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    Default North...maybe East? Could be South...or West.

    Hi. I'm a radio scanner buff (haha, I know). I'm 17, still considering a career as FF/EMT-P. Just had a question. We (Or I should maybe say...the Fire Department)...had a working structure fire today. They arrived on scene and started saying "stuffs" like:

    "Engine 8, pull a hose from the hydrant just to the south of the house."

    and

    "Engine 9, receive. Confirming it's to the east of the house just north of the fire?"

    How in the WORLD do they figure what direction is N,S,E,W? Do they just go off of the street signs? What if there is no street signs with directions (like a residential area)?


    I just want to learn how to tell N,E,S,W at the scene of a fire without street signs?

    How do you do it?

    Thanks, stay safe.

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    We know because we are familiar enough with our districts and communities that we can know the orientation of the streets in relation to north south east and west. keep studying maps or overhead web views of your communities and start getting a feel for which way is north, after that you can remember how you are oriented on scene.

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    We've got it pretty easy. We sit right on Lake Erie, so the Lake is always north. Just remember where the lake is and you'll be ok. But man can it be confusing if we travel the the Great White North. (Although that's confusing enough!)

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    firefighters know their communities, using North South East or West lets people know exactly where you are talking about no matter what direction they are coming from.

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    Cool Orienteering - French sport game

    FutureMedic09

    Becoming oriented or staying oriented with directions of N, S, E & W is not always as easy as some people would like to believe. Here are some suggestions for you to try.

    Find a city map or print out a page of your neighborhood from Google Maps or another map program available on the internet. Map convention (the way it is supposed to be done) is to have the drawing oriented with north to the top or away from the viewer. There also should be an arrow that indicates true north somewhere on most maps. Next search around your house for a compass. Many kids toys have a cheap magnetic compass or a novelty from a gumball machine.

    Take your map and compass outdoors and away from large metal objects like cars, manhole covers or even your belt buckle. Allow the compass to stabilize so it is indicating magnetic north. Next, face toward the direction that the compass arrow is pointing. Finally, arrange the map in front of you and turn it until you can read the words in the correct manner or the arrow on the map is pointing the same way the compass is pointing. The direction you are facing is north. The left side of your body is toward the west, and the right side is toward the east. Your backside is toward the south.

    Find the block where you live on the map. With google you might even find your house if you zoomed in before you printed out the page. If your buddy lives a few blocks away try writing directions from your house to his but using turns of north or east at XXX street instead of left or right. Soon you will be keeping track of the direction you are traveling without really doing it consciously. You will begin to recognize street names and the direction that they run.

    Whenever I go out doors, I usually look at the sky and weather. Since I am familiar with how my house is oriented, I can determine wind direction (cloud movement), sunny or not, moonlit & phase helps with time at night. Up here in “The Wilds” your next run might be for a 4-wheeler accident, lost hunter, wild fire, hurt logger, or structure fire. With more than 100 square miles of forest, you can’t possibly memorize every ridge, trail or valley. Every example will likely have some component of directions where keeping oriented to the direction of travel is absolutely necessary.

    You could be blessed??? With a grandfather that takes you into a virgin timber stand, blindfolds you and spins you around 3 times and then says…Find your way out. My grandson is now your age and I have no reservations when he goes hunting, fishing, or hiking cross country. I can tell him where I will meet him and what time to be there and he can find his way to that spot within a half hour of the appointed time. These abilities are acquired by working with maps, understanding the terrain or city and practicing doing it under the type of conditions you will most likely be called to perform the task. I will admit that under certain conditions there is almost no way to keep from getting confused, but then a cool head and logic will allow you to reach an objective. You might need to travel a lot longer distance, but knowing city street names, just like knowing the way ridges and valleys are oriented will help you find your way.

    By the way a GPS is a God Sent item, but AA batteries always fail at the most critical moment.

    Kuh

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    I would say it is easy ...........I have lived in my town my whole life. It isnt hard to find north and left is east, right is west, behind you is south.
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    When I lived in Southern California it was easy...North was always in the direction of the Mountains (where I lived). Where I live now...I'm surrounded by mountains, and it all depends on where I am on if I can remember which direction is which. *shrug* It's not always easy.
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    First run area (Ambulance): Lancaster & Jefferson, NH; Gilman, Guildhall & Lunenberg, VT (185.1 Sq Miles)

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    Anyone else concerned about the future of America when we have trouble knowing which way is North, South, East, West?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Let's please stay on topic.

    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The only thing dumber than the original post is that people actually responded seriously to it.

    WTF??
    Another great, constructive post on your part. Thanks for your active participation.

    As for our situation, on our MDCs (on board computers) in the upper right corner of the screen we have a display showing which direction the apparatus is currently heading. Also, we have a very easy numbering system in our district (and all straight blocks, no curves) so by simply looking on a neighboring house number, you are able to tell N/S or E/W depending on which way the streets travel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ATFDFF View Post
    Another great, constructive post on your part. Thanks for your active participation.
    Your welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by ATFDFF View Post
    As for our situation, on our MDCs (on board computers) in the upper right corner of the screen we have a display showing which direction the apparatus is currently heading. Also, we have a very easy numbering system in our district (and all straight blocks, no curves) so by simply looking on a neighboring house number, you are able to tell N/S or E/W depending on which way the streets travel.
    So without a computer or an address, you don't know which way your facing?

    Our engine carries a protractor. When we're lost we measure the angle of a shadow off of a building. We then call P/FF Foley who is not Indian, but knows one. He will take the information and call his pal at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who will in turn plug the calculations into an old Choctaw formula. After a few minutes, the Indian friend will remind all of us that he is a black jack dealer on the reservation that hasn't ever rode a horse, shot an arrow, or scalped anyone and has absolutely no idea what we are talking about and that grown white eyes (that's us) should just know certain things in life like which like being tuned into your surroundings and knowing N,S,E,& W directions and always buying Ore Ida frozen french fried potatoes at the store.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Oh yeah, if the Indian doesn't answer the phone, we look for a rock with moss on it.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Says it all.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    On a serious note...

    I've never used the compass when giving a size up.

    Command announces what side of the building will be "side A" and we go around clockwise... Side B, Side C, Side D...etc.

    I have used compass headings to describe an LZ. Luckily the Chief's car had a nice Garmin GPS unit which told me the way I was facing... and I grew up here, so I have a good sense of which direction is which.

    .
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Well since the OP is in my generation and he doesn't know N, S, E, and W directions.... I'd say that is down right deplorible. Pretty sure that teachers have been pounding into my head how to determine N,S,E, and W for years and years (and that is with a GA public school education lol).

    While not helpful in the nighttime hours.... the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Also, being as how most of us on here live in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is always going to be angled slightly to our South (the angle depends on the season).
    Last edited by JR3115; 08-23-2009 at 08:08 PM.
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    uhh..kuhshise we're talking about a structure fire and using directions to give information to responding companies, not overland navigation through hundreds of miles of wilderness. but lets make a mountain out of this mole hill.

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    Nameless:

    We are communicating with a 17 YO who might have never been out of his neighborhood. While you and most other adults keep the little “orientation clock” working in the background, our target audience may never have thought about keeping track of the direction of movement with reference to the major compass points. Many people navigate around their communities by sheer memorization of landmarks and streets, never giving a thought about compass direction. Yet when the D.O. pulled up in front of the address and was assigned to hit the plug “To the South of the house” he better know which way to go. If his orientation clock wasn’t functioning, how would he know which way was south?
    As explained in my post, before you can know your direction of travel, you better know directions from some starting point so that your little orientation clock has a starting point. I can sympathize with F.M.09 because I have been in situations where due to weather conditions, I absolutely did not know which way was north. And if the snow wasn’t falling toward the ground, I might not have known which way was up. Just try IFR flying for 10 minutes without using the instruments to help keep a heading, let alone keeping the plane right side up.

    The added illustrations were for emphasizing where a person might need such an ability and why FutureMedic09 might want to work at developing his “orientation clock”.

    Kuh

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    Giving a hydrant location by street number or intersection, as in the following...

    Engine 2, there's hydrant in front of 222 West Main, or there's a hydrant at the corner of Bangher and Leaver Street...
    is a lot easier than using compass points as guides.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureMedic09 View Post
    How do you do it?

    On our first day we all had a compass jammed up our arse, just comes naturally.









    Seriously.... any good firefighter is very familiar with their response area, so much so that just from an address number they will know the cross streets and what side of the road it will be on.

    Yes, we are that good!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureMedic09 View Post
    Hi. I'm a radio scanner buff (haha, I know). I'm 17, still considering a career as FF/EMT-P. Just had a question. We (Or I should maybe say...the Fire Department)...had a working structure fire today. They arrived on scene and started saying "stuffs" like:

    "Engine 8, pull a hose from the hydrant just to the south of the house."

    and

    "Engine 9, receive. Confirming it's to the east of the house just north of the fire?"

    How in the WORLD do they figure what direction is N,S,E,W? Do they just go off of the street signs? What if there is no street signs with directions (like a residential area)?


    I just want to learn how to tell N,E,S,W at the scene of a fire without street signs?

    How do you do it?

    Thanks, stay safe.
    I have never heard anyone around these parts talk like this. It's actually kinda of dumb and dangerous. But, its my opinion and to each their own. Why not say "Grab they hydrant located at Washington and Center" or Grab the hydrant at two houses down on the left" or "Grab the hydrant at 108 Center St."

    Isn't that a little better than "just due south as the crow fly is a hydrant"?

    What happens if you are out of district or coming in for mutual aide and are not familiar with the area? Why use cardinal directions?
    Last edited by MassFireGuy; 08-25-2009 at 11:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MassFireGuy View Post
    I have never heard anyone around these parts talk like this. It's actually kinda of dumb and dangerous. But, its my opinion and to each their own. Why not say "Grab they hydrant located at Washington and Center" or Grab the hydrant at two houses down on the left" or "Grab the hydrant at 108 Center St."

    Isn't that a little better than "just due south as the crow fly is a hydrant"?
    About the only situation I can think of where that would work is if you had to hand-jack the LDH through the backyard to a hydrant on the parallel street. Even that is a stretch, though.. Number and address still work better.

    Maybe things are so rural there that there are no street names or house numbers? Even then something like "500 feet past Jed's bar, just before the hound-dog" would be more descriptive.

    In defense of the kid, it sounds like he knows what N/E/S/W are, but is asking us why his local FD would use them for hydrant directions. It seems we have the same question..
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    In the core area of our district, where intersections and landmarks, such as businesses are plentiful, we will give street intersections or business names for hydrant locations.

    In the rural part of the district north/south is pretty easy. East/west takes a couple of seconds uinless you are very familiar with the area.

    Some of our guys have gotten into the habit of saying "hydrant on B or D side600'". That seems to work fairly well for us.

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    While I will normally use landmarks, house numbers or intersections, I have found myself using directions at some points. I might as units approaching from the north to take a certain route, or perform a certain action. I also find myself using compass directions when dealing with landing zones as the helo can't pick out house numbers or street names. For example: be advised of power lines to the north of engine 72, or the landing zone is in the field to the south of engine 72.

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    FutureMedic09,

    I want to commend you on asking a question in which you want to gain knowledge in being better in the fire service. I have not read all of the quotes because I got tired of the "slamming" that is going on. As for what others have already said you need to become familiar with your area. You should continue to ask questions and learn as much as you can. There is a lot to being a firefighter other than putting cold stuff on the hot stuff.

    You are young and probably have not done a large amount of driving. But driving your district can give you a good since of what is N.E.W.S. (and yes that is where the acronym NEWS came from). And remember Interstates and US Highway numbers go as follows: Odd numbers are North and South and Even numbers are East and West.

    Again I have not read all of the posts so what I am saying may have already been said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureMedic09 View Post
    How in the WORLD do they figure what direction is N,S,E,W?
    Most airmasks have a compass mounted inside. This is why departments test your close up vision.

    In all departments, chief officers carry a compass and sextant. It's a tradition from Benjamin Franklin, who invented magnetic north and the sandwich.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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