“Always carry a tool”, “Nobody shows up empty handed” These fire service nuggets of wisdom have been around for a long time. But just like other aspects of our job this too has been watered down to a “technically speaking” level.
I’m beyond tired of officers walking with a closet rake (AKA Command Rake). That 2′ of authority will not do shit for you if/when your company finds something. Also those truck companies showing up on the 3rd or 4th alarm with 1/2 their members carrying forced entry tools should be ashamed. They know they should be bringing ladders and overhaul tools. These crews are on the list of wasted manpower slots. How many doors do you think are left? How about doing something to help the other crews finish the job or make the scene safer? These scenes of well laddered buildings with firefighters working do not exist by accident.
How about a new standard? “If you aren’t bringing a line or ladder to the fire you are empty handed”. If you are 2nd truck (or more) on scene and you don’t throw a ground ladder, your company needs to be retrained. If your company is showing up on multiple alarm levels and you do not bring a line or a ladder to the building, why bother coming?
It was OK to to show up with just a hand tool when staffing levels were a bit better then they are today. How can you believe that it’s OK to walk up to a scene with even 1 empty hand? You have wasted a trip.
There is no excuse to just show up with a tool. Bring a ladder and lay it on the ground if it’s not needed at that moment. Precious time is wasted traveling back to the apparatus to grab a ladder when it could already be at the building. Redeploying a ladder is faster and easier than fetching and throwing one.
Lines get ugly when they are dragged off a pump and up a street, but if you are not 100% sure the apparatus in front of the building has any lines left on it you need to bring one. Make it a 2 1/2, don’t waste anyone’s time bringing a small line to a multiple alarm. If your company does that you should be sent home, and I don’t mean the firehouse, and not just for the night, forever.
Let’s be honest here. If your goal is to look badass with your TNT or Demo Hawg, go for it. Stand in the yard and breathe your tank down then tell everybody who wasn’t there how much work you put in. But please stand off to the side so you will not be in the way of the actual firefighters who are trying to actually contribute as opposed to getting in some selfies.
Ladders and lines should be treated as equals. I know water puts the fire out. But ladders can help you attack from the outside and get your ass out if you need to go.
Buildings don’t ladder themselves.
Fire does not put itself out.
Every department has limited manpower.
Bring a line or a ladder to the fire, that’s why they are on the rig.
Bring hand tools to use AFTER you use that line or ladder.