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Keeping Track

These log books vaguely capture what the company did. Who captures the how you performed at an individual level?

We all love going to fires.  We’d all agree we learn something at every fire we go to.  So how do we track what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learned?  If we don’t track this, how can we know where to focus for improvement?  As a company, most of us keep log books, Firehouse Software reports, NFIRS reports, or other official documents.  These track the official details of how our organization deployed at an incident.  But what about you personally?  Where is what you’ve done and how you’ve evolved tracked?

About a year ago, I began informally tracking the incidents to which I responded.  Using Evernote, a simple piece of free software that I can access on any computer or my phone, I began quickly keeping some personal notes after any significant incident I went to.  As the training chief for my Department, my initial goal was to have a system to track incident actions and trends and to over time be able to identify any recurring gaps between our expectations and performance so that we could address them through training or guidelines.  

It worked, but I also began to find that I also tracked what I had done personally.  Since on the scene I function as any other battalion chief would, where was I falling short personally? If I was the IC did I manage the scene well? Communicate well?   Did I miss something important in my size-up?  Did I have a mis-step with my PPE?  Was there an SOG I wasn’t fully up to date on?  In addition to tracking performance at the Department level, I quickly found that I was identifying gaps in my own actions.

What to track?  As much as you can I suppose…  As soon as the incident is over, I brain dump my thoughts into a note in a bulleted list – you can always come back later and add to it, or clean it up.  The nice thing about Evernote is that I can easily access it on my phone, so I can often start this brain dump while still on scene.  I’ll add a picture of the scene or any important action areas so I can recall the situation later.  If I was the IC, I’ll scan in a copy of my tactical worksheet.  Later I can attach parts of the incident audio.  

Seeing this information all in one place makes it easy to reflect on later.  As you build up a list of incidents, you can look back on them and see what keeps popping up.  Maybe your companies need to work on deploying more ground ladders.  Maybe YOU need to work on how to speak on the radio more clearly when wearing an SCBA.  One of the benefits of this system is that it’s private.  We’ll all naturally be a little more candid when we know it’s private – we’ll particularly be more honest about our own shortcomings.  And even that private acknowledgement that we have an issue will help drive us to fix it.

 The benchmark for a good job is not “the fire went out and everyone went home” – that’ll happen even if we don’t show up.  The details are what matter.  By tracking those details we can see where we need to improve.  Whether you are a backstep firefighter, company or chief officer, keeping track of your performance on incidents over time will help you identify where you can improve.  

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Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready | Posted on 18-11-2013

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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.

 

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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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Basement Fires and Training on Tactical Scenarios

Just search our blog here at Traditions Training and you’ll see how passionate we are about the hazards of basement fires. Basement fires are one of the top contributors to operations line of duty injury and deaths and like most things, we need to talk about our plan before we can expect to successfully execute it.

I was happy to get these pics from a friend this morning, a backstop firemen in Baltimore. Happy first because the topic of a battalion wide drill in the Baltimore City Fire Department was basement fire tactics. Also, this battalion training featured some of the training material from TT’s Nick Martin, as presented in several articles and at FDIC workshops.

Baltimore is no slouch on fire duty and to see them taking initiative to talk shop on basement fires with the crews on the street is both impressive and progressive. It also leaves little excuse as to why we all aren’t taking time to plan for tactical scenarios not just with the Chiefs, but also with the men on the streets. When we all know and understand the plan, we can understand better how we fit into it and ultimately execute our role more effectively.

Does your department pre plan operations for various tactical scenarios? Just another way to contribute to that “slide carousel” you may have heard us talk about….

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Posted by | Posted in Blog | Posted on 28-07-2011

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T-Shirt Give Away – Show us your COMBAT READY!

“COMBAT READY” is the cornerstone concept and belief behind our mission here at Traditions Training, and we want to see how YOU are taking it to the streets.  You’ve got till next Wednesday to show us a picture with explanation or a video of your best “COMBAT READY” concept.  We’ll send the top pick from each category a free Traditions Training t-shirt.  Here’s the deal:

  • Categories are Engine Company, Truck Company, Rapid Intervention, Personal Equipment, and Incident Command.
    • Personal equipment is anything carried on you individually, such as in your PPE.  The rest would be on the rig, policies, mounted tools, etc.
  • To participate you must “Like” our Facebook page, and sign-up for our mailing list below.
  • Post your pic with description or your video directly on the Traditions Training Facebook wall.

On Wednesday we will judge the submissions, choose the winners, and send you your swag!

 

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Posted by | Posted in Blog | Posted on 26-05-2011

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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!

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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.

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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

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"Standby to Copy…" – Covering the Rear

“Standby to Copy” is an informal newsletter produced by TT instructor Chief Tony Kelleher of the Kentland VFD, providing operational tips to companies that operate in the Prince George’s County Fire Department.  While some of these tips reference things that are specific to the operations of PGFD companies, they share some great thoughts that are easily applied to any department.  They’re a great quick read and good for a conversation starter around the kitchen table.  As such, we’ll be cross-publishing these newsletters here for your enjoyment…

This posts topic is on “covering the rear” of a structure for size-up, engine company, and truck company operations.  Grab a cup of coffee, check it out and let us know your thoughts.  What are your departments policies on “covering the rear”??

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Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, Incident Command, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 10-12-2010

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Progress Reports for the Incident Commander

The Progress Report is a valuable tool to the Incident Commander and the companies working on the fireground. The report should be given at the 20 minute time mark and subsequent time marks at intervals of 20 minutes into the incident (i.e. 40 minute and 60 minute timestamps of the incident).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZZkC_hqpQw

The report has two good reasons to be delivered:

1. This report will provide all tactically assigned units a painted picture of the incident scene and where the incident stands at that time. This picture can be very helpful to units that may not have the chance to see the big picture, or are involved in tasks that do not let them see the whole incident. Either way the companies are afforded a picture of the scene and the status of the major tactical benchmarks.

2. The progress report is a vital tool to the Incident Commander. This report will make the IC evaluate the incident, write down the findings on the worksheet and then transmit the report over the radio. It is very easy for an Incident Commander to be distracted mitigating an incident by personnel requesting assignments or  the incident itself so a report at 20 minutes will force the IC to make sure that their situational awareness is correct for incident. A forced review at 20 minute intervals will ensure that the incident is being constantly evaluated for the correct strategy and tactics and evaluating safety on the fireground.

By making this part of your habit at the command post you will make sure that your situational awareness is always correct for the incident.

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Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, Incident Command, technology-communications, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, videos | Posted on 29-11-2010

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Registration Open for Officer Development School in Ringwood, NJ – January 2011

There are just a few spots left!  Sign up today!  Traditions Training is excited to announce that registration is almost full for our “Officer Development School”, to be held January 29th, & 30th 2011 at the Erskine Lakes Fire Company in Ringwood, NJ. Learn real-world leadership and street-smart tactics featuring experienced officers from the Kentland VFD, FDNY, and Fairfax County Fire Department.

Click here to download the flyer!

Featuring hands-on participation with various leadership challenges and tactical scenarios, this program will have you interacting with leaders of other departments and challenging your decision-making as you examine and improve your personal leadership style.

To insure individual attention and participation, enrollment is limited.  Register today! To register, please e-mail info@traditionstraining.com with the following information:

  • Attendee’s Name.
  • Attendee’s E-mail.
  • Attendee’s Department Affiliation & Rank.
  • Whether paying individually or through department purchase order.

**Please note that due to fixed costs, registration is non-refundable after 12/29/10.

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Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, major-incidents, news, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 19-11-2010

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Registration Open for Officer Development School: Green Ridge, PA – Nov 13 & 14, 2010

Traditions Training is excited to announce that registration is now open for our “Officer Development School”, to be held November 13 & 14 at the Green Ridge Fire Company in Aston, PA. Learn real-world leadership and street-smart tactics featuring experienced officers from the Kentland VFD, FDNY, and Fairfax County Fire Department.

Click here to download the flyer!

Featuring hands-on participation with various leadership challenges and tactical scenarios, this program will have you interacting with leaders of other departments and challenging your decision-making as you examine and improve your personal leadership style.

To insure individual attention and participation, enrollment is limited.  Register today! To register, please e-mail info@traditionstraining.com with the following information:

  • Attendee’s Name.
  • Attendee’s E-mail.
  • Attendee’s Department Affiliation & Rank.
  • Whether paying individually or through department purchase order.

**Please note that due to fixed costs, registration is non-refundable after 10/13/10.

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Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, news, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 20-09-2010