Technology with a Purpose


Fundamentals Will Always Be Vital During Fireground Operations

Blog by Ed Hadfield

Its a simple word, fundamentals, and an even simpler idea. As we continue to perfect our methodology in the science of firefighting, we are moving further away from the fundamentals associated with the craft of firefighting.

Bold as that statement might be, we find the reliance on technology — or maybe I should say the crutch of using technology — in a vain attempt to make up for our lack of basic strategies during fireground operations.

This has created a theoretical approach to tactical considerations on the fireground; and in my opinion, the demise of an educational approach to the craft of fireground operations.

Take a look at the basic understanding (or misunderstandings) of fire behavior and the dangers associated with fireground operations. First, we recognize todays occupancies are larger than those built in the 1970s when the western United States experienced exponential growth. The average residential housing unit has increased 75 percent in overall square footage since the boom of the 70s and the thermal insulation values have tripled. This might not seem important, but when you calculate the required fire-flow ratio, based on average square footage, we see required fire-flow factor increases beyond what was previously used by firefighters.

Fire, as we know it and through scientific study, burns at an increased rate creating hostile events, while extreme interior fire behavior and rapid fire progression is being witnessed on what used to be ordinary structure fires.

This change in fire behavior and the increase in rapid fire progression within the enclosure of the occupancy is a direct result of three key factors:

>> Fuel loading within occupancies has doubled since the 1980s.

>> Fuel modeling of these elements has dramatically changed. Fire gases are producing highly volatile, explosive fuels carrying a high density of unburned fuel particles that are suspended within the atmosphere of the enclosure.

>> Going green and the need for higher thermal insulation values in today’s occupancies create a tighter enclosure. This lends itself to the likelihood of rapid fire progression within the enclosure.

Take this all into account and we quickly recognize the need to understand the importance of knowing the basic fundamentals of building profiling, rescue profiling and a comprehensive analysis of fireground operations based upon mission of purpose.

Mission of purpose is a simple concept, but some in the fire service have lost sight of the mission of purpose and have used the we’re killing firefighters card to push an agenda. While it is fact firefighters lose their lives and are injured while performing interior fire operations, many of those deaths are not attributed to a single event. More so, they are a result of a series of events that go unrecognized and unmitigated on the fireground.

These series of breakdowns include a chain of events, often based solely upon human error and failed tactical functions. Simply stated, in some cases its not the big event that killed or injured a firefighter; it was a series of mistakes that lead to the subsequent catastrophic ending.

So with that said, how do we fundamentally address the need to change and create a more efficient working platform so we can carry out our mission of purpose. First, we need to look at a few key items.

Building profile is a fireground concept used by all responding personnel. The concept establishes fireground operations keyed off building profiles by the incident commander. Most occupancies are broken into five categories (Type 1 through Type 5). This is a common understanding in the fire service, but what does it mean to the fireground commander?

Well, it clearly identifies potential fireground setbacks and primary needs of the first alarm resources. Take for instance a Type 1 structure, the obvious hazard is the potential for rapid fire progression within the enclosure due to the limited ability to rapidly ventilate the structure during a coordinated fire attack.

On the flip side, the limited likelihood of the fire transitioning from a compartment or content driven fire to a structural fire and creating a hazardous environment as a result of structural collapse is limited due to the construction features and building components of the occupancy.

The next aspect is vital to understanding the primary functions of fireground decision making. Fireground decision making must be based upon the mission of purpose. The mission of purpose is the basis of your strategic process, which includes Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, and Property Conservation.

Ask any citizen why fire departments exist and the most common answer will be, to save my family from a burning building. This will quickly be followed by, and to keep my home or business from burning down.

This is our mission.

Sure we are all risk agencies, and EMS encompasses a large function of our service to the community. But nothing speaks of mission of purpose like saving lives at the scene of structure fires.

The reason this is so important is simple, it’s because nobody else can do it. When you look at all other activities we are involved with, one could find another entity to function in that capacity should the need arrive. But firefighters hold sole ownership for firefighting and the task of saving lives, homes and businesses.

As previously mentioned, rescue profiling is based upon a few defining factors. First, look at the residential structure. The obsolete concept of assuming no one is home during daytime hours of a residential structure fire, or even worse, assuming no one is inside a burning structure unless there is a person telling you otherwise, is theory that should be struck from fire service text.

All residential structures must be considered occupied until someone clearly confirms the occupancy is non-occupied. This comes in the form of a resident informing the first arriving officer or the primary search group issuing and all clear to the incident commander. Until then, we must operate under the assumption the residential structure is occupied.

While doing so a constant evaluation of changing conditions must be considered by the I/C. A complete Dynamic Risk Assessment is critical within the first five minutes of arrival. The information gathered is critical to the success of the mission.

Items to identify include the following:

Height, Width and Depth of the Structure: Gauging length, width, height or setback will determine line length.

Size and Volume of Structure: Determine the overall size and volume of structure, then the amount of fire involvement. Calculate the area of involvement based upon the time first water will be applied. Remember, 100 square feet of involvement typically requires 30 to 50 GPM of flow. Also note, the average track home in Southern California is 2,200 square feet.

Ventilation Profile: If occupancy is pressurized at the door upon entry, with dense/dark smoke at or below mid-door level, consider vertical ventilation prior to any positive pressure ventilation use. Never utilize positive pressure ventilation prior to the initial attack line and before you have identified the area of involvement.

Softening the Structure: Softening techniques include identification of any fireground setbacks, including bars on windows, gates, metal security screen doors, etc.

When we consider the basic fundamentals of what has been discussed, we can clearly identify the foundation or the bed rock of a successful operation on the fireground. Obviously there are many, many more key ingredients to the success of any operation, but starting with a strong foundation and fundamental approach is just the beginning.

Until next time, stay safe.

About the Author
Ed Hadfield has more than 26 years of fire service experience, 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

Global Risk Innovations Brings TargetSolutions’ Powerful Platform to Canadian Departments

TargetSolutions is committed to delivering the most powerful online training and records management system possible so its clients can easily achieve compliance, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. The more emergency responders the company can help achieve those goals, the better.

That’s why it made perfect sense six years ago to team up with Global Risk Innovations.

“We feel strongly about our mission of providing innovative technology solutions to public safety officials everywhere,” said TargetSolutions’ CEO Jon Handy. “By partnering with GRI, we have the opportunity to expand our reach with a company that truly shares our beliefs about operating with integrity and serving the markets we care so much about.”

GRI is a multi-national organization based out of Guelph, Ontario, which is about 30 miles southwest of Toronto. The company provides the TargetSolutions technology platform to fire departments across Canada while also delivering Blue Card Command services. GRIs stated vision is a safer, healthier global working environment through innovation and risk mitigation, which marries perfectly with TargetSolutions goals and its platforms capabilities.

“Our mission as an organization is to make sure we represent products that are beneficial to the fire world, making them safer and healthier,” said GRIs Vice President Judy Smith. “Nothing better suits our vision than TargetSolutions. Its in harmony with our beliefs as an organization.”

TargetSolutions and GRI officially joined forces in 2006, but Handy and the Canadian companys President Nelson Lawrence originally met at a conference in 2000. Their first meeting was just a year into TargetSolutions existence.

I saw the first edition of the platform and I really saw the vision in it, Lawrence said. Jon and I continued to stay in touch and we eventually developed a business relationship.

Lawrence always knew the platform could become a powerhouse, but he admitted hes impressed by just how much the system has developed over the last 12 years, he said.

“I’ve seen the platform change from a content-focused program, which some departments thought was important for them, to more of an RMS (records management system) with the ability to share training resources, so it delivers more of a value equation now than just training content,” Lawrence said. “There’s a need for better documentation because of the enforcement of regulatory agencies. Many fire departments are realizing they need better documentation and having that available in a hosted browser-based format is the ultimate solution.”

“The platform is catching on in the territories GRI serves”, Lawrence said. “The company now has large metro departments throughout Canada on the TargetSolutions platform.”

In 2009, GRI and TargetSolutions offered a $1 million grant program together in which the two companies gave away six months of the service to volunteer departments in Canada. Hundreds of firefighters tried the program through the promotion and received the benefit of online training and recordkeeping.

That was an example of us working together to serve a noble goal in educating the volunteer departments about the platform, Lawrence said.

While emergency responders in Canada have different requirements for continuing education than here in the United States, GRI has worked to receive accreditation by the varying agencies that regulate the respective provinces. The company Canadianized TargetSolutions NFPA content and is able to meet regulatory requirements if departments are asked to produce its training records.

TargetSolutions really helps departments cross their Ts and dot there Is, Smith said. The departments we talk to think the platform is amazing. Whether you are focused on training to ensure safety compliance, or just working to improve your organizations overall risk status, you will benefit from TargetSolutions impressive, easy-to-navigate technology.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for public entities, with a focus on 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. 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.

About Global Risk Innovations
Global Risk Innovations (GRI) is a multi-national privately held organization committed to providing innovative online training & risk management solutions.Hundreds of clients across the globe make use of GRI products and services to mitigate risk and improve operational efficiency.

How to Tell Someone “I Think You Are Messing Up” with the Five Step Assertive Statement Process

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters (

It’s not something any of us want to hear. But it’s something that may need to be said to an incident commander at an emergency scene when things are not going well. But how do you tell someone with power and authority they may be making decisions that are putting responders in harm’s way? It can be a very touchy situation.

In fact, some responders see too much risk to even speak up. As a result, no one tells the commander that things are going bad. This makes a terrible assumption that the commander can see the things going bad and knows what he or she is doing. The fact is the commander may not be able to comprehend what is happening. There are more than 100 barriers to situational awareness and commanders are as susceptible to them as any of us. Being experienced helps, but it does not create complete immunity.

Some responders will speak up, but they do so in such a confrontational and abrasive way that it may cause the commander to go on the defensive. This happens because instead of feeling the advice is helpful, the commander feels under attack.

The solution comes with having an established procedure or protocol for how a commander is to be addressed when bearing a concern. Fortunately for us such a process exists in aviation. It’s called the Five Step Assertive Statement Process. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Acknowledge the person in authority with reverence.

Step 2: Use a trigger phrase to alert them. In aviation, its I have a concern.

Step 3: State the concern or issue.

Step 4: Offer a resolution to the problem.

Step 5: See their concurrence to the resolution.

Before you use this process it is very important that all responders are trained on what it is, how it works and how to use it. Otherwise, if a firefighter approaches a command officer and says I have a concern, the response may not be what the firefighter is hoping for. But if the department adopts I have a concern as a trigger phrase, much like mayday, that single statement can put an entire process into motion that requires the commander to reassess the situation.

If you’d like to learn more about the Five Step Assertive Statement Process or more about the barriers to situational awareness for first responders, please consider visiting Situational Awareness Matters! (

About the Author
Dr. Richard 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-plus year career in the fire service, including 22 years as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in cognitive neuroscience for the benefit of the first responder community. To learn more about Dr. Gasaway or situational awareness, please check his website at

The Praetorian Group and TSC Partner for Next Generation Version of the Online Training Platform

Partnership Creates the Most Powerful Learning and Records Management Solution Available for Law Enforcement

The Praetorian Group and TargetSolutions today announced an agreement to join forces, with the goal of revolutionizing online training and records management for law enforcement agencies worldwide. The partnership combines PoliceOnes industry-leading content and industry expertise with TargetSolutions unrivaled learning and records management platform.

Law enforcement today is faced with unprecedented challenges, including new threats, substantial budget cuts and increasing levels of liability. By collaborating, Praetorian and TargetSolutions will be able to offer law enforcement agencies a single solution that uses cutting-edge technology and rich online media to cost-effectively address training needs, compliance requirements, and deliver continuing education that assists all levels of law enforcement in better serving their communities.

The partnership combines TargetSolutions already robust online learning and records management platform with the PoliceOne Academy, a content-rich online learning environment that launched in January 2011 and serves more than 120 agencies and 7,000 officers across the country. The PoliceOne Academy currently offers 400 short-format training courses and a repository of 500 training videos from 120 well-respected law enforcement industry experts and is certified for continuing education credit in six states.

The combination of the two creates an enterprise-scale solution that enables departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all department-level tasks, certifications and training activities. It will also feature an enhanced training catalog, including an extensive library of one-hour, high-definition video-based training courses on dozens of contemporary topics, as well as new OSHA and workplace safety courses.

“It’s not often you identify a partnership in which each party brings such complementary strengths to the table to address a very specific market need and opportunity,” said Alex Ford, CEO of the Praetorian Group. “The collaboration immediately takes the PoliceOne Academy to the next level and brings much needed online training and records management capabilities to our nations law enforcement. At the end of the day, it will mean a much better product for law enforcement, more lives saved and safer communities.”

Over the past 12 years, the Praetorian Group has become the leading online media company for the public safety market, and now counts 850,000 first responders as members. is the most trusted online destination for law enforcement worldwide, with more than 1.2 million unique visitors per month and 350,000 registered law enforcement officers as members.

TargetSolutions is the leading online training and records management provider for public entities. It offers the industrys foremost learning management system to deliver workforce training and continuing education, as well as automated recordkeeping functions through its cloud-based service. The company has been helping clients reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, and remain compliant since 1999. TargetSolutions currently serves thousands of courses each day to thousands of municipalities and public safety agencies.

We are really excited about partnering with the Praetorian Group to create a platform that offers mission-critical solutions to law enforcement and addresses the problems they face in protecting their communities, said Thomas Woodward, Target Solutions Vice President of Operations. PoliceOne is the online leader in law enforcement, and their credibility, expertise and the depth of their content is second to none. Combined with our distance learning and recordkeeping capabilities, well be able to offer law enforcement significant cost savings and efficiency that mitigate risk and improve public safety.

The combined product will be launching in June 2012. Please visit for more information.

About the Praetorian Group
The Praetorian Group is the leading online media and technology company in the public safety market. Our properties are visited by more than 2.1 million public safety professionals every month and count more than 850,000 first responders as members. Praetorian owns and operates,,, and, as well as more than 15 topical public safety websites providing resources ranging from online video to grant assistance. We are deeply committed to providing resources and cutting edge information that help first responders stay safer, become better informed, and more effectively protect their communities.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for public entities, with a focus on 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. 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.

About the PoliceOne Academy
Launched in January 2011, the PoliceOne Academy training website was established to address the gap between law enforcement department budgets and the need to provide ongoing training to officers. To date, there are more than 120 departments, educational institutions, and private security companies spanning 35 states subscribing. The PoliceOne Academy offers 400 short-format training courses and a repository of 500 training videos featuring 120 well-respected law enforcement industry experts. It currently serves more than 7,000 officers across the country, and has been certified for continuing education credit in six states.

Read the Tea Leaves Situational Awareness at the Leadership Level

Blog by Todd LeDuc
Deputy Chief, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (Fla.)

Numerous tragic line-of-duty deaths and close calls have taught us that firefighter safety and survival are linked to situational awareness of current and changing conditions on the fireground and the emergency operations scene. But what about situational awareness at the leadership level in the office?

As firefighters progress through the ranks and become chief officers, we sometimes lose focus on the skills and instincts we relied upon as firefighters. Chief Officers must navigate complex interactions with a wide array of stakeholders (e.g., elected officials, labor unions, employees, city or county administrators and taxpayers) who often hold competing interests. In such interactions, our situational awareness at the leadership level is even more important.

Good Advice
Chief Fire officers are responsible for communicating to their members the expectations of a culture of firefighter safety and survival. To do this, fire service officers at all ranks must know best how to reach their members. In these days of texting, Facebook, Twitter and related electronic “stuff,” that isn’t always easy.

Many departments today are going through an interesting generational turnover as Baby Boomers retire. New recruits learn and adapt in vastly different mediums than their mentors. As a chief officer, you can’t just issue hierarchical policy directives and establish written policy, sit back and assume everything’s good because odds are, it ain’t!

You have a responsibility to protect your members, and that includes actually making an effort to embrace them and their culture. That requires you to exercise your situational awareness skills and monitor your environment — what we like to call “reading the tea leaves” — to ensure the message is heard. Unfortunately, in what has been described as the “ostrich syndrome” or “ivory tower leadership,” leaders often surround themselves with people who isolate them from reality, telling them what they want to hear: Yes, boss, everyone is following your directive without exception to come to a full and complete stop at intersections and wear seatbelts.” When you hear that, pay attention!

Successful chief officers, on the other hand, monitor their environment by surrounding themselves with proven, trustworthy advisors who are secure enough to give open, candid and often differing guidance, as uncomfortable as that can be sometimes. It’s been written that a wise man seeks wise counsel, when more so honest and candid counsel! Successful chief officers also genuinely solicit input. And it’s important that if you ask for it, you’re able to “take it.”

How do you identify the people who will give you straightforward advice? It often falls back on gut feeling and history. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Another method is to choose members within your ranks who represent certain stake-holder groups and are looked upon as informal leaders. These people usually become infectious, gung-ho champions of change if they understand the change if they understand the change and buy into it, which will make your job a lot easier.

The informal leaders may also carry the message to your rank and file, making the culture of firefighter safety and survival come from within rather than top down. Look, the goal is for no one to get hurt unnecessarily. Although the job is risky and sometimes we have no choice but to take a risk in which we may ultimately get hurt — in those rare situations where we must put our lives on the line or our troops in harm’s way to potentially save a life — we can take steps to eliminate unnecessary risks.

An Eye on the Dashboard
In addition to monitoring systems that provide information about you as a leader, you must also establish systems to monitor the progress of your department, the office-based equivalent of monitoring fireground progress. Typically, this includes community risk analysis and system performance analysis — whether your system and its members provide timely and adequate resources to achieve department objectives safely and efficiently.

Department monitoring can often be accomplished by a master or strategic planning process that analyzes genuine, objective and measurable performance relevant to current and future system demands and community risk and workload. If your department hasn’t done this, it’s well worth your time to start such a process for the good of your members and your community. It’s also unacceptable for needless tragedy to strike because your department isn’t planning ahead and isn’t monitoring the department’s and the community’s “instrument panel” when it comes to risk. In other words, reading the tea leaves can be a tool in predicting the predictable.

A Challenge
Fire service leaders at the chief or company officer level must be tea leaf readers who monitor their environment regularly for signs of danger, best practices and innovation to provide their members better tools and resources. As such, they must have multiple information monitoring and gathering systems in place to effectively listen to and learn from information around them. Do you scour LODD reports, remain vigilant of industry safety and performance improvement trends and follow trends outside the fire service that may be adapted to improve your members’ safety? If the answer is no, or “I have other people in my department do that,” we challenge you to rethink what being an effective fire officer means and what it takes to live up to that tremendous responsibility. Don’t count on someone else to read the close-call articles or near-miss reports, you must do it too. After all, as an officer or a chief, the buck stops with you when something goes wrong. And it will be a real tragedy if the incident was clearly predictable and therefore, preventable.

Reading the tea leaves means predicting what may go wrong. The easy path is to sit back in your chair, ignore the obvious and hope nothing goes wrong. And honestly in most cases, nothing does. That’s the easy way to handle it, chief. However, the right way to handle firefighter survival-related issues is to look into your department, determine the issues — fitness, apparatus driving, supervision, size-up, staging — that typically have been the most common contributors to firefighter injury and death, and do something about it. If you don’t have systems in place to minimize the risk, the tea leaves have spoken! Develop new policies to address the gaps, conduct hands-on or classroom training to ensure understanding at all ranks, and then enforce the policies, fairly, across the board, without exception.

Remember: The same ability you developed as a firefighter to monitor your environment, seek out necessary information and make critical decisions is just as important in your job as a chief officer. In fact, as chief, it’s even more important, because you’re not just protecting your own safety; you’re protecting the safety of all your members.

About the Author
Todd J. LeDuc is the deputy chief of department for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue in Florida. With more than 25 years in the service, he lecturers and publishes frequently on fire service leadership, safety and wellness topics. He has worked extensively with fire departments in more than a dozen states with master and strategic plans, accreditation, department evaluations and consolidation studies. William Goldfeder contributed to this report.

Cal Fire San Diego Relies on TargetSolutions’ Powerful Tracking Capabilities

Cal Fire San Diego uses TargetSolutions to deliver EMS continuing education courses and track ISO training hours and other critical fire department compliance records.

The need to accurately track activities and produce comprehensive training reports on compliance is important for any fire organization. But when you’re a large-sized metro, it’s downright critical.

Good thing TargetSolutions is here to help. Just ask Cal Fire San Diego.

After signing up with TargetSolutions three years ago, the organization has experienced far greater efficiency tracking firefighter training than in previous years when the department relied on old fashioned methods like pen, paper and spreadsheets.

“Before TargetSolutions, we had no checks and balances; we had no alerts,” said Cal Fire San Diego Fire Captain Dan Collins. “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.”

“You just have to trust that every employee keeps their own certifications. You have no way of knowing if a problem comes up unless an employee comes and tells you. No question, tracking certifications was our toughest challenge before TargetSolutions.”

But with TargetSolutions’ powerful records management system, Cal Fire San Diego has met those challenges head on. TargetSolutions has enabled the unit to record accurate data on employees’ credentials — whether its Fire or EMS related — and generate comprehensive reports that help the organization stay on top of compliance.

“With TargetSolutions we know who is expiring and we can plan more efficiently. We now know who is coming up and when their expiration dates are. The reporting functionality really helps us do our jobs better.”

Dan Collins, Fire Captain

TargetSolutions has also provided Cal Fire San Diego with valuable EMS continuing education courses, streamlined ISO tracking and the ability to ensure receipt of critical communications with e-signatures through the Activities Builder.

Cal Fire San Diego Training Captain Tony Hernandez agrees the platform has helped maximize his organizations training efforts and its bottom line.

“It’s a very good option for departments out there looking for a good way to track all of their employee certifications and credentialing,” Hernandez said of TargetSolutions.

“I would recommend it to any department. We feel this is an effective use of our budget. To be able to use this solution to capture our employees certificates and credentials, over the long haul for the amount of money we are investing in our employees, it’s turned out to be quite a positive investment for us.”

Tony Hernandez, Training Captain

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.

The Fire Department ISO Training Tracker by TargetSolutions Came to Light in the Sunshine State

TargetSolutions’ ISO Training Tracker simplifies the tracking and reporting of ISO training hours.

TargetSolutions’ fire department ISO Training Tracker is helping fire departments all across the country prepare for their next ISO audit by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). But this powerful tool originated in Florida and many of the state’s departments are benefiting.

Tim Riley of the Dunedin Fire Department and the Pinellas County Training Group was instrumental in the creation of the application that helps simplify ISO reporting.

“We’re extremely grateful to Tim and the Pinellas County Training Group for giving us great insight and helping us create a robust application,” said TargetSolutions Director of Technology Alex Day. “Our platform wouldn’t be what it is today if not for feedback from clients like Tim Riley. Our ISO Training Tracker helps departments automatically accumulate the proper documentation for their next ISO audit. It makes the entire process easier.”

Riley was like most other training chiefs who have suffered multiple headaches preparing for a fire department ISO audit. The simple fact is that if records are not collected properly, departments will not receive Class 1 status from the ISO. But TargetSolutions offers a better way.

TargetSolutions provides access to customizable ISO tracking templates created with the help of Riley. After training officers have delivered these activities to employees, they can rest confidently knowing the industry’s leading records management system will automatically track completions and generate detailed reports, eliminating the hassle of searching through endless paper stacks and spreadsheets.

“This has really streamlined the process for ISO inspections,” Riley said. “In years past, you’d have to take all your records as best you could, pull everything out and pour through everything. But with the Training Tracker you can be proactive instead of reactive. You know the answers before ISO gets there. This keeps you from being blindsided by deficiencies in training records. It is an incredible tool. It really makes people’s jobs easier.”

Guy Keirn of the Pinellas Park Fire Department experienced similar results with TargetSolutions Training Tracker during his last audit in September of 2010.

“TargetSolutions has created a records system that clearly allowed our organization to comply (with its ISO audit),” Keirn said. “The process of completing the training section of the report for ISO was seamless. We were able to extract all required information and complete a comprehensive report for the ISO inspector.”

In addition to powerful tracking tools, TargetSolutions online fire training platform recently underwent a significant facelift. The interface is now more intuitive, according to Ken Treffinger of Sarasota County Fire Department.

“After seeing the new (TargetSolutions) platform, I was immediately impressed by the layout and the look that it presented,” Treffinger said. “Actually, I believe my first word after seeing it was wow! The new platform is sleek, professional and appears very user friendly.”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions online training and records management system is the most effective way to enhance your departments training program. We are focused on helping organizations reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and maintain compliance. With cutting-edge technology and more than 700 courses in our library, we make training easy.

No Shortcuts When It Comes to Hose Loading

Blog by Jason Hoevelmann
Deputy Chief with Sullivan Fire Protection District

How many times have you heard the question: “Why do we need to load the hose this way?”

Granted, it might be a mundane task, but it’s a task that can make all the difference in the world. Just like putting on turn-out gear or personal protective equipment, hose loads need to be done right every single time to ensure we are protected from the environment we are about to operate in. Just as we risk being burned or not breathing clean air if we fail to button up properly, we are at risk without a properly loaded hose bed.

It’s often said that as the first line goes, so goes the fire. But it all starts with a properly loaded hose bed. The type of hose load should be dictated by how your organization and company operates. It may be different for each separate company and it may change as needs and resources change. The main point is to train and understand “why” the load is being used.

When loading your hose beds, they should be clean and neat. Don’t put moldy and musty hose back on the bed or the hose will deteriorate. It can also cause holes and weak points in the jacket. The truth is a poorly loaded hose bed is a good indication of how that company operates. In my mind, if the hose beds are sloppy, it is likely the rest of the equipment on that rig is in the same shape.

You may hear a senior guy ask why a hose load is done a certain way and a more junior guy will answer, “That is just how we do it.” This is a problem. We need to understand why we use the loads and we must pass that knowledge down. If we don’t understand the purpose of the load, we will not deploy it correctly, and that is the real concern.

Make sure we are training and explaining the purpose for our hose loads and that it is imperative to load and deploy them correctly. An incorrectly loaded hose will result in an incorrectly deployed hose line that will increase the time it takes to put water on the fire or protect crews operating inside.

Some might say it all starts and ends with a properly loaded hose bed. They would be right.

Train hard and stay safe.

About the Author
Jason Hoevelmann is a deputy chief/fire marshall with Sullivan Fire Protection District in Missouri. Hoevelmann is also a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County. Hoevelmann’s experience spans more than 20 years and he has been an instructor for more than 15 years. He is currently a state advocate for the “Everyone Goes Home” initiative, a board member of the Fire and Life Safety Section of the IAFC and on the technical committee for professional Fire Officer Qualifications for the NFPA.

Profiling Today’s Fire Service Shiners, Whiners, and Recliners

Blog by Doug Cline
Chief of Operations with Horry County Fire Rescue (S.C.)

Some think you can just peal one firefighters name off the wall and replace it with another. Some have used the analogy that it will be the same circus but with different clowns.

This generalization couldn’t be more inaccurate. What we really have in today’s fire service are three types of folks: Shiners, Whiners and Recliners. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of these three types of individuals who make up todays fire service.

Shiners: This group is the backbone of the fire service. It keeps us moving. These individuals work tirelessly to make the fire service more professional, safer and better educated. They are focused on working to improve the safety of the community.

Shiners are self-motivated and always looking to make the system better. They are team players who truly care about the fire service. They are driven to find better ways to do their jobs.

Success is very important to a Shiner. They are never content with the status quo and are highly organized. In fact, a Shiner’s desire to keep things in order might be considered obsessive-compulsive.

Shiners don’t care, they’re about being the very best firefighter they can be, and helping others do the same.

Whiners and Recliners: They both do exactly that, Whiners whine and Recliners recline!

Whiners have a tendency to always be complaining and not working. But they like being bored; it gives them something to whine about. They dismiss new ideas and believe the status quo is good.

“It has worked for the last 20 years so why do we need to go changing?” they say.

For Recliners, success is measured by how much time they spend doing nothing. Their mindset is that the more they do, the more will be expected. Some have the mentality that all they were hired to do was run calls and fight fires.

Maybe with their feet propped up and head laid back that is all they see. Unfortunately, they never make it out of the station to see that the job demands more and the public deserves more.

Firefighters work and live in group environments. From their very first day walking into a fire station, recruits learn that the fire service functions in a team environment. Firefighters train in groups, work in groups, live in groups and eat in groups. This close interaction favors people who are trusting, cooperative, dependable and determined.

Because firefighters share so much of their lives with each other, they generally build team values, foster increased team cohesion and identify each member’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, some firefighter personality traits conflict with the team environment. In an interesting look at how firefighters work together, a study on work-injury frequency and duration found that when firefighters cooperated in groups, injury rates were lower than when firefighters didn’t interact with each other.

Firefighters who are reluctant to interact with other firefighters may in fact be reluctant to ask for help when they’re in trouble, possibly leaving them at risk of injury. So we can see that the Shiners, who are always training and learning, are our lowest risk to injuries.

The Recliners are most prone to injury since they have not trained or worked much with the other groups. Heck, it is tough getting up out of the recliner and doing something!

During my 28 years in the fire service, I’ve rarely witnessed a Shiner give up on a task. Shiners work at all cost to complete an assignment; sometimes even placing them at risk for the betterment of the task. Failure isn’t in the Shiners vocabulary. When they are faced with a failed mission, they take it personally.

On the other hand, Whiners are usually far too quick to embrace failure. They will just blame it on someone else and say they knew it would not work from the start.

The Recliners view on this is well, if we sit around long enough, someone else will do it or it will go away and we won’t have to deal with it. And they are absolutely right, a Shiner will probably come along and get it done.

Firefighters are people who will place their own lives in jeopardy in order to save a life. They enter the fire service knowing this is a high-risk occupation. But there’s no denying there are three distinct types of firefighters in our ranks. These are the types of people we need to manage and find ways to motivate. My advice for Shiners, Whiners and Recliners is: keep the Shiners motivated, give the Whiners plenty to whine about and get rid of the Recliners. They are dead weight.

About the Author
Douglas Cline, a 32-year veteran and student of the fire service, serves as assistant chief of operations with Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.). Cline is the President of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs (SEAFC), a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire and Rescue Instructors and the 1st Vice President International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI).

El Paso Fire Department Chooses TargetSolutions to Improve Training Efficiencies, Response Times

Like most fire departments, response times are critical for the El Paso Fire Department in Texas. The department’s standard of cover has a stated response goal of four minutes or less for all BLS calls and eight minutes or less for all ALS calls. The department is focused on beating those times on at least 90 percent of its runs, according to Strategic Planning Lieutenant Dennis Reglen. But it’s no easy task, especially when you consider the department serves a community with more than 650,000 residents spread out across 260-square miles.

Making this predetermined response time was growing exceedingly difficult, while simultaneously meeting federally mandated training provisions, Reglen said. The logistics of having units travel to the training facility for critical training activities, while also providing effective city-wide emergency response, was increasingly challenging for the department.

“The training needs to get done,” Reglen said. “But we also need to keep reliability of service in mind. We have expectations in our standard of cover, we have a goal and to meet that goal we need to keep units in their area as much as possible.”

With a clear objective in mind, El Paso Fire Department turned to TargetSolutions’ online fire training system. Now, with training provided by the industry’s leading fire department software, the department’s units are regularly positioned where they are most effective, Reglen said.

“Unit reliability was our biggest concern,” he said. “Given we have 75 units with nine, four-hour training sessions per year for each unit, it was required that we reduce our total unit availability by approximately 2,700 hours annually. TargetSolutions gives us the ability to keep our units in their response areas far more often.”

With a more convenient, flexible method for completing obligatory firefighter training requirements, the department is also benefitting from a more powerful record management system, Reglen said. The department was using a spreadsheet to track expiring certifications. But as most departments find, that was a recipe for disaster.

“We previously had no notification if an employee was about to miss a deadline,” Reglen said. “If they did, we didn’t know. Now, with TargetSolutions’ ‘Credentials Manager’ pushing everything, were much better off. That’s a huge factor for us. This system really helps us stay on track and notified rather than our old way of doing everything manually. The automated e-mail alerts help us tremendously.”

In fact, TargetSolutions’ innovative recordkeeping tools have Reglen much more confident in his department’s ability to score well during its next fire department ISO audit.

“I’m really excited about the ISO solution,” Reglen said. “ISO reports are such a big headache. It’s a lot of work getting ready for when the ISO team is going to be here. I think with this system it will be much easier. TargetSolutions’ (tracking capabilities) have cleaned up the process for us and we won’t have to depend on well-intended firemen anymore. TargetSolutions is making life easier. We’re not having to sit here and question whether our data is right or not.”

While the system has improved the department’s operational efficiencies, Reglen projects a significant improvement in its bottom line as well.

“Considering our units were traveling 645 times a year to our training facility for a total travel distance of 4,915 miles — coupled with rising gas prices, we anticipate a fuel savings of roughly $9,500 for fiscal year 2012,” Reglen said.

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.