There is no magic bullet, by Capt. Dave LeBlanc
As we read today about the incident in Woodmere New York, it drives home the point that no matter how much we train, learn, research and perform, this job is still dangerous and we need to be focused 100% of the time. Because even the best firemen can get hurt or killed.
This is not an anti anything article but more of a warning that if we still plan on going inside burning buildings, we owe it to ourselves to be as prepared as possible. And as long as people are still in those buildings we protect, we should have a plan for going in.
There is no magic bullet, not yet. Transitional attack may reset the fire, but reset does not equal out and there is no guarantee there isn’t more fire somewhere that you can’t see.
“The research is a moving target. Aside from vetting it and determining its validity to your situation, remember that as more research occurs some of the findings will change.”
As a service we have a bad track record of mastering things. We are often introduced to a concept, we drill on it a little and then we use it the way we think it is supposed to be used.
PPV comes to mind, as it is not uncommon to see every window in a house broken and that big ole fan running in the front yard, instead of the large inlet, small outlet we were trained to do. YouTube is also filled with PPA gone wrong videos.
Too often departments don’t invest enough time in getting everyone on the same page, trained and functioning like a team. Too often departments are looking for “easy button firefighting ” instead of grinding out the basics until they are mastered, formulating responses and tactics that work for their situation, and then honing their responses with honest Reviews of what happened and where they can improve.
Fires will always go out, with or without your departments intervention. Safe firefighting doesn’t involve avoiding risk, but rather training and preparing to manage risk. There will never be an easy button on the fireground……but there is a deep satisfaction in preparing for something and then performing as planned.
Photo courtesy of Lloyd Mitchell Photography, used with permission
Dave LeBlanc is a Captain with the Harwich, Massachusetts Fire Department. Dave entered the Fire Service in 1986 as a Call Firefighter with the Dennis Fire Department. He worked full time during the summers in Dennis, while attending the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut. While at the University of New Haven, Dave studied Arson Investigation. He also was a volunteer with the Allingtown and West Haven Fire Districts in West Haven. He spent his sophomore year as a Live In student with the Allingtown Fire District. His education included internships with the Aetna Insurance Company and the Boston Fire Department Arson Squad.
In 1993 Dave went to work full-time with the Harwich Fire Department as a dispatcher. In 2000 he transferred into suppression and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2008. In addition to his regular duties, Dave also manages the Department’s Radio system, is responsible for conducting Fire Investigations, and assists in maintaining the computers systems.
Dave’s blog tends to focus on current day issues and maintaining a commitment to the ideals and principals that created the fire service, while keeping today’s firefighters safe.