and wait for someone else to take the initiative.


Of the smattering of small fires I have seen in my career, all have been extinguished by the first responder/person who found it very soon after the alarm was raised. Usually with a fire extinguisher.

This one time at band camp… one of the AB’s decided to melt the Irish pendants off the splices on the mooring lines with a blow torch. Really important work for sure. Well coffee time came and he didn’t bother to douse his work before leaving the bow. 15 minutes later I get the call on my UHF that there is a fire on the bow. I grab a dry chem extinguisher on the way out on deck and rush up forward with the second mate running ahead of me. I get there and the deck gang is trying to rig a fire hose and the second mate gets there but realizes he has nothing to fight the fire. I kindly ask them all to step aside and put the fire out in less than 10 seconds. We lost about 15 feet of hawser and had to chip melted plastic off the deck, but nothing too bad besides a stern talking to the bosun about hotwork without permission.

A well coordinated is response is great, but sometimes waiting too long could cause a bigger problem.


Speaking of hot work – my dad** started a fire in a destroyer paint locker once. He was shooting three-inch*** rounds at a kamikaze and the destroyer’s bow got in the way, took a three-inch round in the paint locker.

In general, though, he put out more fires on destroyers than he set. LCS(L)3 class along with the rocket launchers and bristling with guns had a monitor and firefighting manifold with 1500 gpm capacity.

**in his capacity as skipper of LCS(L)3 #82, off Okinawa.
***and 20 mm and 40 mm.


With all due respect, Broward County Sheriff’s dept is pretty big- but I do get your point about school resource officers not getting the training many other officers in other assignments get.

Perhaps it’s time for that to change!