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  • If you throw a book at a fire, will it go out?

    In the never ending list of posts, where we are asked to "PROVE IT", does anyone ever just look at the source and consider giving something a try?

    Where I work, if a new officer is assigned to a company, few members want to know how he did on the promotion exam. The first question is usually, "where did he work as a FF?"

    This is not to say that the mountains of information in print are garbage, but if a person has never put it to practical use, how can he be expected to apply the "FACTS" to a given operation.

    When was the last MPO seen with a slide rule tweaking his outlet pressures? When did the last guy, setting up a portable ladder, take out a protractor and check its angle.

    I guess what I'm saying is this. When I read a post that looks like a guy read a question and typed in his thoughts, by the seat of his pants, it carries more weight than the guy who surfed the web for hours finding information, numbers and "FACTS". Lets face it, we can't look it up on the fire ground. I'll take the gut instinct and experience over the book smart any day.

    Anyone agree, say so soon. My topics get closed pretty quick around here.

    [This message has been edited by E229lt (edited 06-01-2001).]

  • #2
    AMEN BROTHER!!!

    Give me a seasoned veteran any day over a "book smart" veteran. Alot of things in this business are done by feel and/or instinct. This is not to say that education in not important, but when I crawl through the front door with all hell breaking loose, I want someone I can count on behind me that's seen it before.

    [This message has been edited by Poin (edited 06-01-2001).]

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    • #3
      This is a hard decision to make. There is a certain amount of knowledge that is needed to be a firefighter and you should know that. I believe that it is a mixture of knowledge AND instinct. It kinda depends on what you are. If you are the incident comander, then it is nice to know where the fire is going to go, when conditions are right for a flash over or other things like that. If you are just a firefighter on the fireground, then you have to go with your gut and your experience. As far as just being asked a question, I will take the experience over the books because no matter how many classes you have taken, you're not going to know exactly what to do until you get on the scene because every call is different.

      Comment


      • #4
        Both "book learning" and practical experience are necessary. The presence of one without the other is useless. Everything learned should be put into practice at some point, and conversely you shouldn't be performing firefighting duties without proper training. They are both necessary.

        ------------------
        J. Black

        The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.

        Comment


        • #5
          Education, or book learning, is important but it's just a foundation. If all a guy has ever done is read the book, taken the class, or passed the exam it ain't worth a whole lot. They say experience is the best teacher. Take some good solid experience, put it on that foundation of knowledge and then you've got something.

          On a related note: Ever notice how the guy who's sooo eager to impress you with all the classes, titles,certifications and cards he's got is usually the one who throws the extension ladder upside down, trips over everything - twice, has a "mask problem" at just the right time and generally can't be relied on?

          [This message has been edited by NozzleHog (edited 06-01-2001).]

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          • #6
            E229lt, finally someone with sense! Training and education are and can be a good thing, but give me the guy with the experience in the heat of battle anyday.

            Tell your guys there from the New Yorks Bravest and New York Team1, were looking forward to seeing them at the Burn Center Ball Tourney on the weekend of June 8, you guys are always a hell of a lot of fun.

            [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 06-01-2001).]

            Comment


            • #7
              Sounds true to me. At my station most of the guys are of varied backgrounds before making it as career firefighters.But the common denominator is that most of them are educated as tradesmen and therefore know how to take the book knowledge and decide where and when it will and will not work. And when they deem that the book info won't fit the situation they are able to overcome and adapt to get the job done. I have seen guys who follow the book to the letter and they are usually the guys standing around scratching their heads saying "its not how it's done in the manual".

              Comment


              • #8
                In the never ending list of posts, where we are asked to "PROVE IT", does anyone ever just look at the source and consider giving something a try?

                All the time. That's why I ask for proof, especially when it is a statement of opinion presented as fact.

                Sometimes when I ask for proof, I have the information that anyone else can find, and/or experience that anyone else can try, to dispute it.

                Sometimes I don't and I just need a little more information to go on before I try something out.

                And if I find my position is incorrect or on shaky ground, it's in my best interest to reconsider it.

                When was the last MPO seen with a slide rule tweaking his outlet pressures? When did the last guy, setting up a portable ladder, take out a protractor and check its angle?

                This is precisely why there are RoT's and experience and training and shortcuts and cheat sheets and gauges painted and books.

                When I read a post that looks like a guy read a question and typed in his thoughts, by the seat of his pants, it carries more weight than the guy who surfed the web for hours finding information, numbers and "FACTS".

                What if his seat of the pants thoughts are dead wrong?

                What if you don't know the answer to the topic, but the guy that surfed the web for hours for his answer does?

                Do you move your position to the wrong one because, by your own addmission, it "carries more weight" than the other?

                What if you decided to check up on a seat of the pants statement and spent hours on the internet to see what the real story is? If you find out it is different than what is posted, do you disregard it because the seat of the pants guy expressed his seat of the pants thoughts? Remember, by your own addmission it "carries more weight" than answers found after hours of surfing?

                What if two seat of the pantsers post oppossing views? What do you do then? Who do you believe?

                And how can you assume that somebody just surfed the web for hours to find information that disputes it?

                Do you think that anybody that disagrees with your position or a seat of the panters must not have common knowledge of the topic?

                A guy on another post disagrees that a 1.75" will flow 300gpm. It's common knowledge in my department. The mfg says you can do it and the flow meter says it's happening.

                Anyway....

                I think both are equally necessary.

                When somebody makes a statement that is easily disputed and/or directly contradicts facts, whether they are from a book or experience, somebody's got to call them on it.

                After all, some of us may take what we read on on these here boards as gospel and get ourselves hurt.

                dr. inferno sums it up nicely "the common denominator is that most of them are educated as tradesmen and therefore know how to take the book knowledge and decide where and when it will and will not work. And when they deem that the book info won't fit the situation they are able to overcome and adapt to get the job done."

                Books don't always fit the situation. Most of them even have a disclaimer stating they don't. They give you a foundation to build on. We must also remember books are most often written from someone elses experience.

                Besides, what are we afraid of by having to prove something? All we gotta do is cite a source or post an example that all of us can try. How hard can that be?

                [This message has been edited by mongofire_99 (edited 06-01-2001).]

                Comment


                • #9
                  "I think both are equally necessary."

                  Not a chance. Give me the uneducated, salty Mick who has been crawling down hallways for twenty years while at the engine company that runs thirty times a day in the old dilapidated part of town than the book smart, fire science class fanatic who runs five, if he's lucky, shortness of breath calls a day in the suburbs.

                  There is no substitute for, or EQUAL to experience!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Staylow says, "There is no substitute for, or EQUAL to experience!"

                    Yeah, but how do you get to the point where you crawl down your *FIRST* smoke filled hall? Do you just stroll in off the street and start running jobs?

                    This is an emotional argument, and it's meant principally to discredit anyone who knows their stuff down to the little minutiae like friction loss equations and things like that. Just because a firefighter has good retention of his training, and can remember fire flow formulas, for example, doesn't make him any less a "good Mick". On the other hand, the two-year wonders who think they can do it all because they've been to every frickin' class at the fire academy are no better on a fireground.

                    The point is this - you have to have some book knowledge, some basic, grounding knowledge of your trade, before you crawl down that first smoke-filled hallway. And the best firefighters never stop learning their trade. So while people may differ on what degrees of each are necessary (as if we could ever define the proper mix!!), it's pretty clear that BOTH are necessary to make a "good Mick", as Staylow puts it.

                    ------------------
                    J. Black

                    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.

                    [This message has been edited by BucksEng91 (edited 06-01-2001).]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      ///When was the last MPO seen with a slide rule tweaking his outlet pressures?

                      Why would a good MPO need one to come up with the exact pressure? Do they use one in your academy’s?


                      //When did the last guy, setting up a portable ladder, take out a protractor and check its angle.

                      He didn’t need to because he paid attention in training. Do they use one in your academy?

                      //I guess what I'm saying is this. When I read a post that looks like a guy read a question and typed in his thoughts, by the seat of his pants, it carries more weight than the guy who surfed the web for hours finding information, numbers and "FACTS".

                      Yeah, seat of the pants has killed lots of firefighters.

                      // Lets face it, we can't look it up on the fire ground. I'll take the gut instinct and experience over the book smart any day.

                      Kinda threatens yeah huh?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is no substitute for, or EQUAL to experience!

                        I didn't say or intend to imply that book smarts were equal to experience, I said I thought both are equally necessary.

                        Even the twenty years on the line salty old Mick has book smarts. Don't let him fool you into thinking that he doesn't.

                        Would you follow the salty old Micks example if he didn't wear his SCBA for whatever reason?

                        Or do you believe what you were taught in recruit class that smoke has all this bad stuff in it that can kill you dead from acute or chronic exposure?

                        it's meant principally to discredit anyone who knows their stuff down to the little minutiae like friction loss equations and things like that.

                        I believe you are correct Bucks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Give me the old-timer who went through a 6 week academy and who learned the very basic book material, but who tirelessly practiced hose leads, ventilation, and the such over a careeer at a busy company any day. Crawling down a thousand hallways is endlessly better than just reading a thousand books.

                          "Yeah, but how do you get to the point where you crawl down your *FIRST* smoke filled hall? Do you just stroll in off the street and start running jobs?"

                          No!, you follow the guy with the practical experience, not the book knowledge, down the hall way.

                          "Just because a firefighter has good retention of his training, and can remember fire flow formulas, for example, doesn't make him any less a "good Mick"."

                          Maybe not a "Mick", especially if he isn't Irish, but, he will not be as good or as capable of a "fireman" when the task has to be done other than in drills or on these forums.

                          "it's pretty clear that BOTH are necessary to make a "good Mick", as Staylow puts it."

                          No! Experience makes a good "fireman" that his crew can trust. Books without the experience makes a fireman who talks a good game.

                          "Would you follow the salty old Micks example if he didn't wear his SCBA for whatever reason?"

                          Without hesitation! Even if the book smart guy told me that the IFSTA manual and the "numbers" he has learned in all of his fire science classes prove that I should wear an SCBA during overhaul.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ....he will not be as good or as capable of a "fireman" when the task has to be done other than in drills....

                            Bull. Just because a firefighter has book smarts does not mean he won't be as good or as capable on the fireground. The only time this happens is when he lets his book smarts over ride his common sense.

                            No! Experience makes a good "fireman" that his crew can trust. Books without the experience makes a fireman who talks a good game.

                            And what kind of firefighter does books and experience make?

                            Book smart firefighters with experience are smart enough to see that no-one posting here is advocating a book smart firefighter without experience is better or, at best, adequate. Hell, he shouldn't even be left alone in charge of himself - he'll just get in his own way.

                            Without hesitation!

                            You would believe anything that some old fireman told you or encouraged you to do in spite of what you know otherwise? You know lots of famous last word begin with "here, try this" or "hey, watch this."

                            Do you smoke?

                            If not, do you know old firefighters that smoke?

                            If they tell you they been smoking for fifty years (or something like that) and it ain't bad for you, do you believe them?

                            Why not?

                            What if they told you leisure suits were coming back?

                            I know a guy that has nearly thirty years on the line. He has more experience than he knows what to do with, he's pretty much done it all and seen it all (seriously, not trying to be sarcastic).

                            And if you listened to him you'd eventually get hurt or killed or at the least really look stupid when you repeated anything he said to anyone with at a few good years of experience. I've stood with him (shaking my head) when he's talking to visiting Micks, Jakes and just plain old firefighters. As soon as he's said all he has to say and wanders off the first thing out of their mouth is "where in the hell did you find that guy?"

                            "Oh him, he was here when I got here."

                            "Jeez. I've never heard so much pure BS...."

                            "That ain't nothing, you should see him talking to the rookies."

                            He's crawled down a bunch of halls though and folks will follow him just about anywhere, just to see what he'll do next.

                            But, he meets most of your requirements for a mentor - he's an uneducated, salty bastard who has been crawling down hallways for twenty years (actually 20+) while at the engine company in the old dilapidated part of town. Don't know if he had thirty runs a day but he says it was a bunch. (And who's making thirty workers a day? I need a ride along like that, just got a Sam Houston that needs breakin' in. I can put a years worth of calls on it in just a few shifts there.)

                            Anyway...

                            How about the twenty years on the line engineer (you yankees - no offense - call them chauffers or MPO's).

                            We used to run 1.75" hose that has 12# FL per 50' @ 180gpm.

                            Now we run 1.75" hose that has 8# FL per 50' at 180gpm.

                            But ten years ago we switched from 1.5" hose that had 15# per 50' (RoT).

                            The twenty year guy that has twenty years experience, still pumps the new 1.75" hose on the new and improved, plumbing efficient firetruck at the old firetrucks 1.5" pressure because he didn't keep up with his book learnin' or listen in class because no young book smart engineer (MPO) or apparatus salesman that's never been in a building is gonna tell him how to do his job.

                            The guys on the tip are gating back the line because the engineer is pumping the 200' of new 1.75" at old 1.5" pressures, which now puts the 15/16" tip flowing about 240 or so gpm and we all know that we just can't hold a 1.75" line flowing more than 180gpm. So now they're getting a crappy stream because it's over pumped and they've gated it down.

                            And nobody can tell him he ain't pumping right because that's the pressure he's always pumped to get that flow.

                            (And, of course, that wouldn't be such a problem with a 75psi auto nozzle, you'd still have a great stream.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'll say they both work but sometimes you gotta go with ya gut instinct and throw the book in the fire.

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