Too many candidates get sucked into concentrating too much on the check-off list for their tactical without realizing it. In the process, they lose control of the fire and their score gets hammered.
What's your best tactic for rescue or knocking down the fire? An aggressive attack on the fire! Go fight the fire with your resources. In the process you will get the necessary boxes checked off on the rating sheet, could put out the fire and get a top score.
Yes, you want to cover all the bases to make sure the boxes are checked off on the rating sheet, but again, isn’t the best tactic for extinguishment and rescue an aggressive fire attack?
However, concentrate on a solid plan. Many candidates put too much into play out of sequence early on in the exercise and make the problem bigger than what the raters have actually given them. Often, candidates will give assignments to units to place positive pressure ventilation, a crew to pull ceilings, assign more than one unit to carry out search rescue and other tasks, call the canteen truck, and add a rescue problem that wasn't given to them.
This is before they have the first line on the fire, a RIT team assigned, utilities pulled and a crew sent to the roof for ventilation. The fire gets away from them and they are out of equipment and resources before they realize what happened. How long can you tread water?
These are major areas the raters will be checking off on your scoring sheet that can rack up big points. You must come out swinging. Once you have proven you can handle the call from the beginning, you're nailing it. As soon as the raters know you got it, they will help you over the top to that next badge. It's a beautiful thing when it happens.
Have a plan Here's a simple example of a fire problem: You give an on-scene size up at a fire involving a residence with fire blowing out a bedroom window. You order your engineer to hook up as you and your firefighter start pulling lines. If you followed this sequence, you have just lost the fire!
The problem here is you went from size up directly into tactics. Most candidates start off on the right foot with a size up of the fire. Then they make a fatal mistake in going directly into tactics without a plan. They confuse tactics with a plan. Once given the fire problem, focus all your energies on developing a plan.
Without a plan, you are out of control. What was your plan on this fire problem? By just taking a few more moments, you would have one. When confronted, candidates that go immediately to tactics regroup and say, "My plan is to confine and put out the bedroom fire." O.K., but if you didn't say it, you didn't have a plan. Size up, plan, and then tactics.
About the author
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"Captain Bob" Smith has helped countless entry level and promotional candidates obtain their badges. He's gained experience from more than 175 oral boards, is a coach, publisher, and author. The captain uses simple tools to uncomplicate the testing process. "Captain Bob" is a retired 28-year California fire captain, speaker/author of the CD/DVD programs "Conquer the Job Interview," "It's Your Turn in the Hot Seat!," and the books, "Becoming a Firefighter—The Complete Guide to Your Badge," "Fire Up Your Communication Skills," and "Eat Stress For Breakfast," which have been translated in 24 countries and regions including South Korea, Latin America and China.
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