Written by Cadet Johns, Battalion Officer, “50”
The day began with cadets arriving at 0630. As with every day, the first order of business was raising the flags. Cadets began retrieving their PPE’s from bunker row and staging them neatly in front of the apparatus bay.
After staging equipment, at 0650 Company officers reported to Captain Crudo’s office for the morning briefing. The daily plan was discussed, and companies were assigned to their designated stations for set up. Typically following the morning briefing, the Battalion’s workout of the day takes place. However, since today was the first day of a rigorously times 4 station drill, cadets reported to the classroom for a quiz on ladder commands, and hose lays we were to learn about over the weekend.
As cadets finished their quizzes, they were to fall out of the classroom and begin the set up for the station their company was assigned to. Alpha company was assigned to setting up the rehab stations and coning off the areas to be used for the day. Bravo was given the task to clear all the weeds and debris in the area surrounding the academy’s knot rack. Charlie company was delegated with the task to grab ten 14’ ladders, and four 24’ extension ladders and stage them at “Ladder Land”- which is a lot more fun than it sounds. Lastly, Delta was given the job to ensure that all engines had 200ft of 1 ¾” hose flat loaded, laid in layers, in the Cross lays (the area at the mid-way point of the engine that has hose running perpendicular to the hose in the back of the engine).
Any company that finished before our 0845-briefing time, assisted the other companies that needed more hands-on deck. At 0845, Captain Crudo addressed the Battalion, briefing us on how the remainder of the day will be organized, and introducing us to the instructors for the day. Equivalent to the “Ready, Set, Go” of a race, once the briefing was over, cadets hustled to their designated stations.
The first station of the day was for cadets to learn the process of a Forward Hose Lay. Steps involved in this process were to pull 3-inch hose off the engine, wrapping around a hydrant, and securing it. Once secure, cadets would yell the command “TAKE OFF!” giving the cue to the engineer (driver) to proceed forward. As the engine moved forward, toward where the destination would be, more hose unraveled. For this drill, once the first coupling dropped out of the bed of the engine, the engine would stop. The Cadet at the hydrant would then begin attaching the hose to the hydrant. While the cadet acting as engineer would then pull more of the hose from the bed until another coupling hit the ground. At this point the cadet acting as engineer would disconnect the coupling from the hose and attach the male end of it to the suction (intake) inlet on the engine and yell “WATER” to which the cadet at the hydrant would respond “WATER COMING” and begin flowing water to the engine.
At 1025 the first rotation ended, all cadets were to take a 10-minute rehab break to rehydrate and cool down and be at their next station at 1040. 1040 was the start of the second station which was essentially the same process as the first, the one change here was that instead of the engine pulling forward to unload the hose, cadets had to pull the entire length of hose needed off the engine. The drill came to an end at 1200 and cadets returned to the staging area and headed off to lunch. Lunch came to an end at 1250 and cadets were at their next station at 1300.
The third rotation of the day was ladders, this is where cadets were given the opportunity to get their hands on a 14’ roof ladder. The instructors walked the cadets through the motions of two different types of raises; a beam raise, and a flat raise. Stressing the importance of proper technique, proper announcement, and the difference between a preparatory command and an execution command. After a few walk-throughs, and a couple corrections for proper form, orchestrated chaos ensued with 10 cadets moving in deliberate and loudly announced moves. “Beam – Ladder. Shoulder – Ladder. Forward – Ladder. CLEAR ABOVE. Beam-Raise – Ladder. Lean – Ladder.” Once these announcements and movements were performed, cadets checked their climbing angle, ensuring it was at approximately 75 degrees, and checked that there were four points of contact, then they proudly gave the last command “LADDER READY TO CLIMB!” at which point an instructor would check their work, and clear them to take down the ladder. Taking down the ladder followed the same type of preparatory commands, and execution commands, until all ladders were grounded. Before the cadets knew it, it was already 1425 and time to rotate. Next station began at 1440, which gave them 10 minutes to refill waters, and cool down, and 5 minutes to get to the final station of the day.
The last station of the day was an instructional walkthrough of the differences between a forward hose lay (that was learned earlier in the day) while adding in the element of deploying an attack line as well. We were also shown a reverse hose lay which was the opposite of a forward lay. A forward lay was dropping off a supply line at a hydrant and continuing to the objective. Whereas a reverse lay will drop a firefighter off with an attack line near the objective and proceed to the hydrant.While this station was an instructional one, it was a vital piece of information for cadets’ future drills in the days to come.
At 1600, all cadets were instructed to begin station break down, and clean up. This consisted of returning all ladders that were brought out, washing any hose that was used and placing it on the drying racks, and wiping down the engines used. Cadets are learning very quickly to leave things better than the way they found them; a characteristic that can be attributed to every aspect of life.
Once station breakdown was complete, engines were cleaned, and flags were taken down for the day, Captain Crudo addressed the battalion. Going over what the cadets learned and sharing pieces of information that cadets found out about along the way. At 1700 the battalion, now one day stronger, let their pride of a hard day’s work show as they collectively yelled “BATTALION 50 – HONOR THE LEGACY!”