New year, new beginnings.
As we welcome in a new year it gives us time to reflex on the past, take inventory as how we are as firefighters, and to look towards the future as where we want to be when we say goodbye to 2015.
Among the countless things that my father taught me about his craft was that as a firefighter you should never stop learning, never say “you know it all”, and always keep an open mind to changes and progressions in the art of fighting fire. If you’ve been around the fire service for any length of time you know, and have seen, the fire service transform into much more than just “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff” organizations. We’ve had to become bandage carry’in, air monitor’in, rope wrangl’in, tight spot squeez’in, water tread’in, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound firefighters, just to justify to some, our very existence as fire departments. And yes, I’m old school, we should still be called “The Fire DEPARTMENT”.
So with that being said, it makes me wonder if with all the demands placed on us as firefighters, have we somehow lost some of the very basic skills needed to be the firefighters that our communities deserve to have protecting them. I admittedly spend a lot of time on sites such as FireCritic.com, thebravestonline.com, or statter911.com, and I view videos placed onto those sites from fire scenes across the country. I view them not to pass judgment on those organizations shown in the clips, but to view the tactics used on each given situation, to watch the outcome of those decisions, and to evaluate how I would have handled just such an incident. But within those videos, I think I’ve seen a pattern beginning to emerge. It leaves me speechless as to how many departments are struggling to get even first water on the fire, let alone multiple lines. I sit and watch as time passes by while the fire continues to grow in size, all the while, issues such as a lack of a supplied water source, lack of manpower, low flowing nozzles, and even lack of pre-connected lines on the trucks themselves make the situation grow worse. These types of issues are seen in countless situations and in every part of the country. And in every type of department, whether it’s a career, volley, or combination of the two.
Jack of all trades. Master of none?
What causes departments to have issues with even the most basic of skills needed? Could it be that we have become so specialized that we neglect to work on the one thing that we have sometimes mere minutes to get right? Do we train daily on how to be better “video gamers” all the while our pre-connects collect dust? Are we sitting in classrooms talking about the latest and greatest new way to tie a knot (guaranteed to fail only once) , but can’t even get water out of a pump in under 5 minutes? Don’t get me wrong, we should be excellent providers of emergency medical care, after all, you’ll need those skills in 80% of the calls your gonna make!
But for the most part, and I’m taking some editorial liberties here, EMS calls are not going to get you or your crew killed. It’s the “going into burning buildings” (outmanned, outgunned(flow wise), and out experienced) that will.
Maybe 2015 should be the year where we “rededicate” ourselves as firefighters, and place more emphasis on honing our skills in the word that’s on “most” of our departments patches. FIRE!!!!!!!
I wish you all a happy, and safe, 2015. Let’s make 2015 a banner year.
“Just Livin’ the Dream”
Cpt. Tim Kron