Average Jake Firefighter Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘paramedic’


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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Fitness and District Training!

Posted by hdf561 on February 3, 2014

Sometimes even with our best effort we run out of time during our 24 hour shift to accomplish everything we want or need to do. I know that personally I always strive for a minimum of 1 hour of PT and 1 hour of training every shift, but with other duties, and of course calls it can be difficult especially if your department runs EMS or has to staff and ambulance.

So why not combine the two? Someone on my shift came up with the Address Workout and I think it is a great way to combine our fitness with training. Here is how it works.

Simply pick a few addresses from your district (we usually do a minimum of 20) and write them down on a card. Also on the card assign each address an exercise.

For example:

12345 Main St Cross Street of 2nd and 3rd St
You get your shift together with your map book in a circle and the first person reads says the exercise and reads the address. You all start doing the exercise until the person to the right can give turn by turn directions to the address. If they know it stone cold then at least do 20 reps of the exercise, if they do not know it, then after 20 reps they can look it up in the map book while everyone else continues to exercise until they can provide turn by turn directions to the address in question.

You can make it more difficult or less difficult depending on your companies fitness and district knowledge. You can even add a penalty for having to use the map book, and make the addresses more difficult as you go.

This is a great way to combine fitness and training!

Do you have any other ways you are getting creative with your fitness on duty? Share them in the comments section or on twitter @averagejakeff Also follow along on twitter as I post the workouts I do, and follow the hash tag #fswfitness for other ideas.

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

Posted in Drill of the Month, Fitness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Radio Communications Drill

Posted by hdf561 on January 24, 2014

I saw this video and had to post it. Everyone knows that communications on the fireground are always a hot topic. They are usually listed in every NIOSH report, every after action review of every call, and every firehouse argument!

I have said this before but it is true the fire service in general has some people who talk a lot on the radio, but do not say anything!

Our communications need to be concise, yet plentiful with information. Some people use C.A.N. Conditions, Actions, Needs. Some use C.P.R. Conditions, Progress, Resources. No matter what you use, we have to practice them. Utilizing fire service video is great to practice, doing the drill in the above video is also another great way to practice.

I found a great drill on twitter courtesy of @kccochivette

log cabin drill

You sit in opposite rooms with a set of Lincoln Logs (or other building style toys) and communicate via the radio. One crew gives the other crew instructions and the goal is to build the same looking structure. Once you get good you could add in other distractions like a saw, SCBA PASS Alarm, etc. just like in the drill above.

Just a few options on how to practice and improve our radio communications on the fireground. Do you have any others? Let us know in the comments section, or on twitter.

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

Posted in Company Officer, Drill of the Month, Engine Company, Rescue/R.I.T./EMS, Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Being Made to look like a FOOL!

Posted by hdf561 on December 30, 2013

Perhaps I should have watched this video SOONER! For those of you that are not in the Medic world the above video is about a piece of equipment known as the 3 way stop cock. it is used with an IV set up, and can be utilized to push meds, piggy back drips, etc.

I have ALWAYS had trouble with this piece of equipment, and yesterday while working it made me look like an absolute FOOL!

One of the other things I have always had trouble with is map reading and well directions in general.

I am sure we all have those things that make us look foolish at times. Some call them weaknesses, I say they are learning opportunities.

I think being made to look like a fool sometimes is valuable and it keeps you honest, it lets you know that you’re not as smart as you may think, you still have a ton left to learn, and you still have work to do. Even the motivated of us need that, it gives us direction and lets us bulls eye the direction we need to go.

In order to get better at map reading, I study the maps and the district probably twice as hard as others, and it still takes me twice as long to get it down but I still put the effort in. I have identified a weakness with the stop cock so I am going to spend more time with it.

The point is EVERYTHING we do is perishable from engine work, truck work, EMS work, etc. If we do not use it, we lose it. There is always something to train on, and sweat equity is usually the method to how we accomplish maintaining proficiency. So train on something for an hour everyday, the topics are ENDLESS! Follow along on twitter @averagejakeff and look for the hash tag #1hourhot (stands for one hour of hands on training) to see what I am trying to do to make me a better fireman.

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

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

3 LODD’s

Posted by hdf561 on December 15, 2013

ff Joshua Smith Lt. Jeff Little

Today was a rough day for at least 3 fire departments and the associated families. Above are 2 pictures of the 3 that have passed.

No LODD is good, they are all tragic, one even happened in my home state of Virginia which always hits close to home.

Even worse is having them this close to what is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year.

As with any LODD investigations will be done, speculations will be made, and opinions will be stated. No matter what let us remember to be respectful, and honorable to those that have passed but to also take away any learning points we can from each LODD. Failing to do so would do a disservice to each of these fireman, and to their families.

Let us in this holiday season remember

Lt. Jeff Little Waycross Fire

Firefighter Joshua Smith La Crosse VFD

Firefighter Terry R. Guss South Zanesville Fire

Also remember both their families and departments as they deal with the loss of their brothers.

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

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

Forcible Entry: New Version of an old lock

Posted by hdf561 on October 9, 2013

This past weekend I was staying out-of-town in a hotel for the running of the Crawling Crab Half Marathon. While leaving to go to dinner I noticed the locking mechanism on the door was a little different than I had seen in the past.

Typically on a hotel door you will see what I call either the slide chain lock, or the slide bar lock

slide chain slide bar lock


Both of those are pretty common with the bar being the one I have seen the majority of, however the locking mechanism on this door functioned in a similar way but was different.

hotel lock 3 shown in the unlocked position

hotel lock 2 shown in the lock position

Hotel lock Another view of the locked position with the door engaged and the lock fully engaged on the door

hotel lock 4 View from the outside with the lock engaged and the door against the lock

As you can see the function of this lock is the block the door from opening up fully like its predecessors. The other versions usually gave us a good look at the actual mechanism parts. Alto of times when faced with the older lock placing the fork end of the halligan on the chain or the bar and several quick axe strikes would either drive the locking mechanism off the door, or break the chain or bar, either way you were in. However this version takes that option away from us.

You still could possibly be able to use the fork or adze end of the halligan right against the lock and drive the lock off of the jamb (overcoming the screws holding it to the jamb). Another option is also to go with good old conventional forcible entry close to the lock and defeat the lock. The hydra ram is also an option but as always the hydra ram can fail, or if it doesn’t work we have to go back to the irons so ALWAYS bring the irons.

Those are just a few ideas I had. What are you thinking? Leave your ideas in the comments section, or share them on twitter @averagejakeff

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

Posted in Truck Company | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Are You Ready For The Season?

Posted by hdf561 on September 16, 2013

The weather is getting cooler, and while usually that means we get excited at the increased chance that a fire will happen something else increases this time of year.

All over the country youth, middle, junior high, and high school athletics are in full effect, most specifically football, but there are other organized sports like soccer, fall baseball, lacrosse, rugby, etc.

If you have an athletic field, or school in your first in area you will be on the front lines of a sports injury, and these injuries based on the age of the patient, sport involved in, and location are usually always dynamic, and can be very difficult to deal with.

Both of my sons are highly athletic there is usually not a time of year they are not playing some sport. Right now for example my oldest is playing football, and travel baseball. My youngest is playing fall baseball. Usually the highest medically trained person there is an athletic trainer which while they have a significant knowledge base of broken bones, and injuries they lack in my opinion emergency medical care skills. My kids are lucky both their parents are medics so they travel with a medical team, others are not so lucky. Just the other day my wife was sharing with me her “concern” over the ability of the athletic trainer at my oldest son’s football game.

While we have to be on the ready for a multitude of injuries the big hot button topic are concussions. Concussions are tricky. There is no real way to truly diagnose them, and the treatment is usually rest, and then slow reintegration into normal activities. The recovery process is also usually dynamic as some take only weeks but others may take a year for symptoms to subside.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some great information and on-line training programs for Health Care Providers, and Coaches on concussion diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. I took both programs today (Health care and youth sports coach) and learned a lot, and feel already more ready to respond to a sports related injury and care for my own children and their teammates. Plus You get a certificate out of it.

http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/index.html Heads Up Concussion Documents

http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/clinicians/index.html On Line Training Program for Health Care Providers

http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/Training/index.html On Line Training Program for Youth Sports Coaches

http://nfhslearn.com/electiveDetail.aspx?courseID=38000 On Line Training Program for High School Coaches

As usual we are the first line of defense in this process, make sure we are advocates for our patients especially young children.

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

Posted in Rescue/R.I.T./EMS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Triple Split

Posted by hdf561 on August 28, 2013

A lot of engine companies out there utilize the “triple layer load”. It is a great hose load for low man power as 1 firefighter can deploy the entire cross lay in about 65 feet, and have the working coupling right beside them.

I never liked the fact that it was difficult to pack, or that it was difficult to deploy in small areas (minimal set back, interstate). At FDIC 2012 I took Kurt Isaacson’s class and was exposed to his website www.countyfiretactics.com and say a video called the triple split.  I was unable to get that video but have found a video just as good below (the first part is an instructional video on the triple layer, and how to pack it, the later part is the triple split)

This technique will allow you to deploy your triple layer cross lay in a space where you do not have the ability to stretch out from the truck. It just adds to what I thought was once a one trick pony hose load to a more useful, and versatile hose load.

If you’re utilizing this hose load go out and give this a try, I do not think you will be disappointed. If you are not the beginning portion of the video will give you some instruction on pulling and packing so you can see if it is right for you and your district.

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

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


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