Special Operations Training Ideas

When dealing in fire department Special Operations, we must constantly be thinking outside the box when it comes to new innovative training ideas that push our boundaries and keep our heads where they need to be. It is tough sometimes to come up with new ideas that will stimulate and challenge our members. Below are a couple of easy drills that you can do at your firehouse that will keep your guys on their toes and get them thinking.

Impalement on Rope

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An ironworker slips and falls impaling himself 6 stories up….. the only way to access him…. rope rescue.

Nothing like ramping up a drill you have done 1000 times! Standard pick off’s can sometimes become a “going through the motions” drill for good crews, it is important to constantly push your members to the next level on the training ground…. an easy way to do that with pick off’s is to add new elements to it. Adding new elements/challenges will push your members out of their comfort zone and push their capabilities to the next level.

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An impalement on rope is a great way to push it to the next level. Some issues that you can come across while doing this are:

  • Will the Rescue Diaper/Yates Harness/LSP fit on the patient with the impalement in the way? A good chance to get away from using that “one way” that we always do!
  • What cutting tool are you going to use?
  • How are you gonna get tools to the rescuer?
  • How are you gonna handle blade or battery changes?

This drill can be done with several different types of metals that will require different cutting tools to be used.

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Confined Space Cutting and Tool Usage

This one was passed along by Lt. Grant Light from Cincinnati Heavy Rescue 9.

When talking about machine rescue or collapse rescue we are forced to use tools and equipment in tough and awkward positions, this drill is all about teaching members to use our cutting tools in these awkward positions in spaces where it is tough to see and move.

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The drill is an easy one. Pay attention when you are out in your first due for anyone throwing out a fridge, freezer, stove, etc. Place the appliance at the end of a small piece of corrugated tubing and ratchet strap the appliance to the end of the tube so that it does not move.

Now you can use as many different cutting tools as you can to make the hole large enough to pass a rescuer through. To make the drill even more difficult you can stick metal or other stuff inside the appliance that will have to be cut.

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Mini Shoring for Collapse Rescue

Collapse rescue can be very costly, especially when it comes to training and drilling with your crew. Lets be honest not many departments have the luxury of being able to go out and build full size collapse rescue systems out of full dimensional lumber on a monthly basis.

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An easy way to still be able to drill, and keep this stuff in your guys heads is to build mini version of these shoring systems. You can use just regular lumber that you have laying around or you can buy actual to scale model wood from hobby shops.

This will give you the opportunity to work out load calculations, angles, nail patterns, etc.

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Remember that this does NOT in anyway replace your standard collapse training, this is simply a quick 1 hour refresher drill to keep this stuff fresh in everyone’s mind.

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Just a couple small ideas that can help keep your crew on their toes!

Till next time, training is everything!

Andrew Brassard

Milton Fire Department

Pumper 31

 

 

Rogues- By: Mark vonAppen

Rogues

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By Mark vonAppen

I believe firefighters can be placed into 3 categories in terms of engagement and leadership.  Generally speaking: 

  • 25% believe in (or pretend to believe in) current leadership staff
  •  35% have no faith in (some of them even hate) the leadership staff
  •  40% could go either way given strong direction and leadership 


Of the 35% that contains the haters, there is a very temperamental subset that can have a profound impact on organizational chemistry. 


The most important firefighters to capture are the rogue leaders, those passionate individuals who, if ignored, can be savage and destructive forces on the team.  Like it or not, your truest leaders are not always the ones who do exactly as they are told or what the book says is right every single time. Your best leaders are not necessarily “yes men”.  The best leaders are functionally intelligent, independent thinkers who scare the shit out of micro-managers.

People gravitate toward strong personalities, not drones who do just exactly what is expected of them and nothing more.  Some of the strongest leaders among us have pushed it right to the edge and some have even gotten kicked off of the team.  Passion is energy; channelling that energy in a way to best suit the needs of the team is the key to overall success.  Some of history’s most influential leaders were agents of evil, I sure-as-hell don’t want them on my team.  In order to bring the rogues home, you must first understand who they are.

Rogues are driven by passion.  Sometimes, your informal, real leaders wind up getting chapped by positional leaders who don’t know what to do with them.  Rogues have a lot of energy and original ideas, because of this they are seen as trouble makers who rock the boat.  They ask questions. They can be found training by themselves or in tight-knit misunderstood groups.  They are often your highest fireground performers because their passion and drive for perfection won’t let them stop training and learning.  They are students of the craft in the truest sense.  The rogue believes that when your job has the potential to take your life, you had best make it your life’s work.  Rogues are intolerant of those who do not understand their drive or respect the craft.

Communication, trust, and confidentiality are the keys to success in any leadership endeavor, but particularly when dealing with the bristly rogue.  Cultivating trust in the firehouse is a must have if we seek an elite level of performance.

Each rogue leader must be engaged individually.  Build trust by treating everyone as unique, and shower them with genuine interest.  Place these fiery leaders in positions where they have the best chance of affecting others with their strength, their passion for the craft.  They must feel that the organization will not quit on them, even when they overstep their bounds.  The deal breaker is if the rogue does harm to the team, this cannot be tolerated.  The obligation of the informal leader is to make every effort to try to contribute to the success of the team.  People must feel that the leader is speaking to them individually even as the leader is addressing an entire  group. Trust and connection must be built and it might take a while.

How do you develop trust?

  • Communication
  • Honesty – most rogues have something in their career that has made them jaded, be honest or you’ll lose them forever
  • Create stakeholders – include informal leaders in the planning process
  • Clearly communicate the plan and then execute it 
  • Mutual exchange – have expectations of the individual and allow them to have expectations of positional leaders
  • Accountability  
  • Patience
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Rogue leaders can have the greatest influence on the firehouse.  Their infectious, passionate personalities are magnetic.  People are pulled in when they speak and they will emulate their actions. If you are able to rein in their energy for the positive, and are genuinely interested in helping them succeed for the good of all; then you will have an ally for life.  If you double-cross or lie to them you will have an enemy for eternity.  Trust is the biggest factor in getting and keeping rogues engaged.   

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Do your job 
Treat people right
Give all out effort 
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Rogue leaders have loaded dispositions that can either aid in leading the group forward or act to tear the team apart.  The key is taking all of that energy and focusing it in the right direction before it goes sideways from lack of exercise and frustration.  Rogues just need someone they can trust and who truly believes in them.  People follow passion much more readily than rules.  Find your most passionate people and bring them on board.  True progress is made when passion and lofty goals meet planning and expectations.
Be sure to check out Mark’s website : http://mark-vonappen.blogspot.ca/2013/12/rogues.html?m=1

Tactical Safety for Firefighters- Three Mile Bridge

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Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack

Three Mile Bridge

The fire service is always traveling by bridge as it heads back and forth on topics of concern and popularity and for the passage of new ideas. The direction of the bridge traffic is two way or bidirectional and changes depending upon which debate direction you’re heading in. The bridge comes with two lanes on each side so that slower traffic can keep to the right allowing new ideas to pass on the left.

While we can’t see the other side of the bridge until we have moved at least half way across, it doesn’t mean that when we arrive on the other side we have changed our minds. We must; however, travel the full span of the bridge before we decide if we will turn around and head back or stay.

The debates that rage in the fire service may seem so legacy to some; however, all debate is good. The reason debate is good is because it shows interest. For those that debate, your opinions matter and even with voices raised, ideas can come through. If you debate because you wish to change minds, just make sure that yours is as open as you hope others are.

Cause champions attempt to collate support from like minded thinkers so that the message, often made brief for mass consumption, will be swallowed up more quickly. With campaigns and causes, we need to examine not only their direction, but the final destination they’re headed toward. If you cannot figure out their means and motivation, then maybe you should not climb aboard. Sometimes you will have to look far ahead to see where some ideas are truly headed, and that is not a task for a distracted driver.

Independent thought is often bullied by organizational media control while only giving exception to enablers. Organizations make claims of success and victory that don’t materialize while then attempting to push reconstructed messages for improved results. Bridge traffic can be heavy and slow at times. It is up to the individual firefighter to make sure that when they change lanes or merge with new ideas, they are not just doing so because everyone else is.

When you travel the three mile bridge, the toll is paid in both directions, and while exact change is preferred by many, change agents are there for those that may take something back from the ideas of others.

Have a Tactically Safe Holiday

Keep Fire in Your Life

Tactical Safety: Charge-Bleed-Attack

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Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack

Charge – Bleed – Attack

These are the three last steps you take as an engine company on your way to fire extinguishment. That is the order – NOT attack, charge, bleed.

You charge your hoseline, you bleed the excess entrained air from the line and you attack the fire.

Charging the line is more than pulling a handle. It involves knowing what size line has been pulled and how much hose has been stretched and the type of nozzle being used. Those are the big numbers that the pump operator must calculate so that your hoseline has the correct pressure. Elevation and target flow requirements finish off the equation.

Bleeding a hoseline is a step you should take seriously. The amount of flow is measured at this step. Remember that this step should be a solo act as your backup may be busy finishing off the stretch and pulling a kink free while you’re setting any pattern and noting the breakover point. This step also tells you that the many parts involved in giving you extinguishment power over the fire are present and provides the visual proof of your attack stream.

Attack is fire attack – the last of the three components and built upon Charge and Bleed. This is the moment of truth for all fire departments. Can you extinguish the fire? You may or may not be successful with the extinguishment; however, if you consistently take the time to build it correctly, you are on the right path. Many nozzle teams get the preparation wrong and are often lucky to get attack done, but for those that build a solid foundation, attack success will come more often. Attack doesn’t vary much from the streets of New York to the suburbs of California. It is the determination and talent of that nozzle team that makes it happen. Preparation before push off is also a talent.

Not all firefighters are equal. Some rush the details and then shake their heads when it doesn’t work out. When it’s your turn, take the steps that lead to enhanced extinguishment capability and improved tactical safety.
Keep Fire in Your Life

Photo by Robert Mitts

Orlando Fire Conference

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What a Great Conference at a Great Price. You can attend the Full three day Leadership Symposium for $150, that’s only $50 a day. Chief David Rhodes and Chief Mike Lombardo. Two fire ground Leaders. These two are your Firefighters, Firefighter.

Would Sign Up Soon, before the classes fill up.

2014 Program Details

http://www.orlandofireconference.com

General Session Seminar $50, February 27

0900-1700 at host hotel. Speakers include:
- David Rhodes, Atlanta Fire Department: “Decision Making”
- Paul Capo, Clearwater Fire Department: “When Things Go Bad”
- Jay Bettencourt, Asheville (NC) Fire Department: “Lessons Learned from a LODD”

Hands-On-Training $285, February 28 – March 1

Price includes admission to the February 27 General Session, locations TBA, lunch provided. Courses Offered:
- Air Consumption & Emergency Survival (A.C.E.S.): 16 hours
- Heavy Rescue: 16 hours
– RIT: 8 hours
- Advanced Engine Operations: 8 hours
- Fire Fundamentals: 8 hours
- Vertical Fire Attack: 8 hours
- Truck Company Operations: 8 hours
- Vent, Enter, Search: 8 hours
- Fireground Survival: 8 hours

Leadership Symposium $150, February 28 – March 1

Price includes admission to the February 27 General Session. Speakers Include:
- Mike Lombardo, former Fire Commissioner, Buffalo FD
- David Rhodes, Atlanta FD
- John Miller, Fire Chief, Orlando FD
- Jimm Walsh, Division Chief, Winter Park FD
– Jeff Day, District Chief, Orlando FD
- Paul Capo, Lieutenant, Clearwater FD
- Sean Gray, Lieutenant, Cobb County (GA) FD

March 1, 2013: Fire Up The Night Block Party

Events TBA

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Tactical Safety for Firefighters- It’s About Nozzle Reach, Not Stream Reach

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Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack
It’s About Nozzle Reach, Not Stream Reach

While stream reach gets all the attention, and most of it well deserved, it can fool you into stretching short. Stream reach does not equal extinguishment. Nozzle reach equals extinguishment.

While the ability to hit distant fire by incorporating the reach of the stream is a common fire attack method, we need more. Those that use transitional attack often fall short of final extinguishment and extending fire because they use stream reach instead of nozzle reach as their stretch criteria.

Because not every fire exists in a three sided alley where stream reach is the only factor we might need, nozzle reach and mobility for placement at the seat of the fire is what is needed at the majority of structural fires. The reach of the stream used to attack the fire will typically run from far away to up close. However if you concentrate on stream reach only, you will be good at inline extinguishment only.

We need to realize that the nozzle needs to be able to access all areas that the hoseline was stretched to cover. Hoseline stretches must cover the fire area with the nozzle; not stream reach. We must not only have the capability to hit a fire in a room, we must have enough line to enter and move to any spot in that room with the nozzle. This is why hoseline estimation and line support are so important at a fire. To almost have enough line to reach the fire doesn’t work. We must be able to get close to the fire area and inside the fire area to complete extinguishment and battle extension.

Including stream reach into your extinguishment plan is fine for exterior fires and fires you don’t plan on getting up close and personal with at the moment; however, when you stretch a line inside to extinguish the fire at its base and cover extension, you need that nozzle right there so that you are maximizing your protection and extinguishment capability. Knowing your streams scrub area is important, but it is not enough to finish the job. Nozzle reach within the fire area is king. The line needs to be long enough so that it can rapidly move to where it is needed, and many times that includes more than one hot spot.

When you estimate your hose stretch, do it for what you will need inside the building. Do not estimate your hose stretch on outside access and stream reach. Hoseline support becomes important especially when a transitional approach is used because that charged line will now have to be repositioned to the interior; however, line support will not do you much good when the stretch is short because the estimate was incorrect. It is always improves your tactical safety when you anticipate the need for more hose so that the nozzle can go wherever you need it to go inside the building.

Keep Fire in Your Life

Photo Barry McRoy

Stretching Responsibly- Jim Allen ECFR Engine 3

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STRETCHING RESPONSIBLY 
 
    As every firefighter has probably been informed, the correct stretching of the attack handline is of critical importance. The incorrect stretching of a handline, should be immediately noticed and corrected by a firefighter on scene. Anyone who witnesses a line being stretched incorrectly, HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY to correct the nozzleman after the fire.
    There are many aspects to be considered when stretching; however, this discussion is about the correct way to finish the stretch. The nozzle firefighter will stretch, flake the line, and place the nozzle at the door; these three aspects are correct, but they do not complete the stretch. It is of vital importance, after placing the nozzle, that the nozzleman bring the first fifty foot coupling to the door. When the coupling and the nozzle are at the door; fifty feet of hose is available, to ease in maneuverability and to prevent the coupling from getting caught on obstacles in the front yard. Fifty feet of hose will typically reach all the rooms, in common style homes.
    If you observe a line being stretched incorrectly, or a nozzle team preparing to enter, without the fifty feet (working length) at the the door, YOU NEED TO CORRECT IT AT THAT MOMENT. Take the time to get the coupling in the correct place; this will help to insure the nozzle team is not delayed in reaching the main body of fire. Things to consider with a delayed hose team are: (1) fire will travel towards the door the team entered, increasing damage and fire intensity ; (2) conditions inside worsen for firefighters and possible victims ; (3) instead of backing up the nozzleman, searching, or checking fire conditions- the backup man is now tasked with mitigating unnecessary problems.
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   If you witness an incorrect stretch, you need to speak to the nozzle firefighter and explain the mistakes. We have the job of holding each other accountable. I see two common problems on this job today: (1) Some firefighters will not take responsibility when they are wrong ( “it is someone else’s fault”). (2) Some firefighters are afraid or unwilling, to correct someone for a mistake. You need to be an adult, when you screw up- step up. No one has a right to say one word about something that is wrong, if they are not willing to say it to the person who is doing wrong.
Firefighter Jim Allen
Escambia County Fire Rescue
Engine 3

Tactical Safety for Firefighters- A Sacred Bond

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A Sacred Bond

Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack

While the fire service tries to figure out how much firefighting it can stand and which line to pull, there is a heavier burden to bear and that is commitment-the commitment of protection of your fellow firefighters while attached to a hoseline. There is a sacred bond between an engine crew and the firefighters they protect. This bond is sacred and must not be broken.

Any fire can challenge your crew beyond what you thought possible. You must work at developing challenges in the training phase so that when the reality phase kicks in, you are prepared. For those that believe all extinguishment issues are solved through the looking glass, please take a deeper look. Your people must also be morally tough so that when the chips start to fall, they can throw up a temporary shore, at the very least, for those who might otherwise be trapped.

When the bond snaps, we need to know why. There are few things tougher to do than hold your position at some fires, but hold you must. An engine company provides protection and saves lives. When the bond breaks, the repair may never come. Keep Your Bond Sacred

Keep Fire in Your Life