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I know many who are reading this had to do a double take.  Yes that word is spelled correctly: Fingerspitzengefühl.

The German word Fingerspitzengefühl translates directly into English as "finger tip feel."  However, its meaning is much greater than this literal translation.  In German, it describes great situational awareness and being able to most appropriately and tactfully respond. It can be well applied to diplomats, bearers of bad news, or a superior ability to respond to an escalated situation.  When you execute a Google search of the word, it often will be found describing the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox.

Back in World War II, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was a tactical genius who was often said to have an intuitive sixth sense on the battle field.  His Panzer division was feared in North Africa and won numerous decisive battles because of his situational awareness, keen intuition and ability to lead.  However, if you know your history, you also know that it did not end very well for Rommel.

Why? ......answer: General George S. Patton.  General Patton also was a champion of situational awareness.  He understood his enemy and studied Rommel.  He also understood the importance of the supply line.  Patton was able to get into the mind of Rommel and try to guess he next move, like a chess match.

History is something which cannot be ignored.  We learn from it and should use past experiences when formulating present decisions. In fact,  many correlations can be made between military history and military tactics and strategies with the fire service.

Today, because of research and ongoing scientific pursuit, we have the ability to better understand our enemy, fire and the structures in which we fight fire.  Take the information and use it to safely defeat your enemy.  Don't be afraid to learn from the past and present.  Learn from others who have experienced trial's and tribulations both on the fire ground and in controlled training environments.

This is a very interesting time in the fire service.  Even when I was fortunate to write my text (Suburban Fire Tactics, 2013),  I did not have much of this new scientific information which UL is discovering.  Much of the my writing took place during 2011 and 2012.  However, as an author, I now have the responsibility to use this information to back up my material.  KNOW YOUR ENEMY!

We should all strive to have Fingerspitzengefühl.  Developing a fire ground intuition doesn't happen overnight.  It takes years of experience, training, and repetition to acquire.  KEEN SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.   We should build from our fire ground experiences, learn from our mistakes, keep our noses in Fire Engineering, and continuously learn about our enemy.

.................See, I told you mom, my minor in German would pay off some day

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