Blanket Rules Vs Training

Firefighter Basics just finished our first of what promises to be many HOT classes as “Firefighter Basics”. One of the things we do is ask the students “How does your department do it? How does it work?”. The reason for the question is to show the other students the variety of ways to get the same job done and to highlight a few pros and cons with each. Then we demonstrate and perform different skills with them to try and make their job safer and easier within their department’s parameters.
This week seemed a little different to me probably because I was way out of my own region, 1/2 way across the country. A number of department rules and requirements came up that I had never heard of. A couple made no sense and may have the unintended outcome of making the firefighters less safe. I’d like to think it’s budget cuts that prevent departments from providing consistent training for their crews, whether from an inside or outside source, but in most communities water is free for the fire department. I cannot convince myself that budgeting is the cause.
Since around 1743 our job has not changed that much. Granted mission creep has turned our profession into something Benjamin Franklin would never have imagined. But many departments have added rules that prevent firefighters from effectively and efficiently doing their jobs. Rules that don’t make sense or are flat out dangerous. A couple examples of that from this week; don’t open the pipe if you don’t have another firefighter backing you up, and always run the trash line first if the apparatus is close enough to the building. Both of these rules are based on the same theory that it’s not safe to operate a line by yourself. Of course it’s not. But the very nature of our job is not safe. The job gets safer through training, not administrating. Instead of handing down a rule from the heavens restricting the firefighter’s operations why not run training evolutions with them flowing water from a decent sized handline by themselves so they get comfortable with it?Both of these rules actually put firefighters in greater danger than if the rules didn’t exist at all. The first by telling a firefighter to set up near a fire and watch as it builds unchecked the second by ordering a firefighter to advance a line that may be of insufficient volume or length for the hazard. As instructors it is not up to us to change these rules, only to work with the students to find a safer way for them to work within them.

A department cannot just make a new “Law of the Land” and expect an inherent hazard to disappear. By adding rules ad nauseam departments do not solve problems they make more. The superfluous rules only add distraction and restrictions to the basic job of “Putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff”. Blanket rules also assume all incidents are the same and restrict firefighters from making tactical decisions based on conditions. Firefighters are also forced to weigh the consequences of doing their jobs and being punished or following the rules and risking injury.

This leads to a related subject, currently it seems like the “noise” level in the fire service is on the rise. Noise being the amount of extra things that distract us from doing our jobs or adds extra work to the profession we all love. Everyone seems to have a gimmick that needs to be mandatory or the next big buzzword that needs to be spoken at every drill. I get it and I won’t begrudge a person trying to feed their family, but the bottom line is we still need to put water on the fire. That is done by dragging a line to the seat of the fire and, in the words of one of our instructors, “punching the fire in the face as hard as you can” no acronym can replace that.
The article below, from a former public school teacher, sums up the noise aspect pretty well. He loved being a teacher. He loved it so much he worked 2nd and a 3rd jobs to make up for the money he was not getting from teaching. The school administration kept adding things to his plate that were supposed to make him more effective as a teacher. But in reality he was spending more time reporting on his job then actually doing his job. I think this is becoming a problem in the fire service as well. Of course we have reports and inspections, but we are starting to have so many time vampires to feed they prevent us from doing our job effectively
http://www.newsleader.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/06/07/teachers-tough-decision-leave-classroom/10170567/

Remember K.I.S.S. Keep It Stupid Simple, don’t over complicate your life or profession.

1 Comment

  • Jack Crais says:

    I enjoyed the ideas espoused in the article, but doesn’t the acronym “K.I.S.S.” mean “Keep it simple, stupid” or, for those who worry about hurting someone’s feelings, “Keep it sweet and simple”?

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com

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Comments
Aaron
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
As an old school firefighter i have seen the change in our job from gear to hud display on my mask to transmitting 12 leads by wifi to the hospital and its not the drivers or the young firefighters fault for not knowing "the other way" or the dumbing down of the fire service. Its…
2014-10-11 22:43:04
ladderjack
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
Anthony, Thank you for your response. I hope I didn't come off as saying that "I am the only opinion that matters in this paper." I agree with you 100% that there is no "Set" way to do anything, and that we need to keep our minds open to different techniques and thinking outside of…
2014-08-27 20:34:16
Ryan McGovern/ Ladderjack
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
Ben, Thanks a lot for your comment! You're definitely right that there needs to be hoseline protection given to the guys working above the fire; and that a TIC should be utilized when attempting VES techniques. Every little thing we can do and engineer to make an already dangerous maneuver safer is a must! Thanks…
2014-08-27 20:25:20
Anthony Correia
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
While VSP was written as an EFO paper, the paper it is not end all be all on this topic. In a presentation Marsars did last year, he himself said it wasn't 100%. Even gave an example of a fire in his home local where a person lived, that would of met unlikely survivability profiling.…
2014-08-27 19:24:24
Ben Waller
“Go” Versus “No-Go” A Brief Look into Survivability Profiling
...OK, it was 3 points, but who is counting?
2014-08-26 23:44:08

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