What is a firefighters’ life worth?

When I ask the question “what would you do to save the life of another firefighter”? I usually get two answers. The first answer is, which firefighter? And after the laughing stops the serious answer comes out and that answer is whatever it takes. If that is a true statement lets discuss “whatever it takes”.

There are several common denominators for fire ground Line of Duty Deaths. They are 1) Lack of Command, 2) Underestimating Fire Behavior, 3) Communications.

Lack of Command: Command must start with a good size up. If we do not begin with a good size up we can make inaccurate assumptions, when we base our decisions on inaccurate assumptions we can take inappropriate actions. When we take inappropriate actions we reduce firefighter safety and increase the opportunity that our crew must do “whatever it takes”

Underestimating Fire Behavior: Predicting fire behavior is just plain science. Fire Behavior reacts because of fire physics it is predictable and it does not change based on day of the week or who shows up to the fire. If we use our experience and knowledge of fire behavior and conditions we can predict flow path and intensity of the fire. Using a quote from Gordon Graham “If it is predictable it is preventable”. So we can use our knowledge, skills, and abilities to predict and prevent surprises from fire behavior. If we never underestimate fire behavior we will not have the need of firefighters doing “whatever it takes”.

Communications: Finally the third common denominator communications. These can range from the mechanical problems of communications, which is a never-ending battle, which is an expensive fix. The other side of the communication issue is an easier fix. The correction of this issue is solid clear text communication between the sender and receiver. We believe we communicate in a clear concise manner, but it is not always received that way. As firefighters we can improve this by self-assessment of what and how we say things. Good communications will reduce the need to do “whatever it takes”.

So hear comes the sale pitch from a non-salesman. I am a Fire Chief who has come up with a program that we think will minimize the do “whatever it takes” need by practicing and evaluating the perishable skills of Fire Command, Reading and Predicting smoke and fire behavior and Effective Communications.

The program has over 500 Emergency Simulations that create opportunities for several groups, Existing Officers to maintain their skills by doing sets and reps of fire situations. Aspiring Officers to develop and fine-tune their skills to become an effective Fire Ground Commander. Firefighters whom may be first on scene of an emergency must set the stage for a successful event. Every firefighter on the fire ground has an obligation to be competent with size up’s and initial radio report’s, estimate and predict fire behavior and effectively communicate.

Want a sneak preview? Click on this link. Emergency Simulations; Please forward this email to anyone who could benefit from this knowledge.

Thank you and train like your life depends on it because it does and Be Safe out there!