Cut Here

The increasing popularity of hybrids was accompanied by an increased amount of information provided to firefighters on how to deal with them when they have been involved in an accident. A quick internet search on anything hybrid related with provide a large amount of information geared toward firefighters. One interesting thing is that for the first time the automobile manufactures started to labeled things for us on the vehicle, particularly, what not to cut in an emergency. They have since taken this idea of providing information to firefighters one step further… The manufactures have now started to include information of where we should cut. These labels are now being utilized on non-hybrid vehicles as well. For instance, the pictures used in this post were taken on a full sized, four door, diesel pick-up truck.

Chevy, for example, calls these labels “First Responder Tags” and “Cable Cut Tags.” They install the “First Responder Tag” (shown above) near the hood opening directing to the proximity of the cut tags, and the “Cable Cut Tags” (shown below) are located on a cable near the under hood fuse panel. In this case, this truck (being a diesel) has two batteries. As shown in the photos, there is only one cut tag, leading us to belive that making one quick cut will disable the entire electrical system. So take it for what it’s worth. the manufactures are showing us exactly where to cut in order to remove the electrical hazards, or we could go old school and do traditional cable cuts near the battery, it’s up to you.


Rung Plate

Tillerman Eric Wheaton from Winter Park Truck 61 sent in his “twist” on carrying a hook and ladder. This particular method allows the hook to not only remain in place on the fly section as it is extended, but also allows for the hook to remain in place if the ladder is rolled into a new position along the building. Rolling the ladder like shown in the video is an extremely fast way to move a ladder from one window to another when performing a VES operation.

In this method the hook is simply “hooked” onto the rung plate of the fly section on the inside of the beam. Eric has determined that hooking onto the 3rd rung plate from the tip seems to be the best location to ensure the hook remains in place while rolling the ladder. This method has been tested with a variety of different styles of hooks, and seems to work just as well regardless of hook preference.

Adding a small zip tie to the bottom of the hook may be an option to further secure it to the ladder if so desired. The idea behind the zip tie over a velcro or snapping strap is that a small zip tie will simply break away when the hook is tugged when being placed in operation. Another nice feature about this method of carrying a hook is that depending on the orientation of the ladder compartment on the rig, the hook may be able to remain stored in place all of the time since the hook rides on the inside of the beam against the rungs.

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Free Tiller Webinar

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be co-presenting a webinar with Lt. Steve Crothers from Seattle Fire titled The Well-Choreographed Tiller Operation on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 1pm EST. This free webinar is being hosted by FireRescue Magazine and Details for signing up for the webinar can be found by clicking here.

Here is a short description of the class:

Tillers are some of the most exciting apparatus to watch, but a smooth, safe, effective tiller operation requires an immense amount of training and coordination. Bringing your firefighters to a high skill level can be a significant challenge. Tractor-drawn aerials are extremely unique pieces of apparatus that requires formal training; the days of “on-the-job training” should be the way of the past. This presentation identifies the principles, concepts and dynamics of driving and tillering a tractor-drawn aerial and will prepare you to overcome the common pitfalls that tractor-drawn aerial operators encounter. You’ll have the opportunity to view unique perspectives that illustrate superior and standard tractor-drawn aerial fundamentals.

You’ll learn:

• Pros and cons of tractor-drawn aerial apparatus
• Key issues for maneuvering tractor-drawn aerial apparatus and how to overcome common placement obstacles such as narrow streets, overhead power lines, hills, etc.
• Common driving mistakes made by tiller operators and tips for improved communication between tiller operator and driver
• Factors to consider when spec’ing a tiller

Now that the webinar has past you can still click here to see the archived version, simply complete the registration information and it will bring you to the archive.


Check Out Those Cans!

When was the last time you checked your gas cans? Not just the fuel level, but the actual condition of the can? Have you ever taken the time to remove the spark/flame arrestor, and pour all of the fuel out? Check out the photos below to see why this may be a good idea.

These photos show the rust that was poured out of a normal looking metal gas can. The wire mesh that makes up the spark/flame arrestor may actually filter the larger chunks of rust keeping them in the can, but some of the smaller chunks may pass through. This rust could easily make its way into the saw and wreak havoc on a small engine.

There are many benefits to using metal gas cans: durability and compliance with legal requirements are probably the most important. However there is one important potential negative drawback. Rust! It’s just something we may have to deal with since plastic cans are not really an acceptable alternative, and are ultimately not fire service friendly.

The simple fix is to really check the conditions of all of your fuel cans, and have the department spring the $30 to replace that beat up 20 year old gas can and prevent damage from that $1500 saw.


From the Firehouse to the Fireground

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting his new leadership program titled From the Firehouse to the Fireground on Monday October 15, 2011. The class is being hosted by the Fire Instructors & Officers Association of New Hampshire and is being held in Concord, NH. This Tactical Company Leadership is the follow up for another one of Jimm’s leadership classes From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat. the program is built on basic leadership strategies and techniques and takes a unique look at leadership from a tactical perspective.

This program covers bridging the gaps between leading a company on a day-to-day basis in the firehouse, preparing members to be battle-ready on the training ground, and leading your members into high risk fireground situations by highlighting the similarities and differences in leadership tactics for various real-world applications.

Please click here to download the flyer for additional information and registration information.

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Aggressive Truck Functions & VES Class

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting a full day Truck Company presentation in Colchester, Vermont on Saturday October 13, 2012. The day will include two of Jimm’s popular Truck Company presentations: Aggressive Truck Functions for a Safer Fireground and V.E.S. is not a Four Letter Word.

The Aggressive Truck Functions for a Safer Fireground component of the presentation discusses the importance of aggressive truck functions and their positive impact on fireground safety and how they contribute to the success of crews on the fireground.

The V.E.S. is not a Four Letter Word component of the presentation discusses the widely misunderstood and underutilized tactic of Vent, Enter, and Search. It covers why VES is actually the safest most effective way to search a building and how to utilize VES in a safe and efficient manner to maximize effectiveness on the fireground.

Please click here to download the flyer for additional information and registration information.


Elevator Key Ring

Assistant Chief Michael Wolfschmidt from Surf City (NJ) sent in these photos of a simple modification they have made to their elevator key ring. Simply adding snap rings to attach each key to the main ring allows for easy removal. It is much easier to manipulate the lock with the single key than the entire ring. Unfortunately the one downfall to this modification is that it defeats the purpose of having all of the keys attached directly to the ring: It’s easier to misplace an individual key.

Another idea is to make a smaller ring with just one or two keys for the most common elevator doors found in your first due. The smaller ring will be used most of the time, and is much easier to work with without having to remove keys. It is also a good idea to make two set of the smaller rings with identical keys. (Obviously the one in the picture below is missing a key, but you get the idea.) This approach allows for the truck crew to split up and approach the top of the elevator car (to secure the power) and the actual elevator door (to facilitate the rescue) simultaneously. These simple tricks speed up the rescue, and make our job much easier.


Reading Windows

Sgt Ryan Blizek from Mechanicsville (MD) Station 2 sent in these pictures that are a good reminder of the importance of reading windows. Reading windows is an essential skill for everyone on the truck, practically the outside team. Windows can tell us where we need to VES and where we don’t. Windows can also show the inside team where the staircases are located in a multi story building. In this case however the off-set windows for the stair case are a little unusual. The first and second floors are what we’d expect to see when a building has a return style staircase. The mid-floor windows signify where the mid-landing or return of the staircase are located. This in important for everyone (truck, engine, etc.) operating in the building to know. The stairwells can always be used as a area of refuge, and most of the time, lead to an area of safe haven. However, whats going on on the third floor? Look at the picture below.

You can see that the stair case (and return) are still present, but it leads to a pretty interesting drop. The drop from that third floor stairwell window down to the return is about ten feet. Not something you’d want to discover if that window was being used for entry (for what ever reason.) The moral of the story… know how to read windows, know what to expect, and sound the floor before entering any window.


Vise Grip Mount

John Gilkey from Montgomery County (MD) Station 29 sent in a solution to ensure a pair of vise grips are always handy for rotary saw forcible entry.

The simple solution was created with some scraps laying around the firehouse and involves adding a low profile mount to secure the vise grips right to the air cleaner cover. The mount is made from a thin piece of metal, a 3/8″ bolt, a few nuts, and a small piece of velcro.

The nice thing about this set-up is that no real modifications are needed to the saw. Just take the bolt holding the air filter on, thread the “back-bone” and bolt it all back together. The vice grips are then adjusted until they “Grip” the 3/8” nuts and are held in place with the velcro strap.

Another modification on this set of vise grips was the addition of only two links of chain to the adjustment bolt. The saw’s shoulder strap can be removed and can be used as the lanyard for holding the vise grips when stabilizing a pad lock while cutting.

These modifications are simple, don’t take up any room in a compartment and always assures that your vice grips are with you when you use the saw to cut locks.


Residential Shutters

Rex Orcutt from East Pierce Fire and Rescue in Pierce County (WA) sent in these photos of something they recently ran into at a residential fire. The house was equipped with metal rolling shutters. Prior to entering the structure, the shutters were in the open position. While operating inside, the crew heard a loud bang, and the window went dark. The shutters had automatically lowered themselves into the closed position. Some quick work with the rotary saw took care of the issue. After the fire they started to determine how the shutters operated.

As you can see from the photo below, the shutters are operated from the inside by a hand crank mechanism that is attached to the shutters by a nylon strap. The heat from the fire melted the strap causing the shutters to lower into position.

When the shutters are stored in the open position, they maintain a low profile, and can easily go unnoticed prior to making entry.

Obviously having the shutters close during our operations can cause a number of issues. Having a crew ready to defeat them once the lower may be a viable option, but is far from ideal. Preventing them from lowering in the first place is key to making this a successful operation. One simple solution could be a simple pair of vise grips secured to the track from the outside to prevent the shutter from being able to lower.


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