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Posts Tagged ‘paramedic’

2 A Days

Posted by hdf561 on July 24, 2014

Danny is back with another great insight on the fire service! Make sure to follow him on twitter @RVA_Fireman

I’m always reading articles about how in the fire service we  refer to ourselves as “occupational athletes” but I question that statement and ask Are we really?  Now before I get into my point this has nothing to do about physical fitness levels because if you know me I’m not very big into all that, it’s just not my thing.  I do work out on occasion but it’s mostly walking, or  the occasional 5k or stair climb, I am not at the forefront of all the fitness and wellness programs we have in today’s service so bare with me.


I’m speaking about training and motivation.  Today is the start of NFL training camp for my team the Washington REDSKINS!!! (And yes I say it loud and proud). These guys hold their training camp in the city I work in, you can actually see the training camp facility from the back door of the fire station!!!!! We always hear a lot about how athletes are just overpaid and over hyped and etc etc etc and how all there doing is playing a game, and in some cases I would agree with those statements. But these guys put in more work in 3 weeks of training camp then some firefighters do all year!!!  Ever heard of the term “2 a days”??? That’s how these camps usually run, it means that these teams or athletes who are just playing a “game”  have practices 2 times a day!! They also usually have meetings in between.  For example, today the team arrived at the facility  around 8am had a 2 hour practice in the rain mind you, after they went back in and had team meetings til 4pm and then  will come back out and practice or “train” for 2 more hours.


Now you may now be asking yourself “How does this apply to the fire service?”.  I counter with this, when’s the last time you drilled, practiced, or trained more than 1 time a day?  We deal with saving people’s lives, and perform one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet and we barely train once a day!!! I know my company hasn’t in a LONG time and we let the negativity of how we are treated dictate this.  I’ll be the first to admit we’ve become lazy. Most fire companies I know come to work, set the plan for the day get the daily training out-of-the-way as early as possible so they can get to their “downtime”, or you have the companies that come to work and downtime is the whole 24 hours their on shift.  I don’t want to fall into that hole anymore.  We may complain about how much less $ we make, or how the city or local government isn’t supporting us properly but if you want people to take you and your company seriously as “go getters” you gotta get out of the chair and train.


Why can’t we in the fire service being doing “2 A days” like the professional athletes are??? It doesn’t have to be something extravagant.  Use your imagination, be creative.  It can range from doing something practical like pulling lines or throwing ladders to as small as doing a scenario on the whiteboard or even reviewing a EMS protocol or department SOG.  If your reading this and thinking that there’s no way you can get your guys to do that everyday then maybe you should take it upon yourself to start drilling yourself and see how many of them start to join you.  If there not as into the job as you are that’s ok, I’ve learned that not everyone has to like it as much as I do but I guarantee you that if you start beating and banging around out on the apparatus floor few times a day they will come to see what’s all the commotion about and that’s your chance to engage them.


So my question is Why not “2 A Days” for the fire service?  It’s as simple as that, most of us are here for 24 hours so why not use at least a few hours of that to make yourself and your company the best you can be!!! Get out and train!!!!!



Posted in Company Officer, Drill of the Month, Engine Company, Fitness, Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How Can We Reach The Future Of Our Service?

Posted by hdf561 on July 12, 2014

I have the chance to interact with young kids, pre teens, and teenagers a lot. Sometimes it is through coaching, other times it is through my part-time job as a Fire and Safety Technician at a local theme park. When I do I often get the question…

How do you become a firefighter?

Once I begin to explain the process of becoming a firefighter or even an EMT Basic I am often met with the “that’s too much work” response especially by the teenagers.

Perhaps the question is more of a societal question, maybe it is a cultural one, but how can we reach the future of the service? How can we tell them that yes this is a tough job. It will take sacrifice, years of school and classes, time away from your loved ones, an elite level of fitness, etc. It will take all of that but the biggest thing is how do we tell them IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

I was lucky, I came from a fire service family so I did not have to search hard for the direction to go. However not everyone has a dad, brother, uncle, or even a neighbor to look to for inspiration into this career.

Even more simply put how can we turn this…

teaching kids

Into this


Love for the job may not be enough to hook the next generation, but we can not sacrifice the values of our profession to get people to fill our boots. We need to find the right people, not just people.

I know there will always be the fire service kids out there, but they are easy, how can we reach the on the fence ones? The ones that have the potential but may not have the push?

I do not have the answer. What I do know is that it will be tough, it will be hard, it will take sacrifice, but….


As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

How can we know our buildings?

Posted by hdf561 on July 1, 2014

Frank Brannigan said the building is our enemy and we need to know our enemy. Some have amended that with the fire is our enemy but the building is our battlefield and we must know the terrain in which we are to do battle. Either way you put it building construction is important to everything we do. However just the subject of building construction is VAST and unending. Engineers, construction companies, contractors, developers, etc. are always trying to come up with cheaper, and more efficient materials to build structures. Sure these materials are sound from an engineering stand point as a lot of the current construction materials are very lightweight but very strong. However they rarely consider how they are affected under fire.

The big question is how do we become more educated in building construction. The IFSTA Manual has a chapter on it, and it covers the 5 types of buildings and some basic information but to be honest most new buildings meet a very loose definition of those 5 types, some are even hybrids which include multiple types of construction making its resistance to fire change based on the location. Needless to say the IFSTA manual and our initial firefighter training fail in one of the most important aspects of our training.

One might say research is the key, and while effective in some regards, as previously stated the subject is vast. Just taking a few glances at the local buildings code for your area will bring you thousands of pages, which can be confusing at best when you see all of the exemptions. Viewing my local building code was of little help as I quickly discovered there was very little off the table when it came to construction. Reading books like Building Construction For The Fire Service is great but it is hundreds of pages that at times can be dry and difficult to get through. There are also some great websites out there but like with anything else they can be laced with opinion instead of facts. In my opinion the best research comes from the testing companies such as UL and NIST. They are science based, and do not bring in personal opinion. They simply present what happens during the test.

Research may be great for some but it still leaves us with limited hands on experience and little tactical decision-making ability. My recommendation is a three-step process to ensure you can develop knowledge, hands on, and tactical abilities.

1. Information Gathering: Be plugged into your district. In my locality we have some local publications, and housing magazines that provide a great deal of information for the fire service. They have floor layouts of houses in new developments, where and when new developments are coming, etc. My department also has a plans reviewer that gets blue prints of every commercial and residential occupancy built so those documents are available when needed. If you do not have that simply ride in your district and if you see a new development stop, get out, and go to the construction office (probably a trailer) and ask the site boss for information.

2. During Construction: Make several visits to the site while it is being built. This will give you a view of what materials are being used, how they are being used, and the type of craftsmanship. If you have questions, get you code compliance folks involved, or ask the construction site boss or foreman.

3. Post Construction: Once the building is built go meet to occupant, ask them to do a walk through and preplan. While their talk about tactics with your crew, test the standpipe to see if the caps come off, bring something to measure hose line stretch lengths, locate and test the closest hydrants, find the electrical rooms, find the alarm panels, if elevators make sure your elevator keys work, etc. Basically look at everything to do with this building, and take every advantage the occupant will give you. If they offer to let you stretch hose in the building DO IT!

This may still be a daunting task especially if you have a dynamic and developing district. If the building is already built you can still do parts of step 1 (blue prints) and all of step 3 which will still give you a lot of information needed to be successful. Simply put it can not all be done from the computer!

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company, Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

2014 Richmond Fire Beat The Heat 5k

Posted by hdf561 on June 16, 2014


This past weekend I got to participate in one of my favorite races. The Richmond Beat The Heat 5k benefits the Richmond Firefighters Foundation by providing scholarships to the families of Richmond Firefighters. Besides the obvious benefits it is a race with mostly firefighters which is always fun.

This year was even more fun because it was the first time I was able to run a race with my two sons

photo 1 Here we are at the beginning of the race

I got to run with my oldest while my wife ran with my youngest.

photo 2 Here is my wife and the boys before the race

Since this was their first race we had little expectations as far as time, the goal was simply finish, have fun, and share our love of fitness with them.

WE WHERE BLOWN AWAY!!!!!! My oldest and I finished in about 31 mins. which is only about 6 mins off of my fastest time! My wife and youngest where not far behind and finished in 38 mins !

photo 3 Post race with the bling!

For an 8 and 5-year-old this was phenomenal and I could not have been more proud! This just goes to show that your fitness journey does not have to be a solo one, and getting your family involved can be rewarding on so many levels! I was even prouder when they asked can we do this again!

My hats off once again to the City Of Richmond Fire Department for hosting a great event! They have improved this race every year and it keeps getting better! If you are in the Richmond area or close next year you should do this race. For veteran runners it is perfect for a PR attempt as it is flat and fast. It is also the perfect race for beginners, walkers, stroller pushers, etc. Most importantly it benefits the families of firefighters.

If you can’t get here next year, try to sign up for a race in your home town, or better yet create one! Racing is one of the best ways to keep on your fitness plan as it gives you a concrete goal to accomplish. You do not need to be the fastest just race against yourself!

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Fitness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

What do you want to be?

Posted by hdf561 on June 8, 2014

There is a lot of debate about what is and what is not aggressive. A lot of people determine aggressive based on their location on the fire ground. I have often thought that aggressive should be defined as the actions you are taking not where you are standing.

As I have been debating this for several years I have begun to think that perhaps we are defining our fire service “actions” with the wrong words. I have seen very non aggressive moves right next to a fire, some very aggressive ones on the exterior, and vice versa.

Take a look at the definition of aggressive

adjective: aggressive
ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression.
“he’s very uncooperative and aggressive”
Some of the synonyms are hostile, belligerent. One of the definitions included the words destructive and often harmful!
Are these things we really want to be viewed as?
I think the term I want to be most identified with is effective.
adjective: effective
successful in producing a desired or intended result

Some synonyms include successful, powerful, and potent.

These are words I want to be associated with. I want to be able to handle anything thrown my way and be successful at it.
I think as a service we need to judge our tactics and actions based on effectiveness, not location, or our perceived definition of aggression. I have worked in fire departments on a 2 person engine with no back up where interior operations where a lot of times not an option. So we would work on flowing large-caliber hand lines from the exterior. Flowing 300+ gals a min from the exterior then transitioning to the interior may not seem aggressive to some (I disagree) but I guarantee you it is effective and those fires went out, probably faster than some who may have gone interior with 1 person initially.
I have also seen departments take undersized lines interior to very large fires only to get overwhelmed and chased out. They where trying to meet the definition of “aggressive interior firefighters” but where not effective in putting the fire out so what was the point?
The fire service is VAST and dynamic! There is not and should not be one way to handle fires as each fire department is a little different. The tactics of the FDNY guy with 5 man engines usually do not work on the two or three-man engine.
So when evaluating your tactics and actions focus on how effective they are vs. where you may be standing (interior or exterior). Always take whatever you may see on the internet, YouTube, blogs, etc. and put it in practice at YOUR fire house, with your crew, and your equipment.
I always have and always will love going inside on a fire building, however it may not always be the best option for your staffing, or your department. Even as well staffed (first in assignments) as my department is with our actual rig manning (3 driver, officer, firefighter) it may not always be feasible.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Turning Your Commute Into a Classroom!

Posted by hdf561 on May 12, 2014

One of the biggest things I always here about why firefighters do train everyday is time! To be honest I get it! Most firefighters in the country are volunteer and are working a full-time job, raising families, and still trying to find time to serve their volunteer departments and communities.

The same can go for career firefighters who often have one or more part-time jobs, and families. I myself have my full-time fire department job, a part-time job, and 2 beautiful boys who are playing multiple sports that me and my wife are heavily involved in (coaching, team parents etc.) My wife even works her full-time job and teaches EMT-Basic (among other things) for her part-time work, so I get being taxed for time.

What I often try to do is find a way to maximize the time I have, kind of like a NASCAR pit crew. They analyze where even seconds can be saved in order to make a faster pit stop.

One of the ways I have found to do that is during my commute to work! Most every firefighter I know has between 15 mins and an hour when heading into the fire station. Instead of zoning out to work like I used to, I have begun listening to podcasts while going to work.

classroom car 2

classroom car 3http://www.petelamb.com, http://www.viewsfromthejumpseat.com, http://www.firefightertoolbox.com, http://www.fireengineering.com

There is a TON of great content on podcasts today, and they run the range from simple to complex, fitness to leadership, EMS to firefighting.  In the above pictures are some of my favorites that I listen to on my rides to work. I also listen to them while I am working out, again a time maximizing effort.

Another resource available is Audio Books. A lot of people do not like reading books, or reading period but by listening to an audio book in a couple of rides to and from work you can get a great message and education just by listening.  Here is a link to some audio books available right now! http://www.pennwellbooks.com/audiobooks.html

Another tip is you can utilize your commute to work to improve your district knowledge and size up skills. I’m sure most of us take the same route to work and home everyday. Instead try to take different paths to work, and note different streets, buildings, and water supply options. If you see something interesting take a picture and share it with the crew when you get to work.

classroom car

You may spark a discussion about how to deal with the problem, and maybe they will want to go see it for themselves. Also while your riding your district pic a random house and do an on scene report for it.


This was a house in a district I used to work in that I rode by hundreds  of times, and when it finally caught fire everyone on the shift knew what the exact location of the house, and the closest hydrants, I sized this house up a lot as did everyone on my crew so when it came time for the real deal we where ready!

I know time is something there never seems to be enough of but by taking the time we do have and maximizing it, we can make huge strides in our fire service knowledge.

So take the time, to make the time and soon your commute will be your classroom!

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Drill of the Month, Engine Company, Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Simple Hose Roll for DPO

Posted by hdf561 on April 29, 2014

This is just a simple trick that was taught to me and I have been passing on for years. Every engine company carries short supply hose sections of various sizes and lengths. I often found that when these rolls get above about 25 feet they can become a little difficult to deal with. Storage, deployment, etc. they are just difficult. A lot of these rolls are simply straight rolled, or doughnut rolled and placed in the compartment, or tray and not thought of until the next fire. Getting a water supply established is one of the most important things to do at a fire scene so making it more efficient for the driver who is usually operating alone should be just as important.

By simply rolling the hose a different way we can reduce the foot print of the hose roll, make it easier to handle, and make the deployment of it easier.

5 inch 1

You start with the hose laid out as you normally would, and make sure it is drained.

5 inch 2

You then take the hose over top of itself placing both the couplings at the same end.

5 inch 3

Start rolling!

5 inch 4

Your end result should look something like this. As you can see the foot print of the hose roll itself either upright or on its side is literally cut in half. It also gives you the advantage of exposing both couplings. Additionally it ensures that any residual water is no longer in the hose, any residual air is no longer in the hose, and makes handling it a lot easier.

When it comes to deployment, this roll almost wants to unroll itself! If in a tray or compartment you can simply grab both couplings and walk. If you choose you can still do the bowling ball roll, or connect either to the piston intake valve or large water intake on your engine then walk to the hydrant or vice versa. You can also hand ne coupling to another firefighter and then you both walk in opposite directions.

Simply put the only way you can unroll the single doughnut is to unroll it yourself, trying to bowling ball a 50 foot section of 5 or 4 inch hose is inefficient at best, and nearly impossible for some firefighters.

The best part about it is that it is a simple and basic change that you learned in your firefighter 1 class! This one little change can make a huge impact in your pump operator efficiency.

What other tips and tricks are you using in your department? Send them to averagejakeff@gmail.com and I will feature them on the site. Do not forget to keep following along on twitter @averagejakeff and as always the comments section is open for business for discussion and thoughts.

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!



Posted in Engine Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off


Posted by hdf561 on April 4, 2014

In just a few days I like many of my fire service brothers will be heading to the greatest fire service conference on the planet FDIC!

While there we will take classes, walk around the exhibit floors, network, and enjoy the brotherhood that is hanging out with 40,000 like minded people.

The one other thing people will be doing is searching. Searching for that tid bit, that trick, that “secret of the fire service” .

Well I have figured it out! No it’s not RECEO, SLICERS, DICERS, SLAPCHOP, UL or NIST Studies those are all tools that we have at our disposal.

The secret of the fire service is THERE IS NO SECRET!

There is no one end all be all solution. The fire service is too fluid to have the one and only plan, and fire departments themselves are too dynamic and different to adhere to one set of tactics.

So when you go to FDIC next week (or any other class or conference for that matter) keep an open mind. Do some preplanning and research before going and take classes that apply to the position you are in, or trying to get to in your career. Take what applies to your department and leave the rest. Then go home and apply some sweat equity to your new found tactics and see what really works for your department.

The saying of “there is more than one way to skin a cat” holds true. The current cat the fire service faces is not a baby kitten, it is a fully developed mountain lion seeking to kill us! To pigeon hole yourself to one style, one idea is borderline negligent!

be water

The above quote from Bruce Lee speaks volumes about how we should approach our fire service problem. We already use water now we must act more like it, not dismissing ideas, but being open to multiple forms and using the one that works best despite our tradition, culture or ego.

I hope to see you all at FDIC and be sure to follow me on twitter @averagejakeff

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company, Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Averagejake’s Rules of the Fire Service!

Posted by hdf561 on March 25, 2014

With all of the acronyms, studies, and science being brought into the fire service today, I often hear of people clamoring for a simpler time. A time when the job was what they describe as simpler. Even as a believer in a lot of these different studies, and I feel that the fire service should be an educated fire service, but at the core of our job what we do everyday has not changed. A lot of these concepts are not even “new” if you are familiar with any fire service history. I learned about “transitional attack” back in 1996 when taking my first firefighter 1 class at the ripe old age of 16.

However I realize that young firefighters out there making their way into the fire service all over the country can be bogged down with some of this new information, and or tactics. I have had to utilize my college degree more than once to decipher some of the nuances of these studies. So in that spirit here are Averagejake’s rules of the fire service!

Always wear you PPE!

No matter the call, no matter the building, no matter your years of service ALWAYS wear your personal protective equipment! Or even simpler wear the things designed to protect you! This begins with your seat belt while responding to and returning from responses. If you are going to an EMS run, put your gloves on. If you are going to a building or car on fire put on your turnout gear and SCBA. If the EMS call requires a mask, eye pro, or gown then put it on. If the fire requires you to be on air due to smoke exposure in the front yard then put it on.

If you are on an Engine Company, Always have something that can put a fire out!

Tool selection is a big topic in almost any firehouse in America. Everyone has a preference on what they like to carry, and most have a ton of merit based on individual likes, and district needs. What cannot be up for debate is that the primary mission of an Engine company is to extinguish fire. Therefore if you are responding to a fire alarm, building fire, car fire, etc. you must come off the rig and grab some sort of extinguishing device. This can be a water can, hose pack, pulling a line, ABC extinguisher, or Indian Pack. I like to carry a water can when investigating residential occupancy, and a hose pack when investigating multi-family and commercial occupancies. This way if I find a fire I can either hold it in check with the can, or isolate the fire by closing the door and back stretch the line back to a water source (engine, leader line, standpipe).

If you are on a Special Service Company (Truck,Squad,Rescue) always have something that breaks stuff!

Yes search and rescue is a primary function of Special Service companies, and I do not want to down play that. However a majority of what companies do is open the building up. They force entry, they ventilate, they overhaul all of these things require tools! When I was assigned as a truck firefighter I carried a 6 foot NY Roof Hook and 30 inch halligan pro bar. This allowed me to open doors, break windows, pull ceilings, open walls, open floors, and just about anything else you can think of. Again people have preferences on which tools they like to have and that is fine, just know the buildings in your district and choose the ones that best fit them.


This one should be self explanatory but sadly it is not. Good enough is not good enough when it comes to our job. We should be striving for excellence in every aspect of our job. Training our fire skills, EMS skills, and our physical fitness to elite levels is the secret of fire service success. The funny part about it is that it is the worst kept secret ever! Everyone knows it, yet seem to shy away from it. I do not know if it is laziness, apathy, or uncaring. However no one forces ANYONE to be a firefighter, we all chose to be here. So if we are going to be here, and lives are in our hands, then we have the responsibility to be the best at it we can be. So spend an hour in the gym, and an hour working on fire skills every shift day. When your off read at least one fire related article a day. Just that little bit of work will take you to elite levels of firefighting.


I do not mean to trivialize the complexities of our profession. We operate in highly dynamic environments, and have to have tremendous skill sets in order to mitigate emergencies. Never stop seeking elite levels of the fire service, but if you get lost or have a brain lapse remember to wear your gear, have something that puts fires out, have something that breaks stuff, and train every day. That should get you through until you get back on track.

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company, Fitness, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by hdf561 on February 13, 2014

Well the snow and other winter weather has hit us here in Virginia and most other southern states hard once again leaving a lot of our fire companies looking like this!

Even on shift last night in the initial stages I had to do a little shoveling in order to get back in the bay, and to clear steps and side walks on EMS runs.

I thought this would be a good time to rehash some older posts I have written about working in the snow and wintry conditions

http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/winter-operations-the-engine/ This one is preparation for your engine company. We all know that we use water to fight fire, however water can be our enemy in winter weather conditions. We have to make our engine work for us rather than against us.

http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/winter-operations-the-firefighter/?relatedposts_exclude=1440 This post details some things you can do to be better prepared from the firefighter perspective. Extra gloves, moving your shovel out of the “crow’s nest” etc.

I hope you take time to read some of them, and I hope they can benefit you in your winter operations.

Additionally I know most rigs that have even a remote chance of winter weather have some sort of automatic chain system. Most of these systems are similar but can be a little different based on the manufacturer. I am most familiar with Onspot, but there are other brand names. Below are links to a few of those companies take time to review what your automatic chain system can and can not do, and when it may be time to switch to a full tire chain. Make sure that if you are unsure if you need the full tire chain you put them on the rig with you, that way you can attempt to install them if you get in a bind out in your district.

Onspot: http://www.onspot.com/

Insta-chain: http://www.insta-chain.com/Safety.php

ROTOGRIP: http://www.rud.com/en-us/products/snow-chains/rotogrip.html

Superlite: http://www.superlitechains.com/auto/index.html

Again make sure you find out your brand of automatic chain your department is using to find out what they can and can not do!

Lastly these weather conditions change everything. Our response is slower, our movement on scene is slower, our deployment is slower. This means that the routine chest pain call could be a STEMI, the asthma attack could become the respiratory arrest, and the room and contents could become the post flash over structure fire that could lead to collapse. Make sure we adjust everything we do and set ourselves up for success.

If you have any other valuable tips for winter weather operations please share on twitter @averagejakeff or in the comments section.

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

Posted in Company Officer, Engine Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off


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