The Tables of Organization for the Platoons exist in various Army historical centers. Unfortunately, the Army High Command's orders to create the Platoons, the parameters they laid down, the studies, the deliberations, the compromises and the processes used to create the Platoons appear to be non-existent.
Before looking at the TOs, a look at yester-years ranks will be helpful to today's Engineer Fire Fighter.
Sergeant Specialist (T/4)
Corporal Specialist (T/5)
Private First Class
The T Ranks were specialists who had the privileges of the line ranks, but had no command responsibilities.
The Platoons were originally designated as Engineer Fire Fighting Detachments with an authorized strength of 1 O-2 (Fire Marshal) and twenty six enlisted as follows: 1 E-6 (Fire Chief), 4 E-5s (Section Chief), 1 T/4 (Mechanic, Automobile), 1 E-4 (Clerk), 4 T/5s (Assistant Section Chief and Pump Operator), 7 E-3 (Fire Fighter) and 8 E-2 (Fire Fighter). It was under this T/O that Engineer Fire Fighting Detachments 1 through 10 were activated on 31 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. The officers (The Platoon Commanders) were, in some cases, recent graduates of the Corps of Engineer's Office Candidate School and who, in some cases, had no background or skills in fire fighting. The Cadre (the senior non-commissioned officers) occasionally brought with them fire fighting skills acquired in volunteer fire departments or in forest fire organizations. The rest of the enlisted staff were Selective Service inductees who, with occasional exceptions, had no skills in the field.
Under this T/O Engineer Fire Fighting Detachments 1,2,4 and 5 sailed for North Africa on 1 April 1943. On 15 August 1943, under T/O 5-337 (12 May 1943), these Detachments and the remaining six of the first ten were renumbered as 1201 through 1210 and renamed as Engineer Fire Fighting Platoons. The enlisted staff was increased to 28 with the addition of 2 T/5s. This T/O was the first to separate the "Generalist" Platoon from those specializing in aircraft fires. The difference was in equipment with the enlisted (numbers and ranks) being identical.
T/O 5-500 (31 July 1943) entitled "Engineer Service Organization" detailed the Platoons usable and assignable, in the whole or in individual sections, to any Engineer Service unit. Under this T/O staffing remained at 1 officer and 28 enlisted. Removed from this "T/O" was the T/4 Mechanic, Automobile with the position being retained and filled with an E-2 fire fighter.
In late 1943, using the flexibility of this T/O several units were created under the same unit number, but under a new name, "Engineer Composite Platoon, Fire Administration-Fire Control". These few units were Platoons whose staffing was increased as well as their equipment being changed and increased. Typical was the 1204th EFFP that grew from 28 to 37 enlisted and from 1 fire truck to four. With the end of the war in Europe, these "ECPs" reverted to "EFFPs" by staff reductions to the former levels. The additional equipment was retained.
T/O 5-500 "Engineer Service Organization" was reissued 26 July 1944. It retained staffing of 1 officer, but reduced enlisted staffing from 28 to 26. It then increased enlisted staffing to 27 by adding an additional truck and a position to operate it. This T/O differed from the rigid T/O 5-337 that allowed for a single fire truck section in that fire truck sections were authorized on the basis of need.
If additional T/Os detailing "EFFPs" through the end of the war were issued, they have not located in a decade of searching.
These T/Os are testament to the skilled men and women who, pressured by little time and a raging war, created an organization whose basic structure remains little changed to this day.
The term "Table of Organization" (T/O) as used here is not totally accurate. Properly, it is "Table of Organization and Equipment" (T/O & E). The site's builder chose to exclude the "Equipment" which will be discussed in another location in this site.