Cruising down the road in my favorite white pickup, up and down the big beautiful hills of West Virginia with Jumpseat ready firefighting on my mind, a popular song came on the radio. When I got home, that song sent me to my computer faster than firefighters running to the trucks when the words "working fire" come out. "When I roll up, when I roll up, whenever you call I roll up!" Hmm….there is a lesson in this.
Arriving on the scene of a fire is one of the most important times we unbuckle our seatbelts, mask up, and get to work. During this time is when the first arriving officer can be under the most pressure as they have to complete a 380-degree size-up, establish priorities, and assign tasks. Being a Jumpseat ready firefighter we can make a huge impact on the success of our attack. Let's look at some key points from the Jumpseat perspective, the practices that will assist your officer and set the tone for the entire call.
PPE - while this seems like it should not be covered in a blog, assembling your PPE and donning it correctly is a huge personal responsibility of all firefighters. Being seat belted while the apparatus is in motion should be a common practice, but it can make putting PPE on more challenging. Taking the extra few seconds before entering the jumpseat and preparing for the run before the bell goes off are two ways of making sure your PPE is ready to go. During the responding phase, you should keep all your equipment in the appropriate places and give them a quick look over as you are listening to your officer for direction. Donning your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) with a seatbelt on has been proven possible, it just needs practiced. During your next shift grab your crew and see it you can successfully pack up while wearing your seatbelt.
Listen to Direction - Two ears open at all times is a statement that should be used when arriving at the scene. Listening to the direction handed down from the officer's seat is paramount to the attack. You should remain focused on receiving their direction, processing the information, repeat it back to them for confirmation, and ask for clarification if you don't fully understand their assignment. "Cap, did you say you want me to strectch the four-inch to the front door?" " Negative, pull the front crosslay and stretch it to the side Charlie doorway" "Message received, Cap, front crosslay to the C side." Focusing on what is being asked of you while repeating it back for clarification will remove and confusion.
Eyes Open - Just because you ride in the jumpseat doesn't give you the approval to wear your tunnel vision goggles. Keeping your eyes open identifying possible dangers, means of egress, signs of heavy content, and points of attack while carrying out your assignment is a skill that all firefighters should use, not just officers. If you were to become separated from your officer and an escape is needed wouldn't you feel more confident if you had noticed a window or doorway. We are trained early in our career to look out for dangers, such as overhead wires, but how often do we review how to communicate these dangers to our supervisors? "Hey Cap, just making sure you saw that downed power line?" "10-4, saw it" is an example of a statement to your officer to make sure they had noticed the danger. Communication of dangers is everyone's responsibility!
When we roll up is a slogan to put on the inside of your truck, right in front of the best seat in the house. This would be a good reminder to use your training and preparation to make the first minutes of any response the most successful and safe as possible. When we roll up as jumpseat riders we have a job to do. We have lives to save and fires to put out. Use the quick points in this blog to make sure that when you roll up, you are Jumpseat ready!