|December 18, 2004
Is your recruit firefighter
When was the last time you “asked a recruit
what his or her air pressure was,” while doing an evolution? How
many of you spend any time teaching your recruit(s) the importance of managing
their air? How many of them could state their average “at work” air
consumption rate, or even their “resting” air consumption rate? Would
they even know what these terms mean?
In the fire service today, we are continually
looking for modern technology to make our job safer. An example of
this would be the placing of a “heads up display” in a firefighters SCBA
face piece, to show them their air pressure. Is this type of technology
necessary? It would appear so, since firefighters are getting deeper
and deeper into fires like never before.
With advancements in our PPE we no longer
feel heat, which was an indicator telling us that it was time to get out.
In addition fires are burning at higher BTU’S than ever before. The
job of an interior firefighter is becoming increasingly dangerous when
you combine the intensity of fires today, our advancements in PPE and the
reduced experience of fighting fires. Firefighters are not “seeing,
feeling” and experiencing enough fire, to get a good grasp of what they
are facing when they actually get “work.”
Given these facts, along with a lack of
air management training for recruit(s) leaves us as firefighters with a
serious potential for a Line of Duty Death! So, how do we proactively
educate and train our recruit(s) about air management?
|First of all, educate
your recruit(s) on just how important it is to be “Air Aware” at all times.
The recruit(s) must learn that their life and those of their fellow firefighters
are in jeopardy if they do not do this.
We cannot be afraid to use past experiences
to reinforce your point. Fire departments like Phoenix and Worcester
have not been afraid to share from their past learning experiences.
I believe that it is crucial to model this mind-set for the recruit(s)
from day one of the academy.
Whenever the recruit(s) are participating
in an evolution where they are wearing their SCBA’S, they need to communicate
their air pressure level with members of their team and academy instructors.
While recruit(s) are doing evolutions that simulate the fire ground, recruit(s)
should be asked if they have enough air to get out of the building, if
(place your own down firefighter scenario in here) were to happen?
How long have they been working? How much air have they used and have the
conditions that they are working in changed for better or worse?
By verbalizing these questions to the recruit(s)
it should heighten their learning curve by saying, thinking and doing.
This will from Day 1 o f the recruit academy form the necessary mind-set
of being “Air Aware.” Your department will have to decide what the benchmarks
for this will be. This mind-set will need to be reinforced by all
instructors through out the academy. This can be done even when an
evolution is being performed for the purpose of training on another skill.
For example: Hose Stream Applications
You might have a weekly award system for
the recruit team that is best able to correctly tell you their air pressure
throughout the week. This will encourage the recruit(s) to work together
and to communicate more efficiently and effectively. As an experienced
member of the fire service you know just how important teamwork is.
Clearly a course that simulates tasks that
are actually performed on the fire ground, better prepare recruit(s) for
their career. Some departments already do this type of training,
but it is not done to make their recruit(s) “Air Aware.” It is done for
fitness, skill evaluation and or as a team building exercise.
These are all great reasons to do this
type of training, however, I believe that having a recruit who is “Air
Aware” is invaluable. If your department does not currently do anything
like this here are a few course ideas for you:
Once you have chosen a course the next step
is to decide how to monitor the “working air” consumption rate and their
“resting air” consumption rate. Try the following:
andidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)
Scott Combat Challenge (On Target Inc.)
TES2 - Training and Education Services, Founder
and President Tim Sendelbach, Assistant Chief of Training City of Savannah,
Georgia Fire Department. Designed a SCBA course that simulates tasks
being performed on the fire ground. (To contact Tim regarding his
course visit his website at www.tes2training.com)
Team Performance Evaluation (TPE). San
Jose Fire Department uses this course, to measure their recruit(s) current
skill abilities. The course is based on actual fire ground tasks
and the course difficulty increases as the recruit(s) skill level increases
throughout the academy. (If you have questions regarding this, contact
the City of San Jose Fire Department, Bureau of Education and Training
at 408-277-4251. Ask to speak to the Captain in charge of recruit
Allow the recruit(s) time to rehabilitate
from the evolution according to department’s policy. Then have the
firefighter put their complete PPE and SCBA back on. You will then
have the recruits(s) do the same course until their low air pressure alarm
sounds. This time instead of recording the time and having them stop
once their low air alarm sounds, have the recruit continue to go through
the course until they have run completely out of air. The instructor
will record the time the recruit(s) low air alarm sounded, and the time
at which the recruit ran completely out of air.
See your department policy and or NFPA 1500
regarding physical training and firefighter fire ground rehabilitation
Have the recruit(s) in full PPE and SCBA,
once the Recruit goes on air start the stopwatch.
Follow the recruit(s) through the course;
have them state their air pressure at the end of each task.
Once the low air alarm sounds write down the
running time at which the alarm started to sound. The recruit(s)
may need to go through the course more than once in order to get to this
stage of air consumption.
Have the recruit stop and move off the course.
Have them follow your department’s policy and procedure for an “emergency
traffic / Mayday” and have them breath down their air supply until they
run completely out of air.
Write down the time that the recruit runs
completely out of air.
This training is done to help the recruit(s)
realize just how much time and air that they have available to them, once
they are deep into a structure, and if they wait too long to call for help,
once they are lost, trapped or disoriented.
This type of training is invaluable to
a recruit(s). I believe that by training and educating a recruit(s)
to be “Air Aware,” you will help to prevent any future Rapid Intervention
Team (Company) deployments.
I believe that there are three constants
that all firefighters bring to a fire with them:
The “Air Aware” training described above addresses
the three constants that all firefighters bring to a fire with them.
I believe that this is only one portion to the large equation of keeping
Rapid Intervention Company deployments from occurring. Finally, never
ever forget the following quote regarding your training practices, habits
and mentoring of fellow firefighters and recruit(s). Being “Air Aware”
is a critical factor that assists in leading to the safety and survival
of our brothers and sisters!”
Experience, which includes their training
Physical abilities and limitations
Jeff Seaton has been a career firefighter
for over 11 years. He is currently a firefighter for the City of
San Jose, California, where he is also a Rapid Intervention and Firefighter
Survival instructor, EMT Proctor and Citizen CPR instructor. He was
an IAFF representative on his Department’s Safety Committee. Jeff
is a Western Regional Director for the International Society of Fire Service
Instructors. He can be cotacted at: email@example.com