Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Follow me...Follow you?

(Another guest columnist that will be publishing a series of post for us to think about and discuss)

Editor's favorite quote on Leadership - "The Key To Successful Leadership Is Influence, Not Authority."

The Leader Always Sets the Trail for Others to Follow

Leadership 101:

Since my departure on injury leave, (I look forward to my return shortly), I have heard from many of you on how different the people who have been filling in for me have operated—not anything negatively just different. This is a compliment to me since one thing I strive for is consistency. I have taken from all these comments that if I am nothing else, I am consistent. Consistency is what I want to share with you all in this entry. As most of you know, “Leadership” is nothing more or less than “Influence.” Both mine and your ability to lead is simply based upon our ability to influence others.

In order to influence others, you must have host of different personal skills and traits. Integrity, operational skills, dependability, consistency will ultimately speak to others that “I can be followed.” Consistency is ONLY built over time—DUH! But think about this, if you as a person are happy and joyful today and tomorrow you are nasty and disrespectful, how will people view you? Well if this is the first time it happens, everyone says you are having a bad day. If this is everyday, then your people will quickly find a place to hide from you.

I know, I know,--DUH! But think now of how we apply policies and rules. If today, you are completely and utterly strict without grace or mercy, and tomorrow you could not even care if people show up to work, then what does this do for your people. Obviously they will struggle under this kind of leadership. What is amazing to me is that when I think back to the best teachers I had in school—it was the strict ones that were the best. They held me to a higher standard and I rose to the challenge. They became to me someone I wanted to follow and trust.

While I am not saying that you need to be strict in your leadership style, I am saying you must be consistent in how you operate. The more consistent you are in enforcing policies and rules, the more people will respect you—even if they do not agree with you. People want someone who can be trusted and will cause them to grow. Consistency is the easiest method of ensuring both trust and the environment where growth can happen. Whatever you do—Do it with Greatness!

Looking forward to being back in the seat—Larry Everett (Batt.5 “A” Shift)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Think about it...

We are fortunate that Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Coffman has agreed to allow us to post his "Random Thoughts". Coffman sends these to A-shift members in the morning for round table discussions. This is a great way to encourage tactic and strategy dialogue with your shift. Most of the time it takes 10-15 minutes and proves to be very effective...
You have a crew of 4 members. Your unit has been assigned to conduct a search of the 2nd floor of a SFD. Fire is in the basement and the inital attack line is just being stretched. Neighbors are reporting that they think the occupants are home and it is 0500 hours. Construction is light-weight wood frame and the home is a 2-story colonial style of about 400 square feet.

How will you go about completing the task? What are your concerns that you need to address in your size-up? What issues are present regarding firefighter safety for your crew in particular and what other tactics are you counting on to be completed by other units? (courtesy of DFC Jeff Coffman, Operations A-shift)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I guess we'll get everybody there..."

Drowning Causes Controversy Over Response Time
Watch the report here ... We would like to hear your take on this event.

(KSDK) - A 45-year-old St. Louis man drowned Monday night at Glen Echo Country Club in north St. Louis County, officials said.

Barry Dorsey's death has caused a divide in the Normandy Fire Protection District. At issue is whether his life could have been saved if the ambulance had gone to the correct location.

Dorsey, of the 5800 block of Pamplin Avenue, was pronounced dead just before 9:30 p.m., Normandy Police Chief Doug Lebert said.Lebert said Dorsey, an employee, was participating in the country club's employee appreciation night.

Dorsey was dragged out of the pool by bystanders before being administered CPR by Normandy police, Lebert said.

Lebert raised issue with the response time of the Normandy Fire District. He said an ambulance dispatched at the same time as other emergency responders went to Norwood Hills Country Club in Jennings.

Lebert said the ambulance's arrival at Glen Echo was delayed by 14 minutes.

"The main thing is patient care. Did the patient have delayed patient care? The answer is, 'No.'"

(The firefighters) did the same thing that the ambulance would have did if it had been there," said Normandy Deputy Chief Airest Wilson.

(Click here to listen to the entire 911 call)

Lebert said he was "extremely disgusted with the continued decline of service from the Normandy Fire District."
He said it was "a direct result of the Fire District Board firing good employees and replacing the terminated employees with part-time, less qualified personnel."

"They're putting people on the streets that are not half as qualified as the people they were taking off the streets. ... We just want to make sure that they're qualified and can do the job," said Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 spokesperson Chuck Coyne.

The fire board said it intentionally dispatched crews to both locations because it wasn't sure where it should respond.A 911 tape released Tuesday refutes the claim. The dispatcher clearly states the address for the ambulance crew.
The Normandy Fire Protection District said it would review its response to the drowning.

Whats the lesson learned here you ask? How can we use this for training? 1. If you're not exactly sure where you should be going... Then ask the dispatcher specific questions to confirm you are responding to the correct address. 2. Never lie or mislead the citizens you serve and the media. In this case the tapes tell the truth. 3. Don't deflect accusations of incompetency to non related issues. Take the hit. Investigate what happened then learn from it.. don't deny and don't deflect.

So, How many public pools do you have in your first due? Can you name them and their locations?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Modern Housing Dilemma – It’s what’s on the outside

(courtesy of Jared Goff, LT @ FCFD Training Academy) So this is a preview of what is going to come out in the Line Copy. For those that attended the last officer in service training, vinyl siding, strategy and tactics was the theme.
As the first article from the Fire & Rescue Academy, I was very excited and motivated to be the author and to share some of my experiences and knowledge.
I was raised by a father who was a West Point graduate, Army Ranger, and a career officer. Needless to say I was taught about respect, for people and property. As I reflect on my childhood I recall one piece of advice that truly sticks with me and is applicable everyday; don’t judge a book by its cover. Fast forward about 15 years and I am still learning about my job and the fire service. Contrary to what I was taught, I have learned to judge each building or call to the best of my abilities utilizing training and experience.
Due to some recent significant events within the fire service, many have had a common denominator, vinyl siding. For the fire service, we should start calling it something to the effect of; wrapped solidified fuel.
Looking at some facts and figures given to us by our friends in the Fire Prevention Division and NIST, it’s very easy to see that this animal needs to be tamed quickly with the proper tools. The real bottom line for fire fighters is the speed and the fuel contribution. The table below is an item that has not been largely noted since it was first published in 1996. This is a table from NIST on tests done for untreated siding materials.Table 1. Flame extension times for untreated siding materials
[1]Siding Material Time/Initial Flame Extension Time/Flame Extension to Eave
Aluminum--------------------No extension-------------No extension
T1-11 Plywood----------------203 seconds--------------288 seconds
Vinyl---------------------------82 seconds--------------130 seconds

For the rest of the article click here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pick your exposure to protect...

(Great information from firegeezer.com Bill Schumm ret. FCFD) Yesterday we reported on a spectacular house fire up in Calgary. What made an ordinary garage fire into an international news event was the construction methods used on the house. Namely, vinyl siding, cheap structural materials and close proximity to other houses. The fire started in the garage of a home while none of the occupants were there and quickly spread throughout the house. When the FD arrived on the scene, not only was the house fully involved but the neighboring houses on each side of it were well underway, too.

It is receiving a lot of press in Alberta because it follows on the heels of that massive fire in Edmonton last month that consumed nearly 200 residences. The fire chiefs up there have the public’s ear right now and they are taking advantage of it by pointing out the deficiencies in the building codes that allow this type of construction method. And now the Provincial government is actually taking up the issue.
This problem may well end up being a hot topic down here in the lower 48 as well, if we can keep a high public awareness of the situation. We are already having fires in these places that were “built to burn” and now the public focus will be more likely to look at it.
But it is our responsibility to point out to our citizens what all the fuss is about and what can be done about it. It’s not our place to go out and scare everybody into selling off their homes, but we need to help guide them into putting political pressure on our legislators to change the codes so that they will prohibit materials like the solid-petroleum siding that accelerates fire spread, plywood floor joists that fail immediately under a fire load and particle boards filled with glues and resins that burn readily.
The fire stations are always getting requests from citizen groups to “Please come and talk to our organization.” This should be the topic that you talk about now. Point out to your audience what all the noise is about and why. Tell them why this newer construction increases fire loss and how an ordinary room-and-contents fire is now suddenly becoming a multi-dwelling disaster.
Keep on them and stick with it. In most places, the construction industry has a firm hold on the politico’s attention and they want to build houses as cheaply as possible. Many of them don’t really care if it burns down or not, once it’s been sold. Make this your mission.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Location, Location, Location!

Auto Fire On A Sloping Driveway
(courtesy of firefighterhourly.com)
Auto fires provide their own unique challenges but one rarely discussed in fire service literature is location. Granted, if the location is a tunnel there's a body of material. Yet, one of the most common scenarios is overlooked.
Engine 15 receives a call to 191 Nelson Court. Upon arrival the first due finds a car with heavy fire showing. There are numerous things going through the first due officers mind but one often overlooked, by the officer and apparatus operator, is the location of the apparatus.
Countless times the apparatus is parked exactly where the photographer is in this photograph. In short, the apparatus is positioned poorly.
If the car in the foreground is burning and flammable liquids begin to leak they will seek lower ground. The run off will lead straight to the engine or ladder.
Like real estate, apparatus positioning is about one thing: Location, location, location.
To discuss -- How do you position your apparatus at highway incidents? For protection? To ease traffic flow? At multi unit stations is there an order on what your response order is leaving the station? Are cones and flares enough to take a lane while the Rescue Company is working?
Unfortunately it is all too often that we don't take the time to position properly (for our protection) on highway incidents. All you need is a ten minute shift discussion to discuss apparatus response order and positioning... ten minutes thats all!

Situational Awareness...!

(Courtesy of firefighternearmiss.com) This week’s Report of the Week is 07-891. An excerpt from the report appears below. To view the entire report, click on the report links embedded here or visit www.firefighternearmiss.com/ and click on Search Reports. Then click on the green text and enter 07-891 when the text box appears. Like reports (05-527, 05-540, and 05-538) can be read using the keywords “explosion” and “brush fire.” in the keyword search. Photos related to the report can be viewed by clicking here. The pdf version of 07-891 will be available on Monday, August 13, 2007.

“Engine personnel responded to a reported brush fire. Upon arrival on scene, we found an area approximately 1/2 acre in diameter on fire with heavy brush and deep mulch involved. Personnel (2) immediately began extinguishing the outer perimeter to prevent spread utilizing a pre-connected booster line. Two witnesses on scene approached the incident commander and advised them that they were walking the perimeter prior to the engine's arrival on scene and that they heard an explosion in the immediate area of the fire. They also came upon what appeared to be a small pipe bomb on scene and then showed the area where the pipe bomb was found. Upon examining the suspected pipe bomb, the incident commander immediately abandoned all fire fighting activities and secured the area. The pipe bomb was placed in a broken tree sapling approximately knee level high..."

One element of https://mail.fairfaxcounty.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.firefighternearmiss.com/ that has become a sub theme is the abnormal occurrences that occur during “routine” incidents. This week’s ROTW takes that theme to the extreme. Firefighters encounter a deliberate act that could have resulted in the killing and maiming of unsuspecting crews. After you have reviewed 07-891 and the similar reports, consider the following:

1. What were the best practices employed by the personnel here that averted disaster?
2. Who handles explosives in your jurisdiction? What is there response time?
3. Can the heat from a brush fire detonate a pipe bomb?
4. What elements of your local population area are engaged in explosives making?
5. Who can you turn to find out the information sought in Question #4?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Could this happen here...?

Wait this has happened here...

August 11, 2007 - 0219 hours - Village of Green Tree Town Homes11 Park Vallei Lane, Parkside, PA Working Townhouse Fire, Multiple Alarm Fireground Audio:http://www.firegroundaudio.com/audio/Delco/08_11_2007_11_Park_Valley.mp3

First Engine Company arrived with "two story, middle of the row, heavy fire showing first floor". Shortly after that announcement the Engine Officer made this broadcast..."right now I got everybody reported out of the building and I'm checking for exposures"

Before you listen to the audio look at these pictures and answer the following questions based on these series of pictures and the initial Engine Company Officer's size-up.
Initial line placement? Back up lines? Is a search of the fire unit necessary? Search of the exposures? Obiviously there are many questions to ask and we look forward to hearing what you have to say about this incident... view and respond to comments already posted here - comments

Here is an excerpt from Billy Goldfeder with "The Secret List" with this early information:
"Upon arrival at the working fire, one occupant had already jumped out. Several moments later, while searching, Firefighters became trapped following a collapse". (statter911.com)
An excerpt from the 6abc.com news site in Philly, PA -- Crews found heavy flames pouring from the 2 story garden style town homes and immediately went to work battling the blaze as heavy smoke poured from the front of the building. At least 4 units were damaged by smoke and flames. There is no word yet on how many people have been displaced by the fire.
Arriving firefighters made their way into the town homes to see if anyone was trapped inside when something went wrong and two firefighters needed to be pulled from the flames.
Injured in the fire was 20-year-old Dan Brees and 21-year-old Chase Frost. Both are listed in critical condition at Crozier-Chester Medical Center. Frost is suffering from 3rd degree burns on 90-percent of his body.

After reviewing the pictures and listening to the audio could these serious injuries been prevented?

Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of the injured fire fighters.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Size it up!

There have been many great comments regarding this post. Click here to review the comments and post a response.

Are we going in or staying out?

Going in? via ground ladders? concerns?

Staying out?

How about just the basic RECEO and don't forget the V?

Feel free to use the comments link to provide your scene size-up. Yes you can be anonymous.

You down with OSB?.. Who me!?

Building Construction and Firefighters: OSB
Firefighters are often confused about OSB . Builders are using OSB (Oriented Strand Board) in place of plywood for roof sheathing and sub-flooring. It's less expensive but weighs about 10% more than a similar piece of plywood. OSB can come in sheets up to 16 feet and in thickness from 3/8 to 3/4 inch.
OSB is compressed strands arranged in layers (up to 5) at right angles. Manufacturers produce OSB with one side of the board smooth. It's a myth OSB won't delaminate. In fact, OSB will begin delaminating when exposed to excessive moisture. Considering the effects of fire and water on OSB, it's wise to familiarize firefighters with it. A local visit to a lumber yard or job site will show them what they may be standing on during a fire. (courtesy - firefighterhourly.com)

This was one of the aspects of building construction that was discussed today at the quarterly officer training. One of the many messages today was take the time to conduct walk throughs of construction sites in your area and discuss how those structures will react when exposed to fire. There are many scenarios that you can run... surely there is no shortage of sites to visit in your first due.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lets review shall we?

In an effort to review certain aspects of the Lorton Fire - Post Incident Analysis (PIA) we will attempt to address the findings in the report. As the report says, "The findings from this incident will be incorporated into future firefighter training." There is no better time then now to initiate this review with our shifts. We will find relevant information for each finding, located at the end of the PIA, whether from the FCFD operating manuals and/or fire service web community.

So lets start with numbers 4 & 8.
4. Initial ventilation operations were uncoordinated...
8. Crews inaccurately interpreted the fire conditions...

Flashover - What do YOU Know? - (Firetactics.com) What is 'flashover'? There are so many different forms of 'flashover' related phenomena it can become confusing for the firefighter. We have grouped the various phenomena under the single heading - Rapid Fire Progress (RFP). These are all events that are known KILLERS of firefighters! It is essential for firefighters to know -
- What actions might CAUSE an event of RFP?
- What actions might PREVENT an event of RFP?

Here is an example of the information found at this valuable site called firetactics.com.

THE WINDOW ENTRY - Sometimes we vent a window from the exterior. Our reasons for doing so may be an attempt to -
> Assist advancement of an interior hose-line (Vent for 'Fire')
> Attempt to gain access for Vent-Entry-Search (VES) (Vent for 'Life)
> Improve interior conditions for trapped occupants
What is happening where the smoke turns to flame? What type of event is this?

Go ahead and read the entire article online here --- and take the test.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Uh yea Fairfax I have a 1, 2, 3, 4 and much more vehicle accident"

Basic Strategies to Help Manage a MCI (courtesy of FireRescue1.com, by Jim Sideras)
The military has a saying, "Prior planning prevents poor performance." However, in our world we are often too busy keeping daily operations running to find time to preplan for a mass casualty incident.
A MCI may be a once in a career event, and that mindset makes it easy to put the planning and preparation for one on the back burner. Hopefully, this article will make you move your plans forward.
Having served in the role of a multi-casualty branch director of a MCI with about 100 patients, there are several things that I've learned that may make things run smoother for you.
If you fail to plan and prepare, you will face problems. The only place more uncomfortable will be during the post incident review when every "expert" sniper in the region will have you in their crosshairs, questioning every action you took, as well as failures on your part to prepare.
Click here for the rest of the article. - http://www.firerescue1.com/Columnists/Sideras/articles/291735/

For the members in Battalion 5 A-Shift this is a timely topic to review as we will be reviewing this and related EMS topics at an upcoming MUDrill. Nice pics huh