Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Services, Inc., better known as VFIS, recently activated a new one-stop-shop online resource for fire departments - ResponderHelp. Free of charge, VFIS has consolidated a vast library of resources, ranging from sample standard operating guidelines (SOGs), technical bulletins by industry experts, checklists, informational flyers, and articles/research papers on a variety of fire service topics.
For this tool modification, I started with a 24’ Fire Hooks Unlimited (FHU) ProBar. I cut the pike off and added a Rex Tool in its place. This tool modification provides a firefighter with a decent size bar for forcible entry and pulling locks.
The departure of a firefighter provides an often missed opportunity for valuable data collection. Through conducting exit surveys with each departure, both career and volunteer fire departments gain a final opportunity to receive critical insight about how firefighters perceived their experience with the department. Here is how to get an exit survey started in your fire department.
Here are three ideas you can implement today to help your volunteer fire department with recruitment. 1) Create a Membership Interest/Inquiry Form on Website. 2). Simplify Volunteer Fire Department Application. 3). Guide Volunteers Through On-boarding Process.
Use an old roof ladder to create a custom vent, enter, search (VES) ladder for your fire department. A lot of our legacy buildings in the Northeast have the sill 4-5 feet off the ground. This is a fast and easy way to get in and out quickly.
In the 1980’s, my mom dreamed of becoming a firefighter for the City of Hartford, Connecticut. She passed the required tests, but due to life changes at the time, was not able to complete the final step and get on the job. About twenty five years later, that passion to be a firefighter still burned brightly. Three months after I joined my volunteer fire department, my mom joined too at the age of 45. While father-son firefighting duos are pretty common in fire departments, less common are mother-son teams, and I couldn’t have been more proud to serve alongside her. We completed Firefighter I together and had a solid decade protecting our community as part of a great fire department. To this day, I am still inspired by having had the opportunity…
Passing on history is important because “those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is of particular relevance to us firefighters as most of our fire codes and standards were developed in reaction to tragedy. When I was a junior firefighter, our Chief developed an excellent program for teaching the history of major fires and their impact on today’s landscape. He wrote the names of 15 to 20 major fires on pieces of paper and put them in a bowl. We each drew the name of a fire out of the bowl and were instructed to research what, where, and when the fire occurred, as well as standards, codes, and tactics attributed to it. At the start of each subsequent dril…
The firefighting hood is an important part of our personal protective equipment ensemble. Not only does the hood provide thermal protection, it protects us from harmful, hazardous particles and substances. Wearing your hood should be a habit - here’s how to make it one.
Garage doors play a significant role in firefighting operations. They may function as a primary entry/egress point for interior operations. They could serve as our secondary building access. Given the nature of their use, the garage itself is often the location of the fire or hazard we’re responding to. In any case, however, the garage door can also become a major hazard. Heat from fire can damage and melt the springs, causing the door to release without warning. Garage doors can be extremely heavy and this release can cause life threatening injuries or trap firefighters engaged in fire suppression operations.Be sure to secure the garage door if you need it open, even if the springs are completely intact. Here are a few ways to secure the door.
Familiarize yourself with the size of your apparatus hose bed and know how much hose you have stored. For example, if you need 100 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose line and know the bed is 10 feet deep, you know you need to pull ten lengths. You’ll grab five folds of fire hose and unload…
Firefighters love to complain, providing fire department decision makers with plenty of anecdotal information. But how can we implement a new standard operating procedure or make major changes to personnel programs while lacking concrete, defendable data? We often operate in a silo about our own fire department when we make decisions with lasting impact. To better understand your department, use a survey to collect credible data.
It’s critical that if your fire department is going to have a social media presence, accounts are active and maintain a steady stream of content. You can’t just post during fundraising events or to garner support for the Town budget vote. Here are some great resources for social media content that you can use on your fire department social media accounts.
My grandfather, Jerry Levitan, Sr, was a volunteer firefighter in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for over twenty years. He didn’t start his firefighting career until he was 48 years old, completing fire academy training with recruits 25 years younger. He went on to have a successful tenure, serving as captain, lead instructor for department driver training, and as a trustee on his department’s executive board. Here are the five most important lessons my grandfather taught me about the fire service.
Whether it’s frowned upon at your department or not, at the end of the day, many of us are running with our scba masks pre-connected for a variety of reasons. Here is a quick easy trick I wish I had been shown 12 years ago.
Every call it seems there is a point when you end up with more gear than hands or need to accomplish a task that requires you to put your halligan down. But ditching your halligan, even briefly, could result in it being stolen on-scene by the second due crew! Here’s a solution for carrying a firefighter halligan.
Our volunteer department started playing pickup ultimate Frisbee one Saturday per month from May to October. We create a schedule at our April meeting, post it on the bulletin board in our meeting room, and email it out to all the members. There are a few ultimate Frisbee fans on the department who had been meeting up behind the firehouse randomly a few times per month for a pickup game. We proposed making it a formal activity for the department two years ago and it’s been a success.
Have you ever been to a firefighter trade show or exposition? If so, you know firefighters love tools and gadgets. We like to be prepared for every situation you can imagine, and then the ones that you’ve never thought of. Unfortunately, our gear pant pockets become the dumping ground for such tools.
The dreaded radio operations drill. We have all sat through endless powerpoint slides with pictures of radios and sample communications in quotation marks that struggles to hold our attention. So it may be surprising that one of the best classes I’ve ever taken covered basic radio use, but with a twist.
Buy full size 9’’ cable cutters or wire cutters, whatever you can get your hands on. Hack the handles down to a length that just fits your gloved hand. Remove all factory grips and apply a length of looped webbing over the newly cut to length handles…
It is critical that firefighters operate with core competencies at 100%.However, many of our responsibilities are performed in a high risk, low volume environment. As a result, responsibility for basic skill maintenance falls heavily on training. The firefighter relay race is a creative way to practice multiple competencies at once, as well as incorporate other secondary skills like teamwork and communication.
If you’re not already signed up for the Daily Dispatch, you’re missing out. This is one of our favorite fire service newsletters. The daily Dispatch provides a blend of local and national fire news five days a week.
“Communication breakdown” is cited in almost every after action report. Internal department politics and poor mutual aid relationships are problems that plague every fire station in the country at some point. If only there was a solution… Well, that is where the power of food comes in.
“Time is zero-sum. Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into time for solo work that’s equally essential.” Banning meetings from your department is not an option, as tempting as that may sound. Collaboration is critical in our team-oriented environment. Let’s review what you can do to maximize your fellow firefighters time in department meetings.
I’m in the front passenger’s side of a big Kenworth tanker truck. It’s a black top style truck with a big silver tank holding 3,000 gallons of water. Our station logo is in gold leaf on each door, with “Station 70” written just below it. We were just called to provide additional water at a large house fire in the next town over. While they are a neighboring community, this is rural Pennsylvania, so everything is a haul, especially in this elephant like piece of apparatus.
During an extrication, it’s likely you’ll need to break a window. A window punch at an accident scene can create a mess and be dangerous. If not secured, shards of glass can be spread all over your work area, including you and the victim. If you don’t have any sticky spray, duct tape can be a useful alternative.
As with most responsibilities of the modern firefighter, we must rise to the occasion, as we always do. After a particularly heavy snowfall, or a series of back-to-back snow storms, get the team together and shovel out hydrants across the community.