Many of us know the joy of playing with our kids and spending countless hours with toy fire trucks of all sizes. It doesn’t matter really where in the world you serve, you’ve all done it at some point. In fact, chances are you did the same thing as a kid because you and a loved one played with fire trucks. Mock disasters, pretend fires, car accidents, and a wide variety of carnage all in scale format, but when we grow up for some reason we put the toys aside?
When I studied and worked with mentors during my promotion process to Lieutenant a few years ago, resources, sizeups, staging, apparatus, personnel, and fireground were something constantly in my mind. Not that it wasn’t before that, it was just looking at things from a whole different level. Sometimes it was nothing more than sizeups on my commute, other times it was picking apart the cover of Firehouse, and sometimes actually drawing it out and looking at the resources and staging.
What could be learned in a day spent with your Matchbox and Hot Wheels, plenty? While we can’t always feasibly gather all the resources for that big box alarm to play out a worst-case scenario we certainly can table top one. Beyond your initial alarm response, where are your apparatus headed and what will it look like? Will it work and really looking at it, do you have enough on the fire ground?
Its one thing to see numbers and stations written down on paper, but its another thing to see them situated there around that simulated incident. There is what that engine holds, and there is what that department typically musters. Is that incoming engine three people in a five man cab or is that six person cab full? Will it change your tactics? Would it change your run-cards or change your actions if you sat down and saw it in color rather than handwritten black-and-white?
Now that my son Jonas is 3 years old and he plays a little more with his fire trucks and knows truck numbers and stations it makes you think a little more. As we raced from run to run on his play table consisting of four fire stations each with no less than maybe six pieces of equipment, lots of things clicked.
As we played throughout the day other things came up, like what resources do we send, can I borrow that truck, can we send more, or don’t send anything at all. Now the thing that comes to mind are run cards, who are or are not on yours and why? With a three-year-old its lessons in working to share better, with a bunch of adults around the fire ground it is just a slightly different version of it. Why is it that we are afraid of adding an engine company or a tanker response automatically when it is a confirmed structure fire?
I can’t recall too many stations where the conversation doesn’t go like this when you hear the neighboring department’s tone drop.
“Come on, why don’t they call us? We’ve got a crew, we’re here and geared up, hey lets just jump it and go. That’s on our side of their district and we’re closer by at least a few minutes.
On the flip side of this conversation, rarely have I heard a conversation around a firehouse table where we say, “lets start adding the next closest station to the run if it is a confirmed fire.” Why is that, is it pride, is it being stubborn, is it being stuck in the old ways, or it fear of being shown up? Nobody said exactly what that mutual-aid engine company would be tasked with once they get there, did they? Perhaps that incoming engine is your RIT, something that even in 2013 we still are lacking on many a fireground across the United States.
The possibilities are endless from what you can learn from these tabletop exercises, but whether you implement them is the real key question.