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.
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