A Good Time at Engine Ops in West Chester
Here is an entry from the Traditions Training Blog on a Engine Ops class we taught in West Chester PA. A great group of firemen and its always a joy to be around those who want to learn, theres even a little video of me taking too long to put on my facepiece, enjoy!
Check it out: “As goes the first line…”
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.
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.
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!