Posted tagged ‘basic firefighting’

Manual Of Firemanship

03/21/2012

I came across this great handbook from 1945, it has been fascinating to read and to reassure myself as much as we have changed, our basics have stayed so much the same. I am going to make a few different posts detailing some of the chapters out of this book. Everything from our mission and responsibilities as a firefighter to what early day versions of “combat ready” apparatus looked like.

Here is the very first page, word for word,  out of book # 5 called Practical Firemanship

PRELIMINARY
“No two fires are alike,” is an old and very true Fire Service saying, and therefore technical knowledge must be backed up by intelligence and the ability to grasp the fundamentals of a situation, to initiate a plan of action and to improvise on the spur of the moment.
 
1. THE FIREMAN
The fireman must be physically fit, for work at a fire will almost always involve great physical exertion. He must be courageous and yet be calm, for on these qualities will depend his reactions in an emergency. He must be patient, for often he will need patience when dealing with persons whose property is involved or threatened by fire and who are in a state of considerable mental distress. He must have initiative and yet possess the will to keep going for long periods of times under adverse conditions. He must cultivate his powers of observation to the utmost and must also possess an enquiring mind. He must have a keen sense of discipline, for unless he himself is able to obey orders without question he cannot expect other to carry out his orders. Finally he must never forget that as a member of the Fire Service he is a servant of the public, and that it is to him that the public turns in an emergency. His duty may be summed upas, firstly to save lives, secondly, to prevent the destruction of property by fire and, thirdly, to render humanitarian services.
The fireman who wishes to progress in his profession should study every outbreak which he has the good fortune to attend and endeavor to learn something from it. Thus, after a few years, he will have built up a store of practical knowledge which will equip him for dealing with most of the problems which come his way.  
 

Wow, talk about hitting the nail on the head. I needed this, sometimes it feels like we have so many other responsibilities we need to be good at that all I see is people training on everything but our true core basics. This book does a better job breaking down what is important than I ever could. What is great about this paragraph is it covers some great characteristics, expectations, and mentality in an easy to understand way. I want to break down parts of it and put a more modern spin on what I believe they are saying. I’ll respond in blue.

PRELIMINARY

“No two fires are alike,” is an old and very true Fire Service saying, and therefore technical knowledge must be backed up by intelligence and the ability to grasp the fundamentals of a situation, to initiate a plan of action and to improvise on the spur of the moment.
It has obviously been around for a while, we have all heard it, “No two fires are alike”  and I like their spin on this. They make the point that if we expect that each fire can be handled by a set guidelines out of a book, or technical knowledge that has been read, we are in for a world of hurt. We must use our heads and common sense to come up with a solution to the problem and get the job done. Not only get the job done, but in times do it in a way that we have never seen or been trained on before using tools in a creative fashion. They are asking for people that can solve problems with what they have in hand. 

 1. THE FIREMAN

The fireman must be physically fit, for work at a fire will almost always involve great physical exertion.
Guys are not making this stuff up today, they are just improving on it and stressing its importance. 
He must be courageous and yet be calm, for on these qualities will depend his reactions in an emergency. 
 These are some of the best qualities you can find in a firefighter, think of some of the best you know and work around. Ill bet their calm, and to me one of the best ways to judge courage is how calm someone remains when things are real bad.
He must be patient, for often he will need patience when dealing with persons whose property is involved or threatened by fire and who are in a state of considerable mental distress. He must have initiative and yet possess the will to keep going for long periods of times under adverse conditions.
Patience and staying calm go very hand in hand. The second part is a very formal way of saying they should be tough and not whining about when it is their turn to go get water or leave the fire.
He must cultivate his powers of observation to the utmost and must also possess an enquiring mind.
Attention to detail and being able to recognize what is going on when you arrive instead of becoming tunneled in on the problem. Almost every modern day tool and tactic have come from those among us with enquiring minds and the will to make things better.
He must have a keen sense of discipline, for unless he himself is able to obey orders without question he cannot expect others to carry out his orders.
The greatest leaders I have ever worked for are comfortable enough in their own skills and confident enough in their choices that they can have the humility to let the people who work under them question and solve problems on our own, all while having a mutual understanding that when they do give an order we would follow it without hesitation.
Finally he must never forget that as a member of the Fire Service he is a servant of the public, and that it is to him that the public turns in an emergency. His duty may be summed up as, firstly to save lives, secondly, to prevent the destruction of property by fire and, thirdly, to render humanitarian services.
What a great line, they refer back to the bottom line that we are in a business of service to others. How about how they summed up our duty, we have heard that in about every fire text book on the market. However I like the way they word it here better than the modern day Life Safety, Incident Stabilization,  Property Conservation. It brings a more personal meaning to our mission.
The fireman who wishes to progress in his profession should study every outbreak which he has the good fortune to attend and endeavor to learn something from it. Thus, after a few years, he will have built up a store of practical knowledge which will equip him for dealing with most of the problems which come his way.  
This is one of my favorites, even in 1945 they are talking about the importance of the person who treats this as a trade and not as a day to sit and gather a paycheck. 25 years can be experience that is only half of its true potential if you did just the minimum to make it through. The true craftsman takes every possible opportunity that they can learn from and they apply to their next challenge. They are hard on themselves when something goes wrong, but then they take what they learned and apply it to the next fire. This is how you store practical knowledge, by messing up, and than making sure you can’t mess up in the same way again.

This is just the very first page of this book, I have found a lot of other topics and chapters that I will share on here over time. I always love to get back tot he basics.

 
 

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