Tactical Safety for Firefighters- No Hose Butts

Ray

Tactical Safety for Firefighters
No Hose Butts

By Ray McCormack

I have repeatedly stated that the engine company officer has the biggest impact on the fireground. You IC’s out there needn’t worry. You’re important too and of course, so is the ladder officer; however, fire extinguishment is why we are in business and that comes from the exit port of a nozzle directed by the engine officer.

For those that aspire to be engine officers, there is plenty to learn and discover. A good portion of learning should have already taken place as you observed others. The discovery portion is truly the variable because it is about individual effort. To discover new ideas, new methods and try them for suitability is one very important component of professional growth.

Can you honestly say you are into it? If you find yourself with a lack of passion for engine company operations as an engine officer, it’s time to turn the tide. I would hate being in this business and just let it all pass me by without hitching along for a ride. The diversity in engine operations alone should spark an area or two of potential interest and perhaps eventual expertise. When you encounter someone who works at a business and is asked a question that they should know the answer to, but doesn’t that’s bad, worse is when they don’t care to boot. You have just encountered a compartmentalized employee. This person has a narrow band of knowledge, and is in a rut. If that’s you, that’s bad, but not inescapable.

The tuned in engine company officer sees opportunity where others see extra work. They see variations as possibilities and possibilities as platforms for enhanced operations. By going to extra lengths for yourself and your company you ‘ll be able to increase your tactical safety and call for water quicker than the rest.

Keep
Fire
In
Your
Life

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

Forcible Entry Drill

Growing up I played lacrosse, not the typical hockey that most Canadian kids played. I was fortunate enough to play at a very high level and had the privilege of playing for some great coaches.  They taught me not only about the game of lacrosse but great lessons about life that I carried over into the fire service. I had one coach that always said “you can’t learn this game in a book; you have to get out on the floor and play the game”. I could not agree more, to truly learn this job aggressive and realistic training along with experience is required. That being said my coach would also say “you want to be great at this game, be a student of the game”, I would see my Coach constantly looking at plays, statistics, equipment, etc. and he was a true student of the game and one of the best players ever to play box lacrosse. The point is that you need the knowledge and the understanding of what you’re doing to go along with your hands on training. We would practice some days until we would literally be throwing up on the floor, we would also spend some days in the class room in front of the chalk board going over plays. This was just as important to the development as us as lacrosse players and a team as going out and throwing the ball around the floor. We are going to look at a quick drill that you can do at your firehouse, this type of drill we call “chalk talk”.

Chalk talk drills are those types of drills that are great for rainy days, these types of drills are good because they often get great discussions going and it allows some of the senior members in the company to pass along their experiences and knowledge to the younger guys.  Some of the best training that I have ever done has been sitting at the kitchen table, around the tailboard of the rig, or sitting in front of a white board talking shop with a warm cup of coffee and the company of some great firemen. Not all training has to be blood, sweat, and tears, here is a good “rainy day” forcible entry drill that you can do with your crew.

To try to add some variety to the training and be able to put the training on I set out to make a series of props that would allow me to do quick, realistic, and optionless forcible entry size up training. I wanted to build a series of magnetic locks that could be stuck onto any regular metal door in the firehouse, out doing building inspections, etc. These locks would look exactly (or as close to it as possible) like their real lock counterparts. I took the basic type locks that me and the crews in my fire department would encounter during a forcible entry operation, these locks included:

  • Key in the Knob Locks
  • Tubular Deadbolts
  • Rim Locks
  • Rim Cylinder Guards
  • Carriage Bolts (drop bars, slide bolts, etc.)

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After I narrowed down the most common type locks that I wanted to simulate I made a trip to a local machining shop and had them mill out exact likenesses of a key in the knob lock and a couple of tubular deadbolts, because of the weight associated with making these locks out of metal PVC was used instead. On the backside of the locks a counter sunk hole was drilled and then a heavy duty magnet was secured into place using epoxy. To make the cylinder guards, 10 gauge metal plates were cut to the size of a standard cylinder guard. After the cylinder guards were cut ¼ inch carriage bolt heads were welded on the corners and then magnetic stripping was added to the backside of the guards. Finally, ¼ inch carriage bolts were taken and the threaded rod was cut off the back leaving just the heads, a hole was counter sunk into the back of the carriage bolt head and a magnate was held in place with epoxy. Having these magnet props allows you to gather the crew around any metal door in the firehouse and set up any forcible entry scenario your imagination can dream up. These drills at my firehouse have been invaluable; the guys at the station love it and get very engaged in the discussion about tactics and forcible entry size up.

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The total cost of the magnet props was around $200, but if you are fairly handy or know someone who can use a machining lathe you could probably get them made for a lot less money.

This will be the first article in a series of articles that will give you great training ideas that you can do at your firehouse. If you want to train, you can train.

FF Andrew Brassard

Milton Fire Department- Pumper31

 

 

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.

miltonrope3

 

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- A Sacred Bond

tacsafe2

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

Swift Water Rescue Training

Hard work, passion, and a little ingenuity is all you need to come up with fantastic company level training. You don’t need a big training facility to put on great training, you just need to use some imagination.

This is a prop that the Austin Fire Department in Texas put together for training their members in car removals in swift water rescue situations.

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They put a car into a boat launch so that most of the car was submerged, they then used handlines of an engine company and a fire boat to cause the river like effect. This allowed them to preform various removal techniques in easily controllable situations.

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Not only does it get your members out doing swift water training but it also gets you out stretching hose, pumping your lines, ropes and knots, medical, setting up your ladder truck, and anything else that you wanted to put into the scenario.

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http://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/first-responders-prepare-for-low-water-crossing-rescues

So get out their and push your training to the next level. A serious “hat tip” to the Austin Fire Department on this training.

Rope Rescue Edge Pro

Edge protection is a vital piece of the rope rescue puzzle but it is often overlooked or done improperly. Over the last 15 years of teaching rope rescue and working for a department that gets our fair share of high angle calls I have used almost every type of edge protection out there… most leave little to be desired.

Now their is a difference in wether you are doing a rope rescue in a urban setting (off of a crane or off an apartment building) or weather you are operating in a wilderness setting. If you are working in an urban setting the rope protection is fairly easy, a couple small rollers and you are set. But in a wilderness setting it can be slightly more difficult, the rope has several different rocks, tree roots, etc. that it can pass over. Several years ago I was shown a homemade version of edge protection that is still the best I have used to date.

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The edge protection is made using small diameter wood dowels that are strung together with some old 6 millimeter cord. The dowels are cut to length, drilled, sanded and then they are ready to be assembled. Small sections of clear water pump tube can be used as spacers on the ends to keep the dowels spaced.

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Once the edge protection has been made and it is placed on the rocks you will see how it can bend and be manipulated into the small cracks and forms to the shapes of the rocks. It makes a perfect “valley” for the rope to travel through, and you don’t have to worry about the rope wrecking your edge pro due to friction or sharp rocks.

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The homemade edge pro folds up easily and is carried in our rope rescue bags, it weighs a little more then some commercially sold edge pro but I feel the extra pound is well worth the trade off.

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The edge pro can also give you some added footing if the edge is slippery or there is the potential for loose ground. The whole edge protection cost about $20, which is well below the average cost for some edge pro.

Ladders, Why Are They Important ?

Truck Company Operations

“Ladders, the Lost Art”

By: FF Kyle Kraatz

Ladders, Why Are They Important ?

The fire service ladder, a staple of many fire department patches and art work often gets overlooked for more pressing issues like EMS training, ICS, or the current NIMS classes we are required to take.  But for the victims at the third floor window waving franticly on the window sill, the ladder is often their last hope.  That is why we need to be vigilant, stead-fast, and disciplined in the art of ladder operations.

The ladder is a vital tool that we carry on most of our rigs, yet they are often only used when needed on the fire ground.  We have no problem training with the Jaws of Life, saving a down fireman, or rapidly deploying the hose line.  All good training, but we often over look the ladders.  Proper maintenance, proper deployment, and proper training must be conducted on them to insure we give our victims a fighting chance…

Read the entire article here