Extrication tips: April 2019

Extrication tips: April 2019

Every air bag is not created equal

Tim-bits: April 2019

Tim-bits: April 2019

Firefighters must participate in regular training

FireFit promotes physical prowess

FireFit promotes physical prowess

Firefighters replicate tasks performed in emergency situations

Testing new  technologies

Testing new technologies

New approaches to fighting wildfires are under the microscope

The new norm

The new norm

Wildfires expected to get worse in future years

We all know that the fire service attracts a certain type of person. Chances are, you are one. Outgoing, hands-on, action-oriented. A classic Type A personality. The go-getters.
If the ecologists and fire experts are right, and I have no reason to doubt them, wildland firefighters could be in for another busy year.
Rekindle. What does that word mean to you? The dictionary defines it as a verb, to revive something that has been lost, as in “he tried to rekindle their friendship.”
You discover a fire has started in the kitchen of the home you share with your spouse and children. Before you have time to gather your thoughts, the fire spreads quickly up the walls.
We watch, a group of us, as four firefighters in full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus pull a single line towards a bright orange and yellow inferno just a few metres away.
Is there something right now that you know you need to do, but are putting off? What just popped into your head? Why is it that you’re avoiding doing whatever that thing is that you know you really should have done by now?
Firefighters have inherently tough and dangerous jobs. That’s a given. They put their lives on the line each and every time they don their gear and respond to a blaze or emergency.
Firefighters on the front lines battling wildfires are often away from their families for long periods of time. But now, they’ll be able to connect and read bedtime stories to their children via a new free app. Veteran U.S. firefighter Brendan McDonough has teamed up with digital storytelling app, Caribu, to create the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative. The app connects firefighters and their families via an expansive digital library with hundreds of children’s books in six languages. Caribu is an interactive video-call app that provides a way to read books together on a shared screen to keep the tradition of bedtime stories alive no matter the distance Caribu is donating free month-long subscriptions of its digital education platform to firefighters, their families and those affected or displaced by ongoing wildfires. The subscriptions are available to firefighters across the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. McDonough used to bring a book to read to his daughter over the phone while he was traveling fighting fires. In a recent television interview, McDonough, sole survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy of 2013 and inspiration behind the 2017 film “Only The Brave,” relayed how reading bedtime stories to his young daughter on the road gave his morale a boost. “While fighting wildfires, we would be gone from home constantly,” said McDonough. “Being able to read to my daughter at night kept me motivated. I support the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative because I want to help bring that small, but really important experience, to firefighters and their families.” Upon hearing McDonough’s story, Caribu CEO Maxeme Tuchman was moved to act. She quickly realized that her innovative technology could solve a real and urgent need for firefighters on the frontlines and immediately wanted to do something to help. “We’re so proud to be able to show our support for the firefighters that are dedicated to our safety and keeping the wildfires at bay,” said Tuchman. “We offer free access to all active members of the military; it just made sense to do the same for wildland firefighters who are also away from home for long stretches of time. If Caribu can make just one part of keeping our heroes close to their families easier, we’ve done our job.” Caribu makes virtual story time easily accessible to parents. With only a smartphone and data plan or Wi-Fi, firefighters are instantly connected with their family back home through a shared screen interactive video-call. Anyone fighting in, or directly affected by wildfires, is eligible to participate in the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative. Simply download Caribu from the Apple App Store and use promo code: BRAVE.Click here to register for the app. Click here for more information. 
I left my full-time job as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College in December 2017. After 18 months in what many would describe as a career highlight, I realized that the position just wasn’t “it” for me. I didn’t really know what “it” was, but I instinctively knew that wasn’t “it”.
Summer is here in all its warm and sunny glory…and floods and wildfires. And campfire caution. And lightening. Spring and summer bring their own unique weather and activity circumstances each year, and with it the ongoing dialogue on preparing for extreme climate events, drought dangers and fire safety messaging for the outdoor season.
During my stint as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst, one of the expectations that really impacted me was the awareness and importance of using gender neutral or gender-inclusive language in the classroom.
Training and preparation play a tremendous role in firefighters’ lives. These two activities foster an environment of mandated lifelong learning in the fire service. Canadian Firefighter’s annual Training Day, which has traditionally been held in September, has an exciting new partnership with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).
The concept and inspiration for this column comes from Canadian writer Doug Griffiths, who authored 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. His interesting short read provides ideas on how to build a healthy community by pointing out key issues that, if neglected and ignored, will destroy communities.  
Wildfire experts, governments, industry thought-leaders and vendors are looking at innovative new approaches and technologies to prevent forest fires from devastating communities in Canada.
The fire service has changed a lot since I became a member in 2007. When I first started, it was an era of getting “badged in” and learning the job as the training schedule unfolded and the calls came in.  
It isn’t a secret that there are many different personality types in the fire service. There are members in the service that choose to take a leadership role and there are those that choose to take a supporting role.  
Hopefully, every fire department has some kind of written policy or standard practice that requires regular, documented apparatus and equipment inspections.  
Firefighters are exposed to myriad dangerous circumstances.
I have often thought that the topic of firefighter training can be broken down into several distinct categories.  In my system of thinking, each category is unique from the others by the general timeframe at which the training is occurring in the firefighter’s career.  The first category is mentioned often in my Tim-bits columns – recruit school. Here, we are taught the basic fundamentals of firefighting theory and practice. The next category occurs immediately after recruit school is complete. I call it probationary training. This unofficial and undefined period is where the boots meet the road, where new firefighters use the skills taught in recruit school and apply them to real-world situations and station life. This is the period when the new folks learn there is the “book way” that they learned in school and the “real-world way” or the way it’s done at a particular firehouse.  This is often a time of great eye opening for the new folks when they realize that their pre-service education didn’t teach them everything they need to know.  With their opening-day jitters well behind them, the firefighters pass into my system’s next category – the continuing education phase. This category will encompass the remainder of their fire service career, if they choose to dedicate it to constant learning and improvement. Here, the firefighters will have an opportunity to expand and fine-tune their knowledge and skills in engine-company and truck-company functions, vehicle rescue, other technical rescue specialties, firefighter survival, RIT, driver-operator, fire instructor, fire officer, etc. One thing important to note about my system of training categorization so far is that it focuses on the individual. The individual takes courses and certification examinations to hopefully become increasingly more capable at various incidents. Fire departments, in turn, embrace the individual who has the determination to learn more and foster that education by holding regular company-level drills that build teamwork and allow individual firefighters to develop into more effective teams. The next category is company or department development. If your department is like my volunteer department, company or department development drills are often held once per week on a weekday evening. At best, we get two to three hours of training time, which includes setup and cleanup. It is during this critical time that firefighters can realize the expectations that will be demanded of them as they work in a team or department-wide setting at real incidents.But my department found that these two to three hours just weren’t enough to give our firefighters what we desired. By the time we get into things, it’s time to clean up and go home. We realized there were two things missing with our weeknight drills – more time to train and live fire. We quickly realized that the most dangerous thing we were asking our firefighters to do was something we hadn’t trained them on for a long time – fight interior structure fires. We contacted our local fire academy and enquired about running day-long training for our department using the academy’s facility and its class-A burn building. It was determined that since we only wanted to commit to a single, eight-hour day, none of the standard fire academy classes fit our needs. The academy agreed to rent its facility so we could conduct live-fire training that fell into compliance with NFPA 1403, and it agreed to provide the instructors and fuel – at a relatively low cost.  We picked a weekend day a few months out and met and worked with the instructors to develop a curriculum. Once finalized, the morning schedule included topics on basic fire control, search and rescue practice and pressurized watercan use. The afternoon schedule consisted of realistic scenarios that mimicked a few of the fires that we had faced in recent years.  During the morning schedule, we made sure everyone had an opportunity to practice the fundamentals of what we expected of them at real fires – all that they had learned in their recruit, probationary and continuing educational periods.The afternoon scenarios put it all together. The scenarios were run as “roll-in” drills, with an actual dispatch and staggered response of the apparatus – just like it happens in real life. Because we had instructors to manage the safety and instructional aspects of the drills, our company and chief officers were able to focus on their incident command and company leadership skills. We had created an opportunity to train as we actually fight fires – but in a controlled and relatively safe manner. Our firefighters did it our way, as a cohesive and familiar group. The day was a great success. If a fire academy training facility is within your reach, I encourage you to look into setting up a departmental-level training and development day.Tim Llewellyn is a firefighter for the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, Pa., and an instructor for a number of fire academies and training faculties. Contact Tim at
What are the key ingredients to an effective and cohesive fire department? It cannot be left to the sole responsibility of the fire chiefs to lead the organization. It really comes down to effective leadership of every member, on every level.  
Michael Laughlin knows about perseverance. The 37-year-old overcame a horrific snowmobile accident in 2007 that resulted in 33 pins and screws holding his left side together, including a titanium forearm, femur and kneecap.
Most firefighters like myself have been around when a new apparatus or other piece of equipment comes into the hall. A lot of times when we receive a new fire apparatus, we go out on the streets of our district, drive it around and work with it in different capacities.  
If the image on the right seems familiar, you may already know about the awareness campaign aimed at first responders in British Columbia called “Share it. Don’t wear it.” These particular images and words were chosen to represent the mental health challenges firefighters face in their day-to-day work.
Are you looking for new ideas on how to best position yourself as a leader in your community and your fire department? Wondering how to effectively influence in your administrative and interpersonal endeavours? Join Fire Fighting in Canada for an exclusive free webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. with Lyle Quan, retired fire chief and emergency services and risk management principal at LPQ solutions for 30 years. Lyle is the co-author of Leadership Prescribed 2.0 — A Handbook for Fire Service Leaders, written alongside retired chief Les Karpluck and serving as an updated and expanded version to the original Leadership Prescribed edition published in 2013. Lyle was the commissioner of community services and fire chief for the City of Waterloo, Ont. He completed two degrees, a Bachelor of Business in Emergency Services and Bachelor of Education (adult education). He has helped many in a teaching capacity through his posts as an instructor at Dalhousie University, Lakeland College, Emergency Management Ontario, Ontario Fire College and most recently the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. Click here to register for the webinar.
How would you describe yourself in the kitchen?
As we age and life priorities take different directions with jobs and families, previously active lifestyles can also change.
The word “professional” means doing something as a livelihood, while the word “athlete” means exercising physical ability in many forms.  
It is important to balance your overall fitness, but strength is an important aspect of fire fighting. So, how strong should a firefighter be? That’s a question which has many answers depending on your expected performance on the fire ground.
The winter months, when we find ourselves spending a little bit more time inside, are the perfect opportunity to take on a new project.
The world is full of organizations that continually put the well-being and safety of people above its own and the fire service definitely fits into this category when it comes to caring.  
You find yourself sitting between Jack and Jill. Both have just returned from sick leave. Jill was injured on a tough call. Jack was told he had a disorder.
Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is finally an issue being talked about more often within the fire service, but what do we know about pre-post-traumatic stress syndrome?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect firefighters. Studies have found that 17 to 22 per cent of first responders are struggling with the problem.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is not just an old adage that mom or dad would use to try to get you to eat something before running out the door first thing in the morning.
Examining firefighting as a sport and firefighters as athletes helps to assess the kind of training regime to improve performance. No two calls are exactly the same, so it’s logical to consider we aren’t required to have the same fitness demands for every incident.
Full disclaimer: This will start much like another negative article from within the PTSD bubble. But, fear not. For within the “bad” presented below there is a hope; a hope to break free, a hope to break through and perhaps a hope to avoid the bad altogether.
Numerous fire department-related articles and speakers have echoed the notion that in order for us (career and volunteer) to be as proficient as possible in our duties as firefighters, we must participate in some type of regular, realistic training or practice.
We are continuing our look at the four categories of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) emergencies with our focus on moving onto entanglements.
Firefighters should brace for more forest and wildland blazes across Canada in 2019 – and future years – because it will be the new norm.
As a trainer and wellness coach, it is crucial to prescribe quality exercise programs. That being said, the exercises need to be done – and executed properly.
Jan. 18, 2019 - WorkSafeBC and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) are hosting a full-day symposium addressing the risks of silo fires.Focusing on both prevention and response to silo fires, the event is geared for anyone in an industry using silos, bins, bunkers, or other bulk storage vessels. It will also be highly relevant to first responders who may respond to silo fires.Why should you attend?Silo fire prevention and suppression requires a unique approach. Risks include combustible dusts, structural collapse, and smoulders that can result in explosions.WorkSafeBC and WPAC have secured international expert Henry Persson, author of the seminal Silo Fires – Fire extinguishing and preventive and preparatory measures, to present for the first half of the day. The afternoon will feature local experts from industry and prevention agencies.Topics include:· Causes of silo fires and explosions· Silo firefighting techniques and procedures· Use of nitrogen and foam injection (including retrofitting silos with nitrogen injection)· Personal safety· Fire prevention methods· First responder training· Case studies· Risk assessment and managementChoose from these two full-day sessions:Richmond Silo Fires Session – REGISTERTuesday, February 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Richmond Westin Wall Centre – 3099 Corvette Way, Richmond, B.C.This session offers a broad industry focus for anyone using silos and related structures, or responding to fires in these structures. This includes all first responders as well as the agriculture and agri-food sectors (dairy, grain, ranching, etc.), food and beverage production industries, and warehousing (operators at ports and terminals). Afternoon speakers include first responders and WorkSafeBC field specialists providing practical insights on identifying your hazards and implementing controls to reduce your risk.Prince George Silo Fires Session – REGISTERThursday, February 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Prince George Civic Centre – 808 Canada Games Way, Prince George, B.C.This session includes overall silo fire information and practicalities with focused examples from the wood pellet and other forestry related industries. Afternoon speakers include silo operators, first responders, and WorkSafeBC.Registration is $25 +GST and includes a hot breakfast and lunch.Questions about these sessions?Contact Lisa Ross, 
In our last issue, we began our look at self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) emergencies and the four different categories that they fall into.
In past articles, I have stressed the need for more than one plan for every extrication scene. Every call we go to will inevitably be different with different vehicles involved. Different speeds, directions, occupant load and even weather can lead us to the fact that there is very little about our scenes that will be the same.
Canadian Firefighter magazine held its 2018 Firefighter Training Day and Career Expo on Sept. 29 at the Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) in Mississauga, Ont., where current firefighters were given an opportunity to expand their skills and potential recruits learned what it takes to become one of the family.
I have been looking at the mayday function of firefighter survival in the past few issues and how important it is to the survivability of each firefighter.
In previous articles, I have discussed the need for live-fire training and given readers a deeper understanding of what heat is. In this article, I will delve into the interactions of steam and how it interacts with fire extinguishment and can cause burns to a firefighter.
We’ve all heard the sayings throughout our careers in the fire service like, “Take a minute to make a minute,” and, “Work smarter, not harder,” or even, “Try before you pry.”

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