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Men Are From Smooth Bore Women Are From Fog

Pause then laugh!

This is not a debate on smooth bore vs. fog nor is it a male - female thing. It seems sometimes that the fire service can be broken down into two distinct camps. Some of the more popular Smooth Bore vs. Fog, Paid vs.Volunteer and PPV vs. VES.

Maybe there is another - Extinguishment vs. Failure

Extinguishment is at the heart of what we do. No other organization does what we do. Ask any firefighter how they felt putting out the fire and you will find the truest of answers. We must commit to extinguishment as we have recently to firefigher failure training. The fire service must realize that extinguishment saves the most lives. It is not always dramatic but what if it were delayed? The results would be different. Those different results helped to spawn failure training. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Pause then laugh!

There is a tremendous amount of good information out there as well as self promoters that have an adgenda to push. These "progressives" will bend for any new technolighy breeze that comes along while offering your department "experienced" training on that topic.

Pause then Laugh!

Cottege industries have emerged all with keeping you alive because someone did not put out the fire. The fire services interest in fire extinguishment is low. From LODD reports that don't get it (put water on the fire) to grant money for exotic tools (that will rarely be used), from chief cars that "need" gold leaf "but unfortunetly" we don't have money for training.

Pause then laugh!

Yes its funny. Funny strange. How did we end up like this?

I believe that there is a silent majority out there that does see through the smoke and mirrors. Hang in there brothers and sisters one day the blinders will be lifted and all will see as you do. You keep training your people on all topics but you never forgot number one. Extinguishment!

We are seeing many sworn by tactics slowly disappearing, as well as new save the day tactics being debunked. Which is great news. While it is true that what works here may not work elsewhere. Having an informed impartial testing on a national level would go a long way in increasing operational safety. The results would be there for all to see and digest and possibilly adopt. No practice should be adopted without training on it first and verfying that it would be beneficial to your department. One tactic that would be beneficial to all departments is to put water on the fire.

Pause then laugh

Too many decision makers are drawn in by hype and the fire service info-mercial. Doubting Thomas needs to be in full gear to check out "New" solutions. Safety is a great theme and we should always look toward injury reduction but we should never forget that extinguishment comes first. Training on fire extinguishment not failure should be priority number one for all fire department. Remember "The fire you put out today may save your life"

Pause then laugh!

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Comment by Pierre-Louis LAMBALLAIS on February 5, 2011 at 7:15am

Nice post. It's true that extinguish is the goal.


But, just do a little test: put a piece of paper on the ground. Light the paper, and wait. The fire rise, then decrease and die. Can we say extinction is done? Yes. But... we've done nothing. Now repeat the same thing, and use a nozzle to flow water far away from the paper. You are flowing water, the fire die. But you don't touch the paper. Do you perform extinction? If you just check the result (fire die) you can say yes. But we must admit as we flow water far from the paper, the answer is more "No" than "Yes"...


In Quality Insurrance, in order to increase efficiency, we tend to avoid "human feeling" to search for "metrics". What we call "metrics" are method, element, details we can measure. For some job, that's easy: you break stone so you just have to count the number of time you smash stone with your hammer, and count the weight of stones. For computer science, finding good metrics is far more complicated. I was software engineers and we spent days and days to find what to measure. Time to create 10 lines of codes was one of the metric we were using and with that we start to discoverd think that, after more than 10 years of job, we were still ignoring. I remember of a terrific day: when you find the metrics you will use, you must indicate the value you think you will get, and indicate the value which will be correct for quality and the other which will indicate you are a bad guy!

For a small paper we had to fill, as it was very very very easy, we decided to indicate that 90% of theses papers should be correctly filled. And while writing 90% we were sure to be "cool". After a few days, the Quality insurrance manager did a meeting: we were really at 90%! But 90% of paper incorrecly filled... The "metrics" smash us hardly. But this was the truth.


Long speech? Link with the extinction? What metric do we use? None. Fire is on, we run everywhere, use nozzle, an

Comment by Kevin Moeller on January 5, 2009 at 10:59pm
Great post Ray, this only reinforces the NEED for "live fire" training excercises. The only way we can truly show the neccessity for speed and accuracy of tactics on the fireground is through real training with real fire. You can teach tactics all day the classroom but it's on the fireground when you "have" to put it all together or save your own a**. I'm glad that some of the guys that "didn't have it all together", didn't when they were with me doing a live fire training, because they may not have been able to save their own a** if it was out on the street on a call. Nobody gets hurt "following all 1403 rules" which we always do, and everyone goes home with some of the most valuable training they have ever had. Any maybe even some eyes are opened up to realize,....hey maybe that guy that could be me someday if I don't take this seriously. Anyway, stay safe Ray, and hey............ Keep fire in your life!
Comment by Michael Chambers on October 5, 2008 at 7:38pm
This may be a little "over the top", but the Rifleman's Creed can be applied to the Firefighter. We must know our "weapons". Our lives depend on them. Read it and think firefighting...

THIS IS MY RIFLE. There are many like it but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My rifle, without me is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than any enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will....

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but Peace
Comment by Daryl Liggins on October 1, 2008 at 8:16pm
I know what you mean Ray. I just finished reading a near-miss report from a large California department. A 1 3/4" preconnect was the 1st line into a LARGE commercial occupancy with fire venting thru the roof and heavy smoke throughout. The nozzle firefighter said he gave the fire shot in "short burst" are you kidding me. This is not a flashover container. Needless to say the roof collapsed and 9 guys almost were lost. The report did not mention 1 thing about water. Command this, RIC and so on. I agree EXTINGUISHMENT
Comment by Ron Smith (a.k.a. G-Ron) on September 30, 2008 at 11:23pm
I would like to echo the sentiments stated above ...... even though some of them were written in Canadian !!! Just kidding.

This mirrors my feelings of doing your job very well and having the pride of being very proficient with the tools you are assigned it a nozzle or a Halligan.

It's better to be a highly skilled craftsman than a "jack of all trades", it shows.

Keep up the good work!!!!
Comment by jay comella on September 30, 2008 at 1:56pm
Way to go Ray!
Comment by Wayne Benner Jr on September 29, 2008 at 7:07pm
This is a debate I have in my department. Im 100% in favor of Extiguishment 1st. We have guys here (my FD)say to do a Blind Primary and worry about fire 2nd. I can NOT agree to that at all.. If you knock down the fire like every one has stated the problem will be cut in half. We (My FD)arrive with a career Engine of 2-3 persons max on the 1st in. It has 800gallon tank and Hydrants are 75ft apart and lots of them in our urban area except in the rural. Volunteers arrive in their POV. I say let the Engine crew enter and Extinguish the fire or at least keep it at bay. The voluteers can establish a team for S&R do booth at the same time.

Our City might have 5 good working fires a year, we dont ever do live burn, or even smoke sim, training. We spend so much time on Technical Rescue, Haz-Mat, Medical. We need to be able to put the fire out, and learn how do it with the resources we have.

My concern is we will lose a firefighter if we dont train on quick extinguishment. Again if a VISIBLE rescue is in order then of course get to it. But that fire still needs to be addressed.

Im no Big City firefighter but I joined the Fire service to fight fires. Not sit outside of an Attackable fire because were afraid of a loss because someone stated Its only a building. Is it?
If its lost then its lost, I uderstand that not all fires can be quickly knocked down..but lets not give the fire the benefit of the doubt.
Lets train to do the job we were all hired to do.
Call me a cowboy or loose nut, but when someones home is lost because we refused to put water on it from the inside when we could of. I walk away like we just lost. We lost nothing but that homeowner did..

Just my thoughts. And if Im wrong tell me so but be polite about it, I have feeling you know :)

Take Care Eh.. Stay safe
Comment by Andrew Brassard on September 29, 2008 at 4:25pm
Another great post!!

I agree totally that we as the fire service have lost sight of our true goal and mission…. extinguishment.

We seem to be obsessed with the “next” thing, HAZMAT, WMD, CBRN, SWAT Medic, rope rescue, confined space rescue, etc. Most of the departments that have these programs will probably never utilize any of these skills, but one thing that is almost a certainty is they will probably go to another fire in a structure of some sort.

We obsessively seek on trying to find the easy way out, roof operations are dangerous, glass is expensive (that is why we can’t smash it anymore!!), ladders and tools are heavy so let’s buy expensive fans to fix all of our problems. Instead of teaching our firefighters how to be firefighters we just want technology to fix all of the problems on the fireground. Technology is a great thing, but it shouldn’t be taken as “the magic pill” just because a couple of salesmen (none of whom where ever firefighters) say it is the best thing since sliced bread.

Firefighter safety, survival, and RIT are fantastic things don’t get me wrong, I just see firefighters that can package a firefighter in a SKED in zero visibility (in a matter of seconds) but would never have the opportunity to do so because they can’t force a door with an axe and halligan to get to the down firefighter.

I find it disheartening to talk to a firefighter fresh out of probie school that tell me they have spent more time doing EMS, HAZMAT, etc. then learning how to properly and aggressively extinguish fires. In today’s fire service we are over tasked and under manned more so then ever before, we need to keep sight on what our core mission is….. Extinguishment.

Now I am by no means against all the “other” stuff we do, my only point is that we should not be doing more of the “other” stuff then learning how to extinguish fires in a aggressive, safe, and timely manner.

Stay Safe Brothers,
Comment by Brian Arnold on September 29, 2008 at 3:51pm
Brother Halton,
I'm working on the silver hair, but If only I had the silver tongue you possess. Well said. You know I only get the magazines for the
Comment by Brian Arnold on September 29, 2008 at 3:26pm
Your right on the money. As a very wise man once said "put the fire out and most of your other problems go away". While I agree that we have to spend time on things like FF safety and survival and RIT, more quality time should be spent on keeping us out of trouble! How do we stay out of trouble.......good engine and truck company ops...from the beginning to the end. I take it for granted that things like building construction and fire behavior are included in those types of ops classes.

FYI....I think I laughed at the appropriate places while I looked through my professional publications on the Newest and greatest GIZMO's that are guaranteed to save all of mankind.

Stay safe,

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