This is a quick drill for you company officers and acting officers. So much of what we do is coach and mentor our younger firefighters. When we are out and about we need to take the time point out things that might be obvious to us, but maybe not so much to others on our crew. (more…)
The attached vidoe is a very short and simple clip about how teach firefighters to low profile. As we tell firefighters in our classes, removing your SCBA should be a last resort, but a skill that you must be proficient at. Being prepared is as much about mastering the basics as it is about being able to perform in the event that conditions dictate survival skills must be used. (more…)
This past Fall we were doing a Survival class and one of the drills we do is the “following the coupling” drill. It is one of the most basic of drills and is well known throughout the fire service. We have posted on this drill before on using a cut piece of hose to hand to your firefighters and have them tell you which way would be back to the truck.
We get comment about how basic this drill this and some like to try and shrug it off. Well, as we all know, we must master the basics. Like in athletics, we building the fundamentals and gradually move to more advance skills that expand on those fundamental skills. On the surface these skills are very basic but look a little harder; we can make these advanced drills easily that will incorporate the basic skill and more advanced techniques.
This is true for any drills, start with the most basic and when mastery is achieved, add to the drill and make it more advanced. Do this in steps and before you know it you have an expanded drill that will challenge the most seasoned firefighter.
So, for this example of drill progression we will use the “follow the coupling” drill. We start wtih one firefighter on a charged hose line. Black them out or in a smoked room, put them on the line somewhere in the middle. Have them find the coupling and make their way out. Easy enough.
Now, we want to build in the parameters for calling a Mayday, so we have them call the Mayday using LUNAR and they must communicate with command as they find their way out by “following the coupling.” Now they have to think about more than just following the coupling but the basic skill is still being used.
You get the idea. Here is how this drill can progress:
-One firefighter lost off of the line, one on the line. The one on the line verbally leads the lost firefighter to the line and they follow the coupling out.
-One firefighter has an air issue, they can buddy breath on the way out following the coupling.
-A downed firefighter on the line and his crew packages, fixes the air and removes him following the coupling out.
So, you can see that we can expand on this drill. Your only limited by your imagination and creativeness. Use caution not to make so unrealistic that it frustrates your firefighters though. It doesn’t take much to make a drill challenging; keep it simple.
Have a Blessed and Safe New Year and thanks for all of the support this year.
Just a quick tip for practicing with your Buddy Breathing Hose. In our classes one of the skills that we notice to be week is the ability of firefighters to manage their Buddy Breathing Hose with gloves on. Although Buddy Breathing is not in the current SCBA standard, it is in the upcoming 2013 standard.
Obviously, drilling with your SCBA and using the Buddy Breathing Hose will increase your confidence and skill level. Getting out and using the SCBA and practicing during evolutions is always optimal. But, repetition can take place off of the drill ground.
To increase the amount of frequency that you get to connect and disconnect your Buddy Breathing Hose all you need to do is ride in your apparatus.
For most of us, not all, but the majority of us we have our SCBA in seat mounts so that when we mount the apparatus and buckle in we have the packs in our back. They are in the position they would be in if we were wearing them. This makes the ability to get to our straps fairly easy.
While riding around town, going to a non-urgent call, wear you gloves and find your Buddy Breathing Hose. As you ride, practice disconnecting it and connecting it over and over again. Try not to look while you do it. This will create muscle memory and confidence when we get on the drill ground.
Use your time wisely and be productive as often as you can. Be creative and you can practice other skills like knots while riding the apparatus.
Thanks for reading and train hard. As always, expect fire.
This is a great drill from a great Brother and friend, Lance Peeples of the Webster Groves Fire Department in St. Louis County. Look for more great material from Lance in the future.
Daily Drill 1: Standpipe Operations
“The Daily Drill” is designed to spark discussion about operational issues in YOUR fire department. To do this we use photographs or videos depicting fire operations in other fire departments. We do not know the exact circumstances in which our Brothers in these fire departments are operating. Photos or videos are not intended to embarrass our BROTHERS and SISTERS but rather are intended to provide US with learning opportunities relevant to OUR specific operational framework. DON’TFOCUSONWHAT THEY’RE DOING…FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WOULD DO! Stay safe!
Watch the video below and answer the following questions:
1. Using the National Fire Academy Fire Flow Formula, what gpm would be required to extinguish a completely involved 500 square foot apartment fire?
How large of an undivided floor area is often found in high rise office buildings and what fire flow would be required there?
2. Under previous editions of NFPA 14 what was the minimum psi required to flow 500 gpm at the most remote riser?
3. What is the target gpm you are attempting to flow from your standpipe hose and nozzle combination? What psi must be available at the standpipe operation to supply that hose and nozzle combination in order to flow your desired attack flow?
4. The operation depicted showed using 4” supply line into the fire department connection. What is the working pressure limit of LDH used in your department? What is the elevation head pressure in a 30 story building? Are standpipe operations usually high flow or high pressure operations? Is using large diameter hose in FD standpipe connections a good idea?
5. What is the diameter of hose used in your standpipe pack? Is it an automatic/constant flow fog/smooth bore tip? What nozzle psi is required for its designed flow?
6. Will rust, scale, and other debris commonly found in standpipe systems pass through an automatic fog nozzle? Will rust, scale and other debris usually pass through an 1 1/8” smooth bore tip?
7. Can fire department pumpers ALWAYS be used to increase available pressure on the fire floor? What about damaged or missing FD connections? Pressure reducing and restricting valves? Missing piping or excessive head pressures?
8. At the One Merdian fire in Philladelphia on February 23, 1991 what was the length, diameter, and nozzle type (including psi/flow requirements) of the standpipe kits used by the fire department? Did this setup work? Why or why not?
9. What were the names of the Brothers that died at One Merdian that tragic day?
This video is the first team during a RIT evolution at Western Taney County Fire Protection District. They encountered wires and a wall with rebar in it. They had to call for resources and then they entered the room with trapped firefighters. They had to determine and try to fix the following:
Find the Firefighter
Fix any Air Problem
This was the first team, more videos to come.
This photo shows a way to make an SCBA face piece for your RIT bag/kit glove friendly. You can use a garden hose or any kind of rubber tubing or hose that would be easy to grab with a gloved hand. We used a small bungee cord and ran it through the bonnet and attached both ends to the hose. This allows for easy feeling and grabbing the back of the mask with gloved hands.
We also attached large key rings to the pull tabs for the face piece bonnet to pull it tight. These rings can be any size you want, but make sure they are easily accessed and grabbed with glove hands.
These two methods have worked very well for us and during training evolutions has stood up to the pulling and tugging.
Let us know if you have other methods that work well for your department.
Thanks and keep training hard.
In our classes we spend a lot of time showing firefighters how to stay out of and how to get out of bad situations. Our fire service is seeing an increase in firefighters who are falling through floors into basements or sub-levels. This is large part due to the engineered flooring systems that do not perform well in fire conditions.
Fires are growing more intense much faster than in the past and the structural members of these buildings are under attack before we arrive in some cases. The importance of knowing our response areas, getting an accurate size-up, doing a 360 evaluation of the building and choosing an appropriate tactic are more critical than ever.
We teach different methods of removing ones self from a basement and removing a downed firefighter from basements. There are several techniques for removing a firefighter including using an attic ladder, using the hose, rope, or webbing to lift them out of the hole. We can also cut the floor away from the exterior making a window a door to remove someone. These are just a few examples.
For self rescue we teach using a hand tool as a step or as a recent post by Chris Huston discusses, using the drywall as a ladder to get yourself out. We also teach using webbing as a stepping device with the assistance of firefighters on the outside. All of these techniques are good and and should be practiced. However, we know that if we fall through a floor we may lose our tools and it is going to be very bad down there. Speed is of the essence.
When go over the teaching points of basement rescues, we always talk about things to do to avoid this from happening in the first place. Doing a good 360, sound the floors, descend stairs feet first, know your still area and building construction are good places to start. I also like to point out that the hazards we discuss in regards to basements, junk and clutter, can also be our friend.
If you find yourself in a situation in a basement or an area with a high window for egress, use the stuff in that space as steps. Pile it up under that window and climb out. Don’t forget to use the obvious. I have done training in acquired structures where we put firefighters in the basement and they are free to use whatever is available. You would be surprised how many limit their resources to only what is in their hands or pockets.
Train hard and sometimes thinking outside the box is as simple as looking around at the “stuff” that is right at your feet. Thanks for reading and expect fire!
When we started offering classes and offering hands on training, the one thing we wanted to make sure of was that the training was as realistic as possible. We had all attended hands on training drills and classes and we know what we liked as a student and what we didn’t. So, when we run our drills we want the student to have as realistic of an experience as possible in a safe setting.
One of the props we use in multiple drills is an entanglement prop. The purpose is used in many ways:
–identifying the hazard during normal firefighting operations and avoiding the area
–identifying one of the parameters for calling the mayday
–being able to self extricate or untangle yourself when debris falls on you
All of the above are important and crucial for firefighters and officers to have a strong mastery of. The portion we are going to address today is the use of wire cutters to cut entanglements that may have you trapped. In many cases, a firefighter who is calm, aware and who has the right tools, cutting a few wires may create an easy escape.
The first rule here is to stay calm and don’t barrel your way through the wires. This will expend needed energy and air that you may need later or for an extended wait for help. Additionally, trying to use brute strength, in most cases, will only tighten your entanglement making locating and cutting the source of entanglement harder.
In past classes we have taken, and provided, we would hook a firefighter, have them verbalize the mayday, find the entanglement and then unhook them. What we found after a couple of classes is that we were teaching them to just identify the problem and not really solve it. So, we began making the firefighters in the prop cut or remove their entanglement on their own. This was a real eye opener.
The tools that we carry are not always adequate for what we want them to do. One common theme among many firefighters that attend our class is that they carry multi-tools like a Gerber or Leatherman believing that they will use that tool to cut their way out of an entanglement. Here are some problems that are seen with these tools:
–they are small and hard to find with gloved hands
–once they are found, they have to be opened and made ready to cut
–they have a very small surface area for cutting wires, very small
–they really are a two-handed tool, one to hold it and one to open the cutters/pliers
–many keep them on their duty belts and are unable to reach them
What we recommend is a pair of cutters that are fairly large in your pocket and are easy to feel and retrieve. They should also be able to cut at least an 8 gauge wire or the aluminum sheathed commercial romex. They should be sturdy and easy to operate with one hand. The reason we recommend longer handled cutters is that they provide a little more leverage by holding them lower on the handle if need be.
The photos show the multi-tool and a pair of wire cutters that we picked up and the local auto parts store for around $15. They aren’t real heavy and I personally have cut objects, flexible water line, that were 3/8 of an inch with no problems.
Just know your tools and what it’s capabilities are. If you have expectations for the tools in your pockets, practice with them. I have seen firefighters throw “tools”in there pockets that were absolutely useless when they finally trained with them.
Train hard and train with purpose and make drills as realistic as possible. Just a note, most HVAC companies will give you left over flex duct that you can use for entanglement drills. It’s realistic in regards to what we very likely could run into and they stretch out to allow multiple evolutions with one small section.
Take care and keep on training,
This is a video of a drill we do. It starts as a VES drill with the firefighter ascending the ladder and then clearing a window. The space is smoked up and the fierfighter enters, starting his search for the door. While he’s searching we throw a rug or piece of plywood ontop of them to demonstrate conditions deteriorating and making them exit fast to the window.
The intent is to force quick recognition to exit and to perform the ladder bail fast. We do this drill after evolutions of just ladder bail practice. This let’s them put their practice into real life type situations and to do it at full speed.
We have a new YouTube channel and we hope to start posting new videos.