Tactical Safety- The Stockholm Department


Tactical Safety for Firefighters

The Stockholm Department

By Ray McCormack

The Stockholm Syndrome is something people who are held hostage for a period of time can experience. It was named after a group of bank employees were held hostage for six days in Sweden and how, after a time, hostages will often empathize with their captors. Firefighters are no different in how they will defend and support their department even when it’s hard for others to grasp.

A close-up lens is a wonderful thing because it provides an intimate view without a contrasting background. We all have our beliefs on fire attack and the procedural methods to accomplish it. If you look at how a department operates, you will see similar fire attacks, not just because of SOP’s, but because of belief.

If a department changes like the wind, it probably had a weak stand on tactics in the first place. Some are constantly looking for something and ending up with too many options. If you see a department that doesn’t change much, that is not necessary a bad thing. It is just that change often has a lot to prove before it is implemented.

Departments that operate under a system that many progressives would cringe over must realize that they are doing it their way too. They are just as much hostages as the constantly changing department is, but for different reasons.

The first department is subject to constant change while the other is married to routine. The problem with the first system is that they will probably keep changing and adopting all types of tactics creating a vast options menu and a very confused officer core. The second group has no such confusion and while they may appear to some as very legacy, they operate with a broad understanding of capability and uniformity of fire attack and are slow to take on new options.

All will defend what they do, they have no choice. It’s what they believe in. The bigger question is will the first department ever get it straight and when will the second department ever modify? Neither will until they are released from their own captivity.

Keep Fire in Your Life

Hi Lift Jacks

Hi Lift Jacks are a tremendous tool in our rescue “tool box”, they have a great lift capacity and they have a tremendous amount of lifting/spreading/pulling distance that they can travel. I think that this tool has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years and I think that allot of it has to do with our over reliance on Air Bags as our primary lifting tool. For me though I feel that the Hi Lift Jack gives much more versatility than allot of people know about and they have tons of applications on the rescue ground.

Pulling Tool
The Hi lift jack can make a great pulling tool as well as a lifting tool; using some chain and shackles it can become extremely useful at pulling or lifting heavy loads also. Several different attachments can be bought to allow you to attach chain to with ease.

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Lowering the Center of Gravity and Extending the Reach
One of the biggest complaints about the jacks is that they can become unstable at height because of the center of gravity rising. One awesome attachment that I have seen is the OJ Sleeve. The OJ Sleeve got its roots from Retired Battalion Chief Ron Zawlocki of the Pontiac, Michigan Fire Department. I first saw it at a Machinery Rescue Class in Howell, Michigan. The design came out of necessity, when you think about it we have a bunch of great options for lifting things that are relatively close to the ground. We have air bags, bottle jacks, hydraulic spreaders, etc…. all these tools are great and provide a tremendous amount of lifting power, but they all have very minimal spreading distance and they can only lift very minimally off the ground with out cribbing. The OJ Sleeve solves the problem of lifting and spreading loads that are beyond 4 ft off the ground… extremely fast!



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The sleeve is a homemade sleeve and it is made to hold a 4×4 of any length vertically, this makes an awesome lifting post and it keeps the center of gravity in the lifting carriage extremely low to the ground increasing its stability.

The OJ Sleeve has a ton of uses such as:
• Closing the gap without using tons of cribbing
• Lifting things at height
• Pushing
• Stabilizing




The other great thing about Hi Lift Jacks is that they require no exterior power source other than muscle power. They do not require set up… they are simple and are always ready to work. I also love the fact that they will work in any condition, smoky conditions for RIT, under and around water, etc.

The Hi Lift Jack is a fantastic tool and has tons of uses, so dust them off and get them out of the compartment where they have been for years and train on them…. Use them to

Tactical Safety: No Two Fires Are The Same


Tactical Safety for Firefighters

No Two Fires Are The Same

By Ray McCormack

Have you heard the phrase, “No Two Fires Are The Same”? It is not true!

There are plenty of fires that are the same. They may not be identical , but they are very much alike. This statement, like others, has taken on a life of its own and, if strictly adhered to and believed, can impact negatively on fireground operations.

Unless your response area contains completely custom one-of-a-kind homes, then your department has experienced some fires that were the same.

While the postal couriers motto talks about rain, snow, sleet and gloom of night never impacting the swift completion of their rounds, the same is not true of the fireground. Time of day, weather, etc. impact us, but the fire’s location within the dwelling type doesn’t vary. A kitchen fire in a ranch in a neighborhood of predominantly ranch style houses is just that, a repeatable similar fire. A second floor rear bedroom fire in a condo among hundreds just like it in a development is the same fire.

The effect on operational safety comes when we firmly believe the statement that no two fires are the same and therefore do not take the time to evaluate our response area to discover the occupancies that are similar and develop SOGs for such building fires.

What happens next is that a lack of SOGs impacts efficient operations and the dispatching of tactics which then must be ordered instead of being intuitive. When everyone is awaiting the most remedial of orders, we will experience delays and delays equal fire growth in this business. Never had a fire that was the same as another? Think again!

Keep Fire in Your Life