Battalion Notes

Don’t Judge a Taco by its Price

Erich Roden

“Don’t judge a taco by its price.” This is one of Hunter Thompson’s famous gems and a fitting metaphor to describe the types of fires that we want to go to during a tour. We all come to work hoping to get some decent work that we can brag about; to be able to tell the on-coming shift to go sniff our coats to enjoy it as much as we did; however, it’s tough to get that kinda quality, daily. Although I get to work in a town that gets daily work, not all of it is something we’d write home about – or should we?

Although everyone enjoys fire out several windows and the chance to make a grab, as a result of quick reporting and the adjacency of our companies to most addresses in their first-due areas, most fires don’t have that kind of sizzle. Furthermore, some fires find us having to chase it around in voids or stud bays and we end up peeling the place apart like an onion, rather than getting after it, post haste. You get some smoke and you get some fire, but not much else but dirty tools and an engine waiting for the truck to find it. So how can we make these “Squibs,” as they’re called in my town, worth more to us during the tour and up the price?

How about making the set-up, search and overhaul worth it at these rather benign fires? The set-up should be the same for a structure fire whether it’s nothing-showing or a lot showing. I’ll spare you the “always treat every fire like it’s the big one” platitude, but always make sure that your companies have their act together, regardless of how much fire you get to enjoy. Are your companies and you parking in the right spot (yes, chiefs can block out companies, too). Don’t let any company park differently, just to get out first if the chief starts picking them up, right away. If they’re in the block where they should be, well, then having to hang out is what comes with your order of arrival. Do you start a hoseline when the truck reports “rubbish fire in the hallway,” “dryer fire,” or do you allow your trucks to gamble with the: “small fire in the kitchen, we’re hitting it with the can?” If there’s any fire, start a line. The can is just there to keep fires in check until the line gets up there. If a company calls another truck or makes the Proby go down for another can, then a hoseline was needed before they made that transmission.

If things go according to plan, every time, at every size fire, then your Battalion is ready, including you, Chief. Consider how much you can glean from your companies and your Battalion’s effectiveness when companies come together to get it done. Are the stretches sloppy (kinks, hose tossed vs. staged, etc.)? What trucks don’t enjoy getting off the rig if the engine beats them in at small gigs, etc. You have to make sure that your officers know what your expectations are at fires, and stick to them. Remember, what you allow, will continue, and everyone likes working in your Battalion because everything seems to just go right, every time. This takes some time, but your companies will meet you there.

As you can see, you can get a lot more out of these benign fires and learn a lot about your companies by not judging a small(er) fire as a waste of your precious time and reputation. If you didn’t get much in the way of excitement, but you started a line or two, searched a building and got to go through the motions for next time, then you’ll have plenty to brag and feel confidant about, the next morning – and you can’t put a price on wins.

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