Written by: Cadet Morales
OCRFA, Battalion 50, Delta Company, Squad 7, s3
Drill Date: September 27, 2018
It’s a cold Thursday morning and everyone is anxious for the last day of testing on laying Hose and throwing Ladders. As everyone starts to filter into the parking lot, we unload our gear, double check our equipment and make our way onto academy grounds. It’s 0630 as we make our way down our path, making a 90 degree at every turn, and in the back of our minds all we can think about is the busy day ahead. As some cadets break off from the group to head to bunker row and retrieve their gear, the rest head to the day room to leave their lunch and drop off their gear in the locker room. Before we head out, we ensure we have plenty of water and ice and make our way to room 104 to drop off our keys in the key storage cabinet.
After the classroom, we make our way to bunker row to retrieve our Personal Protective Equipment and carry it to our staging area in front of the apparatus bay. As we arrive at staging we find our landmark and start setting up our gear by company and seat number. Alpha and Bravo are on the right and Charlie and Delta Dawgs are on the left. Our gear is setup in a meticulous order starting with our bunker pants/boots on our left, our brush jacket, brush pants and turnout coat to the side and the helmet (name facing forward) on top. On the right side, our Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus is setup with straps neatly tucked away, followed by our water containers in the front (names facing forward).
We do our morning check of our PPE, which consists of examining our PPE for any signs of wear or tear and ensure our SCBA ensemble is functioning properly. As we quickly try to deactivate the Personal Alert Safety System on our SCBA from going off, we hear “COLORS!” off in the distance. That’s our cue to drop whatever we’re doing and stand at attention facing the flags as a sign of respect. It’s roughly 0700 and the Company Officers line up to head to Room 118 for a morning briefing with Captain Crudo.
It’s around 0730 and the Company Officers are returning from their morning briefing and we split up into our Companies to listen to our morning assignments. Before we go anywhere, we quickly don our turnout pants and brush jacket, along with our helmet and we grab our water containers before we head to do our assignment. Our Company Officer Cadet Alexander leads the way as we head to Bleve with Charlie Company to help setup the stations for the day.
Our first assignment consisted of establishing a 4 inch supply line from the fire hydrant on Durely Ave. to Engine 40 parked on Bleve Ave. This was accomplished by paying out enough hose to reach the engine, and at the same time we ensured the hose beds were dressed appropriately. Our second task was to ensure each cross lay was set up correctly to perform Extending a Burst line and Securing a Hose to a Ground Ladder.
Its 0900 and Delta Company started the day off at Bleve, the skill being tested was Operating a Charged Attack Hose Line from a Ground Ladder being led by Retired LAFD Captain Jacalone. The essential steps to this skill are advancing an uncharged hoseline, positioning oneself correctly to climb the 24’ extension ladder and locking in with the correct foot to start working off the ladder. Many cadets had trouble with this skill the day prior and today was the last day to re-test. The correct approach to securing the uncharged hose to the ladder was achieved by tying a larks foot, a round turn and two half hitches and finished off by securing the remainder of the webbing to the rail.
It’s 0945 and all of Delta is down the road testing on Replacing a Burst Section of Hose by led by LAFD Captain Miranda. This skill simulates what would happen if a section of hose burst during operations. The key steps to this drill included placing a hose clamp at least 5 feet away from the coupling of the damaged hose, bleeding the line, and removing the damaged section. The next step is to replace the section with a 100 foot section of hose and dress the kinks before releasing the clamp and advancing the line.
By around 1030, most of Delta Company has finished with testing for the first part of the day so Company Officer Alexander splits up the Company and sends us to different drills. Our main goal is to load hose while other Cadets wait to be tested, this way the rotations will go by quicker. We use this time to move our gear staged in front of the apparatus bay to the inside of the apparatus bay to clear the area outside for testing purposes. While spots are waiting to be filled for the next Cadets testing outside, some Cadets from Delta stay inside the app bay to get some extra practice tying knots. By 1150 we are called back to staging, doff our gear and are released for Lunch. Lunch took place from 1200 – 1245, allowing our Company enough time to return and be ready for our next drill rotation at 1300.
It’s 1300 and Delta Company is lined up in front of the app bay waiting to be testing on our next skill. The skill taking place in front of the app bay is also taking place in front of the duck pond area and our Company is split in half to make progress. At this station our Company is assigned to perform a Forward Hoselay led by LAFD Captain Jackson. This skill requires two Cadets to perform the skill although only one is being graded. The Cadet being tested is playing the role of the Hydrant Firefighter, while the Cadet helping is playing the role of the Engineer.
The first step Forward Hoselay requires the Cadet to acquire a hydrant wrench before advancing a supply line from the apparatus to the fire hydrant. The Cadet secures the line around the hydrant, orders the Engine to “TAKE OFF”, waits until they hear the airbrakes, dresses the hose, opens the outlet, flushes the hydrant and checks for a gasket before connecting the supply line to the proper discharge. The hydrant member acknowledges the call for water and slowly opens up the hydrant, removes the kinks as they work their way to the Engineer and acknowledges the call to shut down the water.
The Engineer in this skill is responsible for breaking the coupling in the work area, discarding one section of hose and shouldering the other to the engineer’s panel and connecting. Once this task is complete the Engineer calls for water/ and calls for shut down. At around 1400 everyone from Delta was done with the Forward Hoselay and was starting to head back to staging to start assembling for our last final of the day, Ladders.
At 1500 the first two Cadets from Delta Company were on their way to Ladderland and staged in the pull-up bar area, while the last Cadets from the previous group finished their testing. The rest of Delta Company helped finish loading hose while the other Companies did their share in cleaning up. For testing purposes, only two cadets were testing at a time and each cadet rotated from the 14’ to the 24’ ladder.
The testing sequence included a 1 person 14’ ladder flat/beam raise, 1 person 24’ ladder beam raise, and 2 person 24’ ladder flat/beam raise. The 2 person throws occurred 4 times total, with each Cadet rotating from tip to base position for both flat and beam raise. As the last few members of Delta and the other members from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie finished testing, the rest of the Battalion was busy cleaning up and breaking down stations. Some Cadets were busy wiping down the Engines, others were cleaning the app bay, and a few members took the opportunity to thoroughly wash Captain Crudo’s truck.
At approximately 1700, the Battalion Officer gathered everyone together for a brief moment to evaluate how the day went and Captain Crudo took the opportunity to congratulate us on our work and to briefly mention her plans for the following week. One month long of ladders was finally over but the hard work wasn’t over just yet, Wildland was coming Monday.