Category Archives: Traditions Training
In case you missed it here is the Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio Traditions Training Tuesday where we talked about the fire at #87 Herrington Drive in PG County Maryland that put my friend Danny McGown in the burn center. Listen in as those who were there go over just what went down, step by step, and hopefully it will help you prepare incase you are placed in that position, God forbid.
Also, here is the Radio Transmissions from that fire:
In case you missed it here is the latest episode of Fire Engineering Talk Radio featuring myself and the rest of the Traditions Training crew as we tackle the topic of “Aggressive Searches). Its always a fun time getting to chat with the brothers. Just ignore the porn star voice at the beginning and the rest should be semi-entertaining.
In article after article and blog post after blog post I gaze with soft eyes at the material being placed into the hearts and minds of this Nations very young and ultimately often inexperienced fire service. Amazing catch phrases and profound statements like “risk little to save little”, “big fire – big water”, “risk vs. reward” more often than not from guys and gals with resumes as long as this blog entry. Resumes so long that if you’re like me, you get bored just reading them. Class after class, one accreditation flowing seamlessly into another; your eyes stare in awe at the seemingly endless stream of knowledge that these “authors” must possess behind those magical finger tips that typed such thought provoking words as “survivability profiling”. Yes! That’s it; these are the innovative people that will guide our young fire service into the future, teach us right from wrong. These innovative people who rely on their lessons learned from their infinite battle proven firefighting experience to make broad generalizations about the state of the service and….hold on…did you say “infinite battle proven firefighting experience?”
Hmmm, let me go back and check that resume again…instructor 1 thru 1000 – check, Master’s Degree in fire science – check, Command Level Officer in bum “f” anywhere – check, beat up the red devil in his living room and pulled little babies from deaths grasp in defense of his neighbors life and property – che….hey wait a minute, I don’t see that anywhere in this resume! In my haste to read what glorious mind nuggets were hidden in the article of this published “author” it appears I forgot to check their qualification to tell me anything relating to fighting fires. But the article was about “survivability profiling during FIREFIGHTING operations” was it not? (Now before you all flip a lid I pulled that title out of my a%$ so don’t get bent, and if you do, suck it up).
This concept of “checking that resume” before I read an article or watch a video about anything professional (in any field) is something I learned somewhere around 3rd grade. That’s when I realized that the bitchy, unwed, childless, cat infested 40 something year old woman down the street really had no leg to stand on when informing my mother on how to raise her bad-ass 8 year old boy. The same seems to be true in today’s fire service, except someone forgot to tell the new kids the deal. Someone forgot to tell youngins that are new to the game that these so called “experts” can leave their shoes on when counting how many times they have even been in a burning building. Yet we continue to accept these broad generalizations that are shaping the future of tomorrow’s fire service from people who have never really been in today’s fire service. Have we really allowed our brains to get in the way of our ability to protect the public and even ourselves?
Case in point:
So there I was, typing away on the old office computer when I get a call from my buddy. “Where are you?” he asks. “My office” I reply. “Well there is a house right down the street on fire and…click” that was the end of that conversation. You see, I do not discriminate, I am an equal opportunity firefighter, I will fight the red devil wherever he may be and as such I tend to allow my name and certifications to appear on the rolls of more than one volunteer fire department. This particular event and jurisdiction will remain nameless to protect (for now) the incompetent and will only be used for demonstration purposes. So up the street I go and sure enough, a 2 story single family home with fire showing from the rear and second floor, “cake” I thought. So I dress up in my fireman costume and survey the scene. Soon enough down the hill comes the 1st engine into this non-hydranted area, followed by the tanker, and comes to a stop. Time for me to play their game… “Hello officer sir, I’m such and such here is my Personal Accountability Tag, I will be attaching myself to your crew, shall I help you pull a handline?” as I look at their crew of three counting the driver.
“No son, pull the Blitz Fire (500 gpm)” (you did read me say non-hydranted did you not?)
“Ah, be advised sir there is a report of a 4th grader missing” I replied as communications and I both tried to will them into an offensive attack.
“There is too much fire, we have to knock it down from out here and then we will go in”…and as is often the case in this area, the calamity of errors continues for the next hour or so. A truck company that brings no ladders to the house, a CAFS bubble party in the front yard, a chiefs buggy stuck in the 3 day rain soaked field next door, a work-free smoke walking contest once finally allowed to attack and even an eventual evacuation once someone decided that the Rapid Intervention Team was not in place (the 2 out was, but they had been redirected to spray water into a rear window). Huh? Yeah that’s what I said. If you’re like me, then you’re probably amazed the tax payers even bother to pay their fire taxes anymore, with such superb service and all.
How did this happen?
How did it come to be this way? Is this truly the future of the fire service, to not fight fires at all? It’s hard to be called out for being wrong when you stand on the side of over-cautiousness with a second helping of safety. And alas that is where the nation’s authors have gone to avoid confrontation, a catch phrase contest on who can be the safest.
I have a new catch phrase for you, “Return to Effectiveness”. Effective actions combined with appropriate timing to achieve a positive outcome. Effectiveness = fires go out, people get rescued, the fire department does it’s job. Instead of having front yard arguments about the friction loss of a 2in handline or the gallons-per-minute requirements for fire load in 3 rooms instead of 2, how about we just do what works, what is effective, and we put the fire out in the quickest most efficient way possible?
I will not argue the point of GPM numbers with you as apparently it is science; proven fact. But can someone please tell me how many GPM’s from a 2in handline make it to the seat of the fire when the 2-man crew that pulled it can’t get it up the front steps, let alone to the second floor. But they said big fire-big water didn’t they? Ah yes they did, it was right after the article about the shrinking staffing numbers across the country. So let me get this straight, apparently as the average size of an initial attack crew gets smaller the lines we choose to maneuver with less man power should get bigger?…Sorry I don’t follow. How about the 10’s of thousands of gallons of water we lob into second floor windows from the outside of single family homes and then wonder why the floors collapse when we finally go in to do overhaul. Maybe I can get an explanation on how across the country Compressed Air Foam Systems, which are supposed to be the savior of the fire service, are being used as initial attack lines when even a 3rd grader can tell you that fire needs “air” to grow. How several of my associates have been burned because of it yet in many jurisdictions it remains in initial attack use because a report says it puts out fires better than water alone.
Perhaps someone else smarter than me can explain the concept of allowing a fire that doubles in size every 30 seconds wasted minute after wasted minute as marginally trained crews struggle to get their line in service, waiting for the full complement of the alarm to arrive and ensure their “safety”. How much more dangerous is that home now with 10 minutes of free burn time then when we first arrived? Maybe someone can help me understand how National headlines more often read “body found after fire” then “firefighters make daring rescue” although firefighter fatalities don’t decline.
Now don’t get it twisted, I support educated decision making. Things like circle and basement checks, information gathering, back up lines, etc. All important things when walking that fine line between duty and stupidity. However what I do not support is the use of the phrase “firefighter safety” and others like it in defense of the coward and cowardous actions. We do the job we were asked to do by our neighbors and our friends, to serve and protect their lives and property with all that we have. If not us, if not the fire department, then who is going to do it?
The fact that I am trying to bring to your attention is our new age “phrases” are killing as many fire fighters and civilians as ever before because of the lack of effectiveness that goes along with them. Is there merit to some of these concepts? Yes of course there is, but if you don’t link them with common sense, the ability to adjust to each situation and the skill to be effective with them then you’re using these concepts as a crutch to hide behind. Fires have been going out for hundreds of years under the same concept; water on fire makes fire go out. Anyone that tells you they have invented an innovative approach that hasn’t been invented in the last 100 years all while going to historically less fires now than ever before is probably just trying to cash in on the naïve (or make an industry name for themselves without actually going to fires to do it).
I challenge each of you to pull yourself above the latest catch phrase and concept, reexamine your ability to do your job, to be honest in your abilities and ask yourself “am I being effective in my efforts or am I merely showing up in my fireman costume to watch a house burn down?” Do not accept a concept just because it was written by someone with a 10 page resume. Examine where these concepts come from, ask yourself if they make sense, step back into the shoes of the public we protect and look at your tactics from their perspective. Don’t let equations and catch phrases get in your way of your ability to be effective on the fireground. Be honest, let common sense prevail, and let’s help America’s fire service make a “Return to Effectiveness”.
After much anticipation on my part I am proud to announce my honored participation in the new Fire Engineering Blog Network. The network is being towted by Fire Engineering as “Some of the Fire Service’s Best Minds Offer Advice and Opinion”. I am honored to be a part of this great group of bloggers; guys Ray McCormack, Mark Gregory, Ricky Riley, Gabriel Angemi and more. There should be a fresh faced version of the blog in May so bare that in mind as you look it over. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Here is the latest in our “Voiceover Training Tips Video Series” straight from the fireground to your computer screen. In this video Traditions Training Instructor Joe Brown takes us through some of his thoughts and actions when approaching a window mounted air conditioning unit during ventilation. The fire is on the second floor of a 2-story brick end-of-the-row home, Joe is part of the Outside Vent Team on DCFD Truck 17 and his actions are in conjunction with the Interior Search Team and Suppression Teams. As you watch the video think about what your actions may have been and how they might vary with different building constructions in your District. Leave us some feedback and open some discussion at your firehouse kitchen table or computer screen. As always, stay safe out there.
TT Instructor Joe Brown created this video of operations at a first floor fire last tour with a civilian rescued from the second floor. While some of the video is dark, what should be emphasized in this situation is the communication between crews.
The rescue of a civilian is an exciting event. Our primary mission is to save lives and when a victim is located it can tend to draw others away from their tasks. You will notice in this video that when the victim is located, assistacne is given to the victim removal where needed but the other tasks continue, and when the victim is removed everyone get’s back to work. We must remember that a successful fireground results from a coordinated series of events — everyone has a job to do and must do it. If someone drops their task, the entire fireground falls apart.
At present, all accounts are that the victim is hospitalized and will make a full recovery. Job well done to the members of DCFD Engine 30 / Truck 17, Platoon #1!
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!
Tower Ladder Class in Johnston, IA Reinforces Key Point on Knowing Your (and their) Aerial Apparatus!
As seen on the Traditions Training Blog:
Last weekend TT instructors Scott Kraut, Mike Stothers, Joe Brown, and Nick Martin headed west to the metro Des Moines area for a Tower Ladder Operations course with the Johnston Fire Department. The two-day program brought attendees from all over Polk County to talk about truck work and the capabilities of various apparatus. All kinds of topics were covered, from forcible entry to ventilation to designing riding assignments. Sunday brought 40 students and 4 different styles of aerial apparatus for an awesome day of hands-on training at a great acquired building.
One of the goals for the weekend was to allow attendees to work with and understand the various capabilities of different aerial apparatus. While many departments only own one style of truck, it’s imperative that departments understand the capabilities and limitations of any style of aerial apparatus that might respond into their town. Rear-mount, mid-mount, tiller, tower, aerial – they all have specifics as to their positioning needs and use in various scenarios. The time to find those things out is NOT the fireground – if you don’t know these things in advance, you can’t POSSIBLY put the rig to the best use when it gets to your fire! It was great to work with a forward-thinking, pro-active group of enthusiastic firefighters. Thanks to the firefighters of Polk County for your hospitality and we’ll look forward to seeing you again!
As seen on the Traditions Training Blog:
Congratulations are in order for Traditions Training instructor Joe Brown, who was recognized last week for his role in rescuing Prince George’s County firefighter Daniel McGown. Brown (left), a Captain with the Kentland Vol. Fire Department, was the officer of Rescue Engine 33 operating at a house fire in April 2009. While performing a search, he heard an activated PASS device and quickly located FF McGown at the entrance to the fire room, who was unconscious and without a face piece. Brown quickly transmitted a MAYDAY, packaged FF McGown, and removed him to a window where other members of RE-833 assisted in utilizing a “Denver Drill” style maneuver Lito take him out the window. Last week, Capt. Brown was awarded a Gold Medal of Valor by the Prince George’s County Fire Department for his actions at this incident.
Tony Kelleher (right), also a TT instructor, is the Chief of Kentland and received a bronze medal of valor for his actions as the incident commander in managing and coordinating the rescue effort and the house fire simultaneously. Thankfully, despite life threatining injuries, FF McGown has made a full recovery and is back on the job.
This succuessful rescue is another testement to the value of a constant COMBAT READY attitude and excellent training.