When a brand new firefighter starts on the job it is through their first interactions that sets the tone for the type of firefighter they can become. If a firefighter is brought in to an environment, or dare even I say a “Culture”, that provides for education and learning that increases safety for all.
Increasing firefighter safety means getting back to the basics. Basics are things such as training on how to wear your PPE and the limitations that each piece possesses. Knowing the gear you are wearing was designed to release heat and have a greater tear resistance. It is our job as professionals to read the manuals that come along with the turnout gear and understand the material that your turnouts consist of. This is going to require sitting down taking your gear apart, discussing what each part is, and how it protects you. Firefighters need to have a basic understanding of what the outer shell, the moisture barrier, and thermal barrier really do and how to do maintenance. When breaking down your gear into parts and discussing it, it does not have to be formal but it is training and does have to be educational.
The same has to be done with your SCBA. Check to see if there is a manual available for you to read and if not contact your sales representative or the manufacturer and ask them to get you one. When training with your SCBA ensure that you can put on, take off your SCBA, and handle out of air emergencies. Do you have a pass device on your SCBA? What kind is it? Is the pass device integrated into your SCBA or is it a stand-alone? What kind of batteries does it take and when must they be replaced?
When advancing attack lines know how they are deployed and where to deploy them too. Should there be a second line and where should it go? Should it be right behind the initial line? Should that line be of equal or greater size? Do you pull multiple lines with no water supply? Where is your apparatus placed? Did you leave enough room for the truck? Can you as a firefighter give a size up and recognize fire ground hazards?
In doing a size-up and recognizing fire ground hazards, how well do we know fire behavior? How comfortable do we feel with building construction? These are all factors affecting us on the fire ground. Do you have advanced fire upon arrival? What affect is the fire having on the fire building? What is the smoke telling you?
Every question that I have posed thus far comes down to training.
The only way to know your job is to train, and when you train do it safely.