Training is important to make sure that skills and abilities of firefighters are always improved. There are overall reasons why training is essential. Firstly, training helps the firefighters familiarize with what is known as firefighters modulus operation. In training they are given a chance of experiencing true-to-life circumstances and skills needed. Firefighters may be well prepared with theoretical work but it all in vain if they don’t get a chance of putting it in practice. With the obvious risky reasons, firefighters should practice working within the margins of these considered risks. In reality firefighters are supposed to be aware of emergency circumstances and are needed to interact with several variables. It is therefore essential to attend training and be put in such situational knowledge.
Another reason is that firefighters should react first during chaos and no matter what they do. Training helps them to improve their responsiveness. During trainings firefighters are usually put in controlled environments where they can use their skills on practice and practice acting fast in a similar real life situation.
Training is of importance as it gives the firefighters a chance to familiarize with the equipments they are supposed to use. In order for firefighters to complete their mission they will have to use different tools such as halligan tools, hand lights and axes. Additional tools are usually innovated and therefore it is wise for firefighters to undergo continuous departmental training. Also, it is important to attend trainings in order to foster a team work. When a team is successful during training, there is a high probability that their morale will be boosted. Confidence amongst the team members is enhanced and this is vital in achieving their goals. In order as to care for others we need to be in good health. Nutrition and fitness are essential for responders to be able to act first.
2. Rochester Drill
The drill allows rescue firefighters to practice getting a firefighter out of the floor and what they themselves should do if at any time they are trapped. In practice a vacant house or a wooden house which is about to be demolished should be the best place to set up the drill. Using a saw cut a 14 ½ by 14-inch in the middle of the floor. If you are using a vacant house, make sure there are no obstacles inside the hole or below it. Remove any pipes or wires that may be present. Place the “victim,” wearing full protective equipments and SCBA into the hole such that his elbows and forearms support him. Prop the SCBA bottle up against the floor so that it pushes upward on the helmet, which in turn will push down on the face piece, breaking the seal and allowing air to escape. Drill can be practiced using two or three fighters as RIT rescuers and using obscured or normal vision. The RIT team should be well equipped with a spare SCBA and hand tools. The firefighters should determine the stability of the floor and if it is fit to work with. Then they correct any air leakage problems affecting the victim by either loosening the helmet chinstrap or disconnecting it. The rescuers now ensure that the victim has enough air to exit the building. If they are working with SCBA, they should use high pressure filling techniques to top up the SCBA of the victim.
After correction of air problems, the victim is lifted out of the hole. Pulling out the victim by holding his arms or the SCBA straps is more difficult than it will be done from the back but not by the legs. It is advisable to use hand tools at their disposal such as a halligan bar, short pike pole or an axe. No using two of such tools, slide the handle of each tool halfway under each of the victim’s armpits and lift the victim. If one of the rescuers will go in front of the victim between the tool handles than the other one will go behind the victim between the handles. The rescuer informs the victim to hold his arms down and shout STOP if he feels any pain due to pressure. The rescuer in charge orders the lift and the other fighters in the mission will lift the victim out of the hole using their legs and not their backs. Once he is out he should be checked for any injuries and eventually removed for safety.
3. Tragic death of Brett Tarver
Brett Tarver a phoenix firefighter died on March 14, 2001 when he officiated his self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) ran out of oxygen. He became perplexed and then fainted. Some of firefighters who were with him tried to save him but they did not manage to do it. He tried to battle the 5-alarm blaze but died of lack of oxygen. Before this tragedy had occurred, the phoenix fire department did not have such accidents for more than 20 years. Immediately after this incident the department had to sit down and look into the cause of the fire and the recommendations to be put in place to prevent it from happening. The fire chief Alan Brunacini, Assistant chief Bob Khan and IAFF Local 493 President Billy Shields together with National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) representatives decided to find new ways how they could make firefighter’s safety better.
They recommended several measures and equipments to improve the safety of firefighter. Rescue air was the first recommendation where they established firefighter breathing air replenishment system (FBARS). RescueAir was used by division workers in order to understand what this system is. It chose a structure that worked for them properly and thriftily for their local community. RescueAir personnel also worked with prevention and specialists from the department to help outline code language that specified the exact system they wanted.
4 Procedures to Follow When Trapped in a Room
If the room is located at the ground floor, you should go to the window through beddings or cushions onto the ground and break your fall. If it is difficult to open the window, use a heavy object to break it. Lower yourself gently by your arms from the ledge before dropping. If you can’t get out, put cushions, beddings or towels at the bottom of the floor and call Mayday.
Following this alarm, the RIT team will activate their emergency identification button on their transceiver and will trigger their physical alarms on their PASS devices. They shall broadcast the word “MAYDAY” through the radio by pronouncing in an increasing tone of three” MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY” which will be followed by a radio signal commanding them to identify them with the location. I am supposed to say, “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, Engine 5 to command, I am trapped in the bedroom on the C sector”. I am supposed to repeat this information until it is recognized by either the radio or the incident commander. From here the command will deploy the necessary tools and resources required to rescue me. The officers operating on the scene are supposed to be aware of the mayday and are supposed to carry on with their duties as they may help others, because someone may be injured or in distress. A Personal Accountability Report will be initiated for all the other members upon this Mayday call. The RIT team will notify the RIT group leader that I have been located and necessary actions are being taken to remove me or whether they require additional assistance. The commander will now have to deploy another RIT team. Because one of the officers is trapped, the RIT leader will immediately see that all the team members abandon their activities and concentrate on rescue mission. The RIT members shall use the information they have at their disposal to help them determine the type of rescue they should engage in. If in any case the self rescue or quick grab and go rescue is not possible, RIT members should use the “AWARE” mission. This is a procedure where four critical things need to be met. Air, the RIT should provide the victim with primary and secondary air. Water is also required if the rescue involves fire where the rescue team uses a hose line to protect the victim. If the victim is alert and able to converse, RIT may want to give the ensnared %uF020casualty with a transceiver to watch his condition. Depending upon the size of the incident, a separate %uF020%uF020radio channel may be chosen for the victim to use. Extrication is the last thing where the victim is removed.
5. Death of a Volunteer Fire Fighter
A 51 year old man volunteer firefighter died on September 6, 2010 because of low oxygen and sewer gases as he was climbing into a sewer manhole in a rescue mission to a village utility worker. The utility worker was also overcome by low oxygen concentration as he had entered into the manhole to investigate a reported sewer problem. This occurrence happened at the back of the fire station in an underground sewer that ran under the fire station. The local utility company needed to access the manhole and this led to the contacting the chief of the village’s volunteer fire department to move a fire apparatus so that they do not block it. In this position, the fire chief reacted and moved the operator so it would not be blocked by the utility tracks. The victim with another firefighter arrived at the station to assist. The utility worker was overcome by insufficient oxygen and fell unconscious inside the manhole. When the victim saw this, he also entered into the same manhole without any protective equipment to help the utility worker and was also overcome by the low oxygen concentration and sewer gases. Both of them were later removed from the sewer by the fire department and transported to the nearest hospital where they were announced dead. The cause of death according to the medical examiner was asphyxia due to insufficient oxygen and exposure to sewer gases.
This happened because of the unrecognized risks involved with a limited space, there were no Standard Operating Procedures for limited space technical rescue operations and unsuccessful occurrence management structure.
6. Steps to Follow in a search and Rescue Mission
• Once you step out of the track with your crew, assemble them in one place and discuss the situation as you collect information. That is the intended location of the missing person, how physically fit he is and the equipments he was carrying.
• Assign duties to the team members according to skills and equipments available. If you have three radios for example send out two searchers and remain with one at base camp. One member of the team need to remain at the base in case of lost party returns.
• Study the area map and the structure of the building and review the likely travel routes.
• Equip the searchers with necessary equipments such as Jaws of Life, Saws, Inflatable and Forcible Entry Handheld Tools. Jaws of Life is used for brutal car wrecks and other heavy metal fall downs. It is of two forms, that is, spreaders and cutters. Spreaders are used to exert pressure and spread wreckage apart and reach the victim. Cutters on the other hand, cut through metals to reach the victim. Saws allow a firefighter reach his destination as they are lightweight versatile and easy to carry. Inflatable are types of tools that are used as slides and shelters. Shelters give the victim temporary relief. Slides quickly provide safe cushioned exit ramp when other exits are blocked. Forcible Entry Handheld Tools usually include handheld axes, jacks and pry bars. These are individual tools.
• Restrict the search team to small area especially where the victim is trapped. Once the victim is located provide him/her with air and water. If the victim can move, show him the exit and leave the building.
• If the victim cannot move and he is in critical condition, alert the other members and call for enough effort required to get him out.
• Now make preparations to remove the injured victim. Check your way out and exit the building. As you do these remember to carry out the necessary first aid procedures. Take the victim to the ambulance and take him to the nearest hospital.
7. Wall Collapse and Fire Conditions in North Carolina
Two firefighters died on March 7, 2008 in the line of duty getting into the trap inside a millwork facility in North Carolina. On the same scene the chief of the crew also received serious burn injuries. These victims were members of a crew operating a hose line to protect a firewall and contain the fire that was rapidly spreading to the office area and prevent it from spreading to the warehouses. The captain in the mission tried to radio for help but the firefighters on the outside did not hear his Mayday. Once they came to realize that the crew was in trouble, several rescue missions were initialized in an effort to rescue the trapped crew but the situation worsened. Three members of the deployed RIT team were hurt rescuing the injured captain. On the fifth rescue attempt, one firefighter was located and removed. The second officer could not be positioned until the fire was got under control. Luckily the fourth crew had already exited the building before the conditions that trapped their fellow crew had worsened. The key factors that may have led to this tragedy include poor communication that led to misunderstanding between the crew and the firefighters on the outside. Others include: insufficient size up and incomplete pre-plan information, a deep-seated burning fire inside the office area that was able to extend to the manufacture and warehouse facility, the measures used were repeatedly changed from offensive to defensive, weather that limited fire ground visibility and lack of crew integrity at a dangerous moment in the occasion.
In such an incident, try to collect and avail pre-incident plan information especially in high risk composition. Also limit offensive operations in well involved buildings that are not well equipped with sprinkler systems and where there are no people in need of rescue. Come up with clear procedures for operational modes and implement them. Coordination between the command staff, Incident command and the fire fighters on the changes in the modes must be present. Before entering dangerous environments for any rescue mission, ensure that RIT have at least one of charged hose lines at their disposal. One should make sure that the integrity crew is kept during fire containment. The department encourages the building owners to adopt code requirements and install sprinkler systems.