...






Monthly Archives: August 2014

Kerrian’s Notebook, p.118 “How do you become a firefighter?”

 

I have several pals around the country who are firefighters. Some put out wildfires, some work in rural areas, others in big cities. A couple of them helped out during and after September 11th. Firefighters have a dangerous job and a whole lot of guts. No doubt about it. They save lives, they help people, they serve the community in countless ways. Yet, many civilians assume that the job is just about putting out the flames. In most towns, there is much more to it. Their duties can include:

 

  • responding to requests for help
  • putting out fires
  • assisting at highway accidents
  • rescuing people during floods or other natural disasters
  • rendering safe any bombs
  • rescuing trapped people and animals

 

And, after they do all that, firefighters are usually responsible for the cleanup and checking the incident site afterward.

 

One of the first ways children meet firefighters is in school. Each year in October (National Fire Prevention Month in the USA) firefighters educate the community by visiting schools and public venues, demonstrating how to avoid getting hurt during a fire. “Stop, Drop & Roll” is taught everywhere, so that children will know what to do if they smell smoke in their own homes. In communities where wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life, wildfire preparedness is taught, with a focus on how to protect the house year-round and what to do when it’s time to evacuate.

 

Sound like a career you’d like to have? Read on to discover the job requirements. It’s a competitive field and not for everyone, but it is highly rewarding for the guys and gals who qualify.

 

You must be 18 and have a High School diploma. Beyond that?

 

Education

  • Because of the changing demands on firefighters, many fire departments now ask that applicants complete some kind of coursework beyond high school.
  • Some departments (generally in larger cities) even require a full bachelor or associate’s degree in fire science or fire engineering.

 

Most potential firefighters will then have to undergo five areas of testing in order to determine readiness for training:

 

Testing for Firefighter Qualification:

 

Written Exam – 150 to 200 multiple choice questions including reading comprehension, math, judgment, listening comprehension, oral & written communication, etc.

 

Physical Agility – the various parts of this test simulate situations a firefighter would encounter on the job and depending on the town/city, all must be completed in under ten minutes (in some cases as little as seven minutes)

  • Hose drag – in general, 200 feet of hose line is dragged at least 75 feet while walking or running upright, and then perhaps dragged an additional distance after dropping to one knee
  • Stair Climb – a set number of stairs is climbed while wearing or carrying equipment
  • Equipment Carry – some versions of the test require hauling  equipment through a second story window via rope; others require carrying equipment for 75 feet while walking on the ground.
  • Ladder Raise – those tall ladders have extensions that must be managed and adjusted while several feet off the ground.
  • Forcible Entry – using a sledgehammer, the applicant has to hit and move a device a certain distance in order to demonstrate an ability to use force when smashing through a wall, etc.
  • Search – the applicant has to crawl through a tunnel maze with right angles and limited visibility – about 3’x4’ in some spots, smaller in others
  • Rescue – a full-sized dummy (about 165 pounds) must be dragged 75 feet in one direction and then 75 feet back.
  • Ceiling Breach – tools are used to poke and pull at a hole in a ceiling – sometimes including a sixty pound door.

 

This video from Cuyahoga Community College demonstrates some of the challenges to be met:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvwp2r2BzdE&feature=youtu.be

 

If the applicant fails the physical part of the test, he/she is typically allowed to sign up for a later attempt, usually after several months.

 

Other sections of the test battery include:

 

Medical Exam – thorough checkup, plus drug testing

 

Psychological Exam – are you psychologically suited for the job – are you afraid of dark, tight spaces? Do you work well in teams? Can you take orders? Why do you want to work in such a dangerous field?

 

Oral Interview (pass/fail section of testing)

Possible questions might include: Why do you want to be a firefighter? What are your strengths/weaknesses? What is the job?  Are you qualified? Why should we hire you?

 

 

After passing all five areas, the applicant will be permitted to apply to a fire academy and/or fire department for the training program.

 

Some towns are set up to allow for on-the-job training after the testing is complete. The applicants become candidates at the firehouse and complete their training with the firefighters they will be working with, but most towns require attendance at a formal program before this step.

 

 

Training Program

  • A several weeks/months long training program must be completed at a fire department or academy.
  • Recruits learn about hazardous materials control
  • Recruits learn emergency medical procedures, including CPR.
  • Local building codes are taught
  • Firefighting techniques are practiced, including handling axes, ladders, chainsaws, fire hoses and fire extinguishers.

       Additional information at www.fireprep.com

 

Think you’d like to know more? Call for an appointment at your local firehouse to drop in and introduce yourself. Chances are, if the guys have the time, they’ll chew your ear off with stories of calls they’ve gone out on. The job is not like what you see on “Chicago Fire.” Fun show, but not realistic. Ask a pro.

 

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Kerrian’s Notebook, p.117 “Officer needs assistance!”

 

 

 

 

Arrests are rarely neat and tidy, or take place with little resistance from the suspect(s). If the charge is for a misdemeanor, too many parking tickets, or a problem with overdue child support, the suspect might cooperate. But, hardly anybody actually wants to go to jail.

 

If a car is seen weaving across lanes on a busy road, an officer might have cause to assume that something is wrong. Drunk driver? Distracted driver swatting at a bee in the car? Texting driver? Any of these scenarios require the officer to be on the alert, but might not require an automatic call for backup. He/she is facing what is called an Unknown Risk. The officer will follow protocol and call in the plate number or use his onboard computer to research outstanding warrants and ownership of the car. If flashing the patrol car light bar gets the driver to pull over so that the officer can investigate the reason for the odd behavior, then the stop may just end with a warning or a ticket.

 

Sometimes suspects are caught in the act of a committing a felony and they try to make a run for it (perhaps after a bank robbery or a drug deal goes south) hoping they can lose the cops in traffic or on deserted back roads. “Suspect fleeing the scene,” may be called in if it’s witnessed, and officers in pursuit are facing a Known Risk. It becomes a High Risk situation if guns are involved. The chase can continue beyond city limits, as long as it is an active pursuit.

 

Once the chase ends, the officers need to control the situation as much as possible, keeping their own position and the suspect’s position clearly in mind at all times.

 

Safety procedures the officers might follow if warranted:

If the chase ends during the daytime, the officer will angle the patrol cars to block off streets and people for their own protection, getting as close as possible to the suspects to control the developing situation.

 

You give up cover if you are not positioned behind a door, so the officers will try to stay behind a car door while the scene unfolds. Bullets will pierce doors, but at least a car door will slow the bullet down. Hopefully, the officers will be wearing bulletproof vests, but even a notebook will slow down a bullet, although not by much. There are degrees of cover and there are very few times of absolute cover.

At night, the officers will create a curtain of light – that is, shine lights on the suspect’s face so that he/she can’t see the officers.

Officers in patrol cars generally carry a shotgun because it commands respect. People pretty much stop in their tracks when they hear the sound of a shotgun being racked.

 

It is essential to get as much information about the people inside the car as possible, before any further action is taken. If there are tinted windows in the car, the officer will try to talk the people out. If the officer can’t? Then, officers are trained to wait the suspects out. It’s usually only a matter of time before the occupants of the car will make a move.

 

Officers will risk the K-9s if they need to, in order to encourage the suspects to get out of the car or even to stay put.

 

If the officer feels the trunk needs to be investigated, he/she will have the suspect pop the trunk so that the officer maintains control.

 

 

Once the suspect gets out of the car, the officer will have him/her kneel or lie on the ground to be cuffed.

 

 

 

The suspect needs to be frisked before being placed in the patrol car.

 

The inside of a patrol car is bare bones for a reason. Suspects are often sick inside the patrol car, or even go to the bathroom in there. Yup, right in the back seat. This plain design makes it easier to hose out and also cuts down on places to hide sharp objects, etc.

 

Once the suspects have been cuffed and frisked, the officer places them inside the patrol car.

 

There were no guns in the hands of the suspects in this scenario, so the situation was handled fairly easily and was resolved in about an hour.

 

Please Note: none of the gals in the photos are criminals. They were attendees at the 2013 Writers’ Police Academy and were helping to re-enact a ‘Known Risk’ stop, complete with yelling and back-talk to the officers. Good sports, all!  🙂

 

Many thanks to the instructors at The Writers’ Police Academy (2013) and the volunteers from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department (NC) who gave so generously of their time during their days off.

 

 

*Photos taken by Patti Phillips

 

The re-enactment was conducted at night and demonstrated how difficult it is for anyone to see what’s happening (officers or suspects) while the action unfolds. After I took the photos, I used a photo correction app to adjust the lighting, so that you could see the positions of the people and the cars.

 

Compare the two versions of the same image below.

#1 (the original image) shows how dark it really was outside.

#2 was adjusted so that you can see the demo.


 

 

 

 

 

          #1                                                                                                           #2

 

 

 

 


Be Sociable, Share!

Kerrian’s Notebook, p.116 “Cemetery at the Golf Course”

 

 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of you have never played golf above a cemetery. Maybe you’ve walked past a golf course and seen how peaceful the landscape is, with its beautiful trees and manicured expanse of grass and/or been lucky enough to play a round on it. Maybe you’ve visited old cemeteries and been struck by the size of the property.  But, combining the two uses of grassy knolls is unusual.

 

Occasionally I play a round at a local public course that sits right next to a very crowded small cemetery. The 7th hole runs along the edge of an older section of grave sites and while separated by a row of tall shrubbery, errant golf balls do fly through the gaps in foliage.

 

 

Do lost golf balls plopping on the graves bother the forever-resting occupants? Do golfers leave the wayward balls to the dearly departed, so that no footsteps ever fall on the burial ground?  I know a few guys who see the little white sphere traveling above the headstones and take out another golf ball right away. No attempt to retrieve said lost ball. They take a mulligan for the shot and play on. If a little kid sat behind the bushes and tossed the ball back from the cemetery (while staying hidden) I think the guys might run off the course and never return.  😉

 

Recently, in Chastain Park (Atlanta, Georgia) it was discovered that a section of the golf course actually sits right above an old potter’s field graveyard.

 

Watch the video here:

http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/dozens-of-graves-discovered-under-golf-course/vCbzW8/

 

There is a possibility that wildflowers will be planted on the turf above the graves, allowing the permanent residents some peace and a bit of respect they might not have had in a forgotten potter’s field. There is no plan to disturb the graves.

 

 

Just in case you think it’s weird to combine a golf course with a cemetery, however accidental, here’s a bit of insider golfer information:

 

Many, and I mean MANY, avid golfers would love to have their ashes spread on their favorite golf course, and have even picked out the hole upon which they’d like to spend eternity. Maybe it’s the hole with a great view of the countryside; maybe it’s the place where they first hit a hole-in-one or won a bet. I’ve yet to sink a hole-in-one, so my choice would be somewhere around the green with a great view.

 

There are so many of these dedicated players all over the world that some large golf courses have regulations specifically dealing with the issue:

 

–      what day of the week the scattering is permitted

–      fees that may be required in order to gain access

–      who is allowed to do the scattering (a company that specializes in this event or the actual grieving person)

–      where on the course the ashes can ‘rest’

 

Why do the powers-that-be care? Cremated remains are not all like small grains of sand. In the mix are pieces of bone, irregular in shape, unless they’ve been ground after cremation. Soooo…while the golf course managers may permit the scattering, they might have a concern about people dumping an urn full of ashes into a sand trap or on a tee box or (gasp) anywhere on a green.

 

Do you have a relative that wants to overlook the 8th green in perpetuity? Tell him/her to look into the policies at the chosen resting place. And tell him/her to figure out who is supposed to do the scattering. And what to do if there’s snow on the ground. Uncle Joe or Aunt Mae may have to wait a bit on somebody’s mantle until the spot at the golf course is ready for occupancy.


For a bit more information about the graves under Chastain Park, click on the link.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/dozens-graves-found-beneath-atlanta-golf-article-1.1806260

 

To read “Nobody dies at the driving range,” click here. 

To read “Is that a body in the sandtrap?” click here. 

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

Be Sociable, Share!