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So, my issue is one that has been discussed on many occassions at my department as well as others, this is a first for me to post so be easy on me. The topic of discussion has ruffled feathers here at home on occassion and pushed a few buttons. My issue is one that has caused many many changes in not only tactics training but has gone all the way from hose loads to re-arrangement of apparatuss' lay-outs. I cannot seem to get my Firefighters to nail down the basics, we repeatedly have issues on deployment with a "Tri-Fold" after switching from a flat load that seemed to have caused even more issues, I am also haveing a great deal of trouble with not only my engineers but also my ground hands failing to remember the location of equipment on our apparatuss only finding what there in search of after several laps around the truck and repeated up-downs of the roll-up doors; as well as proper operating techniques of the tools we use on a regular basis. Ive been a Training Leiutenant for just under two years, however I am supported by a 22 year veteran of the service as a training Captain. I'm stumped and hunting ideas for "rote-memorization" and "muscle memory" when it comes to these issues. We both at times become very frustrated with the performance of some of the most basic skills taught in the fire service, our so called "bread and Butter", well our butters getting runny and the bread is growing Penicillin.

Please throw me some ideas and suggestions, not just quick fixes to avoid disaster but a long term solution that I can implement for years to come.

Thank you for your help,

Lt Chad A Baker

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Repeated training. I would say that at every training session you have your crew pull and advance the line and then repack. As for location where equipment is take one or two firefighters at a time and ask them to go and get this piece of equipment, the other thing that works is our firefighters do an inventory once a week, each group gets a different vehicle and goes through it to make sure everything is there.

Hope this helped!!

That nasty bread and butter could be the way to get rid of some of the mutts!! Only kidding! One thing that may work for getting the guys to learn tool locations is having them do quaterly compartment cleaning and inventory. We do it twice a year, but if there are serious issues you could try it quarterly. Not only does the apparatus get cleaned, but the tools get inspected and their location known. As far as deploying the Triple load, I don't have a great suggestion for you, but you my experience is that guys dislike reloading hose, not necessarily pulling lines. This may be because they don't want to strip the truck in case of a call or it's a pain in the butt to repack hose on some of the apparatus that's out there (another topic for another time). Try putting the load on a hose rack or work bench and deploying from there. It is easier to "rerack" the load and easier for everyone to see the proper proceedure from eye level. Just some thoughts. Stay safe.
As for not knowing where stuff is on the truck, i had this issue in the past as well so i started making all probies write down an inventory of each compartment and the cab of the apparatus, not just ours but all that are in our station. I have them study this for a few shifts then give them a paper with all the compartments listed on it and tell them to write in the inventory for each one from memory. Also remember that all of the things you mentioned are basic competencies and if they arent getting it thier performance review should reflect that. Good luck bro!
I feel your pain Brother, the method we use to learn equipment locations is by using inventory sheets that need to be checked off at the beginning of every shift. For the recruits in Academy, they perform a rig inventory as part of their morning housework before we begin drill day. As for deploying hoselines, there is no substitute for good old hands on stretch and load.
I do like Brother Flemings idea of using a bench to load & deploy from. I think you could get more evolutions done in a shorter time frame. I will have to try and implement that one. Thanks!
I have a question that may fit in with the deployment question. In your depts. what would justify advancing a larger attack line (2 1/2") versus the usual 1 1/2" or 1 3/4"?

A few thoughts...

If you want your people to get good at deploying hose from a rack or hose bed mock-up, then do it that way. If you deploy hose 1000 times in front or in back of the firehouse, your members will be great at deploying hose at the firehouse. If you really want them to be competent at deploying hose lines, get them out on the street and deploying their various hose stretch options in buildings. Let's not continue to make excuses, get on the street and pull lines in the various occupancies. Be a leader, take the responsibility and get them out there. The same goes for setting-up the truck. What will be learned from setting the truck up on the ramp of the station for the 1000th time? Will there be any learning or will your people be great at setting-up the truck....on the ramp of the firehouse? Get the truck out on the street and set-up at various buildings from different positions. Have we become that lazy?

Second, if they can't figure out what is on the rig, they don't get on the rig. Give me a break. Furthermore, the inventory should not be about identifying what is on there and checking a box...any moron could do that. I could give a 5 year old a set of pictures with a box next to each and tell him, " if you see these things, put a little check in the box". Come on people, is that all we expect. Apparatus checks should be about gaining a greater depth of knowledge on the tools and equipment. Get the tools in your hands, read the manuals, take them apart and put them back together, clean them, paint them, use them and get something out of the process. Demand that your firefighters know the capabilities and limitations of the equipment...demand that they can use the tools and equipment with comfort and familiarity. Any moron can run a saw and all is well until something goes wrong...that’s when you need the depth of knowledge so you can troubleshoot or figure out a solution to the problem.

Become craftsmen. Seek to be the guy everyone comes to with a question. When a question is asked in the firehouse, have your name be in the answer as in "let's ask _______, he will know".

Sorry for the rant.
Hey Chief, Ranting is very good, especially when you nailed the reply...goes back to basic discipline, repetitive tasks and personal accountability that eventually translate into skills and knowledge. Proficiency and skills are developed through hard work and a desire to learn…..
Hey Art, are you guys hiring? Unfortunately, we seem to only be able to progress at the speed of the slowest, least motivated, least concerned guy with the biggest ego.... just happens to be the guy running the place, albeit running it into the ground!

The skills you want your guys to have are, like you said muscle memory. The problem you could be running into is that the brain only retains what it precieves as important. Skills most essentail to survival will take priority in the mind. It sounds like the guys have not been to a lot of fires, therefore they don't really have a priority of specific skills. As we all know the fireground can be fast paced and on face value, disorganized.But we know the method to the madness, As we progress in our careers, the scene slows and becomes organized. It is a complicated training and grooming process to make it simple. Our brains work our bodies based on memory, experience. So like I saw on one reply we must learn how to deploy under different conditions. Maybe your guys are parking lot firefighters. I know I tend to default to deploying drills in parking lots.

As far as where items are on the rig. Maybe the next time they cannot locate an item, make them carry with them at the station.Everywhere they go, they take it along. I bet they remember where to put it back, when they do say,"look at that, you brain knew this all along." Really re-enforce that their brain had the knowledge. We spend alot of time making our trainees push their bodies to the limit. Add that same toughness to thieir memory.

While your at it, make that 22 year guy earn his pay and help out!

They aren't remembering where things are on the rig for one of three reasons. They either don't think they really have to and are jerking your chain or someone is moving the items or they are mentally challenged. If they are in the third catagory, do what you can to keep them from getting hurt. If someone is moving the stuff, find out who it is and have them completely unload the rig and re load it a few times to help them get over this compulsion. If they are jerking your chain, jerk back. It is an amazing thing how things lose their humor at mid night and even less at 0300 hrs. and it just hits rock bottom at 0400 hrs. Make sure they know that you will not let this rest, it will not go away until they demonstrate compitent skills in this area. Remember, sometimes you are getting paid to be the a******. Once they've got the rig inventory down, move the hose deployment. Mid night hose drills also work wonders.

One last point, as they make progress, mention it. When they accomplish the goal, rave about it. When they make a fire and perform well, get all giddy about it.
I go with Art on non-stop repitition 1000 times is good, whether loading hose or pulling equipment off an engine. My dept does regular equipment placement drills, no slack is cut, firefighters and company officers as well.
I also like Mike's 0300 or 0400 wake up call. I'm sure the union would file all kinds of paperwork over that, but heaven forbid I let one of these know-it-all kids get seriously injured or dead on my watch. Stay on track and DO THE RIGHT THING!
Stay Safe
Our drivers do an inventory check at each and every shift change. Whether or not guys remove each tool and piece of equipment is up to them (nobody does, generally a look around the compartment is enough), but they are indeed required to check each compartment and see that everything is there, and then initial the "PM-1" form verifying that fact. If something turns up as having not been there (something comes up unaccounted for), the last driver to have checked over the piece (initialed) is the one called on the carpet for it. Our "PM-1" form also includes checking the oil, the O2 level, and other vital things that should be checked daily. Since we check at every shift change, they are checked twice daily (well, maybe not the oil :o)~ )

Maybe if your guys are having a tough time remembering where things are, you should require them to check over the piece at every shift change. It's good for the guys, it's good for the equipment, and it's just plain good.

We're not one of those "progressive" departments, we're a more traditional, a**-kicking, Northeast department, where you have to practically bribe some guys to keep their face pieces on, (not a good thing), but I'll tell you what, the guys do indeed check that equipment at every shift change, and it would be a very bad black mark for you if you didn't know where something was. The first time, an officer might give you an earful. The second time, you and he would be having a serious, serious problem. Thats a fast way to get a very bad reputation for yourself here.

So, equipment checks at shift change. Hope that helps, and good luck.

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