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What Do You Think?

When I was first promoted to the officer ranks, I inherited a much older crew (in both age and tenure). The jubilation of the promotion coupled with the sobering reality that I was now the fall-back guy for anything that went wrong was quite the manic experience. My ego unwittingly got the best of me. I lived for a time under the delusion that as the officer, I needed to have the answers to every problem we would encounter. Trial and error was the order of the day with little progress and low morale. When I lost my driver to a transfer, I was able to convince a friend of mine from a neighboring station to replace him. Following his arrival, we set the standard of expectations of my crew. His frankness, professionalism, and intelligence prompted me to openly ask his opinion in many tough situations. I knew he would shoot me straight and was looking out for the crew and me, rather than having his own motivations. Before long, he spoke freely if he had a concern with any operations, but would always remain respectful that the accountability ultimately laid with me. “Everyone has a say,” was the culture we cultivated within our crew and because of this, we operated with impeccable production. Our relationship enlightened me that the greatest tool at the company officer’s disposal does not reside in a compartment, nor is it strapped onto his back; it rides belted in each occupied seat inside the cab. One of the smartest things an officer of any tenure can do is pose a simple question to his crew: What do you think?

It can be used in any situation where a fork in the road is encountered. Behind these four simple words is a thesis that tells the members that their experience is valued and that they have a stake in the operations at hand. Equally as important, it subtly encourages the crew to speak up without reservation which enhances the officer’s situational awareness.

Something to keep in mind is that there is a time, a place and a frequency to this approach. The officer must not hesitate to make the tough, split-second decisions that many on-scene situations call for and must understand that this question is not a way to dodge their basic responsibilities and duties. Accountability for the crew and their actions always lies with the officer, but when the situation allows for a second opinion, ask them what they think. The guys on the rig with you are motivated and driven human beings. In fact, they are some of the best and most caring individuals I have ever met. They want to be treated as such and significant ground could be gained by simply asking their opinion and letting their voices be heard. Their collective experience is the officer’s greatest tool, but like any other tool in the toolbox, you need to know how to use it most effectively, or you’ll be trying to vent a roof with a hacksaw. So I ask you: What do you think?

– Jake Henderson is a 30-year-old Captain with the Fort Worth, Texas Fire Department. He is assigned to Station 24 on the city’s east side which houses an Engine, Quint, and Battalion 4 as well as being a satellite HazMat station. Jake holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology and is HazMat Tech and Fire Inspector certified.
Blog Health and Wellness

FireFit!

What makes us fit for duty? Training.

What training are we referring to? Tasks used to perform our job. Whether it be a technical rescue, hazmat knowledge, ARFF, district familiarization or countless other avenues, as firefighters we are called upon to know an extremely wide range of skills to perform our duties and go home at the end of our shifts.

While this knowledge is part of the necessary tools needed to perform, almost half of our brothers and sisters who pay the ultimate price do so because of overexertion. When called upon to fight fires, it takes an enormous amount of physical exertion to do our job, yet we aren’t physically training for the arduous tasks we will probably encounter.

That’s where Firefit Firefighter Fitness Trainer comes in. This machine mimics the most strenuous of fireground activities in a compact unit that will fit in the corner of most fire station truck rooms. In some cases, departments are replacing the cumbersome entrance exam equipment with Firefit. It’s turn key, requires virtually no set up and is modeled after the CPAT, with a couple of exceptions of course. Just drag the machine from the truck room to the station apron, or use it inside if you have the space for it.

Firefit was created and tested by Randy Johnson, a 14 yr firefighter in the Texas Panhandle, 13 of those as a career firefighter. His personal results while doing a six-week testing program were nothing short of phenomenal. Starting with his heart rate, Day 1 resting heart rate was 66, working HR in the 180’s and recovery time to resting was 14 minutes. His body fat was 22%. Weight was 202. After six weeks using Firefit as his only training, and only on duty for a total usage of 15 times, his HR was in the 150’s during the workout; recovery time dropped to 4.5 minutes! Randy lost 7 lbs, gained back 2 (probably muscle), and lost 4% bodyfat.

While these results are amazing in themselves, the reason for the creation of Firefit, according to Randy, is to reduce the number of names we put on the wall in Colorado Springs and Emmitsburg every September and October, respectively. After all, isn’t that the goal and why we train to be the best at what we do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog

Junior Involvement in Senior Training

​I know of a few departments around me who don’t let their juniors do anything, and by anything I mean throwing ladders, stretching lines, hitting a hydrant…You know, the basic things every firefighter should be 100% efficient at.

Up at my company, we look at juniors as the future of our company. They are involved in meetings, drills, hall rentals, cleaning. Everything a senior member can do at the station, a junior member can also.

​I’m from a company in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, called Munhall Volunteer Fire Company #5. We run a Tower-Ladder, an Engine, and a Squad. In our borough, we have four different stations, one located at each end, and two in the middle. I can’t say we are a busy company, but every time we go to a call, we do it quick, proficient, and right. I really can’t stress enough about having a junior program in your stations. When I first started out, I was 14. I joined a company in the hometown I lived in, and it was called Whitaker. They ran two Engines, a Squad, and a Foam Unit. I fell in love with it the first day I joined. My dad was and still is the Assistant Chief there, and he helped me get through everything tremendously. If it weren’t for them having that junior program, I would’ve never had as much passion for the fire service as I do now.

 

​After two years, I moved on down the street to the station I’m currently at. I joined when I was 16, and right when I joined they only allowed members 16 and up. But a few months had passed, and we changed our by-laws and are now able to allow members to join at 14. That was by far the best decision our company has ever made. We currently have seven junior members. I was the 8th, but I just recently turned 18 and have become a fully active member. When I was a junior, we had a junior officer line. I was the Junior Chief, my buddy Jake was the Captain, and the Chief’s son was the Lieutenant. Being able to already hold an officer position at that age was like winning an Emmy.

You must be thinking, “Oh, okay, they just had a title…” No, we had duties and responsibilities to handle by ourselves.

Me being the Junior Chief, my duty was to train the juniors up to my level and make sure they know the ins and outs of the fire hall. I was a pretty educated kid at that age, and I had my brother and my two uncles help me out along the way. Several times at drill, they put me as the lead guy, the front man, the role model for the other juniors to look up too. When I first started this, I would always wonder why they put a 16-year-old up on stage to teach the SENIOR guys. It took me two long years to realize why. The only way you are going to better yourself is by trying to better other people. If it weren’t for this junior program, I wouldn’t be as smart or as trained as I am right now.

When I teach at our weekly drill, I look at it from a junior’s perspective. I can see what they do and don’t understand; I was in their shoes for 99% of my time so far. No matter what we do at drill, the juniors do the same. When we cut holes in our simulator, they are right there doing the same thing. They watch us, then they do it. When they do it, we go step-by-step with them, making sure they don’t mess up, but when they do, we reassure them it’s okay. When you’re training, that is the time to make those mistakes. You learn a lot more from the mistakes than doing it right.

Many people criticize and bash juniors for being untrained “whackers.” Well, start training them. Get them involved with EVERYTHING. Every single time you’re at the station with them, go over the trucks, throw ladders, pull some lines, learn what every tool does and their names, learn the role of the officers, learn the different truck and engine duties. Teach every single junior how you would want someone coming to your house at 3 in the morning for a working fire. After all, those juniors will fill your shoes one day.

If you don’t have a junior program or you don’t train your juniors because they aren’t certified, then step up. Make a difference in a young person’s life and be their role model. Be the one that when they say they first started out, you helped them. There is no better feeling in this world than making someone’s life better, if you don’t think that is true, you’re in the wrong line of work. Every time you go to a call and see an elderly woman standing in her doorway telling you guys that the fire alarm was an accident, you check to make sure, and you smile and say have a good night to her. You just made her feel safer and one of the happiest people in this world. She now knows that when trouble occurs, people that have never even met her will drop ANYTHING to save her and that my friends is one of the greatest feelings you can have. Do not take this job lightly. Train, stay fit and treat everyone fairly. Just remember, you were a junior at one point in time also. Make sure all your other juniors act in the same manner of courtesy to that elderly woman, as you did.

– ​​​​​​​Jonathan Scripp
Munhall VFC #5

Blog

OWN THAT SH!T

You know, the small boy in my heart has always wanted to be a fireman, and I’ve always been a little envious of the guys that get to wear the big names on their coats i.e. Dallas, Ft Worth, Houston, New York, Boston…even Amarillo, Lubbock and so on…..
But my coat says Vernon, and you know what, we do the same job with 10% of the personnel, but 10x the heart…I couldn’t be prouder of MY dept.

 

 

We don’t need the big name, and we obviously will do this job with much less than the big city paycheck because we vowed to protect our community and our community’s belongings.

Take ownership in YOUR trucks, YOUR department, YOUR crew, YOUR name on your coat. Take pride in making those things shine like a diamond through cleaning, preparing, and training. Push through the shitty days and relish in the days that are call-free or full of the “fun stuff.” That kind of investment in YOUR department will only drive you to continue to grow and “leave it better than you found it.”

 

Blog

On Scene Arms Race

I sit here at my desk, facing the street, typing furiously on my wife’s laptop because mine doesn’t have Microsoft Word. It is 2017. We have Drones. We have Cell phones that are essentially portable supercomputers. Why do we not have Word on every laptop? What else does one do with a laptop?

But I digress.

We have a sticky situation to look at. It seems to have cooled of late, but you can still hear whispers of it in dark corners of rural firehouses. I’m talking about carrying firearms on fire and EMS scenes. This issue reared its ugly head a few years ago, and never really died for some of us. I can walk into either of the departments I work for right now and stir up a heated debate just by mentioning this in passing. Keep in mind, I live in a mostly-rural sector of Ohio. Out here, everyone seems to be armed. You walk into any given house on a call and it wouldn’t be all that alarming to spot a rifle mounted on the wall, three shotguns in a cabinet in the corner, a pistol on the end table and one more stripped down on the dining room table. You are aware of them, absolutely, you are aware of them, but they don’t elicit the same alarm response that they might merit in another part of the country. Out here, we have become somewhat numbed to the presence of firearms on scene. I don’t want to say blind to it, but there is certainly room for complacency to gain a foothold. Given that there are so many guns around here, and we are mostly at ease with them, one could easily assume that I am a supporter of arming firefighters and EMS personnel. I am not.

Don’t even bring up personal safety on scene as a valid reason to carry. If you want to talk fireground and EMS scene safety, can we first compare the number of deaths caused by a lack of guns versus the surplus of Big Macs? According to a June, 2016 NFPA report, 51% of firefighter fatalities last year were caused by sudden cardiac arrest. It would be no surprise to learn that a not inconsiderable percentage of these cases of sudden cardiac arrest could have been avoided by dietary changes and exercise. And yet, loudly-documented, obvious health issues still don’t trigger nearly the emotional response that the topic of carrying on duty does.

Care to take a guess at the percentage of firefighter fatalities by “gunshot” or “fatal assault?” 1%. That’s right, 1%, folks. Emotionally disturbed patients and knife-wielding lunatics aren’t killing us; second and third helpings at the dinner table are far more efficient means. That’s not me, Randy the “Lefty Liberal Snowflake” telling you that. That’s the NFPA.

There’s this gnawing sensation that we have our priorities out of order. Or, maybe it’s just me. Here’s what gets me frustrated; We know that poor diet is killing us across the board. We know that a lack of training can have tragic consequences. We know for a fact that all manner of carcinogens are present in smoke and debris. Given all those known unresolved safety issues, why are guns even on our radar? If we rectify every other issue and make firefighting and EMS the safest professions in the world, save for gunshots and stabbings, then talk to me about carrying on scene. If ever death by “fatal assault” should creep into the double-digit percentages, yeah, let’s discuss it. Until then, we have not only bigger fish to fry, but whales in comparison.

Me, personally? I have no desire for myself, nor any member of my crew to be armed, assuming I have a choice in the matter.  I have two major reasons for this, perhaps unique to my situation, perhaps not:

One: It’s not my job.

This sounds simpler than it really is, it’s not my job. I am a firefighter/paramedic, I take care of people. At any given moment, I could be monitoring two IV lines (maybe an IO, I’m an IO fanboy), an advanced airway, chest compressions, any number of drugs and trying to decide if that’s fine V-fib I’m seeing, or road noise. It is not at all out of the question that someone could sneak up and catch me all unawares, and disarm me.

As we discussed before, everyone out here in the boonies is comfortable with guns. This works both ways. There is a better than average chance that the individual sneaking up on you has a strong understanding of weapons and ammunition. There is an equal chance that this individual understands your weapon better than you do.

I know I will hear that if I were properly aware of my surroundings this wouldn’t be an issue. I can assure you that I’m very aware of my on-scene surroundings. This goes back to the local issue of guns being everywhere, including strapped to my patients (open and concealed carry). Where I get hung up on this is that I am now adding another responsibility to my job description. If I bear the weight of carrying a firearm, and everything that comes with it (socially, morally, ethically, professionally, legally) something else must give. The job seems plenty wide and all-encompassing enough as it is. As we discussed before, there’s a lot going on. IV’s and airways and whatnot. Am I to become part cop at the expense of my airway skills, of my cardiac rhythm identification? No, thank you. My job is first and foremost to care for people. Anything that might take away from that is out.

Two: I’m not a cop.

Let’s review a few hard truths. I have been told that I have been afflicted with a bad case of “cop face.” I am tall-ish, and can typically be seen sporting a high fade haircut (I even had a hipster part for a little bit. It didn’t work out). My demeanor is perhaps best summed up as socially awkward, bordering on passive-aggressive. Maybe some smugness peppered in, for good measure. We can all agree that I’m at least cop-esque, if you will, per vicious stereotypes concerning our brothers and sisters in blue. On top of this, I spend roughly two-thirds of my life in a dark blue uniform. One of them even has badge embroidered on the left breast. I carry dark, oblong items with sharp, hard lines on my belt. I can’t quite match up with some of the Batman utility belts you see at conventions, but I carry a radio, pager and if I’m feelin’ froggy, a small pouch containing an extra set of gloves (those are kinda nice sometimes, don’t judge). In the dark, could one of those look like a weapon? Absolutely. I’m sufficiently cop-y without a gun.

I have been mistaken for a cop on scene. How many people are forthcoming with cops, in general? Not many. That whole “you’re under arrest” thing really ruins a party.

As a paramedic, I need people to be honest with me. The t-shirt that reads “don’t do anything you don’t want to explain the EMTs” really comes to life here. People that have no reason to hide anything may hold back in the presence of law enforcement. I have a lot of cop friends, and I still experience a brief, chilling, bolt of terror when one gets behind me. I know I didn’t do anything, but he’s a cop, right?

As fire and EMS personnel, we don’t deal with a lot of distrust from the public. Why invite it in? Maybe we would gain a better understanding of this struggle if there were more dirty firefighter movies to spin up the imaginations of the public. No, not those kinds of movies. I suppose corrupt firefighter movies would be a better wording.

Bottom line

if it looks like a cop, walks like a cop and carries a gun like a cop… is it really a paramedic or firefighter? I don’t believe so.

That’s where I stand on this issue. And if you don’t agree with me, that’s ok. Not everyone will. But I leave you with this scenario to ponder over:

What if a firefighter or EMT carrying a gun on scene accidentally shot an unarmed teenager? This still happens to police officers despite their extensive training. There have been riots. There has been political unease and general cynicism. Imagine the headlines. Is risking the public’s unquestioned trust in us worth it? Because once it’s gone, brother, it’s gone.

Health and Wellness

Firefighter Therapy 101

Here is some valuable information providing a differentiation of services available to Firefighters. Is there a difference between counseling and therapy? Is a Psychologist the same as a psychiatrist? How do I know which on I need? What can I expect? FireStrong provides the answers to your questions… here.

What is Counseling?

Each therapist is different, but they all are trained to help you with your issue. Look up different therapists using your insurance to ensure they are a licensed therapist. In order to find the right therapist for you read reviews online.

“Therapy 101”:

The initial thought of therapy can be intimidating, especially for those who have firestrong-logonever really been into talking about their “feelings.” Finding a therapist that you mesh well with is a major key to success in getting the help you need. While searching for a therapist it is important to have a conversation with them beforehand. A phone call can help you determine if they are able to help you with your personal issues. If the conversation is awkward or does not feel natural at all, then that therapist might not be the best fit. It is completely normal for people to contact a couple of different therapists before picking the best one for them!

Therapy sessions are all about making sure you are comfortable with sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe, protected, and relaxed environment. The ultimate goal of a therapy session is to have you leaving feeling more at ease every time prior to your previous session. While you won’t be lying down on a couch like you often see in commercials, you can often expect to be sitting on a comfy couch in a warm and inviting room.

What to expect when going to see a therapist:

Each therapist has a unique style, and a large part of therapy is the rapport between you and the therapist. If you don’t feel you can achieve this with the counselor you are seeing, you can always try out a new one. Most therapy can help and start to improve your life in less than 10 sessions (you have 30 sessions to work with!) The process of talking to a stranger about our issues/problems is foreign to many of us, but once you reach your comfort zone and start express yourself you can feel the weight of anxiety being lifted off your shoulders!

One therapy session won’t cure all of your problems overnight. Often in life we have to remind ourselves that good things take time! When first starting therapy, it is okay to feel lost or not even realize what some of your issues are. Once you start opening up about your hardships in life it will be easier to connect with your therapist and pin-point some events that might have triggered some personal issues. Sit back and be patient with this new experience.

13 Common Types of Talk Therapy: 

 

Cognitive therapy

•A therapist will help you change harmful ways of thinking. If you tend to see things negatively, it teaches you how to look at the world more clearly.

•Example: You drop by to see a friend, but he says he doesn’t have time to talk. Your first thought is that he’s angry with you. This makes you feel worried and anxious. Soon you are trapped in a flood of negative thinking.

•Cognitive therapy can help you focus on your reaction to your friend’s behavior. Perhaps what he said has nothing to do with you. Maybe he was having a bad day. Perhaps he was late for an appointment. Thinking of other reasons for his actions help you see the event in a more positive and accurate way.

Interpersonal therapy

•Helps you learn to relate better with others. You’ll focus on how to express your feelings, and how to develop better people skills. Might be helpful with strengthening relationships.

•Example: You and your wife are not getting along. The fighting seems to be getting worse, but you can’t break the cycle.

•Interpersonal Talk therapy can help you see your wife’s point of view and vice versa. Perhaps she feels you don’t spend time with her anymore. Finding new ways of talking to your wife may help you both feel better.

•Remember that talk therapy doesn’t have to be difficult. The simple act of discussing your feelings allows you to gain new insight and perspective. Talk therapy can also help to enrich your life by bringing the people that you love closer to you.

Behavioral therapy

•Helps you change harmful ways of acting. The goal is to get control over behavior that is causing problems for you.

•Example: You were on a pediatric drowning, and now you are terrified of taking your family 10570528_822374361106243_2112629700221514933_nto the pool. This paranoia starts to affect your family life.

•Behavioral Talk therapy can help you to face your fears. Discussing your problems with a trusted person can help you to begin to overcome those fears and take control of your life.

What is the difference between a Counselor, a Therapist, Psychologist, and Psychiatrist?

Counselor:

A counselor is a person who is a master level licensed clinician who has completed a counseling focused program. They are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat numerous issues that people face. They cannot prescribe medication, however they work closey with physicians who can.

Therapist:

A Therapist is a person who has a Master’s or doctoral level degree in a counseling field and a license from a Board of Behavioral Health. Both the degree and license take years to achieve, so rest assure that the person should experience in talk therapy. They can’t prescribe medications, however they work closely with physicians who can.

Psychologist:

A Psychologist is a person who has their Ph.D. in a counseling related field. Psychologists have more training and schooling than a therapist. They provide counseling, support, perform psychological tests. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication but work closely with psychiatrists and physicians if prescribed medication becomes necessary.

Psychiatrist:

Psychiatrists are physicians who had to do a residency in the area they specialized, ie child psychology, neuropsychology. They can prescribe medication (prozac, ativan). Some provide talk therapy. Some will prescribe and provide both.

 

Health and Wellness

Firefighter Depression

Secret Signs of Hidden Depression

People who suffer from secret or concealed depression usually do not want to acknowledge how serious their feelings are. They often put on a “happy face” for others so they do not feel judged. Click HERE to find out what the six signs of concealed depression are.

DEPRESSION

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a constant feeling of sadness, hopelessness, anger, and loss of interest in everyday life for a long period of time. The exact cause of depression is unknown, however, many researchers believe that depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Norepinephrine, seratonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that transmit electrical signals between brain cells) thought to be involved with major depression. It is believed that there is an increased risk for developing depression if there is a family history of the illness. However, people who do not have a family history of depression can still develop this mood disorder.

About 19 million Americans battle depression annually. Depression is estimated to contribute to half of all suicides. About 5%-10% of women and 2%-5% of men will experience at least one major depressive episode during their adult life. Depression affects people of all races, incomes, ages, and ethnic and religious backgrounds, but it is three to five times more common in the elderly than in young people.

“Some types of depression seem to run in families”

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Certain personality traits such as low self-esteem, physical or sexual abuse, financial issues, and the death of a loved one can often times trigger depression in some people. While it has long been believed that depression caused people to misuse alcohol and drugs in an attempt to make themselves feel better (self-medication), it is now thought that substance abuse can actually cause depression. Some illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and certain medications may also trigger depressive episodes. It is also important to note that many depressive episodes occur spontaneously and are not triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or other risks.

 

There is no single cause of major depression. Psychological, biological and environmental factors may all contribute to its development. Whatever the specific causes of depression, scientific research has firmly established that major depression is a biological, medical illness.

 A number of factors can play a role in depression:

  • Life events or situations, such as: Breaking up with a significant other, illness or death in the family, or parents divorcing (for adolescents)
  • Repetitive traumatic calls
  • Childhood events, such as abuse or neglect
  • Divorce, death of a friend or relative, or loss of a job (for adults)
  • Social isolation (common in the elderly)
  • Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), medications (such as sedatives and high blood pressure medications), cancer, major illness, or prolonged pain
  • Sleeping problems, Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Symptoms

  • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
  • Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed (such as sex)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Use of alcohol or illegal substances may be more likely to occur.
  • Even Medicines that you take for other problems could cause or worsen depression, check with your doctor.

 Treatment

  • Medicines that you take for other problems could cause or worsen depression. You may need to change them. DO NOT change or stop taking any of your medications without consulting your doctor.
  • People who are so severely depressed that they are unable to function, or who are suicidal and cannot be safely cared for in the community may need to be treated in a psychiatric hospital.
  • Most people benefit from antidepressant drug therapy, along with psychotherapy. As treatment takes effect, negative thinking diminishes. It takes time to feel better, but there are usually day-to-day improvements.
  • Antidepressant medications work by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters or by changing the sensitivity of the receptors for these chemical messengers.

Prevention

  • Take medications correctly and learn how to manage side effects.
  • Learn to watch for early signs that depression is becoming worse and know how to react when it does.
  • Try to exercise more, seek out other activities that bring you pleasure, and maintain good sleep habits.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. These substances can make the depression worse over time, and may also impair your judgment about suicide.
  • When struggling with your depression, talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. Try to be around people who are caring and positive.
  • Try volunteering or getting involved in group activities.

“therapy teaches depressed people ways of fighting negative thoughts”

Types of help (See also Types of Counseling)

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches depressed people ways of fighting negative thoughts. People can learn to be more aware of their symptoms, learn what seems to make depression worse, and learn problem-solving skills.
  • Psychotherapy can help someone with depression understand the issues that may be behind their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Joining a support group of people who are experiencing problems like yours can also help. Ask your therapist or doctor for a recommendation.

You can take a personal assessment  here.

 

Blog

The Delayed Triple Split

In apartment complexes and commercial strip malls across the country, we have issues with line placement through narrow or obstructed paths. These can be caused by parked cars, short setbacks, parking barriers, planters, shrubs, etc. With this in mind, one option available is to pass these obstacles before the deployment of the hose. This is what I like to call “The Delayed Triple Split.” This maneuver allows for the entire hose bundle (on a triple layer) to be deployed after passing through any obstructions or obstacles on the pathway to the building. A few considerations go into this deployment process; they are as follows:

– Placement for the aerial at buildings. The best practice is to have the first arriving aerial’s turntable at the center of the building to access the entire length of the building.

Rear or Side space of Primary Attack Engine is left for aerial turntable placement.

– Placement for the next engine company to bring water or supply a “booster back-up.”

Available space on the Officer's side (in this scenario) for water supply apparatus to park.
Available space on the Officer’s side (in this scenario) for water supply apparatus to park.
Piston Intake is used as a reference point in Driver’s mirror for lining up the cross-lay.

 

– The width of the average car is approximately six to seven and a half (6′ – 7.5′) feet.

– The width of the average parking space is seven and a half to nine (7.5′ – 9′) feet.

– When spotting the hose cross-lays, use an object in the same area on the truck to act as a reference point, i.e. Piston Intake Valve, wheel well, strobe light, etc.

– The objective could be met with only two firefighters involved.

– Find the average length of bedded hose. The average car is about fourteen to eighteen (14′ – 18′) feet long. You need to find how many folds in the cross-lay are needed to reach the sidewalk, which is approximately twenty (20′) feet from the apparatus.

Coming off either side would need three folds down from the top of the tray. This allows for the approximate twenty (20’) feet to reach the sidewalk.
Coming off either side would need three folds down from the top of the tray. This allows for the approximate twenty (20’) feet to reach the sidewalk.

– The Nozzle Firefighter and Driver/Backup Firefighter go in opposite directions (Triple Split) with the loop and nozzle. This allows for short setback deployments.

– When choosing which way to separate the triple layer on the walkway, consider the need for the loop to advance with the building, not against.

Attack to the left inside the breezeway/recess. The excess hose gets placed opposite of fire apartment.
Attack to the right inside the breezeway/recess. The excess hose gets placed on opposite side of fire apartment.
Attack to the right inside the breezeway/recess. The excess hose gets placed on opposite side of fire apartment.

 

– When Backup/Driver is pulling the loop section of the Triple Layer to the opposite side of the fire building, keep pulling it until the fifty (50’) foot coupling is at the entry to the breezeway/recessed area. This will allow the Nozzleman to walk in a straight path to the entry point and keep all remaining 100’ of hose in usable position in the yard.

– On the return trip to the pump panel or relocating to the front door for Doorman position, the last parts of the hose is placed onto the sidewalk/walk space to allow for clearance once the hose gets charged.

– The 50’ coupling is brought to the front door, with the accordion style layout in the open area between the stairs and building.

Set up for left handed apartment attack. Notice the remaining 100’ will move easier into the building with the direction of movement, as opposed to against the direction of movement.
Set up for left handed apartment attack. Notice the remaining 100’ will move easier into the building with the direction of movement, as opposed to against the direction of movement.
Set up for right-handed apartment attack. The accordion style deployment allows for minimal kinking in open area of recess/ breezeway.
Set up for right-handed apartment attack. The accordion style deployment allows for minimal kinking in open area of recess/ breezeway.

 

– If the 2nd-floor apartment is the apartment, take the nozzle and 50’ coupling to the top of the landing. This will further prove the need for the Backup/Driver to pull the looped section far enough to align the 50’ coupling with the base of the stairs.

With these steps, the training evolution was completed in approximately 1 minute from the time the parking brake was pulled. This is an easy way to allow for the needless pulling of the Triple Layer in a straight line, causing multiple steps to place in proper position.

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The key to this process, as with any new training elements, is getting out and practicing. Finding those landmarks on the truck, the direction of the loop placement, and placement of the final layout in the yard or on the landing are the fundamentals to making this stretch successful. Unfortunately, many things in these types of properties will reach up and grab anything on the hose layout to hinder the progress. Couplings get caught on the edge of parking blocks, hoses get pulled under tires, etc. By moving the stretch to the fire building side of the obstructions, the layout will transition smoother with fewer locations for Murphy’s Law to apply.

– Joel Richardson

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Inc. Yourself

A long time ago I was given the advice of “Inc.” yourself.  Sounds kind of strange, but let me explain.  

You see, in order for a company to grow and survive in the economy they must continue to create and give value to customers and investors alike.   Without offering them any value, they aren’t worth much to anyone.

Nowhere is this analogy more important than for the aspiring firefighter.  There are thousands of potential candidates going for only a few spots at career fire departments.  Among other things, you will have to articulate why a department should spend the time, money and effort on hiring you onto their department?

If you don’t  have a good answer to that, then you’re really going to struggle in the interview, but more on that later.

A better, or perhaps easier, way to think of this is to think of what valuable skills or knowledge would you bring to a department.  If you don’t have any skills or value, what can you begin doing to create value for yourself and a future department?

If you can’t think of any, here’s some to get you started…

  • Become an EMT-B

  • Become a Paramedic

  • Get your Firefighter 1 & 2 and beyond

  • Become extremely fit

  • Make friends in the fire service

  • Get a job working in an ER (where you’ll be exposed to a lot of firefighters)

  • Pick up useful hobbies (being mechanical, building construction, diving, ropes, radios, etc.)

The best way to boost your perceived value is experience, and at this point, you should be doing everything you can to get on a volunteer/part-time department or at the very least somehow become involved with one.

The next best way to boost your value to a department is to get some kind of EMS certification.  As with most things, the more you do, the more valuable you become.mastering-the-firefighter-interview-cover

In short, fire science degrees look great, but I’ve never seen a department that required one to get hired.  

Unfortunately, if you go to any school counselor, they will put you on an educational track that takes a lot of time, and doesn’t necessarily get you the results you want.

If you are looking to stand out in a sea of average applicants the best way to do that is to be a Paramedic.  A lot of departments don’t require you to have your Paramedic certification ahead of time, but like it or not, today’s fire service is moving more and more towards integrating Fire and EMS protection into one service.

Staying ahead of this curve not only makes you smart but allows you to stand out.

If you’re wondering where you can go in your area to get started on an EMS certification a quick google search of “EMT classes in ______” should point you in the right direction.

While a lot of the larger departments out there will send you to their own fire academy whether or not you have experience; I don’t recommend putting all your eggs in the one basket of getting hired at a large department and going through their fire academy.

A lot of smaller departments will require you to have some form of fire education.

This is where I highly recommend going to a Fire Academy.  Fire Academies are usually a few months in length and will give you the necessary education and training (for your particular state) to be certified as a firefighter.

The main difference between this and a Fire Science program is that a Fire Academy is more direct.  They give you all of the classroom and hands-on experience to be a firefighter in the shortest amount of time possible.  Degrees in Fire Science usually take more time (at least 2 years) and may or may not give you the necessary certification to get hired (depends on the school and the program).

Other ways to separate yourself from the crowd is to acquire special knowledge or skills.  This isn’t as important as your EMS certifications, but having excellent mechanical skills, knowledge of construction, plumbing (or any of the trades), ropes or really any sort of skills that would be used daily at a fire department can go a long way.

Regardless of your skills, knowledge, and experience, you must be able to articulate these in a way that is unique and memorable to a panel of interviewers.  Mastering the Firefighter Interview will show you exactly what is necessary to stand out from the sea of other candidates and get hired.  Click here to grab your free cheat sheet to get you on your way!

 

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Decisions

Our daily lives are completely reliant on decisions. Before we awaken, we have made a decision. Are we rising early to prepare for the day, or did we decide to sleep late and run behind? We decide to come to work on time or early. We decide to prepare ourselves physically. We decide to display pride in our craft. We decide to meticulously inspect our equipment, or we decide to do the exact opposite.

Did we decide to be lazy? Does drinking coffee and checking our Facebook take precedence over preparing to save a life? Does reading the latest article on celebrity gossip trump the duty you have to your brothers, to ensure you are not going to endanger them? Do we decide to spend more time armchair quarterbacking the decisions of others than making the right decision to drill our personnel to the point in which they cannot fail?

These decisions leave us at a crossroads on a daily basis take the easy path….or the right path. A friend of mine uses the saying, “The beaten path is for beaten people.” This is the heart of what’s wrong with the fire service as a whole. We’d rather concede and give people an excuse than hold them to a higher standard. That’s a decision in itself. Unfortunately for some, a difficult one to make. It should be automatic for us.

Every morning we should make the decision to go upstream, against the current. We must decide every morning not just to survive, but to thrive in a world where most would fear to go. Our job is to protect lives on both sides of the cross. If we choose the beaten path, we make a conscious decision to take the easy way out, to run the risk of having to live with ourselves knowing we allowed someone to be unprepared for the dangerous line of work we have. At no point, can we allow ourselves to let laziness be the order of the day.

Instead, we must DECIDE to awaken with a purpose. DECIDE to prepare for the worst possible scenario, physically, mentally, technically and spiritually. We must decide to make basic skills an autonomous response to stress. We must ensure we can make sound tactical decisions. This comes from deciding to prepare accordingly, deciding to prepare for your preparation of the unknown. As for me, I have decided that moderation is for cowards. I have decided that stronger people are harder to kill. I have decided that I will not waiver from my standards and expectations. I have decided that I will train with the intensity necessary to perform at a level higher than others. I have decided that I want to be the guy with the hard job, the crappy gear, the guy who can do more damage with a Halligan than most can with hydraulic tools. I want to be the guy everyone looks up to when the shit hits the fan. That’s my decision.

So, gentlemen, the day is yours……what did you decide?

-Jason Hurley