Fire Service Survival.....Adapt and Overcome!

While speaking with a member of a neighboring department, I couldn't help noticing his references to "the ole days". He just couldn't understand why in the fire service today, we do the things that we do...Specifically regarding training."Well back in the old days we didn't even wear those stupid masks, let alone spend all that time training!", is pretty much how the conversation began. This view is shared by many firefighters in my area. I guess you could say I've made it somewhat of my personal mission to try to get them to understand.

I asked the man when the last time he had responded to a actual fire was. "Last Year." is the answer I received. When I asked him what it was that he did at that fire, he hesitated. Now, I wasn't attempting to be disrespectful or question his dedication to the fire service. But even I knew the answer to the question. Nothing! It's not because he didn't care or that he didnt want to help. He Couldn't! He didn't know what to do.

The fire service today is an ever changing world. You must adapt and overcome to survive. This dosen't sit well with many long time members. What they have to realize is that these adaptations are being done to make our "Jobs" safer.

We must train longer and harder on the things that we don't do often so that when the time comes that we need those skills, we are ready to go. How could you possibly expect to know what to do at a house fire if your department runs 1 or 2 a year and you don't train for them? Taking the advanced firefighter class 5 years ago does not qualify you to run into a burning building today if you haven't trained regularly!

Things change, equipment changes, and maybe the most important of all, people change. Training builds your strength as a team. When all hell breaks loose... I want a seasoned team ready to go.

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Comment by WLR Deputy Chief on January 15, 2008 at 7:39am
Thanks for the input...I've known this gentleman my entire life...but, needless to say he stuck a nerve with me that day. The attitude that he displayed really shocked me. But, I do understand. I realize change isn't easy for everyone, but it's a fact of life...and in this case, it's for the better!
Comment by Mary Ellen Shea on January 15, 2008 at 7:03am
You couldn't be more right about this---when it comes to performing technical tasks, in an adrenaline fueled scenario, the training WILL snap to attention and take over, and this applies in any job, not just the fire service.

Years ago, while working as a flight attendant (a "stewardess" to the demographic your're referring to in your post above), we ran evacuation drills constantly. In addition to the basic training drills, you had to perform a major evac annually with a plane full of pilots and FAA personnel.

I had an in-flight emergency while en route from JFK to Providence, we diverted to Poughkeepsie, and had a dicey landing (foam on the runway etc)--but let me tell you something--the entire experience was out-of-body.

It was like watching someone else go through the steps of an emergency procedure because due to the training and the drills--my brain went into emergency mode and took over. I barely remember doing the announcements, lock-down etc., but I didn't miss a single step.

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