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.