It is your first shift back from a nice relaxing family vacation. You come into the station relaxed and ready to get back to your crew and the job you love. You notify the firefighter you are relieving of your arrival and go to your locker and grab your equipment. You walk over to the engine as your assignment for the day is the Lead Off Nozzleman.
What is your first step?
For myself, I start at the off going crew member. I ask about the prior shifts, what tools were used, any equipment malfunctions and any changes to the apparatus. I place my boots / hood right outside the apparatus door on the ground, my coat on the “doghouse” my helmet on the Hook, and my gloves under the seat. I then proceed to do a functions check of my SCBA by checking The amount of Air in the Cylinder,loosening all the straps, checking the operation of the pass alarm, bypass valve and lastly actually putting my face piece on and taking a few breaths from the SCBA. I then move on with checking the Medical Bag, equipment located in the cab, and make my way around the apparatus opening up every compartment and taking a little extra attention to the hose load and nozzles.
Then i take a moment to do what I feel is the most important part of my daily routine. I grab a cup of coffee and I sit at the kitchen table with both the off going crew and on coming crew. The topics vary greatly during this time ranging from the fire service, sports, politics, and family matters. This time is priceless, you get to grow closer to your crew and pass on information together.
Adding a routine to your shift day adds stability and muscle memory. When operating on the fireground you will know where each tool is located and the condition of that tool. You will be certain that your SCBA is servicable and you will know that there will be no snags on your hose load. You will know that all of your PPE is present and ready to go. You will also have an idea of where to start your day and have an idea of what upkeep and maintenance will need to be accomplished.
Just like everything in the fire service, find what works best for you and your crew and make it a routine!
St. Louis, MO
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