Last week we ran a SCBA drill in the station.. we used tables and chairs in the meeting room and done it in the dark.. made the guys find the victim and bring the victim out.. in the middle of one evolution, we gave the blast on the air horn.. keep in mind, that a Lt. was doing the search and rescue with an experienced fire fighter.. i blasted the air horn for one full min as SOP states.. The officer continued to search for the downed victim after becoming paniced..the experienced fire fighter even told the officer lets go and it apparently didnt register in his mind... The assistant Chief watched the Lt. I spoke up and clearly stated, "everyone out, Now!" The evacuation signal was given for a reason! after finding the victim they proceeded to drag it out.. This is not a good situation.. Newly appointed officers need to be closely monitored.. Iam only a humble grunt, and know better.. i would have dragged that Lt. out wether he liked it or not.. this is not an appropriate example of leadership..
My questions are:
Are there any good ways to test this officers abilities as a firefighter in an evolution?
What would be an appropriate way to address this situation with the Lt?
Any help you can give will be apriciated...
thanks.
John.

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Replies to This Discussion

I have been finding similar experiences with firefighters of all ranks and experience. Keep training, training and more training in similar situations. We don't train enough and to often write off the basics. We have to do things 7-8 times before it becomes second nature, but we can't perform them every once in awhile. SCBA drills for example need to be performed a couple of times a year to stay proficient. Without knowing the experience of your Lt it would be hard to determine why he did what he did. He may have had tunnel vision or failed to understand the importance of the drill. Your right, it was poor leadership and good leaders will lead by example. An evacuation drill is a simple drill to save firefighters lives. Hopefully your cief officers talked to the Lt. about his actions.

Keep training.
Rob, thank you for the input.I agree with you on basic drills....i for one will keep practicing SCBA. Mainly to prevent becoming compliant...i will pass it on to the asst chief who was there as well also... the Lt who panicked has 10 years in the fire service roughly..
I'm not trying to be rude but does your company train like it's the real deal? Or do you just go through the motions? Was it stated that this should have been treated as if it is the real deal? In your LT's defense he could have been just going through the steps of search and rescue and figured someone was just messing around. May be he is not proficient at multitasking. Repetition is definitely key. I would keep doing the drill till he gets it right. It is called a drill and sometimes it must be drilled into some people, even those you wouldn't expect.
GREAT TRAINING OPPORTUNITY. Interior crew not responding? That requires an emergency priority response. Was the FAS Team sent in to rescue and retrieve? If not, why not? A logicl progression of realistic events here would have cleared up any misunderstanding in regard to appropriate response to the alarm. Especialy when they found their butts being dragged out. If he's not on his way out after that alarm sounds, anything he's doing becomes FREELANCING and that is the dirtiest of all "F" words. Evacuate then discuss any disagreement, but evacuate first. This may not be your Lt. but those who will put thier own agenda ahead of the teams are much more likely to cause harm. "Train often. Be safe."-T. Schmittendorf "You will never go in or come out alone."- me
I agree with Padre Pete, it is a great training opportunity. Not knowing the FD training schedule if there is any, or how often they train in SCBA, primary search, secondary search, calling MAYDAY and communication abilities other than radio communication for evac. (i.e. air horn on an apparatus). Got to revisit the basics. In my fire house we got everyone involve in dreaming and setting up training. One thing I notice in the past year when my group is responsable to set up the training we are the only one going back to basics. While others choose to do more on the technical training. Both are essential to our skills... One thing I can pass around for info, his have a briefing of what the training goal is, and before going for the pratical part of it, I always state "look out for the unexpected". We all know that thing can change on us so fast. That is where I add the Emergency evac or any other scenario, it is never the same and keeps everyone on their toes.

Training is key to our safety, so stay safe out there.
I made all kind of mistakes when I was a Lt. Our chief at that time helped me so much. I still look up to him he always has the right answers. We grow by training. We our a team it takes everyone working together to be good. Watch out for each other. we all do bad things at times. sometimes we just are not thinking. Help each other our life is in each others hands. Working together we will get the job done.
As a Training Officer for my large paid department, I have got in the habit of setting out the "parameters" of a training drill to eveyone involved before the training begins. By making sure that all participants know "what you see or hear is all to be treated as real" really helps eveyone to get on the same page mentally before the evolution begins and avoids confusion when someone decides to activate a trucks airhorn to initiate an evacuation as described in this case.

I'm not sure if this is the reason the Lt. didn't evacuate the training room but again, from my perspective as a Training Officer these types of "parameters" need to be identified and communicated to everyone to make the most out of training..Try it!

Just my thoughts.

Richard Sullivan
Halifax Fire (Canada)
There is not one officer, member or probie that isn't going to screw up a scenario, real or training. To armchair judge this event you described is not a good tool for learning. we all could sit back and criticize to death what happened. What YOU should do after a training is critique it like the brotherhood we say we are. Humble Grunt, keep in mind YOU will also make mistakes and the pattern of learning you set today WILL effect how you are critiqued for your mistakes. Go out and find other departments that do an effective job of critique (after training or fire etc.) and YOU start practicing those good examples.
i dont have to worry about it now.. i turned my gear in and quit.. there are few other reasons that effected my decission to quit running fire for this particular dept.. i will not air the reasons for my decission in this matter since this topic was wrote clear back in march...
John,

I have been the training officer in my local fire department for roughly 3 years. I do drills similar to those you are discribing. In my personal oppinion the sim should have been stopped right then an there. Or a tactic that I use is to walk into the middle of the training silently tap one firefighter on the shoulder and tell them they are now dead. Then I usually follow that kind of behavior with "If that happens in real life, I'll make you tell his family because I'm not doing it because you don't know how to do your job."

That seems to work effectivly. I have always had it explained like this: When it comes to safety, regardless of rank, it's everyone's responsibility. Your Lt. should know better, however if you feel that his type of behavior, leadership and decisions risk the lives of you or any of your company members I would say sit down with your Chief, Lt and anyone else involved and make it very known what your stand is on this situation. It does sound as if this officer has a hero complex and that does need to be addressed.

I use training sims like real fires. You never know what to expect and you never know exactly what you're going to do before you're in that situation. Training is the place to make mistakes with one condition. You never let the mistakes go unnoticed and uncorrected.

I hope that helps..

Captain, Chris MacKenzie. PWFD
You took a mock scenerio and tried to make it real.. you were obviously in rescue mode then someone blastso the air horn, any secondary evacuation tone like a radio report or anything? The LT. Had no change in conditions on the interior since it was only a drill. If I am interior on a known rescue command had better have a good reason for hitting The evacuation button.. you made a post expecting us to help you blast your LT. But from what I read you had a known rescue and your LT. Successfuly removed the victim with a 'par' on his crew. Good job LT. He used his risk a lot save a lot profile ... ok so i dont get blasted - i do see the point of the drill and yes evacuate means evacuate! Set better parameters and use a secondary means of evacuated because I have come out of a house before due to horn blasts and found an engineer going nuts on a cop for blocking the road..
I agree with setting parameters for the any drill. Make sure your secenerios dictates the objective and the expected performance. Follow this up with having your departments SOP's as part of the drill. Realistic as possible is the key. Using vacant houses,radio communication and having. fire personnel setting up there approach to the type of training you have arranged. This allows the officers to give orders and assignments to his crew.With this you are also gaueging how the crew communicates as a team as well as measuring fundemetals skills. Train in Context.

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