Great Expectations

 

 I grew up immersed in the job. Stopping in on check day with my dad, buffing fires, reading magazines and books.  It was my childhood and now is my life, for that I’m extremely grateful.  How many kids grow up to have the job they always wanted?

 

The downside of all that immersion is this; I can’t be stagnant, I can’t not put my best foot forward, I can’t not wear a uniform shirt or make sure my gear & tools are in order on the rig, I can’t let ALL of those guys down. “Those Guys” Encompasses everyone from my dad, who to this days keeps feeding me solid job & life lessons to the guy from Philadelphia Engine 27 who we met randomly on a family vacation when I was 8 and gave me the hat off his head!

 

The older I got the more that became apparent. Sure there were guys who didn’t love it but they didn’t take time to show me how to rebuild the saw on a hospital towel after a job so you don’t lose the parts or give me cooking lessons as the meal was running late or sneak me in to overhaul when the bosses weren’t looking, the guys who lived the job did.

 

I made a deal with myself a while back, that for all those reasons above, I can’t not be 110% into it. I love the job; I really enjoy my current assignment. I get to tiller 90% of the time (yes, the truck with the extra steering wheel) I have a solid boss who lets us bring ideas to the table, operate independently within reason and keeps me laughing all day.

 

 That’s all a home run! … I’m still not content.

 

I tinker around with tools on the rig, take classes on my day off ,but am I moving forward? I can’t say I feel like I’m gaining much ground.

 

But next day I’ll still take the 75 minutes to check the rig, because “Those Guys” always did and that counts for something.  

 

Thanks again: Dad, Jack, Eric, Ray, Joe and everyone else who got me off on the right foot.  

The Dog Got Away

  One and a half  days into a ladder course we we’re teaching we decided to shut up and let the students do their thing with minimal interference from us. We simply gave an objective, an over of the equipment cache and a few rules.

 

Objective: Vent the roof of a 3 story building.

 

Rules:

·      The TL can’t go above the 2nd floor window.

·      All the tools must go to the roof.

 

Cache:

·      1 95’ TL (Not allowed above 2nd floor window)

·      14’ &16’ straight ladder

·      28’ two section ladder.

·      35’ two section ladder

·      6’ halligan hook

·      halligan

·      100’ of utility rope

·      saw

·      8# axe

 

 

One of the big points of the exercise was to work in an unusually large “double hop” or laddering one roof/ elevated area to then throw another ladder off of to reach the overall objective.  Generally, a double hop is used from porch roof to the main roof of a two or three story wood frame and a straight ladder or 24’ at most will do the trick. In this case, a 28’ was needed.

 

Over the course of six hours, all the groups put their own spin on things. We saw ideas that we never would have come up with that we’re home runs. 

 

One idea that was great in the “light bulb” phase but didn’t pan out in the execution phase was using the “dog leash clip” on the utility rope to secure and hoist a 28’ ladder. The group was on the right track with using the rope, the hardware not so much. The ladder made it a few feet off the ground and the hardware failed, the ladder slid back down to the ground without incident. With this, we took a second to regroup with everyone and go over a better option with just rope and no hardware. The group gave it a second shot, home run!

 

Hoisting a ladder is something we all had to do in probie school, if you haven’t done it sense here’s a step by step review:

 

 

 

 

1)    A member drops a rope bag from above, after making sure everyone is clear.

2)    A member on the ground ties a figure 8 on a bite with an oversized bite, using the rope that’s trailing from the bag. No need to waste time and pull the other 70+ feet out.

3)    The ground member runs the bite on the underside of the ladder to be hoisted, down 1/3 of the length of the ladder.

4)    The ground member pulls the bite up in between two runs back to the top of the ladder and over the ends as to encompass the sky and ground facing sides and both beams with the rope.

5)    The ground member signals the member above to start hauling.

6)    The ground member uses the remaining rope in the bag as a tag line if need be to avoid obstacles on the building face and maneuver around the cornice area if going to the roof. 

1)    A member drops a rope bag from above, after making sure everyone is clear.


1)    A member drops a rope bag from above, after making sure everyone is clear.

 2)    A member on the ground ties a figure 8 on a bite with an oversized bite, using the rope that’s trailing from the bag. No need to waste time and pull the other 70+ feet out.

 2)    A member on the ground ties a figure 8 on a bite with an oversized bite, using the rope that’s trailing from the bag. No need to waste time and pull the other 70+ feet out.

3)     The ground member runs the bite on the underside of the ladder to be hoisted, down 1/3 of the length of the ladder. 

3)     The ground member runs the bite on the underside of the ladder to be hoisted, down 1/3 of the length of the ladder. 

4)   The ground member pulls the bite up in between two runs back to the top of the ladder and over the ends as to encompass the sky and ground facing sides and both beams with the rope.

4)   The ground member pulls the bite up in between two runs back to the top of the ladder and over the ends as to encompass the sky and ground facing sides and both beams with the rope.

5)   The ground member pulls the bite up in between two runs back to the top of the ladder and over the ends as to encompass the sky and ground facing sides and both beams with the rope.

5)   The ground member pulls the bite up in between two runs back to the top of the ladder and over the ends as to encompass the sky and ground facing sides and both beams with the rope.

6)   The ground member signals the member above to start hauling.

6)   The ground member signals the member above to start hauling.

7)   The ground member uses the remaining rope in the bag as a tag line if need be to avoid obstacles on the building face and maneuver around the cornice area if going to the roof. 

7)   The ground member uses the remaining rope in the bag as a tag line if need be to avoid obstacles on the building face and maneuver around the cornice area if going to the roof. 

Basics Matter

 

 

 

I recently started studying for a promotional exam and broke out the time tested books by Chief Norman and Chief Dunn, along with the basic civil service test manuals put out by the labor unions.

 

To be honest, I was pretty nervous about jumping into books written by high level Chiefs.  I’m not the best student, not to mention as young firemen these guys caught as many legit jobs in a tour as I do over a few months at best.  Another major concern I had was, Would I be able to draw on my own limited experience enough to be able to relate to scenarios presented about why said strategies and tactics either would or wouldn’t work?

 

Turns out that same thing we’ve all heard 2 million times and 752 different was once again true.

 

 Basics Matter.

 

 These books have numerous chapters and hundreds of pages but when I took a minute to think about the information I had just taken in after each reading session, they all correlated back to those fire ground basics They may be explained differently or be the foundation of a massive incident or problem but after a little mind mapping it all related back to the basics.

 

What are the basics, well you probably have a good idea sense you’re reading this on your own without being forced, but here’s my list?

 

1)    Be able to dress yourself properly for each run and have the corresponding tools ready for use before walking away from the rig. Going back for equipment used at a run of the mill job is unacceptable. This includes engine guys too, are you carrying an extra nozzle on your waist strap as the 2nd due? As the engine boss do you have a 1.75” to 2.5” increaser and an overhaul tip in your pocket?

 

2)    Know where you’re going (even if you’re not driving): I tiller most days, sometimes I assume a route we will take and the chauffer has another plan, things literally go sideways.  More importantly, if you know the block you’re responding to you can start to think about the common types of construction and other obstacles in the area.

 

3)    Wear a radio strap, the right way. There’s a really good report on why you should do this here. It’s great to be able to hear what’s going on when you can’t see and occasionally tell someone something important.

 

4)    Carry a flashlight you know works for more than 3 minutes. A dead flashlight is as useful as a blind crossing guard. 

 

5)    Know What is expected of your position for the run type. Getting off the rig with the right tools is great, knowing how/when to use them is even better. Either study your SOPs if your department has them or minimally get on the same page as your officer / senior man if the department doesn’t offer formal guidance.

 

 

As a good buddy said the other day, “Everything is cool until it’s not”

 

Basics Matter.