In general, a report of “victims trapped” should not cause any major changes in your initial operations. They may cause slight alterations – like where you take your line, which window you VES, etc. However your plans/SOGs should already be setup assuming there are persons trapped. When added information increases the likelihood of entrapment, we should be doing what we always do – just harder and faster!
Remember, all tasks work in support of each other on a fire. Abandoning one will reak havoc on the others. The results do not improve the victims chances, and put us at greater risk. I have seen many incidents quickly go south when everyone “loses their cool” after a report of entrapment. Things later water supply, ventilation, and fire attack are abandoned because we all think we’re just going to dash in and “save the baby”. When this happens we are often unsuccessful in our firefighting efforts, the victim usually perishes, and we frequently hurt firefighters due to our scatter-brained actions. By cutting corners we LOSE, and often then find out there wasn’t anyone trapped!
As was the case last night, reports of a victim do not mean there IS one. And no reported victims (or reports of “everyone’s out”) do not mean there ISN’T one. Deploy in response to conditions and always give any known OR unknown victim their best chance. Don’t guess on “survivability” from the front yard – you don’t know what you don’t know. Our job is to react to conditions, not guesses, and give them a chance. As I was once taught by a veteran truck officer, they are not out until our searches SAY they are out.
Posted by Nick Martin on Monday, June 29, 2015
Great job by Columbia Fire Department 2nd shift crews last night. They demonstrated the effectiveness of these thoughts and made a rapid knockdown alongside rapid searches.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Truck Company | Posted on 29-06-2015| Posted in
We have been leading up to our dance with this “beauty of fire” in both Part 1 and Part 2 of “Check your Dance Card.” Feel free to go back and take notes as we journey closer and closer to this ‘beauty.’ We have discussed cues and clues to help us not get burned, things to note… both outside the fire building and on our way up to the fire floor.
Now is the moment we have been waiting for. It is time to dance… this “beauty” can wait no more, it’s time to find her. Excited? Yes, but we have prepared, practiced and anticipated this event for some time now. This isn’t the time to be posting about it on FB or squeezing 140 characters out on twitter… we can do that later.
We need to make our move out onto the dance floor and get into the fire apartment. As we move in with cautious rapidity… keen up your senses.
LOOK: What are we looking for? We are looking to find the seat of the fire and also locate trapped civilians. With obscured vision from smoke conditions in the apartment, we may have had an opportunity to get the layout of it from a quick glance on the floor below or may get information down the road from those who may go to the apt. above. Inside, look for layout clues, sometimes smoke movement causes a brief layer of clean air to develop low… you may just be able to make out the room/hallway and/or see that lovely ‘glow’ in the distance. Do not get tunnel vision or be put blinders on, keep your head on a swivel, up/down/left/right. Thermal imagers can assist us, but we must know what we are looking for … they are a tool to ASSIST us in the search. Electronics are fallible, our preparedness, training and search techniques should not be.
LISTEN: We never seem to listen close enough, often it’s the sense we often shut off when under stress. We must be diligent, occasionally even force ourselves to stop and listen. Use a 30-10 or similar technique (search 30 seconds, then pause, remain quiet for 10). Listen to whats going on around you. You may hear a human life, the crackling fire, hoseline movement, water flowing, windows breaking, etc. Listen to what is going on around you, they should be familiar sounds. Don’t forget the ‘2 ears, 1 mouth’ saying…
FEEL: On the dance floor, the fire apartment… we are covered head to toe in PPE. As such, this is the way we must train ourselves to ‘feel.’ We must adapt ourselves to recognize clues in this encapsulated environment. Residential recognition…with gloved hands take a second to feel the flooring you are on (tile, carpet, wood), feel and decipher the furnishings of each room you pass through. Using the inferred info gathered from what you feel, you may have a better idea of where you are operating. For example, tile floor, cabinets, countertop (kitchen). Another example, large radiator, couch, TV (possible exterior wall in living room).
“Check your Dance Card.”
Your dance with this particular ‘beauty of fire’ is now over. You have been a great student over these last 3 lessons, learning at each step… the steps building up to the next, closer and closer we came to the beauty. Today we got our dance, yet we were prepared, practiced and had anticipated the outcome.
You leave the dance floor sweaty, exhausted but still wanting more.
Time to tweet and FB post this ‘beauty’ so that others can see what we did and didn’t do, to make us that much better at the next dance. But please, be humble, be respectful and be aware that your dance only came from someone else’s tragic misfortune.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 04-01-2013| Posted in
While it can safely be said that every response area in this country has unique challenges, the commercial storefront is one that is present in almost all areas. Forcible entry into these buildings is not necessarily difficult, but present some unique considerations and thinking points.
Just break the glass. That seems to be a lot of firefighter’s first thought on getting inside. This simplistic approach will certainly create an opening from the outside to the inside, but not necessarily the way we want. Consider the following:
- It may not be glass. In many areas it will be Plexiglas, lexan, plastic, or similar materials.
- It may be reinforced by either impregnated or aftermarket “chicken wire”, have metal strips spaced across, or have other security measures to prevent you from getting in even if the glass is broken.
- You still have to content with the crossbar or panic bar, which adds additional time and can be more difficult to remove than it looks. You will likely end up having to contend with the scenario of eager FF’s wanting to crawl in under the panic bar – an obvious FF safety concern.
- You will still have the lip of the door frame around the opening. This will likely still contain glass shards that can easily rupture a hoseline. It can also create a trip hazard that may delay rapid egress should conditions deteriorate. This occurred in a similar scenario recently resulting in critical burn injuries to several firefighters who were unable to quickly exit when a “dog pile” occurred at the exit.
For all the discussion points on the potential hazards and pitfalls of “just breaking the glass”, probably the most compelling reason not to break the glass is just that if you have practice and plans in the proper techniques it is simply faster and easier to just open the door. Take a look at the following videos:
It’s easy to see that whether you want to cut the lock or go through-the-lock, either are quite fast and eliminate all of the possible problems of breaking the glass. Consider these options next time you are presented with the glass commercial storefront. Discuss this issue with your crew members and practice on the techniques for defeating the “Adams Rite Lock” both manually and with a saw. Stay safe, and stay Combat Ready.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, videos | Posted on 17-12-2012| Posted in
One of the things we always talk about regarding staying “combat ready” is using every opportunity as a learning/teaching moment. We have an opportunity on every routine run to look at the buildings in our response area and size-up their challenges. This allows us to think about solutions in advance. The more of these ideas (tools) you have in your brain (toolbox) makes it more likely you’ll have the “right sized wrench” to fit the problem when you encounter it in stressful conditions during a fire.
During a medical run on the engine is exactly when we noticed these doors in an apartment building. Neither the gate or the door is atypical for our area, but the combination of the two inside the building is unusual for us. These gates are typically found on either the front or rear doors of many of our residences, but to find them inside an apartment building with enclosed stairs is unusual. The gates themselves are not difficult to force, they are secured by a standard deadbolt with about a 1 throw. Under normal circumstances, setting the adze above or below the lock and first crushing up and down then pulling the fork end out toward the lock side generally opens these fairly quickly. However many firefighters still like to approach these with a saw, which obviously would not work well inside the building under fire conditions.
So what would you do? My approach would be the hinges. I’ve found the hinges on these types of doors to consistently be a weak point. There is usually enough space between the frame and gate to just place the adze enough without even striking the Halligan so that a gapping (up/down) force can be applied to the hinge. This typically breaks the welds and maybe with a little outward pull on the fork the hinge is done. Work from top to bottom, see the video below.
Rocket science? Absolutely not. When you see this in plain daylight and have a clear moment to think about the challenges and solutions, the door’s weaknesses are easily found. But this is the importance of taking the time after routine runs, during on-the-air inspections, or otherwise to have a teaching/learning moment. Talk these ideas out with yourself, your crew. The more time you spend preparing for the fire, the better you’ll perform at the fire.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, videos | Posted on 12-12-2012| Posted in
It’s common that residential buildings will feature mostly inward opening doors, while commercial buildings will feature more outward opening doors. While the the technique for outward opening doors may be, I won’t say easier but more straightforward than an inward door, they may actually require a little more “force”. Outward doors on commercial buildings are likely to be set in brick or concrete, consist of strong metal doors and frames, and may have multiple or higher security locking devices.
The “power position” on an outward door comes when you set the adze fully BEHIND the door. It’s the same idea as wrapping your fingers around something fully, you’ll get the most pull. Getting the adze behind the door gives you a few advantages:
- 180-degrees of leverage, provided there are no obstacles.
- In addition to pulling outward, you can work up and down using the adze to crush the door and reduce the depth the lock is set in it’s keeper.
- You can perform several “tricks” to extend your leverage.
It is also important to set the adze FULLY behind the door – as deep as you can get it. This moves the fulcrum closer to the door and makes causes the firefighter to do less work to exert more leverage.
There are several methods to extend leverage on an outward door, but one is well illustrated at this box alarm in Prince George’s County, MD. In the rear of this commercial building, firefighters encounter a metal door in metal frame, set in brick with a couple locks. The irons firefighter from TL-33 (Kentland VFD) has already properly set his adze fully behind the door but more leverage is needed. A few things are worth noting here:
- The irons FF does not “spin wheels” – after a few tries he quickly realizes that plan “A” isn’t working and that we need to try something else.
- The irons FF does not panic or get frustrated, I’ve seen frustrated FF’s in this scenario pull the bar completely out of the door which of course is in no way helpful.
- Note the fluid teamwork with minimal communication between the members of company 33 an 37 (Ritchie VFD). Due to previous inter-departmental training, they know what to expect of each other. The left hand knows what the right needs before it even asks.
Just like many forcible entry skills, this option is not available to you if you haven’t purchased the right equipment, prepared it properly, and trained on it -not just as an individual, but as a crew. If your partner doesn’t know what to do your knowledge is useless. We shouldn’t have to have a lesson at the fire door – we should be able to resort to what we’ve always trained on.
In forcible entry remember – we can’t do anything else until we get inside. Keep your skills sharp, have multiple plans, and DON’T GIVE UP!
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Truck Company | Posted on 15-10-2012| Posted in
In part one of “Check your Dance Card” we discussed a few items to take a look at before we enter the fire building and start our dance with the “beauty of fire.” In part 2, we will discuss a few more specifics that we should note as we enter the structure. Make no mistake, a constant review of this Dance Card is a must for all members… take mental notes of what you see. You’re going to want to come home from your latest “dance” and tell all your friends all about this “beauty.”
“Ok, let’s move” the boss said, after what seemed like an eternity to you. The reality, it was only mere seconds. We all know that reality is often suspended when you are out on the dimly lit dance floor. You, you’re an eager beaver, and chomping at the bit to get on with this next . Your Officer is more cautious; he’s been burned by this “beauty” before. He remembers the sting of her touch, especially if you are caught moving too quickly on the dance floor. He is trying to show you the patience required, but you are still rather wet behind the ears and excitable…
This “beauty of fire” doesn’t make it easy; she beckons you closer with her dancing flames and warm lustrous glow. Again, the Officer reels you back in…one more review before we hit the dance floor.
As you enter the fire building…
1. WHAT TYPE OF STAIRS SERVICE THE BUILDNG?
Generally we have 2 types of tread design (on the staircase steps) and 2 types of staircases. They are either “Open” (having no sides, walls or doors at the top or bottom) or “Enclosed” (having sides, walls and doors at the top and bottom). Open tread and open staircases allow the passage of smoke, heat and fire to the floors above and are not friendly to our operation. Enclosed steps and enclosed staircases reduce the chances of fire spread in the building (if the doors are to remain in the closed position). It may be wise to announce the style and type of stairs to other units as they arrive, so that they know what to expect. This is of particular importance when in larger multiple dwellings or garden apartments and there are isolated, wing, or multiple staircases that serve specific lines of apartments (i.e. do not transverse the entire building). “Ladder X to Command; we have enclosed wing stairs, we will be using the A wing stairs to reach the fire apartment.”
2. IS THERE A WELL HOLE TO USE FOR THE STRETCH
The presence of a “Well Hole” the space created between the landing section of the stairs and the run of the steps themselves can be utilized for quick hoseline advancement. It must be rehearsed prior with the Engine Co. to achieve maximum effect. It reduces the amount of hose needed to be humped up the treads of the steps and around each newel post (i.e. 1-50’ length can travel vertically 5 floors in the well versus 1 length per floor if going up and around each set of steps, newel posts and associated landings). “Engine 22 to members, there is a well” should be enough to let the members know.
3. HOW MANY APARTMENTS ON THE FLOOR
A quick stop on the floor below can get you a lay of the land. If you bypassed the lobby and forgot to count mailboxes, count the number and note location of the apartments that you see. Remember that depending of the way the stairs run (scissor, return etc), they may be slight variations in the layout when you get on the fire floor.
4. VERIFY FIRE FLOOR AND APARTMENT NUMBER/LETTER
What may have appeared to be a fire on the 3rd floor from the street may turn out to on the second floor depending on the buildings configuration as it relates to the street level. Some buildings have lobby entrances that are raised above street level, which may change your initial fire floor notifications. Verify the fire floor and announce the apartment number or letter over the air, so that those who may be going above can pinpoint the direction they need to head.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 22-02-2012| Posted in
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-02-2012| Posted in
**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 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| Posted in
I admit it, it’s happened to me… and I am sure that it’s happened to you too. Honestly, it’s easy to let happen. You can try to justify it, in your own mind by saying; it’s just that we love what we do and that we want to do it all the time! When fire presents itself, we want to get right in there! While we know all to well the dangers and devastation that fire causes, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that rides firetrucks that doesn’t want to go to them. That said, the tendency to rush into action can sometimes make “the job” more challenging. Even the best firefighters and company officers can, at times, be “blinded” by the auditory and visual display that is, the “Beauty of fire.”
Bee-Boop…Engine, Ladder now the adrenaline starts to build, interrupting what had been a rather slow Football Sunday. The cold snap is here, winter, it’s fire season. It’s the middle of the afternoon, a crisp winter chill hit and runs thru you, as the apparatus doors slowly rise open… that arctic air rushing in. Your rigs, your crew and you, gear up… to hit the street.
You are headed to a run for “the house on fire”, another round of adrenaline pops off when we hear the friendly dispatcher announce “We are getting a few calls on this” or “Sounds like you might have something there” or better yet “PD on the scene with fire showing.” Ah, it’s going to be a worker… all the signs are right. As you turn the final corner you see the boss lean back, slide the window open to the crew and tell the backstep “looks like we got a job fellas.” Whether it’s “10-75 the box, k” or “Strike the Working Fire dispatch” it’s on! Time to go to work, this is what we do best. We have trained ourselves to be a “Combat Ready” “Aggressive” firefighting team… everyone has the prepared, practiced and anticipated for our fire moment… let’s push right in!?!?
Whoa, fellas… the boss says: “one second”… What is he doing you wonder? Before he let’s the team dance with this “Beauty of fire”, he just wants to take one quick look at the dance card.
Before you enter the fire building…
1) IS THIS THE PROPER ADDRESS?
Many times we receive the initial phone call reporting a fire that is: behind, adjacent, across from the address we are responding to. If you arrive and it is different, ANNOUNCE it! Give the remaining companies responding a chance to make adjustments and respond to the right address.
2) HOW MANY STORIES IS IT? COUNT THE FLOORS!
Take a lap for PD’s (Private Dwellings), get reports from outside teams at MD’s (Multiple Dwellings), or reports from units responding from an opposite direction. Note terrain variations making more stories in rear than front or vice versa, the presence of walk out basements, setbacks… etc.
3) IS THERE ANY VISIBLE FIRE? WHAT FLOOR IS THE FIRE ON?
Let the incoming companies know what you see on your arrival. A fire on the top floor IS different than a fire on the first floor (unless it is 1 story) …from many operational and tactical standpoints.
4) ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE SHOWING?
Do occupants have the ability to self evacuate? What type and how many (if any) fire escapes are there? Are the civilians “really” in immediate peril or can we reassure them to shelter them in place? Should we make an internal or external (or both) attempt to rescue them? Remember LIP. Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, Property Conservation.
5) WHERE IS THIS FIRE GOING?
What are your exposures? This means both internal and external.
Internal: Within the fire building/apartment (a quick count mailboxes, doorbells, or a quick scan of the floor below can help here).
External: Outside the fire building. Fire communicating out windows impinging adjacent dwellings or auto exposing to the floor above might indicate a second alarm or additional resources being called for on your arrival.
KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND BLINDERS OFF! The few seconds you take in the street may make up countless minutes once in the building. Stay Alert.
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Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 11-01-2012| Posted in
I can be a pretty skeptical guy when it comes to new studies and ideas in the fire service. That’s because it seems that lately our profession tries to solve “hands-on problems” with fancy new catch-phrases rather than firefighting skill. So when I read and watched the recently released “Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction” released by Underwriter’s Laboratories I was on watch for what “zany solution” they were going to have for our “modern fire problem”. I was pleasantly surprised.
The study was released in December 2010 and I’ve heard quite a bit about it in the background of the fire service. This study has been referenced in a lot of circles recently. One “fire chief” tried to even use it to say we shouldn’t fight fires interior anymore (he must’ve not read the same piece I read). Not wanting to remain uninformed, I took a look… For all those who don’t like reading 400 page reports, I suffered for you. And here’s the FIREMAN’s version:
The study compared a series of residential fires in a 50’s-60’s construction style 1-story house of 1,200 square feet with a “modern” 3,200 square foot 2 story house. These are those new houses we hear about being so different in “today’s fires”, referenced by many who advocate we completely change our approach to firefighting.
Now I was not one of the scientists on the study, but I did look at it fairly closely and here are my take home thoughts on what it means for fighting fires in “today’s fires”:
- Coordinate ventilation with hoseline advancement, including forcing doors that feed the fire area.
- Get a hoseline on the seat of the fire quick.
- VES is a great technique.
- Closing interior doors saves civilians and firefighters.
- No smoke showing means NOTHING.
That’s it? Yeah – pretty much, at least from my perspective. Now there’s a lot of “why” that supports those conclusions. But what shocked me there is – did you hear anything NEW? I didn’t. No new safety vests, no blitz-fires, no buzz terms. Coordinate engine & truck work, get a line in place fast, and use good techniques to isolate and rescue. Sounds like the same things the “old school” fire service has preached for decades!
So what’s the problem?
The problem is the same thing I started this article with: these days we’d rather get a new colored vest, or practice taking blood pressures, or use some fancy multi-syllable phrase than do what this study supports: GET GOOD AT OFFENSIVE FIREFIGHTING. What do I mean? Here are some buzz-words I think we ought to be practicing, and this fancy 400-page study supports:
– “Running Hoselines” – that’s a geographical term in my area for stretching and operating interior attack lines. How often to your firefighters pull lines? I’d bet you many firefighters haven’t pulled a line off in a “non-parking-lot” scenario in the past year. THAT’S A BREAD & BUTTER SKILL! Do they just know the crossly or can they extend and adapt to various scenarios with the precision of a offensive football line under the 2-minute warning? What is your fire department’s benchmark time for: from arrival having to firefighters stretch a 1.75″ line to the front door and be masked up and ready to enter the fire area? Based on a survey of YouTube I don’t think many departments have ANY such benchmark. This study says you have between 100 and 200 seconds to get water on the fire after ventilation occurs. That means you ventilating, or the fire ventilating the windows for you. How good are your back up firefighters? How well do you chase kinks? Poor performance with either of those will drastically delay your fire attack and your flow.
|You have 100-200 seconds after ventilation to put the fire out or suffer rapid fire growth.|
– “Coordinated Ventilation” – a concept that many departments struggle with. This was a no-brainer “back in the day”. We need to spend more time training on coordinating the location and timing of ventilation. This study clearly showed the impact of ventilating in the wrong time or in the wrong place. Ventilation should be timed with the knowledge that you only have 100-200 seconds after to get water on the fire before the fire will rapidly grow. The best way we can do this is “run scenarios”. Look at fire pictures with your crew. Where would you ventilate? When? What would be the challenges? How about coordinating with the line? You can just wait and see what happens when you get a fire, or you can take a few minutes to TALK FIRE and PREPARE so you’ll KNOW what’s going to happen.
– “Vent, Enter, Search” – this study also clearly showed that these fires were survivable for civilians who were laying on the floor in just about every room of the house except for the fire room. Closing the door made things even better. Keeping this in mind, along with the rapid growth of fire if water is not supplied, further supports the efficiency of Vent, Enter, Search technique in rescuing civilians. Particularly where a larger square foot home delays searches done with the conventional “left right” patterns. Some advocate it should be “Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search” – maybe, but when I first learned VES, and every time I’ve taught it, closing the door has ALWAYS been the first action after you enter. Maybe some people were just teaching it wrong…
– “Isolate and flow water” – In trouble? Either get out, isolate yourself (close a door), or flow water. This study supports the tenability of firefighters when we knock down fire with a hoseline or isolate ourselves from the fire until the fire is knocked or we can obtain an exit.
– “Nothing Showing Means Nothing” – Among others, I’ve said it for years. Three of the worst fires of my career started out as “nothing showing”. That’s when everyone let’s their guard down, doesn’t want to lay lines, leaves their tools behind, and moves slow. When you have fire showing – you know its a fire. When you have nothing showing – THE FIRE WILL CATCH YOU OFF GUARD. This study reinforces that with our modern construction, it is quite likely that a good fire will show nothing to the outside until it is ventilated. KEEP YOUR GUARD UP – IT’S THE FIRE OF YOUR CAREER UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE.
There’s a lot more to it than that, and if you’ve got about an hour the video on it is worth watching. But the take home here is NOT that we need to re-invent the fire service. It seems to me that often we’d rather float lofty ideas in the air conditioning then get out there and WORK at improving our bread & butter firefighting skills. Not running much fire? The need is even greater. We need to go back to practicing the tried & true skills of coordinated engine/truck work, rapid hoseline advancement, and targeted search. Stop creating fancy buzz terms and get out their and train. Think fire, talk fire, run through scenarios. Stay sharp. Stay COMBAT READY.
Referenced Study information:
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