I recently have had a lot of suggestions and requests to post on some volunteer, rural, combination issues that the fire service faces. I started and am still a member of a mostly rural volunteer, now combination, department. My earliest exposure to the fire service was at this mostly rural department.
We had a large majority of our fires outside of our public water area and our staffing was limited, just like it is today. Most of our trucks were single cab trucks that would seat two or three, depending on if the seats were buckets or benches. This was the fire service I was raised in. As time went on this department has become a functioning combination department.
But, it still has the same demographics of a large rural response area with the challenge of staffing after the first arriving unit gets on scene. In some cases those first firefighters will have to wait for over 20 minutes for the nearest mutual aid company. This, of course, causes issues with water supply, interior attack and other critical firefighting functions.
These are issues that the American fire service is facing all over this country. Along with the posts that I will be posting in the coming weeks, there is another great resource for rural to suburban tactics at County Fire Tactics. Be sure to check them out on their web site and on Facebook. This post will highlight some first due engine ops for water supply in the rural setting.
Some of you may not agree with all of these suggestions, but these have worked and have been tested. But, if you have a better way, feel free to share.
One of the biggest challenges for the first due engine, besides staffing, is securing a water supply. There are no hydrants and we don't always know when the first tanker will arrive. (In the Midwest we use the term tanker as a ground apparatus that carries at least 1000 gallons of water.) When operating in a response area that has public water, it is not uncommon for the second arriving unit to lay into the first apparatus from the hydrant. Our additional units are usually quicker to arrive and the fire has not progressed as far because our response times are faster. In the rural setting our response times are longer due to proximity and road miles allowing the fire to grow longer, thus consuming more of the structure.
So, we will need big water sooner than what might be required in a hydranted area. We have to prepare for this situation before the call comes in. How we carry and load our supply lines is critical. So many times our hose and the loads we use are set up for our hydranted areas; because its easy and there is a lot of information out there on how to lay into and from a hydrant. Additionally, we usually don't have to got too far to get to a hydrant. This is not usually the case when we get into the rural setting. I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do, your department has specific needs. But, I will offer some examples that have worked. When setting up your hose bed, you need to know what appliances will be used to distribute water to multiple apparatus. Have those appliances readily available and ready for deployment. Don't hide them away in the twilight zone that requires a heavy mover to get to. Make them accessible. This will speed your hose deployment and get you water faster. You need to have a good familiarity with your rural response area. Laying 900 feet of hose and still having 400 feet to the fire can cause a delay in getting water. Ideally, we want to be able to get to the fire building as the first due engine. So, you may have to be deliberate in where you lay your line. In doing that, laying away from an intersection or half way up a road or drive, leave a cone at the coupling for visibility. Have enough hose! As the first due engine dropping line can be a very smart move, if done right. When laying your line the first issue is to not take up the road or drive. Get to one side of the road or drive and lay it out on that side to allow other apparatus access. It might be worth having a firefighter follow the truck to guide the hose to one side of the road. This will pay dividends later. Doing this also gives you a guide to how much hose your laying and can relay that to the next in unit or your water supply tanker. You need to communicate to your next arriving unit what side of the road your laying, how much hose and if you reached the fire building or not. This will determine if the second unit will be your relay or if it needs to finish the lay. Depending on your department's capabilities, you may choose to lay a 3" supply line, dual 3" lines or large diameter hose. We typically will lay dual 3" lines. This takes preparation for you hose loads and can shorten your lay.
Additionally, if using LDH, a good rule of thumb to remember is that every foot of LDH holds one gallon of water. So, you see how this might be a problem in filling the line initially depending on how much water your supply truck carries. Finally, the first arriving engine needs to try to place their apparatus in a position that is conducive for additional units, access to the fire and possibly room for tankers to maneuver in and out of.
This post is very basic and only outlines an option for the first arriving engine or apparatus. We will cover more rural topics in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let us know what you want to read about. Also, share if you have tactics that you have found to be beneficial. Thanks and train hard.
Archives for training-development
I recently have had a lot of suggestions and requests to post on some volunteer, rural, combination issues that the fire service faces. I started and am still a member of a mostly rural volunteer, now combination, department. My earliest exposure to the fire service was at this mostly rural department.
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?
This photo shows a way to make an SCBA face piece for your RIT bag/kit glove friendly. You can use a garden hose or any kind of rubber tubing or hose that would be easy to grab with a gloved hand. We used a small bungee cord and ran it through the bonnet and attached both ends to the hose. This allows for easy feeling and grabbing the back of the mask with gloved hands.
We also attached large key rings to the pull tabs for the face piece bonnet to pull it tight. These rings can be any size you want, but make sure they are easily accessed and grabbed with glove hands.
These two methods have worked very well for us and during training evolutions has stood up to the pulling and tugging.
Let us know if you have other methods that work well for your department.
Thanks and keep training hard.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an officer, leader or instructor is providing honest feedback to our crews. It sounds simplistic and most will say in response to reading that, “I am.” Well, as easy as it sounds, skimming over the “bad” stuff is easier to do because we are Brothers and Sisters and we hang out off duty or whatever.
We’re going to address this problem specifically as it relates to the training ground.
We try to involve our company officers in most all drills. The idea is that the company officer will be directing their crews on the emergency scene, making critical, real-time decisions and we want them to use drills and exercises to practice and refine those skills.
Recently we drilled on a new operational guideline that included some new equipment. We provided a video showing and explaining the new guideline and discussed the new operational guideline. The company officers were supposed to sit with their crews to watch the video, discuss the guideline then go out and get familiar with the equipment that would be used during the training evolution.
Some officers are more driven than others and some think they already know everything, and as you might guess, change is not embraced by everyone.
Ours has not always been an environment where honest, constructive feedback was accepted. Like many departments, we got by and used tactics that were taught 20-30 years old, they worked back then so why change them now?
This new guideline addressed a low frequency/high risk event and is something we haven’t historically trained on in the past. The simple fact that we were making this drill as realistic as possible was already causing some grumbling and not everyone was in favor of the new equipment and tactics associated with the new guideline.
I knew we were going to have deficiencies, after all, we want to find them during drills and training as compared to when the real thing happens.
The first two days we had to make some corrections, as was expected, and in one case the attack line had to be redeployed to make sure it was done correctly. There was constructive advise and recommendations made and good questions as to “why” we were making some of the changes. It was a positive learning experience and each person understood the correct way to operate under that guideline with the new equipment at the end of the day.
The third day was not as positive. It became apparent that one company officer spent no time with the video or his crew in preparing of the drill. This particular day I was involved in the drill and a chief officer was running the exercise.
During the drill many deficiencies were noted by assistant instructors and the guideline was not adhered to. When the drill ended, one small deficiency was noted, but everyone was told they had done a good job. Not good. I only found out about the larger, very significant problem later that day as input from the assistant instructors started debriefing me on the events.
We had to pull the deficient company officer in and explain what he did wrong and why. Since there was not an honest evaluation of the drill, he was under the impression that he did okay. This creates huge problems with credibility and trust between the trainer, officer and/or leader and crews or students.
It all worked out in the end. If we are not honest about performance and allow our firefighters and officers to believe that deficient behaviors and performances are acceptable, we are training them to fail. We must provide honest feedback, even when it’s not the popular thing to do or there is push back.
In all aspects of training, I see this regularly in the classroom and on the drill ground. When a task or skill is performed wrong or not to an optimum level, it must be addressed with respect to why and the importance of doing it right the way. However, when addressing these issues, it should be done in a constructive way as not to degrade or minimize that firefighter or officer.
Whether your in the engine house, on the fire ground or on the drilling ground, we have to be honest about our performance. Even though this can cause friction with some, it builds trust among your team because they know that your intentions are to make the team better. Don’t fail your people by letting things go, make them do it right before they leave the training ground and go back to the engine house on a positive note.
Thanks for reading and train hard. I appreciate everything that each one of you do for our fire service.
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.
Here are some more pictures from my A Shift buddies, Jim, Bob and Dave at Florissant Valley Fire Protection District. These photos show the challenges of just getting into some of our buildings. It's a lot easier to get a good look at the working mechanisms and traits of these obstacles during daylight and in non-emergent situations.
Take time to know what is behind these doors and grates. What are they protecting and how secure are they? Is just a matter of prying bolts out of the brick and concrete or are they really seated into the building? Now is the time to find out.
One note, the pic with the bars is actually a smoking lounge for an adjacent bar. Access is made from inside the building but it looks like a different occupancy. Don't wait until it's smokey and dark.
Read the doors and try to identify characteristics that can indicate foricible entry challenges. Do the doors swing out or in? Are the hinges exposed or protected? Is the jamb protected?
These are also important for RIT operations, to read the building and soften it up for interior crews if a company has not already done so.
Stay alert and get out and look around. You'll be surprised what you'll find.
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 short clip show balloon frame construction from the inside. With Engine House Training, LLC this summer, we had the opportunity to hold a class in this building. It was going to be torn down and the interior wall coverings in most of the house had been removed. That exposed the balloon frame construction characteristics that we so often speak of but seldom have the chance to see.
Use this however you like and share it. Hopefully, this will help someone to better understand the meaning of balloon frame buildings and to ensure proper tactics are used with these structures.
Keep training and pass on your knowledge to others. Share the gift.
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.
Check the upcoming radio show tomorrow night on "Taking it to the Streets" with Chris Naum. It is sure to be a great show and a good time. Here is some more information:
Please call in with your questions and get involved in the online discussions that always are part of the shows.
Stay safe and keep training 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?
We know the importance of inspections and identifying hazards in the buildings that we serve and respond to. This is just a simple reminder of one hazard that depending on it's location in the building, can be missed.
Combustible storage under stairs or in the stairwell can cause some serious problems. Even in sprinklered buildings this is a hazard.
The pictures you seeshows a pile of combustible storage in the stairwell and under the stairs in a hotel. You can also see that this is in the means of egress area next to the exit door.
Smoke from a fire from these combustible materials can make the use of the stairwell almost impossible and access for firefighters difficult. Occupants are expected to use the stairs during a fire and a large mass of people filling a smoke filled stairwell is disastrous.
This building also is equipped with standpipes in the stairwells, so making that connection would be difficult for fire crews trying to make the connection.
Keep an eye on your buildings and explain this situations to your crews to impress the importance of inspections and mitigating these hazards before they become problems.
Train hard and stay safe.
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:
We have all heard the same statement, " the department starts and ends with the company officer." Whether you agree with this statement or not, we cannot deny the profound affect, both negative and positive,that the company officer has on our companies and ultimately our department.
How we operate and how we train will be dictated by how the company officer lays out his expectations and how the daily routines are performed. When a company officer during a training evolution makes a broad statement to his young crew that "we never enter a building without a charged hoseline", we know what the ramifications will be for the members of his company and the people they are supposed to protect. These attitudes and beliefs will be perpetuated, making our job even more difficult.
It is easy to see how the long term attitude and beliefs will be affected one way or the other by the example set by the company officer. Lazy company officers have lazy crews and working company officers have working crews. I don't know when this got so complicated.?
When the backstep pulls the line off of the rig inadequately and the officer jumps his shit, we have a problem. Is it not the job of the company officer to make sure his crew is ready? Is it not the officers job to ensure that the guys on his truck are proficient at the tasks as simple as pulling a line? Sure the backstepper has a responsibility, but that company officer has a problem with the wrong guy. If that company officer drilled regularly, any deficiencies would have been identified and remediated before they became a problem. It's called knowing your crew.
The way that we get to know our crew is to get to know your crew. That means you, as a company officer, have to invest in your people. You have to "work" with them. That means actually doing things around the fire house and talking. That means eating together and doing regular training drills. It is a relationship and you have to put "quality" time into it. You cannot expect to come in, run a few calls and go home and expect to know who your working with.
In most parts of the country we are fighting less fires. This is dangerous and makes it even more important to drill regularly. The officers of the past had years of actual firefighting experience to lean on and pass on. We are losing that experience and that requires us to train as a crew in order to know what is expected, what our company capabilities are based on available resources and to create those "experiences" that are hard to come by. It all falls on the company officer.
If you ask most companies and officers, there are a few things that really brings a crew together. One, obviously is a good, working fire. Everyone comes back and is pumped up and the stories begin. Second is meaningful training that is inclusive, well planned and relevant. Third is doing projects in the house. No matter what the work is, the crew talks, interacts and generally has a good time while doing work together.
We can't allow our comforts of the job to override the mission. Stay safe and train. Hey, maybe today take off the hand tools and give them a good sanding and cleaning. Oh, and do it as a crew.
I spend a lot of time looking at buildings and thinking about "how would I do this or that" and what kinds of challenges would exist should a fire happen. It drives my wife nuts! You know what I mean? You go to an establishment or an event and you are looking around for exits, sprinklers, fire alarms and just the general layout of the building.
It is good for us to identify these different characteristics on a frequent basis. Even if it isn't in your area, I believe it keeps you sharp. It's like practicing all of the things you have learned in your head. Granted, you aren't manipulating a tool or pulling a line, but you can do all of those things in your head. What would you do with this type of door? How about this wierd little addition and the ventilation problems that it poses? These are all considerations you can do any time and any where.
Here a few pictures from a recent trip to Nashivelle, TN. We were walking back from LP Field after the half-marathon and this building was right next to the pedestrian bridge we were on. I stopped and started taking pictures and thinking. Of course I got behind and my wife had to explain to everyone else in the group that I was a just a wierd firefighter who does this all of the time.
Take a look and share what you see and all of the different considerations and challenges that could be recognized during a fire in this buillding.
Take care and train hard.
Here is a great video of some basement removal techniques. This is another video from Dale Pekel, who looks like he may have gotten a promotion? Dale? Anyway, these props are able to be used for multiple drills and Dale is very generous with how to build them.
These two techniques are great and you can see that one must be comfortable and well trained in the use of the SCBA. Confidence comes from continued use and training. You must master the basics and know your tools like the back of your hand. This allows you to perform the more advanced tasks without worrying about the simple things because they become second nature.
Train hard and stay safe. Thanks Dale for another great video.