Technology with a Purpose

All posts in Featured Contributors

The ABCs of Fire Training: Always Be Creative.

The ABCs of Fire Training: Always Be Creative.
Editor’s Note: this is the fifth tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.  
Let’s face it, training isn’t always fun. Some might even say it can be monotonous. It’s important for training administrators to be creative and think outside the box when implementing training. Mixing up regular exercises can make them more engaging. Add a competitive twist, a team component, or a prize, and watch your personnel’s intensity heat up. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing – training, sports, video games, etc. – make it a contest and everyone will find it more engrossing.
TargetSolutions Product Specialist Tim Riley worked as training chief with Dunedin Fire Department in Florida and he remembers having crew members make their way through an obstacle course with hidden treasures placed throughout the maze. The race to find the treasures was memorable.
Next time you need to put your aerial device into the air, try a game of aerial cornhole – where the operator is required to place a weighted ball into a bucket with the aerial device. Not easy, and guaranteed to make a usually mundane exercise more lively. If short on ideas, you can always conduct a simple race: who can put their gear on the quickest? This includes everything: boots, pants, coat, SCBA, etc.
TargetSolutions’ Tim Riley has all kinds of ideas for mixing up training. Here are four good ones:
  • Instead of sending personnel through a maze on their own make them do it as a team. After all, you’re not going to enter a smoke-filled structure alone, right?
  • Make personnel bring appropriate tools they will need when called into action. Treat everything like a real drill. Don’t take away flashlights or gear they will have during the real deal.
  • Blind-fold a member, spin them around and have them find the hoseline on the floor. Have them practice reading a hose out of the structure while disoriented.
  • The classic “Breath Down Drill” … Force members to control their breathing while making their way through a gauntlet of obstacles using SCBA gear. How many evolutions can you do?



Implement Online Training, Watch Your Fire Department Thrive

implement online training
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.
Training in the fire service has never been more challenging than today. Budgets continue to shrink and requirements continue to increase. It makes sense training administrators would look to technology for help. That’s why online training and recordkeeping software is making such a huge impact on the industry.
By delivering accredited EMS continuing education through a learning management system, departments are able to efficiently meet mandatory training requirements with 24/7 convenience. Online tools make it easier than ever to streamline compliance and
track results. A recent survey of more than 600 fire departments by the marketing firm MillerPierce found that 76 percent of departments are either already using an online training system, or are considering acquiring one. It’s clear, affordable online training tools can help departments operate more effectively.
That being said, balance is critical to an effective training program. Training administrators will always need to deliver live training sessions in combination with online training to ensure students receive the appropriate blend of hands-on experience. Using TargetSolutions to achieve and track training compliance makes all the sense in the world. But it’s not meant to replace the real thing.
If your department is still considering the merits of online training, here are three benefits of TargetSolutions’ internet-based fire department training system to consider:
Achieve Compliance with Fire and EMS Recertification Requirements: TargetSolutions features more than 250 hours of Fire and EMS recertification training. If you are looking to meet federal, state or local training requirements, TargetSolutions’ has accredited content you need.
Save Time and Money with Convenient Training That Can Be Taken Anytime, Anywhere: TargetSolutions’ online training management system is accessible 24/7 anywhere you have an Internet connection. Users can complete assignments on their own schedules at their own computers.
Improve Performance by Assigning Pre-Training Before Hands-On Exercises: TargetSolutions provides departments the ability to ‘flip the classroom’ by delivering didactic course information before personnel jump into hands-on training. When members arrive for hands-on instruction, they are prepared with background information.
Don’t Just Take Our Word for It: Please Click Here to Hear and Read What Fire Department Leaders Are Saying about TargetSolutions!

Great Tips for Fire Department Training

Train Your Crew to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

Customer Service in the Fire Service
Editor’s Note: This is the third tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.

Emergency responders take incredible risks to help others. The courage, integrity and talent it takes to do this job should be respected by everyone. At the same time, emergency responders have an obligation to treat everyone with respect. Providing honorable, dedicated service to the community requires outstanding customer service in the fire service.

“We have to be sober and salient 24/7, but we only have to be nice eight times a day for 20 minutes at a time. That is mandatory. If you can’t do that, just stay in the truck. It’s about the added value. Mrs. Smith is going to remember how she felt because of the effort we make to connect.”
Alan Brunacini, Retired Chief of Phoenix Fire Department
The question is how does a training administrator instill this mindset in personnel who struggle with this concept?
Without question, some personnel will grow unhappy with the profession, the sacrifices they make, and the increasing workload. They may feel burnt out. But it’s critical every patient is treated as if they are on vacation. You read that right … vacation. Granted, emergency response is far from a day at the beach, but the need for first-rate customer service is just the same.
Retired Chief Alan Brunacini is an ardent believer in the importance of outstanding customer service in the fire service. He believes citizens will strongly remember the first two minutes and the last three minutes they spend with responders during emergencies. To encourage the right behavior, Brunacini says leaders need to treat personnel how they want them to treat the public.
To make sure your organization does everything it can to please customers, make sure the right type of people have been hired and have been trained on how critical this is to the success of the organization. Personnel need to be professional at all times. Remember, if citizens are treated well, it will pay dividends in the future when emergency services need public support.
Tips for Fire Department Training

How to Utilize Roll-Up Doors During Forcible Entry, Egress During Firefighting Operations

The commercial roll-up door operation is one of the most important tasks for forcible entry team members. As a progressive, proactive Rapid Intervention Crew company, commercial roll-up doors should be a primary entry/egress addressed on the RIC size-up. Yet, many firefighters nationwide fail to utilize this point of entry/egress because of misconceptions about the time and effort that is needed.
Commercial roll-up doors fall into four simple categories:
1. Rolling Steel
2. Sheet Curtain
3. Sectional
4. Slab
This article addresses the first two: Rolling Steel and Sheet Curtain. These are two of the most common commercial doors found on larger commercial and industrial occupancies nationwide.
Rolling Steel:
Rolling-Steel doors are some of the first commercial roll-up doors to be manufactured. They roll up into a drum above the doorway. The drum itself is a counter balanced device that is manually operated, or operated by a motor device with a manual override. These drums are attached to the upper ledge of the doorway and are extremely heavy. Special safety precautions should be taken based on the type of occupancies involved. Remember, an Un-reinforced Masonry Constructed or URM building will provide a weakened support system for heavy objects such as the commercial roll-up door.
The key to recognizing these types of doors is the design of the door itself. Rolling-Steel doors are interlocking single slats that are dependent upon one another to create a single-door system. Removal of one slat will eliminate the structural integrity of the door system in that area.
Illustrated in the following photos are the approach to removal of the slats to gain access to the interior of the structure through a Rolling-Steel door.
Cutting Steel Doors for Forcible Entry
The first cut starts approximately in the middle to two-thirds across the door face. The cut should be at head height. Utilization of enough blade on the rotary saw to cut through the skin of the door is sufficient. Burying the blade will reduce effectiveness, and reduce the number of doors opened without changing blades.
Proper Cutting of Steel Doors for Forcible Entry
The initial cut will continue down to the base of the door itself. Notice the effectiveness of the saw by minimizing the depth of the blade. The outside-man is utilizing only the amount of blade necessary to cut through the door skin. 
Forcible Entry Procedures
Once the initial cut is made the outside-man will grasp the door slats with a set of vice-grips, or channel locks to pull the door slats out of the door system. NOTE: On certain doors the slats are interlocked on the outside of the system. If you have difficulty pulling a slat, go to the slat above or below the initial slat pulled and try there. If you continue to have difficulty pulling the slats out of the door, make an additional cut in the face of the door furthest away from the initial cut. This will eliminate those locking devices.
Procedures for Forcible Entry
Once the top slats are removed, all slats located below them will fall out of the way and provide ample access to the interior of the structure. NOTE: Be aware that remaining sections of the door will at times roll up quickly into the containment drum located above the door way. The force of the door rolling up so quickly can lead to the drum dislodging from the wall, and falling downward toward working members. Be careful around weakened structures and URMs.
Sheet Curtain Doors:
Due to manufacturing, Sheet Curtain doors are the most widely used in today’s building standards. They are recognizable by the design.
The sheet curtain door is one solid piece of material without break in the face of the door. It rolls up into a counterbalanced drum located above the doorway, and is manually or motor operated. Unlike the Rolling-Steel door, the sheet curtain is more difficult to open, and will require additional cuts at the base of the door.
Firefighter Forcible Entry
The first cut is two-thirds to either side of the face of the door. Again, utilize only enough blade that is necessary to cut through the skin of the door. This cut will go to the bottom of the door.
Due to the design of most rotary saws, the bottom cord of angle iron that provides the base stability to the door will not be cut entirely through. The next cut, “The Tee-Pee” cut, will allow access to the bottom cord of the door.
A large enough “Tee-Pee” must be made to allow the entire body of the saw to operate and cut through the bottom cord of the door.
The “Tee-Pee” is pulled outward to allow access to the bottom cord of the door. Depending upon door manufacturing, this bottom cord can either be a substantial piece of angle iron, or a rather minimal piece of aluminum angle brace. Either way, the bottom cord must be cut through to allow the door to be opened effectively. 
The final cut is the lateral or face cut that goes from the opposite side of the door to the initial cut within the face of the door. Notice the position of the saw – the cutting operations are going away from the face, and eyes of the firefighter.
Once this cut is established, the door can be opened by pulling outward on the door structure to allow for rapid access and egress into the structure.
NOTE: One final cut may have to be made as a small portion of the door may be hidden in the track. Once this cut is made the door can roll-up into the drum quickly. Be careful.
If you have any questions about commercial roll-up doors, you can reach Hadfield online at
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

Two Steps for Strategizing What Training Comes Next

Strategizing Future Firefighter Training
Editor’s Note: This is the second tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.
As a training officer, you have probably lost your share of sleep over what to train on next. You know what is at stake — but how can you be sure you are investing your limited resources in the right places at the right level?
After all, your team needs to be well rounded — from ventilation, to high-rise operations, to medical response, and everything else.
Here are two simple steps to help you in your planning process for future firefighter training:
Conduct a ‘needs assessment’ to determine your members’ training needs vs. training wants

Look to the past for training lessons — the past will predict the future
Step No. 1: It is important to make sure you provide the right balance of training at the right frequency on the right topics. Conducting a “needs assessment” will help determine what type of training personnel want vs. what they need. Your goal is to provide training that makes a difference in personnel’s overall performance. One topic might be challenging for one person, but refresher material for another. That’s why an assessment can help lead to training that is comprehensive and appropriate for all levels on your staff.
Step No. 2: It is a safe bet that whatever incidents happened in the past, will happen again in the future. This doesn’t mean the exact same accident or fire will happen at the exact same place — but odds are something similar will happen again. Keeping records of previous incidents can help you make training decisions in the future. When emergencies strike, first responders’ skills come to light, as do their deficiencies. Post-incident reports, which can be tracked and delivered with TargetSolutions, give great insight into upcoming training opportunities.

How Independent Actions Can Negatively Impact Situational Awareness

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, CFO, EFO, Fire Chief (ret.)
For some public safety agencies, it is standard practice for personnel on first alarm assignments to arrive and deploy independently – meaning without any one person designated to coordinate the activities or timing of tasks. Oftentimes these responders are highly trained, highly motivated and action oriented. What they are lacking is coordination of their efforts.
SOP for First-Arriving Personnel
It’s important for departments to have a set SOP for first-arriving personnel at incidents. It makes sense to have a supervisor assume the role of coordinator for other incoming personnel.
It is unrealistic to think a dozen, or more individuals could arrive at varied times at an incident and each make exactly the same assessment of the situation/conditions and know, absent a centrally located commander, what every other team member is thinking and doing. Can you see how this spells trouble?
Even professional football teams, who practice their plays repeatedly, have the benefit of someone coordinating their actions on the field. Imagine the impact if a football team had no one calling the plays. The team might stumble into success on occasion, but the propensity for error, simply because the players lack a shared understanding and a centralized coordinator, is guaranteed. So it is on an emergency scene, as well.
Someone has to keep a view of the big picture right from the beginning and coordinate the actions of incoming personnel. Otherwise, the incident may degrade as the independent, uncoordinated actions of responders fail to achieve a common goal.
A Solution to the Issue
Develop a standard operating guideline/policy that requires the first-arriving supervisor to assume the position as the person in charge and have that person maintain a “big picture” view of the incident. Allow some variation for imminent rescue situations. This person then becomes the coordinator of other incoming personnel. If they are a junior supervisor, they can be relieved of their command on the arrival of a more senior command-level officer.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and the human factors that complicate first responder decision making. 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 brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website, Situational Awareness Matters ( welcomes 50,000 visitors a month from 156 countries. He can be reached via e-mail at

Safety Should Always Come First for Firefighters. Train That Way.

Editor’s Note: This is the first tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.
Tips for Firefighter Safety
The fire service has evolved over the last few centuries, but one thing remains constant — brave firefighters continue to risk their lives to protect others. So when it comes to training, the ultimate goal is to give personnel the skills they need to do the job as safely as possible. Of course, you already know that — the question is how do you do it effectively? What areas do you focus on? Here are four tips for firefighter safety to educate your firefighters that can make a huge difference in their well being at the end of the day.


Records Management System
It’s critical to create policies or SOGs that mandate training on key safety precautions like airway management, the utilization of seat belts during emergencies, and physical fitness milestones. With TargetSolutions you can create those policies, deliver them online, and track the results electronically. You’ll sleep better knowing your members have acknowledged what is required to stay safe.
Online Training System
TargetSolutions features the industry’s most robust online training library, including more than 60 hours of valuable NFPA content. One of those courses is NFPA 1403 Live Fire Training Evolutions. This particular course reviews live-burn evolutions and emphasizes the importance of safety and compliance with state regulations, NFPA standards, and local policies established to maintain training effectiveness without compromising safety. In fact, TargetSolutions entire catalog is stuffed with training built to keep personnel safe.
Please click here to see TargetSolutions’ course catalog for emergency responders.
>> According to a study completed by the NFPA, more than 30 percent of firefighters killed since 1990 died from smoke inhalation after running out of air and becoming lost inside a structure fire. Airway management is vital during fire suppression, so it is important to teach personnel to understand their own “rate of consumption” while using SCBA gear.
>> Speaking of SCBA, how often do members race to an emergency without their seat belt? This happens despite the fact the greatest likelihood of a vehicle collision is while responding to an incident. In fact, from 1996-2007, the U.S. Fire Administration reports vehicle collisions claimed 257 firefighters lives and another 53 died after being struck by a vehicle. That’s nearly 25 percent of all firefighter fatalities during that period. Emergency responders can’t help anyone if they are struck by an oncoming vehicle. A recommended solution is parking the truck in position to block the scene from oncoming traffic. Wearing a vest and using flares, cones and warning signs are also effective.
>> Live-fire training is critical to performance, but the majority of training deaths happen during these essential exercises. NFPA 1403: Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions was established following several instances where firefighters lost their lives during training. By educating personnel to this standard, firefighters will have information they need to conduct live fire training in a safe manner.
>> You’ve heard it before — high blood pressure is the fire service’s “silent killer.” It’s no joke that 70 million Americans suffer from hypertension and members of the fire service are especially vulnerable. The United States Fire Administration has reported 44 percent of all firefighter deaths come from heart attacks. The first step to combat this silent killer is identifying it through regular checkups.
Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew
1. Safety Should Always Come First. Train That Way.
2. Two Steps for Strategizing What Training Comes Next.
3. Train Your Crew to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service.
4. Implement Online Training, Watch Your Department Thrive.
5. The ABCs of Training: Always Be Creative.
6. Utilize Pre-Incident Plans During Teamwork Exercises.
7. Comprehensive Training Records Don’t Just Happen.
8. Situational Awareness Is a Trainable Skill.

How Fatigue Impacts Your Emergency Responders’ Situational Awareness

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, CFO, EFO, Fire Chief (ret.)

Numerous research studies have demonstrated fatigue and sleep deprivation can impact your situational awareness in disturbing ways. Some responders think that by taking a “safety nap” their mental clarity will be sustained. In a small way, it may help, as any rest is better than no rest. However, you cannot rely, chronically, on small increments of sleep to provide the benefits that a full sleep cycle provides, which is about eight hours for the average person.

Fatigue Can Impact Situational Awareness
Research shows responders working long hours need opportunities to rest their brains to operate most effectively.
Naps can be powerfully restorative, but do not resolve issues with systemic fatigue and sleep deprivation. Rest is a critical component to brain function and when there is not an adequate resting period or disrupted sleep cycles the impact is real and measurable.
Some scientists have described the behavior of research participants suffering from sleep deprivation as displaying similar cognitive and motor skills as a person who is intoxicated. When you think about the critical nature of first responder situational awareness and its role in decision making, you quickly realize fatigue can have catastrophic consequences.
The work schedule of public safety providers is not conducive to adequate rest. Twenty-four hour shifts in organizations that are busy service providers can present some real challenges to situational awareness, decision making, critical thinking and problem solving abilities. I have talked, informally, with many EMS providers who have fully admitted to me the quality of their patient care, as well as the speed and accuracy of their decision making, diminishes after working long shifts. In some agencies, providers work 48 consecutive hours and they do so in busy agencies where the call volume prohibits adequate resting periods.
Many responders believe if they feel physically rested they are, concurrently, mentally rested. In reality, when the physical body is resting, the brain is not resting at all. In fact, the brain is surprisingly active while the body rests, suggesting the body rests so the brain may have access to the extra glucose (energy) to do its heavy lifting.
And what is the brain doing while you sleep? Findings in neuroscience suggest the brain is sorting through all the data and experiences from the previous waking period, storing and cataloging the events for future use. After the storing and cataloging is complete, the brain clears the proverbial slate for the next waking period where new experiences can be gathered and the process starts all over again.
While you are sleeping, your brain can also continue to work on problems that may have perplexed you during your previous waking period. This has led to the sage advice that when you have to make an important decision, you should first sleep on it. There is scientific evidence to support this notion. Research participants given complex problems before they go to sleep often produce more accurate solutions after a good night’s sleep. Conversely, participants who have their sleep patterns interrupted, produce lower test scores. Thus, fatigue and sleep deprivation cannot only impact short-term performance and memory, it can also impact long-term memory and recall.
Responders who work long hours should be provided with opportunities to rest their brains. It’s not a matter of being lazy as some elected or appointed administrators may critically suggest. It’s a matter of personal safety and improving brain function, critical thinking, problem solving, situational awareness and decision making.

Dr. GasawayAbout the Author

Dr. Gasaway is widely considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and the human factors that complicate first responder decision making. 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 brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website, Situational Awareness Matters ( welcomes 50,000 visitors a month from 156 countries. He can be reached via e-mail at

Pumpkins and the Uncompromising Truth for Firefighters

Uncompromising Truth for Firefighters

Blog by Peter Dove
Shared Values Associates

Have you ever been in a situation where you see behavior within the organization that is not right and something really ought to be said … but by whom? While homicide is extremely rare in the workplace, people have been killed for telling the uncompromising truth since the time of Christ and before.

What happened to the last guy who told the boss which cow ate what cabbage? In the workplace, it is usually perceived as unsafe to speak out, but what is the alternative?

There comes an opportunity for all of us – a moment of truth – to take a stand and say it, and most of the time it is the little things: She didn’t bring back the stapler – again. He needs a breath freshener. She shouldn’t have taken that tone in front of us all. He needs to think more about us and less about himself.

Sometimes it is the big things. Rather than tell the uncompromising truth, David Duncan of Arthur Anderson shredded documents for Enron. John Manville, Inc. knew about the lung-crunching of Asbestos in the 1930s, yet said nothing. David Myers knew about the fraud of reclassifying expenses at WorldCom in 2002. More recently, GM knew about the faulty ignition switches for at least 10 years, but senior managers said nothing and people died as a result. Mary Barra, now CEO, has stepped up to the plate and is doing what she can to make things right.

The funny thing about the people who perpetrated the lies is that generally speaking, they were honest people. David Duncan graduated high school with honors, was a church-going family man. David Myers also graduated with honors, was a family man with a conscience and was deeply disturbed about his misdeeds to the point of attempted suicide. Why do good people do cowardly, dishonest things that harm others?

The Pumpkin Story
There is an interesting story told by a dear, late friend and author, Lou Tice. He was at the Washington State Fair, an institution here in Western Washington held every September. It seems that in the Most Unusual Vegetable category, the blue ribbon was awarded for a pumpkin that looked not a little, but exactly like a jug. When the judges asked how the farmer managed to grow such a squash he answered, “That was easy. I just planted a pumpkin seed inside of a jug, let it grow, broke the jug when the pumpkin couldn’t get any bigger and brought it to the fair.”

The culture you work in is the jug, and you are the pumpkin. The jug is the context and people, both good and bad tend to conform to the organizational context, just like Duncan and Myers. Guess what the context was like among the senior team at Enron and WorldCom – arrogant and dishonest.  So, heretofore honest, upright people tend toward conforming to that jug. It happens all the time.

The good news is jugs are not good or bad, and you get to make the jug. How? The answer is through shared values and one of those values is telling the uncompromising truth. People deserve the truth, and when they haven’t received it, they feel betrayed and disempowered. An important teacher of mine, the late Stephen Covey said, “Unexpressed feelings are buried alive and come back later in ugly ways.”

As you read this article, picture a conversation with your workgroup about getting into agreement using these suggested guidelines. We’ve been using them successfully with companies for more than 20 years, maybe they will work for you as well.

Treat Others with the Uncompromising Truth
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 intending to hurt 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?

Proactively creating the work environment context means dedicating a conversation(s) among your workmates to gain agreement about behavior up front. There is much power in agreement. Create a covenant, a sort of contract, a meeting of the minds beforehand. Then, when a situation arises, which I personally guarantee it will, you and everyone else in your work environment are prepared.

You have a way to go, a principle centered method of how we are going to be with each other. When the moment of truth arises, tell the other person what you are doing. This reminder helps both of you get through a difficult conversation.

Please keep in mind that this covenant you are creating with your people is a process and a long conversation. It requires courage, character, patience and resolve. It’s risky and not something all of you will agree to as evinced by behavior. Nor will you accomplish this mutual understanding by next Tuesday, or even next month, but you may by next year.

You will find this or any other guideline difficult to establish because the uncompromising truth for firefighters will be tested perhaps daily, but testing is the only way it gets stronger. One thing is sure – you can’t build the jug you want without the truth. Though difficult to imbue, once this value has been institutionalized, it is very hard to kill off and know this … the truth will set you free.

  • Lasting Change by Rob Lebow, pp 64-69

About the Author
Peter Dove, is president of Shared Values Associates, a firm dedicated to corporate culture design. Learn more about Peter Dove at


Webbing Technique: Staying in Contact with the Hose Line While Searching

Blog by Jason Hoevelmann 
Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with Sullivan Fire Protection District
Firefighters carry webbing for many reasons, including:
  • To search a large area
  • As a harness for themselves and other firefighters during rescue
  • To carry tools and saws

All of these situations, and others not listed, are appropriate and important. This article will focus on staying in contact with the hose line while using a length of webbing to search.

The typical length of webbing is between 20 and 30 feet. In most cases, these are tied into a loop using a water knot. This makes for more versatile webbing and eliminates the difficulty of tying the knot while in low visibility conditions with gloves on. However, everyone needs to be able to tie simple knots and hitches in poor conditions with gloves on.
In most areas of the country, the first-attack line simultaneously searches for fire and victims. Resources usually are not available to do separate functions and doing both is the most efficient use of manpower. One problem is when in large buildings with large rooms, searching with the line can be cumbersome. Using the webbing is a fast and safe way to search off of line without losing your contact with the line.
The simplest way to do this is to tie a girth hitch around the hose line with the already looped webbing about 10 feet behind the nozzle firefighter. This is an easy hitch to tie and untie and can be loosened to move up and down the line.
Before you fan out across the room, wrap the webbing about four times around your contact arm and move toward the nozzle firefighter and then fan out off of the line holding onto the webbing until your back on the line. Unwrap the rest of the webbing and fan out again performing your search. You can continue this method as you advance the line.
In addition to the fan method, you can search cubicles and other confusing floor plans using this method. The webbing gives you a direct line back to the hose line and keeps you from getting out of voice contact with your partner.
Remember, these methods must be trained on and practiced. Follow your department’s guidelines and policy. Stay safe.
About the Author
Jason Hoevelmann is a Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department. Hoevelmann is also a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County. His experience spans more than 20 years and he has been an instructor for more than 15 years.
* This blog was originally published by TargetSolutions in July of 2011