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“Why We Train”

I was asked, during a conversation with an older firefighter, one night, “Why it was “so necessary to train so much?” My best answer to that question, goes something like this.

Along with many others, I attended a "Fire Dynamics" set of classes recently, at my local county fire academy, here in my part of Pennsylvania. These classes were based on the science that N.I.S.T. is bringing to the table of America's Fire Service. N.I.S.T. has countless hours towards figuring out the science behind fire and firefighting and it's much more complex than the simple fire triangle or fire tetrahedron and yet if you listen closely and watch carefully, it's so easy to understand. There are example videos out there in cyberspace, which speaks to some of what was discussed at that training. Unfortunately, the production of at least one of these videos came as a result of two line of duty deaths that occurred in San Francisco in 2011. There is a need to stay updated on training and there is a need to train as frequently as possible is to keep us all alive and well for as long as possible, thereby reducing line of duty deaths and injuries. I am not saying that training will prevent all line of duty deaths and injuries. I am saying that attending in house and out of house training more frequently; to build awareness to what is killing us, hurting us and building up our skills set will reduce them. On the fire ground or other incident scenes, we must rely on one another and our abilities and capabilities to bring any incident to a favorable outcome. We lose too many firefighters each year to line of duty deaths or to lost time injuries. Those losses are indeed measurable losses! Think about those two words, measurable and losses. Think about what is lost when we lose someone or you for a shift, a week of shifts, a month of shifts or a lifetime of them. And then think of the families, yours and theirs.  Our firehouse, our home, our personal lives, the other organizations we serve and the communities we serve will not be the same again as a result of a line of duty death or a sustained debilitating injury. You know, most of us wouldn't think twice before dusting off our children and setting them back on the bicycle to learn how to balance and peddle and then tell them, practice until you can't get it wrong. And yet, we gripe about attending weekly training that lasts 2-3 hours or an occasional weekend class that potentially could save our life (lives). Yep, you're right about the bicycle. Once we do it right, we got it. But fire is science and science isn't exact. No fire is ever like the last one we went to. No structure is ever the same inside and outside. As we are responding to any incident or are working to extricate a victim at a motor vehicle crash, other vehicles that are sometimes driven by people who care more about their make-up, text messages and their lack of planning enough time for their trip are ever present. Some fail to yield, slow down or stop, and they are killing us or injuring us ! If you haven't done so by now, consider looking at the line of duty death reports, the videos and sometimes the “live coverage” of the many firefighter line of duty death funerals. Take a look at our mission statement. As a whole fire service it generally tell us that we are going “to save lives, protect property and preserve the environment”. That mission statement’s meaning stands just as much for each one of us as it does the people who call and count on us for service. Those are the reasons we should be training more. Stay safe.

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