I have to admit that I am a proponent of safety. I believe in wearing seat belts. I believe in wearing all of your protective gear and equipment. I believe in being healthier. I believe in doing a 360 and situational awareness. These are just a few of the safety issues that I believe in.
What I will never understand is a statement that puts us, the firefighters, above the victim that could still be saved. This is not new but something that I just have to get off of my chest.
I recently wrote an article "Techniques for VES". The beginning of the article specifically states that two firefighters are always ideal for operating. With that being said, I understand that there will always be those that disagree with things that I write, and I'm fine with that. What I am not fine with is the recurring theme of "never" do this and "never" do that.
When I instruct I am very careful about not using "never" and "always." We know that in our business those two words can come back to haunt you. Although the article was about VES, I know that that is a hot button topic. What prompted the article was a training I attended and questions about the tactic.
The fact is that we train for ideal conditions and we want to always have a 2 in 2 out situation. But, we know the real world is not always so kind. Statements like, "Safety of your crew and yourself always come first, no matter what the situation" are troublesome to me. Where does this leave the people in the burning building or under the debris?
Text books are great and operating in this manner is great. But, what if you are the one checking the windows in the rear and you see a hand on the glass? Your by yourself and your equipped to make a quick grab from the window. Do you wait for three more people? Or, do you take a calculated risk and perform VES that you have trained for? I for one am going to do what I can to give that person every opportunity to live. This falls in the same category of an officer that told his guys to "never" search without a hose line. Is that really the case? We know that it's not.
Out of the norm tactics are dangerous, but not necessarily reckless. There is not nor should there be a "cookie cutter" way of doing things in a figurative sense. Our job and environments are dynamic. Should we have standards and guidelines based on best practices and methods that have worked for decades? Absolutely! But, we should not be so entrenched in our own ways as not to perform to what situation we are faced with at the time. The only way to be able to do that is to train for those situations and in order to train for them you must believe that those situations can happen.
All fire ground activities are best performed in teams. Is it possible that one firefighter may need to make a save utilizing VES? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes. So, it lends itself that if is is possible, dangerous, and we could be placed in that situation, that we should train for it.
I just don't see our profession and our tactics in a "black and white" world. I see the need to adapt and overcome. But to do that we must expect these situations and train for them.