Slow Down the Game: Get your head on straight before you put your gear on…

Dave LeBlanc writes about “getting your head on straight first, before getting your gear on.” Dave is a Lieutenant at Harwich FD in Massachusetts and a Fire Blogger at a View from the Front Seat.

For you baseball fans out there, you may recognize this phrase. Usually it is used in discussion about a player that has been struggling and the team has been working with him to slow the game down, so they are better prepared and better able to react. As with many ideas and practices from Major League sports, there are applications in the fire service. This is another case of us being smart enough to learn from others.

At Backstep Firefighter and The Front Seat, we often use “expect fire” when discussing various incidents and how the firefighters responded and reacted to the situation they found. The “expect fire” concept has to do with a mindset, a mental preparation that involves treating each run like it will be a fire, so that when you arrive and it is a fire you are not surprised. Seems simple right? Unfortunately it is an area that we don’t always handle well. There are constantly cases of firefighters arriving at scenes and looking like the carpenter with one foot nailed to the floor, spinning around in circles and accomplishing nothing. Expect fire means that you respond with your gear on, your mind is ready and expecting to go to a fire, you are physically ready to go to a fire.

Imagine arriving at 2:00 a.m. to heavy fire showing, and because you “thought it was a BS run” you weren’t dressed and ready to go. No biggie, right? You can get dressed in seconds. Except when the rig stops, the father of three is standing in the street screaming that his kids are inside. Now you are trying to get dressed while your “customer” is impatiently expecting you to go save his family. How fast can you get dressed under those circumstances? How good of a size up are you performing while you trying and get your arm in your sleeve for the third time while your heart rate hits 130.

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Are We Missing the Target? by Dave LeBlanc

Earlier this year, we introduced firefighter and fire blogger, Dave LaBlanc. This excerpt is from his most recent post on whether or not  fire service has shifted too far from basics to last chance training. Dave appreciates opinions and discussions, so please click through to his blog and share your thoughts.

For those of you that follow the news and happenings of the fire service, you may have noticed an increase in the number of bailouts reported. Now certainly some of this is a result of the media figuring out that a firefighter bailing out isn’t a normal occurrence, so as one outlet begins reporting it, others follow suit. But it begs the question, why? Why are so many of our brothers bailing out? Have that many incidents occurred where things have gone that wrong?

This year’s Safety Stand Down had the following theme: Surviving the Fire Ground: Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness. Now that is a great topic, and certainly one that should be a part of every firefighter and every officer’s training. Knowing what to do when you get in trouble certainly goes a long way toward saving firefighter lives. But what about preventing our members from getting in trouble in the first place? Is that something that we focus enough on?

How many hours did you spend on fire behavior this year? Two, five, ten? How many more did you spend on building construction? Until we understand our enemy, the fire and the building we operate in, how can we expect not to get in trouble? Until we understand what the environment we work in feels like through our PPE, how we can expect our firefighters not to go in too far. Until we address the need for an awareness of the hazards of the situations we operate in, how can we expect our firefighters and officers to make good decisions?

John Norman writes that a firefighter should never put themselves in a position where they have to rely on someone else to get out. Think about that one simple statement. It covers a lot of territory. As firefighters we must constantly evaluate where we are operating, what the conditions are, and what our way out is. We need to do this while trying to accomplish our goals for that particular fire.

Read this entire blog post and share your thoughts here:

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Meet Lieutenant and Fire Blogger Dave LeBlanc

We are pleased to introduce Dave LeBlanc to the Fire-Dex community.  Dave is a Lieutenant in Harwich, Massachusetts and a fire blogger for A View from the Front Seat.   With many years in fire service, Dave provides “commentary about today’s Fire Service, training and techniques.” He focuses on keeping members safe while adhering to the principals of the Profession.

Dave began blogging in October 2009 by accident.  He wrote a personal post about cancer striking in his firehouse.  It was more of a therapy for him, but his friend, Bill Carey of Backstep Firefighter, convinced him to share it.

Recently, he posted a well-received blog that reviewed a fire in New York City hailing the “FDNY and the brothers from 114 truck as they ‘expected fire’ and saved the lives of 11 civilians.” Dave appreciates comments and discussions around the situations he reviews to continue learning from others in fire service.

Periodically, we will share Dave’s work to help educate our fire community.  After all, one of Dave’s favorite quotes says it all:  “You can do everything right in this job and still get killed” – Paddy Brown, Captain Ladder 3 – lost 09/11/01.

You can follow Dave LeBlanc on Twitter, Facebook and his blog, A View from the Front Seat.