Preparation requires plan A,B, and C.

When was the last time things didn’t go as planned and you had to resort to plan b?  Being a firefighter requires adaptability to the situations faced.  Very rarely do fires occur in buildings with no set back, flat ground, clear spaces from aerial placement, and enough water to float the building down the street.  Usually we are tasked with buildings with difficult access, no water supply, and surrounding trees that look like Winnie the Pooh should pop out at any moment.  During these battles is where the adaptability of a firefighter will shine.

Where does a firefighter learn to become adaptive?  It begins with watching one of the most epic movies in American History!  ‘“Improvise, adapt, and overcome”was the words spoken by Clint Eastwood that illustrated the mindset of a US Marine.  While this was just a public illustration of what the Marines do everyday it should apply to today’s firefighters.  Arriving on scene, making a plan, and have the backup plan ready is something that firefighters should add to every training session. 

Firefighters should always have plan B. In this picture firefighters practice flat roof ventilation with some added challenges. Photo Credit Ryan Pennington

Recently this jumpseat riding firefighter was exposed to the benefits of adding the adaptability during a training session with a neighboring fire dept.  On the roof of acquired three story hotel the training session was a simple flat roof ventilation.  Three saws and 15 minutes later we discovered a blade that was on backward, a saw that was flooded, and a saw that ran well.  Feeling the frustrations of equipment that was not #jumpseatready the firefighters grabbed the pig and made the hole.

You see the plan was to make a hole.  When saw A didn’t cut it, it was off to saw B, and when B didn’t make it plan C was the winner.  Obviously the saw maintenance and inspections process will be revisited but the point of this blog is to share a valuable learning lesson.  Did the hole get made,yes.  Did the firefighters give up, no.  Evolution was a success because the firefighters had a back up plan at the ready. 

How can we add this mindset into our training.  It starts with adding some challenges to your next training session. 

  • Block access points
  • Non Functioning equipment
  • Burst Hose lines
  • SCBA failure

These are just a few examples of how you can add some variables and build the adaptive mindset into your firefighters.  Not all drills and skills will result in success.  Have the firefighters make a decision, have it fail, and go on to plan b.  Allow them to experience a set back, safely.  A setback in training is NOT a failure rather its an opportunity for firefighter development.  Join together and experience a setback and build the crew cohesion to be able to solve it quickly. 

On your next evolution add in some challenges, induce some controlled stressors, and see how your crew handles adversity.  Because you will never know when plans A,B,C…..Z may be needed!

Until Next time Stay #JumpseatReady

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