Train to Survive: Firefighters Attend Inaugural Fire Service Training Day in Charlotte, NC


On September 12th, the Charlotte Firefighter’s hosted the Inaugural Fire Service Training Day to give firefighters the opportunity to train prior to the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb that was held the following day. This event was the first of it’s kind held in Charlotte, and it was a huge success. One of the event’s coordinators, Cpt. Jonah Smith, with the Charlotte Fire Department, stated that the event was planned in just a few months. All of the proceeds from the event were donated to the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, and around 70 firefighters from multiple states gathered for the sessions. Several classroom seminars were held in the Wells Fargo auditorium, while SAFE FIREFIGHTER offered a Hands On Training class across the street. I wrote this article highlighting the event recently.

The Charlotte Firefighter’s never seem to stop improving, and I must say that the Fire Service Training Day was a very well executed event. While there were four classroom sessions and one H.O.T. class being offered, some of the classes ran concurrent with each other. I opted to attend the morning classroom sessions and the evening H.O.T. Forcible Entry training that was put on by SAFE Firefighter.

clttrainingThe first class was by Battalion Chief Nick Martin of the Columbia (S.C.) Fire Department. Chief Martin has also been a member of Kentland Volunteer Fire and the DCFD. He is part of Traditions Training, LLC, and he spoke about  “Managing Tactical Operations with Variable Staffing.” The class was very formative, and he passed along a lot of ideas/techniques that can be applied to everyone’s home department. While most of us know, the individuals that need to hear it the most…weren’t in the classroom. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, and I’m glad I was able to catch up with Chief Martin later that night and give him one of my challenge coins. Here is the synopsis of the course:

Managing Tactical Operations with Variable Staffing
Battalion Chief Nick MartinThis program will focus on the feasibility and ability to accomplish fireground tasks with reduced or variable staffing levels. Not every fire occurs in well staffed areas. This does not so much alter our tactical objectives as it does how we go about accomplishing them. This class will discuss tactical pre-planning for offensive and defensive fires and discuss how, how through proper planning by chiefs and through excellent skills by firefighters, we can often do more (than we think) with less.

This was the first class that I had taken from Traditions Training, LLC (link), and there is no doubt that these guys are very well experienced and knowledgeable on the topics that they are talking about. You can also FOLLOW them on Facebook by visiting the Traditions Training, LLC Facebook page (link) and clicking LIKE!

clttraining1The next class was by Captain Tom Hancock of Cobb County, Georgia, and was titled “Maximizing the First Due Engine.” While Cpt. Hancock reiterated some of the information that Chief Martin had shared, he was able to offer first-hand accounts of situations about the first arriving apparatus setting the pace for the fire. He spoke about how the first actions or lack there of by the first arriving can either make the fire go in the right direction, or they can also make a series of events turn into a bad situation. The class originated from Cpt. Hancock getting transferred to a new Battalion at work, and he wanted to share some of the techniques that his previous Battalion was using. It was great to hear him speak of the pride and ownership that he takes in the job. Here is the synopsis of the course:

“Maximizing the First Due Engine”

Instructor: Captain Tom Hancock

The actions taken by the first due engine at a structure fire determine the success or failure of the incident. As the first due goes, so goes the fire. Whether you’re in an urban department with unlimited staffing or a smaller department with limited staffing, the goal of the first due should be to get as much done as possible to set the stage for the rest of the incident. From the Officer, to the Driver, and the Firefighters in the back; we all have crucial roles to play to get the most out of the first due. In this class, we’ll discuss everyone’s role.

After lunch, it was time to break stuff.  The “Street Smart Forcible Entry 1: Conventional Irons & Thru-the-Lock” class was great. Chief Matt McDowell and Captain Chris Garniewicz from SAFE Firefighter(link) gave those attending their class all of the hands-on training that they could squeeze into the 4 hour time block. The class consisted of discussing entry techniques and different ways to overcome the lock. Chief McDowell covered the various types of locks and what to do when encountering them, while Cpt. Garniewicz let us break stuff in the courtyard. It was awesome to use the various tools that they had available to learn several different techniques to open inward and outward swinging doors. While we were able to develop a technique that worked the best for us, the instructors were very familiar with issues they have seen during their years of experience. This was also the first class that SAFE Firefighter(link) has taught in North Carolina, but hopefully they will be back next year!

Street Smart Forcible Entry 1”- Conventional Irons & Thru-the-Lock

Nothing brings a fireground operation to a stop quicker than a tough door! Keep your fire attack moving with this HIGH REPETITION & INTENSE HANDS-ON-TRAINING! Topics include: tool & lock lab &history, forcible entry size-up, residential /commercial & inward/outward entry using the irons & thru-the-lock.

I ended up running in to Chief McDowell and Captain Garniewicz several times throughout the weekend, and they could usually be found around the video cameras. The news crew came by while we were busting open some doors and wrote an article about our training here: First responders to climb 110-floors

The Inaugural Fire Service Training Day in Charlotte was a huge success. The brothers and sisters who are passionate about the fire service came out and attended training from some of the best instructors from across the country. I would like to think that next year the event will only be bigger and better! While I have a lot more to tell you about from this weekend, I will be following up with additional posts for all of the events.