· Searching with a tool (in my case, a 6 foot pike pole) can dramatically extend your “reach” in a search. It also comes in handy in case you have to get out of the building in an emergency. Firefighters are taught “NEVER to get off the truck without a tool.” An ax, pike pole, or Halligan Bar can make a hole pretty rapidly in many interior walls and doors, or can help vent a window in an emergency. Hand tools: don’t do a search without one! It can be a pain trying to lug all the necessary equipment into a fire (hose line, hand tool, rope bag, etc), but I consider this to be a critical safety factor for any firefighter working inside a structure.
So, our first experience at large area searches went well today, and we were already looking forward to a return trip to Rock-Tenn for some controlled burns and further searches later in the week. I felt really satisfied – I was gaining confidence in my gear, my physical conditioning, and the teamwork of my classmates. We were “shaping up” nicely, I thought, and all eager to start applying our new-found skills and confidence “for real” out in the streets of Saint Paul.