I know, I know, it's still here. But...
I was one of those hard chargers when i came on the job at 20 years old.
Thought the old ways were outdated, and needed changes to make "our" fire service safer and more efficient.
Well...I was wrong in more ways then I was right. We have done away with too many of the things that made the fire service, the fire service.
The other night my Captain and I were sitting in the empty day room discussing where the fire service has gone dreadfully wrong.
Gone are the days of firefighters sitting around the table playing cards and sharing stories.
Some of those stories, ok many of those stories were embellished a bit, but many more were full of nuggets a rookie could use when things got bad and their experience didn't cover that type of emergency.
When it got bad, something old Jake said about a bad one years ago would pop into your head and that sign staring you dead in the face would become a SIGN, not a death warrant.
Those evenings were full of nuggets.
Those evenings were full of training disguised as a game of Spades.
But not today...
We used to go out on weekends and do live fire evolutions.
You old Jakes remember what I am talking about. Burning the house that was making way for a new strip mall, or that dilapidated 2 story in a rough side of town, too expensive to revive, but with great bones so collapse was several good ones away.
But not today...
Sure in some parts of the country, live fire burns are still the norm, but not many and not for long.
Training meant getting out on your apparatus and going over tools, cleaning them and putting them away.
As much as we all hated doing this, it meant we knew where every tool on the truck/engine was located and that it was in good working order.
But not today...
Now it is the drivers job to check the truck or engine, the firefighters have too many other vehicles and or medical bags to check out to walk the apparatus with the driver.
Today we depend on power point training that gives us yet another piece of paper saying we have completed the training.
But did anyone get a frakkin thing out of said training???
Mostly NO! I'm as guilty as most, but if it is something I don't know inside out will actually read the entire training. But, I still forget 99% of it by evening. And most just click through it to the end and print a certificate.
Then, go to their respective rooms and watch TV or talk on the phone...
We eat 1, maybe 2 meals a week together, and then it is the old guys cooking who have conversations during prep and cooking...
There are no stories to be told, because the young guys would rather be playing HALO in their room with 1 or 2 of the guys.
We don't burn real fires anymore because the EPA and NIOSH, oh yeah and let us not forget OSHA, think it is: 1. harming the environment 2. a liability 3. Too dangerous! (#3 is my favorite)
We can't train the way we work. Isn't that the point!
There is no knowledge exchange in the house.
Idiots in charge at the government level somehow think doing a power point training makes up for actual training.
And not the classes your department spends thousands on to get you certified, ACTUAL FRAKKIN training. Those are wonderful, but a month after the trainers have gone we are back to the same old thing.
Burn towers and Simulators are well and good, but they do not make up for REAL live fire evolutions.
And why do we not burn anymore, besides the agencies listed above???
Guys got hurt and or killed doing live fire evolutions way more then should ever have happened.
But...that is not a good enough reason to throw the baby out with the bath water!
How many of our Brothers and Sisters are still here today because they recognized a situation happening that screamed, "GET OUT NOW"?
They sure as heck didn't learn that situation in a natural gas flames simulator, or from hay bales in a concrete block building with instant egress options.
Now the real point of my diatribe.
How many of our Brothers and Sisters do we mourn a year who should still be here!?!
How many of them could have learned to read a fire in a controlled environment?
stay with me here. I know training fires are not controlled per se, but they are great learning environments that should have many hours of preparation and planning built into them
How many of our brothers and sisters could have learned over a conversation with the old guys at dinner, that all those stars adorning the sides and front of late 18th and early 19th century merch's should be skulls and cross bones instead. Those building will get you killed in a hurry. But they weren't.
Why? Because we are more concerned with having individual space and privacy, than a great training environment taking place when no one knows it is happening.
We need to get back to basics brothers and sisters...
The slippery slope of individualism is killing us...literally!
Young guys: Make time to sit around and play cards or dominoes or aggravation with the old guys a couple nights a month.
Old Guys: Quit sneering at the young guys and take one aside regularly and walk through the apparatus and share a nugget or two.