Tactical Fire Problem – Fire in a downtown movie theatre

This week a fire in an older downtown movie theater. This might be different than the larger free standing megaplex.

1.) What would be your initial report on arrival for this incident?

2.) Do you know the occupancy limits in movie theaters in your response district?

3.) How do you weigh the potential occupancy load with what you see and read from the parking lot? (Is the lot full, half full, what does that mean?)

4.) From what you see in the scenario where is most of the fire located within the building?

5.) Based upon what you answered in number 4, describe the tactics and resources you would use.

Thanks, stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Fire Service Lite

The other night I was out having a leisurely supper another ridiculous training idea occurred to me.

I had gone to a small family restaurant and although I rarely drink an awful lot I had just ordered a light beer for supper.

I am very serious about trying to get back into some human shape and I am trying to be conscious of calorie intake.

At some point during the meal I realized that I had just ordered a beverage, that is about 87% water in the first place and I asked them to make it “lite”. What the hell was I thinking!

I then sort of chuckled to my self and wondered about society in general, the quality of our new recruits and officers, the current school of fire chiefs that are surfacing and said …gee, what ingredients are we leaving out of these folks that are making them the “lite version”.

Society “Lite”

Oh, this was an easy one, we have left out most of the common courtesy, politeness, pride and integrity. But hey you still get your money’s worth because we have added so many more artificial ingredients such as phony, condescending, materialistic, impatient, and oh yes you have seen it is always served “cold”. We have an awful lot of cold.

Recruit and firefighter “lite”

Ah yes one of my favorite brews. The “what can this job do for me and how many sick days and benefits can I get” variety. The kind that has the contract in their back pocket for easy and quick reference so there is no waiting. What did we take out in this flavor, we took the service out of the word fire service. We removed any reference to duty, commitment and pride and tradition and honor. Hey but it is really full bodied and seems complete though because we took all the ingredients we removed and replaced them with a much more robust “ME” that takes the place of everything we removed. (Hey fires are down anyway, lets just send the lite guys to the small jobs on nice days with no wind and rain, when they are not out on a swap or personal to, That should work OK)

Officer ‘Lite”

We will give you the fastest, most inexpensive officer we can. We rush them through production by minimizing the number of years they have to do their job, we give them cookie cutter study materials and traditional testing instead of letting them brew and age into an assessment center process. We have removed the experience, caring compassionate mentoring attitude of those older more traditional types, and we have become task and objective oriented instead of taking care of those silly people that work for us that are really nothing but additives! These officers are also extremely cold when served up to us.

Chief “Lite”

This one could go on for hours, but I can’t quite get my finger on what is missing with these new breed of chiefs that I am seeing. I can tell some of what is missing and different but not all of it. I believe the taste I have indicates we have removed most of their memory, lots of their intestinal fortitude, their desire to continue to educate themselves and not rest on their laurels, and the vision and passion they once had when they used to say things like “When I get to be chief I will……..”. The new taste leaves some of those that contact them bitter and with a strong after taste. A lot of the new taste is caused by some of the attitudes and additives that have replaced the items removed…..There is way too much ego, pompous attitude, self righteousness, and way too little humility and compassion and human skills. I think maybe they advertise too much and way too flashy.

This is my view on whether or not less is better or not. Sometimes it is helpful to be less. Less ego, less pompous, less ME, less attitude, and add a little more of caring and helping and others, and continuing to learn, exploring, and study.

Something is brewing in the fire service today, help make sure it is a good product!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Ice Cream Plant Chemical Leak

This week you need to do a little thinking to answer the five questions. This is not a fire but a chemical leak.

1.) What chemical might be used as a refrigerant at an older ice cream plant?

2.) If you have identified the chemical in question #1 look up the basic physical properties of the chemical and make yourself familiar with them.

3.) Does the chemical involved pose any fire or explosion risk? What conditions would have to be present for this to occur.

4.) In your department what should be the actions of the initial first alarm response?

5.) How long will this incident go on, and what other community actions might have to be taken?

Lots of questions in this one and I did not give many answers, if you want feedback send an email to pete@petelamb.com

Stay Safe and Stay Thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Instructor Preparation

One of the most important things that should happen in the delivery of a training program is the preparation phase of the instruction.

Today we see a great emphasis on PowerPoint and flashy classroom techniques that many instructors feel is the base or the backbone of your presentation. The simple fact of the matter is that you are the backbone of your presentation and the audio visual aids are there to support and bolster your presentation.

We now have seen a development of instructors who believe that they are “subject matter experts” in all fields because they can read a lesson plan. Delivering a program from a lesson plan (pre-prepared and commercially developed or prepared by you) does not give the same class as someone who has field experience.

Part of instructor preparation is knowing your own personal limitations. While I personally consider myself a good instructor with some variety of experiences, I cannot teach every subject. How can any person in a small or large department be an expert on every subject. If you do not feel comfortable with a certain subject area, and it is not a skill you can practice readily then the answer is simple…find a competent instructor.

If this subject is not a critical skill and it is a skill that you can practice repeatedly (knot tying, first aid techniques, SCBA donning / doffing) then you should practice it until you are intimately familiar with the techniques. An acquaintance of mine who is a seasoned fire instructor and fire officer often said ” You can’t return from a place you have never been.” How true! How are you going to pass along a skill that you do not have.

If the training session is a practical session, stop, plan, and consider even the wildest options. Consider personnel getting hurt as a part of the drill, consider that a person could fall ill during the drill for some unrelated cause. Consider engine failure, nozzle failure, equipment failure and all the rest. Check double check and recheck and if time permits depending upon the size of the drill have a pre-drill rehearsal.

If the training session is a live fire exercise then follow the NFPA standards for live fire exercises and add some safety factors of your own. NFPA standards are a MINIMUM!

Also, part of your preparation includes knowing the audience. Know what there original capabilities are, know what the culture of your department is and what things are acceptable behavior.

I am writing about this because I am seeing a disturbing trend. I am seeing college level instructors with excellent teaching credentials, but little or no fire service experience, teaching new firefighters and new fire officers. One can only wonder what effect this may have on our future.

The best teacher in the world can’t teach brain surgery if they are not a surgeon!

You can never be too prepared to teach a class or give a demonstration.

Your students demand your best – Be Prepared.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013