Tactical Fire Problem – Building Under Construction

This week a fire at a construction site.

1.) What size line(s) will be needed for this scenario?
2.) What is the primary hazard to firefighters here?
3.) What thoughts should you have for electrical hazards on a job site like this?
4.) What other job site materials could be stored on site that might present a hazard to your personnel?
5.) During routine responses and district inspections do you stop by construction sites to see what is going on? Maybe you should!
Stay safe and stay thinking!
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Guidance vs. micromanaging

I spend an awful lot of my time doing consulting and teaching in some leadership classes and I have found something that I wanted to share today.

Now those folks who are local and know me, know that I went through the ranks way too fast and was an officer way before I should have been. They also know that not unlike others, I was convinced that I knew everything!

Thank God, that with some age there does come some wisdom!

In many leadership classes I am teaching I m hearing young officers and firefighters speak about being allowed to make decisions and not being “micro-managed”. Now on this subject I speak with some authority because I am micromanaged in many facets of my life on a regular basis, so while not an expert, I do have some history!

I think that all people generally resist being coached and guided. We all believe that we are comfortable with our job and our ability to handle any given situation, but in reality I think we all need some guidance from time to time, and the benefit of having someone share a previous bad experience.

With that being said, then maybe as leaders we should look at the way we attempt to guide those that we are mentoring to be better officers. If the decision they are attempting to make is not life safety or life changing for them or the other parties involved, allow them to make a simple mistake. They will learn! Then don’t run around and say I told you so, but be there to offer possible “options” on how that can be handled “differently” in the future. That is one technique. There are many others.

The other thing I never learned as a young rowdy officer was that I did not even have enough life experience to make some of these personnel decisions. I just simply had not been exposed at that time. I now look at some of these folks who have come into the fire service who maybe have been to paramedic school, been taught about being the sole person responsible for life and death, being taught to operate independently under a protocol, and then jammed into a fire service filled with tradition of team, partner, paramilitary and discipline and procedure, and wonder why we have some bumps grinds and failures. Some of young folks feel they are capable of any decision, but have not been exposed yet.

When we teach in these classes about how to make decisions, we need to teach and focus much more attention on the consequences of decisions. By doing this we truly are offering guidance rather than being micro managers.

We should really strive to be more like mentors, and examples so that people will emulate us, rather than to tell everyone how much better we can do their job instead of them. The old saying is true…People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care. If you care for your people you will guide them. If you want to show them how much of a genius you think you are you will micro-manage every detail.
See I will give you latitude, you decide which way you want to go.

I truly believe new and young officers can benefit from guidance, and we should be patient with their resistance to our suggestion, but we must continue to guide them rather than to over supervise.

Recent negative experiences in my life have caused me to pause and reflect and be sure that I am a source of guidance, and valued resource, and a place to turn for those that work with me. This whole experience of inner reflection has been good for me.

Try it for yourself,……I promise I won’t tell you how to do it !

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Church Fire

This week the problem is common to every community…..Holy Smoke! It’s a church fire. You might have several within your response district. Take a look.

1.) What is your initial report given, and your attack plan?

2.) This happens to be a wood frame building many churches are some form of masonry construction with heavy wooden timbers. Or they can be ultra modern large open structures. Get out there and pre plan these large occupancy structures.

3.) What is your salvage plan? As fire attack is moving forward and if it is safe enough to do so, are there any additional salvage efforts that can be taken for artifacts that may be irreplaceable?

4.) Have you trained to advance a deck gun or ground monitor into a building over one hundred feet and get it aimed into the overhead? Think about this as a possibility and try it during a training exercise in an open parking lot, without any stairs or obstructions.

5.) In the scenario given what is the estimated dimensions of the collapse zone? Try to estimate actual numbers it is good practice.

Stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Some Thoughts on Fireground Communication

Communication is a whole lot more than radios and whether or not they work.

Think about the communication that occurs in your department and then think about the following statement: Will what I am about to say into the radio cause anyone to do anything? We give reports, we do an awful lot of chatter, but are we saying anything? Let’s look at a couple of reports and then let’s try to make them better.

Engine 2 is on the scene, 2 story wood frame, smoke showing.

OK, that is pretty good and a lot better than what we used to do, but what did it do for me?

Engine 2 is on the scene, 2 story wood, smoke showing, I am advancing an 1 3/4 line into the C side door.

I now have the same information but I know the crew is around the back and advancing the line. I now have some idea about the size of the attack and where my people are and I have used about 1 more second of air time! How much air time gets wasted now?

Five minutes later that crew of engine 2 reports back…

Portable engine 2, (or engine 200) we have a lot of smoke but no heat, still checking.

Not bad, I know the crew is OK, and they have not found the source of the fire yet.

How about this?

Basement division to command, lots of smoke but no heat still checking.

I now know that the crew that went into the back door has found the basement stairs and has changed levels. This entire incident could be a furnace incident.

Just by thinking if what you say is going to make someone do something, we can do wonders to improve how we communicate on the emergency scene.

Having a company use the terminology of where they are located in the building aids in our ability to both track where they are and where I may need to send a FAST team (or RIT) to get them if they are in trouble. The problem is that we know that firefighters move throughout the building and they rarely report when they change locations. We
continue to traditionally use portable numbers or identifiers rather than location designations. This has an effect on firefighter, safety, accountability and operations in general.

Spend some time modifying what you say and the way you say it…you might just save somebody’s life by doing it!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem -School Bus Crash & Fire

This week a combination problem. Take a look.

1.) How many patients should you expect on a fully loaded school bus?

2.) How many ambulances should be called for initially? Just a random rule of thumb might indicate an initial call for 1 ambulance for each 5 patients. This indicates some will be minor and not need it and some may not need transport at all. ( black tag) It is not a certainty but it gives you a starting point.

3.) When was the last time you trained on school bus stabilization and extrication techniques?

4.) How much does a school bus weigh? How much weight are you trying to move / lift?

5.) Review some of the factors that complicate fire suppression during rescue attempts.

Stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013