The Art Of Seeing – Making The Most Of Your Public Service Calls

As posted on the Traditions Training Bl0g:

With the ever changing dynamics of the fire service, firefighter’s daily functions are as vast and wide ranging as the great country in which their respective departments lie. With such duties ranging from emergency medical care and patient assists to leaking ceilings and faulty electrical outlets, firefighter’s have become the nations “jack-of-all-trades”. As responsibilities increase and time for focused fire related training shrinks, it is as important as ever to use your time wisely. With a little imagination, we can turn even the most benign public service call into a learning situation…

A "BS" run here may lead to questions such as: what length attack line?  How would we place ladders to the porch?  Apparatus Positions?  Basement access?  Utility cut-offs?
A “BS” run here may lead to questions such as: what length attack line?  How would we place ladders to the porch?  Apparatus Positions?  Basement access?  Utility cut-offs?
 
Making the most out of each response often involves little more than opening up your eyes to your surroundings. Calls that gain firefighter’s access to homes and buildings are an excellent opportunity to check out construction features and hazards that may come in handy should a fire occur. Often, homes within the same residential neighborhoods will have very similar layouts and construction types. A home you ran for a public service call last tour could be very similar to the working fire you’re now faced with 2 doors down.

Here are just a few considerations to look for that may help should a fire occur:

  • Do these homes have a basement?
  • What kind of entrance does it have?
  • Where are the interior stairs located?
  • Does the front door open in to block the interior stairs?
  • Where are the bedrooms located? Do they have windows and how many?
  • Does the pipe chase connect to the exposure home or apartment?
  • How does the layout of this home compare to its attached neighbor?
  • Where are the utility controls located?
  • Is the occupant you are currently helping able to escape a possible fire on their own?

The above list is just a small fraction of the many things firefighters should be constantly vigilant for in an effort to prepare for that next job. Involve all members of the company through simple interactions such as “do you know why the pipe chase is located here?” or “how many windows have we passed since we came in?”. Before long members will be asking questions of their own!

0218100915aYour size-up at non-fire incidents may provide indispensable knowledge at the fire later on…

The window in the picture to the right was located during a run for DCFD Truck 17 to assist a citizen back into bed. The occupant had covered the window with carpet and left a small opening at its base, which was lined with nails to discourage break-ins. This poses an obvious safety issue for the outside vent man as well as criminals. High crime areas often require low income residents to fashion a wide variety of makeshift safety features for their home. These “adaptations” can vary widely from home to home, let alone jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but are not limited to high crime areas.

The senior man right down to the newest probationer has a responsibility to himself as well as their crew to observe and question the area around them. Be prepared on every run to ask the “What if it was on fire?” question and make the most out of your time out in the field. With a little practice you and your crew can perfect “The Art of Seeing”.

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Posted on February 26, 2010, in Professional Articles, Traditions Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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