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I am Sorry What Did You Just Say??? By: Larry Schultz

By: Larry Schultz

 

I am taking a break from my typical anarchist message and, pleading with you to read this very personal story as a personal assessment tool. I am a fire service traditionalist to the core and my style of writing is always intended to offer an opposing (or alternative) view of what I term the “overzealous safety culture”. My issue(s) are not, nor have they ever been about safety itself, but our approach to assessing and managing risk, without using emotional coercion.

I am going to attempt to address a true risk / health and safety concern, and do so without violating my, no emotional coercion rule. It’s my personal experience and I share to give people something to consider. Before you start jumping to the conclusion that this will be an on-line conversion where I join the “I hate old-school” fan club, simmer down a minute.

My plan is to share a very personal story of cancer and how it has the potential to affect more than ourselves. I always give a shout-out at the beginning of my sermons to the person(s) who get me so twisted up about something that I have to write about it. This one goes out to two people. First is my son, who is my hero of heroes and that’s all that needs to be said about this guy. The next is one of coolest dudes I know Donnie Wedding (DLW) and a brother Traditions Training instructor. Over the past month, DLW and I have been walking through this issue (cancer) together, bouncing thoughts, ideas and frustrations off of one another. The irony of these two recipients is that in spite of never meeting one, DLW and my son Joe were cut from the same exact mold.

While the information and focus on firefighter cancer is a reasonably new topic, over the past 10 years, various studies have concluded the relationship between increasing cancer rates and firefighters. Each day, we are exposed to multiple cancer causing agents, through both inhalation and absorption of carcinogens. The exposures come from structure fires, auto fires, dumpster fires etc. This occurs not only during the incipient and free-burning stages, but well in to the overhaul stage and after. These issues far exceed exposure to carbon monoxide and smoke my friends.

The list of cancers include Testicular, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Skin cancer, Brain cancer, Breast cancer and a whole host of others. In fact, studies are showing more aggressive types of cancer at a younger age then the civilian population. If this isn’t depressing enough, the fact that we are regularly being exposed to multiple agents through multiple routes – multiple times a shift, we are prone to get multiple types of cancer. The hotter the environment and the dirtier we get, the greater the exposure; the lungs and dermis becoming the greatest routes of entry in to our bodies/organs.

 

On December 31st 2013, I was driving home from Pennsylvania to celebrate the New Years in anticipation of what promised to be “a new – new start”.  About 10 minutes in to my drive, I got a phone call from my son. My boy is and has always been as steady and stoic as a man could be and never gets flustered with anything in life. In typical fashion as part of a normal conversation, he told me he was just diagnosed with testicular cancer. Unless you have experienced this, you have no idea what that feeling is like. I couldn’t even comprehend it, let alone figure out how I would tell his mother and sisters.

Like most fathers, I tend to be a ‘fixer” of things, only this time, I hadn’t a clue how to fix this. For me that means digging deep and educating myself about it, and started to read everything I could about testicular cancer. When I entered the keyword for the search, the very first link that appeared was a study on firefighters and the exponentially elevated risk they faced for testicular (and other) cancers.  The more I read, the more I read. The more I kept reading, the bigger the pit in my stomach. Remember, the nexus between cancer and firefighting studies are relatively new. The fact is, that common sense always told me that the things we breathe in are pretty gnarly, but I rarely considered things like dermal absorption, post incident exposure contamination (through dirty gear, uniforms and soot) and cross contamination.

So here is my confession. Like most, I loved every part of being a “big city” fireman, most importantly the heavy workload. When I say every part, I include the persona of dirty gear and the sooty look and smell that comes along with it. It wasn’t uncommon to go to a few fires a shift, so why shower… in fact, my goal at the end of each tour-of- duty was to look like Pig-Pen (a character from Peanuts for you youngins).  I honestly loved every bit of that.

My gear was always in the back of my vehicle when I left work; I would go home after being up for 24 straight and fall asleep wherever I could find a spot, still in my raunchy clothes and covered in soot. It wouldn’t be long before my little dude would wake up, come down stairs and hang out with me while he watched TV, and I snored. My uniforms, t-shirts, washed with his cloths and my shoes/boots trampled plenty of crap into the carpet that he crawled around on. I can’t tell you the number of times; I put him in to my gear. If you know me, you know I am a “good hair kind of guy” lol. Many of you can relate that for days after a good fire, you couldn’t get the stench of smoke out of your hair. You would smell like that for days at a time. My friends, this went on for years and years and I am certain, that I exposed my family selfishly and unnecessarily.

There is no history of testicular cancer in my family and my son had zero medical history as well. While there is no definitive proof that his diagnosis was caused by secondary exposure to carcinogens that I exposed him to, I know this to be true: cross contamination exposure to carcinogens is very real and those exposed are at greater risk; I exposed him and my wife (and daughters later on) to that crap for years and lastly, I will have to continue to think about this every day and wonder if I caused or contributed to his cancer.

This is where hypocrisy enters the picture. I never wore a nomex-hood in my career (stupid), in fact my crew would call it (my hood) my personal department issued handkerchief. I worked towards being the last one to have to mask-up and the first to take it off; all part of the identity. How stupid do I feel now?

You can be “salty” (yes that’s still a good thing), without “looking” the role, by simply letting your actions speak louder than your appearance or attitude. You know the right things to do (wear your mask, take a shower when you get back, wash your gear regularly, no gear in the living space and wash your uniforms separate for other items), so do the right thing for you and your family.

My son is in full remission (continues to undergo regular follow-ups) and has blessed us with our first grandchild (which was not supposed to happen as a result of his illness), a true miracle.

 

 

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Company News, news, Testimonials | Posted on 08-01-2016

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Lt. Peter B. Lund

Pete-1Another year goes by without our great friend and mentor Lt. Peter Lund. We at Traditions Training miss our co-founder each and everyday. His wisdom, experience and humor made learning from and teaching with Pete a great experience for all firefighters, fire officers and fellow instructors. He could easily relate to the youngest probie and the tenured veteran all at the same time. All would come away from class further educated and ‘combat ready’ for the next incident.

In order to continue to pass along his message, we pay homage to him in all the classes that we teach. It was a true privilege to have been able to sit in on one of his classes and watch him tell the stories and lessons learned by the people that formed his career. What a truly humble and honorable man he was.

So as much as we at Traditions Training mourn the loss of our friend and mentor, we will always remember the father and husband that he was: A family man and fire service legacy. To his children Valarie and Matt, and his wife Andrea, we will never forget the man who even in death continues to shape the modern fire service. Pete, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers each and everyday.

Lt. Pete “Vulcan” Lund
June 14th, 2005

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, Company News, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-06-2013

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Check your Dance Card… Part 2 “getting closer”

Dance with me?

 

In part one of “Check your Dance Card” we discussed a few items to take a look at before we enter the fire building and start our dance with the “beauty of fire.”  In part 2, we will discuss a few more specifics that we should note as we enter the structure.  Make no mistake, a constant review of this Dance Card is a must for all members… take mental notes of what you see.  You’re going to want to come home from your latest “dance” and tell all your friends all about this “beauty.”

“Ok, let’s move” the boss said, after what seemed like an eternity to you.  The reality, it was only mere seconds.  We all know that reality is often suspended when you are out on the dimly lit dance floor.  You, you’re an eager beaver, and chomping at the bit to get on with this next .  Your Officer is more cautious; he’s been burned by this “beauty” before.  He remembers the sting of her touch, especially if you are caught moving too quickly on the dance floor.  He is trying to show you the patience required, but you are still rather wet behind the ears and excitable…

This “beauty of fire” doesn’t make it easy; she beckons you closer with her dancing flames and warm lustrous glow.  Again, the Officer reels you back in…one more review before we hit the dance floor.

As you enter the fire building…

1. WHAT TYPE OF STAIRS SERVICE THE BUILDNG?

Generally we have 2 types of tread design (on the staircase steps) and 2 types of staircases. They are either “Open” (having no sides, walls or doors at the top or bottom) or “Enclosed” (having sides, walls and doors at the top and bottom).  Open tread and open staircases allow the passage of smoke, heat and fire to the floors above and are not friendly to our operation.  Enclosed steps and enclosed staircases reduce the chances of fire spread in the building (if the doors are to remain in the closed position).  It may be wise to announce the style and type of stairs to other units as they arrive, so that they know what to expect.  This is of particular importance when in larger multiple dwellings or garden apartments and there are isolated, wing, or multiple staircases that serve specific lines of apartments (i.e. do not transverse the entire building).  “Ladder X to Command; we have enclosed wing stairs, we will be using the A wing stairs to reach the fire apartment.”

 

2. IS THERE A WELL HOLE TO USE FOR THE STRETCH

The presence of a “Well Hole” the space created between the landing section of the stairs and the run of the steps themselves can be utilized for quick hoseline advancement.  It must be rehearsed prior with the Engine Co. to achieve maximum effect.  It reduces the amount of hose needed to be humped up the treads of the steps and around each newel post (i.e. 1-50’ length can travel vertically 5 floors in the well versus 1 length per floor if going up and around each set of steps, newel posts and associated landings).  “Engine 22 to members, there is a well” should be enough to let the members know.

 

3. HOW MANY APARTMENTS ON THE FLOOR

A quick stop on the floor below can get you a lay of the land.  If you bypassed the lobby and forgot to count mailboxes, count the number and note location of the apartments that you see.  Remember that depending of the way the stairs run (scissor, return etc), they may be slight variations in the layout when you get on the fire floor.

 

4. VERIFY FIRE FLOOR AND APARTMENT NUMBER/LETTER

What may have appeared to be a fire on the 3rd floor from the street may turn out to on the second floor depending on the buildings configuration as it relates to the street level. Some buildings have lobby entrances that are raised above street level, which may change your initial fire floor notifications.  Verify the fire floor and announce the apartment number or letter over the air, so that those who may be going above can pinpoint the direction they need to head.

Open Tread and Open Stairs

Well Hole

Enclosed Stairs

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 22-02-2012

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FDIC 2012: 25 TO SURVIVE (Lecture)

**This week we are featuring a short run-down of each of the programs that our staff will be presenting at this year’s FDIC in Indianapolis**

Tuesday (Pre-Conf Workshop, 130p-530p) – 25 to Survive

25 to Survive

TT’s Lt. Mitchell and Capt. Shaw will co-present thier flagship program, 25 to Survive:  The Residential Building Fire.  This program highlights 25 critical areas that present themselves to operating forces at the number one fireground killer of civilians and firefighters alike.  They will present this engaging, interactive presentation will focus on pre-incident, operations and post incident operations.  They will give you street smart tips and take home drills to make yourself and your fire company better prepared at the next residential fire you respond to.  


Lieutenant Douglas J.Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York and Captain Daniel D. Shaw, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue:

Course Summary:  More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at any other fire we encounter. This dynamic and interactive lecture program will address 25 critical firefighting errors and issues common to the residential building. Learn sound tips and take home practical drills to address and correct errors at residential fires. Topics include combat-ready attitude, leadership techniques, SCBA confidence, overcoming building construction features (setbacks, long stretches), communication failures on the fireground, developing and delivering sound and accurate on-scene reports, coordinated ventilation, and more.

 

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, technology-communications, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 08-02-2012

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FDIC 2012: MODERN ENGINE COMPANY ESSENTIALS (Lecture)

**This week we are featuring a short run-down of each of the programs that our staff will be presenting at this year’s FDIC in Indianapolis**

Thursday, 1030-1215pm – MODERN ENGINE COMPANY ESSENTIALS

Join Dan & Doug as they present an engaging and interactive presentation on the most influential unit on the fireground – The Engine Company! As firefighters, we must be able to adapt to the environment we operate in which is changing every day. Some of the practices we employed years, weeks, or days ago may not apply to the fire you encounter tomorrow. Dan & Doug will provide a review of time tested and proven strategies and tactics along with new tips, tools, tactics for the modern firefighting environment.

Modern Engine Company Essentials

Captain Dan Shaw, Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue Department & Lieutenant Douglas Mitchell, Jr., Fire Department of New York (FDNY)

While the ultimate job of getting water to the fire has not changed, building construction, fire behavior, staffing levels, and much of our equipment have. This class will teach sound tactics and techniques for preparing and operating the modern day engine company. Factual hose and nozzle data will enhance the student’s knowledge of the new tools available for the firefighting arsenal. The instructor will provide a comprehensive and definitive blueprint to hoseline/nozzle selection and deployment and discuss the tools, tips, and drills that will work best in your fire department.

 

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, fires, news, Training Resources, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 06-02-2012

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Firemen… and “Never Forget”

Firemen… and “Never Forget”

Lt. Douglas J Mitchell, Jr. FDNY.

September the 11th is later this week and I have found myself writing. I have been writing snippet’s down as they pop in and out of my head, emotions from the events from that day, and its aftermath hereafter.

I just can’t watch TV these last two weeks. I can’t take it, it’s just too much. Caught myself getting upset watching a special such as, (I will make something up here…but you know what I am saying) “FIRST RESPONDER HERO’S” brought to you specially by “All Temperature Cheer.”

I can’t read the papers either, thier writers and publishers, who up until this week, were bashing “Firefighter Pension’s” as cause for the downfall of our economy… and so on…. and so on…

I thought to write a little side story, reflecting back on where I was in my career as a fireman when the events unfolded, but it makes no difference. I am just one of thousands of firemen who spent time at the trade center complex, went home from time to time between funerals, memorials and benefits, and came back to thier careers at the FDNY, getting back “on the job”.

Sometimes I wish I wrote down what I did each day, the 2 years of so after September 11th 2001. Most times, I am glad that I didn’t. For my nation, my city, my fire department, my fire company & my friends, words cannot describe the pain.

I’ll try to let the words tell my thoughts. I have posted a few of them this week in different places, but not all together…

“Never Forget” is a well worn adage attached to the brave members of the FDNY who were killed in the line of duty on September 11th 2001. I know that I will “Never Forget,” I can’t. There are times when I selfishly wish I that I could. “Never Forget,” not one day… I just can’t. “Never Forget” is more than just 2 simple words, they means everything and yet nothing at all… depending who you are.

To some, the “Never Forget” moniker is profitable, exploitable, in merchandise, ratings and to bolster arbitrary political posturing in “I’m right and your wrong.” To me, it’s at times silent internal reflection and at others gut wrenching jolts of emotion. You know, that empty in the pit of your stomach, want to vomit… yet can’t, feeling?

Like all firemen, I know my family at home cares for me greatly. We need the support of family, it’s a tough thing… family home alone: nights, weekends, birth’s, death’s, holidays… times when only a human touch can solve a problem and your just not there, you can’t be there your at work. But, we know fire takes no days off.

As firemen, we try to insulate our families somewhat from what we see and do, day in and day out. They don’t, and can’t really comprehend what it is that we do and why it is that we do it. They can’t, because, they aren’t firemen.

As firemen we must look out for each out for each other on this job.  Only we who are firemen, truly know what the job entails.

We must rely heavily on our brothers and sisters on the job for support. That is why we show up and come out for each other in times of need. I saw it in droves after the events in lower Manhattan 10 years ago. Why did you come to NYC to help out? Why, because you are a fireman and that what we do. You saw brothers who needed support and you showed up, it was the right thing to do. I thanked every out of town guy I saw at a funeral or benefit for the support back then, and I thank you again today.

“Never Forget” the great traditions of this job, both in our successes and in our sacrifices.

“Never Forget” how we got to where we are today; in your career, in your fire company, in your fire department.

“Never Forget” the wisdom imparted by those who came before you, for they have laid the path in their sacrifices.

“Never Forget” the love of those around the table with you today, for life is fragile, and they are the present. They will carry that honor forward.

Firemen will “Never Forget” what “Never Forget” means to them, because… well, they are Firemen.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, In the News, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, rescues, Testimonials, Uncategorized | Posted on 09-09-2011

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Traditions Training is Heading West…

Traditions Training is headed West next month. Ricky and Nick are headed out to Witchita,KS to help instruct at the annual Witchita HOT Classes. We will be lecturing on our trademark class “Combat Ready” and then a full day of hands-on with our Forcible Entry Academy. Please go to WitchitaHot.com for details, the dates are September 16 through the 18th of this year. This group of dedicated firefighters are very passionate about training. We will be there with a large group of fellow FDIC instructors and our Brothers from P.L. Vulcan Training Group. So come visit out there, I can guarantee that the group from Witchita will show you a good time in the evenings and they will have great training sessions during the day.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 01-08-2011

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The Basic Goals of RIT & Class in Bedford, VA

This weekend TT instructors Nick Martin (DCFD/KVFD), Scott Kraut (FFxFD), Chris Birch (DCFD), and Roger Steger (BCFD/KVFD) traveled south to Bedford County, Virginia.  We were being brought in to do some RIT training with the 3 departments in the county that had primary responsibilities for RIT – Bedford FD, Forest FD, and Stewartsville FD.

Class focused on two simple sets of rules.

The primary goal of the RIT should be to:

  1. Locate the downed firefighter.
  2. Keep the downed firefighter on continuous air.
  3. Keep the fire off the downed firefighter.

Most operational LODD’s result from asphyxia first and burns second.  The goal of the initial team is to create a protective envelope around the downed firefighter.  If you keep the firefighter on air and the fire away, you can work on solving any additional challenges such as collapse, etc…

Our second rule was:

Most successful rescues of firefighters are a combination of:

  1. Excellent basic firefighting skills.
  2. Basic tools and equipment.
  3. Ingenious, out of the box thinking.
  4. Communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z1B1CuJZOU

There is not a one-size fits-all tool you can buy and throw on the rig to solve your RIT problems.  Scenarios are often unique and often highlight a situation we hadn’t thought of until after it occurred.  To be prepared we must first be excellent at fighting fire and PREVENTING the RIT deployment and second we must be problem-solvers with many “tools in our toolboxes” from which we can pull and generate a solution.

Class on Saturday started with a 4-hour seminar on RIT essentials and team formation.  In the afternoon we worked on practical skills focusing on:

  • locating the firefighter and use of search-rope kits
  • troubleshooting and resolving SCBA emergencies
  • packaging and moving the downed firefighter

Sunday was entirely hands-on scenarios.  We demonstrated the reality that a 4 firefighter RIT is NOT likely to last long enough to complete an entire rescue. Students overcame scenarios involving missing firefighters, a catastrophic floor collapse, burned through stairs with members trapped above, and firefighters through a hole into the basement, among others.  The staff of TT was constantly impressed at the skill, ability, and attitudes of the members from Bedford County.  All scenarios were successful and much was learned by both students and instructors.

What was the last RIT training you did?  Was it realistic?  Was it based on the rules above?  Remember – no one is coming in for us, but US.  Stay COMBAT READY.


Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, RIT / Survival, videos | Posted on 07-04-2011

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JOIN US AT FDIC 2011!

Traditions Training, LLC had another great month in February 2011.  We conducted several extremely successful hands on and lecture programs.  We had instructors write articles in this months editions of Urban Firefighter and Fire Engineering Magazines.  All the while, we continued to publish new tips/tricks on our blogs and Facebook pages…

March is now upon us and Fire Engineering’s FDIC (Fire Departments Instructor Conference) is less than 3 weeks away.  Our instructors have been tirelessly polishing their presentations and the Traditions Training, LLC staff is set to be entrenched there for most of the week!   If you are going to be at FDIC, come out to take a listen to what you have been reading here on our FB page and Blog, you will not be disappointed!  We are certainly privileged to be presenting several times throughout the week on various fireground topics.

Keep up with TT’s facebook page, as we will be trying to attend various social events throughout the week!  Let us know where you are going to be, we would love to join in sharing the great Tradition’s of our profession at FDIC!

WORKSHOPS

Monday, March 21, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

4-Hour Workshop:

Basement Fires
Firefighter Nicholas A. Martin, District of Columbia Fire Department
Basement fires are among the most hazardous incidents that you respond to, primarily because of delayed recognition and limited access. This workshop will discuss techniques for size-up and attack of basement fires, including considerations for the truck company, engine company, and incident commander. Learn about the hazards, size-up techniques to improve early recognition of the fire’s actual location, various methods of fire attack, the construction and contents of typical basements with the corresponding effects on fire behavior, structural stability, and tactical options.

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Monday, March 21, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

8-Hour Workshops:

25 to Survive: Residential Building Fires
Captain Daniel D. Shaw, Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue; and Lieutenant Douglas J. Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York
More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at other building fires. This dynamic and interactive program will address 25 critical firefighting issues common to the residential building. The program will discuss the areas of preparation, response, and operations, all vital to successfully mitigating the event. Students will learn “street-smart” tips, tactics, and practical company drills to remedy the common errors encountered and allow the student to bring back more than just what they heard.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
10:30 AM-12:15 PM

Modern Engine Company Essentials
Captain Dan Shaw, Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue & Lieutenant Douglas J. Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York
This interactive program discusses the most vital unit on the fireground, the engine company. Learn how changes in building construction, staffing levels, and new equipment have affected the job of getting water to the fire. Students will learn sound tactics and techniques for preparing and operating the modern-day engine company.
ALL LEVELS
Room 134-135

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Friday, March 25, 2011
8:30 AM-10:15 AM

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.
INTERMEDIATE
Room 238-239

CLICK HERE FOR THE FDIC PAGE WITH CLASS DESCRIPTIONS AND REGISTRATION!

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, In the News, in-the-line-of-duty, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 01-03-2011

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Challenges of Building Height Differences

Most firemen are familiar with the concept that buildings may be of different heights in the rear than in the front – for example the 2 story house that is 3 stories in the rear because of the walk out basement.  This is an important operational issue.  It can effect what floor firefighters think they are operating on.  Confusion about this and miscommunication can lead to hoseline placement or ventilation in the wrong spot.  Many of us have only thought about this situation in terms of the building that is taller in the REAR and shorter in the FRONT.  But what about the opposite?  A fire the other night highlighted some of these challenges…

A “triple-local” (3E, 1T, BFC) were dispatched to investigate a report of smoke in the area.  The first in truck found heavy smoke coming from the 1st floor of a 3 story middle-of-the-row building.  The first floor was a church and it appeared that apartments/offices were the upper two floors.  Exposure’s B and D were both attached 2 story rowhouses (residential).  The box alarm was filled and as the 2nd due truck’s barman (forcible entry FF) my job was to insure that access was available for the 2nd due engine to access the basement from side C.  On the way to the fire I had heard the first engine report fire on the first floor of a church.  Coming down the rear alley I observed a decent amount of smoke coming up the stairwell (about 10 steps) to the basement.  From side C it was 2 stories and all looked like residential rowhouses to me.  After donning my mask and forcing the door, I made my way into what I believed was the basement.  Smoke was to the floor.  I assumed I was in the basement and with that level of smoke that there must be fire in the basement.  Then I encountered the officer from the 1st in engine who was looking for the basement.  We had some miscommunication because I thought we were IN the basement, which he was still looking for.  So now we had to search around and make sure that there wasn’t a basement, so we could verify that the fire had not come from below.

It took a few minutes to establish that we were both on the first floor.  What I had descended 10 steps to access from side C had been entered via the street-level on side A – we were all on the first floor, but from the rear it appeared to be the basement.  The B & D exposures were both 2 story row’s that sat up on grassy hills.  For the fire building, the grassy hill had been dug out and a full extra story built in. 

Nothing bad happened, so I apologize if this is all anti-climatic.  But it highlighted an important point – height discrepancies can be on either side.  Most of the time it seems like the rear is taller than the front, but in this case it was the opposite.  Had the fire not been more serious, this miscommunication could have resulted in some operational hiccups at least, or much worse…

Get out in your area and look at your buildings.  When, like this fire, you encounter something unique – SHARE IT.   If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure that the reality of the situation is CLEARLY RELAYED TO ALL COMPANIES ON THE FIREGROUND.  And a great job to those on the box, good stop.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Commentary, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 15-12-2010