Loading the Barrel of the Shot Gun…. Live Fire Training Comments

Are we teaching students to crawl under fire?

There is a serious concern as to how live fire instructors or departmental officers are ignoring the mental cues that lead to firefighter injuries and deaths during live fire training and signifies a critical problem with today’s fire service training. How many times must it be publicized that crawling under fire is a death trap?

Are we seriously training firefighters that our gear and our equipment is always reliable to protect us from such temperature extremes such as flashover?

Should we really be training firefighters to believe that crawling under fire is a safe practice? Rollover, is the precursor to flashover that can occur in a matter of seconds. These firefighters are kneeling and standing in an area being preheated and ready to light off, which means they are being pre-heated, as well.

Many of my students have heard me say, “The day we respond to a house fire involving wooden pallets will be our moment of glory!”. Are we training today’s firefighter to believe the fire behavior and heat ( British Thermal Unit ;BTU) production in a wooden pallet fire is identical to that of the same magnitude in a fire involving hydrocarbon-based products found in today’s household furnishings? I hope not… but why do our tactics in training not reflect how we should engage the enemy? Today’s fires burn more rapidly and hotter than ever, why are we still allowing firefighters to enter such unpredictable environments?

While our turnouts will provide some element of protection from thermal insult, are we relying upon our equipment and our live fire experience in wooden pallet fires to serve as the measuring stick for when it is time to “un-ass” the area? Understanding the NFPA 1403 standard was developed to protect firefighters during live burns which it has, is it leaving tommorrow’s firefighters with the impression this is as bad as it gets?

What if the nozzle malfunctions? Assume the rookie firefighter doesn’t completely open the bailer of the nozzle, don’t forget about the presence of kinks in our attack lines? Do a little research on wind-driven fires from NIOSH’s live burn’s on Governor’s Island and Chicago and you’ll soon discover such tactics of kneeling under rollover is like “staring down the barrel of a shotgun”.

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