It’s 3:30AM, in the middle of winter, and your pager goes off for a fire alarm at the local university. Are you jumping out of bed?
Complacency. We are ALL guilty of it. That early morning call for a “smell & bell” from the college notorious for burned popcorn on any given night. We can all remember being a probie and getting some excitement from any call – throwing our gear on, waiting for the salty old driver who lived down the street, then on our way, sirens blaring, and dreaming of what we may find when we get to the scene. Those “smell & bell” calls were once exciting for us, have now become a nuisance.
Every single call can provide us with the opportunity to train and hone our skills for actual fires. From building construction to apparatus placement, each call provides us a different scenario we can use to not only learn ourselves, but train the newer members! Take the time to respond, place apparatus, and act (grab tools/ don SCBA/ FULL PPE) professionally for EVERY call. Leading by example by tagging out, and doing all of the previously mentioned tasks will show the younger members the right way. Walking into the 3:30AM call with no gear on and a clipboard in your hand, only to find smoke pouring from an apartment is not professional. I am just as guilty as the rest of us, and have been caught off guard responding to a reported building alarm, only to be told either en-route or on scene that we had smoke showing. “Expecting Fire” & being “Combat Ready” will help improve self and crew confidence.
Remember, sometimes fire alarms actually do their job and detect a fire!
So next time the pager goes off for a “smell & bell” call, be Combat Ready & Expect Fire.