How many times have you been on the nozzle and been using the pistol grip only to have the nozzle end up in your arm pit? This can waste time and energy when you have to try to stop and reposition to get a better hold on the line. If you hold the line just behind the nozzle, place the line through your arm and hold it between your arm pit and your knee you will be able to control the line a little better. Holding the line like this will allow you to free the nozzle so that you are not trying to control the nozzle but instead you will control the hose. Think about it for a second. What part of the attack line is the most flexible? The nozzle is usually made out of some type of plastic or metal. Not the most flexible material in the world. The hose, made out of a cloth or rubber jacket around a rubber liner. Now that is where you have the most flexibility. Even at pressure you will still be able to control the hose and still be able to control your nozzle. By holding the line here you can move your nozzle in all directions more easily than if you were to hold it by the nozzle. When you hold the line by the nozzle, you will at some point in time have to move your entire upper body just to point the nozzle where you want it to go. If you were to change your method and hold the line just behind the nozzle, you can just “push” the nozzle in the direction you want it to go. This picture was taken from a joint training session and two great instructors, Mr. Jeff Shupe, and Mr. Dave Karn, from Strategic Fire Training, were able to show us some good ways of handling hose lines and streams. We are looking forward to more training with both Jeff and Dave in the future.
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A few weeks ago some of our guys had the opportunity to attend a class by Chief John Coleman that was titled “Incident Command for the Street Smart Fire Officer.” One of the topics Chief Coleman talked about, was the “Oriented Method of Search.” This method can be used to perform a big box search.There are several different methods of performing a big box search. One method, that Chief Coleman discussed, was using a 2 ½ hand line. We performed this drill and it worked well. We did the drill three times and had two successful finds of the “victim.”
To perform the drill you will need a large area. We used our apparatus bay and it worked just fine. A water source, enough 2 ½ to reach from one end of the structure to the other, smoke trainers or something to “black out” your face pieces, full PPE with SCBA, tools, a TIC and a “Rescue Randy” type figure.
A team of 3 is ideal. You will need two personnel to perform the search and one to be the “oriented” man. Start by giving your crew a size up and assignment. They will drag the 2 ½ uncharged into the structure until they come to a wall. Personnel will call for the line to be charged. Once at the wall and with a charged line, personnel will turn around and face the way they came from. The oriented man will stay on the line and the other two will perform the search from each side of the line.
The search personnel must maintain a forward stance and stay facing the direction of the exit. Moving in a sideways motion, move 2-3 paces and then do a sweep of the area. Move 2-3 more and sweep. Keep doing this until you come to a wall. When at a wall move 2-3 paces forward, then repeat the 2-3 paces sideways and sweep till you reach the hose and the oriented man. Perform this the same way keeping your orientation towards the entry point till you either reach the other end or find the victim. Maintaining communications between crew members and maintaining a forward orientation is paramount to performing this type of search.
We found that it is best to put the “oriented” man with the TIC, as the second person on the line going in so that he can scan with the TIC as you are going along. Also the Firefighter that is 3rd, along with assisting with the advancing of the line, can sweep and do a basic search as they go. Following is a video of one of our crews as they performed this drill.
I would like to thank all the guys on my crew for bringing this training to the table and performing it as a real world scenario. If anyone has a different way of doing this type of search or sees anything that can be added to this, please let me know. Pass it along and perform the drill. Let us know how it goes. Train hard and stay safe.
While at a fire the other night I observed some truckies at work. These guys were carrying multiple ladders by themselves and throwing them. Venting the windows it was fantastic. It lead me to think, what if that apparatus is not here. Do firefighters have the mentality to understand it is not about the apparatus it is the job functions that have to be carried out. In the system I work in engines handle the RIT duties and numerous other functions on the fire ground, but it made me think even further if the trucks where not available would engine men have the mind-set to perform these roles without being prompted. While I am agreeable that we have to stretch correctly and get that first line in service knocking down the fire. I also feel it is equally as important the job functions of the truck company be performed promptly as well. Engine firefighters must still understand how critical it is to find out what is happening around you and not focus solely on spraying water. So I ask are you prepared to take on truck functions from your engine if needed. While having a discussion with our Chief of training he informed me that a quote that was submitted for a class on ladders could possibly get shot down. I was totally vexed. All firefighters must posses the ability to throw an extension ladder by themselves, rescue victims via ladders, open up ceilings, vent windows and roofs. the list could go on. Maybe I’m alone in that thought process? A friend of mine once told academies should have “Truck Company for the Engine Company” classes since our fire service is heavily loaded with engines. My question and ramblings are for this reason. Do you as a firefighter understand the critical functions truck company operations entail? Could you perform them from your engine if called upon? Do you have a true understanding of why you are carrying the duties out? Do not cheat yourself really find out. Truck Companies, Truck work is one of the most under valued functions on the fire ground and I say that based on the articles I read. Pictures I see, and cuts that are made. Truck work has to be done regardless of the type of apparatus. Next time you are at the firehouse look at your truck and think could you perform truck functions and how could you get it done with what you have.
Building codes are great, they provide a standard for everyone to follow. What is the result? Buildings that are all built the same? Not so much. Realistically, people do whatever they want, additions here, and alterations there. Many buildings predate modern codes, others have changed occupancy multiple times in their history. You have no idea what is hiding in a building’s walls. The only way for you to know is to open them up. Start with a bit of caution, when you see what’s behind the finish then you can go to town on it, but always remember there could be anything, anywhere.
There could be high voltage wires running behind the finish wall, don’t bet your life that you’re safe with a fiberglass rake. There could be four layers of 5/8” drywall with an elevator shaft on the other side. There could be a light shaft that was walled off long ago but is now providing the fire with an unchecked path out to the roof, or it could be a concrete block wall. If it’s your job to open up, just keep in mind what kind of history the building could have had.
You already know, but if your area has a few buildings going up, or being rehabbed check it out. See the type of work they do, you are going to visit the building for an emergency when the work is done, bet on that. So have an idea what’s going into or being taken out of the building. Who knows, with a bit a smooth talk you might get to help with the demo… your way.
Go out in your district and stop at different buildings. Look for muilt-story, L-shaped U Shaped buildings in your district. Also go through your residential communities and practice sizing up different styles and sizes of homes. Key Points to emphasize when doing size-up
1. What side are you on ( Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta )
2. How many Stories
3. Occupancy type ( Single Family, commercial )
4. Where is the water supply? Have you secured a water supply?
5. CAN report ( Conditions, Actions, Needs )
Practice this in non stressful situations and you will find it’s not so easy to do. Just imagine if you don’t practice what it will sound like when the heat is on.
Often times firefighters arriving at the scene of an incident will sign off on scene and that is all you get. This practice is particularly bad when multiple units are responding to a call. When arriving on scene even if you are the only unit responding to the call you need to give a size up and paint the picture of what is actually taking place. Firefighters right now are thinking how many times do I have to hear this. The answer is until you start arriving and giving a proper Size-Up. While buffing various departments around the country from small to large I hear it constantly. Eng 1 is on scene, and then nothing. A suggestion would be if you’re arriving at a medical call repeat the address just to make sure your at the one you were dispatched too. ex: Eng 1 on scene 123 ABC street. You may have a large gathering that is outside upset about a death of a family member or friend. When people are emotional you do not know what their response will be. Size-Up also is a big factor when multiple units are responding so that they can start to formulate some type of plan based off of what is being told to them. Do they need to lay a supply line? Do they need to pick up your supply line? Do they need to bring in a secondary attack line or just stand by? Does the first truck need to go to the roof or start their searches? These items are important to the efficiency and success on the fire ground. There are so many more examples that can be provided these were just a few. So the next time you get to a scene give a proper size-up.
Has someone ever told you to run around the back and tell them what you see? Or, as in my area, the second in ladder has this responsibility.
How would you describe these front and back pictures to Command?
Would they require a radio transmission?
What do these “additions” tell you about what my be going on inside the house?
People do crazy things to their property and then you are expected to show up and do your job. Sometimes you want to cuss them out for the stupidity they have displayed. NOT YOUR JOB. Your job is to protect yourself and crew, then them and their property. LIP. Act professional, do your job.
Addition #1 is a 5 year stalled project with construction debris in the yard. You cannot tell what other parts of the project are stalled from the outside, or in the dark.
Additions #2 and #4 are garage additions, if you want to call them that.
Addition #3 is restaurant that added a pantry and sink. Then ran the sink drain straight outside and put a shiny new tarp on the roof. Don’t trust the roof to have decking on it.
How many people are going to stand on that porch with you? Did someone take a quick look to see if ANYONE should be on it? If your department is like mine, I bet it looks like a bachelor party that rented too small of a space. Take a look, and look again, people do some crazy things. Fire escapes and porches aren’t exactly well maintained, most never have been. You and your crew might be the first real load that thing has seen in years.
Wood rots and steel corrodes, the house already has a problem that’s why you’re there. Don’t get tunnel vision; many more things will try to hurt you than just the fire, or the porch collapse.
Some hazards can be avoided, others may have to be mitigated. Throw a ladder over missing decking if you NEED to use that route. The safest option is if you see a potential problem, STAY AWAY, and let others know to do the same.
If you want full size versions of these pictures let me know, I have a couple others also.
When we respond to an MVA, there are many factors to figure out as far as vehicle placement goes. Placement of the apparatus can either hinder you or help you. What I would like everyone to do, is write a little comment on how your department has the tools set up and what you do on scene. Are your tool’s mounted or do you have a portable system? Are they mounted in the rear, front or side? Do you pull past or stop short? This is just to see how other departments do things. Everyone does things a little differently and sometimes you can get good ideas from other people. It may not change the way you do things but you can find out that someone else may have the same set up but deploys it a little differently.
While on the Fire Ground it is the responsibility of the Fire Officer to ensure safety of the crew. If you are an Officer and you are doing all the work while others are watching, You are simply getting Tactical Entertainment. While some Officers will disagree I ask this. If you are doing all the work are your firefighters really learning? What kind of Culture are you creating? Use this picture as a what not to do if you are the Officer or Acting Officer.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms” Colin Powell.
I have several great stories about complacency, but I’m sure you can get plenty of examples every day at the kitchen table. The only people you will impress by cutting corners and needlessly risking injury are people who do the same. Dress for every alarm as if it is going to be a job. Don’t show up unprepared to do your job. Check all of your equipment every day; SCBA, lights, personal safety items and pocket tools. Check everything on the truck every day; fluid level, fuel levels, does this thing even work? There is a reason all of those tools are on the truck, one day you will need them, and you will need them in a hurry. Don’t get caught with a tool that doesn’t work because it hasn’t been tested in a month. Don’t show up with just enough fuel in the saw to start a cut. Would you call AAA for a jump start if they did not have jumper cables last time you called? NO. It’s your job to be ready.
Do your job with knowledge of the inherent risks associated with it. Look around at newer construction practices, automotive advancements, economic fluctuations, things happen and you should actively think about the hazards involved.
The important thing for all firefighters to remember is that this job is “ultra hazardous” we don’t need to make it more so. It’s easy to tell who is doing the job and who is just trying to be a tough guy. The tough guy is the one on O2 with “smoke inhalation”. He’s the one who you have to keep a special eye on while working at an incident so he doesn’t hurt you or other people. There is nothing macho about being stupid.
At the end of the day all the people you try to impress will abandon you. The “salty” old guys will be long since dead. Your co-workers will have moved on, retired, or gone home if they are lucky. You may have gone to their funerals. You may have worked the incident where they were killed, or injured bad enough to have to retire. Or maybe it was your job to console the widow or husband. If these things have not happened yet in your career, they will.
It’s your job to be the last one standing. Do you job safely and with all of your equipment on. And ACT like this job is dangerous. Act like over 100 firefighters get killed in the line of duty every year. Don’t be scared be prepared.
Posted in Truck Tips
Here is an excellent training video on VES use and train before trying VES under live fire conditions.
Aerial operations are an often neglected skill in the fire service. Frequently, a newer firefighter will hear, “Put the stick up and cut the roof.” The veteran firefighter will point to the outriggers, point to the controls and then point to the roof and say, “Make it happen.” It sounds easy enough, but it is more complicated than that. Is just slamming the aerial into Grandma’s gutters really the minimum requirement operators should have? Or should aerial operators actually try to perform this action with skill?
1. Get a collection of similar traffic cones.
2. Disperse the cones around a training area or the area where you normally check the piece.
4. Hang another cone from the tip of the aerial. Use a carbiner so you can drop it off if you get a call during the drill.
5. Play “stack the cone”. Try to stack the cone hanging from the aerial on top of the other cones, one at a time.
Is the incident calling the shots or is the incident commander? Have you ever felt like that? Be honest. How many times have you wondered, who is in charge? Some fire officers have a better command presence than others. Very quickly we know who is in charge of the scene. As we respond to the incident and hear the first size-up being given, we know who is in charge. How complex is the Incident Command process? Do we respond to the call or do we make the call? Incident command is all based on Strategies, Tactics and Tasks or Functional Assignments. LIP, RECEOVS, WALLACE WAS HOT, CAN, PAR’s, LUNAR or UCAN are all acronyms. Do you truly understand their importance on the fireground or do you just go through the motions? Training, experience and knowing your SOP’s are crucial to effectively managing a scene. Are you prepared when you ride the “seat”; respond as an acting or duty officer? Are you truly prepared to place human lives in harms way? The answer better be YES! It needs to be YES. There is an old firefighters saying out there, “Every great fire chief has a parking lot on their resume.” Put your ego aside. DO NOT fight a losing battle. If you hesitate, the eight ball seems to get bigger and bigger. Micromanagement, free-lancing, political correctness and personal differences have no place on the fireground. The person who called 9-1-1 doesn’t care if you like someone or not. Incident Command starts before we ever get on scene. Know your area, your alarm assignments, resource availability and know your people. Take what the dispatcher has given you. The address tells us a lot. Where we are going? If you truly know your area, you will already be formulating a plan. Once you arrive on scene, PAINT the picture. Tell others what you have. Get out of the vehicle and walk around, all the way around the structure. If you can’t complete the walk around, relay the information. If you have pertinent information, pass it along. It’s not a secret. Whether your department performs the IC from a vehicle (fixed command) or stands in the front yard (mobile command) get into position. If you have arrived ahead of other responding apparatus whether POV or in a staff vehicle, formulate a plan, based on the resources responding. This means you need to pay attention to the radio. If you are in the “seat” and are the first arriving formulate a plan. Again, pay attention to the radio while responding to the scene. Establish command, establish accountability, and establish a presence. Base your water supply and fire flows on the size of the structure. Have your crews communicate and communicate with your crews. Well we all know what goes on now, the fire goes out. If you practice this before it happens events will go off more smoothly. As you ride your area, look at Residential, Commercial and Industrial buildings and ask yourself if that building was on fire, what would be my size-up, where would I place the first line, the aerial, what is my access for additional incoming units? Where is the closest hydrant, is this a mobile water supply operation? Can this be done, prior to the fire? YES. Pick up a fire magazine and look at the cover, practice and practice some more. Take classes, talk to the folks who have command experience and pick their brains. Manage the scene; anticipate any and all problems such as water supply issues, personnel issues (training/experience levels), apparatus placement, equipment failures, significant fire behavior, rapid fire spread. Read the smoke. Don’t let FRUSTRATION set in. When it does, control slowly slips away from the incident commander. Stick to the basics, don’t over-complicate the process. It’s not about how much you talk on the radio. It’s about bringing everyone home.
Scott Feather began his career at the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Dept, in Sevier, TN. During his Senior year in High School Scott became a Certified firefighter. Upon graduation Scott joined the United States Air Force as a Firefighter in 1993. Scott has been stationed in various parts of the Country to Included New Mexico, Alaska just to name a few. Scott is an avid student of the Fire service and seeks training from state or private organizations. Scott is the Captain over training for Colleton County Fire Rescue. Colleton is a combination dept that has 65 Full-time FF/Medics and has over 240 volunteers. If you have any questions or would like to ask Scott any questions. Email him at email@example.com
All firefighters should have the ability to throw an extension ladder by themselves and know how to vent the windows if necessary.
Has anyone noticed lately that we have started to navigate away from wearing actual uniforms? The uniform was one of the most scared parts of our job. Putting on our uniform could make a man change the way he felt on the inside. Firefighters today have just started wearing whatever they feel. You see firefighters in hats that don’t match of all colors. Sneakers with the uniform instead of some nicely polished boots. Collar brass is either missing or hanging off. Firefighters whom could careless about having a Class A uniform for when the time comes to be at a formal function or when having to do the unthinkable and ring out that last alarm for a brother who has returned home to quarters for the last time. Perhaps the most disturbing part are the Chief Officers these days who wear the business suits or everything else but a uniform to work. Where did the pride go? When was it not the classier thing to wear to a function where you are representing the department? When did it not become good enough to display your pride and belief in your department? When did a degree make you such a snob that you feel a uniform is not professional enough? These are questions I pose because our uniform is what sets us apart and makes us stand out from the rest. It is such an amazing feeling to be out in the public and have a citizen you protect come up to you and say you firefighters sure are sharp. I will even go as far as to say this. You show me a department that has a well thought out and squared away uniform and I’ll show you a department that is pretty squared away. If you show me a department that every member wears something different and Chief Officers who either half wear the uniform or don’t wear one at all, or firefighters who wear the uniform how they want I will show you a dysfunctional department. It may seem simple to you but think about what you just read and I think you will find it to be true. Our uniform speaks volumes about us, and our department. The next time you put on your uniform have some Pride! The uniform represents what we stand for, who we are, and most importantly those who came before.
In the Photo above the firefighter was preparing to don there SCBA and it became entangled around there head. In the drill below the intent is for firefighters to become familiar with the parts of the SCBA and Don it with zero visibility.
The firefighters will need to be in full protective clothing and mask. The mask is to be blacked out and they are to be lead in to a dark area where the SCBA can be taken apart, straps tighten down, or wrapped together. You come up with it. Just make it realistic. This will go hand and hand with your practice of Donning the SCBA and how you conduct your daily check off.
For This drill you will need your apparatus and your turnout gear. Keep your turnout gear in the position you normally would for a response. Get a stopwatch or use the one on your phone. Simulate being toned for a call and then have the time keeper start the clock. Put on your turnout gear and then get in the apparatus put on your SCBA and then seat belt. After your seat belt is fastened the time will stop. You will probably find with this drill you are not turning out as fast as you think. If you are congratulations. Next is all PPE being worn correctly. If the answer to the second question is yes keep up the good work. See how fast you can get.
Posted in Drills
I- Incident Stabilization. We are the calm after the storm.
P-Property Conservation. These are someone’s belongings. If you can save them, it’s much appreciated.
These are the Tactical Objectives for any call you go on. With the first priority always being Life.
These objectives seem to get lost in some areas because all some can focus on is fighting the fire. I challenge you the next time you arrive at a fire whether you are in charge or not use this as your basic model. If searches are not being conducted suggest them. If only one line is being taken to the fire pull or suggest another. It is does not matter how many Phrases or Acronym’s we come up with this one still represents the most basic of tactical objectives, and is still the main mission of the Fire Service.
Posted in Education/Training
Anchor Point is a veteran firefighter from a large urban department whom agreed to come on board and offer tips and drills and fill the gap Aaron and I are missing being Suburban firefighters. Anchor Point will also take questions and comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.