First, a GOOD NEWS update on FDNY Lt. Stephen Halliday who was critically injured on Nov. 7th, 2002.
He is making a remarkable recovery. Fortunately, his PASS device functioned properly, his bunker gear protected him...AND the staffing at that fire was good enough to allow an effective rescue. As we like to say..."How would that have been handled at your FD"?
So many times, we STILL hear of FD's that STILL don't have automatic PASS devices on their SCBA's...FD's that respond with ridiculously low staffing or firefighters not wearing their gear...as a matter of fact, I recently was advised of a Chief officer in northern Ohio who entered a building without any gear whatsoever (with heavy smoke showing) and the room flashed...he was wearing his street clothes. He woke up in the burn unit. Predictable? Duh. When is the last time you even checked out your bunker gear to see how it's holding up? Recently, a nearby FD inspected their gear and it looked fine from the outside-and then found out the insides had deteriorated...interior material layers made of inferior materials were destroyed (the outer layers looked fine) but they had no clue until they thoroughly checked it out. If you don't check your "stuff"...no one else will.
Well -- It's 2003. Who knows WHAT'S gonna happen in this business of ours-hopefully, like FDNY (no firefighter deaths in 2002) the rest of the nation will mimic that in 2003. On the other hand-just by looking around, reading this webpage etc...you can kinda predict what will probably happen. Now-please don't expect some deeply philosophical statements below to suggest HOW it can all change-you know what needs to happen. This ain't rocket science pal.
BUT I did come up with a few "Firehouse.Com New Years Resolutions" that you might find of value for the New Year of 2003! These are VERY handy little resolutions....you can copy them, paste'm up, pass them on, put on desks, post on lockers and slide under doors! My gift to you.
THE 2003 FIREHOUSE.COM NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
- Try to look before backing apparatus so ya don't rip doors off and run anyone over.
- Try to generally slow down and try to stop at red lights while responding so ya don't hurt anyone.
- Secure or even close the roadways down when your members are operating on them so some lunatic doesn't run us over.
- Spend at least the same amount of time training (to make sure some FF's "have a clue" when operating) as we do discussing, planning, making, eating and digesting the ever critically important firehouse meal.
- PRINT and DISTRIBUTE items such as articles in this column from Firehouse.Com, other online fire related items and sites, fire magazine articles and other "stuff" that will help the FF's GET IT....AND...if they ignore these items, post them in the BATHROOMS so they HAVE to read it.
- Operate with DICTATORIAL accountability and strict/disciplined command & control on the scene.
- Don't stop yelling and screaming to your superiors, elected officials, bosses and others who make more money than you do if your fire radios don't work right and you can't speak to each other via radio on a scene.
- Try your best to teach/learn that ventilation requires a TRUCK COMPANY crew, not a FAN blowing air in the door.
- "Lay a supply line" on structural responses so we have it when we need it...and we'll cheerfully help pack it when we are done.
- Make sure that you INVITE as many FD's as it takes (to get the tasks done) to a first alarm assignment reporting a structural fire until ya know that they won't be needed.
- Encourage your FD to regularly TRAIN with the other FD's and Companies that ya respond with so when we get to a scene, we don't have to spend 20 minutes socializing & cordially "getting to know each other" while the building burns down.
- Spend some of your "precious valuable time" assuring the apparatus and all equipment & tools are "ready" before the run comes in....it's sucks when the roof saw is out of fuel or the airpak is low.
- TRY to make the scenes a bit safer with enough people (call mutual aid if you don't have it-enough excuses!) to provide an effective and trained RIT/FAST Team, a backup hoseline or two, a search crew, a vent crew, water supply, sector officers and even someone to watch the garage door so it doesn't close on the members operating inside.
- Work FEVERISHLY on a personal goal of minimizing NTS wherever possible. (N.T.S. is a warm and delightfully loving term I've come up with ... Non-Thinking Syndrome ... you've seen it countless times on the scene. Sometimes the results of N.T.S. can be identified by lots of people, normally wearing bunker gear, with portable radios in their hands screaming, yelling and running in circles.)
- Devote some TIME to teach, train and guide some of the 6-22's you work with. (Whats a 6-22 ?...a 6-22 is a firefighter with 6 months on the job but acts like they have 22 years experience...Oh! NOW ya know who I am talking about! Yeah-THAT firefighter.)
- Encourage your FD to look BEYOND "low bid" on the stuff we need and also do "provable" research on the stuff to support that. Give the bosses the "ammo" they need so you don't end up with crap.
- Attend AT LEAST one national fire related school or conference for training ... even if you have to pay for it (a/k/a invest in) yourself. Not sure which ones? How about FDIC, FDIC West, Firehouse Expo, Firehouse World, Command School, IAFC's Fire-Rescue International etc etc?
- Apply to take a course at the National Fire Academy. It's free.
- Work to support politicians who have proven to support firefighters and related programs-and work even harder to remove those politicians and government types that don't.
- FORGET? NEVER. We are supposedly a Country that had been attacked and need to act more like it. 343 firefighters and thousands of other good people were murdered on 9-11-01 as well as prior to that in terrorist attacks. Don't let Americans forget...no matter how hard they may want to. We really need to do whatever it takes to carry on that message and insure that it NEVER happens again. Sometimes we worry......but WE NEVER give up.
Have A Happy, Safe and Healthy New Year!