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I would like to take a long winded roundabout way to look at the importance of saving seconds in an effort to saving minutes on a fire scene. This came up when I noticed during night calls guys would wake up, put on their shoes, walk to the Apparatus and then take their shoes off. This didn’t make sense to me, I just don’t put my shoes on, but how could I tell them that they were wasting time. Throughout my short career I have always been told “seconds matter”, “seconds saves lives”, “seconds can be the difference”. But is this really true, does one second really matter? Can saving one single second really make the difference between a Good fire and a Bad fire? Does putting your shoes on really matter? We should now look at scientific hypothesis and sound mathematical equations to find out.

Looking outside the Fire Service “Box”, I found a mathematician from the early 1200 known as Leonardo de Pisa better known by his nickname Fibonacci (fee-bon-ach-ee). He did not invent the numbers, but instead explained them and proved how they were evident in nature, architecture, even physical anatomy.  This number sequence is 0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89… the sequence is actually infinite in that, the first two numbers’ sum equals the following number i.e. 0+1=1 or 5+8=13. Consecutive Fibonacci numbers form what are known as the golden ratio, golden proportion, the golden spiral or the golden triangle along with others. 

These numbers are found all over when you looked for them. As seen in the layout of seeds in a sunflower or the curve of a wave, the flowering of an artichoke and the genealogy of the honeybee. They are found in the architecture of the Greek Parthenon and the Great pyramid of Giza. Even in great works of art like Da Vinci’s “Mona-Lisa” and Michelangelo’s “Holy Family”. What about in music where 13 notes span an octave, 8 notes compose a scale, the 5th and 3rd notes create chords based on a tone which are a combination of 2 steps and 1 step from the root tone. As well as the scale on a piano containing 13 keys, 8 white, 5 black split into groups of 3 and 2. There are many other examples of these numbers but it is hoped that this will at least help make my point and cause you to look for more.

That was the long roundabout way to explain my reasoning for my “Seconds Matter” is a reality. So with all that said let’s put my hypothesis to paper and make a Bad fire a Good fire with one single second. Let’s start with the number 0 showing that no time is saved, and that it takes 1 second to put on my shoes. Therefore by not putting on my shoes I have already saved 1 second. If I don’t put on my shoes then I don’t have to take them off now saving me 2 seconds. Without shoes on I can jump right into my boots putting me 3 seconds ahead of schedule. No shoes and going right to my boots will put me in my bunker pants 5 seconds ahead. Straight to boots and in my bunkers faster gets me fully dressed out 8 seconds faster. Being dressed out faster will get me on the rig in my SCBA and buckled ready to roll 13 seconds ahead of normal. Take the time I saved getting dressed and getting buckled up and I’m now rolling out the door 21 seconds faster than normal. Buckled up and out the door ahead of schedule puts me 34 seconds better on my drive time. So naturally if you get out the door faster and you save on your drive time you will arrive on scene 55 seconds sooner than you would have otherwise. Quicker drive time and faster arrival and I’m pulling my attack line 89 seconds faster putting me at the door making entry to the fire building 144 seconds quicker than before. Pulling hose sooner and getting into the structure faster will get me to the fire room 233 seconds quicker. Into the structure and to the fire sooner has me flowing water and controlling the fire 377 seconds ahead of when I normally would. 0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89-144-233-377…..

377 seconds is equal to 6.28 minutes. Now I know that this is a hypothetical wonder but in essence by saving seconds in the beginning, that time will then compound itself again and again over the length of the call saving you an untold amount of time. So the next time you set your gear up for the next call, ask you self “is there a way I can place my coat or my radio or set up my SCBA so that I can get it on just 1 second faster”, then do it because seconds do matter and seconds do count.

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