Daniel Crump from Catlettsburg (KY) sent in this interesting photo of another hidden child’s play area. As you can see from the photo, there is a large area underneath the bed that could easily conceal a child during a search. We have shown various “hidden” areas that could be difficult to find on a primary. While firefighters frequently have differing opinions on whether these areas should or should not be searched, it always leads to a good discussion. Regardless of opinions, it’s something to discuss during training, and at least keep in mind during an actual search. Another interesting thing about this bed, it that in a low visibility situation, it may not feel like a bed at all. The ladder in the middle should always serve as a good indication that there is something else worth searching.38 comments
Here is another great modification of entanglement cutters. Kevin Kalmus from Austin (TX) sent in this photo of his cutters, not only with a leash added to the handle, but with a spring from and over-sized clothespin obtained from the dollar store. The addition of the spring makes using the cutters a single handed operation. Anyone who has ever used cutters in an entanglement knows that having them “spring” back into the open position after a cut has been made is extremely helpful. The picture also shows the handle of the tool covered with some paint on electrical “tape” for additional grip with a gloved hand. The benefit of the painted electrical tape is that it doesn’t get sticky and gunk up the inside of your pocket.
Besides a picture of the modified cutters, Kevin gave us the heads up on the IAFF Fire Ground Survival (FGS) Program. The FGS program is a comprehensive survival skills and MAYDAY prevention program. The FGS program applies the lessons learned from the NIOSH fire fighter fatality investigation program. The program is available in both online or hands on formats. The HOT format is taught by IAFF certified FGS instructors. The course manual and materials have a section that discusses the benefits of having cutters like this available during an entanglement. The online version of the FGS program is available for FREE to all firefighters, career or volunteer. Additional details about the program and a link to the free online training component of the program can be found on the IAFF website by clicking here.16 comments
Jimm Walsh, owner and webmaster here at vententersearch.com will be presenting From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat on Thursday March 3rd in Gilford, New Hampshire. The class is being hosted by the Fire Instructors and Officers Association of New Hampshire. This extremely motivational and informative class will focus on much more than basic leadership principles. While there are some basics of leadership that are applicable for any rank, this class will cover some specific principles for each rank from the bottom to the top. Click here to download the class flier.
Jerry Smith from Baltimore City sent in a picture of an upgrade the crew from BCFD Truck 15 made to the tip of their aerial ladder. It’s a similar concept as the recent post from DCFD Truck 13 featuring an LED upgrade to the aerial tip. The idea is to provide light, while maintaining a lower profile on the tip.
In this case, Truck 15 attached a halogen scene light to the last rung of the aerial with some U bolts. This particular installation allows the light to freely rotate with gravity to ensure the light is always pointing straight ahead. The light is simply plugged into the electrical outlet at the tip of the ladder and does require the generator to be in operation to provide illumination.
While this installation is slightly bulkier then the LED option, it obviously provides a substantial source of light, while still offering a reduced tip profile.
Supplemental locks should be expected to be found on the rear door of almost every commercial occupancy. The truck crew or team assigned to the rear of a commercial occupancy should show up prepared with the proper TRAINING, tools and equipment to be able to defeat any supplemental locks they may encounter. While the proper set of irons is almost unstoppable in the hands of a well trained crew, sometimes the rear door still presents us with some additional challenges that may require some additional tools (like the heavy irons or rotary saw.)
We always advocate the Identify and Visualize mentality when forcing the door. First you must attempt to identify what (if any) supplemental locks exist, and when forcing the door you must visualize (by sight and in your mind) what your are trying to accomplish with your tools in order to defeat the door. An unprepared crew can easily be identified on the fireground as the ones just beating on the door with no rhyme or reason. The end result is almost always a heavily damaged, undefeated door with the worn out crew standing beside it wondering what went wrong.
Aaron Anderson and Jarred Hackler from Hastings (NE) sent in these photos of a homemade supplemental lock they recently found on the rear door of a commercial occupancy.
From the outside all that is noticeable is a small piece of metal in the middle of the door. This should alert us to the presence a supplemental lock, but more importantly, it should tell us that it’s probably a homemade lock. Just by looking at the outside, what is your plan to defeat it?
As you can see from the inside the lock is a simple but effective pivoting cross bar. The bar swivels into the two cuts made into the door jamb. Now that you’ve seen the inside, what is your plan to defeat it?
Now take closer look at the outside…
If you look close at the scratches on the door you can see that the small piece of metal outside the door actually rotates when the interior bar is pivoted. Simply rotating this piece counterclockwise from horizontal to vertical should disengage the interior bar from the door jamb and the supplemental lock is out of the equation. If not, a simple plunge cut with the rotary saw at a 45 degree angle to the middle of the outside metal plate will cut the bolt connecting the inside and outside pieces together, and also defeat the lock.
Sometimes we just need to take the extra second or two and figure out the lock before we start forcing it. Once we get engaged in the force, we tend to stop thinking about alternatives, and get tunnel vision. However, we are trained professionals and cannot allow this to happen!
So get out and learn your area and more importantly, train with the tools.. Slow down, Identify and Visualize, and you’ll be much more successful in forcible entry.20 comments
We have preached for years the importance of getting out and surveying your area to know ahead of time what you will face on the fireground. One of the most important (yet often overlooked) components of a good area survey is sharing the information with the other shifts. We recent received an excellent example from Tony Ferreiro, Carpentersville (IL) Truck 981. He shared that his shift goes out once a month on Sundays and actually ladders buildings in their area with the aerial. This obviously allows them to determine optimal positions, and identify any limitations ahead of time. Beyond the area familiarization component, setting up the aerial on actual building is a valuable training tool for new or relief drivers. When it comes to sharing the area familiarization information Tony sent in this attachment which was shared with the other crews. The simple attachment is just a few pictures with descriptions of what they found of interest in that particular building, like a roof over. The example could have gone one step further to show the aerial set-up in a few spots on the building to show good and bad placement.
Area familiarization is an essential tool in being a well prepared truck company, but sharing this valuable information with everyone else is just as important.8 comments
The crew from DCFD 13 Truck #4 sent in these photos of an upgrade they made to the tip of their aerial. They removed the bulky spot lights often found on an aerial’s tip and replaced them with LED light strips. The main purpose of the modification was to reduce the profile of the tip, while maintaining adequate illumination for operations. The LED’s operate off the rig’s batteries, so the generator does not need to be in operation for them to be used. As you can see from the photos, the LED’s still illuminate the area of operation, and are still quite an eye catcher while operating on the roof. Another benefit is that the LED’s do not tend to have the blinding effect like traditional spot or flood lights.
Mike Webb from Frederick County (MD) sent in this submission for our what’s in your pockets section. The importance of having the handle on the cutters was stressed during his department’s participation in the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (details here.) During the HOT training involving an entanglement hazard, the challenges of retrieving cutters (or other tools) from bunker pockets with gloved hands is quickly realized. The simple addition of some webbing to the handle of the tool makes retrieving the tool much easier. In the picture above the webbing was attached to the handle with some hockey tape. Certain tools may lend themselves to drilling a hole in part of the handle. The picture below shows the webbing extending out of the pocket, which helps in the location of the tool, but may create a slight entanglement hazard itself. Simply having the webbing on the tool handle, but packed just inside the pocket will aid in retrieval without creating another entanglement hazard. Another idea could include attaching a strip of Velcro to the webbing and another just inside the flap of the pocket, to ensure the webbing handle is easy to locate in the pocket.
Steve Snider from Central Ohio Joint Fire Dist sent in these photos he took while visiting Findlay Ohio. This setup is common in some older downtown areas that are cramped for space. As you can see, the power lines and transformers are suspended above the alley. Something to keep in mind when it come to apparatus placement and ladder operations (aerial and ground.) This setup also becomes a problem when the fire auto exposes onto (or around) this suspended power structure. Obviously, those who have this in their areas should already know about it, but make sure you share the information with the surrounding mutual aide companies. On a related note, how many people have good working relationships with their power companies? It is great to take the time to meet with them so they understand how important their assistance can be on the fire ground. Most power companies will also take the time to put on a brief yet informative class for the crews on electrical hazards and equipment used in the grid.
Lieutenant Robert Matthews from Norfolk (VA) Ladder 9 sent in these photos (taken by Kyle Davis) of a familiar site, in an unfamiliar place. We have shown shelves hiding a room in a residential structure numerous times on the site, but we have never shown one in a commercial structure before. The one shown here was found during a pre-plan of a local restaurant. The shelving unit covers the entrance to an additional service area of the kitchen. As you can see from the photo, when the shelf-door is in the closed position, there is no way of knowing what is behind it. Fortunately in this case there is an exterior door, so this room would certainly be discovered from the outside.