After learning last night that a good friend and contributing Jeff Schwering was not doing well. I thought I would ask everyone to pray for our Brother firefighter and his family. Jeff broke his leg Jan 19 and subsequently since then has had two brain bleeds. Please Keep Jeff and his family in your prayers. If you would like to leave words of encouragement we will get them to his wife so she can read them too him. We will try and keep everyone updated.
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Article after article is written by many in regards to placing the first line into operation. Since this is one of the most basic fundamentals of being a firefighter, why do we have so much trouble in placing the first line into operation correctly? Is it, because we are moths drawn to a flame? Is it not being able to think on your feet? Is it tunnel vision? Or is it ignorance? We as fire service professionals have to get past the “yanking” it off the truck mentality. Take time when you get to the engine. It doesn’t matter if you call them preconnects, speed-lays or cross-lays. It doesn’t matter what load is carried. One thing that all fire hose loads have in common is they will all become a big pile of spaghetti and have multiple kinks in the line if not deployed correctly.
One simple maneuver will help the deployment and actually speed the process and prevent frustration. Pull the line away from the point of entry (Where you are going to go in and attack the fire). Clear the hose bed, put tension on the line. NOW proceed towards the door. Nothing to in depth here. You may be wondering, well we don’t have a building to train in. Go to the local park. Pick an object that would be the “front” door and deploy your handline. This will give you practice on obstacles and having to size up your deployment. Use the parking lot of the station, use a traffic cone as your point of entry and go in between the parked vehicles. Go to a new house being built and talk with the crews. Explain what you want to do and see if they will let you deploy your handlines. Let them know it is all outside work. Obstacles are good practice, because we never ever encounter obstacles on the fireground. Empty parking lots never allow us the chance to practice around obstacles. If you have a burn building or training tower then great. Practice outside/inside hose advances. If you don’t have either of those. Then use the apparatus bays. You see where I am going with this. These aren’t three hour drills. These are quick drills that 4 or 5 people can accomplish in an hour to an hour and a half with everyone getting their chance to pull line. Even the officer and engineer needs to have a little hands on time.
Why, you ask? Keep in mind that “Murphy’s Law” will come into play somewhere during the working fire. Remember that selecting the appropriate sized hose line is important. Putting the line into operation without a hitch is even more important.
The latest crop of future leaders emerged from the physically and mentally demanding fire academy 1 week ago. First off; Congratulations, and great job. Welcome to the best job on Earth.
Now that we got past that “LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING KID…“:
1.Forget EVERYTHING you learned in the academy. Those book smart idiots don’t know shit about how real firefighters work.
2. Top priority everyday is to make sure the coffee is made. Get your equipment ready after that.
3. Learning your streets is your second priority after the coffee. I know you aren’t allowed behind the wheel for a year but you need to know all the streets right now. Where’s Action Court? Ha, Wrong! It’s a street off Action Road that doesn’t have any buildings on it, actually it’s just a named driveway, learn your streets kid.
4. Never leave the truck without a tool. if it’s a minor car accident bring the pick head axe. The ambulance drivers can do the medical crap, that’s beneath us.
5. Always carry the pick head axe when investigating alarms. It looks cool as hell and you can hit things with it.
6.If you wear your tank while investigating an alarm you are a punk and/or scared.
7. Take that suspension and ear flap crap out of your helmet. You look stupid. As a matter of fact we could put in the oven for a couple of minutes and take that shine off.
8.In order to be a more streamlined and effective firefighter you have to control your weight. Dump the search rope, pliers, cable cutters. Take the liner out of your Bunker pants. You already have an integrated pass so get rid of that stand alone nonsense. Now let’s get some cake and watch Wheel of Fortune.
9.Those guys down the street on the west side are so caught up following the book that they forgot they are supposed to be aggressive firefighters. If you see them stop to catch a hydrant drive around them and we’ll run a line off the tank. We’ll be alright but if we run out they can fill us.
10. I’ve been on this job so long that I don’t need to check my equipment or the truck. Besides, the guy yesterday should have done it all.
11. I don’t care if you are a grown man who did 3 deployments to Afganistan as a combat medic. You don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m a better medic than you’ll every be.
12. “There I was at that 4 alarm fire……Just me….against the Red Devil…..”
This is advice I’ve heard people tell Probies. Most of these are direct quotes. The caliber of leadership can sometimes be astounding.
Many things are being discussed in our service today. My take on things is a mix I suppose you could say between sides of the fence that the Fire Service has created. We have the “Safety Sallies” in the blue corner and the “Aggressives” in the red corner. I did the groups in specific corners for a reason, if you figure it out wonderful, if not, sorry. Many issues are in the front of our minds right now. Searching of insert name of building type here, proper size hose lines, ventilation, etc. We seem to split down party lines and to me this about the worst thing we could possibly do.
Here’s a novel idea, break down the fence and meet in the middle!Many outstanding and far more intellegent folks tha I, occupy both “camps,” so how about instead of “flinging poo” as Chief Goodrich has elluded to in his post and “Sir Lancelot etc” by Dave LeBlanc, both on this sight. If you haven’t read them, please do before you finish this. These two gentlemen, who, Dave I know personnally and Art I know through his writing and chatting with, represent the corners. These two guys don’t share the same beliefs on some of the issues, yet they are friends, and meet in the middle, in the battleground that has become of Safety vs Aggressiveness.
We all came on this job to be a fireman, to my knowledge no one forced you to get on that engine, truck, or rescue, if someone was forced to come on the job, stop reading now. Being a fireman, is a tough demanding and dangerous job, period! We’ve come a long way from hanging on the tailboard, trying to pull our boots up, to enclosed cabs, with Seatbelts! Wow, are we good are what? Spare me the butt slapping and back patting we all do, before the job is done. Our job is never going to be done, fires happen, fact and people die, if not for us! Real quick, if you don’t like being referred to as a fireman and would prefer Fighfighter, the touchy feely PC way, just pretend. We have some of the smartest folks in the world working in our profession. IAFF, NFPA, NIOSH, EGH, IAFC,etc, these folks are giving us tools to put in our paperwork toolbox everyday and as firemen and bosses, we need to use them to help keep our members safe. We have hands on training like Brotherhood of Instructors, Vulcan training groups and many other teaching the apparatus toolbox things to make us better firemen, everyday folks!
Novel idea time! Lets use the skills we honed in our apparatus tool box, get the saw, irons, hooks, axes, etc, to take apart this fence and instead having party lines, like the politicians we all agree we don’t like. Let’s look together and have civil disscussions and conversations on how to make both toolboxes work together, to better enhance the Fire Service. Leave the fingerpointing and second guessing outside of our circle. We truely as Firemen are better than that. Be mindful of the families of the lost or injured Brothers the next time you feel you need to point a finger at any Brother or Department, it could be you tomorrow.
We are in the greatest Profession in the world, the bond we have with each other has no borders, nor should our professionalism to our citizens, towns, districts, and our country! Be Safe, but all buildings get searched, we say when and if that building is unoccupied.