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Fire Engineering Quick Drill by Donald Wedding

FE Halligan Spike Quick Drill

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company | Posted on 02-07-2015

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Making the tragedy personal is the first step in preventing the next Line of Duty Death.

 “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Joseph Stalin

After recently reading Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, and his use of this quote, I pondered if this quote from the feared Communist leader Joseph Stalin could help reduce our line of duty deaths and the answer is YES! While Stalin’s quote was most likely intended for more sinister purposes it does have merit when discussing LODD’s.

First, we are provided statistics in our trade on a daily basis but usually with no associated instructions on what do with the data. Specific to line of duty deaths, we know we average approximately 100 LODD’s, we know the percentages related to what activities, age, gender, etc. are when the catastrophic incident occurred, and we are provided some general recommendations that apply to that affected fire department. But how do we curb the trend of LODD’s based on the statistics provided within our department that may be similar or, more likely, vastly different. Without having this information the line of duty deaths simply become just statistics. This noticeable gap in the equation was the catalyst for 25 to Survive: Reducing Residential Injury and LODD. We took the opportunity to interpret the data and provide solutions to overcome the identified causes in the LODD reports that may be implemented in any fire department.IMG_2074

When we delve into Stalin’s quote and couple it with our process of reviewing LODD reports we can begin to understand that we lose focus on the loss of one firefighter, the tragedy in this case, and focus more on the statistics. For instance, most can recite the average number of LODD’s, but if the LODD did not occur in their department, I would venture to say they couldn’t recite the name of the person who was killed. This behavior is conditioned with the vast amount of mind-numbing statistics, figures, and graphs we receive but it can be altered. Mother Theresa offered a way we can begin to change that trend when she stated,

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Mother Theresa

The numbers are an important metric to demonstrate if we are changing the trend for better or worse but what is important is the person. If we learn the person, we establish a connection and we will learn the story. That story will open your eyes to factors leading up to the LODD and what can be done NOW to prevent it from occurring again. Simply glossing over the numbers will not provide that connection and leads to only honoring someone after they have died which is a disservice.

This process, placing a name and face to the tragedy, is referred to as the “identifiable victim effect” and is utilized everyday in our society to garner your donations or solicit your support. The most notable example is the Ryan White story. While AIDS was very prevalent in the 90’s and everyone had an increased level of awareness, it was something distant and happened in a far away land. That is, until Ryan White contracted AIDS and his was someone you knew. He was an all-American teenager who everyone could associate with; he looked like your son, nephew, the kid down the street, etc.

Ryan became the poster child for AIDS in American and his struggle, and eventual death, led to the Ryan White act. This happened because the AIDS epidemic became the story about a person who you could get to know and support, the epidemic got the attention needed and continues to this day.

How do we parlay this identifiable victim effect into our trade and begin changing the trend of LODD’s in the fire service? We must learn the person. Much like the supporters of Ryan White, we must be most diligent supporters of our fallen firefighters and use the identifiable victim effect to our benefit. The easiest way to start this trend is to review the statistics but also take the time and read the story of each LODD. When you select a report to review with your firefighters take the time to learn:

  • What was their name?
  • What did they look like (put a name to the face)?


    Lt. Pete Lund – June 14th, 2005

  • Where did they work, how many years of service, etc.?
  • What actions were they doing when the LODD occurred?
  • What were the contributing causes to their death that you could apply to your department and operations?
  • What can I do (skill, tip, technique, policy, etc.) to prevent this from occurring in my department, which would honor the memory and sacrifice of the fallen firefighter?

We know firefighters die in the line of duty driving to and from incidents, suffering cardiovascular incidents, and performing their jobs on the fireground amongst many other activities. Your goal is to match the problem or obstacle you are trying to overcome with the story of a fallen firefighter.

For example, if you are teaching new apparatus operators and want to stress the incredible responsibility with this position, pick one of the 17 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2012 responding/returning to an incident. If you are discussing the importance of coordinated ventilation, discuss the LODD of Louis Matthews and Anthony Phillips of the DCFD at the Cherry Road, N.E. fire in 1999. The list is unfortunately vast and plentiful to choose from and each one deserves our recognition.

All the motivation you will need to make yourself, your fellow firefighters, and the future of your fire service, exists in the LODD reports. Learn their stories, share it with your firehouse family, and motivate them to prevent the LODD’s. When we can place a name and face to a cause we naturally rally together to prevent it from happening again. Make them real for the people, learn details of their lives to make more of an impression on the candidates. Saying that a certain firefighter adored only the best keychain knives, might be random but it makes the victim real in the eyes of the people. Take the LODD’s from being just statistics of catastrophic incidents that happen in a far away land and make that tragedy your motivation to help one person at a time and make that one person that firefighter that may be charging down the smoky hallway with you later tonight.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 05-02-2015

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Some Quick Positioning Tips

A fire on January 19, 2015 for the Harrisburg, PA. Bureau of Fire demonstrated some excellent teaching points for Drivers or Chauffeurs of Tower Ladders. The fire in the 300 Blk. of N. Front Street involved the top floor of a four story mixed occupancy structure. The first due truck was Tower 1 from the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire, the Driver positioned the rig with a perfect spot.

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The rig is positioned on the corner of the structure with the turntable right at the Alpha/Bravo Corner. This allows for the boom and basket to reach the entire Bravo side and the Alpha side for rescues and firefighting.





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The cab of the rig is angled 15 to 20 degrees out and away from the structure, thus taking the obstruction of the cab out of play for maximum scrub surface for the boom. Depending on the booms length the basket might be able to reach or see the Delta side if required, though only for firefighting and not rescue.




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If you notice there is no engine in the way of the positioning of the Tower. Once again a diciplined and trained engine driver did not sucumb to temptation and park in front of the building.





This kind of apparatus placement is a crucial element for fireground success. And the most important part it is not done by chance or luck. This ability and skill for proper placement comes from PREPARATION, PRACTICE and ANTICIPATION and a desire to deliver the best service for their Company, Department and Citizens. Great work by all the companies involved in this fire and the chance for all of us to learn.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, vehicle-operations-apparatus | Posted on 20-01-2015

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Mayday Monday- The Radio Call

FullSizeRenderIn reviewing all the procedures and policies related to Mayday incidents, we have to remember the actual call itself from the trapped or lost firefighter. Does your department have a standard information set that needs to be transmitted out to the Incident Commander or the dispatch center. This is a crucial script that needs to be practiced by your crew members during weekly or monthly drills. This skill set must be able to be transmitted quickly and contain all the information desired by your department or company. In most cases of a Mayday call, the firefighter or officer is under extreme conditions and stressors. This may also be the only radio transmission that you will receive from them, so the practiced information should contain the basics to get the RIT moving under direction from command. How you or your department lay this information, and the procedures following the Mayday should fit your department. But basically it should start with:


2- WHO – Who is calling the Mayday?

3- WHAT – What is the problem?

4. WHERE – Where are you located in the structure

After this quick transmission, depending on local radio systems the pressing or activation of the emergency button on the radio could be added. With all the technology that is available to us through the new radios that are being manufactured, we must UNDERSTAND all that technology and ensure it works with our Mayday procedures. After this transmission the IC can then try obtaining further information by using the LUNAR acronym. Location, Unit, Needs, Air and Resources.

We will post a copy of some Mayday procedures at www.traditionstraining.com on the Resources Page. Please remember to DRILL, DRILL and DRILL some more on this procedure.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Incident Command, RIT / Survival, technology-communications, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 13-10-2014

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Consistency, Visual Cues & Options… By Keith Niemann, Captain E-10 Wichita Fire

Consistency, Visual Cues & Options

I’m a hose load junky, I said it.  Every time I travel to another department, or see pictures on the internet I always look at how the hose is loaded.  You can tell a lot from hose loads, if it’s neat and meticulous I tend to find the crews operate in a similar manor.  There is one thing more important than how the load looks, it’s how it pulls.  If given a chance I will often ask “how does this hose load work” and I’m surprised to find many crews have no idea.  Either it’s “loaded by another crew” or “it just looks pretty”.  Beyond how it physically deploys, or how it looks it only really “needs” to do one thing, deploy easily and effectively for the majority of the fires that crew will face.  There is no room on the engine for “parade loads” that look good, or “convenience loads” that just get thrown on to get a rig back in service.

For my crew, and the types of fires my engine fights, the gold standard is at least 50 feet of working line.  The working line needs to be placed in close proximity to the entry point, flaked out in a manner that it can be fed easily by our 3 person attack crew (plus MPO)…..and we have to be able to get it in service fast.  We also need the ability to get that hose into place through and across neglected yards  and to deal with houses converted to rear entrance duplexes or large garden style apartments in our first due.  Finally we needed a way to make sure our 2.5 deployed just as smooth and met the same standards as our 1.75 line deployment.  Much like any problem, we set down and came up with a list of goals and set about finding a solution.  We didn’t have to “invent” a new way, we just needed to adapt those lessons learned from within and outside of our department and apply them.  Two of the keys we found to success were “Consistency” amongst our hose loads, and the use of “visual cues”.  I think no matter what kind of hose load you use incorporating these things into it can help your crews be better at getting that first line in place.

The consistency component seems the easiest; just load the hose the same way for both 1.75 and 2.5 lines.  The reality is we will pull the 1.75 line the most often.  Whether it’s training or at fires, the ratio of pulling the 1.75 vs. 2.5 is probably 10:1.  Obviously we would like to pull the 2.5 more, but it’s not likely, and by loading the 1.75 and 2.5 the same way we compound our training.  If I pull the 2.5 tomorrow the muscle memory takes over and I even though this may only be the 3rd time I’ve pulled it this month, it’s the exact same motions as the 30 times I pulled the 1.75 line and my comfort level should be the same.  The difficulty with consistency between loads is can the different size hoses be loaded the same way on your rig, in our case that was a “maybe”.  Our crews had relied on transverse mounted pre-connected 200 foot hand lines that made loading of 2.5 and 1.75 lines the same way difficult (it also limited our deployment options as discussed below).  We did come up with a load that could be accomplished three wide (1.75) and two wide (2.5) and deployed the same way using the help of Visual Cues.  We used these as a stop gap until our new rigs arrived that moved the deployment back to rear hose beds with static attack lines.   With the rear static hose beds we are now able to load and deploy the lines identically.

















Here you can see rear static hose bed with the 2.5 and 1.75 hoses loaded side by side in the same manner and visual cues laid out identically.

Visual cues became one of the biggest keys to the success of our hose deployment.  We did not invent using visual cues to deploy our hose lines, we adapted it from places like Chief Dave McGrail’s highrise system.  Basically we decided to mark the halfway points on our hose like we had with our highrise packs (paint or colored tape) and use those visual cues along with tails (a.k.a. loops) and the couplings to make sure our hose always deployed the same.  By using the visual cues my crew can walk up at the start of the shift and in a glance know that the hose is loaded correctly and quickly deploy it, conversely they can take a quick look and know if they need to pull it off and reload the hose, there is no “I think it’s loaded ok”.











Here you can see the standard pre-connected load.  The long tails on the right side of the stack indicate the “working bundle” of line, the single loop on the left side of the stack is the “drivers loop”.  The nozzleman can easily see his bundle and throw it on his shoulder and take it to the fire as an intact 50 foot section.  Also visible is the blue “half way” markers in the sections.  When the nozzleman approaches he can drop the bundle at the door grab the half way mark and walk it back completing the stretch, he can also drop the bundle short and grab the nozzle and coupling walking it up if the stretch dictates.  The “drivers loop” is the visual indicator for the MPO, Layout man, or if needed the nozzleman to grab and clear the remaining line in the hose bed with no wasted effort. 











Here is the hose in the static beds, as you can see the nozzle and coupling are loaded at the end along with all the halfway points.  Just like the pre-connected lines, the nozzleman knows exactly where his section of working line is.  He can drop early and grab the nozzle and coupling walking up to the entry point; or he can drop at the entry point grab the halfway marks and walk it back.

I know that “options” and “consistency” seem a little contradictory but not in the context of this discussion.  There are many different hose loads out there, and many are good…for one type of stretch. We wanted something that could be used on small single family residences, garden apartments, 3 story walk-ups, varying setbacks and diverse approaches; our answer was going back to the static rear hose beds.  Now it doesn’t matter if the setback is short or long, or if the plug is before the residence or down the street.  The nozzleman can take his bundle and head to the entry point and stretches his line; everything else is handled by the officer, layout man and MPO.  If the set back is long the officer estimates the stretch and the needed line is pulled; if the plug is at the end of the street the MPO continues onto the plug to catch his hydrant once the bundle is pulled off the hose bed.  Keeping the working line deployment simple can be important since often the Junior guy is on the nozzle where the officer can directly supervise.  The positions that take care of the remaining hose (MPO, Officer, Layout) are typically more tenured and can overcome the small obstacles that increase the complexity of completing the stretch.   The last option we built into our system was the ability to “stretch forward” or “stretch away”.  We found if we set the hose up with the coupling and nozzle on the end as a visual indicator most of the time the nozzleman could lay his bundle down and grab the nozzle/coupling and walk up to the entry point for an effective stretch.  Unfortunately some yards or apartments made it difficult to drop early and perform a forward type stretch.  We overcame this by making sure all the halfway point visual indicators were lined up at the nozzle end as well.  Now if the nozzle needs to be dropped at the entry point the halfway points are grabbed and walked straight back making for a virtually identical result.











Here you can see the same line stretched both ways.  The straps on the left indicate the line was dropped at the entry point and “stretched away” and the picture on the right shows the bundle was dropped away from the entry point and “stretched forward”. 

As you can see our deployment is a constant evolution, and through trial and error I feel we were able to meet our goals.  Hopefully by sharing what we have found to other crews they can use similar methods to improve the deployment of their hoselines.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 23-05-2014

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Small Town Volunteer Fire Department Operations (Part-2)…By Tim Bautz

wp72cbf495_06By Tim Bautz

One of the many challenges that smaller volunteer departments face is the lack of adequate manpower and resources on the scene early enough to coordinate an efficient fire attack – efficient being the key word.

Our brothers who work or volunteer in the urban areas of the country are usually fortunate enough to have the Engine Companies and Trucks Companies arriving on scene, one on top of another, giving them multiple units and plenty of manpower early on. They have dedicated Engine Companies and Truck Companies to handle and complete all of the necessary tasks on the fire ground. Those on the Engine Company will only need to worry about establishing a water supply and stretching and advancing their attack line. The Truck Companies are responsible for forcible entry, searches, ventilation, opening up the ceiling and walls and placing ladders for egress, etc.

Those of us in the smaller suburban / rural communities do not have this luxury. Most of us who volunteer in these types of communities do not have “dedicated” engine and truck companies. Many of us, including my own department, don’t even have a “ladder truck” in our apparatus fleet. Without a “dedicated” truck company, how are we supposed to complete those “truck company” tasks? The first arriving engine may only have 4 or 5 men on it. The 2nd due engine will often be arriving 3-5 minutes after the 1st arriving engine. How can those 4 or 5 men on that 1st arriving engine stretch their attack line, force entry, search, open up to check for extension, place ladders and ventilate?

I’ll share some ideas for you to consider. Let me first start by saying that what works for one department may not work for another. What the brothers do in Chicago or Boston will most certainly not work for my department and vice versa. Some of the ideas that I will offer may seem out of the norm, and quite different than what some of you are used to. They are, however, tried and true; and many departments have been successful using them, my fire department being one of them.

Let’s take a look at what tasks will always need to be done, or have the probability of needing to get done, within the first few minutes of being on scene.

1. Stretch the initial attack line…I’m certain we can all agree on that.

2. Forcible entry…perhaps you may get to the front door and you find it to be unlocked, terrific; however the task of forcible entry still needs to be assigned so that we arrive at the front door with the appropriate F/E tools. We don’t want to have to go back to the engine and grab the irons. A delay in forcible entry results in a delay of the line getting to the fire.

3. Primary search…my rule of thumb is that the building is occupied until WE search it and prove otherwise. I do not take the word of the Police Officer, a neighbor or even a resident telling me that “everyone is out”. It’s occupied until the search crew tells me “the primary is negative”.

4. Ventilation…getting the appropriate windows taken out to assist in the advancement of the line and to assist the searches. Remember, we need to coordinate the ventilation and time it properly.

5. Ladders…having ladders placed for egress.

6. “Hooking the fire area”….once the fire is knocked, it’s not time to dish out high 5’s, it’s time to get the ceilings and walls opened up and check for extension.

Dance with me...One thing that is important for us, and when I say us, I’m referring to departments similar to mine, is to multitask. In order to multitask, your engine needs to be set up properly, the most important being your attack lines. Having your lines racked so that they come off smoothly and with minimal manpower is key.

Here is how our riding assignments are set up:

4 Person Crew:

Driver – drive safely, operate the pump, place ladders for egress / ventilate once the attack line is charged

Officer – Tools : Hook, hand light, radio?Task : Communicate with the driver to be sure the proper “running route” is

being used, look up the closet water source in the “1st due book”, supervise and direct the stretch of the attack line, assist with flaking out

the line if necessary, supervise the fire attack and provide the Incident Commander with updated CAN reports, open up the fire area to expose extension using his hook.

Nozzleman – Tools : Attack line, hand light, radio?Task : Stretch and advance the attack line, extinguish the fire

Back-up – Tools : Appropriate forcible entry tools, hand light, radio?Task : Assist the nozzleman in stretching the attack line, flake out attack line,

Forcible entry, assist with the advancement of the attack line, primary search of the fire area / areas immediately adjacent to the fire area as long as he is able to be in verbal communication with the officer.

Granted, this 4 man engine crew is taxed to say the least, however it is feasible and does work.


5 Person Crew:

Driver – drive safely, operate the pump, place ladders for egress / ventilate once the attack line is charged.

Officer – Tools : Hook, hand light, radio?Task : Communicate with the driver to be sure the proper “running route” is

being used, look up the closet water source in the “1st due book”, supervise and direct the stretch of the attack line, assist with flaking out line if necessary, supervise the fire attack and provide the Incident Commander with updated CAN reports, open up the fire area to expose extension using his hook.

Nozzleman – Tools : Attack line, hand light, radio?Task : Stretch and advance the attack line, extinguish the fire

Back-up – Tools : Appropriate forcible entry tools, hand light, radio?Task : Assist the nozzleman in stretching the attack line, flake out attack line,

forcible entry, assist with the advancement of the attack line, primary search of the fire area / areas immediately adjacent to the fire area as long as he is able to be in verbal communication with the officer

Control – Tools : Hook, hand light, radio?Task : Assist nozzleman and back-up man in stretching the attack line,

assist with flaking out the attack line, assist in the advancement of the attack line, primary search of the fire area / areas immediately adjacent to the fire area as long as he is in verbal communication with the officer, assist with opening up the fire area to expose extension using his hook.

The 5 man engine crew is similar to the 4 man crew. The addition of the “Control” firefighter make everyone’s job a little easier and the operation becomes more efficient. He adds one more man to help with the line, search and open up.

6 Man Crew :

Driver – drive safely, operate the pump, place ladders for egress / ventilate once the attack line is charged

Officer – Tools : Hook, handlight, radio?Task : Communicate with the driver to be sure the proper “running route” is

being used, look up the closet water source in the “1st due book”, supervise and direct the stretch of the attack line, assist with flaking out line if necessary, supervise the fire attack and provide the Incident Commander with updated CAN reports, open up the fire area to expose extension using his hook

Nozzleman – Tools : Attack line, hand light, radio?Task : Stretch and advance the attack line, extinguish the fire

Back-up – Tools : Hand light, radio?Task : Assist the Nozzleman in stretching the attack line, flake out attack line,

assist with advancement of the attack line Search – Tools : Appropriate forcible entry tools, hand light, radio

Task : Forcible entry, primary search of the fire floor, provide the Incident Commander with updated CAN reports

Search – Tools : Hook, water can, hand light, radio?Task : Assist with forcible entry as necessary, primary search of the fire floor, open up the fire area to expose extension.

As you can see, there is a big difference in how we operate with 6 men on the engine. The back-up firefighter’s job becomes a lot easier and there is a dedicated search crew to search the entire fire floor, rather than breaking a member or two off the line to search the fire area.

Again, some of this may seem quite odd to many of you, especially with what we have our back-up man doing on the 4 and 5 man crews. There are 2 main things that we do which make stretching our lines rather easy for just the nozzleman, thus allowing the back up firefighter to have those irons, or other appropriate F/E tools, in his hand coming off the engine, and they are both key:

1. Our lines are racked so that the nozzleman can pretty much make the stretch by himself. We rack our lines in a modified minuteman load. The nozzle firefighter takes the 1st load on his shoulder. The 2nd load can either stay in the bed and it will peel off nicely without anyone touching it, or the nozzleman can pull the bottom ear of the 2nd load and dump it on the ground and drag it with him. This is key for us because it frees up the back-up firefighter a little bit. The 1st responsibility of our back-up man is to assist the nozzleman. However, when he get off the engine he takes the appropriate forcible entry tools with him. He will carry the irons in one hand while assisting the nozzleman by flaking out the attack line with the free hand. This may sound strange, but it works. Once the back up man flakes out the line and while the line is getting charged, the back up firefighter assesses the door and, if necessary, will force the door using the tools that he brought with him as he got off the engine.

2. Because we have no ladder truck, we position the 1st due engine to make the stretch of the attack line to the front door, or whatever the point of entry will be, as direct as possible and with as few obstructions as possible. We have no ladder truck that we need to leave the front of the building for, so we are able to do this with no issues.

One other key point, when we have a 4 or 5 person crew on the engine, we usually put the most experienced firefighter on the back-up position. We do this because of the important tasks that he will be expected to complete, pretty much by himself.

Allow me to also say that what is outlined above is certainly not all that needs to be done on the fire ground. When the 2nd due engine and the Rescue arrive, we are stretching back-up line, searching the floor above the fire, placing additional ladders for egress, etc, etc. The purpose of this article is to show one way you can accomplish “engine and truck” tasks with 4-6 men early on into the incident.

This is a little insight as to how my “Small Town Volunteer Fire Department” operates. When we first started to reconstruct how we operated on the fire ground, it took a lot of planning, thinking, talking and mostly training. We didn’t just whip this out overnight. It was a process and I can’t stress that enough. We talked to the entire Department of what our plan and goal was. We trained hard for many months until all of our members became efficient and understood the tasks and expectations. Once we got to that point, then we instituted the changes permanently…and as I said in a previous article, we are operating smoothly and efficiently and we haven’t looked back since.

Hopefully I have given many of you some things to think about and perhaps bring back to your Officers for their consideration. If any of you have any questions or need more clarity on what i have written about and explained, please feel free to contact me.

I’m looking forward to writing the next blog article in a couple weeks. In the mean time, stay safe and train hard.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Engine Company, Testimonials, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 02-03-2014

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Outside the Box Apparatus Positioning

By: Retired Chief Michael Horst, Harrisburg Bureau of Fire


Often times you only get one chance to make a difference when positioning a tower ladder. You can make best use of that one chance by training for it…by being “Combat Ready.”

In the above photo Harrisburg Tower 1 recently worked a building explosion and fire at a local steel mill. Due to the magnitude of the adjacent exposures large caliber streams were required forthwith. Their positioning on arrival, albeit tenuous, made a difference and enabled operations to keep the fire to the building of origin. Hampered by a debris field from the explosion and both electrical and mechanical hazards the quick thinking members of this truck company were able to end up front and center at this industrial blaze.

The members of this truck company, as have most all Harrisburg firemen, trained for this EXACT evolution on countless occasions. As rookies, as firemen and in their chauffeur promotion all have had to endure this confidence course. The drill doesn’t have a real name but it should be referred to as “Scrub but don’t Scrape.”



The drill is simple, and requires only one prop, the open apparatus bay. The object is two fold. It provides the chauffeur and bucket operator the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities in positioning and flying a tower ladder. It also provides them the opportunity to develop trust in each others ability to operate in tight situations.

The drill starts by having the apparatus positioned in front of the apparatus bay. This in itself is great practice for young drivers and helps them learn proper positioning for “scrubbing the building.” You can setup at various angles just as long as you can clear the chassis and “work” the entire opening. Make sure that the boom will clear and you can swing the bucket into the doorway. For safety there must be one person on the turntable, a spotter and operator in the bucket.

To start go slow and easy because mistakes will equate to contact. Learn the “play” in the joystick or controllers. As a reminder make sure operators understand the nozzle reaction when using an elevated master stream and it’s potential. Once the operator has developed the basic skills and confidence they move to the second phase.


At this point the operator practices close “tracing” inside of the doorway, working all four sides. Here the operator will be forced to use his senses and trust the same of his spotter/turntable operator, a genuine team building exercise.

As skills and confidence permit now the operator can extend further into the building, avoiding “props” and assuring the extended boom doesn’t make contact at the doorway. The turntable operator likewise can gain valuable experience maneuvering an extended boom and platform and get a feel for working with a “dead-man.”

It’s also a great time to change those burned out light bulbs inside your apparatus room. Remember the next time you have to thread the needle with the bucket your training, this training, will never let you down!

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, major-incidents, news, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 06-02-2014

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New Officer Tips From the Land of Oz

IMG9921-LIn Traditions Training’s effort to assist the Company Officer we offer another set of tips, this time from the MidWest. These come from one of our long time supporters, Lt. Chad Cox of the Wichita, KS. Fire Department. This department has many great officers and firefighters, and does some work. Very proud to be able to call them our friends. Keep up the good work out there fellas… Ricky

New Officer Tips from the Land of Oz

1. Expectations-Sit down with your supervisors and get their expectations for you. Then set your expectations for your crew (riding assignments, etc. if they aren’t already established).

2. Respect is earned not expected (Like being a rookie firefighter, you have to earn the respect of your crew now as their officer).

3. Don’t ask the crew to do anything you aren’t willing to do

4. Be fair and consistent (you will be tested! Give guys an inch; they will see how much more they can get away with!)

5. Not everyone may have the same passion for the job as you. This was a learning moment for me with my first assignment. I was fortunate to have been previously surrounded with officers and fellow firemen that had the same passion as I did for training and striving for perfection on the fire ground. I was naive to think my new crew that I had never worked with would jump right in to the daily training regimen I was used to.

6. To coincide with the previous tip, you may have to start small especially when it comes to training. Don’t cram the training down the crew’s throat (if they aren’t used to training all day). People will shut down and resist what you are trying to do if they are overwhelmed. Start with an hour here, an hour there, get the buy in from the crew, and progress from there.

7. KEEP THE TRAINING SIMPLE!!!!!!! The basic fire ground skills can always be honed, you must crawl before you can walk, run and so on. Read a NIOSH report and the basic skills jump out as a contributing factor. Pull line, throw ladders, force doors, size-up structures, walk thru buildings, search for victims, pick a RIT scenario, there is no shortage of basic skills to work on!

8. Take care of the crew. Don’t bribe them, but from time to time buy them a coffee when you are out and about, after a good hands on training evolution, or after a good alarm together. This simple task shows your appreciation for their hard work, and strengthens the bond of the crew.

9. Take advantage of the knowledge/skills of each member of your crew. You may be lucky to have a guy that does construction on his days off, an electrician, plumber, etc. Utilize their knowledge to benefit the crew and yourself. There is always something to learn.

10. Don’t air your dirty laundry. We are one big dysfunctional second family, but keep personal problems in-house. Re-solve the problems before they become bigger ones.

11. Find your routine. Never neglect your obligation to lead your crew into battle. Show up early, grab a cup of coffee, check your SCBA, look over your rig (you own it for that shift), seek the officer out you are relieving, whatever your routine keep the same process every shift.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 02-01-2014

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Small Town Volunteer Fire Department Operations (Part-1)

Small Town Volunteer Fire Department Operations
By: Tim Bautz, Erskine Lakes Volunteer Fire Department

20131003cooper1I truly believe that having success on the fireground all starts with what we do, or don’t do, long before the station alert or paging system goes off. The focus of this first article will be on what you can do to be fully prepared for your next fire. Don’t worry, we’ll get into tactics in the second article next week.
Know your 1st due: You must know your 1st due response area. Streets, hydrants, building construction, running routes……..you name it, you need to know it if it’s in your 1st due.
Attitude and Mindset: Just because your small Volunteer Fire Department only responds to a couple hundred calls per year should not stop you from being mentally prepared all the time. I’ve heard some ridiculous excuses over the years as to why being prepared in ‘Small Town USA’ isn’t really necessary. I’ll share my favorite one with you, “ We hardly ever have fires, we only go to fire alarms”. In my opinion that means NOTHING. That fire that you haven’t had in 10 months could come tomorrow, or even tonight. Expect to go to a fire tonight !
Riding Assignments: That’s right, you read it correctly, riding assignments. Riding assignments will help your members be more prepared and efficient on the fireground. If you’re responding to a house fire, and you don’t have riding assignments, how do your members know what is expected of them and how do they know who will be doing what? I assume that the officer assigns tasks to each member while responding? So let’s take that once a year house fire with no riding assignments. You’re on the 1st due engine……you’re about 2 minutes away from arriving on scene and the officer turns around and says, “ Bob, you’re taking the nozzle and Joe, you’re gonna back him up”. Does that work?……Sure it does. But why was it even necessary? Do we not already know that we will need a nozzleman and a back-up man? Of course we do! What fire do we go to where we don’t need a nozzleman and back-up man? Why couldn’t you assign a “nozzle seat” and “back up seat” long before the call ever comes in? This way, the minute the guys are getting in the back of the engine they already know what their assigned task is. The sooner they know what their task is, the more prepared they will be and the better they will perform that task. That also makes one less thing that the officer needs to think about, so he can better focus on his job and what he’s responsible for.
My ‘Small Town USA’ fire department instituted riding assignments on both of our engines and our rescue in 2009. When we first discussed having riding assignments, it was met with some resistance. The idea only had about a 50% approval rate, with half the department feeling like it wasn’t necessary and wouldn’t work. What we decided to do was put it into effect for a 4 month trial period. We chose a 4-month trial period
?because we felt like any less time wouldn’t be enough because our call volume is so low. Four months would mean about 80 – 100 calls and would give us a good sample period to evaluate. To make a long story short, after the 4 month trial period the approval rate from our members increased to about 80%. Our members saw how it made us more prepared while responding and more efficient on the fireground. At that point the riding assignments were put into effect permanently and we haven’t looked back. Today, about 5 years later, I would guess and say that 95% of our members like the riding assignments……….an approval rating I can absolutely live with.
In my next article, I’ll share in detail our riding assignments, what tools go with each riding position and how that allows us to operate efficiently as both an “engine” and “truck”.
Riding assignments can absolutely work for any size fire department. You must invest the time and carefully plan out what will work for your department based on your typical staffing, resources and 1st due response area.
Setting up the Rig: Tools that are most often used must be stored and mounted so that your members have quick and easy access to them. After you determine your riding assignments, mount the tools so that they are closet to the firefighter who will be grabbing them. For example, if your ‘forcible entry’ position is the rear facing seat behind the driver, don’t have the irons in a compartment on the officer’s side. Have them located where he has immediate access to them. When setting up your rig, remember that the first priority is to respond to emergency calls, not go to parades and bring home trophies for the ‘best appearing engine’. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with trucks going to parades or showing off your beautiful new engine. You should take pride in your apparatus and going to parades and such is a great time to build camaraderie with the brothers in your department. But it should not take priority over setting up the rigs for success on the fireground. Believe me, there is a common ground. You can mount hooks and a water can on the exterior of the rig AND still have the rig looking sharp.
Also in my next article, I’ll share some ideas on where you can mount some of the tools that you will most often use and have them be easily accessible for your personnel.
Training : I can’t say enough about the importance of constant and realistic training. You can’t just talk about stretching attack lines…..you gotta get out there and do it. You can’t just talk about RIT scenarios…….you gotta get out there and practice it. Build some training props. Props will help keep up the skill level of your members. There are many props out there that you can build and keep at the firehouse. Roof props, VES props and cutting trees are rather simple to build. I’m sure just about every firehouse in the nation has a carpenter on the roster and don’t be afraid to go to the local lumber yard or Home Depot and see if they’ll donate some building materials to your department. How
often does your department go to the County Fire Academy and run drills in the burn building or smoke house. Constant and REALISTIC training is what will allow your members to operate efficiently on the fireground. It’s also what will ensure that they’ll return home to their families after each fire.
Knowing your 1st due, attitude / mindset, riding assignments, properly set up rigs and good training are 5 key components in being properly prepared for your next fire.
In the next article, we’ll dive into how to set those riding assignments up for various staffing levels, tools for each riding position and where to store / mount the tools so that you can accomplish multiple engine co. and truck co. tasks with as few as 4 or 5 men on that ‘small volunteer engine’ of yours.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 01-12-2013

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Sharon Hill, PA. Entangled Firefighter


In surfing the Internet in the morning, I saw an incident in Sharon Hill, PA. that included a well advanced structure fire, and a trapped/entangled firefighter in the basement during the evacuation of the structure by the Incident Commander.
They documented the incident on PhillyFireNews.com and I asked them to share their story with Traditions Training so we could get the word out to all our followers. So please read the narrative of the incident and the account of the firefighter in the basement. The following is their first hand account,
we greatly appreciate the department sharing the information for all of us to learn…

Around 1230 this afternoon tones dropped for Companies 09 (Sharon Hill), 05 (Glenolden), 01 (Folcroft) and RIT 19 (Lansdowne) for the working fire with possible entrapment in the 100 Block of Laurel Rd, Sharon Hill. Tele Squrt 01 under command of First Assistant Chief Carney responded with 4 followed shortly after Tower 5 and 09-2. Crews stretched multiple lines to all floors due to heavy fire conditions. Command called for manpower out of 04 (Darby Fire Company) and 42 (Collingdale Fire Company #2). On the arrival of Pipeline 04, crews from 01 entered in the rear to the basement with crews from 04. During this one F/F from Folcroft became tangled in wires that hung low from the ceiling. This firefighter is sharing his story and it is quoted below. Once the entangled fireman was free, crews regrouped outside, checked par and entered the basement again. Crews still had fire on all 3 floors and fire in the roofline. Crews worked hard and fast to get this fire under control within 2 hours.
Here is the incident from the eyes of the entangled firefighter;
“I am the firefighter that was tangled in the basement of the Sharon Hill fire. I was with the interior crew of 01 and 04. We had a good knock on the fire in the basement, smoke was not an issue, neither was heat, we received the order to evacuate the structure per command, Sharon Hill Assistant Chief T Macann 04’s Chief Caruso and M. Carr, assisted in cutting wires and helped me free myself. What happened was that on our Thermal Imagining Camera (TIC) there is a D ring that clips to our gear. Wires made their way around the D ring but the D ring is so small a gloved hand is unable to open it. The D ring has already been replaced since today’s fire with a new small but easily opened D ring with a fire glove. M. Carr and I used my knife from my pocket to cut the wires. I will also be getting a set of wire cutters for this very instance. I just wanted to pass along this information as a learning tool for all. Always watch for obstructions and have something that will cut with you.”
Thank you,
Assistant Chief Frey

photo 2ohoto 1photo 3

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, Commentary, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, news, RIT / Survival, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 25-11-2013