Firefighter Training

Pushing Fire Revisited

In my opinion the topic of “Pushing fire with water” is the single greatest piece of fire attack research which has been communicated poorly or misunderstood. UL is elaborating greatly and providing much better context/more clearly stated material for us to understand the early studies. If you have heard the phrase “you can’t push fire with water” don’t stop at this result or statement. There is much more to the story.

 

Do not take a snippet of information and tailor your training programs to provide the “latest fire attack research and recommendations”. Firefighters have a habit of taking research results (from multiple disciplines) and applying them to training exercises without context. That being said UL is also to blame for this miscommunication. Firefighters typically do not separate their discussions of water application and air entrainment during training. For many firefighters these are one in the same. Even though different patterns yield different results, some create more air entrainment and others much mess, there is no on/off switch to turn the air off at the nozzle.


Firefighters need to understand context, they need to understand the background and significance of these research projects. Reading the first and last paragraph of a 100 page research paper doesn’t provide you with a good foundation. It gives you results without context. To communicate as an instructor you need context and to translate that information into training and drills you need to understand the background and significance of these processes. Without context your drill becomes a training exercise prepped to fail. Adult learning typically happens in phases. 1. Rite, 2. Understanding, 3. Application, and 4. Correlation. Students participating in a drill need to get to the application phase and instructors need to live in the correlation phase. At the beginning of basic training we learn through Rite or memorization. We don’t quite grasp where or why and we have a hard time applying the skills during the initial phases of training. Once a student understands the skills we can apply those skills which provides a much better outcome. Skipping steps will only lead to confusion in the training process. Aaron Fields and I had a discussion one time and he provided me with a great teaching tool. He said, “If you have a student that says [I don’t see where this fits] you have missed the application phase of learning.” The student doesn’t understand how to apply the skill.


Lastly, just because you read it, watch it, or listen to it doesn’t mean it isn’t flawed. Research projects are very difficult to construct without some flaws. Most applied research projects literally have a section in the paper which explains the problems or flaws that might’ve occurred during the process. Make your drills purposeful, give them context, and your crews will perform at a much higher level. Follow the link below to understand this topic in much more detail. 

 

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Training at the Crossroads | HIGHLIGHT VIDEO

We had a great time in Corinth, MS at the 2019 Training at the Crossroads. I teamed up with the guys from Dixie Firemanship to deliver an Engine Ops course over the weekend. The event provided Engine Ops Training, Truck Ops Training, and even Hazardous Materials Training. We had a great group of attendees and I hope to see everyone again. If you’re interested in hosting an event yourself fell free to contact me or the guys at Dixie Firemanship to schedule the next Engine and Truck Ops training event.

Training at the Crossroads

For those of you that have signed up for the “Training at the Crossroads” event, get ready for some great training. The Corinth Fire Department in conjunction with Dixie Firemanship will be hosting the event in Corinth, MS on March 15-17th. I will be attending this event and also joining in on the Engine Ops Track as an instructor.

The weekend rundown is listed below:

Friday 3/15

- Lunch is on your own.
- Dinner is provided to you at the Corinth Elks Lodge locates at 1521 Robertson Drive, Corinth, MS starting at 1800hrs.

Saturday 3/16 and Sunday 3/17:

  • Check in starts at 0800hrs at the Corinth Fire Department Training Field locates at 5 Manpower Rd, Corinth, MS (Across from the college).

  • Fire Track needs Structural Firefighting Gear and SCBA with at least 1 spare bottle is required for both Saturday and Sunday.

  • Hazmat Track need SCBA and at least 1 spare bottle for both Saturday and Sunday.

- Lunch is provided both days
- Dinner will be provided Saturday night at Smiths Downtown located at 603 N. Fillmore, Corinth, MS starting at 1800hrs.

For those that still need lodging, contact the Hampton Inn Corinth directly at (662) 286-5949 and let them know you’re with The Training at The Crossroads event.

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Heat Release Rate vs. Temperature

A topic I discuss very often in classes is the difference between Heat Release Rate and Temperature. This is a fundamental concept all firefighters need to understand in order to make sound decisions on the fireground. We all seem to grasp the reference of temperature very quickly because of how much we rely on temperatures in daily life. However, a candle on fire and a room on fire are two completely different things even if they are burning at the same temperature. The video above offers a very good introduction to the basics of heat release rate and temperature. This video is produced by the Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) and they have many more videos and resources available for you to learn about fire research and science. You can click here to visit the FSRI website or you can click here to visit their YouTube Channel.

5 Fundamental Plays for the Engine Company

Early in my career the fire scene felt like a chaotic place. Every fire looked different and offered unique challenges. As I developed more skills and learned more about incident management and fire attack concepts I realized that the vast majority of the fires we respond to are much more similar than they are different. In order to more effectively evaluate the engine company and the types of attacks we perform let us take a look at 5 fundamental plays for the Engine Company. 

1. The Pre-Connected Attack

The Pre-Connected Attack is the most used line on our Engines. This line is a predetermined length and size hose-line that is connected to a discharge. Most of the time these lines are setup for your department's most common occupancy types. The most common pre-connected attack line I see is the 200' 1.75" hand-line. The pre-connected attack line offers many advantages including a predetermined flow requirement and length. The pre-connected line provides firefighters with a quick solution for the majority of fires they will fight. However, the pre-connected line can also develop bad habits. Many firefighters pull the pre-connect on every fire regardless if the fire is large or more complex.

2. The Extended Attack

The extended attack is something every engine should have the ability to perform. In the simplest form, the extended attack is simply for attacking fires that are out of reach of your pre-connected lines. The extended attack is very good for long set-backs, apartment complexes, narrow alleys, and providing you with a flexible solution for a multitude of fires. 

3. The Big Line

The big line is for fires with heavier fire loads. This style of attack comes typically in the form of a 2.5" hand-line. This attack method increases the flow rate for fires with more energy.

4. The Blitz Attack

A blitz attack can be defined in two different ways. In some parts of the country a blitz attack would be a 2.5" hand-line but in others it may be a rapid attack style monitor. Regardless of the tool used, this method is designed to "Blitz" a fire with a lot of water during the initial stages of fire attack. Many crews will perform a blitz attack with larger lines and then transition to smaller attack lines like the 1.75".

5. The Master Stream Attack

Often viewed as a defensive operation, the master stream attack is for throwing a lot of water at a fire very quickly. This method of fire attack works really well for building that have a detached section with heavy fire. For example, a detached garage may produce a tremendous amount of heat energy that a smaller attack line simply cannot handle. A master stream can flow around 500 gallons of water at a fire in only 30 seconds. This can knock down a lot of heat energy for you to transition to your smaller attack lines. Detroit performs this attack method very often and they refer to it as "dumping the monitor". 

 

Take a look at the video and evaluate your ability as an engine company to perform these styles of fire attack. This is a great time to sit with your crew and discuss your ability to perform these plays.