With the recent firing of six City of Miami firefighters, many have taken notice. Anytime there is a controversial issue that impacts a public-sector employee, it makes headlines! Supervisors and administrators need to take any type of racial, sexual, hazing harassment seriously. There is no place for it in the fire service — period.
One of the things "old school" senior firefighters passed on to me was making sure the everyday hand tools and other items were maintained and presentable. This included our forcible entry tools, axes, pike poles, shovels, etc. Regular maintenance not only makes them look good cosmetically (e.g., public demos), but also assures that they are not going to cause further injury when damage and defects occur from regular use and wear and tear.
My lifelong dream was to become a pilot, either military or commercial. However, the financial situation in my household — being raised by my mother in a single-parent household with two other siblings -- was not conducive to pay for college or take flying lessons. I looked to achieving something feasible and stable. My uncles had always instilled in me that if I was not going to go to college and seek employment in the private sector or corporate America, then I should get a civil service job.
Now more than ever, we must be more diligent about keeping our eyes on other drivers. This is obvious because, unfortunately, other drivers are on mobile devices and not looking at the road. Another factor is that sound systems some people put in their vehicles prevent hearing the sirens and air horns when we are responding on an alarm. As drivers of fire apparatus, we need to be smarter than these people — not only for our safety, but also because the size of our vehicles can cause great harm and destruction.
Maintaining and keeping your spare apparatus fleet functioning and assuring that it stays cosmetically respectable is crucial for your department.
One main reason is that during off-duty special events, your spare trucks are the ones seen by masses of tourists, visitors, residents and citizens. The other reason is that it needs to be ready 24/7/365 in case of a disabled front-line apparatus.
I recently had the privilege to be invited to participate in a military exercise as a role player/subject material expert. I was reluctant at first, but with encouragement from my wife and siblings, I decided to give it a try.
My invitation came from a FEMA and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) team program director that I had worked with as a logistics specialist in the early 1990s.
Back in the day — before the introduction of the large-diameter hose (LDH) — we would use two lines of hose to supply our trucks. One was a 2.5-inch and the other was a 3-inch, laid out simultaneously to the spud intakes of the truck.
One of the most important things firefighters can do is assure that our personal protective equipment (PPE) is in perfect condition. There is no room to skimp or overlook any details when performing your job functions. The moment that damage occurs, which is inevitable for our job description, we must assure that we get our PPE replaced or repaired so we can return to service and continue to provide protection not only for the public but also for ourselves.
If your department does hydrant maintenance such as flushing, testing, painting, etc., take advantage of what you can while out in the public. These same opportunities can also be used when performing standpipe and sprinkler connection inspections.
Departments, their SOPs and Air Program personnel need to assure that all safety precautions, fit tests and maintenance occur on a regular basis. Sometimes, incidents require a change in SOPs and our practices to ensure safety for our members.
When I first came on the job, each suppression apparatus had a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) pack per crew member on the truck. Each SCBA pack had a mask assigned to it. One extra mask was carried in case there was a malfunction at any time. At shift change, the next crew member(s) would use the same mask that was on their designated SCBA per position on the truck for that day.