Rocky Mountain firefighters were surprised by the unexpected collision of a dust-devil and a brush fire. It became a “firenado.”
When it comes to safety, sometimes we are no better than a group of chickens clucking, scratching, and scurrying about the barn yard! We say all the right things about safety, complain about the lack of safety, and will even criticize and chastise others when things go wrong – but are you courageous enough to stand up for what’s right when the time comes? Have you ever looked the other way because you didn’t want to call someone out or embarrass a buddy?
Perhaps it’s time to shut up and put up. Read, learn, and put safety measures into practice that will ensure, as best as we can, that we all go home without enjury. The fireground and apparatus operations will never be 100% risk free, but we can do a helluvah lot to increase our odds.
So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to take action or just cluck away?
Last Friday, I had the privilege of speaking at the the Great Florida Fire School in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Hundreds of firefighters attended the week-long conference that included both lecture and practical programs ranging from live fire to classroom classes. A few of my friends delivered the following classes: Applications of Positive Pressure (Captain John Flynn), The Courage Within (Driver/Operator Ric Jorge), and Gauges Don’t Lie (Doug Watson).
My program was a compilation of a few of my previous lectures on crew resource management that address stress, situation awareness, decision making, and intentional command all rolled into one. I called it Arrival, Now What: The First Fifteen are the Most Important! Why are the first 15 minutes the most important? It’s simple, that’s where more things happen than we have time and resources to handle. This highly compressed time frame increases chaos that forces us to play catch up, and we have to be more aware of it and have a better approach to handle it. Following are some takeaways from my presentation, just to get you thinking.
Numerous “fireground frictions” impact impact the first fifteen minutes of an incident. Frictions are “uncertainties that complicate performance” and they include, but are not limited to, disorientation, extreme fire behavior, loss of situation awareness, task saturation, and command confusion. Watch the video below for information about how new materials and technologies that are making fire-related risks much greater and our challenges for more difficult.
How do we transform unproductive confusion and disorder into controllable challenges? We study the predictability and performance of buildings and today’s fireground, and we improve the skill of controlling chaos. New scientific studies are showing us (seeing can be believing) how our tactics sometimes help or hinder the situation. The video below shows how controlling the door can seriously impact a fire event, and can help us control the fire (watch the temperatures change).
To stay ready, we have to practice sensible approaches that improve situation awareness, reduce task saturation, and improve decision making in those highly compressed time frames. Here are some of the sources I used to make my point:
- Chris Naum’s Buildings On Fire
- Chief Ed Hartin’s CFBT-US (Compartment Fire Behavior Training)
- the NIST Building and Research Technology studies
- the National Fire Academy’s “5 Box” model for identifying problems
- Michael Daley’s The Strategic Six & The First Five Minutes
What other problems (frictions) can you identify in the first fifteen minutes of an incident? How do you transform unproductive confusion and disorder into controllable challenges? What are you doing to stay ready?
Situational awareness, and a few secret agent gadgets, saved James Bond during a ski chase in the mountains of Austria. In an article from the The Tao News, it looks like the National Ski Areas Association is urging the same thing, situational awareness, as part of their safety week (January 14-22, 2012) focusing on slope safety. Avoiding collisions with fixed or other moving objects is always a concern for adventurers on the mountain, whether novice or veteran. Skiers can learn much from JB’s ability to remain aware of everything around them and to respond to the unexpected in a sensible way. As always, situational awareness and personal responsibility will help reduce injuries, and possibly save lives.
Be like 007 and ski aware out there!