Training and Discussions

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Slow Down the Game: Get your head on straight before you put your gear on…

Dave LeBlanc writes about “getting your head on straight first, before getting your gear on.” Dave is a Lieutenant at Harwich FD in Massachusetts and a Fire Blogger at a View from the Front Seat.

For you baseball fans out there, you may recognize this phrase. Usually it is used in discussion about a player that has been struggling and the team has been working with him to slow the game down, so they are better prepared and better able to react. As with many ideas and practices from Major League sports, there are applications in the fire service. This is another case of us being smart enough to learn from others.

At Backstep Firefighter and The Front Seat, we often use “expect fire” when discussing various incidents and how the firefighters responded and reacted to the situation they found. The “expect fire” concept has to do with a mindset, a mental preparation that involves treating each run like it will be a fire, so that when you arrive and it is a fire you are not surprised. Seems simple right? Unfortunately it is an area that we don’t always handle well. There are constantly cases of firefighters arriving at scenes and looking like the carpenter with one foot nailed to the floor, spinning around in circles and accomplishing nothing. Expect fire means that you respond with your gear on, your mind is ready and expecting to go to a fire, you are physically ready to go to a fire.

Imagine arriving at 2:00 a.m. to heavy fire showing, and because you “thought it was a BS run” you weren’t dressed and ready to go. No biggie, right? You can get dressed in seconds. Except when the rig stops, the father of three is standing in the street screaming that his kids are inside. Now you are trying to get dressed while your “customer” is impatiently expecting you to go save his family. How fast can you get dressed under those circumstances? How good of a size up are you performing while you trying and get your arm in your sleeve for the third time while your heart rate hits 130.

Read the entire post here:


Are We Missing the Target? by Dave LeBlanc

Earlier this year, we introduced firefighter and fire blogger, Dave LaBlanc. This excerpt is from his most recent post on whether or not  fire service has shifted too far from basics to last chance training. Dave appreciates opinions and discussions, so please click through to his blog and share your thoughts.

For those of you that follow the news and happenings of the fire service, you may have noticed an increase in the number of bailouts reported. Now certainly some of this is a result of the media figuring out that a firefighter bailing out isn’t a normal occurrence, so as one outlet begins reporting it, others follow suit. But it begs the question, why? Why are so many of our brothers bailing out? Have that many incidents occurred where things have gone that wrong?

This year’s Safety Stand Down had the following theme: Surviving the Fire Ground: Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness. Now that is a great topic, and certainly one that should be a part of every firefighter and every officer’s training. Knowing what to do when you get in trouble certainly goes a long way toward saving firefighter lives. But what about preventing our members from getting in trouble in the first place? Is that something that we focus enough on?

How many hours did you spend on fire behavior this year? Two, five, ten? How many more did you spend on building construction? Until we understand our enemy, the fire and the building we operate in, how can we expect not to get in trouble? Until we understand what the environment we work in feels like through our PPE, how we can expect our firefighters not to go in too far. Until we address the need for an awareness of the hazards of the situations we operate in, how can we expect our firefighters and officers to make good decisions?

John Norman writes that a firefighter should never put themselves in a position where they have to rely on someone else to get out. Think about that one simple statement. It covers a lot of territory. As firefighters we must constantly evaluate where we are operating, what the conditions are, and what our way out is. We need to do this while trying to accomplish our goals for that particular fire.

Read this entire blog post and share your thoughts here:

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MRSA Found in Fire Houses and on Medic Trucks

A recent study of Seattle-area firehouses by University of Washington researchers found that the stubborn MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to severe infections, can be transmitted by fire station personnel. MRSA is associated with approximately 19,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because fire personnel interact with both hospitals and the population in general, the MRSA bacteria can be carried between the two.

The study, published in the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, indicates that the MRSA bacteria is found most “in the medic trucks, kitchens, and other areas such as computer keyboards and computer desks.” Medic trucks were the most common area.

Researchers aimed to determine whether the MRSA strains were related to hospital or community strains. Their conclusion: both types can contaminate fire station surfaces.

As a result of this study, the Emergency Management and Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center has provided a list of recommendations to protect responding personnel from a potentially serious or life-threatening infection.

What to Do:

  1. Utilize cleaning agents correctly.
  2. Filter air in stations.
  3. Confine turnout gear to work areas.
  4. Reduce the risk of carrying MRSA home by leaving station wear at the station and wash after use.
  5. Install disinfectant hand gel dispensers at key points between bays and the station. Or install sinks in apparatus bays.
  6. Have 9-1-1 dispatchers ask if anyone has flu-like symptoms, then wear masks, goggles and gloves when entering a home.
  7. Replace cloth surfaces with hard surfaces wherever possible.
  8. Do not share hand towels.

For a complete list of suggestions: