Welcome back to the Jumpseat. It has been an exciting couple of weeks here in West Virginia with some new opportunities opening up. Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of talking with firefighters from around the country and one question kept coming up. A hook or a hose, meaning are you a truckie or an engine firefighter? There is a distinct difference in the mindset of each. Which do you prefer?
Many times in the bigger cities a firefighter emerges from their probie school and can be sent to an engine or a truck. This will be a defining moment in their careers as you seem to mold yourself into your first assignment.If you are assigned to an engine you become an engine firefighter, often remaining on it for your entire career. In today's fire service the line between truckie and firefighter, sorry I couldn't resist, has become more blurred than ever. With the cutting of staffing and the decline of the volunteer manpower it has come down to us being able to work in both roles.
I recall a fire where we arrived as the third due engine, ahead of the truck, and received the order to head up to the roof for vertical ventilation. 10-4 on the way. Wait a minute we are an "engine" crew. We grabbed the needed equipment and away we went. Did we really have time to wait on the first due truck? No. Horizontal ventilation can be performed by the engine crew. It is important for us to become "well rounded" firefighters and posses the skills to function in both roles. The same is true if you are assigned to a truck, most likely, it has a pump and you need the skills of a engine firefighter.
So in closing do you grab the hook or the hose? I must admit that I have always been an engine firefighter but feel comfortable performing in a truck role. This is why we must all be jumpseat ready in today's world to make the fire scene safer for us all. Before we start the engine bashing or the truck pride we all need to remember that it's the water that puts the fire out but it's the truck that makes it possible for the engine to get in and put it out. Although tomorrow it may be the engine performing the ventilation or the truck pulling the attack line!
Are your engine firefighters equipped with the skills and tools to do truck work if they arrive ahead of the truck?
Stay safe everyone. Bunker up, Buckle in, and remember that we all start in the jumpseat.