Thursday, February 5, 2015

Making the tragedy personal is the first step in preventing the next Line of Duty Death.

“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Joseph Stalin

After recently reading Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, and his use of this quote, I pondered if this quote from the feared Communist leader Joseph Stalin could help reduce our line of duty deaths and the answer is YES! While Stalin’s quote was most likely intended for more sinister purposes it does have merit when discussing LODD’s.

First, we are provided statistics in our trade on a daily basis but usually with no associated instructions on what do with the data. Specific to line of duty deaths, we know we average approximately 100 LODD’s, we know the percentages related to what activities, age, gender, etc. are when the catastrophic incident occurred, and we are provided some general recommendations that apply to that affected fire department. But how do we curb the trend of LODD’s based on the statistics provided within our department that may be similar or, more likely, vastly different. Without having this information the line of duty deaths simply become just statistics. This noticeable gap in the equation was the catalyst for 25 to Survive: Reducing Residential Injury and LODD. We took the opportunity to interpret the data and provide solutions to overcome the identified causes in the LODD reports that may be implemented in any fire department.


When we delve into Stalin’s quote and couple it with our process of reviewing LODD reports we can begin to understand that we lose focus on the loss of one firefighter, the tragedy in this case, and focus more on the statistics. For instance, most can recite the average number of LODD’s, but if the LODD did not occur in their department, I would venture to say they couldn’t recite the name of the person who was killed. This behavior is conditioned with the vast amount of mind-numbing statistics, figures, and graphs we receive but it can be altered. Mother Theresa offered a way we can begin to change that trend when she stated,

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Mother Theresa

The numbers are an important metric to demonstrate if we are changing the trend for better or worse but what is important is the person. If we learn the person, we establish a connection and we will learn the story. That story will open your eyes to factors leading up to the LODD and what can be done NOW to prevent it from occurring again. Simply glossing over the numbers will not provide that connection and leads to only honoring someone after they have died which is a disservice.

This process, placing a name and face to the tragedy, is referred to as the “identifiable victim effect” and is utilized everyday in our society to garner your donations or solicit your support. The most notable example is the Ryan White story. While AIDS was very prevalent in the 90’s and everyone had an increased level of awareness, it was something distant and happened in a far away land. That is, until Ryan White contracted AIDS and his was someone you knew. He was an all-American teenager who everyone could associate with; he looked like your son, nephew, the kid down the street, etc.

Ryan became the poster child for AIDS in American and his struggle, and eventual death, led to the Ryan White act. This happened because the AIDS epidemic became the story about a person who you could get to know and support, the epidemic got the attention needed and continues to this day.

How do we parlay this identifiable victim effect into our trade and begin changing the trend of LODD’s in the fire service? We must learn the person. Much like the supporters of Ryan White, we must be most diligent supporters of our fallen firefighters and use the identifiable victim effect to our benefit. The easiest way to start this trend is to review the statistics but also take the time and read the story of each LODD. When you select a report to review with your firefighters take the time to learn:
  • What was their name?
  • What did they look like (put a name to the face)?
  • Where did they work, how many years of service, etc.?
  • What actions were they doing when the LODD occurred?
  • What were the contributing causes to their death that you could apply to your department and operations?
  • What can I do (skill, tip, technique, policy, etc.) to prevent this from occurring in my department, which would honor the memory and sacrifice of the fallen firefighter?
Lt. Pete Lund - June 14th, 2005

We know firefighters die in the line of duty driving to and from incidents, suffering cardiovascular incidents, and performing their jobs on the fireground amongst many other activities. Your goal is to match the problem or obstacle you are trying to overcome with the story of a fallen firefighter.

For example, if you are teaching new apparatus operators and want to stress the incredible responsibility with this position, pick one of the 17 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2012 responding/returning to an incident. If you are discussing the importance of coordinated ventilation, discuss the LODD of Louis Matthews and Anthony Phillips of the DCFD at the Cherry Road, N.E. fire in 1999. The list is unfortunately vast and plentiful to choose from and each one deserves our recognition.

All the motivation you will need to make yourself, your fellow firefighters, and the future of your fire service, exists in the LODD reports. Learn their stories, share it with your firehouse family, and motivate them to prevent the LODD’s. When we can place a name and face to a cause we naturally rally together to prevent it from happening again. Take the LODD’s from being just statistics of catastrophic incidents that happen in a far away land and make that tragedy your motivation to help one person at a time and make that one person that firefighter that may be charging down the smoky hallway with you later tonight.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

25 to Survive: Reducing Residential Injury and LODD - Come see it at FDIC on Monday, April 22 @ 0800

Come Join Captain Dan Shaw and Lt. Doug Mitchell on Monday, April 22nd @ 0800 in Rooms 238-239 talking about the Residential Building Fire problems AND solutions!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

25 to Survive: FDIC HOT Workshop

FDIC: HOT Workshop:
25 to Survive
The Residential Building Fire
Monday 4/22 8am-12 Room: 238-239
***Soon to be released as a book from PennWell Publishing***
More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at any other building type we encounter. This presentation will address 25 critical firefighting issues common to the residential building. While these 25 topics are not an exhaustive and comprehensive list, they are repeatedly noted in many 'near miss reports', National Institute Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations and Line of Duty Deaths (LODD's).

Join Capt. Dan Shaw and Lt. Doug Mitchell as they identify these 25 prevalent topics and give you tactical tips techniques and drills to give us the advantage in these critical areas. You will be able to bring back more than just what you 'heard' in class. This programs mission is twofold; it’s for citizens in the communities we serve, and for those entrusted to thier safety, firefighters and fire officers. This mission will have immediate impact and lead to an increase in efficiency and effectiveness on fireground operations.

The program is in 4 key segments:
  • Combat Ready
  • Developing the Mastery of Firefighting
  • Engine Company Operations
  • Truck Company Operations.
The inherent dangers in Residential Building Fires reinforces the need for all firefighters, from Probie to Chief, to have a thorough knowledge of the modern residential building and how our efforts effect fire conditions throughout them.

This is a MUST SEE program at FDIC! We hope to see you there...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Taking a Lesson from "Reality TV"

While I was watching the show Surviving the Cut the other night that highlighted the rigors of the training that the Nightstalkers (160th Special Aviation Regiment) go through, I had an epiphany, or at least I drew a corollary principle for what we should learn from this training in the fire service.

The show portrayed the completion of a hellish, multiple-hours long training session that spanned from mental and physically demanding tasks to ultimate culmination in a nighttime march in full gear. The stress and rigors of their training would be our snot-slinging working fire that demands every ounce of your physical strength and mental focus.
Once the finish line was crossed, in this case their barracks, the candidates were lined up and asked the simple question: “Is every one of the members of your class present?” This would be the equivalent of the accountability report we must give when we reach certain time benchmarks in an incident, change strategies (i.e- offensive to defensive), or reach our finish line, which is when we exhaust our air supply and must exit the IDLH. The depleted and drained Nightstalker candidates responded back “Affirmative”, hoping that the answer would lead to a break and some well-deserved rest. With “Affirmative” spoken, they were then told to turn around and face the memorial located behind their formation that had been constructed to honor all the fallen members of the regiment.
There, standing with hoods over their heads and grasping the P.O.W. / M.I.A. flag, was the class leader and the second in command of their unit. As if in unison, all of the candidates’ heads dropped forward, grasping the reality of their failure to account for their brothers in battle. Their failure was marked by the fact that the two who had been unaccounted for were what you would envision as the most obvious, the class leaders.
This gut-wrenching feeling of inferiority was followed by a thorough verbal reminder by the C.O. of the failure to complete the most basic and fundamental rule to ‘never leave anyone behind.’ Even in the face of exhaustion or simple complacency you must be your brother’s keeper. You must not lose your mental focus in the face of depleted physical strength or the mere taste of completion.
The punishment for their gaff?  They were required to assume a squatting sitting position, grasp an imaginary letter in their hands, and repeat verbatim the letter the C.O. had prepared. The letter he wrote was to the family of the now dead fellow soldiers. In it, he explained that there would be no husband coming home, no father to watch the children grow up, and no son whom the parents could hug proudly. Lastly, the letter explained they would not even have their loved one’s body to bid farewell, providing at least some measure of closure. Instead they could only grasp a memory. The exercise led these hardened men to break down in tears, surely questioning their commitment and ability to carry the name of the unit.
So, where is the parallel to our fire service?  It is Everywhere! A factor in almost all line of duty death reports is the lack of “Accountability”. While this can be from a hardware issue, such as the absence of an accountability system, it also covers lack of accounting for your fellow firefighters in harm’s way. On paper it seems senseless that a causative factor for the death of one of us could be that we did not account for each member of the crew during the heat of our battle – fighting fires. If we remove the hardware issue and look at the ‘human’ side of this issue, one can surmise quickly that the linchpin for us is the Officer (Engine Company, the Truck, Rescue or the Incident Commander.)
How often do we see firefighters promoted to an Officer’s position because they have a wanton desire to be able to adorn themselves with the prestige of the gold badge and not because they want accept the entire breadth of the Officer’s responsibility. Or we see Officers who confuse proper aggressive firefighting with poor tactics applied in a rapid and uneducated manner, demonstrating they really only wanted to be the first in so they can walk out with a charred helmet. The aggressive officer is one who moves with purpose, that purpose being to always ensure his brothers and sisters are measuring their risk (i.e., not safe but prudent risk-taking based upon competence and mastery) to complete the job they took an oath to do. The question that each firefighter who crawls down a hallway belching black smoke, or the Company officer who makes the decision to enter the basement fire with his crew, or the Incident Commander who decides to go “offensive” is this: “Have you prepared yourself and your members for the firefight?”

This preparation is not merely how to pull a line or conduct a primary search; have you also:
  • Made clear your expectations on the fireground?
  • What is your measure of success?
  • Have you provided the training and shared the knowledge to accomplish these expectations?
  • Do you demonstrate these traits every day yourself?
If not, then you have demonstrated that your commitment to “no man left behind” is skewed and you do not mind writing the letter like the candidates in Surviving the Cut.Every officer is charged with responsibility of making a decision on the fireground, a decision that not only mitigates an emergency but has a direct impact on their firefighters. While General Powell was referring to military operations, his doctrine applies in our trade, “Do not put your people in harm’s way for unclear purposes.”
Officers must consider the time when they may have to pen that letter to their fallen firefighters family or look the family in the eye and deliver the heart breaking news. If that unfortunate situation occurred, would you feel as though you had done everything in your power and ability to prepare and train your firefighters? Have you prepared yourself each and every day to recognize hazardous situations and mitigate them correctly, or do you rest on the reputation of your rank that was chiseled by your predecessors?
The clearest sign of true servant leadership is selflessly exhausting yourself to teach, train, and lead those under your command. While our job is inherently dangerous, no measure of this danger excuses leaders from preparing themselves and those under their command to adequately face that danger.  If you need a reminder, consider what you would do and what you would say when you have to face the family of one of your own on the day of their greatest loss.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Lesson For the Fire Service from the London Summer Olympics

Cabbies across the pond would make great Chauffeurs in the 

American Fire Service

Like the rest of the Country, I was watching the Summer Olympics and listened to an interview with a local resident of London explaining the ‘insiders’ way to navigate the city. She offered the normal tips of how to get around and what historic landmarks not to miss. None of that distracted me from typing away on my computer and completing other tasks in my office but one particular comment did perk my ears.
When she was questioned about the cab drivers in London she stated the rate is about $11.00 a mile, which was enough to grab any fiscally-minded firefighters attention, but then she mentioned why. Some of the high rate was attributed to the London economy but it is “money well spent” because of their knowledge of the city. Knowledge that is not learned through using a GPS or their Smartphone. Knowledge that is learned through a defined, rigorous, and mandated process. A process that defines and separates London cabbies from any other cabbie in the world. A process that exists in some fire departments but is sorely missing in many.
This process is the knowledge of your first due area, or in the words of the Transport for London, a test simply called, ‘The Knowledge.’ To have the distinct honor to drive a famous black cab in London every single person must enter and successfully complete ‘The Knowledge’. The process can last anywhere from two years to four years, depending on the commitment and retention of the candidate.
‘The Knowledge’ is based upon learning 320 routes! These routes require knowledge of the 25,000 streets and over20,000 landmarks, plus, for good measure, any places of interest within 6 miles of Charing Cross! Based upon some basic Internet searches all of this work to learn their “1st Due*” earns them about $38,000 a year.
* 1st Due is a geographical term that refers to your respective response area
            Put this in comparison to an Engine Company or Truck Company chauffeur. A Fire Department Chauffeur most likely makes more in yearly salary and is required to learn less as most 1st due, even 1st – 5th due areas don’t have 20,000 streets. ‘The Knowledge’ is not simply one written test; it is a tiered process that requires successful completion at each level before going to the next. A process that eliminates the uncommitted yet fosters the candidates who exhibit the passion and commitment to drive. The entire process goes like this:
  • General requirements of all stages:
    • All answers must be based on the shortest route possible
    • Any road work expected to last longer than 26 weeks must be known and alternate route memorized
    • Illegal U-turns are not acceptable; you must know the legal means of travel

  • Stage 1:
  • This is a self-assessment tool to, as the manual states, ‘ to let you know if you are doing it the right way’ and not wasting your time.
    • In this stage you perform 80 runs; that is 80 routes from point A to point B in the shortest and most efficient route. For instance, this would be from the Firehouse to the 1234 Main Street…….but do it 79 more times and to 79 different places!!

  • Stage 2: 1st Written Exam
    • Part 1 – The candidate will be provided three routes between two points, he must pick the shortest one based upon his knowledge. This is repeated 5 times for 5 different routes. If you score well, you can continue. If not, see you in a few months for the re-test.
    • Part 2- The candidate will be given 25 landmarks (i.e. – the Train Station, Hospital, etc.). For each location you will be given 4 possible addresses, identify the correct one. You must get them right to carry on to the next step.

  • Stage 3: One – to – One with your evaluator
    • Starts with the examiner asking you two specified points of interest within a radius of your sector (in FD terms, your 1st due). You must give the correct address of the two points and then describe the shortest route possible.  This is repeated 4 times.
    • Simply answering is not acceptable; you “must demonstrate a high level knowledge and precision and fluency in your answers”. You hesitate = you don’t know the answer = see you again in a few months.

  • Stage 4: Almost there!
    • You will receive the two specified points of interest again but this time, the points of interest will be from areas inside your sector to outside your sector. In FD terms, this would be demonstrating directions from a point in your first due to a location in your 2nd or 3rd due.
    • At this point, you will not be permitted to correct any errors when reciting your route. If state it wrong, it is wrong, no mulligans.

  • Stage 5: Getting closer….
    • Time to take off the training wheels see what you know. The candidate must be able to provide the shortest directions to any area within their sector area, plus any addresses within a 6-mile radius of central London. For us in the fire service, this would not just your 1st due but your 2nd and even some 3rd due area.
    • You knowledge must be up to date! The candidate must be aware of new hotel names, high profile events like Fairs or theatre productions, and new attractions.

  • Stage 6: The light at the end of the tunnel
    • The candidate must learn 25 routes from their respective sector but 21 of them coming from the outer fringe of your home sector. Imagine not only know all of your 1st due area but now you must know 25 of the major thoroughfares leading into your neighboring areas…..and know them well.
This exhaustive and comprehensive process is all done on the candidate’s dime – you pay for each test and if you fail, you still pay! All of this for job that offers no awards, no accolades, only average pay, simply just the honor and privilege to be called a London cabbie. The best a London cabbie can hope for is a large tip from a jet lagged tourist eager to feel like a ‘Brit’ or that a Hooligan will not get too rowdy in the back of his beloved black cab on ride home from the pub.
Now, put this in comparison to our chauffeurs, emergency vehicle drivers, technicians, or whatever name you dub your firefighter who is responsible for operating your vehicles. These are highly professional individuals charged with driving a 20-ton vehicle competently and safely at a high rate of speed, often against drivers who do not yield appropriately, or more accurately just have poor driving skills in perfect conditions. We reward these chauffeurs when they demonstrate proper operating and controlling of the vehicle. Not just pats on back from the Captain but also an award for safe driving and most likely, a salary increase. Yet, do we require the same of our Chauffeurs as London does of their cab drivers? And remember this entire test is long before they ever think of operating the vehicle? I think not.
Fire departments adopted a reactive response to loss of life and monetary losses from vehicle accidents by taking the initiative to implement a comprehensive safe driving process. This process focuses on the candidate safely handling the vehicle on the open road through documented practical training. Talk about putting the cart before the horse! The London cab driver never even gets behind the wheel of a black cab until he successfully passes the ‘Knowledge’. We let a firefighter drive a fire truck once he can properly demonstrate he can operate the ‘vehicle’ but he doesn’t have an idea where he is going while he is driving it like he stole it!
Included in a comprehensive process for vehicle operations, an intensive and relevant knowledge-based process of your response area must be done before you ever grip the wheel of a fire truck.  This is not a how-quickly-can-you-read-a-map test, this is knowledge based upon your passion, commitment, dilligence to know the area you have sworn to protect. Knowing your area eliminates just one of the multitude of stressors that your driver has when the fire of your career is toned out. If they can focus solely on the incident at hand and not fret over which way to pull out of the firehouse, or how quickly will the officer be able to look up the street, or leave it to chance the scale for success tips in our favor.
The ‘Knowledge’ for our emergency vehicle chauffeurs should include, at a minimum:
Buildings & Landmarks:
  • Target Hazard* building names and addresses (Hospitals, Malls, etc.).
  • Name and occupancy type (restaurant to mercantile) of new buildings in their 1st due area.
  • Location of Fire Department Connections of standpipe/sprinklered buildings in their 1st due area.
  • Location of Fire Alarm Panels and Fire Control rooms for all equipped buildings in their 1st due area.
  • Any special considerations for buildings in their 1st due, such as positioning issues, water supply problems, etc.
  • Long lays for residential structures in their 1st due area including areas with pipe stem or flag lot driveways.
  • Limited water supply areas that would require tanker or rural water supply operations.
* Target hazard refers to any building that possesses the possibility of large loss of life (nursing home, school) or high visibility (Government facility, etc.) if involved in fire.
  • Name, location and shortest directions to every street in their 1st due area.
  • Shortest route directions from anywhere in your 1st due to another location within your 1st due.
  • If you operate in a grid system, knowledge of Unit and Hundred blocks.
  • Name, location and shortest directions to every dead-end street and split streets in their 1st due area.
  • Name, location, and travel direction of every one-way street in their 1st due.
  • Name, location and shortest directions to every major artery leading into neighboring areas.
  • Hundred blocks on major arteries.
  • Firm knowledge base of water supply system for your respective area (this can range from knowing all hydrant areas in your area to where dry hydrants are for rural water supply)
  • If an urban area with Interstates, exit numbers and names and access to each area in the shortest manner.
  • Location of water supply for operations on Interstates.
            Think this is too much for your drivers? Consider a London cabbie driver doesn’t drive with burden that one error, one wrong turn, one mistake can mean the difference between life and death of a civilian trapped in a fire that we swore to protect. The worst they lose is a tip; our lack of knowledge can lead to death. Exercise the pride in your position and understand your predecessors had this ‘knowledge’ for a reason – because it is required to be a Combat Ready Chauffeur!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Standpipe Operations

Water supply is vital for the completion of our job of extinguishing fires. It really is as simple as that. Arguably, no incident demands for the quick actions of a competent driver as much as a Highrise building. They are tasked with establishing and maintaining a positive water supply in this normally standpipe equipped building. The added element of supplying a Fire Department Connection (FDC) certainly adds an additional dimension to that of a residential structure fire.

Members are not simply grabbing pre-connected hoselines here. Unlike the bread and butter residential fire with only “cotton” between the Engine Company and the fire to complete the water delivery system, in the Highrise Engine Company Chauffeurs (ECC) are dependent upon many other devices. Devices such as the FDC, perhaps the operability of a fire pump, the building’s interior piping, and standpipe riser connections (which may be obstructed, rotting away, or incomplete).

These hurdles do not release us from our responsibility of getting water to members stretching lines to the seat of fire. Specifically, with the welcome of the winter season we now may face the possibility of frozen exterior connections. That FDC that we were so accustomed to supplying may now be frozen, inaccessible and unable to accept water. Vandalism and physical damage, while a problem year round for many jurisdictions, pose many of the same challenges to completing our water supply mission. Regardless of conditions at the FDC, environmental or man-made, we must complete our task of providing sustainable water supply to the upper floors.

A “Combat Ready” step is to address a FDC challenge, is to assemble an ECC standpipe bag in your operator’s compartment. This bag can be easily utilized and quickly set into motion. This bag will not add any tools to your complement on the Engine Company; rather it will assemble all of pertinent tools in one location. When members are making the ascent up to the fire floor or making the stretch down the hallway is no time for you to have any delay in water supply because you cannot find what you need. Putting all the necessary tools in one bag eliminates compartment hunting.

The ECC Standpipe bag itself can be any bag you have laying around the firehouse. We used the discarded Hydra-Ram bag; you know the one you removed so you can make deploying that tool easier. Don’t buy something new, look around for that bag collecting dust the firehouse closet.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Making your Engine Company “Green”.
Once you have a your bag, here are tools you will want and, more importantly, WHY you want them:
  • Door Chocks: Once we have determined the FDC is not usable we will need to stretch hoselines to the 1st riser and supply the system in this manner floor (or whichever floor you are parked closest). The one obstacle standing between you and the 1st floor riser is most likely a commercial steel door that is equipped with an interior panic bar. If you have a working fire, residents will be using the door to vacate the structure. Chock it open!

    Once you gain access to the building you will want to ensure that you do not lose access or have your 3” hoseline supplying the riser crimped by a closing door. Carry various types of chocks to deal with various types of doors and hinges. I would sugges conventional wooden chocks; metal hinge locks for doors with piano hinges, wooden “cherry bombs” made from wooden dowels, and a strap to hold the door open.
  • Spanner Wrenches: Unfortunately, we do not run, hook up, charge and flow water at Highrise buildings at the frequency that we run residential structure fires. As such, the parts of the standpipe riser system may have not been manipulated for 10-15 years! This fact alone may make it virtually impossible to remove a riser cap with your hands. Aside from two of your standard size spanner wrenches also consider carrying a collapsible variation of a spanner. Many times the area immediately around the riser and cap will be a tight space and a standard spanner may not have the room to allow you to remove the cap.
  • Double Female: Imagine the frustration if you hook up a 200’ section of 3” hose to the discharge on the pump panel. You stretch the hose through 12” of snow to the exterior 1st floor door (successfully chocked open) only to reach the riser, cold and panting, to find out you cannot attach the hose. Most, if not all riser connections are male threaded. The hose you brought has a male end. In this instance, you will need the double female to make the connection work.

  • Spare SMALL wheel/Small Pipe Wrench: For reasons that cannot be explained other than some people just like to steal “something” you will find the wheel to open the riser valve missing (back in the day these were brass and were stolen for the brass). If the wheel is missing, you will be left with an exposed bolt head for you to rotate open, which is impossible with a bare hand. Having a spare wheel will allow you to slide the new wheel onto the pipe and open the valve. Additionally, you may also find a large wheel on a riser but due to renovations and aesthetic appeal the wall may be built up around the valve. This will limit the space you have to rotate the wheel to open the valve. Quickly switching to the smaller wheel or the pipe wrench will allow you open in the space you have.

  • Siamese: This is the most expensive appliance that you would need, if you can afford it. While not an absolute necessity, we want to “push” as much water as possible into the standpipe (be sure to open the standpipe valve before you charge the system as the pressure from hoselines can make it much more difficult). Place the Siamese directly onto the riser pipe outlet or to a short pony section of 3” hose and you will have now have the ability to supply two 3” hoselines to feed the standpipe system.

    If you have it, use the Siamese for maximum water.

  • Road Flares: Once you have stretched your lines, chocked the exit door, connected to the 1st floor standpipe riser and are supplying water it is time to go back to work on the exterior FDC. If it is damaged, then it is out of service and not usable. If it is just frozen, ignite the road flares in your bag and begin the de-icing process. It will only take a few moments of direct flame to eliminate most icing situations. If successful, you can then attach additional lines to supply the FDC.
The complement of tools and equipment for the ECC Standpipe Bag.

While this is not a selection of tools the ECC will use everyday, when the winter is here, and / or coupled with a FDC malfunction every ECC will be prepared. Exercising this “Combat Ready” attitude only demonstrates your commitment and dedication to excellence as an Engine Company member. We must always remember the mission of the Engine Company – We Bring Water!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nozzleman's Creed

Aside from residing in the pantheon of the greatest movies made, Full Metal Jacket introduced the world to the Rifleman’s Creed. The mantra recited each night by the soldiers in boot camp as they lie in bed with their last line of defense, their rifle. The intimate reciting of the creed ingrains the mutually important relationship between operator and tool in completing the mission. This singular tool serves as the separation between success in their job or death at the hands of their enemy.

We draw parallels every day between our occupation and military, whether it is the rank structure, camaraderie, or the daily risking of our lives. The similarities should not stop there, the rifle is their last line of defense, and the nozzle is ours. Therefore, we would be remiss in the not “stealing” this idea and making it part of our Engine Company culture…….god knows we steal plenty of one-liners from the movie!

So when you tuck your probies in bed this evening in the firehouse, have them snuggle up to their last line of defense and in unison recite the nozzleman’s creed. The stark white t-shirt and underwear are optional…..

This verbal commitment to the firefighting nozzle is only the beginning; it must begin with a thorough inspection on a routine basis. Feel free to use the checklist provided in an earlier post to help in creating your nozzle inspection process.