matt hinkle

Disaster Management for the Company Officer


Disaster management can be extremely challenging for the company officer. Unfortunately I have seen my share of disasters while deploying on 5 different tornadoes responses. Early on I realized that middle management becomes a very difficult place to work because of the sheer magnitude of many of these disasters. I learned a tip awhile back that really helps with lining out the responsibilities of each crew member so that we fall in line with the National Incident Management System. When you find yourself in a disaster management situation ask yourself these questions.

What's my job?

This is the first question you should ask in order to define your role in the response.

Who do I work for?

It is very important to define who you work for or who you should report to throughout the operation. This will help disseminate information through the proper channels and reduce the duplication of effort.

Who works for me?

Things will move quickly during the initial stages of a disaster operation. Find out who will be working under you to make sure you have the ability to perform personnel accountability reports and can effectively manage those assigned to work with you.

Where do I get my stuff?

Your assignment can vary greatly and each response may require equipment that is not readily available. You need to find out where to retrieve specialized equipment and how to request additional equipment.

How long do I have?

Defining your operational period will help you understand the time incident command staff believe you should be finished with your assignment. You need to report your status through the proper chain of command and if additional time is needed let your supervisor know what is going on.

In the video below I discuss these topics and how to use the above 5 questions to help you get organized during a disaster response.

Bernoulli's Principle Applied to Firefighting | Box Alarm Training


Bernoulli's Principle is not the first thing that comes to our minds when discussing firefighting tactics. However, it directly affects many of our operations. In fire behavior courses we learn about how fire will travel from areas of high pressure to areas of lower pressure. This is the basis of understanding how ventilation and flow paths work. Before we discuss Bernoulli's Principle and how it applies to our tactics let's look at a couple of fireground operations that are affected by Bernoulli's Principle.

Traditional Ventilation

You were probably taught that ventilation was the systematic removal of hot gases, smoke, etc.  This definition led to a general misunderstanding of what ventilation actually does inside of a structure. Discussions in classes often communicated that ventilation cools things down and makes our operations easier. The discussion deserves a little more time in order to clarify. Modern fires are generally limited by ventilation and not fuel. This means that when we ventilate things actually heat up, they do not cool down. However, traditional ventilation still offers many advantages, like controlling the flow path or creating lift from low areas. These are often huge topics presented by firefighters because lifting gases can increase victim survivability.  In general when we ventilate a structure we are creating an area of low pressure for the fire to travel to and exit. When we break a window typically the fire will move toward the window you just broke. However, if the window is broken revealing a higher pressure area outside, such as a wind driven fire, you will be opening a new inlet for air to move into the structure. This can cause the fire to travel to another outlet and in many cases creates a very dangerous environment for crews working inside of the structure.

Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPA)

Positive Pressure Ventilation attempts to create a significantly higher pressure area inside the structure than outside of the structure. This will force fire and gases out of the structure as they seek areas of lower pressure. This can also create problems by forcefully pushing gases and fire into void spaces that are difficult to detect. Many departments all over the United States use positive pressure successfully but these departments also understand some of the concerns with using positive pressure. Once a fire leaves a confined area, such as a bedroom, positive pressure can create a chase for the fire attack team. The fire will rapidly seek low pressure and can outrun an interior fire attack crew very quickly.

Nozzle Operations

When we use our nozzle we are not only flowing water, we are flowing air. This air can create areas of higher pressure just like positive pressure fans and cause fire to travel towards areas of lower pressure. A nozzle can very quickly over pressurize a room causing the exhaust to push back on the fire attack team.

Bernoulli's Principle

Bernoulli's Principle states "an increase in the velocity of a stream of fluid results in a decrease in pressure". Water flowing from a nozzle will create an area of low pressure and draw even more air into the area you are directing the stream. This is significant when fighting fires in under ventilated spaces or flowing water into a structure from the exterior.

In the video below we will discuss Bernoulli's Principle and how it relates to fire attack concepts.

Drones for the Fire Service | Part 2 and 3 | Getting Started


Drones are growing increasingly popular as tools for firefighters and emergency responders. Getting started into drone operations can be very difficult without the guidance of someone who knows the process. This new technology grabs the attention of many of us in the field and we immediately see all the ways we could start using them. However, within a couple hours of shopping for the latest and greatest drone, our dreams are shattered by rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). I have personally experienced these processes and I believe I can help you move in the right direction. My initial reactions to the FAA rules and regulations were negative. I had a hard time understanding how a kid could receive a drone as a birthday present and fly it that afternoon but we couldn't perform search and rescue operations with the exact same drone. While I still have my opinions about certain operations, I understand why the FAA created these regulations and how important they are in order to integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

In the two videos below I will cover the two primary routes to take when establishing a fire service drone program. These two routes both allow you to fly for many emergency operations and each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. The first is Part 107 which is the commercial drone operations certificate. This certificate allows you to perform many different operations but requires you to take and pass the Part 107 exam. The second method is to apply for a Public Certificate of Authorization (COA) which will allow your fire department to operate a drone for public operations.

Part 107 Getting Started

Public COA Getting Started

Introduction to Drone Operations


Drone operations have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years for firefighters and emergency responders. They offer tremendous value for search and rescue operations, hazardous materials responses, and even structural firefighting. In this Introduction to Drone Operations we will go over the three primary categories of flying a drone. These categories are provided by the FAA and define the flight you will be conducting. We will also go over the registration process so you can get your drone properly registered.

Categories of Flight

In order to conduct drone operations you need to define your flight operations. The most common categories of flights for drones are listed below:

  • Recreational
  • Commercial
  • Public

In the video below we explain these categories of flight and how they are defined.

Register Your Drone

Any drone that is between .55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. If you are considering performing commercial operations or public operations you must register the drone as a commercial drone. You cannot commercially or publicly operate a drone with a recreational registration number. I explain more in the video below. You can CLICK HERE to go to the registration site for your drone.

Determining Flow Through Nozzle Reaction


Determining Flow Through Nozzle Reaction

Recently I completed my first year of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. If you are unfamiliar with the EFO program you must submit an Applied Research Project (ARP) for each year during the process. I wanted my ARP to identify a unique problem that really hasn't been discussed much in order to provide the fire service with some new information regarding the way we train firefighters to operate the nozzle during interior fire attack operations.

During my time as a firefighter and instructor I have noticed very few firefighters actually pay attention to the amount of water they are delivering at the nozzle. They just take it for granted that the water leaving the nozzle is what it is "supposed to be". During early stages of Driver Operator training we learn about friction loss and proper pump discharge pressure in order to achieve the proper nozzle pressure which in turn delivers the target flow we need. However, no one really discusses what happens at the nozzle and whether or not the firefighter can actually feel the difference in flow to know if something isn't operating correctly. We tend to look at nozzle reaction as a theoretical math problem instead of a tool we could use to identify problems that occur on the fire-ground.

The first step involved in this research process was to determine if there actually is a problem. A problem with curriculum, training, or even drills that have left the firefighter unprepared. My first ARP was to identify this problem so that in subsequent ARPs I could address solutions to this problem. However, I have tested some solutions and we are already seeing a trend which I believe can better prepare interior firefighters.

In the first ARP I tested an NFPA 1001-I-II class in their final week of training to see if they were able to identify critical reductions in flow. The results showed that 46% of the students were unable to detect a 25% reduction in flow using nozzle reaction. This test reduced a 125gpm @ 100psi nozzle by 25% simulating a 180 degree kink which could occur on the fire-ground. This 25% reduction drops the flow of the nozzle to around 94gpm which is below the recommended flow rate in NFPA 1710.

I believe my results show that we could do more to train firefighters working on the nozzle to identify potential problems. That being said we performed the same test to a group of students that just finished a week long advanced Engine Company Operations course and we found that 90% of our students detected a 10% reduction in flow. These firefighters received training in several nozzle operation techniques and performed a very high number of repetitions throughout their week of training. The feedback we received from the course was very positive and the firefighters that participated felt like they truly refined their skill sets.

I have provided a short video discussing these results and some recommendations I have for training your firefighters to identify critical reductions in flow. If you would like to read the full ARP you can CLICK HERE to read all of the details.

Nozzle Air Entrainment - Video Series


Today we have released the beginning of a 7 part video series on Nozzle Air Entrainment. These videos will walk through some of the basic concepts of nozzle air entrainment and how you can deliver some hands-on practical drills demonstrating air entrainment with various nozzle types. We will release all of these videos over the next few weeks so keep an eye out as we move along. You will see below Test 1 and 2 which will begin our video series.


Test 1 is an exterior attack through a window using a fog nozzle. We will begin the attack with a straight stream directed at the ceiling and then move the pattern through 30 degrees and towards full fog. You will see a drastic increase in air entrainment as we change the pattern of the nozzle. This fog nozzle was flowing 125 GPM at 100 psi nozzle pressure.

Test 2

Test 2 is the same test but we are using a 7/8" smoothbore nozzle. You will see a decrease in the air entrainment even with the increase in flow. This 7/8" tip was flowing 160 GPM at 50 psi nozzle pressure.

You will see several more of these tests coming out over the next few weeks. The next tests include interior attacks both ventilated and non ventilated.

If you would like to view all of the videos in the video series you can see them below in our playlist:

Entire Nozzle Air Entrainment Playlist

Iron Fox Axe - Product Review


Check out our latest product review of the Iron Fox Axe. This axe has caught the attention of many especially with it's "battle axe" look. Once you look past the aggressive aesthetics you will find several nice features. If you would like more info about the Iron Fox Axe take a look at their website:

Firefighter Combat Challenge Video


We had a great time filming the Firefighter Combat Challenge Video over the weekend. Thanks to Dr. Paul Davis and Mike Word (The Voice of the Combat Challenge) for arranging a video for us to shoot. My brother Josh Hinkle and I were able to shoot all weekend and we are working on producing a few videos from the event. Here is the first one, The Highlight Reel!

Why are we here?


Pierce TruckAs “one of those firefighter Social Media pages” I feel like I should share with all of you why Box Alarm Training even exists. It is pretty amazing to see the sheer volume of Facebook pages now dedicated to firefighting, training, and overall firemanship. I know things can become very cloudy and hard to sort through with this infinitely larger network of firefighter social media. Let me start by saying I believe the vast majority of the members in this network are doing amazing things. They are creating so many opportunities and opening the line of communication to share ideas, research and tradition. So, why are we here? I know it sounds cliche but I grew up with a desire to become a firefighter. You can ask anyone that knew me when I was a kid, my dream never grew out of me. When I graduated high school I knew I wanted to join a volunteer department and I found an incredible department in Oxford, MS while attending Ole Miss “THE University of Mississippi”. I was a member of the Ole Miss Rebel football team and had some incredible opportunities to meet with amazing athletes and leaders including; Eli Manning, David Cutcliffe, Hugh Freeze, Robert Kayat, Jason Cook, Mike Espy, Michael Oher and many more. I learned a lot of life lessons while at Ole Miss and one simple phrase that Head Coach David Cutcliffe used to say on a daily basis was “leave this place better than you found it”. I continue to believe that our mission in the fire service is to leave this place better than we found it.

Leather Fire HelmetIn 2010 I created a YouTube channel with the idea of shooting some simple training videos to help out some local volunteer departments that needed more training resources and couldn’t afford some $1,000 dvd package… So, I shot a few videos and before I knew it I was receiving messages from all over the world asking for more. It completely blew my mind and to this day I am amazed at the ability for some form of technology to change the way generations learn about firemanship. The absolute number one goal of Box Alarm Training is to provide training resources to all firefighters regardless of their budget, level of experience, or whether they are career or volunteer. After running the YouTube channel for awhile I decided to expand the channel to an actual training company so that we could grow. We have added a new website with more resources, a Facebook Page, and have several guys that have helped contribute on the site. In no way, shape or form do we claim to be the experts in all things fire and rescue. However, I firmly believe we can find the guys that are. I have been working hard at finding some other guys to contribute with more material and I believe I have some really good ones lined up. I thank you for all of the support you have given us. Every time you like, share or comment not only gives us confirmation that we are doing the right things but also allows us to reach more firefighters and that makes a difference. I thank you for the support and feel free to shoot us a message or recommend a new training video. We are always open to new ideas. Let’s leave this place better than we found it.

Nozzle Series - Automatic Nozzles


Automatic NozzleWe are continuing our Nozzle Series with Automatic Nozzles. The Automatic Nozzle was originally designed on a napkin and since then has been widely used throughout the country. The goal of the automatic nozzle is to provide relatively consistent nozzle pressure throughout a wide range of flows. So, you will see automatic nozzles used in many different applications including foam operations and standpipe operations. You need to thoroughly evaluate the use of an automatic nozzle in certain applications prior to using them. While the nozzle can offer several advantages like the ability to provide the pump operator with an in-line pressure regulator it can also conceal hidden flow issues because of the nozzles abilities to maintain good nozzle pressure. Adequate nozzle pressure does not necessarily equate to adequate nozzle flow. When a hose line is kinked or something happens to inhibit the amount of water moving through the line you will see no major indications on the nozzle except for a drop in nozzle reaction. You need to get out and flow these nozzles to feel the difference in adequate flow and poor flow. Check out the video below for an overview of the Automatic Nozzle:

Nozzle Series - Adjustable Fog Nozzles


Akron Turbojet Nozzle The adjustable fog nozzle is a very popular type of nozzle seen on many apparatus. You will see this type of nozzle used in a wide variety of applications. The adjustable gallonage nozzle offers a lot of versatility because of it's ability to not only change patterns but also to increase and decrease the flow through the nozzle. However, it is very important for firefighters to understand that turning the gallonage adjustment does not necessarily equate to flowing what the actual setting is showing. As you turn the gallonage adjustment on this type of nozzle you are essentially making the orifice larger or smaller and as this adjustment is made the pump operator must compensate on the pump panel to deliver the appropriate nozzle pressure in order to flow the selected gallonage. This nozzle can offer advantages and disadvantages including the flexibility of adjusting the flow but disadvantages like the potential for accidental flow decrease if you bump the gallonage adjustment in the dark or smoke. Take a look at the video below covering Adjustable Gallonage Fog Nozzles:

Nozzle Series - Fixed Flow Fog Nozzles


Fixed Flow Fog Nozzle Fixed flow fog nozzles are a very popular type of nozzle seen all over the country. The nozzle offers several advantages including an adjustable pattern and simplicity of pump operations. You can find fixed flow fog nozzles in several different configurations. You will commonly see this type of nozzle offered in there different pressures; 100 psi, 75 psi and 50 psi. You will also see this type of nozzle offered in a breakaway version which is fairly popular for high-rise and hose packs. You will see many break away versions of this nozzle with a smoothbore integrated into the breakaway. Take a look at the video below for an overview of the Fixed Flow Fog Nozzle:




Nozzle Series - Smoothbores


The Smoothbore Nozzle

Smoothbore NozzleWe are continuing our video series on nozzles with the Smoothbore. This nozzle remains a powerhouse in the American Fire Service. With the increase in heat release rates due to changes in products and materials our ability to throw serious water on the fire is of the utmost importance. The smoothbore nozzle offers several advantages for firefighters. Some of strongest advantages come with the simplistic design of the nozzle. The smoothbore has the ability to perform under extreme conditions with good flow at a low nozzle reaction. The nozzle is very difficult to clog with debris and if a hose line becomes kinked it will maintain fairly good flow compared to a high pressure fog nozzle (100 psi). Even though the fog/combination nozzle has the ability to absorb more heat energy at the same flow, the smoothbore has the ability to penetrate without steaming off when attacking the fire. Once the stream enters the room on fire we can bounce the stream off of walls and ceilings to break up the stream and increase its heat absorption capabilities. The video below will provide you with an overview of the smoothbore nozzle and will cover a few topics in detail.

Box Alarm Training on YouTube - 700,000 Views



Matt Hinkle YouTubeBox Alarm Training started as a YouTube channel that evolved into a full network of training resources and courses. We greatly appreciate all of the support you all have given us over the last few years. We have a lot planned for upcoming videos and product reviews and can't wait to get them on the channel. Thanks again for helping us reach 700,000 views!

If you have never seen our YouTube Channel you can visit it by CLICKING HERE! You will see several different playlists we have put together including our newest playlist the Nozzle Video Series. We have several more videos that are being added to the new video series and will be released soon. Here is our introduction video that explains Box Alarm Training and our resources:

Nozzle Video Series


Check out our newest firefighter training video series. We have produced a five part nozzle video series covering several common types of nozzles. In this first video we will provide an overview of nozzle types and discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of the nozzles. In the coming videos we will be taking each nozzle type and discussing them in detail.

This is My Nozzle


This is my nozzle. There are many like it but this one is mine.

Elkhart NozzleMany of you have heard the "Rifleman's Creed". A creed made famous by the United States Marine Corps. A creed that instills in Marines the sense of purpose and commitment to know your weapon and master it. As firefighters we should have the same sense of pride when identifying with our nozzle. In the truest sense it is all that stands between us and the fire."My nozzle, without me, is useless. Without my nozzle, I am useless."

All too often, during training sessions or courses, I ask firefighters what type of nozzle they are using and they cannot tell me any specifics. If I posed the same question to a law enforcement officer about his weapon, he would most likely respond with not only the caliber of his weapon but also all of the ballistics associated with his weapon and the situations it is best suited for.

"My nozzle and I know that what counts in war is not the water we flow, the noise of our bail, nor the pattern we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit..."


Akron NozzlesI am not asking for firefighters to simply tell me the make and model of their nozzle... I am asking them to tell me the characteristics of their nozzles; what is the reach and penetration of your nozzle, what does the nozzle reaction feel like, and what happens to your nozzle if it becomes clogged with debris?

"I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its flow and its reach. I will keep my nozzle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will..."

We all know that your nozzle selection may not be entirely within your control but knowing your issued nozzle is just as important. I encourage you all to spend time learning your nozzles and teaching others how to properly use the nozzles. Learn the flows, learn the pressures and learn what the nozzle reaction feels like. Over the next month we will be releasing a nozzle video series on our YouTube channel going over nozzle types and their characteristics. Until then get out and flow some water!





Dead Ringer


Dead Ringer - a person or thing that seems exactly like someone or something else.


Jackson, MS Truck 28Have you ever heard a statement in the firehouse that strikes a chord with you, one that makes you cringe, frustrated or even motivates you? Today's fire service is a well connected network of some of the most driven and strong personalities you will ever meet. While many of us push to move forward many others look for reasons to justify their inability to perform. With that being said let's look at a statement you have probably heard before:

 "WE" don't do it like that because "WE" are not like "THEM"... 

 I want you to really evaluate if "WE" are actually that different from one another.

Last time I checked the vast majority of fire departments in the United States perform the exact same functions at every single fire. Whether you pull up to a single story residential structure fire or a high-rise with fire on the 20th floor you must perform the same functions. Will you need more equipment and more manpower? Absolutely, but the same functions must be performed regardless of the size of the fire or complexity of the fire. The "functions" I am speaking of are Fire Attack, Water Supply, Ventilation, Search and Rescue and Overhaul.

Chris CarreraI often reference other departments when teaching and discussing tactics because we have so much to learn from each other. For example: When the FDNY arrives on scene of a residential structure fire they perform Fire Attack nearly the exact same way as every single fire department in the country. They stretch a hose line with an engine company and they put water on the fire. Do they use 47 firefighters to move the hose? Nope. They use the firefighters on the engine to take the initial attack line to the fire. However, while many of us work with limited staffing to complete the other complimentary functions (ventilation, search and rescue, etc.) the FDNY has the ability to perform these functions much more quickly or even simultaneously because of their response size. If you are on a smaller department you still have to perform the same functions as the big guys you just have to prioritize when and how you are going to accomplish those functions.

Hose lines get stretched at every fire! Ventilation takes place at every fire! Water Supply is a priority at every fire! Search and Rescue is of utmost importance at every single fire! Get out and practice these functions!

Do not try to justify your inability to execute by trying to distance yourself from other fire departments or tactics. We are much more alike than we are different. Learn from each other and move forward together. We all need the practice regardless of where our current competency levels are.

I am learning more and more about many skills that I once believed to be simple and automatic. I used to stretch hoses without evaluation, throw ladders without purpose and even search without confidence. Study the craft of firefighting, learn about yourself, your crew and your responsibilities to the ones we serve.

Do not Train to Learn, Drill to Master!

Pump Operator Training - Video Series Summary


Over the last couple months we have been releasing a 5 part video series for Pump Operators. We hope these training videos will help you prepare for classes, tests and even more importantly the real world. This is the final summarizing video of the series. Below you will see all of the previous videos and a link to the Pump Operator Training Packet. We encourage you to print out the packet and train with your own crews. Pump Operations are an integral part of our operations that are often overlooked or taken for granted. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to comment below and we will do our best to help you out.

If you have not seen the previous videos in this training series you can click on the images below to take you to the previous articles.  You can also CLICK HERE to download the Pump Operator Training Packet.

Pump Operator Series - Part 1

Pump Operator Training - Part 2









Pump Operator Training Part 3Pump Operator Training Part 4








You can also find more training videos on our YouTube channel by CLICKING HERE.



Pump Operator Training - Part 4


This is the fourth video of our five part pump operator training series. In this video we focus on calculating elevation gain and loss and also appliance pressure losses.  We have provided you with a Pump Operator Training Packet to follow along if you need a list of the formulas and abbreviations. You can view the video below and if you missed the previous videos we strongly suggest watching those to understand the concepts previously discussed. The links to the previous videos will be provided below.

You can click on the images below to take you to our previous pump operator training videos:

Pump Operator Series - Part 1

Pump Operator Training - Part 2

Pump Operator Training Part 3

Pump Operator Training - Part 3


This is the third video of our five part pump operator training series. In this video we focus on calculating Friction Loss. Often times firefighters underestimate the importance of making these calculations. If we do not calculate the correct pressure loss due to friction and then deliver the appropriate pump discharge pressure we could be placing our fellow firefighters in dangerous situations. Take a look at the video below and use our Pump Operator Training Packet to follow along.

You can click on the images below to take you to our previous Pump Operator Training Videos:

Pump Operator Series - Part 1

Pump Operator Training - Part 2