Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winter Firefighting

'Tis the season - winter is upon us. Today I am on duty, detailed to an engine company as the acting captain. The weather forecasters are continually saying "SNOW". Oh well, the good weather had to end sometime. We're in somewhat of a drought here, so moisture will be good.

As the acting captain, I checked with my crew to make sure they are ready for it. Some of the things we double checked:
  • The apparatus' automatic tire chains.
  • Extra socks/other assorted attire, so we have something warm & dry to change in to in the event we catch a job.
  • Slip-on spikes for our boots.
  • Ice melt.
It's the little things that can make a big difference.

Other things to consider in cold weather operations:
  • Take enough time to be safe and to do it right, the first time.
  • Use caution when operating on/near ice.
  • Don't run.
  • Remember to leave the nozzles cracked just a little so the line won't freeze.
  • Eat right.
  • Keep properly hydrated! Just as our hydration affects how we cool off in the hot weather, staying properly hydrated will help us to keep warm in the cold weather.
Cold weather doesn't add or take away from a fire; it only affects the flash point of some substances, but none of that stuff matters when it is already on fire! Wet gear freezes. Wet surfaces freeze, increasing the fall risks for firefighters exponentially.

I'm keeping this one short. Feel free to comment and add more suggestions!

Stay safe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Fireman’s Little Girl

I didn't write this, although I enjoy it very much, and it does fairly accurately describe me. I wish I knew who did write it, so I can give proper credit. Any fireman out there with a daughter will appreciate this.


I am very dedicated to my work. I wear firefighter shirts every day, even when I’m not on duty. The fire department is my second home, and my second family. It often seems as if my life revolves around the fire department, but it means nothing compared to my little girl. I am normally a very friendly person, but if you hurt my little girl you will make me mad.

I know my little girl is growing up, even if I don’t like it. She seems to like you, so I’ll tolerate you dating her, but here are a few things for you to think about while you’re with her:

First of all, I go into burning buildings to save people that I’ve never even seen before. If I do that for strangers, you can’t begin to imagine how protective I am of my little girl.

I sometimes break people’s sternums & ribs by accident while doing CPR to save their life. If that’s how I help people what do you think I do when I’m pissed off?

I investigate arson fires. I know exactly what clues to look for to prove it was arson, so I also know how to make sure nobody can tell how a fire started. I know where you live. Remember the movie Backdraft?

I’ve worked more car accidents than you’ll ever see, and the sight of blood doesn’t bother me one little bit.

It’s normal for me to carry chainsaws, axes, and various other extremely sharp tools in my car… touch my little girl, & we take a little ride.

When we burn down a house for training, nobody looks in the closets.

I use the jaws of life to tear doors off wrecked cars. They cut though solid metal like a hot knife through butter. Watch your paws or get the jaws!

Sirens and air horns can really muffle the sounds of someone screaming.

Most of my friends are cops, paramedics, or firefighters. WE ARE 911. If you make me mad, who do you think you’re going to call for help?

I have access to explosives.

I am well trained in emergency medicine. I know exactly which arteries are the easiest to sever and which ones bleed the most. (You remember all them sharp tools?)

Even though my little girl insists that you are a “nice guy” and not like most other guys, I know better. I was once your age, I know EXACTLY what you’re thinking. Because of that, I already have plenty of reasons to not like you. It wouldn’t take much at all to push me over the edge, and I just sharpened my axe.

So if you want to date my little girl you better keep these things in mind. Firemen are protective by nature, and there is nothing we are more protective of than our little girls. Whenever you're alone with her, you better remember that someday, you may be alone with me.

(Author unknown, but I like this, and would gladly give credit to the author.)

What's in your pockets?

One topic that often comes up between firefighters is "what's in your pockets?". I personally enjoy those conversations, as I learn from the experiences of others.

Over the years, what I have carried has changed. I will periodically go through my set-up (aside from daily checks at shift change) and evaluate what I carry vs. what I use vs. what I need that I don't carry, and change things up. So, what's in my pockets?

From the top down:

On my lid:
I keep a few 16# nails tucked inside my helmet band, and my FD Passport tag. That's about it.

In my coat:
Left front pocket: A pair of 7/8" cable cutters. They were put there with the intended purpose of self rescue, if I were to get caught up in wires, etc. I have used them plenty at car wrecks to cut the battery cables. They are quite inexpensive, and actually quite rugged.

Right front pocket: A pair of safety glasses.

Left lower pocket: CPR mask in a case - if I make a grab, and they need mouth-to-mouth, it'll be mouth-to-mask-to-mouth.

Right lower pocket: A 10 ft (+/-) roll of webbing and a carabiner. Comes in handy, with a million potential uses.

In my pants:
All I keep in my turnout pants pockets is my fire gloves.

Truckie Belt:
A few sprinkler wedges, a TFT Res-Q-Rench, a six-in-one screw driver (two large and two small phillips and flat head tips, plus a 1/4" & 3/8" nut drivers), a four foot piece of webbing (not looped, but does have looped handles), a vice-grip, and a pair of channel locks with modified tips for use with the through-the-lock techniques of entry.

Ok, so that's what I have. So, what's in YOUR pockets?