National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Essential Self-Survival Tools for Firefighters: Wire Cutters

What you carry in your pocket says a lot about your preparedness to protect yourself. This week’s featured firefighter near-miss report describes what can happen to any firefighter and the value of keeping one particular tool in your pocket: wire cutters.

“While at a working structure fire, engine [number deleted] was working in the basement extinguishing all remaining fire and hot spots. The engine company officer and nozzle man became entangled in HVAC duct wiring. The nozzle man and the company officer worked on cutting themselves out with a cutting tool that all firefighters are required to carry in their gear. The company officer notified command that they were in the basement, were not in distress, and were tangled up in wiring. Command sent half of the RIT team to assist…The mayday was declared due to not being able to communicate. The engine company has had multiple trainings in self-extrication and this training proved to be beneficial…”
Maintaining a healthy, clear presence of mind (aka good situational awareness) is often cited as the key to surviving hardship and trauma. This week’s report¬†takes us into one of firefighting’s worst nightmares, the basement fire with dangling, overhead traps. What comes through in the report is the crew’s reaction to becoming entangled. Would you have the same presence of mind? Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:
  1. Is there a pair of wire cutters in your pocket? Which pocket?
  2. How proficient would you rate yourself in trying to get out of an entanglement hazard? To what do you credit the proficiency?
  3. Would this incident have qualified as a mayday based on your department’s SOPs?
  4. If the firefighter and captain had not been successful in disentangling themselves, what would have been their next option?
  5. Command split the rapid intervention team and sent them in to assist. Would you have split the RIT or sent them in as a team? If you split the RIT, would you have filled the gap with another company? Why or why not?

Practicing like you play pays huge dividends when you are caught up in the real situation. Constant realistic practice ensures that you too will remain calm, cool and collected if you become ensnared in an entanglement hazard.

Submit your report to www.firefighternearmiss.com today so everyone goes home tomorrow. For more on the benefits of near-miss reporting for the fire service, CLICK HERE.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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