KnightExemplar wrote:I'd like to find a better source than the above, but it brings up some questions about this incident. In particular: we know that the plant was clearly over-capacity in its allotment of Ammonium Nitrate and the Department of Homeland Security didn't necessarily know about it. So the first question is... were the firefighters informed of the danger to begin with?
Before we talk about firefighting tactics, we should first know the information that the firefighters knew about. If they didn't even know about the danger that they were in, that would be the first problem. (and not necessarily the firefighter's fault either).
Second, we need to know how much ammonium nitrate there actually was in the plant. A question that probably will never be answered...
An excellent question. Presumably, it being a fertilizer plant, there was a presumption of at least some risk. They did evacuate the town, after all, which demonstrates recognition of a pretty decent possible mishap. However, it may well be the case that the scale of the risk was not fully understood...at least by the people on the scene. Hard question to answer for sure, though. Can't talk to the dead, and hell, disaster scenes are confusing even when handled well. Add in the fact that the owners may not even have complete data(and have incentives to skew the info), and the whole picture becomes a bit murky.
However, I must point out that a mere quantity being above(even much above) a red flag point does not inherently mean it is stored unsafely. That's as much about how you store it as the quantity itself. The mil, for instance, frequently has to deal with storage of damned large quantities of things what go boom. Usually things that do so much more efficiently than ammonium nitrate. Putting that in a single armory is doable, but you definitely want to have stringent safeguards in place.
Tyndmyr wrote:Looking at the additional factors brought up by others, that if seems very questionable and unsupported. It may well be that additional improvements in firefighting are possible, but the stats given don't seem to be sufficient to prove that case.
I've recently become very familiar with your talents at rationalizing away facts and numbers you don't like, without providing a convincing argument of your own. As a result of that experience, I have very little interest in what you think is "questionable."
A vague appeal to "additional factors" notwithstanding, the facts are as I have outlined them. A high death rate, associated with an aggressive culture in firefighting, which cost the lives of a dozen first responders in this case, without any evidence of benefit to anyone.
Benefit in this case, or benefit overall? Those are very different things. Sure, lives were lost in this scenario, but it's an unusually bad scenario. That's why it's in the news. And Thresh pointed out fairly convincingly that the UK population and the US population of firefighters are very, very different in size...and don't have exactly the same challenges. It's not strictly an apples to apples comparison.
This is not "rationalizing away facts", it is recognizing the inherent limitations of the data you have provided. The situation may be as you say, but the data given does not strongly support that. If you compare deaths against the size of the population of firefighters in each country, you're definitely in the same ballpark. Close enough that differences in reporting and situation may very well account for the difference.
Stats are not something you merely quote, then proclaim the argument won. You need to examine them and understand what they're getting at. It's strange to me that the general public seems to view stats as something anyone can use with no formal training and a minimum of understanding. Nobody would take the same attitude towards calculus. Yet, I had to take calc as a prereq for my stats classes.