Being a firefighter means more than dousing flames. Over a career, a firefighter might be called to respond in the event of auto accidents, hazardous chemical spills, natural disasters and more. There’s nothing basic about basic firefighter skills — but there are essential abilities and practices that all firefighters should keep well-honed as they carve out careers as fear-defying first responders.
Here’s a look at some of the most important tactics, techniques and practices to employ:
Know Your Response Area
One of the most essential elements in the basics of firefighting knowledge regards the area in which you work. What types of structures, systems and situations will you see most often? What construction materials are common? What potential hazards are presented by manufacturing materials, construction sites, topography and the typical daily movement of people? Where are the narrow streets and dead ends? A good firefighter gets out in the coverage area often.
Know Your Gear
Rare is the firefighter who doesn’t count mechanical aptitude among the most essential firefighting basic skills and techniques. Perhaps nothing is more important than stretching the initial attack line. Overcoming water supply issues on the fly; placing, moving and conducting searches from ladders; forcing entry (knowing the tools to use and the obstructions you’ll encounter); proper use and maintenance of everything from SCBA to ropes — these are skills that will save lives.
Know Yourself and Your Peers
What are your limits? What are your fellow firefighters’ limits? Do you discuss calls when the work is done? Do you share experiences and seek input? Most of all, remember that you can’t take care of anyone else without first taking care of yourself. Getting the proper nutrition, rest, exercise, and physical and mental care are foundational elements of firefighter basic knowledge.
Know the Plan
Sizing up the building and deploying to the best location, picking the proper technique, prioritizing search zones, and knowing your role can only improve potential outcomes. Yet, one of the most important elements of knowing the plan is knowing when to deviate from it.
Adaptability is crucial. The best firefighters have been blessed with a heightened sense of spatial awareness — that ability to recognize patterns in a space, understand its dimensions at a glance and create a course of action. Calmly formulating a plan — or executing an already considered Plan B, C or D — is the ultimate skill when conditions go sideways.
This means more than fire science, though understanding the behavior of fire based on particular sources, materials and extinguishing options is crucial. Having the confidence to operate in hostile fire conditions grows with knowledge and experience.
Always Get Good Gear
The basics of firefighting are simple but getting them right is not easy. For example, positive pressure ventilation (PPV) is a simple enough concept — blowing good air in to carry bad air out — but finding the right fans for the job often means navigating specious claims and immaterial specs.
BlowHard factors in myriad aspects of fan performance to deliver powerful, long-running and long-lasting fans that can be quickly and effectively located and deployed. Conscientious firefighters owe it to themselves to learn more.