Friday, November 23, 2012

Dont have a meeting on the stairs.

I would be willing to bet that 99% of you have been to some sort of fire involving stairs be it a low to mid rise building all the way up to a 50 story high rise, as well as the common basement/cellar stairs that we all just love to go down right. Like these below.

But the point of this piece is to reiterate on how we can do the job without jamming up the stairs, and how to train for fires involving these conditions

There are many problems involving tight staircases as well as burned out and or burning stairs. If you take the stairs from the above picture FIGURE 2 they are burned up really bad so at that point would you want to proceed up the stairs with 12 other guys? I know I wouldn't want to be on them! Or FIGURE 1 with six guys packed in there and need to get out now due to worsening conditions, be it fire conditions or building conditions? Lots of people have died from overlooking the obvious.
Why do we pack them tight with people? Why do we go and cram ourselves into this death trap so to speak?
I believe it comes down to a couple of reasons one of which is the ease of use and the second of which is a lack of "thinking outside the box".
Lets go over the ease of use first. Now lets face it folks, going up the stair case is in most cases the most direct and the easiest way to get from point A (first floor) to point B (second floor) that's just simple common sense you know. That can give folks a bad sense of "that's the best way during this situation" that's not always the case. Like I have said if the engine crew is using the stairs or if they are burned out, well you can see there may be a faster way to get to the second floor.
The other issue is a lack of "thinking outside the box". By this I mean are you thinking all possibilities, for instance FIGURE 3 which shows how to VES.
This brings up the next section. Strategies and Tactics for getting up there.
This topic is rather simple to explain, in fact all of this is basic skills nothing fancy like tight roping from building to building, right?
VES is a real good method again FIGURE 3 this works very well. If your not familiar with VES this is it below.

So as you can see you can get up there.
A good 360 can also show you alternate stair cases leading to the second floor.
JUST REMEMBER, DON'T BUST OUT THE WINDOWS IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO!!!! Yes, if you need to take them to get in, then by all means do it, but if you don't need to, don't. Kinda like the old "try before you pry" regarding forcible entry
In closing there are always alternate routes to the second floor if the engine has the stairs occupied and or they are burned beyond use, go with the alternate route. And please don't go and have a meeting on the stairs. And Happy Thanksgiving........... Next time we go over super realistic hands on training centers and props....

Thanks to Curt Isakson and County Fire Tactics for the use of there photos

and thanks to Gabriel Angemi for the use of his photos from his blog at

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dont be an Employee be a Firefighter

You know I won’t forget when I got my start in the fire service. And that's what this piece is going to be about.

You know when your a brand new fire fighter coming on to the job there are several things that can make or break you. And the two I'm going to talk about are mentors and the need to fit in.

Let’s cover the need to fit in first. Before someone has an MI let me explain. I have seen some new guys and girls come in and they fall in with the “in crowd". Yes it’s important to fit in with your crews you have to be weary of going and falling in with the wrong crowd. Don't be trying to fit in with the ones who are say employees, they are the ones who don't care for training don't have any pride in there company, rather sit around and watch TV than get out and drill to better themselves. That's not who you should strive to be like. Don't be the kind who is there just to collect a paycheck or badge if you’re a volunteer. Get your rear up off the couch and train, drill, STUDY!!!!!!! What's even more to your advantage is the Internet. We have information out the ears on every topic you can think of from ventilation to hose line selection. We have YouTube and helmet cams now on the computer so you can watch a fire that occurred in say California while sitting around your kitchen table in Kentucky. This allows us to see what they get and how they handle it. For instance the way they deal with a balloon frame fire may be different from what your department does it is a great way to learn new things and learn from other people's mistakes. The other deal is, who are the folks you should look to or who should be your mentors. Let me tell you about one of my mentors Captain Eddie Crews from Lexington. Capt Crews is always open to give you a bit of advice but he does it in a way you won’t feel like an idiot if it’s a simple answer. That advice thou does not have to be just about fire behavior or line stretches but also about the issues like career advancements and by showing an interest in your career. Basically he shows you he cares about your career as a firefighter. Folks that’s a mentor nobody has to care about you, and you will find some who don’t care whether you make it as a firefighter or you fail just as long as they collect there check, or badge and light and siren permits. But a mentor wants to help you succeed in your career (be it a paid career or volunteer career) they want to be there to help you with this and help you thru the problems you come across and things that will also save your life in the long run. They don’t have to always belong to your department, yes it helps but it’s not mandatory. There are lots of folks out there who are willing to help you out with your career.

 And a big shout out to the new Lexington Fire Department Explorer Post!!! Never forget you to are in the public eye and are a part of the department (you just might not be able to do as much) all of the above applies too you as well. As a former explorer I will tell you I always wanted to be "one of the guys" but just like the new firefighters you got to earn it. SO GET OUT THERE AND EARN THE RESPECT OF THE FIREFIGHTERS SHOW THEM YOU WANT THIS DON'T BE A SLACKER USE THIS AS A STEPPING STONE IN LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!! In closing I want to leave you young firefighters AND EXPLORERS with this. Train hard, and train often. Train as if your life depends on it. Never ever forget that you represent a brotherhood don’t embarrass it. Don’t be the employee be a firefighter!!!  There is more to being a firefighter than crawling down hot smoke filled houses, EMS, making grabs, and busting down doors. Good luck and God bless. And welcome to the greatest calling in the world brothers and sisters...
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

if that don't work use this link TRUST ME YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS!!!! Not just you young guys and girls but you seasoned guys and girls as well!