How many of you can think back to your first days in the fire service. You were brand new, and had no clue how any of the tools worked, nor did you know about any tactics related to the fire service. Now if you can, think back to when you started to learn these things. Was it in Probie School? How about on the job learning? Now while we are on that did you ever in your career stop and ask why are we doing it that way? Or, isn’t there an easier way of doing things?
Let’s look at engine work.
Transitional attacks are something that has been in the tabloids a lot as of late. Why does your department use a transitional attack? And on the flip side why don't they use a transitional attack? To sit and say its the devils tactic and that if you use it you should be brought up on treason charges against the fire service is not a good enough answer. Why do you feel that way? What do you know about it?
Look at your department’s engine company operations. Do you ever stretch to the burnt side or do you go from the unburnt side? But why do you do that?
Do you use PPV fans over vertical vents at all lightweight construction houses? Do you get on the roof of a lightweight construction house?
RIT tools what do you grab and why?
Are you protocols set up where you can search without a hose line in your hand? Why are you aloud to do these tactics, or NOT aloud to do this tactics?
How about fog nozzles on your tower ladder vs. stacked tips? Which do you prefer and why? Because the FDNY does it is not an answer!
Do you see the problems?
You may know what your department is doing or which tools to grab for the RIT position, but do you know why?
All to often we as firefighters are content in being told what to do such as never use a smooth bore or never use a PPV fan but we never ask the hard questions of why.
You do not need to be rude and arrogant when you ask your questions. For example.........
"Hey Lt, why do we use these combination nozzles? I was reading about smoothbores on Fire Engineering and they seem like a good thing. So why do we use the combi's instead of a smoothbore?"
The above shows how you can question tactics and what not without getting rude. Here is what you should not do......
"Hey Lt. Why do we only use combination nozzles? They suck badly and are a waste of space on our trucks, real firefighters use smoothbores." LT says "what are you basing your findings on?" And then it comes out "BECAUSE THE FDNY USES THEM AND THEY ARE THE GREATES!!!"
That was rude and not based on scientific evidence. Even first hand experience is scientific. But to decide to do something based on another departments use of them is wrong....
For example something very simple.......Dump tanks/porta tanks.
I don’t think the FDNY needs porta tanks, yet that doesn’t mean we don’t need them in rural America. Make sense? We don’t base our needs on what there needs are.
See how this all ties in together? By knowing the whys you will know the when’s and how to's of a tactic or tool. This will make you a better firefighter and a better mentor. Imagine how it would sound if a new probie ask you.... "Hey in school we covered PPA but we were told we don’t do that tactic in the department. Why? If all you can say is because, and you have no further input on the whys, what good did you really do? How did you really help them?
So my challenge to you is this. Go and explorer the whys of your department or company and then learn the when’s and how’s and make a solid opinion of the tactic or tool for yourself.
Until next time
Take care and stay safe.