Monday, January 5, 2009

Holy C&$p ... Its over

Finally finally finally, over and done with. No more fire least not until Driver/Pump Operator School (hopefully this coming september, assuming i make minimum staffing by march).

Got my spiffy black helmet and all that jazz, its definitely nice to be able to ride the engine in a supression capability rather than as "the emt" ridalong type dealy. No that there's anything wrong with EMS only providers but there's just something about hearing the tones drop for a supression call and having to hustle to the apparatus bay and gear up with the engine crew.

Rode the week before graduation with an all volunteer crew at one of the other volunteer houses in the county. Filling a slot left open by career drills. Meaning that district was left open for us to take all the calls that the career engine normally would have taken. My last couple days as a redhat, YIPEEE!! Maybe we'll actually get something good that day. Start the day by running 4 ALS Assist runs. Nothing too fancy, syncope, vertigo, diabetic crisis, and a MRSA patient, fun fun fun. Just when i was giving up hope of a supression call and had resigned myself to be "slave labor" to the medic crew for the rest of the day i sit down at the CAD terminal to see whats going on in the county, i refresh and scroll down. See an FTH (Fire in a townhouse) in waiting to be dispatched status, i click it open to see the suggested units and #1 on the list is E414B, i keep reading then it sinks in WE'RE E414B!!!! Holy crap, i jump up and i think my voice actually cracked as i kinda screamed townhouse!!!! Everyone gallops (yeah thats the best term i can use to describe 6 highly eager vollies charging to the apparatus bay) to the engine and gears up, i think we're dressed, buckled down, and on the road in record least it feels like it. We're barreling down the road all the fun of lights and sirens and i look down to grab my helmet, DAMN RED HELMET!!!!!! means i'll be throwing ladders and basically anythign thats not inside, i remind myself one more week and then the sound of the radio chatter and sirens kinda wakes me up again, we're on our way to a real fire. Or so we thought, we get to the address and its kinda like hearding cats, there's engines everywhere, the truck and tower are sitting on teh side of the road waiting, in and out of office complexes looking for any sign of the reported fire. Nothing, a giant case of blueballs, as my officer on the day put it "a giant goat rope". Someone thought it would be fun to call in a false report of fire i guess. Oh well, pack down and head back to the station. Roll in and not 10 minutes later we're toned out again for an inside gas leak, kind of a big deal, more so than an outside leak since its a confined space and depending on the size of the leak the atmosphere in the space can become explosive fairly easily. Get there and well turns out to be really kinda nothing, a stove knob barely left on all day ... a little stinky but no real gas leak. All in all a good day 2 supression calls, one a letdown the other i actually dressed and charged a line and well did real firefightery stuff for the first time.

I've ridden a couple shifts with the career guys too, ran anther inside gas leak last night as well as an investigation for an acetylene cylinder left on the side of the road. Interesting times, slowly working my way up to my 30-40 calls to get minimum staffing status where i don't have to ride as an "other" and can fill a required slot on an engine shift.

I'll update either later today or tomorrow about some more interesting calls since fire school

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last weekend in fireschool....

So the last weekend of fire academy is coming up this weekend. I can't tell you how excited i am, i'll be able to get back into the caddy scene, have time to concentrate on friends and family. Oh and the new girlfriend thing, yeah thats gonna become a lot easier (shes an amazing girl btw, lets me run into burning buildlings for fun AND SHE COMES TO WATCH!)
Well anyways, i figured i'd start a thread because a friend of Coelle's is a professional photographer and took some pictures from our live burn last weekend and she'll be taking more this weekend from our days of incident simulations.
This class has been an amazing experience, i have learned so much, matured so much, gained so much respect for both my fellow students, but other firefighters and for myself. I never thought i could complete this, from a panic attack the first day of SCBA to being one of the top students in the class.
The first night of class they had us don our SCBA bottles and crawl underneath the parked fire engines to show us how small a space we could fit in (they got smaller as the class moved on) but to gain confidence in our gear and ourselves they started us slow. I however freaked out, i hated having something around my throat, fealt like i couldnt get a full breath of air. I've gotten over that and moved on. Its really not that bad once you learn to trust your gear and know that you're never really "out of air".
Next hurdle was ladders, man i hate heights and its even worse when you're wearing an extra 65 pounds of gear and you're all off balance and top heavy because of where the gear sits on your body. The ladders bounce and sway and drag and dip its not a very comfortable situation. But i got over that, now i'm fine on ladders. Its even quelled a bit of my fear of heights, especially if its with a purpose. I don't clam up and sweat nearly as much when i'm up high now.
Last huge hurdle was just general fitness and grip strength, a fire hose has 150# of pressure at the nozzle, you're basically just holding onto a wet linen tube with your hands thats trying to fly backwards and kick yoru ass. I spent a lot of time working on technique and grip strength and now its like second nature. Its a lot of little things that i never expected to have an issue with.
So without further adue my first batch of pictures courtesy of Susan Solo and Susan Solo Photography.
Mike and Dan hitting the eves to keep fire from spreading to the attic space

Students in the Red Helmets are always under the control of an instructor or an officer (black/yellow or white helmets)

I couldnt Help but ham it up a bit

My station mate and partner Josh and I exiting the structure after our second burn of the day. (we're the two in the center...i love this picture for some reason, makes it look like we actually worked hard)

The hot stuff

you can see more pictures at susan's website
I'll be posting again more often now that i'll have free time without 32 hours of class each week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Ok, that was out of the frying pan and into the fire. Right out of FF I testing and into the unit on Auto Extrication and Car Fires. Spent last week learning about tactics for car fires and safety on vehicle fire scenes. An interesting lecture, not things i would have thought about. Like bumper struts, high pressure "shocks" that cushion the bumper during low speed collisions, never would have thought to watch for them heating up and exploding. Lots of new things to think about as opposed to structure fires.

The more i think about it the more i have come to consider auto fires/accidents some of the most complex scenes we operate on. My asst. trainign coordinator put it best when he said we have to worry about patients, vehicle stability, passing traffic, crew integrity, and a myriad of other variables.

Also had a lesson and practicals for auto extrication, pretty cool thinking about shoring, cutting, and extrication. Never would have thought to think about the exercise as removing the car from around the victim, my thought process would be to cut the victim out of the car. Its just a different way to think about it. Basically a 6 hours lesson on Anatomy and physiology of cars. Pretty cool.

Last weekend was auto fires and extrication practicals, got to respond to 2 car fires bust up some hoods/windows and play with the crosslay some more. Definitely getting more confident with that one. Also got to play with elevators, never really considered the whole complexity of the ELEV incident, how to open doors, move cars, remove victims from stuck cars. things like that.

Well tonight is electrical utility control, and thursday is controlling gas utilities. So it should be interesting, get to interface with people from the respective utility companies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Well today concludes the second day of Firefighter I testing. 'Round these parts to be a firefighter you need to have Pro-Board Firefighter I and Firefighter II. So yeah, right now i'm a glorified door chock with a helmet.  No harm in saying i'm useless right now, lol. For the most part I am, as a firefighter that is. We've learned the basics, PPE, SCBA, Search and Rescue, Ladders, Hoses & Nozzles, Ventilation, and Forcible Entry. Tested out on all of those today, it was a very very long 2 days asleep by 9 type days. But i've done it and now its just headlong into the intense stuff. 

Next lecture on tuesday is Car Fires, yeah big burning buckets of gasoline and airbags hellbent on killing firefighters. SEE INTENSE SHIT! Next saturday is actually live car fires. Now i'm not saying i'd jump on the hoseline with everyone in my class right now... definitely not. But i'm confident that the instructors won't let anything unsafe happen. Bring on the carfires!

This coming thursday's lecture is auto extrication. Cuttin' junk up, breaking parts doin the cool stuff, so yeah its headlong into the breech.

Write again soon.....


Monday, September 22, 2008

Well hello there!!!

Been almost exactly 11 days since my last entry, not because i've been lazy but because i've been too damned busy.

Its coming up on skills testing for my FF I/II class, so its getting a little more intense, the only class we really have left before testing is Incident Command System/Rapid Intervention Team lecture. Basically the meat and potatoes of how to run an indicent and what to do when something goes real bad real quick.

RIT should be fun. For those of you who arent fire- service-ish RIT or RIT Team if you want to be reduntantly redundant, its the we save the firefighter firefighters. Say one team goes into the house to advance a hose through the house to the back of the garage to push a housefire out the front door, the garage door colapses on them and poof, bad shit all around. The RIT team is the group of firefighters that goes in to save their collective rear ends from the "oh no shit went wrong situation". We've practiced a little with the hardware but this is the lecture where you learn what that stuff is good for and really how to implement it.

Overall besides that school has been difficult but fun. The majority of the time since my last entry has been focused on Hoselines and Forcible entry.

As far as hoses i know there's a few little things i've got to work on but there's nothing that isnt really common sense. Its a little misleading, you think oh its just a hose, how hard could it be to control. And in all honest it isnt all that hard to control its the intervening circumstances that make it difficult. The fact that its like the garden hose from hell, 100# of backpressure on a straight stream, a little less on a solid stream and its downright easy on fog pattern. Combine that 100# force with slimy gloves, slick floors, and being tired (all real life conditions) and you've got one hell of a different task than it looks to be. The nozzles are pretty easy, little technical things and nitpicking things when it comes to deploying the hoses the right way (how you lay out the hose in front of the entrance, the process for calling for water, the order in which you have to do things, and even how you pull it down off the engine, its racked a certain way to make it easier but there is still a lot of technique in doing it right.

Now its on to Forcible entry, Ventilation, and Power tools, the first real class where you stand a chance of maiming/killing yourself outright. Lecture was good, not all that boring and we actually learned why we do certain things, and some easier way to do stuff in the field. Cutting a hole in a roof, sounds stupid right? but its got a purpose. Fire is A) HOT! and B) makes a lot of smoke, both of them want to go up, so why not let them, cut a hole right over the fire and you've now let the heat out of the room, and you've given it a palce to go other than sideways and spreading. All pretty darned simple when you think about it. But, now you've got to get someone on the roof with a chainsaw, yup ON THE ROOF! with a CHAINSAW!

Here's the part that amazes me, a chainsaw is a loud dangerous looking tool, how then, is it possible to not have a built in amount of respect/fear of this thing. The way some people fling it around amazes me, some people this weekend almost lost legs/arms/heads this is gonna take some practice. I've used them before so i was a little more comfrotable than most but still had some issues to deal with.

The real fun this weekend was the Forcible Entry day. I've got a few pictures so i'll let them do a little bit of the talking. Our lead instructor got us access to a house someone was going to have demolished anyways, perfect! An opportunity to really practice breaking down doors, punching through walls, breaking out windows...all the fun stuff. We also got to get up on a real roof using a real roof ladder. This was a monster roof, a lot of people had a hard time cutting through it. But i got it done in good order and on to the next task. Our other stations were Hooking (pulling down ceilings and busting out windows), Breeching (punching holes in walls big enough to crawl through without bringing the wall down around you, oh and floors too, holes in floors are fun), Forcible entry (busting through doors in different ways, in, out, through, around) and then ... THE FINAL BREACH!!!

Our instructor picked a nice sturdy wall and said, ok 2 teams!!! BUST A HOLE AND GET THE "F" OUT!!!!

then this happened:

Jim in the Officer's Seat on the way there

Yup, tiny little holes in the side of the house, crawled through these in full gear. We had to MAKE these holes, that wall is cinder block on the inside with a brick veneer, the only things we had were a sledge and a haligan.