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Eleven Years Ago

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Eleven years ago, the Amarillo Fire Department was forever changed. Eleven years ago we wept, we hoped for good news, and we prayed. We prayed and hoped that the brother, who was now living on life support, would somehow return to us. The hours slowly passed, and those changes never happened. Brian Hunton fell from Amarillo Fire Department Ladder 1, on April 23, 2005, and passed away on April 25, 2005. Eleven years ago, we grieved the loss of Brian and looked for the answers to ensure this tragedy would never happen to us again.

Ladder 1 was called to a structure fire on Polk Street the evening of April 23rd; this would be Brian’s last alarm. As the truck left the station, Brian was standing up in the cab. He was getting his turnout gear andimages (1) SCBA donned; preparing (like he had done numerous times before) to arrive on-scene and be ready to go to work. As Ladder 1 made a right hand turn on to 3rd Street, the rear door opened, and Brian lost his balance. Brian fell out of the truck and struck the back of his head on the roadway. He was rushed to Northwest Texas Hospital, where he died two days later.

The day of Brian’s funeral was surreal. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. The funeral precession was truly amazing. Motorcycles, fire apparatus, and cars lined up as far as you could see down I-27. The interstate was lined for 120 miles with on-lookers, and uniformed personnel paying their respects to this 27-year-old Firefighter, who was killed in the line of duty. In Lubbock, apparatus were fitted with black mourning shrouds and staged outside of the church. Fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel from all over the country were there to support the Hunton family and Brian’s fire service family. The funeral service was filled with stories and tears. The bagpipes played, ladders were tip-to-tip, and our fallen brother was laid to rest with as much honor, respect and dignity that any one person could ever hope. But what would be the lasting effect of Brian’s death? Could we change? Were we even willing to change?Image result for firefighter funeral bagpipes

We did change. The members of the Amarillo Fire Department did not accept the old theories of “firefighting is just dangerous sometimes” or “safety makes us slow”. Instead, the members made the commitment to change their culture. We started wearing our seatbelts – ALWAYS. We began to view safety as an integral part of our processes, rather than a hurdle that we had to jump. And we started to have real discussions about how to be better; how to operate more safely and efficiently, and how to give the absolute best customer service to those we serve; while still keeping our own safety as a priority. Seatbelts were only the starting point; as we have continually accepted the cultural change necessary to improve our department and most importantly – ourselves. We have implemented new tactics such as “coordinated PPV” and “transitional attacks”. Our incident commanders put a premium on having an available Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) and increased our standard response to a structure fire from 3 trucks to 4. Riding on the outside of an apparatus is a thing of the past. We now acknowledge the hard facts about the staggeringly high firefighter cancer rates and are working toward limiting our exposure to the substances that are believed to be its cause. Some may argue that Brian’s death had little to do with these changes. But the fire service culture can be hard to change, and we have readily accepted many changes in the way we do things since Bran’s death. Many believe this event was the catalyst.images (3)

Brian’s death has also made an everlasting mark on the whole fire service. In 2006, the National Fire Academy and Dr. Burton Clark created the National Seatbelt Pledge. The story of Brian’s death has been told to nearly every student at the National Fire Academy (NFA) over the past ten years. Every NFA student is given the opportunity to sign this pledge that states, “I am making this pledge willingly; to honor Brian Hunton, my brother firefighter, because wearing seat belts is the right thing to do.” Over 150,000 firefighters nationwide, have signed this pledge that honors our brother. The signed pledge, bearing the names of the membership of the Amarillo Fire Department, proudly hangs inside AFD’s Central Fire Station today. In the early morning hours of February 1, 2008, our department was rewarded by our new-found safety culture. Engine 6 was involved in an accident that resulted in the truck rolling onto its top. All four members of that crew were wearing their seatbelts and were thus left unharmed.Image result for Amarillo fire department

Brian’s death is a tragedy that has helped redefine the AFD. We will continue to honor Brian, and his memory, by being a safety-conscious department. We will continue to learn, continue to grow, and continue to be the absolute best fire department we can be. We will pass on the ideas of this culture to our newer, younger members. And we will never forget our fallen brother who makes us better.

Stay Sharp, Stay Safe

Vinny

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who will give up his life for a friend.

Firefighters, all too often, may lose their lives protecting the lives of total strangers.

HUNTON BRIAN

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My Brother’s Keeper

The fire service is a very special field. Those of us that work in it know this, and those aspiring to enter the field hope to find out. I don’t think I have ever talked with a firefighter who didn’t love this job. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t those of us who experience burnout, depression, or just a general lack of zeal from time to time. But I believe most would say they LOVED being a firefighter. I wonder how it is that we love a job so much. Especially one that can expose us to such sorrow and destruction. Since 2001, I have had that type of love for this job. I have volunteered and understand the daily struggle of those departments. And now, I am fortunate enough to make my living riding the officers seat in a fire truck. I think I know why most of us love what we do amidst all the pain, and I also believe there are ways to make it an even better profession.

If you have been in the emergency services for any length of time, you know what you can see. Make sure you are no stranger to the programs and help offered for responders who may be “at the end of their rope” or battling the numerous demons that may creep up. We are given the numbers to chaplains, peer counselors, suicide hotlines, and employee assistance programs, and yet we still find emergency services professionals coping with things like alcoholism, depression, drug use and suicide. Why?

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PTSD seems to be the buzzword/acronym of the moment. According to the Mayo Clinic, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. To me, this definition may not fit the problem that responders are experiencing. After much reading and research, I think that responders are more than likely suffering from another condition called Combat Operational Stress (COS).

The reading list for a promotional exam I was studying included a book by Christopher Brennan called The Combat Position. This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it for any rank firefighter. This untitledbook was the first time I had seen any reference to COS, and the points the author makes seem very valid. The United States Marine Corps defines Combat stress as: sometimes called combat and operational stress or combat and operational stress reaction, is a common response to the mental and emotional effort active duty personnel exercise when facing tough and dangerous situations. In other words, PTSD is better used to describe the mental stress created by one event, where COS seems to reflect the cumulative type of stressors that first responders encounter.

The Marines go on to list some of the risk factors as:

– Sleeping less than 6-8 hours per day on average
– Witnessing death close up
– Losing a close friend or valued leader in combat or other operations
– Being physically injured, especially if seriously
– Close brushes with death, especially if the individual believed they were going to die
– Handling remains
– Being impacted by family, relationship, or other home front stressors
– Being young and inexperienced

Image result for ptsd fireI am in no way comparing the fire service to the Marine Corps, but I do find the risk factors for COS to be strikingly similar to the types of stressors that firefighters around the country may encounter. And we need to be aware of the dangers of these common stressors.

It seems clear that the fire service is made up of mostly “type A” personalities. We don’t show weakness or ask for help easily. I believe that could be the reason for the following statistic.

 

 

“Firefighter Suicides by year.”

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And these numbers continue to climb as we move past 2012. One hundred and four firefighters committed suicide in 2014. We as a service should be truly shocked at these numbers. We are losing almost, and sometimes more, firefighters to suicide than we are Line of Duty Deaths. All of these “type A’s” who have dedicated their lives, and well being to making sure the people they serve stay alive, are not taking care of themselves. We don’t reach out; we bury our feelings and continue to go fix other people’s problems. WHY?

Recently my “area” has experienced the suicides of four members of the emergency services community. These have included firefighters, fire officers, and paramedics working for three different services. Receiving the news always has the same effect on my mind. It is a crushing feeling, and my thoughts seem to progress like this. Why? But he/she had so much going for them. They always seemed ok. Is there anything I could have done for them to change what they did? And it is in these times that we tend to focus on those around us. We ask members of our crew “Are you doing OK?”, “Do you need to talk about anything?”, and a genuine sense of caring arises out of such tragedy.

In the opening paragraph of this article, I spoke about the love of the job, even through the bad things we see. We love this job because we find an enormous sense of pride knowing that we have an “extended family” that will be there for us whenever we are in need. We love this job because it gives us the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We love this job because we build relationships that are closer than some siblings; we always call it untitled“Brotherhood.” We love this job because we love each other. We don’t hesitate to ask for help to fix a roof, pour concrete, work on a car, or build something. But we need to make this “Brotherhood” stronger. We have to find ways to combat our people feeling like they have nowhere to turn. Let’s put down macho-ism. Let’s put away the fear of being mocked. Let’s be the family that we can be. Talk to each other, and truly get to know each other. All of us should have at least that one person that we can talk to; at least one person that understands you. The only hurdle to jump is to trust these “brothers” and “sisters” and be willing to talk to them.

Station-Pride author James Cook wrote an article titled “Ghosts”. If you haven’t read it, please do. I have provided a link for your viewing enjoyment at the bottom. This article is one that most of us can relate to, and may be a source of comfort for some.

I would like to share a personal experience in closing that relates to my “ghosts” and those brothers of mine that helped me through my rough time.

Sleep wasn’t coming easily. A recurring dream was keeping me awake. A vivid dream that seemed to be set on repeat, and I was getting fed up with it. My family could tell that I was distant, but it comes with the territory sometimes, right? I had been to all the classes. I was up to date on how to recognize if the guys I was working with were “tMy Brothers Keeper 1oo stressed out” and I was willing to help should they need me. I knew that I needed more sleep, and I knew that recurring dreams could be a symptom of stress, but I was way too tough and smart for that. I was sitting in a class with several of my peers, two of whom were sitting in front of me were good friends of mine. During a break, I asked them both this question: “What do you guys know about sleep patterns?” One of them was very knowledgeable and began to tell me all about fatigue, and its effects on the body. When he finished talking, I remember asking them: “What do you know about dreams?” They both asked what kind of dreams, and I was comfortable enough with both of them to open up.

I am walking down the highway, but there are no cars anywhere in sight. I am wearing a department t-shirt, my turn-out pants, and boots. Ahead of me, in the road, single file, I see people sitting in chairs on the highway. I approach the first chair in the line ofimagesCAL4K9J2hundreds and recognize its occupant as a patient that had died while I was there. While I am standing in front of this chair, the person opens their eyes, looks at me, and says: “I am dead because you didn’t help me.” They then close their eyes, and I move on to the next chair, with the same result. OVER and OVER and OVER again.

I go on to explain that this dream is happening every time I fall asleep, and it’s starting to wear me out. When I look at my buddies, they are both looking back at me with a total look of concern and begin to offer any help they can to get me through this problem. One of the guys explains that what I described is a “textbook” symptom of very dangerous stress. I spend the next few weeks seeking out other brothers, and mentors trying to talk it out of my head. It worked. But I found out that I am not immune from mental stress, and certainly not too tough for mental stress.

The things we see, we can’t un-see. The dangerous things we have to do are part of the job. But I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open. Watch for the signs, in others and yourself. And be your brothers keeper. I am lucky my brothers were mine.
Stay Sharp, Stay Safe
Vinny
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who will give up his life for a friend.
Firefighters, all too often, may lose their lives protecting the lives of total strangers.

Ghosts by James Cook:

Ghosts

 

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Yeah, I’ve Done This Before

It’s 3 AM on Sunday morning, you are sleeping soundly, in your bed, at the firehouse. At 03:01 you are very loudly awoken by tones that tell you a fire is burning, and you need to go. You put your feet on the floor, make your way to the truck room, and begin to don your turn-out gear as the driver opens the overhead door and starts the diesel engine that powers your fire apparatus. All four members of the crew take their place on the rig, buckle their seatbelts, and begin to think about what part of their district they are running to. As the truck makes its way toward the dispatched address, that familiar glow and smell of smoke tell you that you will be working soon. Around the corner, flames are visible, alpha/bravo corner of a single story, single family residence in a newer sub-division. The officer assumes command and begins his risk-benefit analysis, makes a tactical decision based on that analysis and begins to issue assignments to his crew and the other trucks arriving to help. You have done this many times; your crew has done this many times. This is a scenario that can happen to any of us, anytime. We will, no matter our position on the crew, begin to address the scene priorities the way we have been programmed. Life safety (ours – theirs), incident stabilization, and property conservation. I would like to discuss some things to consider in these “bread and butter” type fires that may have changed over the last decade.

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One of the very first “case reviews” I remember being exposed to, was about a fire that is still studied today. Twenty-Seven years ago this month five firefighters lost their lives fighting a large fire in a Ford dealership in Hackensack, NJ. After the fire, an investigation showed several mistakes that had been made. Mistakes in communication, command, and recognition of construction type were sighted. Hackensack Ford was a large, commercial building, of bowstring truss construction. The failure of the truss system led to a collapse that ultimately cost these men their lives. This tragic loss of life brought about sweeping changes in how we set up IC, and made basic knowledge of building construction priority on the fire ground. If you have been in the fire service very long, you know this case, you’ve hopefully read about it, and the dangers of that bowstring truss are burned into your brain. Traditionally we have thought of truss systems as being found in commercial structures. We all have heard the phrase “never trust the truss” and most of us show an extra degree of caution when dealing with them. However, it seems that more and more of these lightweight construction features are being found in homes.

In this article, we will take a look at what I call traditional construction vs. newer construction and see pictures of each. Once again, I am not Frank Brannigan, but these differences are worth a look.

We see a trend of open spaces and less compartmentalization in today’s newer homes. This change is largely due to builders using open web trusses and engineered wooden beams, rather than dimensional lumber.

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As you can see these trusses allow for wires, cables, and duct work to run through very easily. The open web floor truss will also support longer spans than does dimensional lumber.
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If and when a fire was to start in the solid lumber void space we would (more than likely) be able to confine the fire between the joists and extinguish with little extension

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The difference in fire control and extinguishment between these two types of construction is miles apart. However a fire in the truss void space yields very different results. This fire would have access to more space, more oxygen, and LESS MASS. The “less mass” part of that scenario is the one fire crews must take into account. Less mass=faster collapse. Another building component that has been used for years, but has made substantial gains in recent use is the “Engineered Beam”.

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These beams may be a piece of OSB stood on edge, between two solid pieces of lumber, or an LVL (laminated veneer lumber) sometimes called “GLULAM”. While both of these types of beams exhibit excellent load-bearing across long spans, from a firefighting aspect, we must be aware of their limitations.
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These beams will present the same “less mass“ problems that the trusses do and are built using glue that may cause accelerated degradation under fire conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You must also remember why these types of structural members are being used. Cost is a factor, but the main reason is to create larger open spaces inside the home. These large open areas, taller ceilings, and fewer compartments need to be planned for. Fires in larger spaces, filled with synthetic materials, that produce a higher HRR (Heat Release Rate), that are attacking structural members that have less mass could be a recipe for disaster.

Another feature that is worth a mention is what my department calls “bricks on sticks.” This refers to a faux chimney being built above the roofline and is supported by 2×4 “stilts” in the attic. When we see a brick chimney coming through the roofline of a house, the natural assumption would be that the chimney is made of masonry from bottom to top. While fighting a fire in a newer home, we experienced an unexpected collapse of a chimney, which led us to find out why. Here are some pictures of the type of thing we found to be common in newer homes.

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This is what the fireplace looks like inside the home.

 

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A simple metal chimney inside the attic space. Notice the two 2×4’s attached to the roof, and the ceiling rafters, and no masonry above the ceiling and through the attic.

 

 

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On the roof, we find a full brick “faux” chimney supported only by those 2×4’s and the roof deck itself. Imagine the surprise of fire crews should something like this overload the roof and end up on division 1 during a fire attack.

#7The only time that any of these (or other) lightweight features can be seen with little effort is during the construction of the structure. Once the building is complete, interior and exterior finishes will hide these construction practices. I have always enjoyed watching things being built. Houses, apartment complexes, shopping centers, warehouses, it doesn’t matter, I like to see the various stages of how things are built and how it may affect me or my crew. I am not an engineer or an architect, but sometimes I see things during these construction phases that make me ask questions. Lately a trend of lightweight construction in homes has caught my attention. There are some tactical considerations that must be made for any lightweight construction building, especially residential. This is why a pre-fire planning program has become even more essential to what we do. Keep in mind, getting on your truck and going out to look at buildings being built is pre-fire planning. While significantly less formal than showing up to do a hazard inspection and draw a plot plan, I find this method to be equally or even more helpful.

 

#8So, it’s 3 AM, and your crew has been toned out to fight a fire in a single family dwelling. Be sure that you have educated yourself and are prepared if this “SAME FIRE” you have fought 25 times, happens to throw you a curve ball.

Stay Sharp, Stay Safe

Vinny

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who will give up his life for a friend.

Firefighters, all too often, may lose their lives protecting the lives of total strangers.

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We’ve Always Done it That Way

Image result for Old FirefighterNot long ago I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with an “old” firefighter. Being able to visit with a man who worked as a career firefighter before I was even born was a real treat. During our talk, I started to realize something that I had known all along, but had never really thought about. The fire service has changed. The fire service will keep changing, and I had better learn to keep up.   In the 1960s and 1970s there were more fires to fight due to weaker building codes as well as a lack of fire education and prevention programs. Structure fires were a very common occurrence and these guys did the job without the aid of thermal imaging technology or an air pack on their back. In the 1980s, some of the SCBA technology we have today was beginning to become readily available in its “generation one” form. It was expensive, and wearing an air pack was not looked upon favorably by the culture at the time. And yet we still have all heard the old saying, “we’ve always done it that way.”

Chiseling-Caveman-e1295104424454 copy We’ve always done it that way. That statement seems so archaic to me. It sounds so closed to new thinking. It doesn’t allow for technology or science to make good changes in how we operate. It is almost a good way to say, “I learned it this way and I refuse to change. And by the way, kid, I’m taking you with me.”   Well guess what folks, we haven’t ALWAYS done anything that way. As a matter of fact, we are doing it much different from how it was done just 20 years ago.

Listening to stories of riding on the tailboard of a fire truck as it responds code 3 to a call is awesome. Knowing people who fought fire wearing rubber coats, and day boots, is at the very least educational for me. Holding your breath as you crawl through a smoke-filled house, waiting for your ears to heat up and tell you that you were close to the fire really sounds like a rush. I am privileged to know some of these men, and I have the utmost respect for those who fought fire and lived through this era. But there is no place for these things in today’s fire service.

  In 2005, I lost a friend in a LODD because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. I think about that event, and how it could’ve been different every day. Shortly after his death, the culture in the fire service took notice and the National Seatbelt Pledge came into being. Yet, even in 2014 a firefighter was killed when he was ejected while responding to an incident, NOT WEARING A SEATBELT. How is this possible? “We’ve always done it that way.”

I am privileged to be an instructor at our local fire academy. One of the subjects that I teach is Firefighter Safety. During this class, I try to explain this concept: Our perception of what is safe is bred by our experience. That means if you are a 35 year veteran of the fire service and have ridden the tailboard to every call without incident, then you probably hold the belief that riding the tailboard is safe. The same thing is true of many parts of this job. Freelancing, improper use of PPE, seatbelts – the list goes on and on!

Two examples of the “we have always done it that way” attitude scream out at me: Detroit MI, and Hartford CT. I am using these two examples only because of the very high amount of media coverage given to each.

  First, let’s look at Detroit. The highly popular movie filmed in this city called “Burn” was brought to my attention about a year ago. A very young member of our department was speaking highly of the movie, had a copy of it with him, and offered to let the crew watch it. As the movie unfolded I saw a department unwilling to change how they operated no matter what. Injury of personnel, loss of equipment, and even direct orders from the Chief were not enough to override “we have always done it that way.”

Hartford, CT was in the news not too long ago. It has been credibly reported that the use of a Nomex hood in HFD was optional. OPTIONAL! WHAT? How does an essential piece of firefighting PPE, widely in use since the 1970s, and mandated by NFPA standards become optional? The answer to this question is the same as the answer to so many of the failures that we continue to embrace in the name of tradition. “We have always done it that way.”

I truly love fire service traditions. I am an active member of our department’s Pipes and Drums Corps; its purpose is to honor the memories of the fallen, and to uphold the traditional values that make the fire service the best job in the world. I enjoy washing a brand new apparatus for the first time, and pushing it back into the station. I support having logos that set fire stations apart and give the crews working there a feeling of pride and honor. Class A dress uniforms being available for members to purchase is another traditional fire service “thing” that I love. I love lighthearted pranks or jokes that make 24 hours pass more quickly, or a bowl of ice cream eaten because the rookie made his first interior attack. Those are the types of “traditions” I hold dear. However, I want no part of the irresponsible acts that some of us call tradition. We all need to step back, and take a hard look at our department’s specific culture. The things that we do in the name of “tradition” must be able to pass the test of “reasonable and responsible.”

The next time you are asked, “Why do we_____?”, think about your answer.

I challenge you to remove “We have always done it that way” from your answer bank, and find the real answer to the question. I also challenge you to be wary of this answer, and the people giving it.

 

Stay Sharp, Stay Safe,

Vinny

 

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who will give up his life for a friend.

Firefighters, all too often, may lose their lives protecting the lives of total strangers.

 

 

 

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Firefighting Is Fun

On September 11, 2001, I was a student in the Fire Academy of my local junior college.  Having gone through EMT school and passed the state test, I was very excited about learning to be a firefighter.  I was excited about the brotherhood.  I was excited about the adrenaline rushes.  And I was excited to start this new career that I had heard was so much fun.

I was a delivery driver for a local uniform company on that Tuesday morning.  Working my normal route, I was trying to find ways to shorten my day so that I could read ahead in my “Essentials of Firefighting” text before class.  At 0846, America was changed.  The fire service was changed. I was changed.   By 1028 that morning, 343 men and women doing their jobs, doing what I wanted to do, were dead.

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Three hundred and forty three, three hundred and forty three, three hundred and forty three. That number, that remorseless number. I remember sitting in class that very night wondering if I had chosen the right line of work. I remember specifically thinking, “I knew there would be hard spots with this job, but everyone says it is so fun.”  Three hundred forty three dead in less than two hours didn’t sound like my idea of fun.

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I am now a lieutenant in a medium-sized department in Texas. A 14 year rookie of the fire service, working on ten years in my current city.  Firefighters are still the same. Firefighters are pranksters; firefighters love the brotherhood they are a part of, and if you ask, most will still tell you “being a firefighter is really fun.”  I would like to add more substance to that idea.

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I have four goals when I go to work every shift.  First, make good tactical and procedural decisions. Second, do a good job. Third, learn something. And fourth, make today as good of a day as possible.

We as professionals should spend a majority of our time developing ourselves, our crews, and our departments.  If we look at our job’s complex nature, our first goal should be to know as much as we can about it. Knowledge of tools and equipment, knowledge of our department’s apparatus, and an in- depth knowledge of the events that are killing or hurting firefighters is essential.  Sometimes we see training as a hurdle that we are made to clear, or a hoop to jump through.  If you are a member of a department that has a training program that is “less than engaging”, it is your job, no matter your rank, to find ways to engage your crew.

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There are several ways to improve skill and knowledge in your fire crew without seeming like a “drill instructor”.  Firefighters are hands-on creatures; use this trait to improve yourself and your crew.  A way to do this may be to pick a skill, perform this skill as a crew, and honestly review the performance. You will inevitably find, as you work together, places where certain people are very strong, and places where others are weak. If we find weak places in our crew we can work to fix those weaknesses before they show up at an emergency scene. As an officer, or crew member, you would much rather find out that “Jake”, doesn’t know what “right-hand search “ means in training, rather than in the middle of a RIT activation.  Be a good steward of the crew’s time. Nobody wants to train four hours per shift, every shift. You must find a way to balance these “extra” learning periods with everything else that happens around the firehouse.

Another way to stay sharp may be to walk into the kitchen, or club room every now and then with a stack of “trade magazines”. Have everyone pick out and read an article of their choice. When everyone has finished their article, have them explain or teach the rest of the crew about what they read. I have found that doing this type of training accomplishes several things.  First, it shows those who may not realize it, that there are some great experiences and learning tools found hidden in the pages of the magazines and web sites. Second, having every member share what they learned makes even the lowest ranking, or newest member, feel empowered. Third, the highest ranking, or oldest members of the crew, will almost always learn something new. Learning new things about our trade can and will make every member want to learn  more.

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Another learning tool that can be used is internet video. A simple search on YouTube will yield hundreds of results. Try searching things such as “RIT activation” or “firefighter mayday”. Some of the results will be good examples of one way to handle a situation. Other results may scream out to you as an example of what not to do. This method is one of my personal favorites. Watching these videos seems to work well as a teaching or learning aid, no matter your position on the crew. If you are the officer you may simply ask the crew to watch with you. If you happen to be the junior firefighter on the truck, pick a time you know the rest of the crew may “catch you”.  Start watching some of these videos, and more likely than not the rest of your crew will end up watching with you. Use these video watching sessions to work out the “what if’s” or the “how do we”.

The knowledge we gain through self study will pay dividends throughout our careers. The trust and confidence in each other gained, by learning as a crew, makes us better off to handle these high risk, low frequency events we respond to. If I were to have to come up with a definition for “firefighter” it would be:

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Firefighter- A person, who may be paid or unpaid, that when called upon, will risk LIFE or LIMB to fix your problem.

Being a firefighter is in a person’s soul, it is who we are; it is a calling.  When people ask me about it, my response is usually “I don’t want to do anything else for a living” or “it’s the best job in the world”. Is being a firefighter fun? My answer is “Being a well- trained, ever-learning firefighter is fun.”  Being a firefighter is also being in an ever changing career.  Firefighters must continue to be students of their trade, or risk succumbing to it.

 

Stay Sharp, Stay Safe

Vinny

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who will give up his life for a friend.

Firefighters, all too often, may lose their lives protecting the lives of total strangers.