(0) Comments

Combat Ready – Sheperdstown, WV

Last weekend I was invited to present “Combat Ready Firefighting”to the firefighters of Jefferson County, WV.  After a great class, the more than hospitable members were eager to show me their firehouses and apparatus.  The pride in their departments and history was obvious (good thing!).

Sheperdstown Engine 3 stood out to me, outfitted for down & dirty firefighting.  In the suburban and rural environment.  Some things I noticed:

  • Low hosebed & crosslays, near shoulder height, for rapid deployment of hoselines. Should we really need a ladder to lay supply line or pull the attack line?
  • Versatile hose bed with various sizes, nozzles, hoseloads, and options for water supply and fire attack. 
  • Three (3) hard suctions, which I’ve learned in the rural environment are very important!
  • Ladders easily deployable off the side rather than hidden in some compartment or on some rack.
  • FRONT INTAKE!  How did these become so rare?  With the soft sleeve pre-connected, by the way… Great for sleeving hydrants or nose-in drafting.
  • Functional front bumper line – who says you can’t fight fire off of a bumper line?  If it’s spec’d right…

Probably one of the most important attributes – PRIDE.  These members were proud of this apparatus because they knew it was functional.  There was 2 feet of snow on the ground and this rig glimmered in the apparatus bay (clean).

Was there a ton of compartment space?  No not a ton… But rather than a jack of all trades and master of none (don’t we see a lot of those apparatus these days?), this rig was ready for engine company firefighting with enough room for the extra essentials.

Is your rig COMBAT READY?  If so, how?  If not – WHY NOT?

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company | Posted on 06-02-2014

(0) Comments

Come Join Traditions Training at FDIC 2011: Register Early!

This year, Traditions Training Instructors are fortunate to once again present programs at Fire Engineering’s Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indiannpolis, IN.  As one of the largest fire department conferences, FDIC’s conference events and programs do not only present excellent learning opportunities, but also provide a great chance to meet and network with firefighters from around the country.

If you’re going to be in town, we would love to see you…so be sure to register early to hold your spot as we present at the following programs:

8-Hour Workshop

25 to Survive:  Residential Building Fires

Presentation Date:  Monday, March 21st, 2010

Presentation Time:  0800-1600: Dan Shaw & Doug Mitchell

4-Hour Workshop

Basement Fires

Presentation Date:  Monday, March 21st, 2010

Presentation Time:  0800-1200: Nick Martin

Classroom Sessions

Modern Engine Company Essentials

Presentation Date:  TBA: Dan Shaw & Doug Mitchell

Effective Use of Tower Ladders at Tactical Operations

Presentation Date:  TBA: Nick Martin

For more information on FDIC programs, click below for a link to the “2010 FDIC List of Programs!”

FDIC 2011

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, command-leadership, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, news, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 26-09-2010

(0) Comments

Open Enrollment Class: "Combat Ready Firefighting" in Ashburn, VA

Join us on October 30, 2010 at the Ashburn Vol. Fire Department in Loudon County, VA for an exciting 8-hour program of Combat Ready firefighting! Join Doug Mitchell (FDNY) and Nick Martin (DCFD / Kentland 33) for street-smart tips on engine and truck operations as well as today’s traditions and morale.  Please see the flyer below for more information…

Click here to download the flyer!

For registration information for this program, please click here.

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, news, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 18-09-2010

(5) Comments

Video Tip: Flaking Excess Hoseline From A Shoulder Load

Today’s video tip comes from a recent engine company class with the Susquehanna Hose Company in Havre de Grace, MD.  This tip demonstrates techniques for the scenario where the shoulder load is not yet completely flaked out and nozzle firefighter finds themselves with a need to charge the line and flow water immediately.  What often happens in this scenario is a pile of hose is thrown to the ground, it’s full of kinks, and the hoseline’s capabilities and flow are severely hampered.  Check out the clip below:


Of course our goal is to always correctly estimate the stretch, anticipate our distance, and flake the line accordingly.  We all know that doesn’t always go as planned.  This is just one tip of many that can help you overcome this situation and get the line on the fire!

Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.  For more information on our programs, please contact us.

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, videos | Posted on 15-09-2010

(1) Comment

"As Goes the First Line…" – Engine Ops in West Chester, PA

That famous quote nicely sums up the running theme of a 16-hour engine company operations class this weekend hosted by the Goodwill Fire Company of West Chester, PA.   The program focused on the primary goal of the engine company: getting water on the fire.  Over the weekend we discussed a variety of essential issues along those lines.

Chief Kelleher (DCFD / Kentland 33) discusses setup of the rig and a 400' line.

First was the need for versatility on the engine company.  We discussed the importance of setting up the rig with various options in hoseline length, diameter, nozzle selection, etc.  Further, since it’s impossible to have a dedicated hoseline for every scenario, we must learn to use what we do have in multiple ways for different situations.  These variations have to be planned, communicated, and understood by all members BEFORE the fire, much in the same way as a football play.

We also discussed the need to establish a water supply early, and various options to accomplish this.  Of course another running theme was our company motto, “COMBAT READY”.  Students learned to mask-up quickly, with firefighting gloves already on, at the fire door with a goal of less than 15 seconds (many of the students quickly reached this goal!). Students “ran lines” all weekend, honing their skills through repetition in getting the line off the rig and to the fire quickly and SMOOTHLY.


The obtacles that instructors setup throughout the weekend (stairs, picnic-tables, corners, debris, etc) were enough to prove what we first said in the classroom on Saturday morning:  THE SUCCESS OF THE ENTIRE ENGINE COMPANY HINGES ON THE BACKUP FIREFIGHTER’S COMMITMENT TO THEIR JOB.  Though it’s not the “glory spot”, when the back-up firefighter does their job, the line is able to get into place quickly and advance smoothly.  Various techniques for handling obstacles and keeping the line moving were shown and practiced throughout the weekend.

Students stretching the 400' line

We covered various stretches: preconnects, reverse lay, window stretch, standpipes, extending lines and long length hoselines.  Students learned to stretch an 1.75″ line 600′ with only 4 firefighters in under 90 seconds. To illustrate the effectiveness, the line was even flow tested and measured with a Pitot gauge while flowing.

The engine company ultimately has a pretty simple mission at a fire: put the fire out.  However the steps that must be taken to do this can be quite complicated and require skill, practice, and communication.  Over the weekend we stressed the importance of having multiple plans and options, and that everyone makes errors – it’s not about how you screw up, it’s about how you RECOVER.  The students put 110% into the weekend and their perofrmance during Sunday’s box alarm drills made us proud.

Thanks to the officers and members of the Goodwill, Fame, and First West Chester fire companies of the West Chester Fire Department!  We appreciate your hospitality and look forward to seeing you soon!


del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, news, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, videos | Posted on 19-07-2010

(13) Comments

PLAY LIKE YOU PRACTICE: Part 1 “Introduction to the concept”


A concept which seems to be increasingly lost on today's fire service

Complacency is the foundation on which many great fire service debacles have been constructed.  Many good, sometimes even great firefighters, have allowed themselves to fall victim to complacency.  If this occurs, often it provides them with a front row seat to the “domino effect” it can cause on the fire ground.  Actively training during times of peace is not itself enough to ensure success in war. Regardless of the training regimen employed in the class-room and out in the field, failure to carry that performance onto the emergency scene will no doubt lead to a less than desirable result.

The fireground is the battlefield on which firefighters wage war on a very experienced and aggressive adversary.  The enemy has no care of what you think you know; it worries no more of a 30 year line officer than of a 6 month rookie. It hasn’t the slightest worry for GPM debates, friction loss equations, risk/reward analysis or ISO ratings; it will fight the good fight just like it has done for thousands of years.  It is the burden of the firefighter to stop it.

Just as in battle, the enemy does not always present itself as one might like.  It may hide in wait preparing to ambush its attackers, or it may flex its muscle for all to see, as if to say, “Here I am, what are you going to do about it?”.  To achieve victory the firefighter must meet his enemy swiftly and effectively, connecting adequate training with appropriate timing to knock the enemy down into submission. The key to this concept is appropriate timing.  One single misstep at the onset of an incident will often dictate the next 10 corrective actions it will take to reverse the downward spiral of the situation.  Adversely, one correct, well timed action at the onset of an incident will set the tempo for the rest of the firegrounds journey towards a positive outcome.

(Positive outcome= fire goes out, those in danger get rescued, no more property is burned than when we arrived.)

“Play like you practice” is an adaptation of the better known “Practice like you play” concept which equates to the fact that firefighters must train with as much intensity and purpose as if it were the real deal. Being “Combat Ready” and training with a purpose is absolutely the goal to which all firefighters should strive in their skill building. However this saying alone leads one to believe that a firefighter will automatically perform well on the scene because they practiced before the fact. “Play like you practice” should be a concept used in conjunction with the previous in order to connect all the dots and mount a stout attack on the enemy when it counts.


Spot hydrants, stretch lines and leave room for other units even if everything seems "normal"

Play like you practice, what do you mean?  I’m referring to the fact that a company can be as well rounded in training as is possible, but if they are complacent when the run comes in, it can be disastrous.  Every member can stretch lines quickly and effectively, they know various ladder throw techniques, forcible entry is second nature, ventilation concepts are repeatable on command and the intricacies of their areas streets and buildings are like a glossary index in their minds.  Their preparation can be flawless, but if they show up to a “fire reported out” without stretching lines and throwing ladders the best way they know how then the tempo is already on the side of the enemy when it finally decides to show itself.

We have all seen it done and we have all heard the excuses, “it sounded like BS, it was 2 in the am, we were tired, we didn’t want to rerack all that hose for nothing…” the list goes on and on.  All of these are big, bold examples of how “Complacency” can turn good companies into lawn ornaments when things aren’t as they seem.  Playing “catch up” is no place for a fire company to be when lives are on the line, especially when the flip side is so easily obtainable with correct discipline and effort.

Say you don’t stretch a line or bring ladders to the building for a reported “food on the stove”.  Say you turn out to be right, there really is no fire, it really was so called “BS”, what have you accomplished?  What have you gained?  True, we didn’t waste any extra effort:  True, we don’t have any hose on the ground or tools to be stowed:  True, we can leave immediately for another call.  To these facts I say big deal! Effectiveness is our mission, as such effort is not only a prerequisite but a continued requirement.  So… we have hose on the ground and tools to be stowed, are we serious? This mindset is simply a poor excuse for an excuse.  How long does it really take to disconnect or rerack a line?  How long does it really take to put a ladder back on the truck or equipment back in its compartment?  If the answer is any more than a few minutes then I would say you should probably become more efficient at that also, through practice.

the push

The abandoned school you've run 100 times for alarm bells might look like this on trip 101. Show up ready to play.

Even though there was no fire, still what have we lost?  We lost one more opportunity for our members to use their skills, one more opportunity to “practice like we play”, and one more opportunity to prepare for that time when we open the door for food on the stove and find a kitchen off with people trapped in the rear bedroom.  Complacency and laziness breed further complacency and laziness, and the only way to stop it is by removing it from our mindset. We do this by treating every call as if it were a working fire, we do this by practicing our positioning, our techniques and our size-ups on each call whether we think it is “BS” or there is fire showing.  We must place the wheels in motion for a positive outcome from the onset and ensure that we are giving our crews every possible advantage over the enemy we fight.

A well rehearsed fire scene is pure poetry in motion, effectiveness and efficiency, on display for the community we serve.

A complacent fire scene looks more like a beaten force routed by its enemy, with ineffective actions scattered sporadically across the fireground in a desperate attempt to turn the tide of incompetence.  Firefighters must “Play like we practice” if we are going to match our adequate training with appropriate timing and effective action.

Part 2 will look into some techniques to accomplish this objective on a daily basis and help keep your company at the top of its game, fire showing or not. Stay Safe.

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, training-development, Uncategorized | Posted on 10-06-2010

(15) Comments

The Combat Ready Engine Company – Pony Sleeves

Long setbacks can make hoseline deployment difficult.

We Bring Water!

Much like forcible entry, when we consider hose loads and hoseline deployment we must have a “Plan A, B, C, D”, etc, to get our Engine Companies hoseline in place and ready to put water on the fire.

That said, is every building in your district within 200’ or 250’ of where we park our Engine Company Apparatus?  Obviously, the answer is no.  Then why do we as a fire service continue to train and design our preconnected hose loads to reflect this ridiculous notion? (more…)

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 07-06-2010

(0) Comments

Standpipes or not, you need a "rack"!

They have a lot of names:  standpipe pack, apartment pack, high-rise load, etc… I guess you have to call them something but these names can be decieving.  They imply that this load of hose only has one use.  However in truth, a bundle of hose with a nozzle and some accessories is HIGHLY useful in a variety of engine company situations.

Your engine NEEDS this, or something like it...

Your engine NEEDS this, or something like it...

For this reason, I like to simply call this ready-to-go soluation a “RACK”.  And, whether you have tons or standpipes/high-rises/apartments, or none – YOU NEED ONE.  Read on to see why…


del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 19-05-2010

(13) Comments

Video Tip: "Running the 400"…

One of the skills we practiced at our Engine Company program last weekend were evolutions to cover long distances (up to 650 feet), FAST and with minimal manpower.  Pre-connected long attack lines, such as the 400′, have been  used successfully for decades by many departments.  Key to any hose evolution are the back-up FF’s duties of getting the line fully stretched, flaked out, and not wasting any valuable length.

Many departments use pre-connected long lines with great success, but it requires PRACTICE and TEAMWORK.

Many departments use pre-connected long lines with great success, but it requires PRACTICE and TEAMWORK.

The video below shows 2 students learning to stretch the 400 along with some tips for a smooth stretch.  You’ll notice it takes 3 firefighters only 76 SECONDS to cover 400 FEET.  And it only gets faster and smoother with practice…


When running lines this distance, there are a couple things we must keep in mind to insure success:

  • “Looks pretty, pulls pretty” – if you want your lines to come off NICE, put them on NICE.
  • All firefighters must know the plan.  We shouldn’t be discussing who-does-what on the front lawn – know the “game plan” on how to pull your lines.
  • Communicate!  Let the FF in front of you know when you’re out of hose.

These are just a few quick thoughts on running extended length hoselines.  Stay tuned for some more videos on this topic showing the line actually being run through buildings and around obstacles.

What’s the longest length line your engine company carries?  How’s it setup?  Let us know in the comments and on our Facebook page

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, videos | Posted on 09-05-2010

(5) Comments

Following Engine Ops Class, FF's put their skills to work at first-due fires


Stay tuned for a VIDEO TIP from this program on running long lines...

This past weekend, Traditions Training conducted a 16-hour Engine Company Operations class with the Darlington and Water Witch Fire Departments in Maryland.  The primary focus of the program was GETTING WATER ON THE FIRE by being able to overcome various challenges such as distance, staffing, etc.

Other topics covered included:

  • the “Combat Ready” Engine Company
  • setting up hose “racks” for your first due
  • smooth-bore and combination nozzle techniques
  • “Pushing-in” while flowing attack lines
  • back-up FF techniques
  • hose-team coordination and team work

The student’s training was put to the test less than 48 hours, as both Water Witch and Darlington FD’s responded to separate first-due fires just after we left.  We were glad to hear from both departments that students were able to put their skills to good use:

“First engine was a three man crew (two of us had attended your class over the weekend), we ran the minute man off the rear into the “B” side of the house. Its erie how well the fire fit into what we went over throughtout the weekend, front storm door, steps on the side deck, a few turns to get into the living room, etc… but none of it caused any issues at all with the hoseload and the weekend still fresh in our mind. We were on scene for about 8 minutes by ourself other than the chief and had the fire knocked and were checking for extension by the time that the second engine arrived. Nothing more was burnt when we left then when we arrived…” (courtesy of Darlington VFD)

“Had a first due basement fire today at Water Witch.  The bumper line was deployed flawlessly and the 2 of the guys that took the class this weekend looked like rock stars. We ran lines 20 times today with the daytime crews that couldn’t make the class – they were speechless…” (courtesy of Water Witch Fire Company)

There is no greater compliment we can receive than to hear that even the smallest tip from one of our classes was helpful at a fire.  Thanks guys, and keep up the great work!

del.icio.us Facebook Digg it Twitter Stumbleupon
Social Bookmarking Links
Posted by | Posted in Blog, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, news, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 08-05-2010