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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.

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!

Tower Ladder Class in Johnston, IA Reinforces Key Point on Knowing Your (and their) Aerial Apparatus!

As seen on the Traditions Training Blog:

Relaying some mind nuggets aquired from the great Mick McKenzie

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.

Click here for more photos…

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!

Truck Company Ops in Brunnerville, PA

Another fun time teaching motivated firemen. This story from the Traditions Training Blog:

While some members of the Traditions Training staff boarded a plane for FDIC 2010, Instructors Dan Doyle, Scott Kraut, Mike Stothers and Joe Brown were with the volunteers of Brunnerville for Truck Company Operations. Although the Brunnerville Volunteers do not have a Truck, the officers and members understood the need for traditional truck company duties on the fireground. The 2 day class covered such skills as:

  • 27069_1363961617050_1171912233_31001466_2417685_nForcible Entry Techniques
  • Street Smart Ground Ladders
  • Through-the-lock
  • Primary Search Techniques
  • Vent Enter Search
  • Victim Removal
  • Tool Selection
  • Crew Management

For day 2 the Truck Company from Lititz VFD was on hand to enhance their close working relationship on a first due Brunnerville fire. Students learned the importance of thinking of the fireground in terms of duties to be completed instead of the apparatus styles they arrived on. Drawing from their previous Traditions Training class on engine ops, the double engine house quickly adapted to multiple scenarios and arrival positions, including splitting their crews and completing both initial engine and truck ops effectively and without delay.

 

An abandoned school provided plenty of scenario options for day 2 as the Traditions staff tested the newly acquired skills of the Brunnerville Volunteers. Scenarios closely mimicked possible situations the students may find themselves in, from arriving together and finding fire and multiple people trapped to arriving alone for a fire alarm and requesting additional units for a discovered fire. Crews where faced with multiple forcible entry challenges, traveling smoke, search obstructions and multiple victims just to name a few. The Traditions Training staff had a great time and look forward to their next trip to Brunnerville.

26986_10150173814195571_114240140570_12058188_6246429_n IMG00765

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”.