The nothing showing debate, or is it a firefighter behavior debate.

Allow me to provide a brief rant if I might. Hey it’s my blog, I will rant if I want to.

I am reading articles recently about whether or not we should eliminate the phrase nothing showing from our brief initial reports. There are arguments that is changes the way our members behave, they might slow down or gear down. I have heard reasons for and against by some well respected folks.

We should not remove this term from our reports. We should add what side of the building we are reporting from. We should also indicate that this is an exterior report. (Nothing showing, side A , exterior) We should record our initial observation, because it will serve as a basis for any changes in reports we receive. It can help us determine spread and growth. It reports to the dispatchers whether they may need additional resources or not. It allows other stations or mutual aid to stand down a bit and know if they are responding.

If our members are gearing down, not preparing for fire, and not driving apparatus in the correct response mode, then the problem is not what we are saying on the radio, the problem is in the right front seat of the apparatus. Line officers have to do their job, and prepare for a fire every time they respond. EVERY TIME!

For the past year the other debate has been transitional attack, close the door, open the door, etc., and there are people that want to make sweeping wide ranging policy changes to achieve results.

I got an idea…..train and educate company officers and hold them accountable for their decisions. Give them the training so they understand their options and expect and encourage them to make good decisions.

As a fire service we should try to avoid these wide, absolute abandonment of things that might still be acceptable under the right circumstances.

Someone told me years ago, circumstances will dictate your procedures. Those circumstances are, the fire or emergency, what crew is on the first due engine or truck, who that officer is, and what equipment is available. Different crews and officers can achieve different results.

Pay attention to firefighter (and officer) behavior if you want different results.

……now stepping of my soapbox…….

Stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Tactical Fire Problem – Rescue on spiral staircase

This week the tactical problem is a rescue from a lower floor or basement area. This is a child and an extremely narrow spiral staircase.

There are no specific questions this week, I am just planting the thought in your head. If you think because it is a child this will be an easy rescue, I think you might be fooling yourself. Some of these ornamental special stairways can be as small as 22 inches and every piece of gear you have, and your tools will get snagged. Think about how you will handle rescues in a variety of architectural features.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Tactical Fire Problem – MAYDAY a firefighter down in a commercial building

This week we have a firefighter down in a large commercial building.

1.) This is not only about a RIT simulation, but it is also about air management for members and the RIT themselves. If you are 150 feet deep into this structure, how much air have you used to get to this point?

2.) This is a large structure with 20 foot ceilings. How fast is the fire growing and how big is the fire to generate smoke this low?

3.) What are the advantages of a concrete floor in this scenario?

4.) How many personnel would this take in your department to move this firefighter 150 feet to the exit, and 50 feet beyond to safety?

5.) Have you trained on using pulley systems to assist with dragging downed firefighters? Even using large carabiners to gain mechanical advantage from an anchor point. Have you trained in large area search techniques?

You can email you answers to the questions and I will discuss them with you if you like.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Yeah,…So what are you going to do about it ?”

As many of them are, this week’s commentary comes from a conversation of the past week.
I was discussing and pretending to solve the problems of the fire service when a fellow worker told me this story.

He was at work during a slower period, when he began to write just short one line sentences, each describing a particular thing wrong with his department. He just sat for a few more minutes and then realized that he had filled one page, and had now spilled over onto the start of a second page.
As he was telling me the story, I was thinking about myself and how I had done this some number of times. I also began to think about other commentary columns I had read, and just recently, that I had written myself.

Gee, I am a real genius, I can find a problem at a hundred yards ! Finding is pretty easy, solving is something else altogether!

As we began to discuss this “list’ constructed as a pastime, we both agreed that many of the items could be found in any fire service organization in America.

I then thought to myself, well suppose, just suppose we all make a list, just like the one made above.

Part II is, that we have to then make a second list of all the things that are right about our department, and things that go well.

Part III is really the toughest of all, and leads back to my title.

Pick one of the items on the “what’s wrong list” and do everything in your power, whatever rank you are, and try to fix it this year. Yes I know you might be limited in what you can do, but if there is a morale problem in your department, don’t YOU be the one at the kitchen table contributing to it. If training is a problem, then you do everything in your power to read, study and train.

This is really a tough personal assignment, and maybe it could even catch on. Let us not become like the two school kids that are fighting in the schoolyard, let us not bring up multiple problems, because somebody might just call you on that and say “…Yeah,…and what are you going to do about it?”

Tell me what you think, e-mail with your comments and / opinions.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014