Probation on the truck company

The probationary period of new firefighters is extremely important in their career development. It is used to refine what they learned in the academy, to introduce them to the culture of firefighters, and to develop specific tasks performed by engine and truck companies.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the time spent learning the uniqueness of the functions of a trucking company. This is mainly due to the fact that trucking companies have many possible jobs during fires and other specialized incidents, and the time spent on this immense amount of work at the fire academy, including vertical ventilation, extrication, forced entry, and an understanding of aerial deployment, is generally minimal.

I was a truck captain at a busy downtown business for many years, and the majority of the trainee firefighters were assigned to rotate their ladder on our truck. I have always welcomed the opportunity because of the pride I take in working for a trucking company. It also allowed my assigned firefighters to “own” a part of the team by playing a crucial role in teaching a variety of subjects to firefighters on probation. In addition, it gave me the opportunity to make sure that the affected firefighters taught things the way I wanted them to do, which also ensured their understanding of the tasks.

Many firefighters on probation performed hose operations at the academy all day, and so knew how to handle a nozzle or pick up a plug. However, put a chainsaw in their hands and tell them to walk on the roof and cut a vertical ventilation hole, and you saw how much practice they needed.

Mechanical aptitude

One of the first things I did was get a feel for the mechanical aptitude of the trainee firefighters. Do they know what two-stroke fuel is? Do they know how to use the choke to start a saw, fan or power plant? Do they understand the basic use of the tools?

You can’t rely on the new generation to have a practical mindset. It’s our job to teach them to get their hands dirty.

We also operated a ladder lift and support truck at our station, so there was a lot to remember when it came to knowing what equipment was in which compartment. I gave the firefighters on probation a week to memorize what was in each compartment of each truck, and then I tested them. The last thing I wanted was a firefighter going around the truck looking for a particular tool.

I had them cut residential and commercial holes a few times until they were comfortable with their footwork and the performance of their chainsaw.

The final training test was the Unexpected Night Residential Vertical Ventilation Cutoff. We made an excuse to go out at night and then went to our training center. We turned on the lights and the siren and acted like we were on a house fire, in real time, and ordered to ventilate the roof. The probationary firefighter then attended, donned a self-contained breathing apparatus as fast as possible, threw a ladder to the ground, and followed the team to the roof to drill a safe and effective ventilation hole.

Things look different at night through your SCBA mask. It took a unanimous crew vote for the trainee firefighter to be “lifted” in turn to a real ventilation hole.

More tools and tasks

There were airbags to lift heavy objects to figure out, learn the basics of floor ladder throwing, set up properly for positive pressure ventilation, and know how to tie the right knots.

Flathead Axes, Pickaxes, Rabbit Tool, Halligans, Hammers, Wrenches, Battery Operated Hand Tools and other assorted tools, the quantity of which could rival a small home improvement store. They must all be groomed and kept in working order, and the trainee firefighter must be taught how to do this.

The firefighter on probation would learn that our truck was usually the last to leave the fire, after making sure the recovery and overhaul was complete and any ventilation holes in the roof were covered to keep the rain out. as customer service. . (I have never had a resumption of a structural fire, and our team were proud of the work it took to prevent this.)

Other important learning aspects were how to help quickly install stabilizers for aerial deployment and how to enter the bucket with the proper tools and use the ladder belt. We set up the bucket as a top direction for technical emergency calls and practiced attaching a Stokes basket to the bucket as an option to knock down an injured person.

We made them feel like they were driving a 63ft, 43,000lb, million dollar fire truck around the academy grounds and taking turns stealing the bucket from the roof, all for that they understand what the other firefighters and engineers did during this mission.

Short but lasting

Ultimately, a wide-eyed and somewhat intimidated firefighter on probation would generally have a better understanding of what a trucking company does and how those tasks are accomplished. Too soon, it seemed, the rotation was over. The education and experience that firefighters on probation received were sometimes the last they would get in a trucking company, but the experience would last their entire career.

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