Academy Blog Series, Battalion 50, Wk 3, Written by Alpha Company

                                                           Water Delivery Systems (9/4)
The start of week 3 began at 0650 on Tuesday with a morning briefing detailing the day’s events, and also assigning September’s Company Officers. Immediately following the briefing, at 0700, the Battalion’s morning workout began. This morning’s workout (PT) consisted of an 8 station circuit; a trip up and down the 6 story OCRFA tower carrying a hose pack, dummy dragging, tire pulling, pull-ups, lunges, tire flips, kettle bell swings, and fire hose sprint and pull.

Company Officers for September were announced following the 45 minute PT, Alpha Company now being led by Cadet Ferguson and supported by Cadet Rocha, and Cadet Henggeler, Bravo Company being led by Cadet Morgan supported by Cadet Hanna, and Cadet Galindo, Charlie Company being led by Cadet Brito supported by Cadet Weil and Cadet Mahoney and lastly, Delta Company being led by Cadet Alexander, supported by Cadet Gallagher, and Cadet Fricke.

After announcements, the Battalion began setting up the day’s drill station. Sweeping, mopping, drying the floor of the apparatus bay, and then staging all of our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in a tightly organized fashion on the floor of the apparatus bay. After set up, cadets were sent to hygiene, then returned to their PPE’s for the Battalions first uniform inspection of the Academy at 0920. As cadets stood at attention with a thousand yard stare, Captain Crudo methodically inspected each cadet, checking for complete uniformity among the Battalion, ensuring gig lines were straight, pants and shirts were creased, faces were shaved, and boots were shined.

After inspection, the introduction to water delivery systems began. Cadets were taught how a fire engine’s pump operated, how to fill an engine’s water tank from a hydrant, and how to operate a portable pump to fill an engine tank from man-made or natural water sources. The session started in the class room where we were given an overview of pumping systems, water storage facilities, reservoirs, hydrants and natural water sources. We went over the steps of moving water from those sources through a fire engine or portable pumps while maintaining proper pump pressures.

From the class room we went out to engines for hands on training. Captian Crudo showed us how the different suction sections worked to pull water into the pump and then either sent to the discharge or into the tank depending on which valve was open. We then split up into our four companies and worked together to set up drafting out of mobile water storage containers. We learned to attach the hard suction together then attach that to the main suction on the engine.  The strainer was attached to the end and tied off to ensure it was not touching the bottom of tank.  The tank was placed less than 20 feet from the engine. We would then suction the water out of the storage container into our engine tanks.   

From there we hooked up a hose to the discharge and would fill the water back into the storage tanks with a 1 ½ in hose and fog nozzle. We filled the tanks back up and used the water for our portable pumps. We learned to attach the hard suction line and foot strainer to the eye of the impeller on the portable pump. From there we would attach a hose from the impeller discharge to the auxiliary suction on the engine. This was another form of drafting that is used in wild land often to fill up the engine tanks. We would start up the pumps and fill the tanks on the engine.

Capitan Crudo, as usual, likes to pit us against each other for friendly competition and each squad had a turn to get timed setting up their hard suction and then the portable pump and get it running. The squad with the best time won. To make things more difficult she switched the engines up on the 2nd round and threw many people for a loop. Squad one got 3rd place with 3 min and 13 seconds and that is all that really matters there. After the battalion finished our competition, we all participated in cleaning up the grounds in order to prepare for the next day.

Numerous tasks had to be completed upon dismissal. Each company was responsible for ensuring all tools and equipment were returned to the proper engine and stored as we found it. The battalion used four portable tanks, which were filled with water. These all had to be emptied, along with the engines full of water. In front of the Apparatus bay, water was everywhere, but that just signified that our battalion had learned a lot and got to experience some of the ways water can be drafted. Each of the drained portable tanks was placed inside the Apparatus bay (the garage where our fire engines are kept) right near the CPAT area, in front of all bottles used for our SCBAs.

Our gear was originally placed in the Apparatus bay for the morning’s inspection, but was returned to a place called Bunker Row where we normally store it. Once the apparatus floor was clear, our engines could move back inside after the clean up outside was completed. Captain Kromka taught our battalion how to clean each of our engines during our first week; so once Captain Crudo backed them all in, we each got rags and various amounts of cleaning product and began cleaning our engines to ensure they all looked brand new again.

The hoses we used were taken to the drying rack to ensure they would be dried before rolling them to be stored. A couple of members let the apparatus bay doors down, and made sure that everything was sealed up and ready for the next day. Captain Crudo debriefed the Battalion, and then Cadet Johns, our battalion officer dismissed us for the day.

                                                                 Hose Introduction (9/5)

We started the morning at 0650 with some routine PT. The PT consisted of morning stretches all in formation with our PT leader Cadet Rocha sounding off the count for stretching, after stretching was achieved the Battalion was assigned to a station to start the PT. Stations consisted of a dummy drag, tire drag, pull ups and burpees, tire flips, lunges, hose drags, and a tower run twice with a hose pack on the cadet's shoulder, the tower run set the pace for the station rotations. After PT was completed the Cadets did a post workout cool down stretch. 

After morning PT and stretching was done each company was assigned a task to set up in the app bay for the lecture that Captain Crudo was going to do for the day. After these tasks were completed the battalion went off to hygiene to get showered and changed into station boot, pants and shirt no blouse. Once every cadet was done with hygiene, we lined up in the breeze way in company order with cover (hat) on head and water bottle in our left hand with our names facing out, once everyone was accounted for we all went to the app bay and awaited Captain Crudo to give a lecture. 

Captain Crudo started her lecture with reviewing different types of hose, such as wildland hoses with a single jacket to be light to carry up mountains and 4 inch supply lines that were massive in size and used to deliver water from the hydrant to the engine most commonly. Then Captain reviewed the nozzles with fog, straight and solid stream patterns and couplings which are attachments to either help make connections fit or to break off to another spot, such as a gated wye which allows two discharge lines to come off of one trunk line.

After the lecture was completed, the battalion was asked to retrieve their hoods from their PPE (personal protective equipment). Then they were asked to put on the hoods backwards in a challenge with their own companies to make the longest attachment possible but blinded by the backwards hood. Alpha achieved the longest length of 51 inches, a well-deserved victory by Alpha Company.

Flat hose loads used for supply and attack lines off the rear of the engine were covered next. The battalion was broken up into four companies; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. Each group rotated crew members through learning how to fold the hose in the appropriate manner, incorporating dutchman folds and short loading in order to prevent coupling entanglements during the deploying process. The importance of dutchman folds and short loading cannot be understated as they serve an integral role by allowing coupled (connected hose lines) to pay straight out and freely during the unloading process. Once each company grasped the foundation of flat loads on the floor level of the apparatus bay, the battalion was released for lunch. Battalion Officer Johns called for the dismissal, allowing us to proudly exhale our class motto, “Battalion 50, HONOR THE LEGACY!”

Before returning to the Apparatus bay (App Bay) the battalion lined up in formation in the breezeway to migrate as a unit, ensuring to hit their 90’s upon each turn, carrying water bottles in hand and covers (hats) on their heads. Each company was assigned to unload 500 feet of four-inch rubber supply hose line off the bed of their designated engine. Once unloaded, Captain Crudo directed how to uncouple the attached line, using single and two person methods. Incorporating these new skills, each member began coupling and uncoupling each stick of hose until each felt proficient in their ability.

Feeling comfortable with the general concept of hose construction, hose layout, coupling and uncoupling, the companies were now tasked with reloading the 500 ft of hose back onto the engine using the method learned earlier in the app bay. This task is made possible by the “Hose Owner” and rear and front-end holder. The Hose Owner is director of the hose line. He maintains constant contact with the hose and directs and communicates hose line placement from the initial entrance onto the engine, to the rear of the bed. Maintaining a constant visual for potential kinks in the line, the Hose Owner would call for a Dutchman or a short load in order to maintain the integrity of the line flow until the entire 500 ft of four-inch house was secured neatly back onto the engine bed. This drill was done a total of three times, with each member of the company taking turns passing, coupling and/or guiding the hose back onto the engine. Special recognition should be given to Cadet Gallagher who set the standard for the level of precision and neatness required to properly stow the four-inch rubber supply hose lines.

It was now time to put our skills to the test. Each company unloaded their 500 ft. of four-inch hose combining for 2,000 ft. of connection in an attempt to create a snake-like pattern from the nearest hydrant to the main suction valve of Engine 41. The hope was that all 2,000 ft. would be able to sustain even level of flow without kinking. That hope was lost after the initial 500 ft saw numerous kinks and didn’t pay as planned.  Once pressure was finally able to push through the entire 2,000 ft., Captain Crudo directed the battalion in the appropriate and safe way to un-kink our snake-like supply line. With all kinks removed, all 2,000 ft. were broken down and reloaded to their respected engines.

Hose rolling was taught next. We held company races to see who could flake out and roll up a stick of hose or 50 feet.  First we had Alpha and Charlie companies unroll their hose and roll them back up into an out of service roll, which means leaving the male end of the hose on the outside and in an overhand knot.  Next we had Bravo and Delta companies unload their hose and roll it with an in service roll which leaves the female end exposed.  Immediately after finishing our race, Fire Technology students were on a tour of the grounds.  They challenged Alpha squad to another race where we were hustled by a group of explorers and cadets.  Once we were done with the final race, Alpha and Charlie unrolled each stick of hose and washed and scrubbed them with water and push brooms, then hung them on our drying rack while Bravo and Delta put away all of the tools and cleaned up the apparatus bay before we all came together to clean each of the engines.

                                                       Ladder Introduction & SCBA (9/6)

Battalion 50’s day began at 0650. We arrive to campus early to ensure that we have enough time to make a trip to the locker room to drop off our uniforms and lunches then bunker row on the way back to pick up our turnouts that we set up in staging, located just south of the Apparatus Bay. Once our turnouts are neatly folded and placed uniformly, we double time over toward the North side of our drill tower where Cadet Rocha leads the Battalion in stretching and informs us what our work out will be for the day.

Cadet Rocha assigned Alpha and Charlie companies to go on a one-mile company run around the facility together. With Alpha and Charlie running, Cadet Rocha assigned Bravo and Delta to do a series of 30-yard sprints between cones placed in the parking lot. Bravo and Delta’s circuit ended once Alpha and Charlie were complete with their mile run. Once companies were through with their first assignments of PT, the groups switch assignments. After rotations were complete, Battalion Officer Johns thought he would implement a little competition between companies due to the amount of time left for PT. 50 wanted each company to do a relay against each other of 30-yard sprints. All companies enjoyed the competition against each other.

Drill station set up started after workout.  Alpha was assigned to set ladders up while the other three companies would go off to hygiene. Alpha set up three 14’ Roof Ladders and three 24’ ft. Extension Ladders just south of the tower for our “Introduction to Ladders” with Captain Hundley of Oxnard City Fire Department.  Captain Crudo wanted all of the battalion to meet in the breezeway in station pants, boots, nametag, hats and blouses then funnel into the classroom to elect a Battalion President. Nominations were written on the board and the Battalion voted. 

Captain Hundley arrived during the elections and began his presentation while votes were counted.  He shared his extensive knowledge of ladders and how to set them up, and explained the proper commands to give when doing so. The introduction included the types, sizes and use of ladders we will be handling, along with the verbal commands we will shouting as we handle the ladders. Once the introduction was completed Captain Hundley wanted all the battalion to meet him outside just south of the tower with our PPE (personal protective equipment) on, which included our helmets, brush jackets and utility gloves.

We met in a half circle around the ladders that were set up in the morning by Alpha Company.  Captain Hundley gave us a demonstration. He showed us how to throw ladders with the proper technique and command. With all of the cadets itching at a chance to throw their first ladder, they eagerly jumped at the opportunity to practice with one of the three aluminum 14’ roof ladders.  Lunch followed the drill. 

Captain Crudo led a structured knot tying practice.  Different knots were called out to practice tying within a certain time range.  The callouts got more complicated with multiple knots being tied in succession.  The Battalion raced to don PPE and tie the designated knot.  We competed against each other for four rounds, while also learning and honing our skills. We then practiced properly donning our SCBA, which included helmet, hood, and face piece connected to our SCBAs. As the end of the day neared, we were instructed to stow our PPE back in bunker row but with a twist. We were ordered to take everything else off before we could take our facemask and mask mounted regulator off.

The battalion returned to class for their first exam of the academy. Tests were taken one at a time until the 4 chapter exam was complete. The first cadets finished with their exam were assigned colors.  Once colors were bedding appropriately, finishing cadets were free to dismiss for the day.

Fall 2018; OCRFA, Battalion 50, Alpha Company

Johns, Dosh, Soto, Rocha, Donia, Stancil, Henggeler, Ferguson, Blaker, Gonzalez