Curt Isakson will be teaching the day before and day after as part of the three day Leadership & Tactics Conference. Wanted to open this one day for individuals to attend just this one day class. You can still register for $250 to attend all three days. Class starts at 08:30 each day and has been moved to the Hilton Ballroom A .
Strategic Command is critical for the not so Bread & Butter incidents. Having an Office that can manage the rapidly changing conditions and a stationary place to assist in designating who will be tasked with what is of the upmost importance for a good outcome. The Fire Service seems to want one size/type fits all and that just doesn’t work with the diversity of districts and staffing. Then add in the diversity of incidents and we should understand that some incidents will need Tactical Command and some will need
Or West-coast and East-coast Command types. We need both and should understand both. There is no one size fits all. Tactics Put Out Fires and the proper command can enhance all companies Tactical abilities through Great Coaching with pre-incident training that covers apparatus positioning and incident assignments based on arrival. How prepared are you for the Big One?
A recent demonstration video from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services about the importance of fire prevention and how quickly a simulated room fire burns brings up some interesting questions. These questions bridge topics such as how firefighters operate their handlines, the use of containers for realism, flow discharges and nozzle patterns.
This video was a demonstration of fire and smoke spread in a home and the dangers associated with that. It was not about extinguishment tactics. The video doesn’t show the complete extinguishment of the fire. It is assumed that keeping the room setting as intact as possible was a prerequisite for extinguishment.
Interior fire extinguishment was delivered using tactics that are typically considered foreign to the American fire service.
Handline operation on an interior room varies depending upon methodology. Regardless of the set constraints a style of extinguishment was used by the firefighter. What was seen in the edited video is an elongated extinguishment process.
Current best practice calls for an initial high stream hit into the ceiling to lower room temperatures and kill fire gas flame over. While many American fire departments utilize or will soon utilize such an approach we still battle against training videos that get that wrong. When bad information is put out on either shore we accelerate a narrative that says fire research is valueless.
Realism of container trainers can be more true to life if lined with contemporary wall finishes and not just high steam producing bare metal. The small room sizes and large open air fourth walls often found in CFBT training videos can lead to distorted results.
Nozzle flows vary dramatically between CFBT training, European departments and the standard American FD. Concern over too much water being flowed during both fire approach and room extinguishment is often cited by low flow nozzle enthusiasts. The use of short burst or pulsing to achieve both entry and extinguishment is favored and has long been extolled by CFBT as the way to go. Low flow bursts on fire approach is a currently best practice in many training courses that I believe is both dangerous and leans to close to a failure tipping point.
This fire demonstrations extinguishment most likely would have been handled differently in the US, the end result of course would be the same, but the difference in extinguishment practice is where further exploration is needed.
Fog streams vs straight streams have been debated for years and with demonstration walls missing the negative effects of fog streams often go unseen. Increased fire loads and changing construction practices may bring both continents closer to a shared extinguishment style than another decade of low flow pulsing container demos ever could.
A fading ART
A fading ART
BY BILL MANNING
Technology can be a good thing, but it`s not the only thing. I write on a computer, but it doesn`t make me Hemingway.
The artist needs his tools–good tools, and enough of them–but Homer Simpson with a finely crafted precision brush will never approximate Picasso.
And so it is with the fire service and the rapidly becoming lost art of firefighting.
I have long thought about the art side of the business. It`s the really exciting part. A recent conversation reminded me that the same nozzle placed in the hands of two different people can yield very different results on the same fire. There are good nozzlemen and not-so-good nozzlemen. There are artists, and there are Picasso wannabes with nice tools.
Firefighting is in fact an art, a brutal art though it is. The nozzleman artist cannot predict how exactly he will achieve rapid knockdown of a particular fire in a given structure. The firefighting art is an instantaneously evolving, second-by-second process. What makes it even more appealing is that you never play the music the same way twice and it takes an orchestra to do it right.
I`m not surprised that the art seems to have been given a back-row seat in this fire service. In our culture, it`s easy to trace a growing acceptance of technology passed off as the art itself. We`ve grown so enamored of the computer chip we`ve almost forgotten how to think. We must, of course, be a better fire service because our tools are so much more sophisticated and refined than they were 30 years ago.
Identifying why fireground injury and death rates have increased in the past two decades will spark spirited discussion, but I submit simply that the root of this disturbing trend is our diminishing number of artists and our reluctance to cultivate them.
Firefighting is seen by most as strictly a technical endeavor. That`s far from true. Though fireground success is realized in part through muscle and technical use of powerful hardware, the creative, mental aspects of the job are most often the real difference between life and death or between a single- and multiple-alarm fire. Often those who make the real difference somehow “just feel it”: The “softer side of firefighting” is no oxymoron, and it is not exclusive to customer service initiatives and so on.
But the fire service as a whole operates in ceaseless pursuit of a quick technological fix that never comes. What is the newest technology that will answer all our firefighting problems?
We comfort ourselves with this approach because it`s easier and places less responsibility where it belongs. Art is hard. The total commitment it demands runs counter to a distracted fire service that really doesn`t want to fight fires anymore.
And it shows. The records are littered with fireground failures proving that the artistry is in short supply. When we say “get back to basics,” we don`t just mean “let`s practice handline stretches” but also “let`s rediscover the thinking, creative, art side of firefighting.” The Tom Brennans of this world–the rare treasures–are what they are because they know the well-played handline stretch exists as an integral harmony within the orchestral score–a beautiful piece of music.
Today everyone is a “technician” of some sort. We`re missing a vital point.
Technology and technical expertise are very important. We must continue to seek new innovations and improve technical proficiency. Be certain, however, that the best nozzle or pump or fan or extinguishing agent or thermal imager–and just being certified to use them–cannot and never will substitute for the experienced, well-trained firefighter artist.