All over the internet we see video and pictures of big city fire departments, the amazing structure fires they have and the seemingly endless amounts of manpower they are able to provide. Type in any big city that is near you and you will more than likely find a video or two or several that someone has taken. FDNY, over 11,000 videos on you tube. Chicago has over 900 videos. Los Angeles Fire, over 2,000 videos. These are just a few departments that I look up real quick. They see the “big” fires on an almost daily basis. They have the opportunity to see fire every shift. Everyone big or small has the opportunity to see fire every shift.
For the most part these departments have it together when it comes to fire ground operations and other various jobs that are performed in our profession. Watching some of these videos can provide some very valuable information. Some will show good ways to perform various functions such as roof ventilation, forcible entry, and auto extrication. Some videos show the not so good side of firefighting. The point is that there is something to learn from every video. Good or bad.
If you are in a small town or city department, do not have the mentality that the big cities do things any differently than you. The biggest difference, is that the big cities have the opportunity to perform firefighting operations on a larger scale and more often than smaller ones. Do not let this discourage you from learning from the bigger department and taking something away from them. On the other side of that, big cities can learn something from the smaller departments to. Ventilation is ventilation. The big cities do not ladder the building, use any special saws, or cut the hole any differently than you would at a smaller department. Forcible entry is performed the same way. A pump is a pump. The bigger department pumps pump the same way as those in a smaller one. Extrication is extrication.
One of the biggest things that I believe is wrong is training. If you train your people, there is no reason that you cannot have the mentality that you can do exactly what the big city departments do. In reality, we do. We do the job just the same as the big department do. Fire is fire. Water is water. An engine is an engine. A ladder is a ladder. A rescue is a rescue. Just because you are in a smaller department doesn’t mean you cannot have a big city mentality. A friend of mine is a Lt. in a smaller volunteer department and they have adopted the “Metro” mentality. Train, learn, and share. By doing this we can all learn from one another. Big or small, we all dress the same. We go into burning buildings and put the fire out the same. Stay safe and train like you fight.