Academy Blog Series - Battalion 42

Week 6  Hose & Ladder Finals, Strike, Turnout Storage Project, Salvage & Overhaul

Another hot one as Monday morning starts off with the only circuit rotation workout of the week. The Battalion now consistently wearing their SCBAs throughout all circuit stations during both rotations.  Since Ventura County Fire Department would be utilizing the tower for training this week the focus during this particular workout was to get on and off the tower before 0800.

Drill station set up followed workout with original ladder reservations held for Ladderland. However, to create a greater separation of training noise between County Fire and the College, ladder practice was relocated to the Burn Prop.  This worked out extremely well as Strike was located just across the street and very convenient during rotations.  And to keep testing familiar during Wednesday's ladder finals, the Burn Prop will again be used.

Monday's focus in both ladders and hose was to fine tune tasks in preparation for Wednesday's finals.  Crews continued with repetitive moves, timing and grading each other through each task. Side bars of cadets were offering subtle advise on how to shave time while maintaining quality performance.  Confidence and competence was building.

Ladders were practiced in full structure turnouts initially then downgraded as the sun took it's toll.  At Strike however, full turnouts was the call.  This station is another tool oriented workout involving pick and flat headed axes, irons and sledge hammers.  All used for lock breaking, lag shearing, hinge forcing, eye bolt prying and OSB wood cutting.  Many of the cadets loosing as much water by working as they were gaining by drinking.  Their aims and direct calls of order to "Strike!" showed marked improvements as the lesson progressed.  Their body movements and footing readjustments during the ordered action showed a clear picture of their ability to take the best advantage of letting a tool to do its work.

Yet another day ending with significant rebuild and clean up duties.  Striking and last week's Pry stations are a functional use of tools from all angles.  The cadets have built, destroyed and rebuilt the roof prop.  Later during the semester they will do it again.  Saw use during ventilation operations is intense and can only be mastered by performing excessive cutting techniques, thus creating another need to work to rebuild after the work to train is done.

Every Battalion is given an assignment to make a difference with academy function, appearance or recognition.  For the past 3 semesters, the bunker row area has been this assignment focus. The area contains a series of concrete bunkers used to store the equipment and supplies utilized by the academy daily.  Battalion 40 kicked off the overall reorganization plan by clearing the first set of designated bunkers to make way for ladder storage.  41 relocated all turnout inventory to side by side bunkers and emptied an additional bunker designated to house the vast amounts of wood the cadets cut, strike and pry through every semester.  

Wood consumption is significant with just under two hundred sheets of OSB, seventy studs, a dozen 2x8s and sheets of drywall labored through by every Battalion.  All necessary to improve student success through experiential learning, while building the basic skill set of tool operation needed for entry level firefighter recruit and accommodating surrounding fire agency requests to produce tool minded graduates.

42's assignment could have rightfully renamed the them "Construction Battalion 42".  They were to build and mount shelves and storage benches to accommodate cadet issued turnouts and equipment.  Each company was assigned one of four walls to complete.  Officers were to form sub groups by pre-designating tasks of concrete drilling, wood cutting, measuring and building.  

Each sub-group worked together to ensure correct measurements were taken, proper pieces were cut then screwed into the assembly while maintaining communications with cadets assigned to drilling.  Drillers learned the value of keeping a drill bit and gun cool as they worked to make way for lag supports for each shelf and bench assembly.  When all was ready, the assemblies were wall mounted and reinforced with the appropriate hardware.  The bulk of the project was completed by the days' end.  Great teamwork by all players.  Thank you Captain Kromka and CS1.

Radio communications continued and played an effective role in the movement of cadets rotating through hose and ladder final stations on Wednesday.  It also allowed for a bit of reality related to dispatching and the sometimes inconvenience of emergency call timing.  To remind the group to be constantly at the ready, the Battalion was dispatched to a structure fire during their morning hygiene period.  A good number of them caught off guard, making every effort to organize themselves right out of the shower and rush to don their turnouts.  Lessons learned to strategically place necessary items for immediate use when seconds count. 

The morning of finals began with a team building session of hose lay competition.  The playoffs finished with Alpha and Bravo leading.  Captain Miranda served as the competition master of ceremonies and surprised the group by slightly changing the order for competitor selection. Cadets who performed during the playoffs would now stand at the side lines in support of their teammates competing in the finals.  This was a great call, as unexpected cadets now had to step forward and make it happen.  Boisterous cheering from the "peanut gallery" had all players pumped up and moving with intent, with Bravo ultimately taking the win.  A Battalion photo was taken immediately following the event with Bravo up front and wearing helmets. (the photo displayed in this blog announcement)

Finals commenced after the competition clean up.  Bravo to forward lay, Delta to reverse lay, Alpha at ladders and Charlie at bunker row continuing with Battalion project completion.  Radio communications between Company Officers was appropriate and extremely effective.  What a great job they did updating one another while advancing their crew members from station to station in an effort to complete the entire evaluation process.  With finals testing complete and the bunker project finished, a well earned rest period came in the form of a seated position in the academy classroom.  The order "Seats" was welcomed with exhausted bodies, sighs of relief and feelings of a powerful sense of accomplishment.  Scores are not normally discussed in open, however recognition must be given to the only cadet securing a 100% in both hose lays.  Cadet Pelkola set the bar on this day.  Congratulations!

Thursday was filled with salvage and overhaul operations.  The day started early with a morning set up of salvage cover folding and chute and catchall constructing.  These assemblies would later serve as the basis of "Salvage and Overhaul Ground School".  

During ground school, cadets learned the purpose of a given fold or layout of a constructed piece. The demonstration included the use of basic tools and equipment to serve as the foundation for a given assembly, such as pike poles wrapped in a large size vinyl salvage cover then secured at a high point to catch water pouring from a leaking sprinkler head, or a sump or catch basin made of ladders on edge with a salvage cover draped inside to contain a greater volume of leaking water from an overhead sprinkler.  

Throwing techniques were also demonstrated.  Cadets are responsible and evaluated on their ability to arrange the contents of a room to the center of that room, then spread (throw) a salvage cover over the top of those contents to protect them from water and debris damage during the given emergency.  

After lunch, salvage and overhaul station rotations began, each station containing a problem solving component.  Two companies headed to designated classrooms to problem solve a water emergency situation involving a leak in an office setting.  Crews had arrange furniture contents in the room to create a catch basin large enough to hold the amount of water draining from the plumbing above.  Math calculations were made to determine both the volume and weight of the leaking water so a basin size could be identified.

Another company performed operations at the "Wet" station.  This one by far the most fun. Crews dressed in full turnouts were challenged with constructing salvage covers to effectively divert water spraying from an actively leaking sprinkler.  Rubber mallets, sprinkler wedges, A-framed ladders, pike poles, salvage covers, ingenuity, teamwork and a good sense of humor made this station.  Many well thought plans were thrown by the waste side as crews tried to plug the sprinkler heads and meet the water diverting objective.  Good water soaking fun and cooling on another high temperature day.

The fourth salvage station was held inside the apparatus bay where ground school was conducted.  This station consisted of rebuilding each of the constructed displays showcased during the earlier demonstration, then practicing the various throws and folds one and two firefighters would perform during a salvage incident.

The week ended with enthusiasm and a well deserved three day rest period.  Congratulations Battalion 42 on your outstanding ability in bringing it all together for your first round of finals. You've shown extraordinary support of one another, a true bond and the foundation to the success of an entire Battalion and the fire service.  Games are won and incidents are mitigated utilizing this very characteristic you guys are perfecting.  Good job.

Captain Crudo