Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tactical Safety: The Fire Will See You, Now

The Fire Will See You Now

By Ray McCormack

Even with a scheduled appointment, your visit to the doctors office typically entails a waiting period: A time out in the waiting (reception) area where your choice of activities range from staring off into space, reading a magazine or perhaps using your smart phone. You are not in charge of the waiting period, the doctor is. The waiting period between fires can be back-to-back, or it can drag on and on. Once again, you're not in charge of the wait, that is up to the fire.

How long we wait between fires is one issue; the other is what we do in the fire 'waiting room.' If you spend your time doing nothing to improve your response to the next fire, either formally or informally, operational improvements will be hard to come by.

When you respond to a fire on the fourth floor of a multiple dwelling, your wait for an operational hoseline should be longer than it would be for a fire in a one story ranch. How long does it take your crew to stretch one and get it ready for entry? After watching some recent extinguishment follies on video, maybe the fourth floor fire would be seen first.

There is one standard that all fire departments must follow: that is to get the attack hose line in service quickly and efficiently. An engine company crew that has difficulty with, and is sloppy about stretching a pre connect forty feet to the home's front door, should ban all on scene photography and get their act together.

For all the cultural change proponents out there, this is the culture that needs changing - A culture of apathy and excuses that allows substandard operations to take place when people's lives and property are at risk.

When a fire occurs in a dwelling, the risk of losing everything is heightened when the fire crew that shows up can not get the attack line in service quickly. We can attend all the schools and create all the programs that make us more business-like, but when the bell rings, extinguishment skills are the hallmark of the fire service's promise to it's community.

The need for fireground intervention, whether it's rapid or slow, increases proportionally to the time it takes to knock down the fire. Time and energy and training in extinguishment proficiency reduces the likely hood of intervention. Many videos tell us through shaky fireground imagery that operations would be best enhanced by a second function being brought into view than sidelining functional crews for potential intervention.

Your risk assessment will have to be dynamic if you do not focus on extinguishment as Job One. If you command even a portion of fireground operations, you'll be turning blue as you hold your breath and await extinguishment by some of the crews that call themselves firefighters. You don't have to throw in the cards yet, as long as you understand extinguishment skills are what fire departments are about. Don't believe it? Then change your title from firefighter to responder. If you lose your foundation or do not understand our core mission, then you may be acting in the next video we all laugh and cry at.

Keep your crew tactically safe by having a strong core understanding of what a fire department does and be great at it. Be ready for you next visit to the fire as you can never truly predict when "the fire will see you now."

Next Tactical Safety - LMFAO - Laughing My Fire Assessment Off

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