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Here is one mans opinion.
Not too long ago, there was a bit of an arguement about training firefighters to perform the "head-first" bailout, as well as the "rope slide". I fully agree with DC John Salka, that if you don't train and create "muscle memory" for a particular evolution, you are very likely not going to succeed if and when the tactic is needed. I feel it is up to the trainers to create a safe environment to allow members the opportunity to practice these dangerous skills. Obviously, a strong system of belay lines are necessary, and trainers who are well versed in the hazards as well as safe techniques to perform the skills necessary for self-rescue.
Our job is dangerous, and we must train as closely as possible to reality, while implementing a level of safety for the personnel who's lives may depend on it someday. In my dept alone, we have done such training, and the ladder bail out has been performed at a working fire more than once already. If one life is saved!
I have also been involved in a training day where one firefighter fell from the ladder approx 15' up. The belay line was properly managed, and no harm came to the member. We must train in firefighting more than ever since the incidence of fire is less.
Phil Lemire

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To echo brother Avillo's comments, any time spent training on, discussing and reinforcing preventive measures is time well spent. All of the issues below can be directly effected by individual members and Company Officers. Please don't diminish yourselves or our service by placing the responsibility for our safety and well-being on anyone else. It is ours, individually and collectively.

Please don't mistake these prevention comments to mean I don't believe in "dangerous" training. I am an advocate of training, training and more training on self-rescue, RIT (active RIT) and other "dangerous" training activities. The Illinois Fire Service Institute runs a RIT Under Fire program that will test any firefighter to their very limit. However, this "dangerous" training is one of the best I have seen and continues to provide firefighters in Illinois and other states with the necessary tools for RIT operations. As has been stated, we must train for these low frequency, high risk operations. However, we should also remember that an ounce of prevention................

1) Accountability. It is not really about a system (passport, tags etc...) it should be more about maintaining three things: contact by touch, voice or sight. If any of these are lost, accountability is lost. The company officer is the vital link (as in almost every area) to good accountability. Company officers need to instill a respect for discipline (not punishment) on the fireground that eliminates freelancing and leads to close accountability.

2) Fitness, Rest and Rehab. I believe it is our duty and obligation to each other (brothers and sisters) to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of fitness and wellness. We are all we have when our best efforts and training are not enough to keep us out of harms way. In the end, we must be able to count on each other...... We must do a better job resting and rotating and "actively" rehabbing our members.

3) Wear your seat belts and protect your people on the road. Don't wait for the Emergency Traffic Control program to be "hammered-out".......we don't need an agreed upon formal program. Position that big red truck between your people and those that will hurt or kill them. We can work on specific blocking techniques and add cones and signs.........for now Block, Block, Block.

4) In order to make solid, reasoned risk benefit decisions, officers and firefighters need to arm themselves with an extensive knowledge base in building construction, fire behavior, reading smoke and other readily available training topics. It is clear that we are not doing a great job a recognizing rapidly changing fire conditions,,, spend more time on the basic building blocks that will provide the information necessary to make good, informed decisions on the fireground.
Art,

Your 4 points make damned good sense. Firefighting (angle rescue, traffic accidents, haz-mat, etc.) intervention is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and fire/rescue personnel MUST be in first class physical and mental shape in order to face the hazards and risks involved in this trade. There was a tragic fire here in Spain this past weekend in which 6 members of a family perished (more details on request). The short on resourses local FD contained the fire in acceptable time, but the family died. How are these guys going to take this loss of six of their neighbors? Firefighters in any FD anywhere on the globe may face similar incidents. W

Worchester MS, Charleston SC, Madrid, Spain (10 brothers down 29 years ago), NYC. Losing victims is hard enough, but when our brothers go down, where do we go and on whose shoulders do we cry con.

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