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.
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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 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.
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.
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 have discussed standpipes in the past, but I think it is worth mentioning again. Standpipes in large and high rise buildings are our water source. It is important to know the location of these devices and to ensure that they are not obstructed.
In addition we need to know and understand if they have pressure reducing devices and how that affects our operations. Study up on these systems and know how to adapt and trouble shoot the stand pipes in your area.
The picture shown is a stand pipe in a hotel. I went to ice in the hotel I was staying in and this was right next to the ice machine. I didn't measure it, but this standpipe would be very difficult to connect to. Additionally, if we did get connected with hose only, there would certainly be a kink at the coupling, further reducing our pressure.
This might be a time when we would try to put an elbow on the connection prior to connecting our hose. However, I think that with this particular standpipe connection, it would be a stretch just to get the elbow connected as well.
Know your buildings and their systems. Prepare for these types of problems and come up with solutions before you have a fire. Thanks for reading and train hard.
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.
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.
This is an article that was written by a reader. He is passionate about firefighter health and safety and wanted to pass along some information. We all know that we can always do better when it comes to our own health. We do a good job of promoting safety to our citizens and community, but neglect the same message for our own safety.
Read the article and pass on the information. Thanks to Taylor for submitting it.
Common Diseases and Health Problems of Firefighters
The dangers of firefighting are not always readily apparent. Obviously, the most visible hazard is the fire itself and the severe damage it causes to the structure the firefighter must enter. However, even without serious injury, firefighters have a high risk of long-term health problems as a result of their occupation.
Chronic Respiratory Problems & cardiovascular disease
Even if the smoke from a particular fire does not contain any toxic substances, it can still have a detrimental effect on the firefighter’s health. Smoke and dust inhalation can exacerbate existing heart and lung problems, as well as cause new problems like bronchitis or lung inflammation. While most fire stations are equipped with self-contained respirators, they are often impractical for lengthy jobs such as wildfires, when 30 minutes of oxygen may not be nearly enough to get the job done. While treatments such as steroid inhalers can help mitigate the symptoms, more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of smoke and dust inhalation.
No one would argue that firefighting is not a high-stress occupation. Even the most careful firefighter must deal with extreme stress on a regular basis, and that kind of strain takes a toll on the body. Chronic stress wears down the body’s immune system, making it more prone to other diseases. But perhaps the most dangerous aspect of stress is its effect on the heart – hypertension (high blood pressure) is very common among firefighters, and left unchecked, it can lead to stroke, heart attacks, and aneurysms. Smoke, too, has a detrimental effect on the heart and blood vessels when it prevents the blood from properly delivering oxygen to all systems of the body. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety lists cardiac death as the most common cause of fatality in firefighters.
Asbestos is widely known as a health hazard. However, though it is no longer used in the manufacture of new construction materials, it is still commonly found in homes and other buildings constructed before the 1980s. When intact, asbestos-containing materials pose little danger to the residents, but firefighters most often contend with these materials as they are being destroyed. Tiny, needle-like asbestos fibers can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause serious health problems including symptoms of mesothelioma, an aggressive and extremely deadly cancer of the lining of the chest. By the time these symptoms appear, the disease has often progressed past the point of treatment. This makes mesothelioma life expectancy extremely severe and short on average.
Asbestos is not the only toxin released by burning buildings. Firefighters also have unusually high rates of cancer such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple melanomas, and testicular and prostate cancer. Unlike mesothelioma, there is not a known direct link between the particular toxic chemicals and these cancers (for example, we cannot say that chemical X causes cancer Y), but there is no doubt that firefighters come in regular contact with clouds of toxic smoke in the course of their jobs.
The chronic health effects of firefighting have received more press in recent years due to the heroics of the New York Fire Department during and after the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Just recently, Congress passed the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide health care to those who responded after the terrorist attacks and are still experiencing illness. Hopefully, both lawmakers and the public alike will continue to remember that the danger to firefighters does not disappear as soon as the fire is out.
Taylor Dardan is an EMS/First Responder Health and Safety Advocate. He is very passionate about making sure that firefighters and other first responders are properly aware of various hidden dangers surrounding rescue work.
With the recent storms that are hitting the majority of the country, I wanted to take a minute to ask everyone to take a little extra caution when confronting moving and flood water.
It is important to remember that just because it doesn't look fast doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. Any moving water, no matter how slow it looks is dangerous and should be treated as such.
Some fundamental reminders; Don't drive into flood or moving water. You have no idea what the conditions of the driving surface are underneath the water. It may be shallow but the power of water can alter and significantly damage the road surface below the water line. In some instances that portion of the road could be washed away completely.
Just like a firefighter or responder would not enter the HOT zone in a hazmat and perform technician level tasks, the same should be true with moving water. There are skills associated with tech level training that others don't have. The last thing we need is a responder not reading water conditions correctly and getting caught up in a strainer situation or worse.
Wear your appropriate PPE. If anyone is within 10-15 feet of the water, personal floatation devices should be worn. And they should be worn without bunker gear. This all comes back to training and skills. Be diligent and take the appropriate precautions.
If you are operating in moving water and units are in boats and in the water, have a back up plan. In the pictures you will see that we were operating in flood water that is moving with the river. We sent crews up stream in boats to retrieve a strander boater. Although we had to wait on the bank, we didn't just sit around.
Put out some throw bags at interval spacing with a few personnel to deploy them. If a boat capsizes or a person falls into the water we will be prepared to deploy the throw bags. Make sure your people on the bank and in the boats are wearing floatation devices.
Think ahead of time and have a back up plan. Use safety equipment and don't operate outside the scope of your training.
Stay safe and like REO says, "Keep riding the storm out!"
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.
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,
Some devastating fires have occurred in commercial cooking establishments. We all know the history of fast food restaurant fires and the toll they can have on a fire department if the fire is not found early.
Kitchen suppression systems are designed to activate to limit the effects of a grease fire in these establishments. It is important to note that when these fires occur and the system is activated, the return air should shut off and the hood vent should activate if it is not already on.
When these systems are designed they are equipment specific. Meaning that the flow points are determined by the type of cooking appliance and its location under the hood and suppression system. Moving or replacing any appliance requires reevaluation of the system and could mean an alteration to keep the system adequate.
As you can see in the picture, the appliance shown has wheels. This could create a problem in the future when the ownership wants to move things around a bit and could be detrimental to the effectiveness of the system. One suggestion is to adopt a local ordinance that requires these wheels to be removed or locked. I have seen it both ways and it is up to your jurisdiction on how to do that.
Secondly, you want to ensure that the suppression system is hooked into a monitored fire alarm system or on a direct dial alarm system. We, the fire department, want to know if this system activates. Even if the system puts the fire out, there is a possibility of fire being pulled into the vent duct. If there are any penetrations or gaps in that duct, fire could smolder above for a long time or it could be burning the uncleaned grease. We also want to make sure that if that system activates it gets put back in service appropriately and prior to cooking commencing again.
In the video it shows a "dump" test where we make sure that the correct amount of product is being flowed and that all utilities are shut off with the activation.
I know this is not a tactical post, but it gives you a little insight of why these systems are important. I may not have touched on all of the aspects of these systems, so if you have additional comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment.
Thanks, stay safe and be careful.
Well, it has been a while since I have posted. It has just been crazy and my time has been in short supply. As we all know, FDIC 2011 is here. It starts Monday the 21st of March and I plan on being there the entire week. I just want to make you aware of some of the things that will be going on at this, the greatest fire training conference in the world.
Of course, Monday and Tuesday are the HOT classes. The HOT, Hands On Training, classes are the great drills and evolutions that every firefighter dreams of. These are instructed by the the best instructors that the fire service has to offer. At this time, a great many are sold out, but check the listing and get in any of them, you wont regret it.
Tuesday night is the ISFSI social at Howl at the Moon. This event is for ISFSI members to meet, greet and socialize, and to have few drinks together. It starts at 6:00PM. If your not a member, get registered and take advantage of the great resources that the ISFSI offers fire service instructors.
Wednesday the classroom sessions begin and run through the rest of the week. I am going to ask you to try and check out the list below. These are people I know or have associations with and I believe that these will be some very worth while presentations. Some have been highly recommended by others.
Assistant Chief William M. Greenwood, Fire Emergency Training Consultation Services, Keene, NH
“Interior benchmarks” can help firefighters when they encounter a bad situation in an immediately dangerous to life and health atmosphere. Learn how to recognize these benchmarks and how to employ them so they can help you maintain situational awareness should you become disoriented on the fireground. Interior benchmarking questions are discussed in detail.
The Ready Position
Engineer Christopher Brennan, Harvey (IL) Fire Department
The Ready Position is the point at which the capacity and capabilities of the Fire Service Warrior are in an ideal state of potential energy. Whether sitting in the firehouse at the kitchen table or in the recliner at home with the pager sitting next to you on the table, ideally, you will be ready to spring into action when an alarm sounds. Learn how to master the physical and mental skills of the Fire Service Warrior: Be 100 percent present when you enter into battle; have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to thrive on the fireground; and be prepared for the unfortunate should the worst-case scenario occur at an incident. ALL LEVELS
Benefits of the Personal Harness and Escape System
Lieutenant Daniel DiRenzo, Cherry Hill (NJ) Fire Department
The focus is on incorporating these systems with personal protective equipment or self-contained breathing apparatus to rescue other firefighters or self-rescue. Students will become acquainted with the techniques for using this device as well as its capabilities.
Power Saw Operations and Maintenance Tips
Firefighter Kevin J. Legacy, Fire Department of New York
Students will participate in proactive drills that will ensure safety and promote proficiency when operating saws. They will learn how to troubleshoot minor problems that may arise at the incident scene and that can make the difference between a successful or a failed operation. All aspects of saw maintenance are also addressed. ALL LEVELS
How to Attack a House Fire
Lieutenant Ray McCormack, Fire Department of New York
A primer for extinguishing house fires according to their locations within the house and customizing the fire attack. Learn when, where, and how to apply your hose stream for maximum effectiveness in single and multiroom fires and fires involving stairways, hallways, attics, lofts, kitchens and bathrooms, basements, and garages. Tips on how to stretch up and down stairways, select the best location for the attack line, and combat fire extension. ADVANCED
Firefighter Nate DeMarse, Fire Department of New York
Attendees are shown a systematic plan of attack that will automatically prioritize the important tasks that must be done when operating on a flat-roof building. The skills needed to safely and efficiently perform primary duties on this type of roof are reviewed.
Social Media: The Fire Service’s Next Big Innovation
Lieutenant Rhett Fleitz, Roanoke (VA) Fire-EMS Department
Learn the “in’s and out’s” of social media for the fire service. Many questions about these media (blogs, twitter, facebook, MySpace, YouTube, skype, podcasting, text messaging, and so on) will be answered. Learn to be proactive by developing a social media standard operating procedure. Become acquainted with some of the ways departments are using these media for recruitment, retention, informing journalists and citizens, and publishing news. The benefits and potential consequences for personal use of these media by employees are also discussed. ALL LEVELS
The PIO Reporter: Telling Your Story in a World Where “Spin” Doesn’t Work
Dave Statter, Statter911 Communications, LLC
What you do before an image problem occurs may be more important than what you do later. Building reputation equity in your community could be the key to your survival when things go bad. In this “post-media world,” where the public can access news immediately on the Internet, the fire department can easily lose control of the message. Learn how to communicate so that the public knows what you know, when you know it instead of waiting until all the details are in. Learn how to take control, put out the bad news, build trust with the community, and repair your department’s reputation.
Leading with Attitude
Eddie Buchanan, President, International Society of Fire Service Instructors
This class is about empowerment–making positive changes in your department and lives. It poses and answers the questions: What can I do about changing those things I don’t like about my job? Do I have to be a “yes” man to be a good “follower”? How do I deal with the officer, the negative guy, the bobblehead, the rookie—and myself? Participate in a rankless and nameless “gut check” that will reveal what you can do to improve yourself, your department, and the fire service today and for future generations.
Room Lucas Oil Stadium Classroom 2
A Firefighter’s Own Worst Enemy
Deputy Chief Jason Hoevelmann, Sullivan (MO) Fire Protection District
A look at how your actions, behaviors, and attitudes can contribute to your problems and those within your organization if you don’t recognize them and control them, and how supervisors’ human dynamics and interactions in the firehouse can transfer to the fireground. Students will be guided in how to ensure that they and their departments can be a fluid, clear, dynamic moving stream as opposed to a stagnant pond sitting in a farm field. INTERMEDIATE
Understanding and Motivating Today’s Firefighters
Deputy Fire Coordinator Tiger Schmittendorf, Erie County (NY) Department of Emergency Services
Motivating today’s recruits is the focus. Gain insights that can be applied to all types of departments. Learn how to combat the challenges we face in the firehouse with solutions that are readily apparent. Share in the input from X-Box generation firefighters. Tips for attracting and retaining quality firefighters. ALL LEVELS
Effective Use of Tower Ladders in Tactical Operations
Firefighter Nicholas A. Martin, District of Columbia Fire Department
Proper use of tower ladders in various fireground scenarios is presented. Topics include proper placement and deployment of aerial apparatus; integrating the aerial into the fireground effectively; and using the aerial in various scenarios such as gaining access, rescues, using elevated master streams, and performing technical rescue. Rear-mount and midmount devices and “ladder tower” vs. “tower ladder” are also discussed.
Suburban Fire Tactics
Captain Jim Silvernail, Metro West Fire Protection District, St. Louis County, MO
Strategic principles related to the suburban setting are highlighted. Attendees are motivated to develop and establish effective preferred operating methods for structural firefighting. Students will get a glimpse of “how the rest of the country” is dealing with understaffing and adaptive strategic practices to establish consistent operations.
Urban Tactics with Quint Fire Apparatus
Firefighter Nicholas Morgan, St. Louis (MO) Fire Department
The differences of applying standard engine and truck company emergency scene tactics with traditional engine and truck companies only, with all-quint companies only, or with a combination of all three types of fire apparatus are analyzed. The session includes a basic discussion about quints and their similarities and dissimilarities to traditional fire apparatus, the reasons some departments replace older apparatus with quints, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of quint apparatus for standard emergency scene operations.
Although I recommend these classes, this is by no means the only people and topics you should go see. I am just asking that you take the time to come see these great instructors while they are available.
Since this post has gotten a little long I will end it with one more request; please register for the Courage and Valor Run. This is such an important event and cause. Even if you can’t or don’t want to run, your money for the registration goes to the Courage and Valor Foundation. If you hurry and register you get really cool t-shirt too.
Well, I hope to see you all at one of the many events that will be taking place. I will be at the ISFSI social and the meet up on Friday.
Travel safe and be careful. See you in Indy!