I had an opportunity this week to have a conversation with some of my peers. During this conversation I had a thought that came up and I choose to share that with you this week.
We all know we claim that freelancing is not allowed in our fire scenes and we are well aware of the problem. Frankly that is all BS and we continue to do it each and every day and it has become acceptable. We all have a hundred reasons why it is allowed…but that is not the point of my commentary this week.
Is there a small group of firefighters or members of your organization that are always training, always reading trade journals, always trying to learn more. I submit to you there are one or two members and they may well be in a minority.
These members are on the correct path and they should continue on this path at all costs, but there should be one word of caution to be passed along.
Their training and methods of operation can be so contrary to the actual or perceived operations of the department, that they could become hurt or injured easily.
Think about the following…a new recruit is taught to wear all their gear, use PASS device, and understands nozzle operation and fire behavior…as they begin to attack an interior fire they are being supported folks wearing half their gear, not versed in hydraulics and water delivery, and who may or may not understand what they are looking at. What danger is our newly trained firefighter in? Will the line be pumped properly, can his backup team get in to assist?
This was the first time that I actually thought about a well trained firefighter getting into trouble in this manner.
Think about your department and your culture and think about circumstances where the “training gap” of knowledge between the new and the old could create a safety hazard.
The answer to this is obvious (everyone should be at the same level) but in a realistic view of the world in practice it will be more difficult.
Do everything you can within your power to raise the level of training to that of your most “aggressive student”. This is much easier said than done. The second task is to make sure that your “aggressive students” are always aware of the level of training of those that are supporting them.
I have looked at this as a peer to peer educational free-lancing situation, but it does not take any imagination or thought to determine how dangerous this becomes when it is a firefighter and an officer. The knowledge deficit of an officer, or chief managing an aggressively trained firefighter can become catastrophic.
Be aware of your personal level of training and be sure to operate within the boundaries of departmental SOPS or accepted practices…if you do not you could be an educational or training free-lancer yourself.
Take a look around your department and try to close this knowledge safety and training gap.