Joy of the Effort

Joy of the Effort

I have been teaching in the fire service since 1986. My most fun times are teaching rookies anything. Classroom or Practical it is fun to watch the lights come on in these young men and women. Structure burns are fewer and farther between than they used to be. Each burn is like the proverbial box of Chocolate!. You never know what you are going to get until that first fire is over. Each department and AHJ are very different. Getting to work with multiple colleges and Instructors and Fire Marshals is a great blessing.

Training yourself and your department is essential to longevity. Making sure your FF are really up to the task of Fire Suppression is also important. All instructors have seen the old and young experience “airpack” issues, heat and claustrophobia concerns, and other “I got to get out of here” excuses. Knowing who will stay by your side when the going gets tough is important. As much as I enjoy burning in the training building sometimes some slip through to the front line.

Joe Ramsey has been a staple instructor for Northwest NC for many years. Joe initiated a team Instructor concept. As many as 8-10 instructors and Instructors in training attend the burns. We work as a team and rotate in and out like the crews. We can be leading a crew into the building and working on fire sets for the next crew. And Should the fire get up into the attic…. We have Instructors to guide the backup line. We have even set-up a RIT Instructor group for bigger and complex burns.

Vienna FD is able through Joe, Mike and Tim to be able to take less experienced FF with us on these structure burns and evaluate same. Sometimes we put them into the existing departments crews and other times they assist the burn instructor. Building sets and rebuilding after a crew comes in and puts the fires out. We have developed a whole generation of new leaders, firefighters and instructors. We have separated the wheat from the chaff.

The whole process is as complex as it seems. Building fires for the crews to come into in a reasonable amount of time is difficult. When there are lots of folks waiting for “their” fire it puts more pressure on the instructor to make good fires and make the structure last. Usually after the first rotation a fire or combo of fires finds significant void spaces. Attics and cocklofts will light off and then we test the command structure. Radio chatter ramps up and all are concerned their view get transmitted to the primary crew. We as instructors also teach crew leaders that they need to call for the backup line and share the firefighting.

The interior crews are usually directed to a predetermined access to apply water to the void space. Vent holes already cut serve to preserve the structure and prevent the ONE guaranteed fire. Crews learn to move around in the fire building and leaders get to lead. Command and the Safety groups get to see lots of fire and heavy smoke properly stopped with the correct application of water. All crews that exit after the attic lights off and is properly extinguished have learned some valuable lessons about pulling ceiling, application of water, and even putting out the fire feeding the spaces above.

Many Saturday mornings have been sacrificed to the STRUCTURE BURN. Family time sometimes takes a back seat to a Burn. Every FF should attend Every Burn they are able to attend. Even short and sweet structure burns teach something. Firemanship is a continual learning experience. We all change and people change. The process and watching todays leaders come out of good training is worth the effort.

The Truck pictured with my young self is a 1970 Chevrolet C-65 Howe. She was the first 5-man cab Vienna got. Reflected in the windows is a structure after we let it go. I had been assisting Old Richmond on a Structure Burn. Early 90’s

 

 

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Basic to Advanced

Basic to Advanced

The State of North Carolina rates fire departments from a one to ten scale. Water, Alarm handling, and Fire Department operations all score up to 100 points. The fire department portion is about 40 points. Training now  counts as much as 11 points. Getting my FF to training is a challenge. Many have second jobs and family and attend as much training as possible during work hours. Vienna trains every monday night and we ask our personnel to attend certification training. We also recommend any structure fire training as well as joint training with other departments.

Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association Training Committee holds the Piedmont Fire Expo in January. We also sponsor the FF 1 and 2 classes for the evening FF. Quarterly classes have been well attended. The Cert classes have not done well. We had regular full classes for 25 years and had to quit contracting and let FTCC hold the direct delivery classes. Times have changed and there are classes everywhere. Finding the correct mix is tough when finishing the certs or getting done before changes.

The Training committee has over the years sponsored and used Instructors from the Forsyth County’s  fire departments. Instructors are contracted and paid through the Community College System. All Instructors are Certified and Qualified through the Department of Insurance and then to teach at the Northwest campus take another test.  Instructors must be committed enough to make sure the class will have enough participants. Most ask the training committee to poll the Fire Chiefs and get folks that need specific classes.

This October we floated the Idea that one department sponsor a night or Day at the training center. Ask for participation from mutual aid departments and get a crew or pairs of FF from each department. This gives each participating department mutual aid training and leaves enough FF to handle call volumes.

Vienna sponsored Roof Operations. We went Basic to Advanced. We had low training roof, 2 story cut operations, and an advanced Flat roof simulator. Marty Bowen did the Vent ,Enter, Search with a twist. All participants got Chainsaw time, ladder time, air pak time, and work outside a normal command structure. Some got to cut their first roof. All got to use one of the finest training facilities in the State of NC.

Training committee chair and co- chairs were pleased with the turnout. We will continue the Idea. We will train and try to make it as relevant to today’s FF as possible.

521

 

Alive and Well

Alive and Well

Don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you see.! I have been told this for years by my mentors and parents. I can tell you that the Rural fire service is alive and well in North Carolina. Yes volunteer numbers are down. Yes call volumes are swamping many departments. Yes we are requiring way too many hours to Certify and Qualify our first responders. There is still a palpable passion to our JOB! Witnessed by the intense interest in my last structural burn.

Training is frequent and intense. Our training process is better than ever. We have available every screw up on video to view. We have instant on the scene critics. We have the social media roaring  the proper thing to do… I think we can perform properly and respond perfectly to all situations if we were not humans. That human factor has millions of variables.

The Mission is simple. Save lives, Protect property. We are here for them! We must however protect ourselves to properly continue the service. I am the Safest I have ever been in 44 years of service. I am at a High level of Situational awareness. I drive slower, work out more and eat better than I ever did in the first 30 years. I have preached from the training pulpit the ways to stay alive till age 25 and beyond.

I have kept fire in my life. Carrying my turnout gear with me for 40 years to be ready at a moments notice. As soon as I became an EMT I have carried a jump bag too. I have taught the Structural Burn for the last 30 years. Taking crews and finding the best of the best and bringing those FF to additional burns to develop their skills. We burned with 10 Instructors and helpers keeping 35 -40 in crews of 4 n 5 busy all night.

The Command Staff, Water Supply and Instructor support worked tirelessly during the burn. The Whole incident had been pre-set. Lines, Tool Staging, Sets in all rooms all were ready to keep crews busy. Instructors rotated with the air supply and crews rotated as they got Fire. FF were rehabbed and fed as Crews and the burning continued. No Complaints from over 100 FF. Firefighting is alive and well in Rural NC.

 

Computers, Phones and Keeping in Touch

Life is Flying by…. The Garage is rocking along and the Heat sets in…Windows 7 computers are attacked by Microsoft… Phone breakage….Computer quits when the cable is updated… Roberta has to Stay with Her Mom…Twitter changes the feed and we lose some contact with our Tweeters…Weekend Warrior resumes after a brief respite…Paul goes back to School… Doves are eminent

I have lost touch with some of my friends. My home desktop will not communicate with the new cable modems… I am relegated to using the smart phone and no keyboard…More tweets and likes and less WordPress and Facebook…Pouring myself out of my clothing and cold showering helps after the hot and humid day in the shop. Flop into a chair and figure out what to Eat…Meetings have resumed and I am busy now more than ever before.

Chiefs Meet at the end of the month… New Chiefs are appointed… Others hired… New members come to Vienna… Rescue is in full swing… Auto Extrication is Hot and Fun…Raven Knob Cranks up for the Fall Camping Season…Patio is calling “Wait till it cools Down” …Outdoor fireplace is stacked and ready…Some Garage wood is cut and split and stacked… Thanks Paul…Jim is fixin up the Fixer upper…

We have and will keep on keepin on… I will get another computer and be able to type when it’s not 92 in the building… The temps will moderate and soon it will be my Anniversary 09-3… Hard to believe it’s been 34 years since Roberta said Yes…I will see everyone in the Fall and get back to camping and slow down a little…

My Phone is getting old and has some quirks… Watch out…

Stamina, Grit, Determination

Stamina, Grit, Determination

Vienna Fire Department is managed by the Chief Officers. Each Chief Level Officer has integrated responsibilities. My Assistant Chief Walter Beroth manages our combination department personnel and integrations with the Forsyth County FD.  Walter schedules the Full and part time staff. He makes sure the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly checkoffs are done promptly and efficiently. He manages his own business and family life while putting Vienna Fire and EMS response as a priority to serve his community. Walter was the Chief of Department for 15 years. He stepped down to further  his education, and participate very heavily in the GNCC motorcycle racing. Both of his young men have raced and excelled. Bolton is still racing and Alex had a magnificent career.

Strong church, community and family ties are the motivator behind the Grit and determination that Walter shows in every aspect of his life. He speaks with every employee about the commitment required to be Staff of a Combination department. He lives the physical aspect  with stamina and a history of interior firefighting. Walter has been found observing the firefighting effort for way longer that most can stretch their air bottles. He has the ability to turn every moment into a teachable moment.

Vienna has had a large number of fires that progressed or started in the attic. Using the tactics learned many years before Walt can assist each crew in getting with it up in that attic. Of course to be able to stretch the air, hold the hose, and fight the fire you must have stayed hydrated, done daily and weekly workouts,and  conditioned the body for the stress of fighting the heat and smoke. Preparation is the key.

At Vienna we are blessed to have members of all types and skills. We have many that work everyday in the heat and humidity. While Hot and tired all have listened and heed the need to stay hydrated. Getting water on the fireground is too late. You must be ready for that time when the coat and helmet go on and the Heat stress begins.

Walt is not the only Vienna Officer pushing grit and determination. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. Work-out, Work, Hydrate, Prepare the skill-set, Use the knowledge and Mentor our volunteers and Full time Fire Fighters. I am proud to see our guys standing calmly re-hydrating while others need to be told to remove gear and sit out because of dehydration.

Passing the Grit is tough. Watching those coming up from above is tough too. Teaching, Mentoring, and letting go is required to really make a FF. Responsibility is born from excelling at task and command levels jobs. Stay Fit to Stay in there. That where the rubber meets the Road.

Tim

 

Involved or Committed

Involved or Committed

100% is all you have. Sports talks about 110% . I have seen 150 or 200% in emergencies and special situations. I try to put my all into everything I am a part of. Over the Years the stuff has grown and compounded. Family x 3, Church, Business, Community, and physical self and Fun…

I have been involved, committed and an integral part of Fire and Rescue, Automotive repair, Church life , and community since I was a Youth. I have sat in on meetings, been a lively part,and lead those meetings. Together we have kept the organizations managed, motivated, and liquid. Fund raising has been a tremendous part of many of these organizations history. I have sold nearly everything imaginable. Food has been the best because we all EAT 3 times a Day…

Roberta has been committed since we started dating. I tricked her into marrying me. I failed to tell her she would work in a garage, become an EMT, and Boy Scout leader, Serve Thousands of Meals to everyone imaginable, and live with the Lasley boys… Her smile is ever present. Her magnificent attitude causes others to help when asked. Roberta is the spark plug behind all things Lasley at 6355 and 6395…

Roberta began putting together our “How did we do that?” manuals. Grocery lists, main helpers, food quantities and turnouts. We can now come up with an idea, find out quantities, who to serve and how long it took for logistics and setup/cleanup.  She of course is helped by Mom Rowena. They are most important to my Family and my sanity. We are a Family when we all get together. Vienna knows when we are away.

Love you Berta… Thanks

Father’s reflection

Surrounded

Surrounded by family, not smothered but wrapped in some loving arms. Camping with thousands is very intimate at times. Long walks on the beach, sitting n reflecting, and quiet time after all have gone to bed.

I am blessed with a Mom that let community men help raise me. My dad’s were many. To those still alive… JD Beroth, Bob May ,Tom Wright… Thanks. N I think you would be proud at your Grandsons n Family

Train up a child…. Proverbs… Thanks