Fire Officer Basics: Part 1

The officer must be the one that watches for conditions.

The officer must be the one that watches for conditions.

When a crew is making an interior attack, or any task, on the fire ground, the officer must be the eyes and ears of his crew.

Although everyone is responsible for safety and identifying unsafe conditions, the officer must continually keep a watchful eye on conditions.

Too often I have witnessed the officer take the nozzle, dragging the firefighter along into a burning structure. The officer should be the more experienced person on the line; there is a reason he is the officer. ( I know that is not always the case, but, you get the point.)

I can remember being in a 3-story house with fire blowing out the rear on the first floor and making an aggressive interior attack as the nozzle man. About 5 minutes or so pass and I am right up on this thing not making much progress. The acting officer tapped me on the shoulder and said we needed to back out.

I of course did not want to, but what I didn’t see, because I was focused on the fire fight, was that we were pushing fire around the stairwell back to the front door, where we entered. Mostly because we had the wrong sized line for the amount of fire we had.

But, the point is, he was doing his job. Not just helping me with the hose line, but seeing the “big” picture. He was paying attention to more than just what was in front of him.

As officers on the hose line we are expected to be aware and to get the job done. On that fire it meant pulling out and going back with a larger line, which was effective.

Watch for changing smoke conditions. Look for fire behavior that may be odd. Just look at everything and stay aware. Get the job done and get back safe.

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Jason Hoevelmann

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County.

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Dan Martin
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There is academic research out there on portions of these systems; specifically the ropes. Feel free to contact the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute, Firefighter Life Safety Research Institute to get more information. We all are in this together, to keep firefighters safe.
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Do you get a cert like fire officer 1 or 2 when your done?
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What is the cost of this online course?
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