During a recent live burn training we discussed different tactics as it pertains to attacking the fire. We watched the fire develop and had the attendees take turns knocking the fire down and then watching it develop again. During this evolution we had exceptional thermal layering and smoke that helped reinforce the lesson of "less water is more".
Firefighters attending the training ranged from probationary to veteran and one thing became very clear early on...It's the basics that we take for granted. Watching the newer firefighters open the nozzle on a 45 degree pattern for 5+ seconds and watching everyone in the burn trailer wince as the thermal layer dropped was prevalent and after a few times we discussed going for the base of the fire and "penciling" the fire back with a straight stream instead of using steam conversion. Now I'm not saying that steam conversion doesn't have its place but after showing the difference between using small, controlled, and well placed bursts with a fog nozzle and hitting the base of the fire with a straight stream, the students were amazed at the difference.
Looking back on this training I realized that there truly are things that we, as firefighters take for granted. "Putting wet stuff on the red stuff" doesn't always prove to be the best way of training and making sure that every firefighter is afforded the opportunity to see the difference is our job as instructors. Seeing the light bulb come on is the greatest feeling, well...after the blistering pain of getting steamed goes away!
Are your firefighters comfortable with fire attack? Are they confident with hose streams and nozzle selection? Do they know how to control fire spread? If not, make it a point to cover it, maybe it's just what they need, a little training on the basics.