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Thread: Momentary Freak Out

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    Default Momentary Freak Out

    I had a bout with claustrophobia this morning. It didn't last long, and it didn't inhibit my ability to work...but it bothered me enough that I thought I'd talk to yall about it.

    My partner and I were sent into a crawlspace to see if we could extinguish from beneath where the floor had burned through. As typical, smoke prevented seeing much of anything....but we got tangled up in some wire, which took us a minute to free ourselves. I did not like it. Took a moment and told myself I was on air and everything as okay. We went about the business of putting out the fire, and pulled out.

    First time I've felt that way, and don't really know how to process this in my mind.

    Your thoughts? Your advice?

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    Have you practiced in confined spaces much?

    And not just "clean" ones

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Have you practiced in confined spaces much?

    And not just "clean" ones
    Yes, but apparently not enough. I'll be doing some more. I did not like that feeling AT ALL and I'm glad it didn't last very long. Once we got free from the wire, it went right away.

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    No one likes feeling like they can't move. Anyone who tells you they don't at least get a little uneasy in this situation is lying to your face.

    You handled it well. Train some more on it. We could probably all use the practice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Great article, thanks for bringing it here fire49.

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    You say fire had burned through the floor. Why not just overhaul and wash it all down from above instead of going underneath?

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    http://www.iaff.org/hs/fgs/fgsindex.htm

    Good stuff in there. From entanglement issues to wall breaches and skip breathing techniques.
    IAFF

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    You say fire had burned through the floor. Why not just overhaul and wash it all down from above instead of going underneath?
    I was wondering the same thing. Crawl spaces are for plumbers and termite guys.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    You say fire had burned through the floor. Why not just overhaul and wash it all down from above instead of going underneath?
    The reasoning wasn't shared with me, but my best guess is the IC was concerned with extension along floor joists. Fire was blowing out of this bedroom's windows on the A & B side of the structure. Once we knocked that down, it was learned that it was thru the floor. They kicked the front door in and the floor had flames licking up thru it so that was ruled out as a point of entry.

    I'm no investigator but it looked to me like it started right under that bedroom. Arson? Maybe. House was vacant and the call was predawn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FF-Andy View Post
    The reasoning wasn't shared with me, but my best guess is the IC was concerned with extension along floor joists. Fire was blowing out of this bedroom's windows on the A & B side of the structure. Once we knocked that down, it was learned that it was thru the floor. They kicked the front door in and the floor had flames licking up thru it so that was ruled out as a point of entry.

    I'm no investigator but it looked to me like it started right under that bedroom. Arson? Maybe. House was vacant and the call was predawn.
    If the IC was concerned with extension along floor joists, he should have ordered the flooring be pulled up and water applied to joists. The flooring would have to be pulled up anyway in order to ensure there were no smoldering areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FF-Andy View Post
    Took a moment and told myself I was on air and everything as okay. We went about the business of putting out the fire, and pulled out.
    And there you go - take a deep breath and keep on keepin' on.

    All the other considerations notwithstanding, you were able to work things out. Had you freaked out, ripped your mask out, and had to have been rescued, that would be a different story.

    More training won't hurt a bit - it'll help with your situational awareness and help you keep a cool head under pressure. But I'd say that the training and experience you already have served you well.

    Fear comes from things we don't understand (or can't control, or both). Knowledge and experience help allay that fear. The fact that you've identified the problem and want to learn to deal with it says a lot. There are people for whom that may well have been a career-ending experience.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Entanglement props are easy to build... and practicing getting out of entanglements can be a lifesaver.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    There's only one thing better than being prepared for disentanglement situations.

    That is to avoid entanglement situations if at all possible.

    I know I'm beating the proverbial dead horse, but the OP's situation probably should never have been allowed to take place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I know I'm beating the proverbial dead horse, but the OP's situation probably should never have been allowed to take place.
    ...but it did, so let's help each other out by focusing in the OP's original question. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new that we as firefighters will find ourselves in a lot of situations that we shouldn't be in for various reasons.

    For me, I've run into a few of those moments also. The hardest part to control is that initial freak out moment, but I've found that if I can focus on the problem as quickly as possible that helps to get over that hump and not do something stupid. Sounds like you did just that and handled yourself well. If you can find ways to put yourself back in that moment through tight or entanglement props that would help. It doesn't always work on props, but I've been able to replicate that "oh ****" feeling. Especially when you can get someone to throw something unexpected at you.

    How did your partner react? Hard to tell by your OP, but maybe go to them to work on things together or have them give you some tips if they weren't affected.

    As others have said already, the fact that you identified a weakness of sorts and want to learn from it and overcome is already a step in the right direction. Stay safe
    Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who is unwilling to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    ...but it did, so let's help each other out by focusing in the OP's original question. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new that we as firefighters will find ourselves in a lot of situations that we shouldn't be in for various reasons.

    For me, I've run into a few of those moments also. The hardest part to control is that initial freak out moment, but I've found that if I can focus on the problem as quickly as possible that helps to get over that hump and not do something stupid. Sounds like you did just that and handled yourself well. If you can find ways to put yourself back in that moment through tight or entanglement props that would help. It doesn't always work on props, but I've been able to replicate that "oh ****" feeling. Especially when you can get someone to throw something unexpected at you.

    How did your partner react? Hard to tell by your OP, but maybe go to them to work on things together or have them give you some tips if they weren't affected.

    As others have said already, the fact that you identified a weakness of sorts and want to learn from it and overcome is already a step in the right direction. Stay safe
    My post WAS intended to help out. I still maintain it is a valid point. When things go bad, it is not acceptable to me to say "oh well, stuff happens". Sometimes the "stuff" doesn't have to happen. THAT is my point. Good leadership and supervision are what is needed. A lot of the trouble we get into turns out upon further inspection to have been preventable, at least to some extent.

    An old saying that was passed down to me from a very old time chief: "It's easier to KEEP them out of trouble than it is to GET them out of trouble". This applies to both the firehouse and the fireground.
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    I don't want to derail this thread either , but we shouldn't gloss over capjacks point. It seems like a lot of our training is for the more "exciting/ glamorous skills. Calling mayday , RIT etc. And we are skimming over some basic skill sets that COULD help us from getting in trouble. A good working knowledge of building construction , can pay big dividends , but teaching/learning it is no where near as fun as a balls to the walls RIT rescue.
    ?

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    I thought this incident might cause some jitters the next time I worked interior but I'm happy to announce that I just helped snuff 2 rooms and contents. It never crossed my mind as we went in.

    A round of thank you phone calls to a couple training officers seems appropriate. Thank each of you Brothers for the help on here as well.

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    FF-Andy,

    I have held off commenting because I wanted to see what other would say. Now that I have I am glad to see what people said.

    I agree that this situation was probably avoidable through a different tactic used to check for extension, but the fact is it did happen. The truth is anyone that tells you that haven't had that "Momentary Freak Out", or been just plain scared, is a liar. Strong words, but it is the truth.

    You found yourself in that freak out situation but you got yourself back together and carried on. That speaks volumes for the type of person you are. Nice job.
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    Any one who's never been scared or at least a little freaked out is probably too stupid to know better. Or has never done much. A couple of deep breaths and a quick mental review of our training will usually get us through these things. It's amazing how alone you can suddenly feel, even though help is normally real close by. When push comes to shove, call for help early rather than late. Mayday's can be cancelled, funerals can't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Any one who's never been scared or at least a little freaked out is probably too stupid to know better. Or has never done much. A couple of deep breaths and a quick mental review of our training will usually get us through these things. It's amazing how alone you can suddenly feel, even though help is normally real close by. When push comes to shove, call for help early rather than late. Mayday's can be cancelled, funerals can't.
    I couldn't possibly agree more with you. I teach RIT and I always talk about calling early for help, better to take a little ribbing about needing help than your family taking sympathy because your pride got you killed.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    My post WAS intended to help out. I still maintain it is a valid point. When things go bad, it is not acceptable to me to say "oh well, stuff happens". Sometimes the "stuff" doesn't have to happen. THAT is my point. Good leadership and supervision are what is needed. A lot of the trouble we get into turns out upon further inspection to have been preventable, at least to some extent.

    An old saying that was passed down to me from a very old time chief: "It's easier to KEEP them out of trouble than it is to GET them out of trouble". This applies to both the firehouse and the fireground.
    Capt, I think we are on the same side, but just coming from different perspectives.

    I agree that you make a valid point. There is absolutely preventative things that happen on a fireground that don't need to happen, but I don't think that you disagree that accidents will always happen on the fireground also. You and I could make 100 pushes down a hallway together and not have any isssues, but on the 101st the ceiling falls through and we get tangled in something is what the OP is speaking to. When the unexpected happens and you have that moment of "oh crap", he wants to be more prepared for that. We all should. All the supervision and leadership isn't going to help in situations like this. That's all I'm saying.

    It's like the question of which area of the fire service is most important- Prevention, Education or Operations. I maintain that while prevention and education are important (and prevent plenty of calls that never had a chance to happen), you still need operations to cover yourself when accidents happen. Same thing goes with this. I could be up to date on building construction, reading smoke, the crew took a walk-through when they were framing the building, I familiarized myself with this apartment on our last medical call, we just drilled on this neighborhood last set, etc., but still need to know and prepare how to react when the unexpected happens. Because it happens.

    Like I said though, I believe we are on the same side just different takes on the question posted.

    ---Just have to say on a side note to everyone, it's so nice to have a discussion as professionals on a legit topic. Doesn't always happen on here, but there's so much more gained when it doesn't degrade towards name calling or the like. That said, stay safe ***-holes!
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    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    Capt, I think we are on the same side, but just coming from different perspectives.

    I agree that you make a valid point. There is absolutely preventative things that happen on a fireground that don't need to happen, but I don't think that you disagree that accidents will always happen on the fireground also. You and I could make 100 pushes down a hallway together and not have any isssues, but on the 101st the ceiling falls through and we get tangled in something is what the OP is speaking to. When the unexpected happens and you have that moment of "oh crap", he wants to be more prepared for that. We all should. All the supervision and leadership isn't going to help in situations like this. That's all I'm saying.

    It's like the question of which area of the fire service is most important- Prevention, Education or Operations. I maintain that while prevention and education are important (and prevent plenty of calls that never had a chance to happen), you still need operations to cover yourself when accidents happen. Same thing goes with this. I could be up to date on building construction, reading smoke, the crew took a walk-through when they were framing the building, I familiarized myself with this apartment on our last medical call, we just drilled on this neighborhood last set, etc., but still need to know and prepare how to react when the unexpected happens. Because it happens.

    Like I said though, I believe we are on the same side just different takes on the question posted.

    ---Just have to say on a side note to everyone, it's so nice to have a discussion as professionals on a legit topic. Doesn't always happen on here, but there's so much more gained when it doesn't degrade towards name calling or the like. That said, stay safe ***-holes!
    We are on the same page. I'm not one of those guys that think all accidents/injuries are preventable. Sometimes stuff happens no matter what we do.
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    I like the videos put out by whenthingsgobad.com. I think they have a lot of good stuff about self rescue and emergency mitigation. I haven't had any training on building construction or fire behavior except from what I have learned on my own, so I always make it a point to research self rescue as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    That said, stay safe ***-holes!
    This quote effectively sums up why I absolutely love the Fire Service.
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