Be prepared for the unexpected before the battle begins
Firefighting is like combat. We’re fighting to save lives, control the incident, and conserve property. We try to do this as safely and as efficiently as possible. To accomplish that, we need a team that works as one; a team working toward the same objectives; one with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to apply the tactics needed.
Company officers should prepare their teams for combat before the battle begins. They should stress the basics and ensure that every firefighter in their team is comfortable with the operation of their own personal protective equipment and the tools and equipment carried on their apparatus. Everyone should understand the potential strategies that can be utilized on the fire ground (rescue, exposure protection, confining the fire, extinguishing the fire, overhaul, ventilation, and salvage) and practice the various tactics to accomplish them (forcible entry, hose line deployment, search and rescue, ventilation). The scene of an emergency is not the place to learn or practice a skill; Be prepared for the unexpected before the battle begins.
Billy Schmidt is a District Chief assigned to the 5th Battalion with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue (Florida). He's an adjunct instructor for the department’s Training and Safety Division and has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and an associate’s degree in Fire Science.