Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tactical Safety: D is for Delay, Not Done

D is for Delay, Not Done

by Ray McCormack

The economic downturn in the fire service results in brownouts that roll and company closures that stick. For many, delays in reaching the fire scene have now become routine. A late arrival does not disqualify us from the game. Our work is not done- it is only exacerbated- and our on-scene response to elevated conditions must first be recognized as becoming the new standard; and tactics modified so that we can attempt to successfully counter our delay in service delivery.

Vigilant, and due vigilance, are the watch words of the day to tune firefighters into the increasing level of danger coming their way through exposure to fire born out of fun, frustration and arrival delays. You can increase your awareness all you want, but if you do not incorporate tactical modifications, you will be done on the fire ground. We will be saving less property and lives.

When we are late, we must deal with the additional requirements of more fire, more damage, more stress, more everything. Are you able to step up your game and use options that keep the incident from tipping?

Have you really taken a good look at how you operate? Can you place two lines into operation quickly? Is it organized and efficient? It is not completely about the numbers, it is about what the numbers do when they get there. Multi-tasking vs. rigid positioning is one way to use firefighters more effectively. Is there a better order to your multi-tasking? We will always be challenged on the fireground, it is up to each firefighter to step up to the challenge and overcome it-and fight the good fight. It is when we do not try to win that we stand to lose more than just an individual battle.

Have our tactics changed? Do they need to? Your tactics may need to change if:

· Your handline is aimed at windows in stable buildings as priority one.
· Your firefighters circle around but never enter the building.
· Your people are wide-eyed upon hearing basic tenants of firefighting.
· You stretch uncharged hoselines up to the second floor of a home because it causes less fatigue.

Fire extinguishment can always be refined and adjusted. The problem is many do not see gradients of adaptation, only radical change. Adjusting how we operate under delayed conditions will demand more efficiency and creativity, not less firefighting. We may adapt our operations, but our protection level for the public and the suppression forces should never waver under tactical safety.

Next Tactical Safety – When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tactical Safety: If Only Everyone Was A Firefighter

If Only Everyone Was a Firefighter

By Ray McCormack

What an amazing world, country, state, city, town, we would have if everyone was like us- firefighters. First is the can-do spirit instilled in firefighters that spark initiative and bravery for the completion of tasks big and small; ordinary to extraordinary. The leadership of our first line supervisors that guide and assist us in the safe fulfillment of the daily mission. The overall supervision and accountability of our battles by our commanders, and the passion for quality, reliability, and loyalty that separates us from everyone else that just shows up. We are different… and that is a good thing.

No one said that we are perfect and we can live without perfection because that was never the goal. Some believe it is and beat the drum over and over playing the same unreachable tune. The problem is the song gets played out and the results stay the same. If you want better results you need a more simple message and a delivery that delivers.

Firefighters have admirable traits but we also have faults. Like fires we are both uniquely different and similar too. We are a portion of the general population that has chosen a field of endeavor that many exalt and few dare tread: the fire service. This work is not for everyone and it is a lot more than a heroism-fulfillment fix as some would have you believe.

You need certain physical properties for fire to survive just as firefighters have specific needs. One need is recognition-the most underutilized “Thank You” in the fire service- so simple yet so hard for many to utter. Is it jealousy? It shouldn’t be; what it is without a doubt is a character flaw in those who hold it back. Tell someone that they did well. Recognition of someone else does not diminish you it makes you a bigger person.

What the rest of the world could learn from us would improve all aspects of business and interpersonal relationships. We come together from different 'everythings' and still get the job done. The fire service is the lead organization in catastrophic event control and stabilization. That is because our systems-approach to events and small work-group intimacy gives us a unique ability to maintain control while developing solutions quickly to multi faceted problems.

We aid the brightest, the largest, the weakest, anyone who needs us without filling out any forms or checking quotas. We truly provide service to all who ask without asking for anything in return. Our service transcends public service role modeling because we give more than anyone ever asked for. Our heroes are real people who have gone beyond themselves in thought and action to inspire and guide us.

Have great pride in knowing you do not stand alone and you part of something that many admire and trust in. Know your job as this will help to optimize your effectiveness as well as protect you. Speak up over the din of the naysayers who look to devalue your work and stay tactically safe.

Thank you for all you do and are willing to do

Keep Fire in Your Life


Ray McCormack

Next Tactical Safety – D is for Delay not Done