This is a common problem. It takes way too long to turn out on a run after the buzzer hits. It happens across the country all the time. By “turn out” I mean the time it takes for you to realize that there is a call, get on the apparatus floor, dress out, and get seated on the rig for departure. 2 minutes or longer is too long. You can dispute it, but it is way too long. Someone needs help and its time to go to work.
So what causes a slow turnout time? Lets take a brief look at the factors that contribute.
1. Complacent Firefighter Syndrome: When the call takes you from the couch, you moan, groan, and walk slowly to the truck like you are bothered to have to go on another run that is “most likely nothing”.
2. Lack of proficiency in rapid dressing. You should be able to fully dress in under a minute. If you don’t practice this skill, even if it is the most basic thing you do, you will loose your proficiency.
3. Lack of street knowledge by the driver. (we used to have street tests......)
4. Lack of leadership by the company officer to push the crew to get out the door.
So what can be done to fix this common “illness” encountered in the firehouse?
2. Practice the basics of getting dressed. I know, all the “veterans” don’t think it is necessary to practice getting dressed. When it takes you 2-3 minutes to get your gear on, you might want to look in the mirror. The basics are the foundation of our entire job. Stay sharp on them.
How can you drill on something like this?
1. At random times throughout the day, yell out “box” or “call” or some other word that your crew knows to signify the drill. When the code word is yelled, everyone takes off for the truck, rapid dresses, and gets on the truck. The officer has pre-made flash cards with an address and cross street written on them. He hands one to the driver. The driver has to look it up quickly and figure out where he is going if he doesn’t already know. The crew gets on the truck and you drive to the address (of course routine traffic). This will even open the door for a tactics discussion when you get there. Try it.
Here is my recommendation on rapid dressing. Find out what works best for you.
|Note that the SCBA mask is already connected to the air pack inside of the jump seat. This should be done when your pack is checked daily by you.|
|Your turnout boots on the floor outside your door, hood is lying between the boots, suspenders are set up for rapid dress, coat is hanging on the truck mounted grab bar, helmet is staged inside of the truck.|
|After getting out of your duty shoes or boots, step into your turnout boots.|
|Remove your hood from between your legs.|
|Don the hood fully and pull your turnout pants up.|
|Set your suspenders and don your radio strap.|
|Finish by donning your turnout coat, bringing your radio lapel mic through the top of your coat.|
|Climb into your jump seat and don the straps of your air pack. Make sure you pull the release cord if equipped with that type of device.|
|Place seat belt on and close the door.|
This entire process should take less than 40 seconds.
Tailboard Firefighting: Rapid Dress Youtube Video
This is a basic skill, but it seems to give people the most trouble because it is not practiced.
The hood is fully donned prior to the suspenders and coat. This allows for a complete covering of the neck. The suspenders will assist in keeping the hood in place.
It is not cool to be slow. “I didn’t cause the emergency, I’m not going to kill myself to get there” is a fun slogan you hear often. They are right. You didn’t cause the emergency and you literally don’t want to die getting there, but you are responsible for dealing with it in a timely manner. Think about if it was you or your family. People say that last sentence often, but do you actually think about that? What kind of crew do you want coming to you at your house? Be the crew you would want. If you are comfortable and well trained, your speed will come and your skill will not let you down. If you never train, you will dress like a new guy spinning on his first box call.
Take the time to know your job, your equipment, and your standards. Be proficient in your skills and serve. Stay safe out there.