Friday, December 28, 2012

Progressive Drills

This past Fall we were doing a Survival class and one of the drills we do is the "following the coupling" drill. It is one of the most basic of drills and is well known throughout the fire service. We have posted on this drill before on using a cut piece of hose to hand to your firefighters and have them tell you which way would be back to the truck.

We get comment about how basic this drill this and some like to try and shrug it off. Well, as we all know, we must master the basics. Like in athletics, we building the fundamentals and gradually move to more advance skills that expand on those fundamental skills. On the surface these skills are very basic but look a little harder; we can make these advanced drills easily that will incorporate the basic skill and more advanced techniques.

This is true for any drills, start with the most basic and when mastery is achieved, add to the drill and make it more advanced. Do this in steps and before you know it you have an expanded drill that will challenge the most seasoned firefighter.

So, for this example of drill progression we will use the "follow the coupling" drill. We start wtih one firefighter on a charged hose line. Black them out or in a smoked room, put them on the line somewhere in the middle. Have them find the coupling and make their way out. Easy enough.

Now, we want to build in the parameters for calling a Mayday, so we have them call the Mayday using LUNAR and they must communicate with command as they find their way out by "following the coupling." Now they have to think about more than just following the coupling but the basic skill is still being used.

2011-06-27 001 001


You get the idea. Here is how this drill can progress:

-One firefighter lost off of the line, one on the line. The one on the line verbally leads the lost firefighter to the line and they follow the coupling out.

-One firefighter has an air issue, they can buddy breath on the way out following the coupling.

-A downed firefighter on the line and his crew packages, fixes the air and removes him following the coupling out.

So, you can see that we can expand on this drill. Your only limited by your imagination and creativeness. Use caution not to make so unrealistic that it frustrates your firefighters though. It doesn't take much to make a drill challenging; keep it simple.

Have a Blessed and Safe New Year and thanks for all of the support this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: A Year of Reflection

At the end of every year I like to take a look at what went well and what could have been better. I like to evaluate my priorities, make sure I've learned from the mistakes I've made and to resolve myself to improving in the upcoming year. This post is a quick snapshot of how I feel about 2012. It's not necessarily about me as an individual, but I have some things that I feel I need to say "thank you' for and some things to pass on that I've learned and would like to share.

This year was our first full year with Engine House Training, LLC. If you haven't checked us out yet, feel free to do so and let us know what you think. When we started this company the goal was to provide realistc training for all levels of firefighters. No matter volunteer or paid, we wanted to give back the skills and methods that we have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business over the years at the larger conferences, mainly FDIC.

We always said if we could pay for our expenses, our food and beer, we would be happy so long as the content was good and requests were made for the training. Our training model was simple: provide a class that we would want to take; train on the equipment that is immediately available without gadgets and special tools, and keep it simple. Luckily, in large part due to the great instructors that are part of our company, we have been able to do that. So, here is shout out to Frank Lipski, Gary Graf, Dave Konys, and And Seers who are co-ownerss with me. Our instructors who make the classes so good are Jeff Weffelmeyer, Kelly Foster, Andrew Krato, Bob Little, Matt Black, Scott Hulsey, Steve Heidbrider, Jim Silvernail, and Mario Montero. Thanks for keeping this meaningful and fun!

This year also created some opportunities for me personally and for EHT. Because of the graciousness and encouragement of Penwell, Fire Engineering and Bobby Halton and staff, we have been able to share on Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio. This was definitely not on our radar and was a pleasant surprise. We are humbled and honored to be a part of the Fire Engineering family and we hope we can provide topics that are interesting and timely for the fire service. For Bobby, Fire Engineering, Pennwell, and anyone that has listened and supported us, Thank You!

On a more personel note, I have been lucky enough to be able write and blog for Fire Engineering and I can't tell you how blessed I have been to have had such encouraging role models in the great fire service community. A lot of what I have been lucky enough to do I never dreamed I would be doing. I would like to thank some very supportive folks who have encouraged me over the years. First and foremost, thanks to Bobby Halton for giving me a chance and allowing me to contribute to Fire Engineering. To guys like Ray McCormack, Billy Goldfeder, Chris Naum, Eddie Buchanan, Doug Cline, Dave McGrail, Dave Dodson, Erich Roden, Curt Isakson Rick Lasky, John Salka, Skip Coleman, PJ Norwood, Anthony Avillo and many others, you were supportive and encouraging even though may not have known it. Thanks!

So, on to a few things that I learned this year. I was lucky enough to make it to the Andy Frederick's Training Days, and what a great conference. If you ever get the chance, you should really take the time and money to attend. It is a fantastic time. As I sat through the first and second day of the conference, I noticed a veteran firefighter that looked familiar. He was sitting across the audotorium and I couldn't tell for sure who it was, but I thought I knew him. I noticed this guy taking notes and really paying attention.

At a break I found him and realized I did recognize him and he is a well respected leader and instrutor in the fire service. The entire conference he spent time taking notes and immersed into the presentations. It was obvious he was there to learn. It made a huge impression on me as an instructor, as a student of the fire service and as an officer. If Bill Gustin, the final speaker on the final day of that conference feels like he still has more to learn, then I sure as hell do to!

Not that I have ever felt that I didn't need to learn more, it's just amazing to see a leader like Captain Gustin walking the walk and practicing everything he teaches. It made me even more driven to stay an active student of the fire service. It was also a clear reminder that we are always being watched. I may not be being wathced a the level of the fine captain, but back at our departments, firefighters are watching to see if we are walking the walk. Thanks Captain Gustin!

This past year has been incredible! Not because of any of the writings, radio shows, presentation or articles. It's been incredible because I have had the blessing of working a side job with some of my best friends training other firefighters and learning from each one of them. It's been incredible because I have been given a gift of working in the fire service, doing what I love to do. It's been incredible because I have honest, caring Brothers and Sisters to lean on when times get rough that will lift you up and give you encouragement, because we all have bad days.

To all of you out there, have a Blessed New Year and thank you for all you have done for the fire service. Keep doing what your doing, it does make a difference. Keep walking the walk, someone is watching and your actions speak louder than words.

Finally, even thought they likely will not read this, my fist family; my wife and kids. Without their patience, understanding and support I would have nothing. They are the best and are as much of any successes as I am personally.

I love this fire service with all of the best and the worst it provides. Please keep it in your heart, maintain it's integrity no matter where you are, and plaease, pass on your passion. God bless you all and I'll see you in Indy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buddy Breathing Hose Practice

Just a quick tip for practicing with your Buddy Breathing Hose. In our classes one of the skills that we notice to be week is the ability of firefighters to manage their Buddy Breathing Hose with gloves on. Although Buddy Breathing is not in the current SCBA standard, it is in the upcoming 2013 standard.

Obviously, drilling with your SCBA and using the Buddy Breathing Hose will increase your confidence and skill level. Getting out and using the SCBA and practicing during evolutions is always optimal. But, repetition can take place off of the drill ground.
To increase the amount of frequency that you get to connect and disconnect your Buddy Breathing Hose all you need to do is ride in your apparatus.

For most of us, not all, but the majority of us we have our SCBA in seat mounts so that when we mount the apparatus and buckle in we have the packs in our back. They are in the position they would be in if we were wearing them. This makes the ability to get to our straps fairly easy.

While riding around town, going to a non-urgent call, wear you gloves and find your Buddy Breathing Hose. As you ride, practice disconnecting it and connecting it over and over again. Try not to look while you do it. This will create muscle memory and confidence when we get on the drill ground.

Use your time wisely and be productive as often as you can. Be creative and you can practice other skills like knots while riding the apparatus.

Thanks for reading and train hard. As always, expect fire.