Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in my first 'live' fire. This was incredibly exciting and great experience. The particular setup of this burn unit is perfect because it includes elements that tickle most peoples primal fears: a dark tight space that coincidentally also happens to be on fire. Awesome.
Most of the training that I have been involved with so far has been isolated; focusing on specific tasks and usually with little overlap. This training day however changed the game completely by expertly identifying my shortcomings and weaknesses. It did a great job of showing me what I need to work on and by observing the instructors and other firefighters, where I need to be to reduce the risk of becoming charbroiled one day.
The day started out with small groups suiting up in full bunker gear complete w/ BAs. The group of us then headed in through the side of the unit stopping and hunkering down shortly after the first firebox. While I am almost certain that the instructor was saying something at this point I was having a hard time hearing anything but my heart pounding in my chest.
Then the fire started. It is a pretty small spot and it was a pretty big flame so it didn't take long for everyone to begin to feel the heat. After about a minute or two we were asked to remove a glove and see how far we could raise a bare hand. I was on my knees completely collapsed and I could not go much further than my helmet.
I found out later that during our training scenarios that the heat was usually hovering around 300F. The place could have served double duty if it was closer to lunch.
The scenarios we played out included direct and indirect attacks as well as a combination and basement attack (this one is tricky). I struggled. During my first scenario I attempted to fight the fire from an awkward angle which made the attack completely ineffective. During my third scenario I moved too quickly (breaking away from my partner) and used the wrong technique during my indirect attack.
I was playing it like it was a race, whereas I should have been taking my time, thinking and then executing. These are all things that I can fix. I will get better.
These are just words >