Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tactical Safety: The Lost Art Show

The Lost Art Show

By Ray McCormack

Firefighters may not stereotypically fall under the category of art lovers, but many, deep-down, should be. I am not talking about being a patron of modernist, or sculpture, but I have known a few who have worn both of those badges. No, the art show I am referring to is the show made up of lost fire tactics and principles: You know the lost art of VES, Aggressive Attack, and Forcible Entry. These three main categories make up the lost art show. Some towns lost their art years ago, some have turned a blind eye to its beauty, and, sad as it is to say, some in the fire service want the ban to continue, which will only expand lost art categories.

The lost art of VES: VES stands for vent enter search, a concept where firefighters enter rooms from the building’s exterior, conduct a search and then exit the same way(out the window). Now, some in the fire service see this search tactic as very dangerous; some see it as a tactic that places firefighters in less danger. A case can be made in either direction, however, when examined closely, we have a firefighter entering a room from outside (protected area), judging conditions and getting low upon entry; Closing the room door to provide additional search time and then leaving. It could be said that this technique places the firefighter in (less) danger for a shorter amount of time because the firefighter does not have to travel (less) distances inside the fire building to reach the search room: Less time inside, less travel distance inside - the art of VES. When the con version is allowed to flourish - usually without much constructive debate - then we have a lost art.

There is no mushy way to put this: ‘Aggressive Attack’ is how most fires are extinguished. The lost art of aggressive attack starts when we fail to understand the concept of interior-extinguishment - water versus fire. There will be future developments in extinguishment as there have always been and there will be those that bristle at such a term. Being ‘boldly assertive” (synonym) against a fire is fair play. The last thing we want, or do we, are fire operations based upon “passivity” (antonym). The lost art of aggressive attack is something that can become a lost art if we let it, if we as firefighters frown at hearing the term much less using it to our advantage then we have a lost art. If we are not engaged in battle to protect lives and property, then get some new signage; If we are not engaged when attack comes to the plate then the art has been lost.

Forcible entry is an art: Quality forcible entry is when you can get through anything put in front of you expeditiously. Not every firefighter who picks up the irons will be a master. To be a master you need quality tools and a rich canvas and engagement. ‘Mule kicking’ imprints can get it done, but are not highly valued at the art show. When forcible entry becomes a lost art, then we only have only ourselves to blame, because it only grows and flourishes from a local touch. The best techniques come for inquiry and patience and much practice like most good art.

Adding features to the lost art show is not something we should hope happens. Let’s bring back the principle players in the show and show the ‘non participants’ how great our craft looks, feels and sustains our tactical safety.

Next Tactical Safety – Hay Bales

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