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Lacey Heavy Rescue

FF Ryan Cox from Lacey (WA) Station 31 sent in an interesting write-up of a situation they recently ran into. It involves a 700lb man, a 2nd floor Jacuzzi, and some imagination. Ryan’s full description of the event is listed below as the first comment to this post, it’s a long read, but well worth it.

It may not have been how everyone would have handled it, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Remember, the most important part of the story is that it worked for them…


Prioritizing Victim Rescue

On a working fire the Truck Company may be faced with multiple victims hanging in windows awaiting rescue. How do you prioritize who gets the bucket (or ladder) first? What are some of your considerations? Remember the loudest victim may not be the one in greatest distress. When teaching tactics, I always use this video to put it all in perspective. -Jimm-

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Man In Machine Kit

Every truck company should be prepared to handle those obscure rescues like: machinery entrapments (fingers, hands, arms) Child stuck in a swing seat, and even simple ring removals. These calls can easily be handled by a well-trained and properly equipped crew and a little ingenuity. Included below are some photos and inventory list of the Man in Machine (MIM) Kit carried on Winter Park (FL) Truck 61. The kit is carried in a Pelican Box with shelves made from ½” HDPE plastic, and tools are secured in place with Velcro straps. The box is a little on the heavy side, but meets the need. We’ll point out a few of the more oddball items included in the kit with a quick explanation of how it’s utilized.

Many of the newer style of wedding rings are made from more exotic materials than previously found like tungsten carbide and titanium. These modern ring materials are to strong for the traditional ring removal tools often found in medical bags. This kit contains a ring cracker specifically made for tungsten carbide rings and a dremel tool and spoon handles for cutting titanium rings. The spoon handle is placed under the ring in between the ring and patients finger so the dremel blade does not come in contact with skin.


The snap ring pliers is a great tool to carry since many machine components like rollers are held in place by snap rings on the ends. The snap rings are present to allow of the machine to be taken apart for maintenance. When dealing with a MIM type rescue, sometimes the simplest way to remove the entrapment is to take the effected portion of the machine apart instead of just trying to pry or defeat it in a destructive and often more time consuming method.


Having simple lubricants handy like soapy water and vegetable oil work well in instances when less traumatic injuries are present and the effected body part is simply “stuck.” The water can be used as a cooling agent when any of the grinding tools are being utilized. Simply poking a few holes in the cap of the water bottle allows for the water to be squeezed out or dripped into the area of need.


This kit is by no means the best kit out there; it has been assembled to handle the most common types of MIM incidents Truck 61 has encountered. Depending on the type of entrapment other items found on the truck are also utilized such as simple mechanics tools.








(1) 9” PRY BAR and (1) 11” PRY BAR








(1) 18“ PRY BAR

(1) LARGE HACK SAW (stored on back side of tray)







(1) 1000ml VEGETABLE OIL

(1) 1000ml WATER

(1) 1000ml SOAPY WATER


There are some tremendous resources available to learn more about MIM type Rescues, the guys over at have some great resources. Also has been featuring a bunch of MIM props that Andrew Brassard from has been submitting. It doesn’t take much to assemble a kit to increase your capabilities for the often challenging calls. So what other items have you found a need for in your MIM kit?


Interior Bars

Captain Tony Carroll from DC Truck Co. No. 9 sent in this detailed write-up on security bars that Rescue Co. No. 2 recently found on an apartment building. Finding bars on the ground floor of an apartment building is not uncommon, however these bars are located inside the window. We have shown interior security bars before on the site, but Captain Carroll has a detailed analysis of this particular setup that we wanted to share. Click here to download the file.

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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.


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.


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.


Bucket O’ Chain

Andy Golz from Duluth (MN) Rescue 1 sent in this idea for simple chain storage. They were not happy with their previous set-up using old O2 bags for the chains, so they set out to find a better solution. They found a few empty foam containers and cut the tops off with a reciprocating saw. Once the top was removed a few holes were drilled about two inches from the top of the container. A few out-of-service prussik cords were used to form the handle secured to the container with a barrel or scaffold knot. Before securing the second side of either prussik, the cord was run through a five inch section of garden hose to complete the handle. Hanging the hooks on the top edge of the container makes them easy to find, and prevents the chain from getting tangled.


Slinging the Saws

We recently had the pleasure of spending the day with the Clearwater (FL) Truck 45. The crew of Truck 45 was an extremely dialed-in and well trained crew in regards to truck company functions. One of the many points of discussion throughout the day was the age old debate of Bucket vs. Straight Stick. Clearwater Truck 45 is a Tractor Drawn 100ft Aerial, so the crew was quite familiar with ways to maximize effectiveness without the need for a bucket.

One of the simple yet effective methods they shared was how they rig their aerial when making the roof. Whenever the aerial is being utilized for roof operations, the tip is loaded with some essentials prior to beginning operations.  The crew loads a total of three saws, at least two hooks, and a roof rescue bag. Their saw complement is extremely well thought out… 2 saws for whatever roof is expected (wood vs. metal) and an additional saw for the opposite roof material just in case. This complement of saws has served them well, and has allowed them to continue effective operations when a different roofing material is encountered. This can actually happen quite regularly with build-outs and additions. In addition, a roof ladder is secured to the fly section of the aerial whenever a parapet is known, or expected. This simple addition of the most commonly utilized tools for roof operations prior to operating the aerial allows members to climb the aerial with both hands, or even better, to provide free hands for whatever other equipment is needed. For example, at least one member always carries a set of irons to roof.

(as mentioned earlier they actually attach three saws, only two are shown above)

Their method of attaching the saws is simple, a section of webbing is girth hitched onto the aerial, looped though the saw handle, and secured back onto itself with a carabineer. This method allows the saw to be removed easily by simply unclipping the carabineer, without having to deal with removing the girth hitch.

The beauty of this operation comes in the actual placement of the aerial to the roof. The aerial is flown higher than the roof, and over (beyond) the edge. The aerial is then lowered until the equipment lands safely on the roof, or goes behind the parapet. The final step of the operation involves retracting the aerial slightly so it is level with, and just away from the roof. This final placement allows for the tools to be readily available to the crew once they make the roof, and allows for an easy safe transition off of the aerial. They realize this placement may slightly limit the aerial’s “visibility” from across the roof, but have found it provides a much safer and quicker way to transition from the aerial to the roof. The aerial tip lighting, and the equipment staying attached (like the roof rescue bag, and “off saw”) provide for easy spotting of the aerial form across the roof.  Also visible in the picture is a bean bag on a piece of webbing. This remains attached at all times, and is used for verifying aerial placement to the building or window when the other equipment is not attached.

The key to success with this operation (as with any other) is with training. The speed and precision that was demonstrated by the Truck 45 crew proved that they train on this operation regularly. A special thanks goes out to Division Chief Riley, Lieutenant Capo, and the three Jim’s for spending the time with us and talking fire.

Photos by Jeff Spinelli


Buffalo MAYDAY Training

Lieutenant Ronald K Bourgeois from Buffalo (NY) Engine 1 sent in this video of a MAYDAY prop they are using in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the motivation for the prop and annual training came from the tragic loss of two of Buffalo’s Bravest on August 24, 2009. Lt. Chip McCarthy and FF Jonathon Croom both fell from the first floor into the basement while searching for a reported person trapped in the structure. (We recently received some additional information from BFD about this training. The training was in the works well before the tragic LODD. The planning and development of this training actually began in January of 2009, before the LODD incident, not as a reaction to the incident.)

The purpose of this prop and training evolution is to build confidence and promote self rescue techniques. The portion of the prop shown in the video is part of a confined space maze that ends with the blindfolded firefighter falling through the floor. The collapsible floor section is activated by an instructor pulling on a rope, removing the hinged floor section’s support. Once the floor section collapses, the firefighter falls into a pit filled with foam. The pads end up surrounding the firefighter making movement a bit more difficult, similar to having debris from the collapse. The prop also contains a window at the end of the foam pit so the firefighter can practice self rescue form a high window. The prop cost was roughly $450, and was constructed with 2×4’s and ½” plywood. The trap doors were hinged with three heavy duty hinges, with a lip underneath for support. A hinged 2×4 holds the doors up and a rope is the trip mechanism.

Unfortunately, we cannot take back any of the LODD that occur in our line of work, but we can learn from them and try to prevent them from occurring again. Training evolutions like this are an important component to learning from them.


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