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Hands On Training is Critical to Effectiveness on the Fireground

Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

When learning new skills and techniques, it’s important to put our hands on the tools we are expected to use. Reading, discussing and drawing on the white board can be great learning tools. But there is much more we need to be doing.

During a recent shift, my firehouse conducted a walk-through of one of our high-rise structures. After looking at all of the nuisances and special items related to this structure, we conducted a scenario.

In theory, the strategy and tactics portion of the initial assignments high-rise incident is clear such as connecting to the standpipe and stretching a hoseline down the hall. However, after conducting this drill, several things needed to be discussed with the company officers. Some of the items found are mentioned below.

The first thing we looked at was simply putting enough of the right equipment on the right floor. This particular scenario had fire showing on the seventh floor with standpipes in each stairwell. The recon team found the fire in the center room of the seventh floor. The first item was humping the hose up to the seventh floor in a timely manner.

This feat is simple enough when drawing it up on a white board. But is your crew physically capable of completing this task? This may prove to be more taxing than anticipated. This is the same crew that must initiate fire attack.

The second item brought to our attention was the standard hose lay, which is 155 feet and 2.5 inches, was just short of the center of the structure from both stairwells. By adding an additional 50 feet to the hose, it was able to reach all the respective rooms. Adding the additional hose corrected the length problem, but the extra equipment has to be carried and deployed.

The third item was actually stretching a hoseline. We now know the length that we need, but how many people will we need and how difficult stretching a hoseline up to the stairwell above, back down and then out into the hall will be? Our standard operating procedures state that a minimum of six personnel must be assigned to this task.

Another item related to this is how the crew will actually store the extra hose in the stairwell until its deployed down the hallway. The extra hose makes it difficult to deploy with occupants evacuating. It can become a tripping hazard for occupants and firefighters.

These are just a few of the items we found that required additional discussion once we put our hands on them. When discussing similar items, we generally leave it to the notion we will just make it happen if the time comes.

Not only is this not practical, its dangerous and should not be a part of our strategy and tactics manual. This scenario happened to be held inside of a high-rise structure; however, it could have been a single-family residential structure.

This proved to be a very good refresher for some of us and a great learning tool for our new firefighters, which is the majority of our crew. Actually using the tools and practicing the skills will make us proficient and keep us safe. We train because we never know when we will run the call, just as we didn’t know that later this same night we would be the first at a high-rise fire.

As always train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.

Loyal Client Still Thrilled with TargetSolutions for Its ISO Reporting Capabilities

The Glendale Fire Department has been a client of TargetSolutions since January of 2001. The department serves more than 225,000 residents with nine stations and more than 240 firefighters.

Glendale Fire Department Established 1912The Glendale Fire Department has been devoted to serving its community since 1912. With nine stations answering more than 40,000 calls per year — and more than 226,000 citizens spread throughout 59 square miles of territory — it takes a cohesive unit to maintain its core mission of being “Fast, Caring, Innovative, and Professional.”

Under the direction of Mark Burdick, who was Arizona’s Chief Officer of the Year for 2011, the department and its surrounding areas are in good hands. Burdick has been with the department since 1983 and has been the chief since 2002, which was about one year after the department signed on with TargetSolutions, the industry’s pioneer in online fire training and recordkeeping applications.

Burdick knows all too well how difficult it can be to maintain compliance and be prepared for audits by the ISO for fire departments. Hunting down paper trails and thumbing through records to determine if each individual has taken the requisite training and is properly certified can be a significant challenge. That is why the department has kept TargetSolutions around for more than a decade.

“In 1998, ISO came in and we did not do well at all. It was the weak point of our department,” Burdick said. “Without TargetSolutions, it is hard to keep organized. If paper documentation was missing for someone attending a class, then you would have to decide whether to just take their word for it that they were there.”

Through the use of TargetSolutions powerful, user friendly web-based platform, Glendale’s emergency responders receive the support they need to maintain compliant; turning the department’s greatest weakness into a tremendous strength. The department’s training and recordkeeping have improved and it is now rated ISO Class 2.

“Our No. 1 issue is compliance. Do we have people doing what they should be doing? Can we show that they did it?” Burdick says. “With TargetSolutions, we can pull the records in a matter of minutes. If you want a one-stop shop, and you want to reduce overtime and maintain compliance, here is your solution.”

fire department isoThe days of paper stacks and word-of-mouth recordkeeping are over. With TargetSolutions, it is easy to track exactly who did what. “We updated our Code of Conduct policy and created a PowerPoint that we uploaded into our TargetSolutions platform,” Burdick said. “When it is on our system, we have the ability to document that everyone took it. It is that validation that is so important.”

Chief Burdick is also extremely pleased with the flexibility and savings that TargetSolutions provides.

“If I (scheduled) on-duty training, then we would have to shut down trucks, and the service that we provide to the community would take a hit,” Burdick said. “If I want to bring guys in on overtime, then the cost goes through the roof. With TargetSolutions, even at 2 a.m. a firefighter can go in and take their class. There is no one who can say the costs outweigh the benefits.”

Clearly, TargetSolutions has helped Glendale flourish. The department is one of TargetSolutions very first clients after initially signing on in 2001.

“We have been using it so long now that TargetSolutions has become a part of our culture,” Burdick said.

  • Please click here to download this success story article.

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Technology Creates New Opportunities for Educational Growth in the Fire Service

Blog by Eddie Buchanan
Past President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors

Technology is a vehicle to assist in the learning process and I believe there’s a change coming in regards to education and growth in the fire service. Technology is a portal to a new way of thinking about education. We use the term flipping the classroom.

What used to be homework is now pre-work. Before the class session, a student can do pre-work at home which is now the lecture, and the technology is the vehicle to get that information to them before they go to the classroom. Now, when the student physically shows up, they can focus on discussion or hands-on application of the new material. TargetSolutions is a great example. TargetSolutions provides that vehicle to be able to flip the learning environment.

Being able to do this requires a whole new set of skills for instructors. Rather than an instructor standing in front of a PowerPoint screen and lecturing and doing an instructor-centered type of delivery it’s now a student-centered delivery, which requires a different skill set.

It’s now about discussion and facilitation, and getting our students to work as peers together. As instructors, it’s about facilitating the learning. So, it’s a completely different type of environment and skill set instructors are looking at over the next 10 years.

About the Author
Chief Eddie Buchanan began his fire service career in 1982 and currently serves as the operations division chief for Hanover (Va.) Fire & EMS. Chief Buchanan is author of the “Volunteer Training Officers Handbook” from Pennwell Books and Videos and lectures throughout the country on fire service leadership and training topics. Chief Buchanan served as President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.

 

The Dozen That Make a Difference

Courtesy of Dennis Rubin
Editor of FireRube.com and Former Fire Chief

Being chosen fire chief is an emotional thing. You feel tremendous pride for the achievement, but that slowly fades into an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The City of Dothan, Alabama announced me as its fire chief Jan. 2, 1996. I was tasked with overseeing the departments 144 members. Later in my career, I was named Chief in Washington D.C. where I commanded a staff of more than 2,000 employees and managed an annual budget of more than $180 million.

This article takes a quick look at 12 key traits needed as a commanding officer. These rules can be studied in greater detail in my new book, Rubes Rules for Leadership. Those preparing for higher levels within the fire service despite rank or position can benefit from these recommendations:

Be Nosy: Upon arrival, develop a list of critical items and issues that must be addressed to improve efficiency and success. It is essential to continuously follow up on the various system checks and confirmations to help ensure nothing goes wrong.

Be A Good Communicator: Good communication during situations, emergencies or non- emergencies, is vital as a commanding officer. An introductory presentation should be conducted to state organizational goals, objectives, personal philosophy and rules on how the department will be run.

Be Patient: Its valuable to understand that not everyone within the department mirrors the pace of a proven fire chief. Everyone within the system is willing to make contributions to the overall goals of the department in their own way and at their own pace, no drastic change happens overnight.

Be Prepared: Since 1971, education requirements as a career firefighter have shifted, from possible completion of high school to a top job requiring a bachelors degree or higher. Through continuing training and education, a fire chief must always be prepared for whatever comes their way.

Be Honest, Direct and Clear: Maintaining public trust is the most critical and crucial task as a government official. The truth is not always pleasant but its a chiefs duty to be honest.

Learn New Systems: Immerse yourself in new systems to help improve your departments work agency. There are few members who just know how to make most systems work properly; quickly learn who these people are and distribute information and tasks accordingly.

Role-Model Behaviors: As a commanding officer, every muscle moved and action taken is being observed by your department. The best test to apply to your every day actions is the Momma Test. Ask yourself, what would your mother say about your behavior?

Be A Lifelong Learner: The firefighting career requires a brief period of intensive training that only begins the need for continuous education. There is an ongoing need to stay current with the changing environment that exists all around us; therefore, we must continue our learning and growth within the community.

Community Involvement: Fire chiefs are greatly appreciated within any community and therefore should involve themselves. Many opportunities can be found among various groups seeking information about fire and accident prevention.

Departmental Involvement: It is critically important that you are involved in all aspects of your departments activities. Maintaining involvement with stations through informational visits will help to improve overall department success.

Develop Members: Fire-rescue officers have a huge responsibility to develop their members abilities and maintain compliance. A lot of departments are choosing to decrease costs and use online and other computer-based training programs, which is smart. In order to build the most successful training system, consider all delivery methods.

Network: In order to have the best input on planning and decision making a chief should be effective at networking. A chief that stays connected within the department, community, region and industry so they are well equipped with the widest network to attain the best insight possible.

For more on Rubes Rules for Leadership, please check online at www.firerube.com.

About the Author
Dennis Rubin is the former chief of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Chief Rubin graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Administration from the University of Maryland. He is the author of a book entitled “Rube’s Rules for Leadership” and is a long-standing contributing editor for FIREHOUSE magazine. Rubin can be followed on twitter @chiefrubin.

Credentials Manager Tool Considered TargetSolutions’ Most Powerful Application

The TargetSolutions platform is loaded with powerful applications created specifically for helping fire departments thrive. The Credentials manager tool is where many of those tools come together, giving department administrators the ability to effectively and efficiently manage their training and compliance requirements.

“Credentials enables department administrators to easily track and maintain an unlimited number of credentials, certifications, qualifications and any other type of information necessary,” said TargetSolutions’ Director of Client Services Jenny Fergason. “Whether they are courses or activities, Credentials allocates them into a credential that is well organized so that when a user sees it, they know exactly what they have to do. This gives them the personal responsibility to complete the requirements within the designated time frame set by the administrator.”

Our Credentials application has rapidly become our most powerful application because it can be used in so many different ways. Whether its new hire training, organized task books, ISO records, or whatever else you can think of, the Credentials manager tool gives our clients the flexibility to track whatever they want.

With Credentials, administrators can rest easily knowing credentials are pinned, so they appear at the top of the Schedule on users home page and are tagged with alert notifications, ensuring members will receive reminders via e-mail about important deadlines. Each alert can notify any combination of users, supervisors and administrators.

“Before TargetSolutions, we had no checks and balances, we had no alerts,” said Dan Collins, who is a training captain with Cal Fire San Diego. “With 347 employees, no one training officer has the ability to check EMT certifications, for example. There is just no better system for that without a tool like TargetSolutions.”

Is your department benefitting from this powerful application? If you’d like to learn more about how the Credentials application can help your department, please check the Help section inside the platform (search Credentials) or contact your account manager today.

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Survey Shows Need for Powerful Record Keeping Tools in Fire Service

TargetSolutions is the leading provider for online training and records management in the fire service. With more than 250 hours of Fire and EMS recertification courses in our library and powerful, easy-to-use applications and reporting tools, it’s easy to see why.

Miller Pierce, a marketing agency based in Indianapolis, recently conducted a survey to determine which aspects of web-based record keeping benefit users the most. Here are some of the top features reported in the survey (in no particular order):

>> Notification system
>> Progress tracker
>> Top level reports/monthly reports
>> Ability to share information with other departments
>> Easy to use and accessible
>> Can be customized
>> Capacity to access historical data

The TargetSolutions platform delivers all of these benefits — and more. Whether it’s an online training course, a regular inspection, a mandatory SOP, or a particular job-specific duty, you can assign it to employees, track their progress and generate comprehensive reports with TargetSolutions’ powerful record keeping tools.

“Tracking and standardizing training, whether for renewing a certification, a qualification, or ISO, has never been easier or more efficient than with our TargetSolutions system,” said Tim Riley, who is the chief for Dunedin Fire Department in Florida.

Here’s a quick overview of what TargetSolutions’ cutting-edge records management system provides:

ISO and ARFF Tracking
With TargetSolutions, tracking and reporting training for important audits like ISO and ARFF is simplified. TargetSolutions provides access to ready-made and customizable training templates created just for ISO. You can also deliver the FAA’s ARFF Training DVD through TargetSolutions. After delivering these activities, TargetSolutions will electronically track records so you can generate comprehensive training reports when necessary.

Training Documentation
With TargetSolutions you have the ability to create any type of training documentation you want and attach it to any activity or course. Require employees to use an e-signature to verify they’ve received instructions. Keep electronic files on hand. You can also generate reports on online training assignments to know where employees stand toward achieving compliance.

Department Records
Assign activities that mandate routine analysis of self-contained breathing apparatus, personal protective gear, fire truck equipment, and everything else under the firehouses roof. Or create activities for employees to complete pertaining to incidents. Keep historical records of incidents and utilize them for future training opportunities.

Alert Notifications
It’s not easy managing the renewable licenses and certifications that expire on an ongoing basis. TargetSolutions can help. Whether it’s a driver’s license, an EMT credential, or anything else, TargetSolutions tracks it and alerts you when expiration approach.

TargetSolutions’ flexible record keepong tools help departments stay compliant and reduce liability by providing the visibility they need. If you’re ready to step into the future, TargetSolutions is here to meet your record keeping needs.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

Hospital Tells EMS Remove Your Gloves Before Entering

Blog by Katherine West
Infection Control Consultant

This may just be the beginning of medical facilities observing EMS practices. Recently, a hospital in Colorado notified the EMS system that they were not to wear their gloves into the medical facility. The rationale for this request was that EMS might be bringing organisms into the hospital. Is this a real issue? Or, is the medical facility off-base?

Think about it. Most services are putting on gloves when tones go off and do not change or remove them after patient care. That means that they are contaminated. An EMS crew could be bringing C-diff or MRSA into the medical facility. If the patient is diagnosed with the infection after admission it could be deemed a Hospital Associated Infection (HAI). This would have a monetary effect on the medical facility as well as a being a medical care issue for the patient. There was never a need to wear gloves for all patient contact. Not from OSHA and not from the CDC. OSHA states that glove use was to be practical and feasible. There is no need to live in your gloves! Remember, your skin and basic hand washing are your major protection.

About two years ago, the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) sent out letters to all the medical facilities in the country advising them that they would not be receiving government reimbursement for some HAIs. So, it is easy to see why medical facilities are looking closely at sources for infection and ways to reduce in incident rate for HAIs. They will be looking closely at how EMS is performing in the areas of proper use of personal protective equipment and cleaning of vehicles and equipment. EMS participation in vaccine/immunization programs will also be an area of review.

Many facilities will not allow EMS personnel in training to do clinical rotations if they have signed declination forms. Others have required EMS personnel to wear surgical masks if they declined influenza vaccine. Times they are changing!

About the Author
Katherine West is an expert in the field of infection control. Shes worked in the industry since 1975 and has served as a consultant to the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. She authored Infectious Disease Handbook for Emergency Care Personnel and is a well-traveled lecturer and author.

You Don’t Have Just One Situational Awareness, You Have Three

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway

Situational awareness is developed from capturing clues and cues in your environment — perception. Then you strive to understand what those clues and cues mean — comprehension. Once you have done that, the highest level of situational awareness is developed from making predictions of future events — projection. Perception, comprehension and projection are the foundation of situational awareness.

Responders seeking to develop and maintain situational awareness will benefit from understanding there are three distinctly different, yet equally important situational awarenesses: Personal, Team and Incident.

Personal
Personal situational awareness achieved by developing and maintaining an awareness of your personal abilities and inabilities, your strengths and weaknesses, your knowledge and deficiencies, your motivators, fears and phobias. In other words, making an honest assessment of yourself. This allows you to predict the future of your success and the areas where your success may be challenged.

Team
Team (or Company if you prefer) situational awareness is achieved by developing and maintaining and awareness of the same criteria listed above for personal awareness, just applied to all members of your team. This allows you improve your understanding and expectation of success and challenges that your team may experiences.

Incident
The final awareness is incident-wide awareness. This awareness comes from understanding you, and your team, are only one component of a larger system working in unison to accomplish a common goal. This awareness helps ensure all individuals and teams are operating in a coordinated way.

Firefighters should discuss, in advance, how to develop and maintain situational awareness. These discussions should address how situational awarenesses are lost and how they are regained if they are lost.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision making processes used by first responders. In addition to his 30+ year career in the fire service (including 22 years as a fire chief), Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. He can be reached at Support@RichGasaway.com.

Incident Commanders: Getting Eyes on the Problem

Blog by Ed Hadfield
www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com

Incident Commanders are often tasked with taking command of an active incident that has developed prior to their arrival. I’m sure all of us have been exposed to those that have called a second alarm from the bunk room based upon reports from dispatch only to discover it was a dumpster fire behind an industrial building, not actually a working fire in an industrial building.

We use this as an analogy to shed light on actions based upon perception, not actions based upon reality.

Individuals who lack the basic understanding of fire ground functions will often base their decisions on a limited view of the situation, rather than a comprehensive view. This is why the old “capture a 360-degree of the structure philosophy” becomes an important ingredient to our success model.

It’s important for all officers in command to capture a complete “360″or delegate to another qualified officer to acquire accurate feedback on the conditions of the structure and the growth of the incident during the first few minutes while establishing an action plan.

This continuous analysis of the situation must become a component of the overall action plan. Adjustments may need to be made based upon feedback received or the evidence visualized. Remember, the building has seven sides, the four exterior walls, the roof, the basement (if applicable) and the interior.

This information will allow you and others the basis to establish a comprehensive and plan for the incident. Equally important is structure identification and understanding building and rescue profiles, as part of the foundation of effective operations on the fire ground.

Given the dynamics of today’s fires and the events of extreme fire behavior in which we operate, the understanding of Hostile Event Recognition, and the understanding of pressure as it relates to rapid fire progression, is important information to be relayed to the incident commander. Particularly in high-volume, big box and wide-rise type structures where hostile events occur in the overhead at explosive levels that can create structural failure in the roof assembly.

As mentioned, the fire ground functions on seven sides. One critical area that is often overlooked is the placement of personnel on the roof of the structure to give the Incident Commander a realistic look from above. Placing personnel on the roof of a structure will provide information to the Incident Commander in order to determine the ability to remain in the offensive position, or take a defensive posture on the fire.

Remember, “If it’s unsafe to be on the roof, it’s unsafe to be under the same roof. This is not to say all occupancies will receive the vertical ventilation treatment. However, Incident Commanders will do themselves a great service by getting a good read on the structure and eyes on the fire by going top-side.

About the Author
Ed Hadfield has more than 26 years of fire service experience after rising through the ranks from firefighter to division chief. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, sharing his experiences within the fire service and also with corporate and civic leaders throughout the United States. For more on Hadfield, please check online at www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com.

 

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Dazzles TargetSolutions Users with Training Resources

The nice comments and high ratings just keep pouring in for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s training resources on ventilation skills. The department posted a training video and PowerPoint presentation into TargetSolutions’ Community Resources in August of 2009 and three years later both of the items are still popular with the online platforms network of users.

The PowerPoint presentation, titled SDFD Ventilation Training, is the most viewed resource in the history of Community Resources. The presentation narrated by SDFDs Curtis Bennett, has been viewed more than 7,000 times, is being utilized by 86 different organizations and has an outstanding 4star rating (out of five). The video, titled Ventilation Skills, a companion video created by SDFD, has more than 4,000 views and the same 4star rating. There are 81 different organizations using this particular video resource.

Jeff Clyons, who worked as the department’s assistant training officer when the videos were created and was interviewed about them soon after their creation, said his department’s firefighters were having issues with ventilation during several fires, so it attacked the issue with a multi-pronged training approach. The department spent three months focusing on ventilation by incorporating the PowerPoint and video with in-station drills and an in-service training session where crews had the chance to work with chainsaws during a manipulative drill.

“We realized our recruits had learned one way to cut a hole in a roof and we realized when they got out in operations, that one way was restricting their ability to do other things,” said Clyons. “It was limiting what our personnel were doing when it came to ventilating a roof. So we wanted to teach our existing personnel multiple ways to do this. We wanted to raise the bar on our ability to use a saw and raise the bar on cutting holes. Ventilation is an extremely risky and dangerous proposition so it was definitely something we were concerned with. I think we were lucky we didn’t have more incidents in the past. But to avoid those in the future, we wanted to make sure everyone was very well trained.”

Clyons reported considerable improvement in the quality of operations after the fire department training. He believed the high-quality resources SDFD has generously shared with TargetSolutions’ community are a major factor for the significant strides in performance.

Our message was well received, he said. I think it assisted people who were tactile learners, people who were visual learners, and people who were a
uditory learners. They all had a chance and it hit all the senses, so we definitely felt retention was better.

Clearly, SDFD isn’t the only department that benefited from the online fire training. TargetSolutions has received numerous complimentary comments from other clients about the quality of SDFDs presentations. Here’s a sample:

>> Great video! Was a great refresher, said Tom Fritz of Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.

>> This is a good video for new and veteran firefighter to refresh on the basics, said David Ramirez of the Fresno Fire Department.

>> I learned some new cut techniques that I will put to use on future incidents, said Jordan Motta of Cal Fire Riverside County.

Clyons said his department will look to continue doing that type of multi-pronged approach with quality video presentations in the future.

“I think it’s important to try and make the videos entertaining,” Clyons said. “I think the narration of the PowerPoints provides visualization, so tslogo_symbol-color-smallyou’re not just seeing a slide, but you have the audio explaining it. That helps. And the beauty is that because it’s online, any company officer can pull it up at any time and drill on it again.”

TargetSolutions’ Community Resources application gives departments the ability to easily download, modify and assign shared resources like SDFD’s ventilation submissions with just a few clicks of the mouse. Organizations can import any of the files, videos or other documents from Community Resources into their organizations File Center and then modify and assign to employees through TargetSolutions’ Activities Builder.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.