Technology with a Purpose

All posts in Featured Contributors

How to Build Trust in the Work Environment

 The Uncompromising Truth
When everyone in the workplace knows it’s safe to treat others with the uncompromising truth, you have a shared value and trust is built.

Blog by Peter Dove
President of Shared Values Association

In the ancient days of the Greek city-state, a man was chosen to greet an approaching army and do his best to arrange for peace. This man was called a hero.

Rob Lebow dreamed of bringing peace to the work environment so he wrote a book: “A Journey into the Heroic Environment.” This book is based on the answers of 17.1 million workers from around the world in response to this question: “What does it take for you to be excited about doing your best at your job?”

Here are the answers Lebow found:

1. Treat others with the uncompromising truth

2. Lavish trust on your associates

3. Be receptive to new ideas regardless of their origin

4. Mentor unselfishly

5. Take personal risks for the organization’s sake

6. Give credit where credit is due

7. Do not touch dishonest dollars

8. Put the interests of others before our own

Nothing new, but common sense is not common practice. Your organization delivers these eight values now. The question is to what degree does your organization deliver these eight values? If you focus on being world class at delivering these specific values, you will have a sustainable, world-class organization that achieves world-class results.

See if this is confirmed in your own work experience. Have you ever had a boss that you did not like and didn’t respect? What was productivity like? I bet it was low. Conversely, have you ever worked for a boss you respected and honored? My guess is that workers cared more, trust was higher, and so was productivity.

Let’s take a real-life example of just one of these values: Treat others with the uncompromising truth. People deserve the truth and when they haven’t received it, they feel betrayed and disempowered. If people feel it is not safe to tell the uncompromising truth, they won’t.

  • Joe has body odor, always has and no one tells him. Joe needs the truth, instead others joke about him as they roll their eyes. Nobody tells Joe, does Joe know something’s up? Yes. Does this cost you anything when people don’t include Joe? Yes. Joe does his job but won’t go the extra mile and freely share information because he doesn’t feel like it and you will never know the cost.
  • Nancy is a gossip, loves to talk about other people. Nancy shares a juicy piece with Sue who is too polite to say anything though she feels uncomfortable. After all she has to work with Nancy all day every day. What’s that costing you? Plenty. Nancy is killing trust in the organization. Trust is everything. Low trust, low productivity — high trust, high productivity and joy as well. Trust is the foundation.
    When everyone in the organization knows it’s safe to treat others with the uncompromising truth, you have a shared value and trust is built.
  • Rita sees a memo and it has created some fear. She wants to tell you, her boss, the uncompromising truth but won’t for fear of what you might say or do. You’re about to make a decision, need the feedback and don’t get it. Results are only as good as the decisions. But Rita has to tell someone so she complains to her friend John and a rumor starts. Costly? Yes.

The solution to all of this: Make it OK within your group to tell the uncompromising truth.

Get your people together and make a ground rule, a contract, an agreement between all that it is safe to tell the truth. Agree on guidelines as to what telling the truth means. What is OK and what is not OK behavior.

When it’s agreed, you are on your way to a heroic environment. Over the years we have found these guidelines to be the most effective:

  1. Am I discussing the issue with the other person within 24 hours?
  2. Am I asking the other person for permission to communicate? Is this a good time to talk?
  3. Am I approaching the other person in a non-threatening way?
  4. Am I straight-talking without hurting the other person’s feelings? Is my language simple, understandable, non-apologizing and non-personal?
  5. Am I making a request of the other person and not a complaint? Is my request telling the other person how I would like it to be?

If you drive from your house to the grocery store with the emergency brake on, you can still get there, you just have to press harder on the gas pedal. You can still get results working in an organization that does not have a heroic environment, but it’s like driving it with the brake on.

The advice of this article is to focus on the eight values at every opportunity starting with the truth. Take the brake off, it will set you free.

About the Author
Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates (www.peterdove.com). He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

 

Responding to Incidents Involving a Chevrolet Volt

Blog by Jason Emery
Electric Vehicle Safety Training

Let’s take a look at the first Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) on the market, the Chevrolet Volt. It was first released in the fall of 2010 in select markets, and went nationwide in 2011.

From the exterior, the vehicle can be primarily identified by the Volt badging on the front fenders and on the lift-gate. Additionally, the door for the charging port is located on the driver’s side front fender underneath the Volt logo. The interior features digital display screens which also provide clues such as the battery state of charge indictor.

The Volt is constructed of nearly 80 percent high and ultra-high strength steel with the vehicle essentially built around the 6-foot, 400-pound, liquid-cooled, 360-volt lithium ion battery that runs down the center of the vehicle and under the rear seats. In addition to the high voltage battery, there is an engine generator under the hood that is designed to generate electricity to power the drive motors when the battery becomes depleted. The average range on the fully charged battery is 35 to 50 miles with an additional 344 miles provided by the engine generator running off the 9.3 gallon gasoline supply. The Volt battery can be recharged using a level I or II charging station.

Since this vehicle has both a high voltage electrical system as well as a gasoline powered generator onboard, first responders should treat this vehicle as you would a hybrid and be sure to control both energy sources.

Fire Engineering Magazine recently published an article with participation by members of our Electric Vehicle Safety training staff that provides an overview of the Chevy Volt, its systems, and emergency response procedures. The piece features relevant and useful information about key characteristics to identify a Volt; the vehicles construction, including the electrical system, high-voltage battery and occupant protection systems; and a step-by-step guide for responders.

It also emphasizes that first responders must ensure they understand the technology and operation behind EVs and HEVs to ensure overall safety for all parties involved.

As part of NFPAs mission to provide the latest information regarding electric vehicles to first responders, we would like to highlight key details noted in this article regarding the appropriate electric vehicle safety training response procedure for a Chevy Volt. Similar information can be found on our websites vehicle manufacturer resource page and will be included in our soon to be released Electric Vehicle Emergency Field Guide.

>> Identifying the types of vehicles in a crash is essential. It is more critical than ever for responders to identify the types of vehicles involved in a crash. As green technology and alternative fueled vehicles become more popular, responders should not immediately, always assume that they are working with conventional vehicles at a crash scene.

>> Securing vehicle from potential movement should be priority. Responders should control potential hazards by chocking the wheels, accessing the passenger compartment to set the parking brake, placing the vehicle in park, and shutting down the high voltage system. Specifically, in the case of a Volt follow this two-step process:

>> Shut the vehicle down by pressing the power button (found just above the gear selector).If possible then remove the proximity keys from the vehicle. Then, disable the 12v electrical system by using the special cut location provided in the rear of the vehicle. In the rear hatchback, an access panel is found on the driver’s sidewall of the cargo area. This access panel displays a logo of a firefighter’s helmet to indicate its purpose. Behind the access panel is a bundle of wires in a black wrap with GM’s “first responder yellow cut tape” attached to it. Make two cuts, one on either side of the yellow cut tape.

>> Extrication operations: Although high voltage cabling and components are not generally found in typical cut points, it is important to inspect the area that is being cut to confirm this. During extrication, it is also important for responders to keep in mind that the Volt is comprised of approximately 80 percent high-strength steel. In order to respond effectively, responders should be aware of their rescue tools’ ability to cut through these materials. Also noted in the article are back-up methods for responders in the case their tools are not capable of cutting high-strength steels.

>> Vehicle fires and submersions. Traditional firefighting equipment is acceptable to extinguish a Volt that is on fire and water application does not create a shock hazard. In addition, responders can safely operate around a submerged Volt in the same manner as a conventional vehicle or a hybrid.

Crashes Involving the Chevy Volt
In light of the negative publicity, electric vehicles have received recently regarding their involvement with fires; it is interesting to note the outcome of a recent crash in upstate New York.

In May in Geneseo, N.Y., a Toyota Camry traveling at a high rate of speed struck a Chevrolet Volt and another vehicle parked in a driveway. The damage to the Volt was extensive, especially on the driver’s side. The Camry, a conventional vehicle, caught fire as a result of the crash and was extinguished by an off-duty police officer prior to the Fire Departments arrival. The Volt, however, did not experience a crash-related fire.

This incident is a reminder to first responders that all vehicles come with potential hazards that must be addressed. It is also important to note that the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) does not believe that electric vehicles present any greater risk of fire than conventional ones. As for a response to a severe crash such as this involving and electric or hybrid vehicles, there are some procedures to follow. NHSTA, with assistance from the NFPA, has developed guidelines to deal with damaged vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries. Responders should familiarize themselves with these guidelines and be prepared to pass them along to other personnel, such as the wrecker operators involved in the scene.

>> Blog content is from the NFPAs Electric Vehicle Safety Training website. For more information on hybrid and electric vehicles visit http://www.evsafetytraining.org/. For a more in-depth look at this vehicle and its emergency response procedures, please be sure to take the NFPA/GM Volt safety training course.

About the Author
Jason Emery, a 21-year veteran of the fire service, is a lieutenant with the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department, where he is assigned to the rescue/hazmat company. He has a BS in fire science from the University of New Haven and is a member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He is a subject matter expert for the National Fire Protection Association, a member of its development team, and the lead instructor for its Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Training program. He founded Emergency Training Solutions, designed the PowerPoint materials for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I & II, and is a contributing author to the 2nd edition of the Handbook.

The Policy-Behavior Disconnect in the Fire Service

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Retired Fire Chief and Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters

I often poll program attendees about the need to complete a 360-degree size-up. While the responses are mixed as to how many have policies and how many don’t, those with policies that require a 360-degree size-up often admit that first-arriving companies often do not do them.

This prompts me to ask why. Why would a first arriving company fail to comply with departmental policy and not complete a 360-degree size-up? There may be many explanations. Among them is a philosophical disagreement with the policy leading to a conscious decision for non-compliance. Another explanation may be a failure to see the importance of completing a size-up.

Yet another explanation may be there is a policy-behavior disconnect. The policy says, the first arriving company shall do a 360-degree size-up on structure fires.

That’s pretty clear.

However, in training (at the fire station, at the burn tower and/or in acquired structures) many firefighters are not required to complete a 360-degree size-up prior to entry. I’m not talking about the pre-burn walk-around required by the NFPA 1403 standard. I’m talking about making the fire crews walk around the structure as the first step in every evolution. This creates a habit that will become the automatic performance under stress.

Your muscles don’t learn from verbal instructions. Your muscles learn from muscle movement. You can read all day long about what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it. But you’re not really learning until you move your body and do it.

A 360-degree size-up is a situational awareness best practice that should be performed at every structure fire, sans physical limitation based on structure size, access and obstructions. If you want your policy and behavior to align, train by physical movement of the body in ways that are consistent with your policies.

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 years 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. His website, Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com) has enjoyed over a million visits since its launch in October 2011. He can be reached via e-mail at support@RichGasaway.com.

The Time to Redefine the Art and Science of Firefighting Is Nearly Upon Us

Blog by Christopher J. Naum
Executive Producer of www.buildingsonfire.com

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders, commanding and company officers and firefighters to have increased technical knowledge of building construction. It also requires heightened sensitivity to fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope, as well as considerations related to occupancy risk vs. the occupancy type.

Without question, there is an immediate need for today’s emerging and operating command and company officers to increase their foundation of knowledge and insights related to modern technology and its relationship with building occupancy, building construction and fire protection engineering.

We need to be ready to modify traditional and conventional strategic operating profiles in order to safeguard companies, personnel and team compositions.

Strategies and tactics must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy and building profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior within compartments and buildings.

We used to discern with a measured degree of predictability how buildings would perform, react and fail under most fire conditions. Implementing the fundamentals of art and science of firefighting operations built upon nine decades of experience and proven strategies continues to be the model of suppression operations. These same fundamental strategies continue to drive methodologies and curriculums in our current training programs and academies.

The lack of appreciation and the understanding of correlating principles involving fire behavior, fuel and rate of heat release — as well as the growth stages of compartment fires within a structural occupancy — are the defining paths from which the fire service must reexamine operations in order to identify with the predictability of occupancy performance during fire suppression operations. Ultimately, this will increase suppression effectiveness and firefighter safety.

The demands and requirements of modern firefighting, as well as the influence of technology will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger. Risk management needs to become fluid and integrated with intelligent tactical deployments and operations recognizing the risk problematically and not fatalistically, resulting in safety conscious strategies and tactics and operational excellence.

Our world has evolved and changed. There are a variety of technological and sociological demands that create a continuing element of change in the built environment and our infrastructure. With these changes and demands come the requirements to assess these vulnerabilities, hazards, threats and dangers with effective and dynamic risk management and competent command and control.

These changes influence the way we do business in the street and equate to the risks and hazards you and your personnel will be confronted during incident operations. Fire suppression tactics must be adjusted for the rapidly changing methods and materials impacting all forms of building construction, occupancies and structures.

The need to redefine the art and science of firefighting is nearly upon us. Some things do stand the test of time, others need to adjust, evolve and change. Not for the sake of change only, but for the emerging and evolving buildings, structures and occupancies being built, developed or renovated in our communities.

About the Author
Christopher J. Naum, SFPE, has more than 37 years of field and operations experience and previously worked in command, operations and training capacities. Currently serves as the executive producer for several fire service websites, including www.buildingsonfire.com.

Top Five Principles for Incoming Rookie Firefighters

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

Awhile back I asked my crew members their opinions on the top five principles for rookie firefighters. I had everyone write down their ideas, I mulled it over, and then put together my own list.

The newcomer was entering the field with the basics (Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazmat Operations and EMT-I). Our academy does a good job of preparing these firefighters with an extensive 32-week recruit school. However, adapting to the field and expanding on the basic items learned in recruit school can prove difficult if the field personnel do not set the tone on the newcomers very first day.

As I thought about what five principles I wanted to pass on, several jumped to the front of my head. In order to keep rookie firefighters from mental overload, or confusing them with 10,000 different policies and guidelines, I wanted to get right to the most important things they need to understand.

Now, I’ve seen published lists of what rookie firefighters should know in different magazines before and those reports are generally applicable to all fire departments. My major concern, though, was to identify specifics pertaining to our crew, apparatus and territory. I decided there were no barriers to what types of principles I would instill. These principles could be anything from equipment location to station duties.

The list below contains the items I decided to be the most important. I believe that if everyone in our station follows these simple rules, it will ensure everyone goes home safely and all the other skills and attitudes will fall in line:

1. We are a motivated crew. We train every day, including Sundays for at least one hour. Accept it. Be the first to participate in the drills and train as if your life depends on it because you know what, it does!

2. There is no I Can’t on the incident scene. The same thing goes for the training grounds. There is no I Can’t, only I Won’t. If you’re unable to complete the drill, do it again and again until you’re successful.

3. Listen before acting. Do exactly what the officer tells you to do on the incident scene, and stay one step ahead of the officer. For example, if the officer has his bunker pants on, you should already have your pants, coats, gloves and helmet on. Understand the difference between thinking ahead and freelancing.

4. Learn your duties and do them before you’re told. This will earn you respect in the station that will turn into respect on the incident scene as you gain experience. Crew camaraderie and integrity starts in the station.

5. Learn the equipment on the apparatus. One tool equals one compartment opened.

These items are simple in concept and should be upheld in the station. Simply talking to your new rookie could be the difference in him becoming an asset, or a liability. As a leader, do not allow the motivation of the new firefighter to slip away. That goes for everyone in your crew.

If we follow these principles, I believe we will be better individually, and as a team. Remember, in the very beginning, you have the chance to mold new firefighters into what they will be for the next 30 years. It’s an important responsibility to get them started on the right track.

As always train hard, take care and be safe.

Editor’s Note: This article originally posted with TargetSolutions in November of 2010.

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.

 

Changing Attitudes: The Time is Now

By Doug Cline
Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.)

I recently attended a conference for fire chiefs where the hot topic centered on firefighter injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes. The use of seat belts or lack of was a big part of the conversation. The topic was discussed at length. Everyone is searching for answers on how to get firefighters to comply. Ideas like decreasing state-death benefits and funding from county governments for departments with violations were tossed around as potential suggestions to help make groups comply. One rather salty chief blurted out, it’s all about attitude and many folks have a (darn) bad one!

That was an interesting and accurate comment. The attitude has to be there to make this cultural change. It has to start with the fire chief, the fired-up fire chief concluded. I was so thrilled to hear his comments I could’ve done back flips!

Unfortunately the next comment by another chief in attendance showed there is still an underlying issue: How do we change the attitudes of individuals who don’t see this as a problem?

There are many attitudes about hundreds of topics in the fire service. But why are there still attitudes when it comes to the safety of fire personnel?

Unlike other public safety professionals, the fire and rescue service is charged with the responsibility of protecting people and property from the ravages of fire and other hostile forces both man-made and natural. We are focused on protecting our communities, but we fail to protect ourselves by neglecting to wear our seatbelts. What sense does that make?

Folks, this is all about attitude. When a firefighter is seriously injured or killed, the fire service does little to promote positive action to prevent a reoccurrence. The message spreads quickly of a fallen comrade, but the lesson is slow to follow and is seldom learned.

How can we change attitudes?

One area this is especially critical is in line-of-duty-deaths that occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. It has been shown repeatedly that a need for speed is not necessary in most cases. Now, I’m not advocating slowing our responses but the difference between 55 and 65 mph is relatively minor but very dangerous when you consider the fact were handling a 48.5-foot long ladder truck that weighs more than 73,000 pounds or a large apparatus weighing around 45,000 pounds.

The laws of physics show a drastic difference in the stopping distances, not to mention the external forces that affect the apparatus. I have news for everybody in the fire service: We are not immune from the dangers associated with motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, our attitudes suggest we think otherwise.

Time is long overdue for the fire and rescue services to actively and seriously address this key safety issue. Too often we tend to take a cosmetic approach rather than getting to the root of the problem. The fire and rescue services, at all levels, need to rise up and meet this challenge.

This means doing what is necessary to turn around the seemingly apathetic or complacent attitude about safety prevailing in the fire service today. You may be thinking that the fire service is safer today than it’s ever been. That may be true. We definitely have better equipment today and our apparatus and gear are safer. But make no mistake, the most important part of our own safety is the one thing we control most our attitude.

Over the past two years, the firefighter safety stand down has taken the fire service by storm with progressive departments. However, there are departments across our nation that never heard of this program even with all of the efforts this past year by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Every attitude in the fire service needs to be focused on the concept of having the courage to be safe.

I challenge you as fire service leaders to help make this necessary change. How do we do this, you ask? Start by being safety minded in everything you do. Take the 16 Life Safety Initiatives that were developed by the Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Look at your own department to see how you are measuring up. If you are falling short, focus on making cultural changes in how you operate on a daily basis. Take aggressive actions to identify and correct actions that are unsafe. Make everyday a training day so everyone goes home safe!

>> This blog was originally posted with TargetSolutions in December of 2010

About the Author
Douglas Cline is a 32-year veteran of the Fire Service. He serves as assistant chief with Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.). Cline is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. 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).

 

Developing Meta-Awareness Is Vital in Maintaining Situational Awareness

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Retired Fire Chief and Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters

One of the situational awareness best practices I share with first responders is the need to develop meta-awareness. Most responders, including me before I immersed myself into the study of brain science, do not understand the concept of meta-awareness, yet it’s a critical component in the development and maintenance of your personal situational awareness.

Meta-awareness means to be consciously aware of your situational awareness. You’re probably still thinking, Huh? What does THAT mean?

Simply this: When you’re operating in the environment of high-risk and high-consequence at an emergency scene with changing conditions and immense amounts of work to be done, you can, quite simply, lose track of whether or not you are maintaining your situational awareness.

Maybe stated another way, you get so busy doing stuff that you don’t think about what is required to develop and maintain situational awareness. And then, before you realize it it’s gone and that may set you on the fast track to a near-miss or a casualty incident.

So how do you develop meta-awareness? You do it by first understanding what situational awareness is. This lesson is rarely taught in first responder training programs. When it is taught instructors rarely provide a thorough explanation because they don’t understand the complexities of situational awareness. I don’t blame the instructors. Most of them, well intended as they are, were not adequately taught about the complexities of situational awareness. So they tell us to Pay attention!

Once you understand what situational awareness is, the next lesson is to understand how you develop it. Then the next lesson is to understand how you lose it. And the final lesson is to understand how you get it back if you do lose it.

Meta-awareness is rooted in the first two lessons: Understanding what situational awareness is and how you develop it. Here is the abbreviated lesson and I do mean abbreviated. It takes me a full day in the classroom to teach this so be cautious about thinking this summary will do it for you.

Situational awareness is being able to see the bad things coming in time to change the outcome. You do this by capturing clues and cues in your environment, comprehending what they mean in context and using your understanding of the current situation to make accurate predictions about future events.

Flawed situational awareness is a big deal for first responders. In fact, it’s the biggest deal! Look at near-miss and casualty reports and you will see it or something similar like miscommunication implicated over and over again. Yet, so many first responders don’t know how to fix the problem. Fixing that problem is my mission. Please let me know how I can help.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision-making processes used by first responders. In addition to more than 30 years in the fire service, including 22 as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com) has enjoyed more than a million visits since its launch in October of 2011. He can be reached via e-mail at Support@RichGasaway.com or (612) 548-4424.

 

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.

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.