The attached vidoe is a very short and simple clip about how teach firefighters to low profile. As we tell firefighters in our classes, removing your SCBA should be a last resort, but a skill that you must be proficient at. Being prepared is as much about mastering the basics as it is about being able to perform in the event that conditions dictate survival skills must be used.
Some quick pointers about low profile SCBA use:
–Know your air supply and that of your partner
–Never lose contact with your SCBA, it is highly suggested that you never lose contact with the SCBA strap that holds your regulator hose.
–Don’t over extend your arm when you push the SCBA ahead of you.
–Sound the floor before you enter the space as best you can
–If you have a hemet light, use it
–Stay in verbal contact with your partner
–If your in a situation that you must low profile or remove your SCBA, your probably in trouble, call the Mayday prior to removing your SCBA and entering a confined area reduced area.
–Conserve air and make sure you can access your radion at all times. Adjust your radio prior to low profiling.
As always, you must train on these techniques. Incorporate them into other SCBA training and become proficient in the capabilities and limitations of your equipment.
Take care and train hard, Jason.
The attached vidoe is a very short and simple clip about how teach firefighters to low profile. As we tell firefighters in our classes, removing your SCBA should be a last resort, but a skill that you must be proficient at. Being prepared is as much about mastering the basics as it is about being able to perform in the event that conditions dictate survival skills must be used.
This is a great drill from a great Brother and friend, Lance Peeples of the Webster Groves Fire Department in St. Louis County. Look for more great material from Lance in the future.
Daily Drill 1: Standpipe Operations
“The Daily Drill” is designed to spark discussion about operational issues in YOUR fire department. To do this we use photographs or videos depicting fire operations in other fire departments. We do not know the exact circumstances in which our Brothers in these fire departments are operating. Photos or videos are not intended to embarrass our BROTHERS and SISTERS but rather are intended to provide US with learning opportunities relevant to OUR specific operational framework. DON’TFOCUSONWHAT THEY’RE DOING…FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WOULD DO! Stay safe!
Watch the video below and answer the following questions:
1. Using the National Fire Academy Fire Flow Formula, what gpm would be required to extinguish a completely involved 500 square foot apartment fire?
How large of an undivided floor area is often found in high rise office buildings and what fire flow would be required there?
2. Under previous editions of NFPA 14 what was the minimum psi required to flow 500 gpm at the most remote riser?
3. What is the target gpm you are attempting to flow from your standpipe hose and nozzle combination? What psi must be available at the standpipe operation to supply that hose and nozzle combination in order to flow your desired attack flow?
4. The operation depicted showed using 4” supply line into the fire department connection. What is the working pressure limit of LDH used in your department? What is the elevation head pressure in a 30 story building? Are standpipe operations usually high flow or high pressure operations? Is using large diameter hose in FD standpipe connections a good idea?
5. What is the diameter of hose used in your standpipe pack? Is it an automatic/constant flow fog/smooth bore tip? What nozzle psi is required for its designed flow?
6. Will rust, scale, and other debris commonly found in standpipe systems pass through an automatic fog nozzle? Will rust, scale and other debris usually pass through an 1 1/8” smooth bore tip?
7. Can fire department pumpers ALWAYS be used to increase available pressure on the fire floor? What about damaged or missing FD connections? Pressure reducing and restricting valves? Missing piping or excessive head pressures?
8. At the One Merdian fire in Philladelphia on February 23, 1991 what was the length, diameter, and nozzle type (including psi/flow requirements) of the standpipe kits used by the fire department? Did this setup work? Why or why not?
9. What were the names of the Brothers that died at One Merdian that tragic day?
I always loved sports. I played just about every sport I could and eventually settled in with basketball and baseball. The coaches I had were always preaching the fundamentals and basics explaining that as players, we had to master the basics to the point that things like dribbling and passing were second nature. When those basics were mastered we were able to ascend our skill sets to seeing an open player before he is open and making moves on the fly, avoiding the defender with moves that were more challenging because we had a “feel” for the game.
The “feel” for the game allowed us to improvise and do things on the court that weren’t necessarily practiced. A defender stepping in front of us quickly, obstructing our passing lane may force us to make a behind-the-back pass. This is improvising with an advanced skill based on our most basic of skills: passing. Does the player get punished for this advanced skill? Probably not, especially if the outcome is a positive one.
When we get to an advanced level of skill sets, it typically comes from past experiences and hours upon hours of training. With that training and experience also comes the ability to recognize situations that are not typical. These non-typical situations will require us, if trained appropriately, to make the best possible decision for the best possible outcome. The mantra of always use two hands to pass and catch the ball with thumbs turned down may not work or be appropriate in a certain situation because the desired outcome is not going to be achieved.
The same can be said in the fire service. In recent weeks a Philadelphia firefighter made a heroic save and was faced with a decision to give the fire victim his air. There has been a great debate over the actions. I was recently asked by Eric Rhoden on his and Ray McCormack’s radio show what I thought about the incident and the reaction that followed. What came to me was a baseball situation.
We teach our kids to get square to the ball, get our glove to the ground, field the ball in the middle of our body/stance and to turn toward our target and so on. You get the point. But that doesn’t always get the out. Sometimes the fielder has to dive for the ball, getting dirty and bruised and maybe tossing the ball behind his back to get the out. Is there less margin for error? Yes. Is it taught that way? Not usually. Is it effective in certain situations? Absolutely!
There is one important variable however. You must be highly skilled and practice daily to make plays like that. You can’t just walk out onto the field and expect to perform at that level. I don’t know the firefighter in Philly that made the save, but my guess is that he is very competent with his SCBA and has mastered the basic skills surrounding his air supply. I would also guess that he is one that takes his craft very seriously and wants to perform at a high level for incidents just like the one he performed so heroically for.
I always teach that in the fire service there are no “always” and no ” nevers” because right when you think you have every situation covered, a call comes along that you never thought about. Ask yourself every day when you walk onto that engine bay floor, “Am I ready for the worst call of my career?” The conclusion I always come to is “No.” But, I train, drill or engage myself into the fire service every chance I get, just in case that call or situation comes along that requires something a little extra of me. Hopefully I will be ready to dive for that ball to make the play.
Finally, thanks to Ray and Erich for having me on and thanks again to Fire Engineering and everyone on the site, you all keep me engaged and excited about the fire service. Take care and stay cool during this hot summer. Be ready to dive for that ball.
This is a video of a drill we do. It starts as a VES drill with the firefighter ascending the ladder and then clearing a window. The space is smoked up and the fierfighter enters, starting his search for the door. While he’s searching we throw a rug or piece of plywood ontop of them to demonstrate conditions deteriorating and making them exit fast to the window.
The intent is to force quick recognition to exit and to perform the ladder bail fast. We do this drill after evolutions of just ladder bail practice. This let’s them put their practice into real life type situations and to do it at full speed.
We have a new YouTube channel and we hope to start posting new videos.
Take a look at the pictures and think about getting water on the fire to the upper floor and/or making rescues. This building is one that is old and not sprinklered. It sits off of the road and aerial access is extremely limited, almost ineffective.
When looking at this type of building we need to consider the construction type, occupancy, access and egress points and any special hazards. What are our initial resources and what should we have coming on the way? This building is four stories and is a dormartory at a college. The corridor length is 225 from stairwell to stairwell. As you look at the building in the picture, the stairwell on the right is more remote from a parking surface than the one on the left. The elevation that you see in the picture from this side is the same on the opposite side.
There is a basement under this building with tunnels that lead to other campus buildings with limited access and egress where kids sneak away to do what kids sneak away to do. There is a great deal of combustible storage in these basements and tunnels.
Type 3 construction is the type of building we are dealing with and the interior has been altered over the years. There is an automatic alarm system but no standpipes. Water supply is limited; the closest hydrant is approximately 300 feet from where you would likely place first in companies and that hydrant, if laid from, would severely hinder access by other units because of only one access to the campus.
So, here we go……..what are your tactics and why? Watch the video and let everyone know what you would do and why. Use this for discussion purposes and relate it to buildings that you might have in your jurisdiction. Share your thoughts and ideas.
Train hard and we hope to see most of you at FDIC 2012 next week.
We have taught a lot of classes and trained extensively on numerous firefighter operations. One thing that always interests me is the choice of hand tools by firefighters. Each has their own preference and favorite, but in many cases when challenged as to why that specific tool is their tool of choice, the answer is not clear to them. Some are bound by the fact that they work on a truck, engine or squad.
Some are bound by their riding assignment based on what order they arrive on the scene. In many cases, however, they just pick what they want and what is convenient or easy to carry. This is dangerous and we encourage each firefighter to choose their tool with a purpose in mind.
When choosing your tool some things to consider are what your using it for, will it accomplish your tasks, is it durable and reliable and does it complement the tools of other members. I’m not here to tell you what tool to use, but I have some suggestions for you to consider when picking your too
l –Can you use it for forcible entry or forcible egress?
–Will it get the job your are assigned to do accomplished?
–Will it allow you to perform multiple functions with that tool? Is is versatile?
–Are you familiar and proficient with that tool? Do you train frequently with it?
–Will it complement what your team members are using?
This could be especially important for forcible entry and for being a more efficient team.
Take a look at the pictures and discuss the pros and cons of each tool. For example, I don’t like seeing guys coming off with a close hook. It is good for overhaul, but for forcible entry or breaching walls and getting out of a bad place, it’s not very useful. This is just my opinion. But, I have had firefighters pick that tool because it’s light and easy to carry. Make the tools that are preferred easy to access and train with them. Clean and inspect them on a regular basis. Take care of those tools. Get know their capabilities and their limitations. You have to get your hands on them. Discuss these options as a crew and/or company and share your thoughts. Take care and expect fire. Train hard!
Hey, here are some pictures sent to me by a Brother who is going out the DOING the job. The whole job. He and his crew are getting out and checking on things. Bob gets IT and thanks for the pics. These are in his still area and these are buildlings that get inspected and then they go right back to doing this kind of stuff. We have to be prepared for everything and anything. Imagine being the RIT and forcing the back door to make access for a Mayday and dealing with the mattresses? Look at the pictures and just imagine and discuss the challenges that you would face in those situations. Not to mention patrons trying to evacuate a smoke filled building.
Stay sharp and get out of that chair. This is important stuff, don't put it off. I'm a huge proponent of training on line deployment, search, vent, and all the rest. This is just as important. Stay safe and keep training.
Thanks to Bob Tresch for the pics and making a difference by sharing.
Here is a short video that you can use for a drill or training night. Feel free to use however you like. This is from a recent basement fire and what was looked for and what was done. There are some considerations to think about. This is not everything for all basement fires. Just a simple tutorial. Feel free to add your experience and ideas to this video.
I’ve done it and you’ve done it. It is going to happen again and it’s going to happen soon. With every line of duty death the Monday morning quarterbacks come out and tell us all what they should have or should not have done. We preach and teach to learn from these tragedies by understanding the circumstances surrounding the incident. But, what are we doing to make sure that this doesn’t happen?
Our job is dangerous. Worcester Fire Department is a highly trained department and according to some reports I have gotten, fight these types of fires every year. There are some additional factors like high winds and possibly illegal renovations that compromised the structural integrity of the building. Neither of these two factors can be anticipated or controlled. We have a job to do and when we are told that someone is in a building, we do what we can to get to them. As I write this I have not heard confirmation that there was or was not a victim found.
I have no doubt that we could dissect and scrutinize what happened and we would have done this or that differently. We will hear how simplistic it should have been and others pounding the table that we don’t enter buildings that are compromised. Guess what? As soon as that building catches fire it is compromised!
What frustrates me more is that in the fire service many are real good at solving problems after the fact and few try to identify and solve them before they are actualized. It’s not just judging the YouTube video or a line of duty death, no, it’s many things. “That guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “That guideline is outdated and inefficient.” “That small time volunteer fire department doesn’t know what they’re doing.” Of course, most of these “kitchen table experts” have no desire to be proactive or to put themselves out there to take the lead on a project to make a positive change.
Sometimes, and I’m not saying this is the case yet, things are not preventable. Sometimes we are going to lose. We hope not, but we are running into burning, compromised buildings to save lives and property. When someone comes to us and is telling us someone is in the building, if we can make a push, we will and we should. This is what we do and why we are here. There is no time to run down a check list to determine if a certain profile is met. We don’t have time to switch our size up decision making. We have to consider the situation presented to us at the time and use our training and experience to do our best to attempt a rescue.
But, if we do want to be Monday morning quarterbacks I suggest a different approach. Take your expertise and knowledge to some less fortunate departments in regards to resources for training and teach. Share your experience and knowledge with these departments and individuals to keep bad decisions being made on the fire ground. I believe that this is the best way to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for others. Whether there were mistakes or not, we can help to prevent those who don’t have resources to perform appropriately on the fire ground.
We recently did a class in a remote part of our state and had two firefighters arrive with some hand-me down gear and SCBA. Neither had worn the gear before and neither had ever had on an SCBA. They stated they had been fighting fire with self purchased boots, gloves and helmets. That’s it. Nothing more. This is still happening. We had to pull these two firefighters aside and walk them through some basics about gear and SCBA operations. We took extra time with them just to teach them basic firefighter skills. They were more than willing to learn and were eager.
The point is this: let’s put our efforts into training and teaching firefighters to operate safely instead of beating up departments, officers and firefighters after the fact. Can we learn from these tragic events? Absolutely! We should learn lessons in a constructive manner from not just tragic events, but from every call we run. There is always something to learn whether things went well or not so well.
Train, be tolerant and make a difference in a positive way. Stay safe and thanks for reading.
This is a very simple post but one that I am finding is ever more important. Take a look at the picture and what is the first thing that you think of? What do you see? We've all done this drill or scenario and we have all at one point or another felt the anxiety of being "stuck" in a box, tube or tight spot. Some may have had instructors that guided us through and others may have been screamed at they needed to get out or they were going to die in there.
The main purpose of this post is to find out what we are trying to accomplish. It is more than just getting through the prop. We want to emphasize calm and deliberate actions. I like to point out the small things. Calm breathing and think one step ahead. What is at the other end and how should I prepare my next action accordingly? Is there a drop off? Is there a tighter space? I also like to practice getting to my pockets. Whether I actually need to or not, if I get into a position that I would need them, I have practiced that. I will be confident that I can reach my wire cutters in a tight spot. The same with my flash light; can I turn it on? Do I have an extra one I can get to?
Can I reach my radio? Can I reach my PASS device? I like to feel the space I'm in with one hand and arm to determine what the shape of the space I am in. It may just help me with placing my tank. It's not always on the bottom corners. There could be debris or the opening may be wider at the top. Feel the shapes and contours.
I know this sounds simplistic and time consuming. It is! But, if we do it over and over again, we will be better and faster at it. With these drills it's not always about speed. Creating good habits that will be easy to recall in a crisis situation just may save your life.
This is another video I put together. I have been getting positive feedback on this format, so I will continue to do this.
We are addressing some concerns and challenges with apartment fires. This building is of the garden apartment style but this same type of building can be a stand alone as well.
As always, this is not the only considerations when looking at apartment fires. Follow your guidelines and get out to your response areas to become familiar with similar buildings.
Until next time, stay safe and ring those bells tomorrow and say a prayer for all of the fallen and their families.
As you may know, I am playing with a different format. It wont be all of the time for every blog, but something a little different. So, here is one based off an article that I did. Please be patient as I work with this. Hopefully, it will enrich your blog reading.
Thanks, and let me know what you think.
I understand that all buildings, for various reasons, will not get a 360 performed on it during a fire. But, for those that we do get to job around, we need to understand what we are looking for.
I recently spoke with an acting officer and asked him what he was looking for when performing a 360. His answer was "fire." I asked what else? The answer came, "ways in." We need to make sure we are taking advantage of the information being made available to us while we are circling the building.
This post is going to focus on some basement indicators. The pictures shown below are just examples of things you might see when making the round. Keep in mind that at night you need to take a hand light. For example, the wood behind the basement windows below may not be noticeable with shining a light in the windows on the way around.
We must pay attention to what we are looking for when conduction the 360. As you can see, we may be faced with some very challenging situations. Not only do we need to be aware during the initial arrival, but the RIT will need this information as well.
As always, follow you own operational guidelines and train hard.
Looking at these pictures shows us a building of ordinary construction. These are usually older buildings and the building we see is typical of many downtown areas. This particular building has storefronts on the main level with multi-family units above.
What are the main characteristics of ordinary construction and how do they relate to fire operations?
What are some problems we face with this type of building in many downtown areas that will cause us concern?
What are the challenges with apparatus placment, not just with this buildling, but with many small, downtown buildings?
What are our challenges in regards to exposures and how do we address them?
These are just a few issues we face with this type of building. It is important to be prepared for a fire in this type of occupancy. It will be challenging, especially late at night when that upstairs is occupied and as you can see, access is not necessarily fast.
Share your thoughts and experiences and as always, train hard and thanks for reading.
This post is just a simple challenge of tactical considerations. The photos that are posted show a single-family house that had fire venting from the C/D corner when first units arrived. The first in crews could not make the entire hallway on the first push do to intense heat and smoke.
The smoke was banked almost to the floor even with the fire venting from that corner bedroom.
What are some considerations that must be looked at with this fire? What would be your next plan of action? Why ist there so much heat and smoke with the fire venting the exterior? What is your size up?
Share your thoughts and answers with everyone and use this as discussion with your crew.
As always, train hard and stay safe,
Here is a post from a very good friend and very wise fireman, Lance Peeples. Lance is a firefighter/paramedic with the Webster Groves Fire Department in St. Louis County. Check it out and give some feed back.
Review the following video and consider how YOUR fire department operates when answering the following questions:
1. Is VES indicated if PPV is used by your department? What safety precaution should the operator of a PPV fan perform before starting the fan?
2. Notice how the VES firefighter enters head first. Very experienced instructors often recommend grasping the window frame with the head and upper body protected by the wall and then entering with the opposite foot. This permits the firefighter to make an emergency ladder slide if necessary.
What is another advantage of this technique?
3. On your first alarm assignment who is the firefighter assigned the responsibility for VES. Who is the firefighter that will assist him in this technique?
4. If the assisting firefighter ascends the ladder to orient the searching firefighter how can the ladder be butted? Does it always need to be butted? Could a tool be driven into the grounds at the butt of the ladder to prevent it from sliding?
5. Are the tools (hook and halligan) needed for VES mounted near the riding position of the member who is responsible for this function or are they mounted on the other side of the apparatus underneath the water rescue rope and drinking cups?
6. Notice how the roof ladder projects into the window slightly. However, the ladder is already at a very low angle that could result in the butt kicking out. Should the ladder tip be removed from the window to allow for easier emergency exit/victim removal or does the angle of the ladder preclude this? What are possible solutions?
7. Some of the commentators below the video are critical of opening the door upon preparing to leave the room…what say you?
I have to admit that I am a proponent of safety. I believe in wearing seat belts. I believe in wearing all of your protective gear and equipment. I believe in being healthier. I believe in doing a 360 and situational awareness. These are just a few of the safety issues that I believe in.
What I will never understand is a statement that puts us, the firefighters, above the victim that could still be saved. This is not new but something that I just have to get off of my chest.
I recently wrote an article "Techniques for VES". The beginning of the article specifically states that two firefighters are always ideal for operating. With that being said, I understand that there will always be those that disagree with things that I write, and I'm fine with that. What I am not fine with is the recurring theme of "never" do this and "never" do that.
When I instruct I am very careful about not using "never" and "always." We know that in our business those two words can come back to haunt you. Although the article was about VES, I know that that is a hot button topic. What prompted the article was a training I attended and questions about the tactic.
The fact is that we train for ideal conditions and we want to always have a 2 in 2 out situation. But, we know the real world is not always so kind. Statements like, "Safety of your crew and yourself always come first, no matter what the situation" are troublesome to me. Where does this leave the people in the burning building or under the debris?
Text books are great and operating in this manner is great. But, what if you are the one checking the windows in the rear and you see a hand on the glass? Your by yourself and your equipped to make a quick grab from the window. Do you wait for three more people? Or, do you take a calculated risk and perform VES that you have trained for? I for one am going to do what I can to give that person every opportunity to live. This falls in the same category of an officer that told his guys to "never" search without a hose line. Is that really the case? We know that it's not.
Out of the norm tactics are dangerous, but not necessarily reckless. There is not nor should there be a "cookie cutter" way of doing things in a figurative sense. Our job and environments are dynamic. Should we have standards and guidelines based on best practices and methods that have worked for decades? Absolutely! But, we should not be so entrenched in our own ways as not to perform to what situation we are faced with at the time. The only way to be able to do that is to train for those situations and in order to train for them you must believe that those situations can happen.
All fire ground activities are best performed in teams. Is it possible that one firefighter may need to make a save utilizing VES? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes. So, it lends itself that if is is possible, dangerous, and we could be placed in that situation, that we should train for it.
I just don't see our profession and our tactics in a "black and white" world. I see the need to adapt and overcome. But to do that we must expect these situations and train for them.
Engine House Training, LLC is a new training group based in St. Louis, MO. We have been doing training together for a long time and finally decided to do something formal with it. As much as we like to train, we are great friends and have a blast with what ever we are doing.
The web site and blog site are not fully operational yet, but blogs should be coming in the next day or so. In the meantime, we have launched our Facebook page and would really like to have you check it out. We have already posted a great deal of material to the page and some of it you have seen before from this site. You can also follow us on Twitter.
The primary mission with Engine House Training, LLC is to give firefighters the tools they need to survive each and every call. Although our curriculum is based on self survival, Mayday, and RIT, we place a heavy emphasis on basic skills that will hopefully keep firefighters from needing to use the techniques that we teach.
Here is a quick list of our instructors and their backgrounds:
It's Sunday and I was just sitting at work and I started thinking about an anchor point that I was taught with webbing. Not having tied it in a while I went out and made sure I remembered how to get it done. Lucky for me my memory is still intact.
The other guys came over and we had a short lesson for it's uses and showed them how to tie it too. This led into a morning of going over some very simple, but effective, ways to use the webbing that we carry.
Everyone has their own ideas about why they carry a certain length of webbing or rope. But, don't limit yourself to the harnesses and escape systems that utilize webbing. The pieces I keep are for a multitude of "basic" practices that assist me, when needed, in actual firefighting.
We can use them for controlling doors, advancing a large line, searching off of a line and more. I would like you to all share your webbing stories. What lengths do you carry? Why? And are there any special tricks you have picked up from some experienced guy in the house?
Take care and remember our troops and their families this Memorial Day.
We all know that it is easy to fall into a rut when it comes to training and even operating at what is labeled the "routine" call. Especially for those that are in suburban, mostly bedroom communities.
If your like most of the country, you pull past the house to get three sides, stretch a pre-connected hand line and make entry into the front door. Does this sound familiar to anyone? And, more times than not, this works just fine.
However, sometimes the bigger issue becomes where to take the second line? What apparatus does it come from and what size should it be? What about the length?
For most single-family, single story homes, line placement becomes mundane and we get a bit complacent. The second line many times gets pulled from the same rig as the attack line and goes in the same door as the attack line.
Again, I prefer a seconday apparatus for the back up line, but in most house fires the front door is appropriate for the back up line too. Of course, it all depends on what is taking place and many other variables as well.
One of the biggest problems I see quite often is on two story house fires. The first line goes to the fire up stairs and the back up line is at the door. One of the primary concerns is the integrity of those stairs. That second line needs to go to the stairs to protect the egress for the crew operating on the second floor.
The same has to be done if you have an attack team on the first floor and a search team on the second; a line needs to be deployed to the stairs. We must protect that egress point. In addition, note changing conditions to the search team and the attack team. Maybe the fire has spread or can't be found by the attack team and your observations are important.
What are your operational guidelines for the back up line? Share you experiences and thoughts.
As always, stay safe and train hard.
With the recent posts about the anniversary of the Colerain-Township LODD from 2008, I thought I would provide some thoughts about basements and some of the things we can do to better prepare.
It recent years it seems we hear a lot about firefighters being killed and injured in residential fires where the basement was involved. There are a few reasons for this including changing building construction as in the use of engineered i-joists and the heavy fire loads that we have in basements. In addition, most houses with basements don't just use them for storage anymore. Basements are used as active living spaces increasing activity, heating and electrical demands that were not always present in the past.
One thing that we can do to help prevent some of these issues is to know what we are dealing with. Probably one of the most important tasks a fire officer can do when arriving on the scene of a residential fire is to complete a 360 walk around of that building. This gives us information we cannot obtain by darting for the front door.
By seeing all four sides of the fire building we can see if the seat of the fire is in the basement and may allow us a more direct attack from the same level as the fire reducing the chances of floor failure. We are also able to see hazards that impede our egress if a quick escape is necessary. It gives us an idea of our options for ventilation and fire control.
The pictures show some of the hazards that we can find and keep mind of during our 360. Exterior stair wells are altered and secured causing us difficulty making an egress. This is a perfect time for the first due officer to relay these findings to the next due or the RIT crew. These other units should cut locks, open bulk heads and make sure the egress points of the basement are accessible.
Additionally, we need to know the characteristics of the buildings in our still area. This is a picture of a house that is approximately 50 years old and the stairs to the basement are in the garage. Not knowing this could put our initial attack team at risk by searching the main level while fire is burning under them increasing the chances of a failure. Some of these homes have no outside exit and we must protect the stairs for the basement crew just like we would for a crew that ascend to a floor above us.
Take some time to look around your area and discuss these issues with your crew. Prepare your newer members for that thermal layer as you descend the stairs into a basement. We all know what that first experience is like. Train hard and don't forget to do that 360, it may just save your life.
Train hard and stay safe,
As with most departments, and mine is no different, trying to get guys in the habit of throwing ground ladders takes a lot of work. We know the benefits of doing this and there is a great article in the most current issue of Urban Firefighter Magazine that gives some great direction on how and when to use these valuable tools.
Typically, those throwing the ladders are the firefighters and officers riding on the trucks and not those that are driving them. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on how your department operates. In the area that I work, the apparatus driver is tasked with water supply and support.
Any time we have multiple stories we want ladders thrown. Any time we have people on the roof, we want ladders thrown. It is an important task and one that must be trained on and made a permanent part of your operations. However, this post is not about the actual act of throwing the ladder, but how we can make this job easier for those that do.
As apparatus drivers when we pull up to the scene of a working fire we are thinking about charging the appropriate line, getting the right gallons per minute to your interior crews and finding a water supply source before the tank water is exhausted. That is a lot to do and you normally do it all on your own. Well, there is one more thing I would like you to add to your list.
Depending on what type of configuration you have on your apparatus, the ladders on today’s engines and trucks are not convenient to get to. We have them on the top of the truck so that they have to be lowered to get to them. They are placed “through the tank” with an access panel on the rear of the apparatus which if you lay line can make them impossible to remove because they are blocked by charged lines coming off of the truck from a rear discharge. There aren’t many traditional stowed ladder configurations on apparatus anymore.
As operators we have to keep this mind. The photo I have posted shows the lowering arm that the ladders are stowed on. This arm is lowered for firefighters to gain access. One of the downfalls to this is that the access to compartment space is limited, but not entirely blocked.
Once we get water to our crew and have established a water supply, take a second to check overhead and on the side for obstructions and lower the ladder arm. If ladders are needed they are ready for deployment and easy to get to. The RIT crew can use them for preventative measures by throwing ladders to create an egress point for firefighters and rescue teams can use them to make quick access to upper floors for search and rescue.
What about the compartments? Before you lower the rack, take out the equipment that is most commonly used that must be deployed fast and have it ready to go. On this particular truck, the PPV fan, the RIT bag and some spare SCBA bottles would be removed prior to lowering the rack.
Get familiar with your ladders and how they are removed. Know what obstacles you might face in placing the ladders in operation based on your apparatus configuration. Be prepared and train on these facts.
As always, follow your local guidelines for operating on the fireground. We must continue to train and do the simple things perfect. Master the basics and don’t forget to use your ground ladders.
In this age of the fire service, most jurisdictions have at least one thermal imaging camera, if not several. Ideally, we would like to have one on every apparatus. But, of course, budgets and priorities will dictate how many each department feels they can afford and need.
What was once a tool advertised mainly to find victims in building fires, we have found many more uses for this piece of equipment. It can be used for hazardous materials responses to identify product that may be producing heat. It can be used to help find a lost person in open space outdoors. We can use it to check for extension after a small stove fire or for chasing down fire in concealed spaces.
For as many uses as we can name, and I by no means named them all, there are multiple ways that they are deployed. My preference is for the officer to come off of the truck or engine with the TIC. Everyone has their own method of operation, but to me the officer makes the most sense.
The officer should be behind the nozzleman and should watching changing conditions at all times. While doing this, it is easy for him to scan the room or area with the TIC to watch for heat currents, changes in temperatures or victims unseen because of smoke. These again are not the only things that the officer needs to be doing.
So, the question that I am posing is “Who takes the TIC and how do you deploy it?” What are your guidelines and how do you operate with it?
In addition, how does it get carried? Do you prefer a strap? Do you carry it in your hand? Give everyone some input and ideas about what does and has worked for you.
What are some other uses not mentioned and offer some training ideas for the folks here? Just remember, this is a tool and should not take the place of masterful search techniques and hard work.
Stay safe and train like you work, hard.