We all have been dispatched to runs that sound routine and to others where the dispatcher's voice makes it clear that this run will be serious. The difference should be minimal. While in many cases the dispatchers do know what is going on, sometimes they don't know or the information...
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We all have been dispatched to runs that sound routine and to others where the dispatcher's voice makes it clear that this run will be serious. The difference should be minimal. While in many cases the dispatchers do know what is going on, sometimes they don't know or the information is not relayed properly. Either way, we have to be prepared and be ready to function as if there is a fire, with the worst-case scenario, until we get there and determine what it is, or what it is not.
"Being ready" takes on several levels of importance. Being ready means:
• Pre-planning. This mean knowing the area and the structures well before the run comes in. Pre-planning should be done by "community" or "subdivision," and not just large-area commercial or other non-single-family structures.
• Pre-determined staffing. It's 2010 and be it an all-volunteer fire department, a combination fire department or a career fire department, we should know right now how many members will be available to turn out. There are so many simple ways that, for example, a volunteer fire department can determine who is around, who is available and who is responding. There are many inexpensive systems (such as www.IamResponding.com) that allow the fire department to know immediately who is responding, as opposed to waiting to see who shows up. Knowing "who is responding" is also of value to career fire departments that rely on call-backs for runs.
• Alarm assignments. Does your fire department send the same response no matter what kind of building is reported to be on fire? Why? Does that really make sense? Should a 10,000-square-foot house in a non-hydranted area get the same response as a hydranted 900-square-foot dwelling? Should an occupied school get the same response as the house fire?
We need to plan before the run comes in so that we are able to match our response to the incident potential. And that takes on a personal aspect as well. As firefighters, we personally must be prepared and that starts at probie school and continues on for our entire career, every day, on every run and with every day being a training day.
In this month's part one, we will take a close look at the area of firefighter preparedness and how seemingly simple things can make a huge, huge difference. We are going to look at how the simple issue of properly wearing bunker gear can make a major difference in our ability to survive or not.
As a firefighter, recognize that your fire department must be "organizationally" ready and the responsibility falls from the commissioner to the chief to the officers to the firefighters and to the newest probie. However, as a firefighter, you also have a personal responsibility to do your share — from personally taking responsibility for your actions to doing some training on your own by reading, studying, and taking the initiative to go through the compartments and knowing all the tools as an expert would (expert = firefighter) as well as something as seemingly simple as knowing to wear (and how to wear) your bunker gear.
Not much comes between you and the fire but your bunker gear! Knowing how to use and wear bunker gear perfectly by all firefighters should not be taken for granted by any chief. Ensuring that your members understand every aspect of their gear, what it is capable of and what it is not capable of, is critical. Part of that is the cleaning and care of the gear.
Years ago, the dirtier the gear, the "cooler" it was, but today we understand that the "dirt" on that gear contains carcinogens. We want to minimize any contact with these cancer-causing agents.