You have to constantly be into the books and the various training videos, after-action reviews, and fire critiques that are available on the web. Training time that you felt was being wasted in traditional company drills must be used a bit more creatively! But for now, you must learn all you can; get out of your comfort zone and take your knowledge to the next level! The after-action reviews will show you how your colleagues have been injured and killed. Learn these lessons well!
Is there special equipment that your company must be familiar with? If so, then you should learn everything about it! Read all the specs on it; know the abilities, limitations, and components. Know your assigned equipment like the back of your hand. At emergency scenes, your troops might need some extra help and you’ll have to provide that needed guidance.
In addition to your academic studies, know your response area. Study your maps and hydrant locations. Study department standard operating procedures (SOPs) and standard operating guidelines (SOGs). Make every response a learning opportunity for yourself, at the very least! Always be thinking about building construction and potential fire spread characteristics every time you walk through a building, no matter what the nature of the response!
Never forget, your people have to be protected more so now then ever, simply because they may not know about certain dangers due to their lackadaisical interest in wanting to learn. So make it a point that you are better than you were for the simple reason that you have to protect your crew from the dangers out there until you can get a handle on the issues you’re facing.
Communicate your orders clearly and make sure your people are always teamed up.
Make sure you communicate your orders clearly, preferable face to face, and that those orders are understood. For units that are less than combat effective, units that exhibit serious effectiveness issues, team up your people for every task, including those outside (such as hydrant hookups) and even for other less critical tasks such as bringing in a piece of equipment during those more mundane responses. The buddy system works wonders and is a key safety factor.
Master the art of the radio report. Perception is reality!
Your radio communications can make you shine and it shows how much you “bring to the table.” Impressive size-up reports, exceptional progress reports to command, and being able to articulate the situation to your supervisors, will ultimately make you in demand even though you have some “issues” to deal with. This point is huge! You become the face of the company. Master the basics of initial reports and progress reports and become good at them. This will pay dividends to not only you, but also the way your company is looked at! But remember, to be able to make such impressive radio reports, you must know what you’re talking about!
Try to train your people using a more unorthodox strategy. This can include fireground critiques immediately after a fire, yet before you have departed the scene.
This is always an effective teaching tool and should always be used to maximize fireground learning experiences. Keep the tidbits of information short and to the point with the troops you’re having the problems with. Start with the basics, depending on the issues you’ve been having. An example could be as simple as pointing out exposed balloon-frame construction and how fire used it to travel vertically in a void. You can point out that a fire can travel unnoticed via this path and the need for “opening up.”It’s a simple point that only takes a minute, but learning took place!
Write for the various fire service periodicals and websites.
Another way to beat the frustration you are faced with every shift is to pass on your contributions to the various websites and monthly periodicals that are available to the fire service. The fire service needs authors who have something to share and contribute. Not only will you experience a great sense of self-fulfillment, but you will be noticed both in and out of your organization. Just make sure you cross your T’s and dot your I’s, because writing is a double-edged sword that could come around and bite you if you error.
Become an instructor at the regional, county or department level.