Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From the Almost Didn't Go Files

Training burns. I have been to quite a few over the years, the early ones were pure joy and gobs of information was gleamed from them. As time wore on, the joy factor decreased and though I learned something from each one, the quantity of new information decreased as well.

I always enjoyed taking new people to training burns, it was kind of a joy by proxy. The new people had both high joy factors and learning factors. A very good situation for them and it gave me joy to see them experience joy. It also gave us a chance to see people that probably weren't going to work out. Training burns have a subtle way of providing an early warning system for people who really should be doing something else for a living.

From a photography standpoint, training burns are a challenge. If you want good interior shots, you have to be bunkered out. It is a BITCH to compose, meter and shoot quality shots from your stomach in full PPE and SCBA. Visibility is always a challenge, positioning is dictated by the fire and by where the students need to access the fire.

Exterior shots are a challenge as well, because the urgency, drama and tension from actual incidents are not present in most of the participants. It is also hard to convey the joy that occurs when the noise of the fire is surpassed by the sound that the water makes as it leaves the nozzle and vanquishes the enemy. The shouts of fellow firefighters, muffled by the smoke cannot be transferred to the visual medium photography either. For those of us who have experienced it, photos often are an incomplete delivery of significant events. Training burns compound this effect.

Thus, when I was notified of this burn, I almost passed. The desire to see some old friends was the primary reason for going. That and the need to practice fireground photographic operations combined to force me to head down to the site of a burn held by my agency recently.

 And to think that I didn't wanna go!

What was I thinkin?

A rookie gets some saw time. As there are numerous houses to 
destroy and only a few to burn, there should be plenty of saw time
for the new people.

The RIC team was activated after a simulated firefighter fell through 
the hole in the previous photo.

After it was over, a huddle was held, what went right was discussed
as well as what what went wrong. Everybody attended, except the

I don't think he felt up to it.

When I first arrived, I spoke with the Training Chief and my old Battalion Chief, both of whom came on with me. We talked about how training burns are run a lot differently than back in the day, we agreed that the changes were for the good. We are probably lucky that we never hurt anyone back then, lord knows that we tried.

It was a good training session and  am glad that I went. Next time I won't be so reluctant.

Thanks for reading,