Firefighter/Rescue Experience and Training
In this paper I intend to prove that I have the classroom instruction and the practical experience which qualifies for six hours of credit in the fire science field as outlined in Central Missouri State University’s course catalog. I will show that I understand the principles of fire protection and fire prevention, and also show that I understand the chemistry of fire, the different classifications of fire and the factors contributing to fires. I’ll show that I can identify hazardous materials, and techniques of fire prevention and some techniques of fire protection.
My introduction to fire science began when I became employed at Thomas Hill power plant in 1985. All employees had to participate in a miniature fire school conducted by our safety coordinator. It consisted of putting out fires with a hand-held fire extinguisher and using some fire retardant foam. This class was the extent of my fire-fighting training until 1998.
In 1998 my company asked for volunteers to be on their interior/structural fire brigade at Thomas Hill power plant. This forty hour course, conducted by the University of Missouri’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute, consisted of classroom training as well as practical experience in the following areas: fire concepts and behavior, personal protective equipment, self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), portable fire extinguishers, firefighter safety, hose streams and ventilation, search and rescue techniques, flammable liquids and gases, the incident command system, hazard communications, salvage and overall, fire-fighting tactics, forcible entry, and fire fighting foam techniques. This course also met all of OSHA’s standards and regulations for CFR 1910.156.
The first day of our training consisted of instructor introductions, opening remarks, and course registration. We then talked about emergency response duties and responsibilities as outlined in our plant safety procedure #15 for Thomas Hill power plant. Fire behavior was discussed and we learned about the fire triangle of fuel, heat and oxygen, and if we remove any one of these elements we put out the fire. We discussed flammable liquids and gases, learning about flash points and the difference between combustible and noncombustible elements. We discussed the upper explosive limits and lower explosive limits.
After a short break we learned about the different components of personal protective equipment. This consists of bunker pants, coat, gloves, nomex hood, helmet, and boots. After learning about personal protective equipment we then had to learn how to put all of it on and move around in a practical exercise, this exercise was difficult due to the weight of the gear. Bunker gear along with SCBA weighs around fifty-five pounds. We finished up the day with a brief discussion of the self-contained breathing apparatus.
We started the second day of our training with a practical exercise using the self-contained breathing apparatus. We discussed how this apparatus protects our respiratory system, our eyes, and our face. It does this by protecting us from gas vapors, mists, dusts and powders, oxygen deficient atmospheres, and radioactive material. This apparatus is used in search and rescue, to locate and stop leaks, and for ventilation. We learned about the different components and different ways for donning the gear. With SCBA gear on, communication is sometime next to impossible, so at this point of our training we discussed hazard communication and different hand signals to use to show if we were all right, or if we were in trouble. Two thumbs up meant you were all right, waving your hands in the air meant you were in trouble, and both hands by your throat meant you were about out of air. Before we put the units away, we also discussed safety rules, symptoms of respiratory poisoning, cleaning and sanitation and the proper procedure for storing the units.
After we discussed the basics of communication, we learned about the incident command system. The incident command system was developed as a consequence of fires that consumed large portions of wildlands in Southern California in 1970. As a result of those fires, agencies saw the need to document a system, which allowed them to work together toward a common goal in an effective and efficient manner. This system was officially adopted by the California State Fire Marshal’s office, and the California Office of Emergency Services. It is now a common tool used by most fire-fighting agencies across the country. The system consists of procedures for controlling personnel, facilities, equipment, and communications. The incident command system is designed to be used in response to all emergencies caused by fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, riots, hazardous material incidence, or any other natural or human caused incidents.
After lunch we had in-class training on search and rescue techniques. After the classroom training a practical exercise was conducted using self-contained breathing apparatus with a face piece that was taped over to restrict our vision. We were then directed to perform a search and rescue operation that consisted of doing a sweep of a large room and rescuing a dummy. We conducted the search using the fire-fighting rule of two men in, and two men out. After our search and rescue practical exercise we were dismissed.
Day three of our training started with an introduction to hazardous materials. We discussed the properties of hazardous materials, how hazardous materials are produced, how they are transported, how they’re stored, and some of their uses. We discussed the use of placards, the International color background symbols, and the United Nations hazard class numbers. We were also instructed on the safety awareness precautions when approaching a possible hazardous materials incident. We were taught to stay upwind and upgrade, to not attempt to drive through any vapor cloud, avoid contact with any liquids or fumes, eliminate any ignition sources, carefully observe the incident from a long-distance before approaching, watch for signs of leakage, and do not attempt to rescue injured until the situation has been assessed.
We then had an in-depth discussion on handling fire hoses and fire fighting techniques. We discussed fire streams with special attention drawn to different characteristics of straight streams, narrow fog streams, and wide fog streams. We discussed different types of nozzles to be used also touching on the principles of displacement and entrainment. We talked about water pressure, water hammer, a direct attack on the fire, as well as an indirect attack. We also discussed electrical safety when using water as a fire suppressant. After our classroom training, we were dismissed outside to learn about the use of the fire truck as well as a practical exercise in the use of fire hoses and different stream pattern techniques.
The on the fourth day of our training we spent most of the day in class. We discussed the importance of ventilation in fire-fighting, with special attention drawn to life safety, how it allows the firefighter to move in to find a fire, and it reduces fire extension by venting the heated gases. This also prevents the possibility of a backdraft. We learned about two ventilation methods those being natural ventilation and forced ventilation. We also discussed the importance of personal protective gear used along with SCBA. Staying away from glass, use ladders on roofs to spread out weight, stay upwind of heavy smoke, and always having an escape route is also very important. The salvage and overhaul of the fire scene was our next topic, with importance stressed in the area of good will to fire victims. The other advantages of salvage and overhaul are to prevent any further damage to the scene and also to search out and extinguish any hidden fires.
After lunch we discussed fire size up, strategy, fire fighting tactics and interior fire attack. We also discussed automatic sprinkler systems, different types and their operation. We touched on different types of sprinkler heads, we talked about wet type sprinkler systems, and we also talked about automatic deluge systems. I’ve had most of my experience with the automatic deluge systems, as these are the types we have at Thomas Hill power plant and the type I have worked with for the past 15 years. Instructors then discussed portable fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents. We talked about the four classes of fire and the common fire-extinguishing agents such as water, carbon dioxide, dry chemical, and halon. After brief discussion of fire ground safety we all took a written test which we had to pass before we were allowed to go on to the next step of our training at Union Electric’s fire school in St. Louis, Missouri.
On the last day of our training we were allowed to fight fires at Union Electric’s fire school. We fought various fires using dry chemical, water and foam. We also donned full bunker gear with SCBA and watched a fire go from incipient stages all the way through to full combustion. During this training we learned the importance of full bunker gear and SCBA as we were protected from the 1200-degree heat along with the noxious fumes of the smoke. We performed an interior fireattack on a single story building as well as a two-story building. We performed search and rescue in a blazing two-story building while we also completely ventilated the building and performed proper salvage and overhaul techniques. In doing so we practiced hazard communication techniques along with the incident command system we had learned. After student evaluations and closing remarks we concluded our forty-hour structural fire brigade training.
During the past two years I’ve also received formal training in a 24-hour hazardous materials class, which meets OSHA’s CFR 1910.120 requirements. I’ve also received training in a confined space rescue during a 24 hour classroom/ practical training exercise that meets OSHA’s CFR 1910.146 requirements. I’ve also taken a more in-depth class specifically orientated towards the incident management system. Also I’ve attended two winter fire schools at the University of Missouri where I’ve had four hours of classroom instruction in each of the following areas: firefighter safety and accountability, basic fire fighting foam, multi agency responses, fire ground strategy and tactics, explosive recognition and bomb threat management, and conflict resolution. In addition to this formalized training our fire rescue team meets at least once a month to go over any further training or take any refresher courses needed to keep our certifications up-to-date.
I hope this paper proves that I have received the training and possess the practical experience, to qualify for the three hours of credit awarded for taking the class, Introduction to Fire Science along with three more hours of credit awarded for taking the class, Industrial Fire Protection, at Central Missouri State University. If you feel that I deserve anymore credit hours under the topic of Fire Science, I would appreciate any extra credits I can get at this time. Thank you for taking the time in reviewing my qualifications, and reading my autobiography.