For Departments that run with crosslays (or Mattydales, which ever term you prefer), this is usually a simple request to the apparatus manufacturer that can be added to your new rig. It’s as simple as asking to “Please put two crosslays on along with all the associated piping and dividers” and boom we are done, let’s move on to the next component or option.
More and more I find that Departments are taking a closer look at all their choices when building their new apparatus and using those choices to operationally enhance their rig. As part of this, we’re seeing a new array of options and special orders being added to the crosslay part of the fire truck build. If you do run with crosslays, this is normally the primary attack line you’re going to deploy off your apparatus for the majority of your structure fires. Rather than settle for the standard crosslay, use your power as the purchaser to enhance this option for your response area.
One of the trends we’ve seen recently is the lowering of the crosslays. Doing so makes it easier for firefighters to reach and deploy the crosslay, without having to climb up on a side step or worse having to pull out a step to reach them. This enhancement reduces the chance of injury and allows a more rapid deployment, something all Departments strive for nowadays. One warning — lowering the crosslay may make things really tight in the pump-house area and could cause the mechanics to not like you, but sometime we have to do these kinds of things to enhance operations.
A few years ago we decided to lower the crosslays on the engines at the City of Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department. After this change, one of the next things we did was move the swivel valve or chicksaw valve closer to the edge of the apparatus. This allowed for the whole pre-connect to be easily disconnected and used to extend a line or replace a line at the full length. The change eliminated the need to put pony sleeves (short sections) on the discharges when the swivel valves were placed in the center of the crosslays. This was another great idea we happened to see on a factory trip and quickly added as an option to our rigs.
Clearwater currently uses the crosslay as a double stack of hose, one side is 100’ of shoulder load and the one beside it is a 100’ drag load. This side by side configuration is pretty normal with crosslays as a whole on fire apparatus but with the modification of a lower crosslay and valve moved to the edge. (Picture 1 & 6) How you rack your hose is entirely up to the local jurisdictions; the Clearwater configuration is a minuteman load. We have two – 200’ foot lines with a nozzle off each side.
Back in the early 2000’s I helped to develop specifications for an engine with the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department in Fairfax County Virginia. Instead of the standard double stack of hose in each crosslay, we decided to go with single stacks for what we felt was an easier deployment. This eliminated the chance of the drag load falling over once the shoulder load was pulled off. It proved to be a great design for the Firefighters who pulled the lines off and made for a quick, neat and controlled deployment. This option has been used by other cities, as evidenced by this picture from the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Squad 8 crosslay configuration. (Picture 2)
Harrisburg runs three of each length of hose off each side of the rig (150’, 200’ and 250’) all in the single stack deployment. This works extremely well for their tight urban streets and allows them to run lines to the seat of the fire, to rear porches and down the block if needed, all using the minuteman load. One of the added features they spec’d on their crosslays was for the discharge to be completely out of the crosslay and on the pump panel under each hose stack. (Picture 2 and Picture 3) This discharge placement allows to more quickly disconnect the line for deployment to extend a line or replace a burst section. These single stack crosslays and the placement of the discharge on the panel can limit your ability to pull the crosslay from each side, but I think both Bailey’s and Harrisburg weighed the decision and chose a configuration best suited for their response area and operations.
Running the big attack line is not left out of the crosslay talk, as Departments have chosen a wider crosslay and piping to accommodate the 2.5” lines and even 3” crosslays. This allows to not have to deploy this line off the rear and saves room for more supply line or a host of other options that could be placed off the rear. (Picture 4 & 5)
There has been a lot of focus and conversation around the options associated with the crosslay, associated piping and racking of the lines. Ultimately though, these construction features will not help you pull lines any better. This only comes from having your Firefighters practice deploying lines any chance that they can get. Don’t let a fire call go by without making use of the incident to make us better at pulling, stretching and positioning our crosslays for an attack. New fire studies tell us the art form of hoseline stretching and operations is crucial to fire extinguishment. Make use of all your apparatus option choices to make the crosslay ergonomic and firefighter friendly. But remember, we still have people that pull these lines and the more practice we give them, the better the outcome on the fire.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Training Resources | Posted on 22-03-2016| Posted in
Getting the Job Done
By Ricky Riley
On more than one occasion, I have heard firefighters complain about SOP’s, specifically how they can’t be written for every situation and or you are putting us in a box. This could not be further from the truth. What we are doing, is establishing a game plan for specific incidents and the operational concerns that they pose. In recent years, dedication to getting the job done correctly and doing so while operating within the SOP has shown me the great ingenuity and decision making skill that our company officers possess. This is directly opposes the notion, that SOP’s in anyway, takes away the Officer’s ability to make decisions.
An example that I want to share was a recent house fire in Washington DC. The District has some of the most comprehensive SOP’s that I know of and on a daily basis, the unit officers ensure they are followed with great consistency. Regardless of the type or size of the structure, DC sends a standard compliment of suppression apparatus to the scene. Each unit, based on dispatch order, has an assigned geographic area that they are expected to cover, ensuring at least two independent water supplies are established and supplied as well as ladder coverage on all sides of the building. Assigned tactical expectations confirm, attack lines are properly positioned to contain the fire and control extension and primary and secondary searches are completed in a timely manner.
My goal here is to show officers that by having strong knowledge of your response area, and a willing and motivated company officer. Your decision-making capability is expanded by developing and utilizing SOP’s as long as you take the time to train on them, and understand that the basis of these procedures is to set the fireground, and your company up for success. In Washington DC the 2nd due engine on the box is assigned to cover the rear of the structure. This unit is responsible for positioning the rig in the rear, or as close as possible to the rear. Providing a rear report and advancing a line into the structure at the direction of the Incident Commander.
This house fire is a two-story dwelling with the first engine and truck operating on, and through the alpha side of the structure, a standard execution of the SOP and a very simple operation to accomplish. Now the rear companies had a little more of a challenge, completing their assignment. The company took the path of ensuring that they were in the correct position and delivering on their tasks as dictated by the SOP. Rather than come up with an excuse as to why they could not complete their task, which would have been the easy route. The officer and crew had an excellent knowledge of their response area and executed their assignment without fail. They positioned on the Charlie side of the house then threw a ladder to access the rear yard due to topography ,and advanced their line to their assigned tactical position. Their task involved a number of fireground skills to be completed before they reached their objective. The success of their assignment, without fail came from training, more training, repetition and commitment to Getting The Job Done! Now ask yourself if you and your company are ready to follow the procedures by using all your practiced skills without allowing laziness or complacency creep in….
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, Uncategorized | Posted on 13-08-2015| Posted in
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company | Posted on 02-07-2015| Posted in
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, Truck Company | Posted on 25-03-2015| Posted in
“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.
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)?
- 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 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| Posted in
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.
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.
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.
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 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| Posted in
In 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:
1- MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
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 Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Incident Command, RIT / Survival, technology-communications, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 13-10-2014| Posted in
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 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| Posted in
As with every class we teach, we urge all our students to read and study Line of Duty Death Reports. Please click on the link below to go to the report from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, in-the-line-of-duty, Incident Command, line-of-duty, rescues, RIT / Survival, Testimonials, Training Resources, training-development, Uncategorized | Posted on 21-05-2014| Posted in
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!