Often times firefighters miss the opportunity to get it right on the drill ground by failing to work on steps in small segments. In order to be able to gain proficiency we must start at understanding why we are using the hose load we are using and the pros/cons when stretching in your response area. What are the streets like? What are the dwelling sizes? What are the building types? Are you prepared for extended stretch?
Do you know your SCBA? Really, REALLY know it? I do…mostly, I’m ashamed to admit I could know the numbers and pressure levels a bit better. My current position as Fire Academy Instructor has really opened my eyes to some of the basic tasks of this calling that I may be lacking adequate skills in. Granted, I could tell the recruits that I could pump water from the East coast to the West coast and they would most likely believe me. But if they challenged me to prove it I would be hard pressed to demonstrate it. I don’t generally talk about things I don’t know or that I cannot demonstrate.
So when one of the recruits challenged me in a race to assemble and don an SCBA, I accepted. The challenge is to mount the bottle, attach the lines, turn on the bottle, don the face piece and start air flow. But of course I had to handicap it in my favor. I told him the only way I would race him is if we put flash hoods on backwards first. I won.
With that in mind today’s drill is SCBA familiarization. This floated to the surface after watching the recruits struggle with the maze confidence course. There is nothing life threatening in there. It is a chance for them to work through a search and negotiate some obstacles. Some obstacles require the removal of the pack, and there are some entanglements but nothing that should be too difficult to work through. The recruits had a difficult time, which is to be expected. We also ran a couple of seasoned guys through during that same time and a couple had SCBA issues that I can only attribute to lack of familiarization with the equipment, but they did make it through without “dying”.
My opinion is that training should be harder than any expected reality. Anyone can kneel down and assemble a bottle and harness. Try to make it harder.
Start with all necessary equipment laid out in front of you however you like, some guys kneel on their gloves etc… The standards I used for a successful finished product in this drill are; Mask on flowing air, pack on your back fully opened cylinder with straps adjusted and seatbelt on, 2nd PASS activated, gloved hands in the air.
The levels I had the recruits do are as follows.
1. No restrictions
2. Gloves on
3. Gloves on and a flash hood on backwards.
4. Gloves and reversed hood on, equipment messed with.
For the “Equipment messed with” the instructors would go around and rearrange the layout, randomly tighten straps, buckle the seatbelt, turn the bottle or even the harness around. For the recruits that were really good we would tangle lines and straps.
I wish I had pics, maybe I do….
Good luck to you, and stay safe.
The recruits have graduated, they will be moving into their first assignments. They have a lot of things left to learn but they have the basics of fire behavior and attack to build from.
Towards the end they started asking questions about firehouse life. Some of the questions had to do with when exactly will they be expected to drive and operate the pump. That is not a set answer.
We still have a patrol desk and a member on “watch” 24hrs a day. So naturally the Probies are expected to learn that first. They are supposed to use the pit as their base of operations, whenever they are done with a task they return to the pit. I personally believe the apparatus has priority over everything else. So my Probie will help check the piece and also their personal equipment first. Other officers think they should do housework first, I think that is a narrow minded view as I believe that teaches the most important thing in the firehouse if mopping the floor. It’s not.
After they learn the pit and get themselves in the watch rotation it’s time for them to start driving back from runs and also practice driving around the district. We do not have a driver or operator position so everybody takes turns driving. From the time they are in the watch rotation and driving back from runs map tests will start in earnest. When they show competency in the district and a few special responses we have then it is time for “The Test”.
Most of the apparatus in our city run a 500 gallon tank. Not a lot.
We Nose into a hydrant and when the probie says go this is what happens:
1: Open up the deck gun
2: Charge a 100′ section of 2 1/2 so we can play water.
3: Hook up the hydrant and get water into the tank before you run out.
It usually takes a couple of attempts, but after they get it they feel confident in their abilities, and we do too.
One of the highlights of my profession is the networking you are allowed to do. A person I consider a Ture Brother, Mentor, and Friend has always maintained that where we missed the mark in the fire service is to break training down into smaller segments. We must began to recognize that training firefighters does not have to be a clubbing over the head, death by powerpoint, but yet it must meet the requirements of being Realistic, and Relevant. There are a few points when injury or death occurs that can be pointed out an Ineffective command system, and firefighters who were trying to operate outside Basics. I understand that accidents happen as well based off of decisions made by others, but that too can be linked back to a failed understanding of the Basics!
For new and aspiring fire officers remember training does not have to take all day, but has to be effective and have a measurable outcome at the end. Remember to take nothing for granted when training. A great place to start is by taking your policy manuals and ensuring the policies are truly understood and you become amazed it what drill s you can pull just out of them. If you do not have a policy manual then start with your expectations and your desired fire ground performance. The hardest part will be consistancy.
For this drill you will need
- Full turnout gear w/o SCBA
- Room setup like a bedroom
- Hand tools
- Department SOP’s for search
Remember to cover the basics
- Check the door for heat before opening
- when you enter the room check behind the door. Even though it may not stop there could be a decent pocket for a small person or child
- Pick a pattern left or right
- Use tool to keep you oriented to wall depending on the search you are doing
- Ensure that you are actually finding the windows and doors
- Communicate size of room. No point in crowding into a small room
We will provide different illustrations of various techniques. If you are looking for books or videos Fire Engineering and Fire Department Training Network
Okay, so I know that it’s been a while since I have last posted, so I thought I’d start with a short one as I dust off my keyboard. This story occured a few months ago, and I have been meaning to share it, but haven’t gotten around to it, until now. One thing that I have always advocated to everyone is the standard morning checks of one’s equipment prior to starting the shift. In addition to the standard SCBA checks of checking the bottle, turning it on and hearing a PASS device arm, I also allow my PASS to alarm after the 30 second time out. Once it alarms, I silence it, then re-activated it by pushing the manual activation button before silencing it for good. Upon completing this ritual, a “senior” firefighter came up to me and said, “You know that’s pretty loud, right?”
Of course, my reponse went something like this, “Well ya, I think it’s supposed to be, right? So when I fall through a floor, someone may hear it and help me, right?”
Thus, he replied, “Well, you don’t have to check it every morning, the things do work, and they are pretty loud in the morning. Do you really think it’s necessary to go that far in your checks, that is why we carry radios, so you can call the Mayday if you need it.”
Well, I had to leave it at that, because I was clearly not going to change this firefighter’s mindset, yet still knowing that I am in the right. I also elaborated to him that there are only 2 things on the fireground that I can control which could save my life: My PASS device and my radio, which was another thing he didn’t seem to understand. I always change my own battery in the morning at shift change, and tell my guys to get in this habit as well. This way, you know you are startign fresh in the morning, and not depending on someone else to do it for you. I know in many departments and companies have a good policy of the chauffer doing this job, but I still recommend taking the additional 30 seconds to make sure yourself that you are ready to go to work. No one else is responsible for your life, but you. Anyways, in closing, take a few extra minutes and really go over the equipment that could mean the difference between being heard and saved versus not working and being dead. We can only hope that this culture of safety will continue, and that we can contiue to lower the LODDs in this country every year we think this way.
Often times fire departments will arrive on the scene of a building or dwelling fire and have to over come the obstacle of a long stretch when trying to reach the front door, not even including making it to the fire.
- Go out and stretch the lines repeatedly so that you start getting the muscle memory and are able to develop a vision for aprroximate length.
- Take a measuring wheel and count it out. This will also be good to add to a pre-plan during those times.
Note: Hose lines should be setup to reflect your response area and departmental policies, and not because that is what we have always done
If any has any drills or tips they use feel
We want you to Identify basic functions by putting yourself in the position of our brother and sisters in the videos. Remember these are videos and you could be the next week. We want to learn and grow not critcize.
Five basic points to consider.
•Hose Lines ( Deployment, Number )
Often times we look for drills that will get the crew going and makes everyone say great job I would have never thought of that, but this site is geared towards the basics so we will offer some simple tips.
General tips for all apparatus
1. Get a general impression of the apparatus- Do a complete 360 looking at the tires, body, and any external equipment for damage and wear ( i.e. spotlights, telescoping lights, hand tools)
2. Check all fluids possible that need to be checked before the apparatus is started.
3. Check all signaling equipment to include warning devices
1. Start with the above points
2. Check all nozzles ensuring they are turned to the right and set to the gallonage your department or officer requires them to flow. If using smoothbore ( Great Choice ) make sure that your handles and ball valve inside are good to go. If using automatic or selectable gallonage ensure that you have all your teeth and the bumper is in good shape also.
3. Ensure your hose is packed properly and will deploy without any hang ups
4. visually check your water level and foam if you have it. We know guages would never lie or break
5.Before engaging the pump operate and lubricant if necessary all valves and drains before placing it in pump
6. Engage the pump and make sure all controls with the exception of the valves are working ( i.e. transfer valve, pressure relief valve, manual overrides for pumps, or master control valves.
7. Be sure to check all lighting equipment, generators, and etc. ensure they run properly and properly serviced before being secured
1. Start with general tips above
2. Check aerial ladder for damage, check the welds and if you have a pinnable waterway, ensure it has a pin and it is placed correctly.
3. Check your hydraulic fluid and ensure there are no leaks
4. Check the outriggers and ensure there are no damage and they are operating properly.
5. Raise the Aerial ladder and place it in every angle, extended it fully, rotate it 360 degrees. ensure all safety alarms are working
6. Inspect your ground ladders and hand tools to ensure they are operating smoothly and don’t require matainance
How do some firefighters get really good at their job and some, well, not so much. I was just perusing Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” and one of the focuses of the book is the 10,000 hour rule to become an expert or successful. I don’t plan on reading the book, but I’ve heard this 10,000 hour number before.
5 years full time employment (40hrs a week)
10 years part time
For the average firefighter that may take an hour a shift to check the piece; 64 years, if you do 3 shifts per week
OUCH! And that is just operating the piece and the equipment on it, not RIT training, not roof operations, not EMS skills, not fitness all of which a firefighter should be an expert at. Or is it 10,000 hours of “firefighter job related stuff”? Either way, I’m nowhere near it.
Now Gladwell is far from THE authority on the subject, having written about other people’s research and weaving in some interviews for flavor, but the idea is interesting.
I may have brought this up before, but have you ever watched someone at an incident farting around with a power tool like a monkey fornicating a football? Don’t you just think “Come on guy, the switch is still off”? How much time has he spent with that saw? How many hours? Minutes? He is acting like it’s his first time.
We ran a 2 1/2″ line in an attempt to fill our local pond on my last shift. The crew was all experienced and professional and I would consider a most of them to be experts. I asked for a solid stream (built into the nozzle) we had an issue finding it, when the hydrant was charged it gave the line too much pressure, We had a difficult time with apparatus placement to have an easy escape in order to stay available for responses.
The placement issue was all me. It was a silly new officer mistake. I try not to micro manage so I let the driver pick the placement based on my requirements, now I know better. The line problems were just rust. Not equipment rust, but firefighter rust. I know they are good at their jobs, it was a good refresher for all. The total delay or inconvenience was negligible and barely noticeable to anyone watching but everyone involved knew what happened and how to fix it.
When we were harassing each other about it later one of the younger firefighters ask what we were talking about and why it was an issue. So I see we need to do it again and get him a little closer to the 10,000.
Every time you put your hands on that piece of equipment you are learning something about it. All those little things that make checking the piece faster and easier for you also make you more familiar with it. The more familiar you are, the better you are but also the more complacent you become, not getting into that today.
Do I think the saw needs to be checked every day to be maintained? No. I do think it needs to be checked every day to maintain our readiness and competency with it. I can understand getting rusty with a 2 1/2″ line, 75% of our work is handled with an 1 3/4″, but there is no excuse for not knowing your saw, ladder, EMS equipment.
Are you going to get 10,000 hours of training and become an “expert”? I doubt it. Most of us have long passed the expert level at sleeping or channel surfing, maybe Grand Master level for some. But the general idea here is that you need to get your hands on that stuff. Get your face in the books.
Become a student of the fire service.
I was trying to teach my children about doing quality work and making sure you can put your name on everything you do. Of course one of them asked “But isn’t that a lot of work?” Yes, yes it is. But the effort is the biggest part of any job well done. Like Ghandi said. Most of the time it’s the struggle that determines if the outcome is desirable or not. In the fire service if you do good training and drilling you will do good work.
I thought of Rocky Valentine for some reason. Rocky was the main character in an old 1960’s Twilight Zone episode called “A Nice Placeto Visit”. Rocky was a career criminal that was gunned down after robbing a pawn shop. He wakes up to Pip, his new person assistant for the afterlife. Pip grants every wish Rocky has. Rocky has amazing luck in this new afterlife, everything works out for him. He doesn’t have to struggle with anything. He wins at the casino every time, the ladies love him, his every wish is granted etc… After a month of this Rocky gets bored and frustrated with everything working out all the time. He tells Pip “I don’t belong here in Heaven, I want to go to the other place or I’ll go nuts!” Pip asks him “What makes you think this is Heaven?”
In my new firehouse I go out with the guys and we do a little drill every day. I’m not a ball buster and I am not trying to test anyone. We go out as a crew and do something.
The last time we went out was to run the deck gun. Nothing fancy, run water and play with tip sizes and talk scenarios and water flow. One guy has been on for 3 years and that was his first time operating the deck gun. I have to wonder when the previous officer expected this firefighter to learn this basic skill. I can guarantee if they went to a surround and drown and that firefighter could not get the deck gun going the officer would lose his mind.
A firefighter I worked with months ago called me to complain that a firefighter that just transferred in ran the line around the stair case instead of up the center; they ran out of line short of the fire. Tragic. So now if we are out on a call and see some funky access or architectural oddities I ask the crew how they would handle it.
I’m not an engine guy so I am most definitely learning while we do it. But we are doing it. When it comes time for us to work, we will work and hopefully it’ll work out right. Other companies that I have worked at like to sit back and talk about the fires they had.
You are only as good as your last fire, right? What about your next fire? What about the satisfaction of a job well done?
I think the deck gun qualifies as a basic firefighter skill. I think shagging a line qualifies as a basic skill also. Do you really want to be known as the company that messed up a BASIC skill? Advanced stuff and the once in a lifetime things are fun to prepare for but if you mess up a basic skill on the fire ground you will wear that mistake forever.
There is always talk of the basics and what they mean to the fire ground. Basics are the Key to preventing fire ground emergencies. Every week we will look at a fire not to poke fun or disrespect the agency in the photo or video, but in an effort to use these to open discussion about the basics and use them to identify flaws in our own fire ground operations!
- Hose Lines ( Deployment, Number )
- Truck Functions
- Water Supply
The point of view in this video shows almost everything that is happening so you have to imagine yourself showing up at street level and the limited view you would have had. The first arriving companies thought it was a fire in the rear porches. They were right, but, the fire was already inside the second building when they arrived.
I spoke with the officers on scene and from their point of view upon arrival they thought it was back porches and they thought they may have inadvertently pushed the fire into the second building. The officer on the first line to the rear was wondering why the fire was going to 3 alarms, let alone 4. It was obvious to command what was going on, but from the rear it was a different story. You can see the rear was a floor lower than the front.
I wish we could just get a couple second video from the front when the first arriving companies got on scene, but that’s not going to happen. Too often when someone posts a video the commenter gets to watch the whole thing and then decide what they would have done. It would be better to just get a few seconds and then watch the comments, to keep everyone honest. But comment away.
Was going to the rear with the first line a good choice?
Would going in from the front then making a basement attack have worked?
What size line are you going to bring?
Are there any other issues that should be brought up?
I may sometimes sound like a stickler for rules because a firefighter should at least know the procedures that way if they do something that isn’t in line with the procedures they have to provide reason instead of “I didn’t know”. My only critique is that at least one of the trucks arriving on the subsequent alarms should have looked at the roof instead of just putting the stick up. This would have minimized the chance of a guy alone on the roof, especially a relatively new guy. That’s just my opinion and I have had that opinion since this video was taped almost 9 years ago.
I was checking out some of the other firefighter blogs looking for something entertaining. Lucky for me I stumbled across Lt. Lemon at ELAFF complaining about Radio Redundancy. http://elaffhq.com/2011/08/19/radio-traffic-redundancy/
I suddenly have the urge to complain about the way some people use the radio. For entertainment purposes only:
Push and hold the little button before you start to speak, and hold it down until you are finished speaking. Nothing is better than getting the middle and the end of a message. “…teen update for the EMS, patient is not….conscious…”
You aren’t in the military anymore. “Roger, Wilco” and you don’t have to worry about the enemy tracking you so you don’t need to do the 5 second rush.
On the 5 second rush note, don’t think with the mic on. Think, THEN speak, and make it short.
Don’t over lawyer it. Yes you are being recorded, but you still have a job to do. Don’t start changing protocols or common phrases at random. For example; MVC or MVA, not giving updates if the patient/incident status changes, don’t hide things that should be broadcast.
Speaking of lawyers; you are being recorded, be professional. “applyin O2″ classic. “Patient is disorientated”,”It’s just a bum-he’s moving on”.
You aren’t a Doctor (If you are why are you reading this?). In my department we are only authorized 1st responder level care, EMT-B or P doesn’t matter so-”This guy is drunk” I prefer “altered mental status”. “Heroin overdose” unless there is a needle nearby I usually go with “respiratory arrest”.
If you aren’t first to the scene, you don’t need to call off, especially if you have no intentions of leaving the piece, thanks. Exceptions; it is a working incident, you are the chief, the ambulance we are all waiting for, or you are positioned out of sight and ready to provide a function from there. “E12 to dispatch, we are investigating on High St” …3min later…”Ladder 3 is on High St” Good job, the engine is already inside investigating, maybe even done already, they’ll see you when they are done.
Last but not least. DON’T EAT THE DAMN THING! Keep it away from your mouth. Did you know you may actually be able to leave it on the clip and speak? That’s 2′ from your mouth!
I know we’re called Firefighter Basics. I was actually wondering if this subject was TOO basic to cover. It’s not. We went on a run the other day and the officer told the 5 year guy to chock the door. The 5 year guy reaches up to his helmet and lo and behold the 2 chocks that he wears to balance out his helmet were missing. He says “My chock is missing”. The way he phrased it made it seem like it’s not his fault made my mouth drop. (He didn’t say “I don’t have one.”). The second reason I stared at him like he was and idiot was because we were in a crappy building with litter, debris and CRAP everywhere. I carry a chock block and have only used it once, to help pop a car door, I only have one chock and I know it’ll magically disappear if I use it somewhere. So here is a quick primer on “chocking” that door.
Remember; the Fire Service is goal oriented. When we do a job there is a mission to accomplish and steps that need to happen along the way. What are the goals of chocking the door?
- We can get out easily if needed, no locked doors behind us.
- Others can get to our location easily, no locked doors in front of our back-up.
- Cause no damage or as little as possible if appropriate.
- Walk out with all of our equipment.
There are 2 basic ways to chock the door, the first is so its wide open with unobstructed access, and the second is to prevent it from securing. Preventing the door from securing is usually pretty simple; obstruct the frame, wrap the latching hardware or some sort of complex remove the cylinder process (I’m not a fan). Preventing the door from securing is the most reliable, the door will usually hold these things in place, they may fall out the first time the door is used but that may be all that is needed. Propping the door wide open is actually more complicated because whatever you use has to be heavy enough or wedged in adequately to hold the door open reliably
Honestly the highest demand for propping a door open is on the routine medical calls where the apparatus arrives before the ambulance. An example is a semi-secure building with a desk guy or a buzz to enter building. The goal is to allow the door to be opened without someone there. All of these will work and I prefer to use a magazine or flyer of some type at these places.
Everyone loves to talk about chocking a door at a fire. “Door control is paramount” true, but at a legit fire I don’t give a shit about the door, put the Adz end of the halligan behind the hinges and pop the bottom ones free, the door will shift and sit on the ground. If you need to shut it the top hinge is still in place and the door can be closed if needed. Understand I’m not talking about forced entry here.
During the setup a multi-agency drill, a conversation was started after a prop that was going to be used was built. The conversation covered when to remove a firefighter from the prop that will be used as apart of an Air Management course. The statement was made a firefighter starts to lose it you remove them from the prop. My feelings of course is that you allow them to stay there and work it out. My feelings are this way because, I feel that we are giving firefighters a false sense of security. Allowing them to believe that there is going to be a hand to just reach in and grab you when your in trouble. Firefighters who have experienced being lost and disoriented, or running out air know that this is not so. It was said to me that it seems like we just want firefighters to fail this particular skill by allowing them to panic and not pulling them out. My thoughts are the failure would be to pull them out and build that falsehood that help is always going to be right there. The basics are simple and plain if and when you get jammed because if your a firefighter going into structure fires you will, its simple you panic you could very well DIE! Yes I said it! Its a harsh reality, but true. You have to have a survival attitude and training to go along with it. So I ask you the fire service where is the failure. Is failure allowing firefighters to be pulled out because they panic, or Failure not to let them panic and hammer the point home?
What do you think of when you take an Engine Company class? You think of a three or four person crew arriving on the first due apparatus. A lot of departments in South Carolina do not respond with 3 or 4 people on the first arriving apparatus. They arrive with one person and have additional personnel arrive at different intervals, in apparatus, staff vehicles or POV. The latest study shows how effective an engine company can be with 4 and 5 personnel riding on the rig. The study accomplished 22 different tasks. When you have one or two people arriving on scene, the study showed accomplishing those same 22 tasks, increases the work load and the overall time to complete those tasks. One question I have is most departments are fully aware of the increased work load with the initial one or two persons arriving. Does your department practice one person engine drills? Do you honestly train like you fight? What do you expect to accomplish in 3-6 minutes by yourself. Not much you are probably thinking. What if I told you that one person can in less than six minutes complete the following:
- Arrival on scene with a windshield radio size-up (Time starts when the cab door opens)
- Pump engagement
- Donning your structural pants
- Deploying your 200ft pre-connect
- Charging your line
- Donning the rest of your gear, including your SCBA
- Deploying the PPV close to the front door
- Donning your mask
- Conducting an educated exterior attack (Time stops when the handline is flowing water)
Would you believe that this can be accomplished in 3:30 seconds? Right know you are probably saying that can’t happen and are probably asking yourself what about the walk around. In less than 5 minutes with a walk around all of this can be accomplished. It all falls back to technique and having a procedure so you maximize your movements while also being dressed for success. I am not by any means advocating conducting an interior attack alone. STAY OUT until adequate resources is on scene prior to the interior attack! For those firefighters that understand, how the first person arriving can have a dramatic impact on the initial stages of the fire and how multiple people are arriving with in the first five minutes and inundate the scene. This really hits home. For those that run a traditional style engine company you’ll appreciate the techniques of those in a rural environment. In a rural setting a lot of times the person who gets the engine to the scene may or may not be the one who operates the fire pump. With being fully dressed out you can make a safer exterior attack. You may be lucky enough to extinguish the fire or you may keep the fire at bay until additional help arrives. Either way your PPE is in place and provides you with the most protection. Once additional personnel arrive, firefighters fall into place, pump operators, Incident command, Additional attack line, RIT teams, Search crews and the list goes on and on and on. Next time you have a drill night, try this single person evolution and see what you can accomplish. You will be surprised. Understand that this is worst case scenario for a department, most of the time multiple firefighters and tankers are arriving with the engine or within minutes behind the engine. This drill is nothing fancy, no fancy tactics or techniques. Just sticking to the basics and maximizing your movements.
- 300 feet of 1.5 or 1.75 fire hose
- Two nozzles
- Two instructors
When locating a coupling to gain orientation and get out of the structure. One saying that is used is ” Smooth Bump Bump and to the Pump” Referring to running your hand from the smooth shank portion of the female coupling to the lugs and then the lugs on the male coupling.
Firefighters should be in full PPE including SCBA and vision blocked.
I heard these were coming to my city. The department said they would be put on some vacant properties in the “less desireable” areas of the city. Imagine my surprise to see it 2 blocks from my house.
Moving on. Cruising the neighborhood DOES count as training. I let a few truckies in the area know about this and now my street looks like a parade route. Either they are interested in the VPS security system or someone is giving away free lunch.
These are not easily defeated. They do not help with ventilation. They do not help with access or egress for us. The properties involved are arson targets and as you can see in one of these pictures the rear porch doesn’t have decking on it. What does that imply about the rest of the building?
My thought is exterior ops, then send minimal crews in for overhaul. Your life safety should not be risked for an obviously vacant building. Get in touch with the company that is managing the property and take a tour, figure out how to defeat these things. I’ve heard they have steel cross bars inside just like the wooden models that board up companies put up. If that is the case you’d need a diamond blade on the demo saw. I would recommend the standard abrasive blade but I think that would dissolve quickly and you might only get 1-2 cuts at the needed depth.
Let me know if you have a trick to getting these off safely.
Stay Safe, and good luck with these.
What do these two little words mean to you in your life? They have different meanings for all of us I’m sure, but, how much thought do we give to these words in our Professional lives as Firemen and as Brothers
In our everyday lives we are engaged in sports, playing, coaching, watching, etc. We are engaged in our families, by being loving husband or wives, fathers or mothers, watching our children grow into well rounded adults. We own cars, houses, computers, cell phones, you name it, we seem to own it. I’m sure everyone out there could fill the page or pages with more, but what do these two little words mean to us as a Fireman? Look in the mirror and ask yourself, if the same level of engagement and ownership at home, is the same level you put forth, when the bell sounds, if everyone did, this would not have ever been written.
Do you take ownership of the Fire Service? Many of our “brothers” will tell you they do, while they are on that cell phone they own, discussing their secondary job for the next day, in the middle of a light weight building construction class? Think about you and the members you rely on every day. This example is only one of a thousand different examples floating around our Profession.
Is your department, your company, or most importantly you as a Professional Firefighter, regardless, career or volunteer, fully engaged in your Profession for the your tour, however long it might be? Do you train, using relevant training or do or you officers pencil whip it to make everything look in order? Do the officers and the senior members work with the younger, newer members to mentor them, or is that “silly training” we just did a couple months ago? Okay, so what’s your point
Are we as Fireman fully engaged to the job at hand? I say absolutely not for many of us and to me that is unacceptable. Josh Materi, from the Seattle Fire Department put it best. I hope many of you have seen the quote, if not try using that computer you own to search Facebook for it, instead of checking out prospective dates or local pubs. Pay attention to lessons learned by becoming engaged in the recent events going on in our Profession, the rescues in Lowell Mass, wall collapses injuring our Brothers in Detroit, and many more. Become Engaged in our Job, not the fantasy football team you are going up against next Sunday.
Every tour is a training tour; every tour is a learning tour. Fires happen period. We as true Brothers would take a job every shift, but, it doesn’t work out that way. Every time we get on the rig, is a time for us to shine, because we are not being called just to see our smiling faces. We are being called to mitigate someone’s worst day. For those out there that do not like running calls or feel the strong need to drive extra slow to that alarm activation, because you are sure it’s false or we might get disregarded, consider another line of work! This Profession is about so much more than a paycheck and days off. Our Profession is about saving Lives and Property, it is time for all of the Fire Service to stand up look in the mirror and treat Ownership and Engagement as Priority number 1.
In my current capacity as a rental boss I don’t have the privilege of having my own crew. Where ever I get sent is the crew I have. It’s sort of like taking care of brothers grown kids; they know what to do, your just there for occasional guidance. Here is one of those instances.
We were responding to alarms sounding in a building and I hear one of the guys in the back say “I hate this building, It’s confusing and if we get something here we are going to look like crap”. Well that’s just ducky, thanks for instilling confidence in me. We run the call and the crew wants to hurry out. I ask them “since we are here and we have the maintenance guy, let’s walk the whole building”. No problem. We drew a little map, found the utilities and then found roof access. 10 min well spent. . We also realized if we parked on the side of the building we could run a line directly to 3/4 of the building instead of just the 1/4 when we parked out front. When we got back to the barn I showed them how to put it into the CAD
2 drills for the day. They loved it. The reason they never did it before was because they thought it would take too long. Now they know, and with the info in the CAD the whole city can know if they want.
In our line of work avoiding things usually makes them worse. If there is a building in your area that you “don’t like” get on it. Make an appointment and walk through it. Find the utilities, roof access, any little secrets you can.
Next time we’ll talk about the actual pre-planning process.
OK Brothers and Sisters, a little homework for all of us. I sit behind this keyboard and come up with drills that we all have used or have used in company training to keep up on our toes. I would like you all to give me some topics that hold specific meaning for you and your departments. I want to hear from all of you, this gives me an opportunity to learn from you all as well, let’s give this drill a shot. Fear not, engine, high rise, you make the call, building construction, and many more are sitting in my folder for the future. This “try me” drill is one of the first drills my first volunteer Chief dropped in my lap 28 years ago. Away we go, let’s see what is out there! Drillmaster2.
L- Life Hazards
This is an easy drill Brothers, maybe. Company officers it’s time to teach, both you and your members. On the next tour, make some time and drive around your first due area, make a list of all the type V structures. We know the residential are, but what about businesses. Make your lists individually and check them against your inspection files, when you get back in the house, see how well you and your company did. Grab some lunch, then discuss the risks associated with these buildings and how you will handle them, when you get that call at 03:00. Enjoy! special thanks to Chief Gettemeir from FVFPD, for the class I attended to jog my mind to pass this drill on to everyone.