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Lots of Learning

The past couple of days have been really exciting at work. we have been training a lot on our fall training scenarios, basically pulling lines, forcing doors, going over friction loss calculations, etc.

We have also had a few significant calls that have presented several learning points.


This past Friday I finally had my first house fire with my new crew. I have been there about 3 months now and so far the only real significant fire call we have had is a trash truck fully involved. While this was an interesting call, and a few firsts for me (I had never seen a truck company vent the roof of a trash truck) it was not a house fire. Thankfully though Friday was our day, and I just happened to be riding backwards. The fire was in our second due but the first due company was out of position so we took the first in responsibility, the hydrant was one house past the fire occupancy so laying out was not needed. Once we made the block and pulled past leaving the front for the truck, I got a good view of the house. You could tell by the smoke that the fire was in the attic (door wide open and no smoke coming from it, but thick angry smoke coming from the gable ends and soffit). I stretched the line while the boss made the lap and spoke to the home owner. Once I went in there was very little smoke in the living room but there was fire coming from the fire-place and the seams of the fire-place where it met the wall. To my right the air return vent with fire coming out of it. I knocked down both of those while the boss located the attic access. Once he found that we opened it and were met with high heat. I shot some water in the attic and then proceeded up. It was quite hot but once the line was opened I was able to knock it back and put a knock down on the bulk of it. The seat was on the opposite end so while I held the fire in place crews from another engine stretched a second line and the truck made access for them to finish it off.

The big learning point came once we came out for a breather. The Chief stated that we made a good stop and that he was close to pulling us out because it looked bad, when he arrived. This was surprising to me, on the inside it was definitely a hot fire but, I never felt in danger, or the need to get out of the attic. To me this was a “grit your teeth another 30 seconds” fire. This in my opinion illustrates a few points. One we have to be diligent in reading smoke and knowing fire behavior. I was able to get to the fire fast by reading the smoke. Two building construction knowledge. This is a key component to fire ground operations, Frank Brannigan said it for decades and now its more true than ever, know the warning signs of collapse from the exterior as well as interior and instead of seeing some heavy fire and automatically wanting to retreat make an evaluation and think of an offensive move first. Maybe another line is the key instead fo standing outside and watching it burn. I am all for safety but lets not become “outstanding ” firefighters. When we need to go defensive let’s go defensive but when we can go offensive with all of our blocks in place (RIT, proper building, and fire conditions) we should be doing so and doing so aggressively. Lastly we need better communication. The entire time we where inside no one told us what they saw from the exterior, we never knew what type of impact we were making except what we saw from the interior, sometimes this is not the whole picture. Do not be afraid to say pertinent things over the radio that companies need to be aware of.

The Lost Art of THE IRONS!!!!!

The Training Section recently purchased a commercial forcible entry simulator. It is similar to this http://www.theinforcer.com/products.html. While I think it is great and people have finally gone out and done some much-needed forcible entry training, the focus is on the wrong thing. The way the simulator is constructed has led to a false sense of security concerning the hydra-ram. The construction is all metal in order for it to be forced over and over again, thus allowing the hydra ram to work over and over again. That is until you get toa real call where you have a metal door and a wooden jamb. Lets just “hypothetically” say that when you do this the jamb is going to give long before the locks or the door will, and once it does you will not defeat the locks and make your job with the irons that much harder. Let’s remember what the true use for the hydra-ram really is and when to use it. Further more if you are not good with the irons then you should never use the hydra-ram. The reason for this is when the hydra-ram fails you have to go back to the irons, if your skill level with them is poor you will not accomplish the mission. we should spend 90% of our forcible entry time training with the irons, and 10% using the hydra-ram.

Well that is all I have for now, feel free to comment on these tips, or share some things you have recently learned/reinforced lately. As usual please spread the word about the blog.

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