A race horse does not lunge out of the gate when it opens, it pushes forward at the click of the latch that holds the gates closed. A good duck hunting dog is calm and relaxed in the duck blind, until it hears the click of his master taking the safety off the shotgun. Both beautiful animals know it is time to respond when they hear their click.
What about you and your crew? Are you ready for the click? As the officer or senior firefighter it is your responsibility to make sure that your crew and your equipment are ready. But what is the culture of your crew? Do they show up early, get their equipment out, and get ready to respond? Are truck checks seen as operational checks, or is your crew just going through the motions and filling out the paperwork? What about training? Are you prepared to do what you might get called to do? Pull lines, throw ladders, search, pull victims, and vent the roofâ€¦. You know, â€œfirefighter stuffâ€!
I had a fellow Hooligan contact me recently through social media, asking for some training ideas for his crew to use in-house, and without spending any money. Sound familiar to any of you? My first question was, â€œWhat do you think your crew needs to work on?â€ Thankfully he responded, â€œRIT, rope (tech rescue), truck ops stuffâ€; perfect I thought, these are things firefighters LIKE to train on. Everyone knows most firefighters prefer hands-on training. Ever try to get your crew excited for friction loss calculations? He went on to say that he had limited space at the station, and a first due area that makes it difficult to get out and train in. Sound even more familiar? Iâ€™m telling you, we ALL fight similar battles!
Here was my response;
I have stoked the fires a couple different ways. I like to pull up a ‘close calls’ type of incident or even some headline incident that was recent and throw it out there as, “how would WE handle this?â€
You can start it as a table-top/round-table discussion to get the ball rolling. Once they have a plan, take it to the apparatus floor and go over it.
How would we move our extrication tools to a car 50′ down a ravine?
How would we package a patient in a stokes basket?
Now let’s set up a z-rig!
We are good at saying what â€˜they should have done’ but how are WE going to handle the same situation with what WE have? I try to get them engaged by showing them what they should be ready for, then lead them into some simple/basic skills that could use a refresher. Honestly you can always find a situation to work in whatever topic you are wanting or told to train on. It’s a training officer’s trick, don’t tell anyone.
So there is the simple answer. Find a RELEVANT recent topic. I say relevant because it has to make sense for your area. Urban areas donâ€™t typically train on grain bin rescue, and rural departments donâ€™t typically train on high-rise standpipe operations. Find an incident that is probable to your district, or even base it on a target hazard you have, Â Â and go for it.
What if we need to get a guy off the roof of that building? (Skills: deploying ladders, using two ground ladders side by side, securing stokes to aerial ladder) What if we had a car hit a fuel pump, and burning gas is running onto the highway? (Skills: Hazards ID, Hazmat operations, foam set-up troubleshooting) See how easy it is? We have not spent any money, we have not had to go to the training center, or get permission from anyone. The best part is, YOU are conducting training you know that YOUR crew could benefit from.
Hooligans love to train, and we love to be prepared and proficient! We are the firefighters that are proactive, and ready to step up as problem solvers. As officers and senior firefighters it is essential that we stoke that fire in others, and help our crew maintain that operational readiness. Be Ready For The Click!
Chief Dave Cline
Hooks and Hooligans
Sr. Staff Correspondent