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Actions and Motives

This one is a fire service lesson for sure but I hope it makes you think of life lessons as well. It is about actions and motives and or intention. We do many things at fires, in the firehouse and in life. Today I am asking the probing question….why?

Lets look at a bunch of examples. You are on social media and you are vehemently expressing your beliefs and theories of the “only way to fight fires”. WHY? Do you want to educate? Do you want to impress someone about your level of education and experience? Is it your intent to demean them and their experience and show your superiority?

These are all different reasons for abusive social media stuff, but what is your motive? Do you think about the why, and do you think about what your perception is to others?

You arrive on the scene of a house fire, it is marginal, everyone is out. You jump off the engine and enter the structure. Did you do that because you were following your training? Did you do that so your crew and officer don’t think you are a coward?’ Do you do it because you think you are smarter than the facts presented and there might be someone in there? Or you just think it is the right thing to do?

There is a bad community climate in your city or town. You start your own personal work slowdown. You arrive on the bell, you don’t do house duties, you barely do truck checks and you are in a consistent foul mood. Why? Because someone else is in charge of your happiness and you are OK with that? Because you think if you don’t do you job and you punish your co-workers you will affect the citizens and make them change their mind? Because you have forgotten that you work in the greatest most noble profession in the world?

See your challenge this week is this….When you do something, silently ask the question, “Why did I do that or why did this just happen?” For real , don’t white wash this look hard and look deeply.

You will feel better, you will perform better, and you will be a better team member, if you just reflect upon your actions, motives, and intentions.

What Is The Expiration Date On Your Training?

I am not sure there is one, but as each day moves along I believe that like a loaf or bread and a gallon of milk our training may have an expiration date.

I saw some stuff this week on social media and there was discussion that related to a major urban fire department and some techniques and tactics from the early 1980s. As I reviewed the document i read each line carefully and I began to wonder a couple of things: As a Chief and an IC would I use these tactics and techniques tomorrow?

As an instructor could I teach these techniques tomorrow to a small suburban department anywhere in the US and Canada. the answer in both cases was no. Then I thought back on my career and my initial training and I will admit I was taught these things, I had done these things and in fact as an instructor I had taught these things in the classroom and in acquired structures and live burns.

It gave me pause and I hope this post gives you pause also.

I think about some of the ridiculous (now) techniques I learned in Advanced First Aid and my first EMT class in the mid 1970s. I would be sued, beaten and arrested if I tried to perform those tactics today.

You see we do not do EMS like that anymore. (Thankfully)

I started to think about all facets of my training. The first DOT guidebook I used said to evacuate about 1500 feet from a burning propane tank. Now that distance is over a half a mile away.

I thought about using 3/4 inch booster lines in buildings and how to use a cooper hose jacket (Look it up) and a 2 1/2″ hose clamp.

You see the more I thought the more I realized that some of my training had expired.

Now that I know that I have to adjust my training I seek out and the training I deliver to make sure it is fresh…..

If you rely on training that has expired, it might not be the only thing that expires.

Think about it.

Power

You know what the problem is here, I don’t have any power! Well I would ask that we slow down and take a look at that and realize that every member of an organization has some form of power. The real issue is do they recognize it and what do they do with it?

In an organization as in life we are all given lots of powers. I have the power to help or hurt. I have the power to love or hate. I can move this organization forward in the direction it is going or I can change the direction or resist.

Using just those few examples I think we can all reflect for a minute and realize that we all have powers that we may not even recognize.

We might have legitimate power from rank that we have achieved. We might have expert power from some skill or expertise that we have that others might not have. We might have some unofficial power that people might have bestowed upon us, meaning that they will follow us and we have the power of influence over others.

Power is like all other things we possess. We must recognize it, respect it and gain control over how we direct it. Will we share some of our expertise with a new member? Will we use our personal power to undermine and submarine the officers and the chief.

The gift of power is a very important thing. This week figure out and summarize  what power you have and then make a plan on how you will use it or share it in your organization.

Random Thoughts on Minimum Standards

This is a term that gets tossed around the fire service often. It was a term that I used to hate when I was the Coordinator of Firefighter Certification. You know, now that I think of it, I am not real fond of it now either!

The firefighter that passes firefighter I/II certification with a 70% actually got 30%  wrong! But still he or she is certified to meeting the minimum required standards.

I understand why we have minimums and i get it, but please never let the minimum be your goal.

When training new members, get them passed where they need to go and let them know that the minimum is the floor, but we should be aiming for the ceiling.

Would you go to, or would you take your family to a doctor who graduated with the minimum credentials? Would you get on a plane with a pilot or co-pilot that just made the minimum?

Lead your people to the top. They can and will get lost on their way but that is our job, to guide them. Don;t get frustrated when they struggle, refocus and redouble your efforts to get them where they need to be.

As senior members, officers and instructors let us always coach our members to a higher level. In fact coach them to the highest level they can achieve……and while you are at it and caring for others……push and test yourself once in a while too!

Tactical Fire Problem – Multi-Story with Fire Escapes

This week The Tactical Fire problem is a multi-story older building with fire escapes.

1.) What is your initial report?

2.) How would you deploy your manpower of 2 engines and 1 ladder initially?

3.) Does your department have training and or SOPs for operating on fire escapes?

4.) Name 2 methods for extending hose lines on the exterior over fire escapes.

5.) What does the age of this building indicate about fire spread potential?