Posted by hdf561 on November 30, 2010
Firefighters are often faced with dangerous situations. Our “playing field” has certainly changed and we have to keep coming up with ways to do our job and yet survive. Quite frankly not surviving means that someone else down the road will not be getting the help they need.
With the ever-changing construction features and fears of collapse entanglement hazards have become even more of a reality. While we often practice the stop, swim, and go back technique sometimes that is not good enough. In my volly days I responded to a warehouse on fire that had interior offices built with HVAC duct work running through them. We were in a moderate smoke condition and pulling the ceilings in the offices when the duct work fell on us and me and my partner became entangled. This was not one of those times where the swim technique was going to work. Thankfully it was low gauge wire and my letherman multi tool was strong enough to cut the wire so we could exit the structure. I’ll be honest this should have been a Mayday activation as we were both stuck pretty good and had been working for some time on air. I remember exiting right as our low air alarm went off! A rather close one in my eyes and a lesson learned.
So what do we do when we have to go to cutting our way out and what tools do we have to get this done? I know me personally I now have added the Gerber multi tool, and Cable Cutters to my arsenal and have not found anything that they can not defeat. I also have a pair of trauma shears as they can cut some lighter gage metal and have a lot of other uses.
The below video gives you a real no BS assessment of what really works and what should be left in the hardware store. Please feel free to drop any tips that you have on this subject in the comments section, and please keep spreading the word about the blog!
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Posted by hdf561 on November 28, 2010
My brother gave me an early Christmas present the other day in the form of the above book. “Capitol City Fireman” tells the adventures of Jake Rixner a retired Lt. from the City of Richmond Va.
If you have been involved in the fire service in this area than you have either heard of or met Jake as he did a lot of teaching for the VDFP (Virginia Department of Fire Programs) and some independent teaching. Jake son Jimmy also was about my brothers age and I think they were on several sports teams together. I got to meet Jake at his then annual training class (I think it was the 3rd annual one). He assembled a lot of good fireman from DC, and Maryland and taught 2 great days of training in Engine and Truck ops. My impressions of him were that he was definitely cocky, but also very knowledgeable about the job, and had a lot to offer someone who was willing to listen.
His book details his life as a firefighter starting out in his volly days and leading up to the day he got promoted. The book is what you would expect from a firefighting biography but this book delivers in multiple ways. For one if you are a fireman (a real fireman) then you want to hear about past fires. Second living just outside Richmond my entire life and knowing a lot of City Fireman it was great to read a book about locations I could relate to, and revealing some of the history of one of the oldest fire departments in the nation. The book also offers some of Jake’s take on issues in the fire service and while you may always not agree it is always nice to hear a fresh perspective on things.
I definitely recommend picking this book up, it is well written, comical at times, informative read. I was able to read it cover to cover in only two days. You can pick up the book on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Capitol-City-Fireman-Jake-Rixner/dp/1770671285 its pretty inexpensive and well worth your time.
If you have read this already let me know what you think, also if you have any other book recommendations please share them in the comments section. Stay safe out there.
Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment »
Posted by hdf561 on November 24, 2010
Thursday is officially the beginning of the holiday season, and everyone is getting busy. Tomorrow some of the world will be sitting down and eating Thanksgiving dinner with their families, with not a care in the world. However in cities, towns, and counties everywhere firefighters will be spending time away from their families standing watch and ready to act just like every other day of the year. While we will eat, watch football, and enjoy our time with our second family it is still a sacrifice. The video below is from one of my favorite fire department movies “Brotherhood” in it they show all of the good (ribbing, respect, and good food), and bad (getting a call) that goes along with a Firehouse Thanksgiving. So to all of those working your shift tomorrow stay safe, and hopefully you will be in quarters most of the day. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
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Posted by q10rfd on November 21, 2010
How many fires must we go to before we start to educate ourselves on what a difference the use of 2 ½ inch hose line will make at a fire???? This morning my department responded to a house fire it was a 2 story balloon frame constructed residence with fire visible on the A-side and heavy smoke conditions. The initial crew pulled a 1 ¾ hand line with a fog nozzle and started to go inside due to a report of a person still inside. Once they got to the 2nd floor it was reported that the 2nd floor was somewhere between 75%-100% involved. At this point it should have clicked that maybe they were bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Now I’m a fan of being aggressive but I consider myself “knowledgably aggressive”, and in order to be “knowledgably aggressive I refer to the National Fire Academy’s Needed Fire Flow Formula when determining hose line selection that will deliver the proper GPM’s needed. The formula is as follows
Length x width = Needed GPM’s.
Now the 2nd floor of this house was about 30 feet long by 30 feet wide and the as stated before the 2nd floor was between 75% and 100% involved so we will use 100% for good measure.
30 x 30/3 = 300 GPM’s needed for the 100% involvement of the 2nd floor.
We also know that the maximum GPM’s you get from a 1 ¾ hose line with a fog nozzle is only 150-200 GPM’s.
So as stated in the title of this post THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE!!!!! Robby did a posting on this subject a few months ago so here is the link for that. http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/hose-line-selection/ . Also included on that posting was his you tube video on 2 1/2 hand lines and their proper use.
Do your homework, be smart, and choose wisely. We all know how macho it is to go headfirst into the fire, and how much a pain in the rear the 2 ½ can be but as the old saying goes “Dead men tell no tales”.
Posted in Engine Company | 7 Comments »
Posted by hdf561 on November 18, 2010
The video in this post is a good example of not paying attention to the color of the smoke but rather its density and velocity. You will see in the video (and could probably tell if you have been reading smoke) that the fire starts in the rear and then makes its way into the “attic” space above the attached garage.
You will see the smoke venting from above the garage through the A side gable vent. The smoke is whiteish in color yet leaving the opening in rapid order and horizontally. People often focus on the color of the smoke, however the color can be influenced by several factors (time, distance, and shielding) rarely today does the color of the smoke indicate the material burning, the exception to this rule is untreated wood which gives off a tan color smoke. This is significant because that usually means the structural members are burning and not the contents. What we really want to focus on is the density, and the velocity of the smoke. The smoke in question in this video is leaving very fast, and is very very thick. The velocity is a prime indicator of flash over! The lazy smoke coming from the garage area indicates a couple of things. You will also notice some lazy smoke leaving the garage area this is probably indicating that the door between the house and garage is open, and that the fire has taken a different direction but is still filling the house with smoke. In the smoke reading world this would be refered to as volume pushed smoke and you can see it is carrying a darker color along with it and is thinner. This would indicate that this smoke is close to the fire but not close enough to receive the velocity from the pressure of the heat.
Toward the end right before the knock down you can see the smoke begin to slightly change to some darker colors, again this indicates that flash over is going to happen within seconds and something must be done to cool the area.
Do not be fooled by the color of smoke, or the flames. Flames are at their end potential, smoke is telling you where the fire is going. Feel free to share any other thoughts, tips, etc. in the comments section. Stay safe out there and spread the word about the blog!
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Posted by hdf561 on November 16, 2010
This post http://www.fireservicewarrior.com/2010/11/fantasy-world-of-firefighting.html comes to us from Fire Service Warrior Blog.
It is detailing what he considers a fantasy world of firefighting where rules, and procedures are keeping us from doing our job effectively. He even uses humours comparisons to the game Dungeons and Dragons. It is really worth reading.
While I tend to agree with a lot he has to say, I can not help myself by saying that we are the ones who caused a lot of these “Fantasy” monsters to appear. How many LODD’s are preventable? I do not know exact figures on that but you know them when you see them, and its that which has contributed to the “Safety” culture we are bombarded with today. Sure we will never make firefighting 100% safe and we will always kill people on this job, but some of the things we do are just plain ignorant. Not wearing masks into a fire, not wearing our PPE, driving like maniacs, not wearing seatbelts, not wearing EMS gloves, and some of the other things I know you have seen. Those are the things that have led to the state of the fire service.
Like it our not today’s fire service is different for reasons we all know and that have been said over and over. We can still be aggressive and safe while doing so. Educate yourself on new building construction, fire behavior, and stop the negativity about new techniques and tactics until you have tried them. Its time to take some personal responsibility for the state we are in. We got ourselves here it will take a lot of success in order to get us out.
Feel free to comment on the article or my reaction in the comments section and spread the word about the blog!
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Posted by hdf561 on November 15, 2010
The past couple of days have been really exciting at work. we have been training a lot on our fall training scenarios, basically pulling lines, forcing doors, going over friction loss calculations, etc.
We have also had a few significant calls that have presented several learning points.
This past Friday I finally had my first house fire with my new crew. I have been there about 3 months now and so far the only real significant fire call we have had is a trash truck fully involved. While this was an interesting call, and a few firsts for me (I had never seen a truck company vent the roof of a trash truck) it was not a house fire. Thankfully though Friday was our day, and I just happened to be riding backwards. The fire was in our second due but the first due company was out of position so we took the first in responsibility, the hydrant was one house past the fire occupancy so laying out was not needed. Once we made the block and pulled past leaving the front for the truck, I got a good view of the house. You could tell by the smoke that the fire was in the attic (door wide open and no smoke coming from it, but thick angry smoke coming from the gable ends and soffit). I stretched the line while the boss made the lap and spoke to the home owner. Once I went in there was very little smoke in the living room but there was fire coming from the fire-place and the seams of the fire-place where it met the wall. To my right the air return vent with fire coming out of it. I knocked down both of those while the boss located the attic access. Once he found that we opened it and were met with high heat. I shot some water in the attic and then proceeded up. It was quite hot but once the line was opened I was able to knock it back and put a knock down on the bulk of it. The seat was on the opposite end so while I held the fire in place crews from another engine stretched a second line and the truck made access for them to finish it off.
The big learning point came once we came out for a breather. The Chief stated that we made a good stop and that he was close to pulling us out because it looked bad, when he arrived. This was surprising to me, on the inside it was definitely a hot fire but, I never felt in danger, or the need to get out of the attic. To me this was a “grit your teeth another 30 seconds” fire. This in my opinion illustrates a few points. One we have to be diligent in reading smoke and knowing fire behavior. I was able to get to the fire fast by reading the smoke. Two building construction knowledge. This is a key component to fire ground operations, Frank Brannigan said it for decades and now its more true than ever, know the warning signs of collapse from the exterior as well as interior and instead of seeing some heavy fire and automatically wanting to retreat make an evaluation and think of an offensive move first. Maybe another line is the key instead fo standing outside and watching it burn. I am all for safety but lets not become “outstanding ” firefighters. When we need to go defensive let’s go defensive but when we can go offensive with all of our blocks in place (RIT, proper building, and fire conditions) we should be doing so and doing so aggressively. Lastly we need better communication. The entire time we where inside no one told us what they saw from the exterior, we never knew what type of impact we were making except what we saw from the interior, sometimes this is not the whole picture. Do not be afraid to say pertinent things over the radio that companies need to be aware of.
The Lost Art of THE IRONS!!!!!
The Training Section recently purchased a commercial forcible entry simulator. It is similar to this http://www.theinforcer.com/products.html. While I think it is great and people have finally gone out and done some much-needed forcible entry training, the focus is on the wrong thing. The way the simulator is constructed has led to a false sense of security concerning the hydra-ram. The construction is all metal in order for it to be forced over and over again, thus allowing the hydra ram to work over and over again. That is until you get toa real call where you have a metal door and a wooden jamb. Lets just “hypothetically” say that when you do this the jamb is going to give long before the locks or the door will, and once it does you will not defeat the locks and make your job with the irons that much harder. Let’s remember what the true use for the hydra-ram really is and when to use it. Further more if you are not good with the irons then you should never use the hydra-ram. The reason for this is when the hydra-ram fails you have to go back to the irons, if your skill level with them is poor you will not accomplish the mission. we should spend 90% of our forcible entry time training with the irons, and 10% using the hydra-ram.
Well that is all I have for now, feel free to comment on these tips, or share some things you have recently learned/reinforced lately. As usual please spread the word about the blog.
Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company, Truck Company | Comments Off
Posted by hdf561 on November 11, 2010
http://www.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/children-discovered-padlocked This story comes to us from South Carolina. A fire broke out in a mobile home and the mother had padlocked the door while she took her husband to work (I am assuming for some sort of added security). While she was gone the house caught fire and thankfully due to some smart thinking by the children, they were able to break a window with a stool and exit the structure.
While this is appalling, there are lessons to be learned from the tactical side. It is reported that firefighters had to use bolt cutters in order to gain entry into the structure.
Bolt cutters are typically not the best way to get into pad locks now. Bolt cutters are usually only effective on cheaper locks. Most of today’s lock companies have gone to a case hardened shackle which regular bolt cutters are ineffective against (You have to have case hardened bolt cutters). Even the old trick of cutting the staple with bolt cutters, as a lot of companies have now switched to a case hardened staple. This is besides the point that the we rarely carry bolt cutters to the front door with us, so the efficiency, and speed of their use is greatly diminished. Some people have started using a duck-billed lock breaker for these type of locks, and while this works on some locks (mostly with a short or narrow shackle) it is like the bolt cutters where we rarely bring it with us off of the rig, so in order to use it we would have to go and find it.
The Irons (specifically the halligan) is still the fastest and most efficient way to get into these locks. We carry them with us everywhere, and they can be used for a variety fo techniques on these types of locks. The pike end can either be used in a similar fashion as the duck-billed lock breaker (if it is a lock with a small shackle), or inserted in between the frame and hasp in order to defeat the securing screws that are placed in the structure. With a cheap lock and staple the fork ends can be placed over the shackle and rotated in order to tear the staple. Again this only works with a cheap non case hardened staple. Trying to do this with a case hardened staple will only make your job harder as it will form into a case hardened piece of twisted metal but will not clear the hasp. If none of these techniques work you can then use your irons to attack the hinge side fo the door and get in that way.
I know a lot of people like to use a saw on these locks as well, and I am all for that. However when is the saw getting there? Is the saw properly bladed? Is the saw properly maintained? Is the saw team trained in these techniques? Look saws are awesome but they are subject to mechanical, and user error. The irons never run our of gas because even if you get tired you can hand them off to a fresh person and they keep working. The saw is a good plan but much like with the hydra-ram if you can not use the irons you should not use a saw or hydra-ram, because if they do not work you have got to go back to the irons again.
There are a lot more techniques out there than the ones I have shared, get out there and practice some of them, as my man “Rude Boy” says “Don’t Let Your Fireground Slow You Down”. Feel free to share any of the techniques you’re using in the comments section, or shoot us an email, add in some pictures and we will put it on the blog! As usual we ask that you please spread the word about the blog! Stay Safe out there!
Posted in Engine Company, Truck Company | 1 Comment »
Posted by hdf561 on November 9, 2010
This video was put together by the firefighters from the City of Cincinnati Ohio. They are once again facing sever lay offs that threaten to cut the current work force in half. Over at Firegeezer http://firegeezer.com/2010/11/09/a-rough-road-ahead/ they have a lot more info. This is a horrible time in the fire service. Not even 10 years after the sacrifices of the 343 were we were supposedly “Americas Hero’s” we are now in a different kind of fight, the fight to maintain our livelihood.
This video just puts a lot of things in perspective, sure things are not always sun shine and roses at the FD. There are people, policies, and things I do not like. Sure we haven’t gotten a raise in a while, but we have not closed a company even for a day, still use over time to fill our positions, we are still replacing old fire stations, still getting new apparatus, still hiring a new class this year, and still are in our long-term planning to add another station and a few more units. So while things may not all be peachy, I still have a job, and I still think it is the best job in the world. Sometimes that can be a curse. Lets face it some of the people in charge know how good this job is and use that fact to try to treat people poorly (what are you gonna do quit?). But in times like this its a blessing.
So let’s get out there and help ourselves, lets spend that few extra minutes on scene and make sure the citizens we serve remember that they do need us, and that much like insurance we need to be there in case something goes wrong, because after it goes wrong it is too late. We need to make the fire service a focal point of our community, not an item on a budget that is expendable.
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Posted by hdf561 on November 7, 2010
As it gets colder and colder outside we as firefighters have to adjust out operations in order to meet the needs of our customers. I plan on doing a couple of these focusing on different things. This first post is going to focus on the firefighter and how you can better prepare yourself for winter weather ops.
Like most anything preparation is EVERYTHING, if they are predicting cold, and or winter weather in your area you need to report to your duty shift with the proper provisions. If you have read this blog at all you know that I carry a SWAT (Special Wrenches And Tools) bag. During the winter I add some extra stuff to it in order to better operate. Here are some winter weather firefighter tips.
1. EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA: Carry an extra of just about everything. Extra gloves, socks, hood, etc. Put things that are emergent on the rig in a bag so that you can get to them. At the station make sure you have at least 1 spare uniform, and 1 spare pair of boots (do not forget your stocking cap!), a lot of times when dealing with winter weather events you can get wet. Wet + cold = MISERABLE. I also like to carry a towel on the rig. Lets face it dry warm feet feel good no matter what time of year it is. It would also be a good idea to carry some extra stuff for the patients we encounter (blankets, and towels).
2. DE Ice Ice baby: We operate with water, when its cold water can freeze. Additionally if we are driving in winter weather and on scene for a while ice can accumulate on the windshield, and side mirrors. Carrying some De-icer on the rig will help put you back in service, and back to the fire station. Carrying some ice melt and deploying it around the rig if you are pumping will allow you to operate safer.
3. Take this job and shovel it: We mostly carry shovels for brush fires, and for overhaul of fires, however in winter weather a good and easily reachable shovel is a must have. If you are dealing with a patient that can not walk how else would you clear a path for the stretcher if you do not have a shovel?
4. Change: We have to change everything we do when we are dealing with winter weather. We are driving slower, moving slower, yet the fire or emergency does not change at all. We have to adjust out mindset, and our tactics to deploy properly and accurately.
Well that’s all I have for now, I’ll be adding more later about preparation of the rig, and some other tips and tricks to make you winter run smoother. The most important thing to remember is to have fun with it. This is the best job in the world! Leave some of your winter weather tips in the comments section, and as usual spread the word about the blog!
Even shoveling snow can be fun with the right people!
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