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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Comments
Chris Sterricker
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Great read Jason. I liken this issue to the recent unfortunate events in Kentucky in which a firefighter was killed and another, his mother, seriously injured when struck at the scene of a car fire. The response to the tragedy was for the fire department to immediately institute a complete shut-down policy of any incident…
2014-08-27 00:39:49
Bill Carey
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Well written Jason; nice job. Bill Carey
2014-08-25 13:37:42
John Mallott
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Jason; Some good information the fire service is very dynamic and always changing. thanks for the article will share with the fire department officers for "food for thought" and some insight information..
2014-08-04 16:54:47
Billy Shockley
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Love to have the opportunity to train to be a firefighter
2014-07-18 21:00:13
dc802
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I will post the link today for the first video. I am attaching a video that also explains an online course that I offer for officer development. The next class is beginning Sept. 4, 2014. Look for the link on this page and at thenewfireofficer.com http://youtu.be/A9oXTQQhgP8 https://app.box.com/s/n4q0az6hrd296fyznaql This is the link for the first video.…
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