A few questions to challenge you and your crew
Earlier we shared a video with you of Jacksonville, Florida firefighters at the scene of a working house fire with a report of people inside. For this post we’ll use certain parts of the video to create a prompt for you to use as training with your own crew for similar incidents. The video appears at the bottom of this post.
NOTE: The purpose of the video and our post is to provoke discussion about your own decisions and operations. It is not intended to be a critique of the Jacksonville firefighters on film or their operations.
This particular fire building is located on a dead end street. The closest hydrant is on the corner of the cross-street. The first-person view we have from the video is that of a firefighter assigned to Ladder 1. Early in the video we see that the ladder company has arrived after an engine company.
When the address is on a dead end street and an engine company and ladder company are responding together from the same quarters, which should enter the block first? Why?
If responding from separate quarters should the engine company, if arriving first, announce their intent to enter the block? Why?
If the second due or arriving engine company is on the scene before the first ladder company, should they remain outside of the block? Why?
What if the street is wider than normal or if there is open space available to position near the fire building?
What will be our backup plan if our hydrant is a dead hydrant?
Here is our fire building, a somewhat typical private dwelling. From the single view alone we can see relatively easy access to Side Bravo. The fence on Side Delta will take some negotiating.
What type of building construction is this?
What features impact firefighting operations?
What type of collapse is characteristic of this type of structure?
What features outside of the structure quickly indicate a potential problem, if there are any?
Riding assignments help in the course of a company’s deployment and completion of tasks. Again, in this video we are viewing the scene from the position of a firefighter assigned to a ladder company. We see that he has selected various hand tools and has brought them with him to the fire building.
Does your company have riding assignments for each seat and each type of apparatus? If not, how do you determine who will do what and with what tools?
If you are part of a ladder company responding to a similar fire, what would be your duties for each position?
If your department does not have a ladder company, what will be the assignment for the second arriving company? Will this assignment change if it was reported that occupants were still inside the fire building?
As the second arriving company, what would your specific functions be if you were required to establish the “2-out” or immediate rapid intervention team?
Would you expect to work as part of the first arriving company if your department response has low staffing?
If you were on the engine company and assigned the nozzleman function, how many lengths of hose would you determine to be needed for this fire?
PERSONAL FIREGROUND SIZE-UP
Fire showing from the rear and the engine company is in the process of stretching a hoseline and making entry.
How would I interpret the conditions I see? Have my initial thoughts of action changed slightly or considerably?
What type of radio communication should I expect during the first minutes of arriving on the scene? (Think of what the engine company report should be and additional reports)
Should the hoseline stretch and advance be relatively simple? Why or why not?
What smoke conditions are evident on Side Alpha?
How should you expect this fire to behave? Why?
What am I looking for as I begin to pass thorough the doorway to the interior?
If you are on the ladder company at a similar type of fire, will you be searching alongside the nozzle team or past them? Why?
As this part of the video progresses we are made aware that the firefighters were told that people are trapped inside. The location is asked, “What side of the house” and the number reported as well. In the narrative was added to the original post we are told that as the nozzleman hears a victim screaming as he enters and leaves the hoseline to locate that victim. The firefighter on the ladder company, from whom we see this fire, reportedly meets up with the nozzleman and begins searching for other occupants. Command reports that all occupants are out and accounted for, so the ladder company firefighter returns to the nozzle and begins to extinguish the fire.
If staffing is such that individual assignments may change, should I communicate those changes to my officer and incident commander? Why or why not?
Being part of another company and finding the nozzle alone in the fire building can be surprising. What should I look for or listen for if the nozzleman suddenly goes missing?
If I am part of the nozzle team and we have to immediately remove a victim, or victims, from the path of egress, what important information needs to be communicated and to whom?
As part of the company making the search of this fire building, how deep will my search be and what factors impact my search (Think of nozzle team communication, additional size-up reports, etc)?
Should I find a victim, what type of report do I communicate, if I think I should communicate any report at all?
Videos, especially helmet camera videos, when properly filmed and edited can provide us with many opportunities to consider what we would do in similar situations. While structured training can address many necessary functions and tasks for a successful fire attack and search, it is equally important to consider communication and personal choices. Rote training produces rote responses and as such the mind isn’t challenged to think in different ways. Use this video and the questions to challenge yourself and the firefighters you work with.
Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.