As I ventured to NYC last week to assist a fellow Chief Officer, I happened to message Lt. Doug Mitchell to see if he was on duty; figuring I would pay a visit since it's been a while since we talked. His relpy to me was simple...and it read "I am taking a class today, always a student." I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see that message, and really got me to thinking about a comment that was made to me a while back after returning from a training seminar. I happened to take a 3 day class this past spring, and when I returned, a senior firefighter asked..."why do you waste your time, you have already proven yourself?" The answer was quite simple in the fact that I may learn something new, something innovative, and maybe a new way to handle certain situations.
Having a well rounded persepective of my job and what might happen during an incident is important not only for me, but the community and communities I serve. It is easy to say that every one of us has experienced different challenges and experiences in the fire service, and we have all adapted and handled thos situations differently. I am a firm believer that there are no second chances when it comes to the "job", while the expectations from your fans are very high.
With many new terms, abbreviations, books, blogs, etc., the real effectiveness to your outcome on the fireground is how well you prepared yourself over the years, and what you continue to do...making yourself better! Whether your goal is to be an engine, truck, or rescue guru, you owe everything you have to be the best at what you have to offer.
A few weeks ago, 2 very young firemen made an intuitve decision to attempt a rescue of an unconscious citizen from their burning home before the application of water. Receiving information from commuications, the scenario changed several times before the first arriving engine company. With low manpower, the firemen sized-up the scene with screaming by-standers, and decided to provide a quick search while the chauffuer stretched for them. (Photo on Left)
These 2 firemen had zero seconds to think about acronyms, NIST, or UL studies as they were under relentless pressure of the citizens children. What made this incident valuable is the firemen remembered what they had learned from training evolutions, successfully rescuing the unconscious victim to spend anothe Christmas with his family.
Training is the key to success in our craft and profession! We can talk all day about what you carry in your pockets, what size ladder will reach the 3rd floor, or how much hose do we need to make the hallway, but the simple fact is that it means nothing if your not perfecting your skills by practicing those skills.
There are many valuable resources available to us, and I am not saying that you cannot learn from the books, blogs, NIST, or UL, but they are not replacements to hands on training!
The keyboard firefighter is beginning to be more and more prevelant these days, and the sarcasm that is spewed is beginning to drive me through the roof!
When you lay your head down tonight, ask yourself if you have done everything in your power to be the best fireman you can be. If the answer is no, then let's get to work!
Photo by Denny Clopper