Tactical Safety for Firefighters- Staffing Reach

Ray

Tactical Safety for Firefighters
Staffing Reach

We hear all about the issues of staffing in the fire service: its limitations and its benefits. First things first! Your staffing is your staffing and typically doesn’t change much except for the variable of the alarm assignment strength. Volunteer response is a deployment model that tends to have more radical staffing swings. So now, what are you doing about this “given” when it comes to community fire protection?

Is your staffing commensurate with your buildings? Are your hosebeds assisting your handline deployments? Are you able to check the boxes and perform interior attack? Comparisons between what is perceived as ideal staffing and minimal staffing is not the point.

The question should be is staffing adequate for the majority of your fire attack incidents? This is a critical need and should be looked at critically. Interior fire attack is handled by a nozzle firefighter who should have a backup firefighter assisting with that nozzle function and advancement. Fire extinguishment also needs to be supervised by an officer. That’s three people. Can we do it with more? Sure, add a firefighter further back to assist with line movement.

The bottom line is that this is the model. You may or may not have a complete version of it, but that only cuts you so much slack. If you switch roles or you assign two tasks to each firefighter, or you improve your interior advance techniques, that’s creative thinking. If you only opt in for a staffing model you will never attain, that is fantasy.

Benchmarks are a common form of fireground measurement. Here is a simple model for fire extinguishment. How much hose will be used on the interior of the building? If it’s on length ( 50′), then that is a staffing model. If twice that is needed, that is another. This is why the interior model doesn’t vary much. Getting the hose to the point of operation is typically the real variable that staffing impacts. Vertical and horizontal distances matter and often account for increased hoseline staffing both inside and outside the fire building. There is no need for two nozzle firefighters for a single hoseline but there is often a need for a door firefighter. The fire service needs to adapt and overcome its excuses and dreams and focus on the issues that impact operations and fireground lives by moving towards efficient extinguishment.

By Ray McCormack

Keep
Fire
In
Your
Life

Tactical Safety for Firefighters- False Positives

Ray

Tactical Safety for Firefighters

F A L S E
P O S I T I V E S

There is much talk in the fire service regarding how some pass downs have been proven wrong due to current research. In some categories, this legacy behavior has been explained utilizing a more scientific language which is one aspect of research. The other is how to avoid the legacy outcome regardless of what you label it now (hint : Better Engine Company LeadershIp).

Another aspect to be watched more closely is the false premises where a fire example is given along with a bad solution and now we fix it with a modern solution. The problem is if you were applying the original solution to the problem, then you didn’t understand basic firefighting anyway. So now we have SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) or a talking head who comes along with a new solution to fix it for you. You should have known this solution and you should be able to recognize silliness when you see it. The point is that some fire attack videos are giving you solutions to problems that should not have existed. Beware the peddler and their improved and enlightened ways. It’s only enlightening if you have had your head buried in the sand.

Get informed and pick up on what you’re being shown and just as importantly, what you’re not being shown.
If you want to improve the fire service, work on yourself first!

By Ray McCormack

Keep Fire in Your Life

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

 

 

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 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