Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Thankful

It’s been a busy week seems like. The off week seems to go faster and faster. Responding to calls, paperwork, honey-do-list, and family gatherings have sure made the time fly by. Now Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the beginning of my work week and the beginning of what I’m sure is going to be a hectic month both work and home.

Seeing how tomorrow is Thanksgiving, take time and actually be thankful. We spend so much time in the fire service complaining about things we don’t have or the things we want, we fail to see what is right in front of us. Sure it would be great to have all the latest and greatest toys or a bay full of new apparatus, but the fact is we don’t, but what we do have is ours and we need to be thankful for it. I know of departments that have half of what we have twice as old but it’s theirs and seeing what they started from they are thankful to have it.

I am thankful to be a part of the greatest profession on Earth. Chiefs that make sure we have what we need to get the job done and throw in some toys now and again to keep us happy. I am thankful for the ability, as PEIO, to educate the public in fire safety and keep them safe and as an instructor be able to provide lifesaving skills to members of my department. Thankful for my beautiful wife and daughter for understanding me running out the door, missing meals, and family time, my parents for bringing me up right making me the man I am today, and my brothers for all the memories throughout the years and knowing they are always there. I could go on and on all day about all the things that I am thankful for in my life. I have truly been blessed.

Take the time today, tomorrow, this week, to look around you and be thankful, both on the job and at home. When you take the time to see what you actually have and thankful to have it, you tend to appreciate it more and more.

Lastly, as you give thanks, remember the men and women fighting for our freedom so that we may do what we do. Remember those affected by Hurricane Sandy and all they have endured and the long road ahead of them.  Remember those that have gone before you and made the ultimate sacrifice and the families and departments they leave behind.

We hope that everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday, from our families to yours.

“The Hooligans”

Captain Josh Womack and FF Zach Womack

Stay Safe

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Build on the Basics Part II

Hey everybody, I hope all is well with you all. I just want to take a minute to kinda reinforce what the Captain has said in his part and give you my own 2 cents on the matter. 

Like he said, you hear folks say we need to " get back to the basics." I have been guilty of saying this myself to be honest, but I think I meant it different than it sounds. I do disagree that we need to go backwards but, somewhere along the way we have tried to get so technical and so advanced we have lost sight of something. We need to reevaluate how we are approaching things and ensure we start with the basics. 

We all don't work for Detroit, Boston, FDNY, DCFD, L.A,, or anywhere that you are pretty much going to get a box alarm or 2 or 3 per shift. Some of us go for days, weeks, months without seeing fire. The most fire I have seen lately was a small camp fire set by a homeless man lol. That is why we must train and become competent in our skills because we aren't going to get there through experience with our number of fires decreasing. We need to master our skills and what better and easier ones to master first than the basics. 

When I went through basic I was taught fire behavior, fire hose and streams, ladders, basic ventilation, ropes/knots, extinguishers, basic forcible entry, search and rescue, some on building construction and a few more things, those are just a few; that was 9 years ago. Now days it is all advanced this and that, RIT, Safety/Survival, ICS for everything under the sun, and whatever else you can think of. You know how long its been since I trained on throwing ladders, catching a plug, forcing entry, or knot tying( Lord knows I need help with this one lol). 

I have an idea how we can incorporate our basics into our advanced training. Any time you are going to train start with the basics, make sure everybody is comfortable and confident then move on into the advanced portions. This will reinforce everybody's basic skills and make them more competent.

When you are sitting around the station shooting the bull about nothing, do some basic training instead. Small group sessions are better sometimes anyway. Pull your ladders off the rig, try different ladder carries, throw some ladders, practice tying them off. Pull and advance some attack lines, load and deploy different hose loads and become proficient in what works best for you. Practice catching a plug or setting up for drafting ops(depends on location). Or, if you still want to shoot the bull then do something as simple as tying some knots. 

Here is one that chaps me... hose size and nozzle selection. Know what you are going to pull on what fires and why. I know people who say we should pull 2.5 inch lines for this, and we need to use smooth bore nozzles instead of fog nozzles. The problem with this is that they can't tell you why. They seen somebody on youtube or another site do it, thought it looked cool and now they think we should do it. If they would train on it, research it, and understand why or why not it would be ok. This is important stuff they should know. 

Know how buildings will react to fire due to construction materials and design. Know how to read smoke and how to approach what you see. Understand the importance of coordinating your search, ventilation, and other operations with the attack team. These are all basic skills, train and become competent in them. 

Remember these quotes: Let no mans ghost return to say his training failed him. And, train like your life depends on it...because it does. 

Most of all, at the end of the day, EVERYBODY GOES HOME!!!

Be safe brothers! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I may be sticking my neck out here and alone in my thinking, but this is how I see it. I have heard it said, a few times recently, that we need to get back to the basics when it comes to training. I have thought a lot about this and have to say.... I disagree. Why go back to something that never should have been left to begin with? The basics are the foundation on which everything else stands. They don’t change.

Look at it this way, it’s like baseball. You were taught the fundamentals, the basics, at age 5, how to throw a ball, swing a bat, and catch a pop fly. As the years went by your throws become more accurate, your swing modified, and you can catch a fly ball without fear of getting hit in the face. You had to build on the basics to throw 100 mph fastballs, hit homeruns, and snag fly balls.

The same applies to firefighting. We all learn the basics at the very beginning and build upon them as we go, adding another block on top of the foundation. It’s like taking an advanced ventilation class without ever having basic ventilation. You are going to be as lost as last year’s Easter egg because you don’t understand the principles of ventilation and the little things that the basic class teaches. Thus the reason it’s called advanced, it builds on a foundation that is already there.

My point is why would you want to go backwards? The basics have not changed. Build on what’s already in place. If your foundation is strong the rest will stand with no problem. Never stop building.
Stay Safe

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There's No App For This

                Technology is all around us and changing rapidly every day. We have a vast world of knowledge at our finger tips on just about any subject you can imagine. IPhones,IPads, and Android devices all have “apps for that” no matter what it is you want.
                The fire service is no different. You can find a variety of apps for firefighting, from friction loss calculators and shift calendars, to ERG books and event time loggers. You can even get your pre-plans and reporting software on your phone or tablet device. All of these things make certain aspects of our job more convenient, but when it comes to good old fashion, boots on the ground firefighting, there is no app!
                There is no way to replace or reproduce what is taught on the training ground or fire scene. There’s no app that can take the place of the guy that has been on the department for 25-30 years and all the knowledge he offers to share while sitting around the kitchen table or while training.
                Our job requires quick thinking, adapting to changing situations, and working in some of the worst conditions imaginable. These are things that can only be learned by watching and listening to those that have been there and done that, and by actually getting in there and doing it yourself. A good instructor teaching a pump ops class is worth a thousand times more than a .99 cent friction loss app.
                I guess what it really boils down to is that no matter how many devices are out there, or new technologies come our way, there are some things that are better to be done the old fashion way, by putting the phone or tablet down, getting up and doing work. Listen to those that take to time to offer wisdom; they usually know what they are talking about. There is nothing wrong with using technology to help you, and lord knows I need all the help I can get, but there is nothing out there that can help you do what you do. Firefighting is still a hands on, grab it and growl job, so get out and get after it.
Stay Safe!