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Monday, December 16, 2013

The Live Burn, Part 2: The Procedure

Firefighters head into the house for the pre-burn “walk-through”
During EMS, fire, and police training, responders frequently hear the phrase that they need to “train like they fight because they will fight like they train.” The firefighter live burn training in Richfield exemplified that phrase as the firefighters followed their normal procedures for on-scene operations and for training safety. There were no shortcuts.

They followed the NFPA training standard #1403 protocol, and firefighters walked through the structure before the live burning started. Crews were staged through the positions of the back-up team and Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) assignments in advance of working their way up to be the next to go inside. It went like clockwork, and they used baseball terms to indicate which crew was “on deck” and who was “up.”

When a crew was ready to attack the fire, two firefighters would “mask up,” take a line (hose) near to the door, wait for the engine company’s officer to conduct a 360-degree walk around the house, and then broadcast a “size up” of the scene on the radio. They were simulating their exact protocol at real fires even though this was training. The company officer would then join the crew, and they would enter the house to extinguish the fire.

The status board indicates the location of each crew
When the crew came out, there was a short debriefing as the instructors inside rekindled the fires before signaling to the on-deck crew that they were up. The firefighters got at least two entries into the house, and many got three as the outbound crew would rejoin the rotation. It was very methodical and amazingly quiet, except for sound of the engine pumping water from a hydrant to the firefighters inside.

What was not visible was the planning and coordination to make all of this happen at such a high level. The details were covered from coordinating a multi-day training session to arranging for a Hennepin County Medical Center paramedic ambulance to be standing by two houses down the block.

The fire department worked with the city and developed a training plan that allowed 275 firefighters to receive live burn training in real houses. It was a collaboration of people training on a standardized plan that will pay dividends long into the future. Congratulations to the Richfield Fire Department and Deputy Chief Mike Dobesh for a job well done.


                                                       Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…An interesting idea from Kentucky

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.