By Ray McCormack
Video of fire scenes show us as we are. They are not complimentary. They are real. While we all feel better because we would never look that bad, are you sure? Some will always be poor performers and some will just have a bad day with the video rolling.
What we often see are poor task skills incorporated within a poorly structured attack plan. While some individuals stand out due to various errors, they are often operating within a broken system. So two problems emerge: firefighter errors and scene disorganization. The bigger of these two errors is improper scene management–a total lack of SOPs or SOGs, just helter-skelter!
The task issue of forcing a door or stretching a line incorrectly can hopefully be overcome by someone who paid more attention to those lessons at the academy. Firefighters all learn skills in training school and hopefully rework the memory muscle at house drills; however, when we witness task errors throughout, we are witnessing dysfunction. Fireground dysfunction is not easily solved on scene because the problem goes deep. The problem is that the fire goes out and no injuries are encountered and we collectively pat ourselves on the back and nothing improves. For many, there is no need for improvement if these two benchmarks are reached.
Beyond skill drills which make up the foundation of firefighter training, we need to also incorporate fire operations protocol. We need to revisit the fire academy as groups and work on our approach to fires in people’s homes. We need to practice directing the actions of firefighters. We need to have our firefighters not just in bunker gear, but truly ready to work on air. Our leaders need to understand that good fireground management starts long before your arrival on scene. Remember, if you want to look good, practice your act.
In Ray’s class, “Engine Company Errors–The Dirty Dozen,” a lack of SOPs is cited as error number one.
Keep Fire in Your Life
RAY McCORMACK is a 30-year veteran and a lieutenant with FDNY. He is the publisher and editor of Urban Firefighter Magazine. He delivered the keynote address at FDIC in 2009 and he is on the Editorial Board of Fire Engineering Magazine. For more on Urban Firefighter, visit http://www.fireengineering.com/urbanfirefighter.html.
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