There are many time that I wonder how firefighters get a bad rap for doing just what we are told without thought. I feel this is an unacceptable stereotype and we need to do better. Can we get excited on a scene and make mistakes? Sure. Can we change this behavior? Of course!
The late Lieutenant Andy Fredricks said that a trash man doesn’t get excited to see trash when he is on his route, so we shouldn’t be excited to see a fire when we respond. This statement is true to today. We need train our new firefighters from the academy these behaviors. Everything we do should be calculated and precise.
I know that can be a tall order, but the when the fire service has made big changes in our culture, we’ve instilled that change in the academy. We should have more training for our firefighters to become more aware of their ever changing surrounding and adapt as we go.
Often times we revert to a mental checklist we made in our heads and that can lead to trouble. Battalion Chief Curt Isakson talks about death on the nozzle. This comes from our mental checklist or muscle memory. When you were in the academy, did you not put out the fires in the burn can? Did you get yelled at by the instructor for putting their fire out? This is what get us in trouble.
In the military, they train the troops for the worst case scenario thus if our minds shut off and the body can take over and preform what needs to be done. Our muscle memory needs to be set for our worst case scenario. If you fall through a floor, will you freak out or will you prevail. Learn to embrace the suck and work towards resetting your muscle memory.
Until next time, stay safe out there.