By Ray McCormack
Everyone hopes for beginner's luck when they start a new endeavor. Success can be assisted by the luck of good timing or opportunity. For the new firefighter who is not totally comfortable with their surrounding or job, luck is just another positive assist to move you along. Beginners' firefighters are not very picky and often take information from all sources without much of a filter. At a recent fire operations seminar, one of the students was a new firefighter with only several months on the job. While attending his first seminar, he realized - along with many in attendance - that there is a lot more to firefighting than what is provided at rookie school and department texts (policies). This firefighter knew one key element: that you can make your own luck.
While attending firefighting operational seminars, you can pick up a tremendous amount of self-help. Ideas and tactics that work for all firefighters , whether urban or suburban, narrow the playing field, and dismiss cultural roadblocks that many throw around as devicive. Studying our profession is a journey that starts on day one - and doesn't end until you want it to. There is always a provider; your rate of information collection and capacity is up to you. Fireground tactics and base-knowledge culled from textbooks, media and studies all work to together to blend your continuing education.
While there are many programs that explore peripheral issues and rare emergency events, firefighter operational tactics need to be fully understood. Departmental and other institutional classes may be taught by instructors who lack subject matter experience; however, that is just the way it is in many structured educational programs. When you attend a class on your own time -and on your own dime - instructor experience is part of the educational package. Their bio says a lot; their bio 'blanks' say a lot more. Stay alert for signs of instructor distress when talk of experience comes up. Information served up on a plate that lacks subject matter experience doesn't provide for a balanced diet. The starch of experience never hurts. Maybe it doesn't matter who gives you the information as long as you "get it." Make sure you really get it by knowing where the product originated.
Some programming may be hard to recieve due to a poor fireground connection. The only way you can truly educate yourself is through research and self-study. Want to increase your tactical safety? Start with beginner's luck.
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