Positions Through The Captain's Eyes
My experience in this topic
has come from 22 years of state and local training in the classroom as
well as on the job. I have been a company officer for the past six years.
It also helps to have good teachers. Please look at this as a
learning tool and I hope my articles can do for you what it has done for
Captain Jim Williams
Forge Fire Department/Engine E-93
For the next 3 months I will
explain how we developed riding positions, how they changed our methods
in fire fighting, and how they are being used today.
I hope my articles will reinforce
our commitment towards doing fundametnally sound engine company work and
possibly enlighten some departments not using riding positions today to
consider doing so.
In 1988 I met a New York
City Fire Lieutenant who was assigned to 35 Truck. In a short time
we became very good friends. One of the first things I wanted to do was
go out and ride with the New York Fire Department and see what it was really
There has been a lot of written
about it and even videos showing them going to different types of alarms.
I was a good student in my trips out to the big city, learning everything
I could. One thing that really stuck in my mind was how each member
of the engine, truck, and rescue always had jobs set for them before they
even pulled out of the station.
When they sat in a
particular seat on whatever apparatus they rode, their first due
assignment would be set for the tour. Over the next two years back
at our station we would discuss how the city did it and we
tried to find away to adapt them to our small town.
The first thing we did was
go to a enclosed cab making it safer for all members. We then put
a first due assignment on each seat. We looked at our layout of the
cab and picked what seat would do what's task. Now you have to realize
that in 1990 we had three companies in Old Forge and it really wasn't broken
down who did what. You could act as an engine, truck or even both
so you needed to be able to adapt quickly. The concept sounded great
but it was time to get in writing.
So we took our 10 man cab
and divided the seats into engine assignments and truck assignments. This
is how we broke it down....
I hope the first segment will
set the tone on what will follow and open some eyes to see it's never too
late to change!!
Seat 1 is the Officer's seat.
He has to determine what we were going to be on any specific response.
He also had to figure if he was going to be command on that specific call
by determining if we were the first due apparatus without a chief officer
Seat 6 and Seat 7 is assigned
Attack Team 1. They would pull the first line off the apparatus.
Seat 3 and Seat 4 is assigned
Attack Team 2 who would pull the backup line.
Seat 2 is assigned forcible
entry, equipped with a set of irons.
Seat 5 is the can man and he
brings the PW extinguisher.
Seat 8 is the chauffeur......
get us there... get us water.
Seat 9 is the layout man. This
position is responsible for laying out the supply line
Seat 10 is the supply man....
he helps the chauffeur.
For several months we did
a lots of drills every weekend. Now you could imagine all the negative
comments we received in the first year because this was a big change in
One thing you learn in
this business is change doesn't come easy. We then decided to
pick what seats we had to fill by the type of call and amount of manpower
we were going out with. In that period it was common to go out the
door with 8 to 10 people in the cab.
I can recall one night when
we were seating around watching a movie and were dispatched for structure
fire with possible entrapment. As we pulled out I remember looking back
in the cab and seeing "a full house". That night it just seemed
to go like clock work. We pulled the first two lines on the fire,
did forcible entry, and completed a primary search of the residence.
It was very satisfying that night to see how the planning and training
had paid off. Knowing your job before you stepped out of the apparatus
made it so much easier.
Yes, it did work, but
it needed more refinement and so did our whole system in the borough.
It was time to take the next step. We first had to change our
officer structure, and then adopt a true Incident Command System. In the
next article we will explore how that all happened.
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