Firefighter Rescue Survey Update, Chief Brian Brush, The Initial Results Are In

After two months of data collection, the results from the Firefighter Rescue Survey graduate research project continue to justify “It’s Worth The Risk”. Firefighters are rescuing significant numbers of civilians from fires in residential homes. We congratulate these Firefighters for putting the civilians first and providing them a chance to live another day.

To keep our readers in touch with this important data, We feel it is important for our readers to have direct access to Chief Brush’s most recent posts to influence and motivate those throughout their chain of command to put the citizens first. CountyFireTactics.com has created a page right here on our site for you to find the most recent updates from Firefighter Rescue Survey.

Across the United States between January 1st, 2021, and February 28th, 2021, Firefighters rescued a total of 594 civilians. Chief Brush has coined these statistics as “Fire Service Wins”. This is the first time someone has academically tracked this type of data.

  • 282 people rescued from Single Family and Mobile homes
  • 312 people rescued from Multi-Family dwellings
  • 10+ people rescued daily for the past eight weeks.

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RIT Deployment “Firefighter Triage”

The Ultimate Test!

RIT DEPLOYMENT

Firefighters rescue civilians everyday from the interior of a working structure fire and SAVE a lot of lives by going interior to suppress and search for trapped occupants. Saving Lives is our top priority and this is the reason civilians respect firefighters so much. Respect is huge and should not be taken likely. It’s not easy to earn, but can easily be lost. I think generally most civilians respect the average firefighter and place them on a pedestal in comparison to other occupations. Firefighters should respect this and work to continue this admiration that has been placed on our calling. I appreciate the admiration/respect that most civilians give us, but it is not what I’m looking for in relation to earning respect/admiration. The civilian is very high on my priority list, but the firefighters I’m responsible for are VERY high on this same list and they frequently RISK their lives to save others; and I want to feel confident, that I have the abilities to command a Firefighter Rescue Operation “Mayday”. I view this, as the ultimate test that I may face one day as a Fire Ground Commander. I literally think about it every single day. I study previous Maydays and RIT OPERATIONS. I also do a lot of WHAT IFs???? What if this happens, What if that happens and how would I/we deal with that. I don’t think we can do, to much What if thinking.

 

Recently I gave notice to my battalion that we would be performing a RIT DRILL and gave them some of the details. I explained it would involve a down firefighter, trapped in a collapse. That they would be required to use airbags in a low visibility environment, under challenging conditions. They were given a few weeks to prepare/ train however they deemed necessary.

The drill consisted of two firefighters trapped in a basement under a simulated collapse. We used couches with bags of concrete as weight to simulate a floor on top of rescue dummies. One of the dummies/down firefighters strictly had a mask on and no airpack. Ten feet away was another dummy/down firefighter with airpack and mask on. The bell was ringing or had just ran out once the RIT makes it down into the basement. We also had smoke detectors and pass devices sounding. This is critical for firefighters to learn the difference between a pass and a smoke detector. Smoke detectors can cause a false attraction and delay air/ rescue to a trapped firefighter. Once the RIT locates the down firefighter they must ID, check air, and silence the pass. These three priorities should almost be done together and reported to command. History tells us that we could find additional firefighters other than the one or ones that called a mayday. Historically a large number of firefighters have been located that never transmitted a call for HELP ” MayDay”.

During the drill, each RIT found the firefighter with strictly a mask on first. They did the above priorities the best they could. They were unable to ID the firefighter, because the firefighter was not properly marked. YES, properly marked. All firefighters operating on the fire ground should have their name on the bottom part of mask, front piece, and lower part of bunker coat. In addition to this, each air pack should be marked with company designation on the bottle band and front shoulder strap. With these markings, it should be fairly easy to ID a down firefighter and confirm the company they are assigned to. It still amazes me how many fire departments do not properly ID their firefighters. I have operated on the fire ground with both and it is a huge difference when firefighters are visibly marked.

Back to the drill.

Once the RIT gets the first firefighter on air and silences the pass, they hear a second pass ten feet away and this down firefighter has a fully operational airpack, that is very low on air or has just ran out. This is where the RIT has a serious decision to make. Do they try and get RIT PACK between the two and provide regulator to mask of first firefighter and trans-fill the second firefighter. This would be a Great option, but in this scenario, I purposely spread the two just enough that the RIT hoses would not reach. I wanted them to decide, yes down firefighter TRIAGE. Nobody wants to talk about it. Yes, everyone goes home. They just might not go home alive. This is a reality and we must train to save those that can be saved. We do it with civilians and we may be faced with this same situation during a RIT operation. I placed Chief Mcnames picture on my screen saver in December of 1999 and left it up for almost a year. I looked at his picture everyday and thought about the decisions he faced and the ones he made that night. I have never met him, but he has impacted my career and voyage to prepare for the ULTIMATE test. So do we disconnect the first firefighter, go trans fill the second, to then return to the first and re hook up the regulator?? I’m not sure, each situation could be different. Location, previous radio communications, signs of injuries, age of firefighter and other considerations that we don’t like to openly discuss. Down FIREFIGHTER TRIAGE.

Once you have established air to the down firefighter, now begins the extrication process. What tools will you need and have you trained using them in this kind of environment? Are the tools set up for RIT operations. Airbags used in a RIT operation need to be set up properly with ropes or webbing to assist in dragging and using in a hostile environment. They also need to be properly marked with isolation valves already pre connected. The hoses need to be mark where you can identify in low visibility. The control box and hose need to be stream lined. When operating two bags, you should have three different colors and something to help manage the hoses during deployment and while setting up once at the down firefighter. It can be very frustrating if you have not trained and thought out your air bag operation.

Back to the top.

The civilian respects you, but does your fellow firefighters RESPECT YOU?

Have you truly worked at preparing yourself for the Ultimate Rescue, a Firefighter Rescue?

I would like the civilians, I swore to protect, to respect what I do and how serious I take my calling. But more importantly, I really want my fellow firefighters to feel confident that I have done and will do whatever necessary to save them if they were to get caught or trapped in a fire. I hope that I am able to full fill my calling.

Everyday must be a Training Day!

Curt Isakson

Additional Note!

Do not run out of air as a RIT TEAM member with a FULL RIT AIR PACK in your hands or available. The RIT TEAM may need to share the RIT PACK. Practice trans-filling yourself. It takes practice..

Stress Inoculation Training

Someone on facebook asked about stress inoculation as it pertains to firefighter training. Here are my thoughts. Feel free to add yours, especially those of you that are fire instructors:

Hose Bed 275

Radio Traffic Blaring, Smoke Detectors Alerting, Bells Ringing and being forced to THINK under Pressure…  STRESS!!!!!!

Stress inoculation is extremely important to quality training. There are steps to reaching the point where outside stress is added to the evolution,  though. Stress inoculation prevents the proper uptake of information if someone is learning or training at a beginner or less advanced level. Mastery of basics and advanced tactics and skills must be ensured prior to adding additional stressors to a scenario. For instance,  you wouldn’t teach someone to drive by putting them behind the wheel of a stock car at the Daytona 500.

Stress inoculation is about making a scenario as real as possible within reasonable safety limitations. I say reasonable because we cannot safety ourselves out of training. We do a terribly unsafe job, and only through education and life like, realistic training can we make it safer. It just so happens that when we train, we get better. And getting better makes us safer.

So for stress inoculation to be effective, you have to make the scenario realistic. Our performance under stress is similar to the way an old card-style Rolodex works. We get hit with a stressful situation,  and our brains start flipping through the memories until they hit one that seems similar to the situation at hand. The more of those we have, the better the odds are that we make the right call. If the brain doesn’t have a previous record of the situation, it can sometimes keep flipping for quite a while, making decisions at a slower pace than the situation requires, or just making a call at random just to make a call and stop flipping.

Stress inoculation also helps with off-the wall situations for which no Rolodex card could ever be made in training. Our brains are adaptive. Even if we don’t have a perfect situational example to reference, if our brains are used to making GOOD pressured decisions, they start to make stress itself into a memory. We begin to make better decisions under pressure.

What I have seen NOT work is trying to train proper decision making and tactics without the proper input necessary to really formulate a correct strategy or to correctly apply good tactics. You CAN train stress inoculation in this manner, but be very careful that you don’t confuse decision making under pressure with GOOD decision making under pressure.

-Don’t expect students to imagine anything that they would normally be able to see on scene. We are primarily influenced by what we see when making fireground decisions. Telling a student to imagine a downed power line, a victim, or any number of infinite possible problems is not going to teach them to look for those problems on scene. It only teaches them to go through the motions, and that someone will verbalize all the important stuff.

-Don’t make students practice critical skills out of context. Give them a reason to CHOOSE to use that skill in the scenario.

-Make scenarios challenging,  but not unrealistic. Even if a problem is able to be overcome,  if it is not reasonably possible to encounter such an issue on the fireground,  it serves no purpose. Again,  this goes back to context. When the Rolodex starts flipping, having a contextual reference makes finding the answer much easier for the brain.

-Stress should be individualized as necessary. Not always possible, but even at the same skill level, students are at different stress handling capabilities. Some beginners to a new skill or tactic are extremely good already at handling outside stress. As they master new things, they can handle more stress, and need more stress applied in training to see improvement in their ability to cope with challenges.

By: William Knight

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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Do You Know the Monster Within?

So your a hard charging, fire eating, truck ape … not scared of anything, as a matter of fact you fight what we fear. You tell your friends your job is snatching lives from the jaws of death, running into buildings that the roaches and rats run out of. Your collection of fire department t-shirts is only surpassed in awesomeness by the tattoos on your flesh depicting the 343 … your a mans man, and dam proud of it.
You hear the stories of brothers, and sisters who are claustrophobic and you chuckle. You scoff at the people not capable of making decisions, they seem to “freeze” when they are under duress. You “tch, tch, tch” the NIOSh report of the fireman who made a mistake ventilating, setting the stage for the burns sustained by another firefighter that lead to his death. You watch a video of our “brothers” on a fire where tactically they appear to not know what they are doing. This video spreads virally from Youtube, to Statter, to Facebook. The comments by all the other “hard charging fire eating truck apes” are often harsh criticisms, all in the name of better training, and tactics “killing fireman the old fashioned way” … you fall in line posting “train like your life depends on it, because it does”. You read an article about a fireman who rips his mask off in a fire, and standing up, he begins to run in an atmosphere he must know is toxic, and fatal. You shake your head incredulously wondering “what was he thinking”.
Then one day everything changes, something happens, and your world is turned upside down. What you were once so sure of seems to have abandoned you, leaving you wondering if you were ever that “good” at your job. Your breathing becomes accelerated at times, and the anxiety builds. Your ability to do the things you once were capable of doing has left you … your left feeling emasculated, you begin to avoid certain training exercises, maybe even making excuses for your new found “weaknesses”. These weaknesses seem to be gaining ground on you … maybe I’m just not drinking enough, or puffing enough weed … maybe I should conquer more infidelity to prove I am a man … and if all else fails, there is always rage, and if all else fails I’ll just isolate myself. No one will ever know my secret.
Sound familiar, or far fetched?
According to researchers this is not just an occurrence, but a very common occurrence in law enforcement, the military, professional sports, aviation, and the corporate world not to mention rape, and assault victims, or terrorism.
So why should the Fire Service be exempt? Ignorance.
The fire services dirty little secret is firemen get scared. Bad shit happens, and it effects us, it builds within us, and can have a synergistic effect. Then one day it happens, your armor cracks.
You try EAP (if your lucky enough to have it) and your told your normal … by a woman, or a mild mannered man with a sensible manicure (fml), neither who have ever made a hot smoky hallway. What do they know, PTSD my ass! I’ve never been to war.
The truth of the matter is they are right, your probably more normal than you think. How much tragedy can anyone see before it effects them? Who determines what a tragedy is? Maybe it is just a bad experience, and not a tragedy. Maybe you barely made it out of the hallway into the stairwell as the floor flashed … or maybe you were pushed too hard in training as a recruit, and you developed a fear, albeit a “small” fear.
Did I just mention training can cause these symptoms? Bet your ass I did. To quote a term from Christopher Brenan it’s called “Training Scars”, and they will turn into monsters (The MOnster Within) if left untreated, just like any other PTSD exposure. I’ve explained many of the common signs of PTSD above, now I will explain how it happens.
It starts with the fear, (maybe from a previous experience, or founded in a lack of confidence) the anxiety builds, which in turn causes your heart rate to accelerate. Your physically taxed, and the anxiety adds to the rate increase, once your rate exceeds 170 (+/-) your brain shifts into the “Mid-Brain” which is commonly referred to as fight or flight. This is where the irrational thought processing takes place, its where your respirations get rapid and shallow, where your inability to think rationally will kill you … it has been the demise of over 230 firemen over the past 15 years (info provided by USFA via LODD NIOSH reports).
There is a host of other symptoms such as tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of small motor function, loss of bowel/bladder, and dry mouth to name a few. These occurrences, and symptoms are well documented in law enforcement, and the military, but virtually invisible (undocumented) in the fire service.
Back to training. For those that confuse battles of attrition as training, your wrong, and worse yet your responsible for creating PTSD in firemen by teaching it as training. Listen closely, I AM NOT SAYING ENDURANCE TRAINING IS BAD. I am saying confusing training, where you teach firemen viable skills that they can develop over time, and once they are mastered, they may then confront endurance (testing). Like boxing, if your new to boxing you would not step into the ring with a pro. If you did you would wake up in the emergency room with a broken nose, broken jaw, and both eyes swollen shut. What did you learn? You have to start with the most fundamental things first, like the jab, and how to hold your hands when you throw a punch. As you refine those skills, more are added, maybe body punches, how to bob/weave, to generate power from your hip. As you refine these skills you then learn to throw them in combination with each other. All the while your practicing on heavy bags, speed bags, focus mitts, and in front of a mirror. Then, maybe, you can start to spar with someone who will go easy on you so you can learn rhythm, breathing under duress, keeping your balance centered. As you get better, your sparring partners get better … and if your good enough, maybe you reach pro status … a big reach, but I think you follow my example.
The technique of using an example other than your primary subject (fire fighting) as an example allows for your subconscious to make the associations with the techniques I am discussing. If I were to discuss SAR, Force Entry, Ventilation, Hose/Stream Management, Incident Command, Situational Awareness, Staying Oriented or any of the other hundreds of techniques we use in the fire service it would have elicited a justifiable response, causing you to miss the point, and justify rather than listen … the point is best made with a neutral experience, which is why I used boxing.
To this point, in this article, we have covered PTSD, the development of neural pathways, RPDM, and we haven’t even begun to speak of body control. This is where you incorporate visualization techniques, which is what almost all of us do subconsciously but need to learn to do consciously. Self talk always precedes anxiety, mastering what we tell ourselves is the first step in getting better at anything we wish to do. Breath work, breathing is not done properly in the fire service, and it is the key to physiologically regaining control of ourselves.
If you objectively look at the information I have provided (I know it is extremely difficult to get intent and meaning across with the written word) you can probably recognize some things in your life that have effected you. You may even find yourself agreeing with some of these things, even though you may not completely grasp the concepts, that is not uncommon. I think the subconscious recognizes things … similar to that “gut” feeling that has kept you alive all these years. Some things just resonate.
I apologize if I have not answered all the questions you may have regarding Stress Inoculation, my lecture typically takes at least 4 hours, and a lot of ground is covered (character, learning processes, decision making, training, ptsd, and much more). I wanted to try and unlock a provocative thought in you … that maybe, just maybe, the stories you hear, videos you view, or actions you see in person may not always be explained away as people being ass clowns. Maybe there is more involved than you know … because after all, how do you know what you don’t know?
Think about the men and women who have died not knowing what may have kept them alive … there are at least 230 of them … so check your ego at the door, stay teachable, and remember, we don’t wear capes, we wear bunker gear.
God Bless, stay low, and stay strong brothers and sisters.
Ric Jorge
PBCFR
Station 33A
The Fire Factory
(561)239-1908

The Orange Button “Emergency Button”

When declaring an Emergency, you call the word May Day THREE TIMES!! Why Three Times? Because the first two may not be heard for many reasons. Other noise, scanning feature, bad transmission and so on… Calling the May Day is just the START of confirming Command and other Firefighters operating on the Fire Ground truly understand that there is a Firefighter in trouble and needs immediate assistance. Historically, Firefighters that have been in trouble were heard and understood by Firefighters not operating on the fire ground who were listening to radio transmissions. This is another REASON why firefighters not assigned to the incident should monitor radio traffic. Be Pro-Active and Listen, even when your company is not assigned to the BOX! What If you hear something that no one else hears?  What if? when you call the May Day, your portable microphone is not transmitting and the words May Day are not being heard, or there are numerous May Days all at once. Then who is tracking all the May Days? There were 9 Firefighters trapped in June of 2007 in Charleston and only one May Day came across/was recorded over the air. There was one Orange button that was activated by Ladder 5. Ladder 5 Driver activated his orange button. The Dispatcher came across and advised Ladder 5 drivers orange button is off. What if? 8 other Firefighters would have activated their orange button early enough? We must STUDY and learn from others before us and try to improve for the FUTURE. Everybody knows how and when to call a May Day, but still so many times the words are not being heard. We continue to train on calling the May Day, but need to also FOCUS on the Orange Button and how much it has to offer. When the ORANGE button is activated an EMERGENCY has been declared until otherwise canceled. With the activation of ORANGE button, it also signals what radio it is. This is only as good as you are at confirming that you’re wearing/using the radio for your assigned seat. Remember Captain 8A in Houston on North Loop, they knew he was in need of assistance and who he was, based on radio identifier. The ORANGE button will work, when the mic will not. The orange button will tell Command, the dispatcher, and other firefighters who is in trouble without ever hearing your voice. So remember how important the ORANGE button truly is and wearing the assigned radio. Do you or your Chiefs have a list of assigned radio numbers and what radio is assigned to what seat? Do the Officers know their crews radio numbers when displayed on the screen? It shouldn’t be Morse Code.

 

Last thought, can you and your firefighters activate the ORANGE button with GLOVES on? Have you trained on it? Who and how do you reset it? What Channel will the ORANGE button work on? Is Your ORANGE button covered by Radio Strap? Remember the Devil is in the Details? Confirm your Orange button is not blocked by strap and practice using the antenna as a guide for gloved hand and locating ORANGE button.

 

 

 

Radio Emergency button covered

Improper Placement of Strap.

Radio Emergency Button
Proper Placement!!

The VOICE is in the BUTTON!! Do Not Cover the Voice!!

The Orange Button is On Top of Calling the May Day and giving your LUNAR..