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. This is three videos that need to be viewed altogehter. Learn all you can. Found this video at Statter911.com.
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.
We will now go forth with our Fire Ground recognition series. 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.
Hey everyone, I’m back like a really bad habit! How often in your next tour will you as a fireman or a company officer hear the word “Why” come out of a members mouth? This word can be good, bad, or just downright insubordinate. This is my getting back in the grove, so this will be short, but for anyone that knows me at all, much more is coming on this issue! Drillmaster’s challenge is simple. Count the “Why’s” your next tour, keep track positive or negative. Let me know and we are off to the races! I’m back, more opinionated as ever Brothers! Always remember those who came before us on this Memorial Day Weekend! we are our Brothers Keepers!
Thank you to all who serve and have served. Thank you for Keeping us Safe when no one else would stand on that wall. You are the real heros. The crew here at Firefighter Basics salutes you. Also to the families of our serivce members Thank You! Here is a reminder to Keep The Faith!
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!
So what does it take, to effectively manage a scene and not be labeled as a “Legacy” department?
First, you must understand your response area, resource availability and the ability of your personnel.
Secondly, once you arrive on scene, paint the picture gives a “Windshield size-up”. Then you must exit the vehicle and conduct a 360 degree walk-around. If the Incident Commander does not complete the initial walk around, a seasoned firefighter or officer must complete the walk-around. They will know what they are looking for and be able to relay the critical information to the incident commander via radio or face to face. During the walk-around, scene observations are made, roof line, initial smoke and fire conditions. Reading smoke is critical.
Next, the incident commander must quickly develop a plan. One that weighs Risk vs. Benefits. Once the plan has been established, ACCOUNTABILITY has to be established and utilized. ACCOUNTABILITY has been a façade for many departments that acted as a security blanket for years. Tactics have to be given, in order of priority based on the fire ground priorities/strategies. Once these tactics have been thought of and handed down to the company level will then employ functional assignments/tasks.
Communication from the crews to the Incident Commander or Operations sector and communications from the Incident Commander or Operations sector to the crews has to be a priority. This is the only way to achieve better accountability. Benchmarks have to be utilized by using a checklist (Tactical Priorities). These bench marks will drive the overall tactics, which in turn will cause the incident commander to reevaluate their strategies.
This will not be foreign material to “Modern” departments, however “Legacy” departments will be at a loss with the information and the mind set of what has to be accomplished.
I commend those that are a “Modern” department and I pray for those that are still a “Legacy” department. There is more at stake than an ego and hiding behind the “It’s always been done that way” attitude. Families, communities and organizations are at stake. If you are an officer and want to gamble, go to Vegas or Atlantic City. Don’t gamble within your own department. If you don’t want to stand up for your safety, your family’s safety and change within the department. Then do the fire service a favor and change professions and allow someone else who is willing to affect change to take your place. Start early with young firefighters, introduce them to the NFPA standards, professional journals, well grounded web sites. Learning never stops and more than ever, we as a fire service cannot sit idle by as hydrocarbon based materials become more and more volitile and building construction becomes more lightweight/deadly.
I have viewed the “Legacy vs. Modern Room” video that was done by NIST a dozen times. Every time I watch the video, I wonder how many departments are still operating as a “Legacy” department with tactics. Strategies have pretty much stayed the same throughout time, Life Safety, Incident Stabilization and Property Conservation. The last two always seem to switch based on what we as a fire service has presented to us upon arrival.
“Legacy” departments have not stayed up with building construction, fuel loading and validated articles, classes or the NFPA standards. When I started my career almost twenty years ago, NFPA standards were just a number on a label in the gear. Little did I realize back then, what they really meant or how few actually pertained to firefighting. In the recent years, 2in/2out, Rules of Air Management, Rapid Intervention Teams, Manning standards have hit the fire service. Understanding that these documents are national consensus standards and not law or regulation is a hard thing to swallow. The fire service has seen some major advances in the quality of PPE and apparatus design. However, this comes with a cost. The first thing you probably thought of was cost. Let’s look past the cost and look at how many departments don’t know that these documents even exist. This is the start of the “Legacy” department.
In recent years, NIST and UL have done extensive research on room by room comparisons, fuel loading, burn through times and even what can be accomplished tactically from a 5 person crew down to a 2 person crew. NIST and UL have been major advocates in promoting firefighter safety. When you view the videos and can’t see what has been done for the fire service with the research, well then, please don’t play the part of the incident commander.
Numerous articles have been published in recent years with some very solid research that has had a major impact on the fire service as a whole. Articles dealing with building construction, effects of fog stream nozzles, positioning, command and control. There are numerous reputable professional journals that are on the market today, that if you say you can’t find the information that you are looking for, then you are not looking. The internet has allowed us to watch some very interesting videos and well some less that desired tactics and training. The “Art of Reading Smoke” has become a major part of the fire service. NIOSH reports unfortunately give us history lessons of what does go wrong. To many NIOSH reports have the same items that seem to have a consistent theme: Command and Control, Communications, Standard Operating Policies and Training.
“Legacy” departments have been put into motion well before the call for service to respond to a working incident ever goes out. Change is not an option. Evaluation of current practices of tactics is not even considered. When these above mentioned items are not considered, read or even researched, the term that runs ramped through the firehouse is “We’ve always done it that way” or “It’s worked like that in the past”.
Why it is then these departments are surprised when something bad happens or even worse a close call occurs and nothing is learned from the incident.
Building construction has to be a driving force into our tactics. As materials become more lightweight and cost effective, benchmarks have to become part of our everyday fire scenes. Checklists have to be used to make sure that we are still on track and not deviating from firefighter safety and survival. “Legacy” department’s incident commanders and members will have denial and frustration. Why, because the admittance of being labeled as a “Legacy” department means there is a lot of catching up to do and a lot of changes that need changing. The likely hood of these departments truly changing is slim to none. Now I am sure there are some that will change. But, understand this cultural change. The “Legacy” departments will not even understand the 16 Rules of Engagement for the Incident Commander and the firefighters will not understand the 11 Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety published by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Departments do not want to admit how the lack the resources, knowledge or procedures to change. Firefighters will not understand in a “Legacy” department what they are doing wrong or what they need to be looking for.
Often times fire ground operations dictate aggressive engine work and the situation will get better for everyone, but who is looking out for the firefighters making the push. We are condition to make excuses or rely on the Fast/RIT teams to do basics fire gorund functions such as placing ground ladders for egress for operations such as VES or even emergency escapes when conditions change. Chief Ed Hadfield and a number of others out there have ask the question WHERE HAVE THE LADDERS GONE? So I ask you when operating at a dwelling or building fire does your fire ground look like this and why not?
The discussion of Rapid Intervention continued to come up among various groups. So from my vantage point R.I.T is both a Crutch and a Foe. I see as I go on vacation and travel for departments who have a solid grasp on training dictates the outcome of your operations where RIT is truly a service provided for when an incident happens the IC has his Spec Ops team to ensure everyone goes home. Now my problem is the department who leans on RIT as a crutch when providing poor fire ground operations, and/or not wanting to address reckless behavior on the fire ground. So my question are we so focused now on saving our own that we now don’t see training on the basics as the prevention needed to successfully make rapid intervention the most boring job on the fire ground?
What do you know?I know my weapon do youI know my weapon do you
Many times as I travel across my state and even on vacation I stop into firehouses and ask or inquire about their departments operation. One of the things I want to know is how the fire is put out. What nozzles do you have? Then I’m a little more curious does that firefighter know what type of nozzles it is and how it operates, why it operates, and the best question how does it fail? Having friends in Law enforcement a dramatic difference I have noticed; You can take the most bassakwards cop and ask them about their service weapon and they will be able to tell you, how and why the weapon works, what kind of bullets are fired and if any different can be used, they can field strip it, and best of all they know how it can fail and if they can overcome it. So why should this matter to you? Great question. I’m curious to see your answers and then I will post mine on Friday
Often times fire companies will start to come together but start going in the wrong direction due to poor leadership or lack thereof. Members of the company will start to believe their own self made hype and will began to put distance between them and other members of the department. To become truly elite it takes Years ofService, Calls for Service, Training and Humility. Over time the members of the company must prove themselves worthy of the title of Elite given to them by their Brothers and Sisters as they test their Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities each day. When companies take time to develop, stay low key, work hard and become a value to everyone through Service and Brotherhood they will be looked as Elite. A company’s success is not based upon one person(s) it is a company’s ability to grow, stay progressive and deliver quality service to all. To anyone reading this and find it offensive you, may fit the bill. You can correct this issue by coming back to earth and earning the respect back of your peers and doing your part.
Often times firefighters have to gripe when being told they have to conduct Pre-Planning. During this time firefighters should understand the opportunity that has been afforded to them. Firefighters have to take notice of the construction , and hazards while the building is open to them. Even if a firefighters are on one man company it is no excuse. Here are some suggested steps to help you get started.
First make an appointment to ensure the owner or manager will be there to grant you all access to the building and answer any question.
Gather all forms provided by your fire department for pre-planning. Those things may include even taking a(n) book on building construction which may aid you in writing strategic and tactical objectives.
Firefighters should seek answers on anything they are questioning such as building codes and safety violations believed to have been committed. Seek answers from Fire Marshals or Code Enforcement personnel. Do not give information for which you do not have the authority or don’t know to be an absolute fact.
Ensure you have a site plan as well as a building sketch.
Future post will actually allow you to interact with pre-planning to aid in getting better at this task
Define and advocate the need for a cultural change within the fire service relating to safety; incorporating leadership, management, supervision, accountability and personal responsibility.
Enhance the personal and organizational accountability for health and safety throughout the fire service.
Focus greater attention on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical, and planning responsibilities.
All firefighters must be empowered to stop unsafe practices.
Develop and implement national standards for training, qualifications, and certification (including regular re-certification) that are equally applicable to all firefighters based on the duties they are expected to perform.
Develop and implement national medical and physical fitness standards that are equally applicable to all firefighters, based on the duties they are expected to perform.
Create a national research agenda and data collection system that relates to the initiatives.
Utilize available technology wherever it can produce higher levels of health and safety.
Thoroughly investigate all firefighter fatalities, injuries, and near misses.
Grant programs should support the implementation of safe practices and/or mandate safe practices as an eligibility requirement.
National standards for emergency response policies and procedures should be developed and championed.
National protocols for response to violent incidents should be developed and championed.
Firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and psychological support.
Public education must receive more resources and be championed as a critical fire and life safety program.
Advocacy must be strengthened for the enforcement of codes and the installation of home fire sprinklers.
Safety must be a primary consideration in the design of apparatus and equipment.
Often times aggressive fire companies want to get inside and do work, but it is with that same aggression firefighters get killed. If any firefighter out there could justify why 15 firefighters should be operating in a 1100 sq ft ranch house here is your opportunity. Firefighters have to be thinking firefighters, and use the basics. What do I mean? One company for fire attack, a company to back them up, a company to search and open up. I do realize that the number increases as the square footage goes up but it still needs to be managed. Interior supervisor’s need to recognize when too many companies are on the interior and correct the problem. It has already been proven that it takes 12-14 people for a RIT team to rescue one down firefighter, but yet we continue to put RIT teams in a position to rescue multiple firefighters with only a 3-4 person team. My point being if your position is not to be committed to interior operations your time will come so stand by. Remember the items that burn today are highly volatile and cause conditions to change as well as the inexperience on the fire ground making poor hose line selections, and improper fire ground coordination of ventilation.
D.E.R. Deep Environmental Retrofit, the process of adding large amounts of insulation and wind proofing to older buildings. The concept is simple; Add more layers of insulation and wind proofing to cut down on the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a building.
The layers are:
1. Blown in cellulose insulation in the original wall cavity. Most turn of the century homes in this area didn’t have any insulation.
2. Wrap the entire inside wall with Tyvek, then fur out the walls and add another layer of blown in cellulose.
3. On the exterior wall add 8+ inches of rigid insulation with staggered seams. All seams are taped on each layer and another layer of Tyvek is added.
4. Indicates the 2 layers of Tyvek inside the house, 1 of which is wrapped under the floor.
The end result is 16+ inches of insulation with very little chance of air infiltration. All of the areas that cannot be filled with blown in or rigid insulation is filled with spray foam. Even the windows are triple glazed to prevent air infiltration. The vendor says you could heat the finished room with a hair dryer.
You can see the before and after mock up in the picture. In the before picture there is no insulation and plenty of cracks and voids for air to permeate the building. These leaks help heat from a fire escape and allow fresh air to be sucked in, which is great for firefighters but bad for heating bills.
Firefighters are all too aware of what happens when fresh, oxygenated air runs out at a fire. The fire darkens down and the temperature continues to rise until something fails or something is opened by a firefighter. When this happens you get a back draft or a smoke explosion.
We have all been taught that building contents are far different than they were for previous generations of firefighters. Flashover is being reached at a shorter time than a couple decades ago, and I can post a side by side video if you’d like. The lower times are caused by a combination of better sealed buildings and the composition of the contents.
So after that overview, how long would it take to starve a room and contents fire of oxygen when the room is sealed and insulated this well?
A couple side notes:
The floor joists were notched during the original construction. That’s pretty common in these houses. But you can see in the after picture that the floor is still notched. How much extra weight has been added to this building and it remains on the original inferior construction?
The vendor indicated they have done dozens of houses in my area and the biggest concern they heard was from electrical inspectors who wanted the power lines from the solar panels to be candy striped. PV power too? I think that is a discussion for another day.
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 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!