When we think of football greats, particularly quarterbacks, what makes them great? Touchdowns? Passing yards? What about the ability to read a defense and know that when they set the play in motion, it will be a success not by chance, but by proper recognition of their opponent and confidence in their choice of counter measure against them. If this is a factor in determining a great quarterback, then who better to demonstrate this skill than the recent Touchdown King himself, Mr. Peyton Manning.
Have you ever got to watch Peyton play Peyton’s game of football? For any of you that have watched him play, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s when Peyton plays the no huddle offense. It’s a Defenses worst nightmare. When Peyton steps up to the line, takes a moment to scan the defense and their positioning, then he formulates his plan and calls out to his teammates his plan of action. The players hear him and take their positions, the ball snaps, the pass is in the air........TOUCHDOWN!
Did Peyton know that pass would end up a touchdown? If he did, How? I believe it is because Peyton puts as much effort, if not more, into studying the defense and truly understands what is going to happen in the next 6 to 10 seconds. Peyton studies the formations of the defense and how the defense will react to certain movements and then puts his plan together and executes. He then relies on his teammates (engine and truck companies) to carry out his plan. If Peyton understands the defense so well, and he knows his teammates will hold up their end of the bargain, is it so hard to believe that Peyton knows the fate of that play long before snap of the ball?
If we took a page out of Peyton’s book, how would it translate to the Fireground?
Well let’s start with the defense, i.e. our opponent-Fire. Let’s study it. A lot of people thought for a long time that whatever fire behavior knowledge they needed to know was already published and understood. A lot of people now are seeing these recent UL and NIST studies as well as many more studies and they are realizing that there is much more learning to do about fire behavior. I am going to tell you something that’s been said a thousand times in recent years. Our fire environment is changing. We for the most part understand that it is changing but have we really truly understood the how? When Peyton studies his opponent, you better believe he studies it until he can run it in his sleep. Why don’t we put the same effort into Fire behavior as he does into defense?
Next is building construction. If we study Fire Behavior, and truly study Fire Behavior, understand the elements of fire and understand how it is going to react when certain conditions are introduced to it or removed from it, then the next step in forming our plan would be to understand how the building is going to react to that fire and use the building to your advantage. If Peyton is in a spread formation, and he sees double coverage on one of his receivers, he will use the defense to his advantage knowing there will be a receiver elsewhere on the field that will have a good chance of making that play. How about we use the building to our advantage. Talk to home builders, talk to project managers, read books and study study study. Learn how these buildings are built and you will not only learn the potential dangers to us, but you may learn how to use the building to your advantage of achieving your goal.
If we were to take a page out of Peyton’s book, I believe it would be to study our opponent and study them well. Study Fire Behavior and study Building Construction. Learn as much about each subject as you can and the rest will fall into place. Engine and Truck company operations are how the plan is carried out, Fire Behavior and Building Construction is how the plan is formed. Are we going to encounter fires that are out of our control and this does not apply? Sure, but if we do like Peyton and step off that truck, quickly scan the grounds, reach back for your knowledge on Fire Behavior and Building Construction, is it so hard to believe that we as firefighters can be a fires worst nightmare?
Success on the Gridiron as well as the Fireground is determined by how well you know your opponent and how good you are at anticipating their moves against you and formulating a plan to not let theirs succeed.