By Ray McCormack
It seems that every classic movie scene with a sword fight starts with the phrase, “On Guard!” This simple statement declares, “here we go; game on; battle time.” The opponents back away for a second to collect themselves and stare their challenger directly in the eye - and then the fight begins in earnest. They are there to fight, they are equipped to fight, and their safety is in their skill. Every fire is a challenge to our skill and commitment. Are you incorporating an on guard before your attack?
Your safety is increased when you back away just before you start to do battle. This battle posture allows you to focus and put yourself in drive. This is your ‘on guard’ moment. When firefighters arrive unequipped to enter the battle, they defeat themselves and our cause. When firefighters enter the battle under-equipped to overpower the enemy, they are not playing smart. These two statements refer to some basic omissions on the part of our people, lack of tools, lack of SCBA, the lack of a charged hoseline, hard to believe you say? Watch some videos.
Your safety is about thinking smart, being prepared, and fighting to win. When you do not have the capability to bust down a door or hit an advancing fire, or continue a search due to smoke in your eyes, you’re not being a tough guy, you’re being a jerk! You have let us down with your inability to function at the most base level on the fireground. You know that certain tools are used at every fire, like charged hoselines, tools for entry, ladders and SCBA, why are they missing from your attack mode? Does your special presence on the fireground trump these tools somehow? If not, then how could you make such mistakes?
Firefighters who arrive looking and acting like they could be from another profession are not very effective under normal conditions, especially when the chips are down. The chips can come down at any moment, and not being ready is a sad excuse to have hanging around your neck after the battle. Any excuse supplied would be simply weak, if we would even care to listen.
To be effective, you must fight the fire with all the tools available to you. Firefighting begins with you, your training, your knowledge, and your dedication. You wanted to do this, make sure it’s more than just talk, and put it all together to be tactically safe. On guard!
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