With the inherent nature of firefighting, there are always changing events. It is a dynamic and ever-changing profession.
During live fire emergencies and operations, drivers need to remain diligent about the activities occurring around them. They cannot remain focused on the pump panel or aerial operations only; they need to be vigilant about their surrounding area and radio communications.
The role of the firefighter is changing as mass shootings, natural disasters and mass casualty events increase in frequency, requiring additional training.
Times are changing and they are changing fast. The world where firefighters are concerned is also changing fast. In fact, the mission is changing and the term fire department doesn’t really tell the whole story.
The term has already made a shift by adding “rescue” to our title. Almost all fire departments run more medical calls than fire calls. And, the number of actual structure fires is down in many areas.
After driving the same vehicle every day, you will learn to hear and feel anything occurring that is out of the norm. Regardless of your level of expertise or knowledge, one must take action before “more expensive issues” add injury to insult.
At the start of a tour of duty or shift day, I would always perform a walk-around of the apparatus to assess any new damage or abnormalities.
In my first article, I presented a compelling case for the relationship of cancer and firefighting. The toxic environment in which firefighters work is well known, yet the fact remains that we can do more to save ourselves from this scourge.
It begins with leadership. The days of wearing dirty gear and blackened helmets are gone. Hoods, helmets, gloves, air packs, and bunker gear need to be cleaned and inspected after every exposure. We cannot forget all the other items that have been exposed including anything and everything that has been in the path of the “toxic snake”. This includes equipment, ladder, hoses, and our apparatus. The list would not be complete if we forget the firefighters. Keeping our bodies clean with a hot/cold shower is part of this protocol.
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.
Where to start? The idea of writing an article on leadership is no easy task. First, you have to define it. Then you have to understand it. And, of course, you have to explain it.
My attempt at tackling this came to me after a lot of thought on how my article could be different. Leadership is one of those topics that has been written about for years from many different perspectives.
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.