Early this morning I posted an article on my blog at Firehouse Zen regarding the need to guard against complacency and to not just expect those "smells and bells" calls to always be smells and bells, but to do our job and keep the "big one" in mind, because someday, that's exactly what you are going to encounter.
How about thinking about the expected as well? How often do you train on things you are likely to encounter rather than on all of that exotic (but exciting) stuff. We do plenty of HAZMAT training and special operations training but we do that for us, because the frequency of those calls are low, but the skills demands are high, so we'd better be prepared when it hits the fan.

But how about something like training on how to survive falling into a pool with your turnouts on? We live on an Island and are surrounded by water. We have a lot of pools. Chances are, at some point in our careers here, we will have to work in turnouts near water. Our chief (back when he was the training officer)did some research a number of years ago and published an article on the subject. This research was instrumental in some of our personnel developing a class on surviving a fall into the water and it has been made part of our mandatory training for new personnel.

What hazards do you have in such abundance in your jurisdiction that you just assume everyone understands and can work around? Maybe there's a few firefighters in your midst that are embarrassed by the fact that they DON'T know, or they have never been properly trained. Take a look around you and prepare for those things that seem to be higher frequency but higher impact as well. You'd be surprised at how much more you can pick up on when you slow this stuff down and look at it piece by piece, like we do in training, and realize how much we really don't understand about the stuff we deal with every day.

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Comment by David Cook on April 26, 2009 at 10:17pm
Are you sharing the training info on turn-outs in water?
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on April 12, 2009 at 12:02pm
It never occurred to me t look at the obvious, but you raise a very good point with turnouts and swimming pools.
I think of the departments in this area who have lakes that may require a rescue; yet, no one has invested in water rescue equipment. The same holds true if they freeze over.
What my guys found out not too long ago at an MVA is that they cannot RUN very fast while in their turnouts.
I have a feeling that going forward, you will find them at the high school track running fifty yard dashes in full turnout.
Excellent blog again.
Comment by Ben Waller on April 10, 2009 at 10:44pm
Mick, I'm cheating on this one, since I'm one of the people that updated this class when we changed to the Firehawk MSAs. As with anything we do, it is important to reverse engineer the problem and to identify and protect from all of the hazards, not just the most obvious ones. That goes for water being a greater hazard than the fire for a lot of marina and boat fires.

Another issue with relatively unique training like this is that it creates its own set of problems. Dismantling the SCBA, ensuring that all of the chlorinated pool water is soaked out, and that any corroded parts are replaced are simply the cost of doing business for this class.
Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on April 10, 2009 at 9:26pm
there was a class offered at a Female Firefighter weekend that I went to that was about being in water in your turnout gear. I was going to take that class but I was already enrolled in other classes that were just as interesting. I will say that if they ever offer that class again I would most definitely take that class. The other girls that took that class said that they had a lot of fun and learned a lot as well. The weekend that I go to every September is really great. My second year there I got to use a jackhammer, I had never used one before and I will probably never use one again but, I took a medium structural collapse, tools class and it was the best class. I learned a lot and used tools that I have never used before. Any way sorry got off track, just wanted to say good post....

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