Admittedly, nothing wins the spirit of a fire station than the idea of firefighters sliding down a fire pole to rush to an emergency and save lives and property. In an occupation where every second counts, the fire pole has given firefighters that crucial edge in response time for over a century now.
Firefighters commonly have living areas on the upper floors of fire stations. When an emergency call comes in, they have to move down to the trucks as fast as they can. In the early days, sliding chutes or spiral staircases were popular, but not exceptionally fast. The fire pole, on the other hand, is a very fast way to get downstairs and it helps firefighter to speed up their response to emergencies. To use a fire pole, a firefighter interlocks his/her arms and legs around the pole and uses his/her legs to manage the speed of the descend.
Did you know that firefighters save about twenty-five seconds in response time by sliding down a fire man’s pole to respond to a distress call? Solid evidence indicates that sliding down a pole is faster than using inefficient spiral stair cases or sliding chutes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the first pole was set up in New York in April 1878. In a typical fire station, firefighting horses and wagons (and later fire trucks) are on the first floor while the upper floors are for sleeping and recreation.
David Kenyon of Chicago’s Engine Company 21 invented the fire pole to help firefighters quickly reach the ground floor. Before the fire pole was invented, firefighters were solely dependent on inefficient spiral staircases or sliding chutes. Kenyon realized the distinct transportation method when firefighter George Reid slid down the wooden pole typically used for transporting hay to the hayloft. David Kenyon managed to convince the chief of the fire department to have poles installed in all fire stations.
Facts about Fire
- Did you know that firefighters respond to an alarm of a fire somewhere in the United States every sixteen seconds?
- More than four thousand Americans die fire-related deaths in the United States. Most fires could have been prevented by practicing proper fire safety and having fire alarms.
- Did you know that more than sixty firefighters die annually in the line of duty?
- Believe it or not, candles caused more about a thousand home fires and eighty home fire deaths between 2009 and 2013. They were also responsible for nine hundred injuries and three million in property damage.
- Did you know that cooking is ranked as the leading cause of fires in the home? In fact, four of every ten home fires start in the kitchen.
- Fire related incidents are potentially devastating, but fortunately, they’re easy to prevent, especially if you are aware of the most common fire hazards and take steps to combat them
A career as a fire fighter involves a number of aspects such as physical strength, endurance and mental strength. As a fire fighter, you are bound to face great responsibilities and also encounter difficult challenges. At times, body strength and determination aren’t enough; and no matter how much you train as a fire fighter, if you lack essential personal fire fighter qualities, your performance and overall success may suffer.
When you go for an interview as a fire fighter applicant, recruiters will not only look for physical traits, strength, endurance and flexibility; but also your personal qualities. These personal qualities are generally known as the Firefighter Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQAs). Your personality reflects your work ethics. It shows how much you love and value your job of helping other people in jeopardy. So, apart from the physical exam, you will be assessed based on your outlook in life and personal character traits. Therefore, it is important that you understand what are some of the most common characteristics of firefighters:
1. Demonstrate an obligation to Integrity and Diversity
This essentially means that as a firefighter, you should be able to treat all people impartially, whether at the work place or within the community. You also need to be aware of your community. A competent firefighter should always maintain an open approach when dealing with people of diverse backgrounds. You should also be willing to accept other people’s differences such as gender, social background, disability, age, physical appearance, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Firefighters are also expected to maintain the relevant ideals, be candid, and also be responsible for their own actions. You should be ready to challenge any unbecoming behavior, as long as it is inconsistent with the principles of the Fire Service.
2. Always open to change
The Fire Service is always changing. As with any establishment that has a desire to constantly develop and improve, change is inevitable. In order for that change to be realized effectively, firefighters must accept and be accommodating of it. All great firefighters must understand that there is need for change before applying for the role. In the course of your career as a firefighter there will be numerous changes and working practices that you will need to uphold. Working practices must change as safety procedures, technology and equipment improve.
The physical burdens of firefighting are crystal clear. Firefighters usually lift and move very heavy equipment. At times, they have to carry people during rescue operations. Typically, they do all of this while wearing heavyweight shielding gear and breathing devices. Resting is often simply not possible during emergencies. Apart from being in excellent physical condition, firefighters need an attitude of determination and hardiness. This is what will help you to make use of your physical abilities to push through difficulties and to endure in the heart of grim situations to save lives and property.
4. Demonstrate a certain degree of confidence and flexibility
As a firefighter, you will at some point attend some tough episodes. Some of these instances will test your emotional stability, physical strength, not to mention your ability to stay calm when everything else around you is going wrong. As other people leave burning buildings, you will be going in, employing your skills and equipment to save property and life. Thus, with all of this in mind, you need to always stay cool and in control of your emotions and especially when emergency situations arise.
Firefighters must always remember their training and learn to concentrate with the task at hand in spite of all the confusion and panicking around. Even when things don’t go according to plan, firefighters must get the job done and learn from their mistakes later on.
5. Have the ability to work with other people
You can’t work alone as a firefighter. You must be able to work as a team. The size of the team will vary, depending on several factors such as the nature of the assignment in hand. However, firefighters always work in teams ranging from 2-20 people. Hence, being able to work effectively as a team member is crucial for the job.
In order for a team to work well and competently, its members need to have a positive relationship. You don’t have to personally like each other, but you need to have a good and concrete working relationship. You won’t always work with members of your fire brigade; you will meet many different teams including Police and Ambulance crews. Wherever your superiors find it appropriate to post you, you will need to be in a position to calm and reassure members of the public.
When you work as a team, you need to always be mindful of the wider team goals. For instance, when given a task that needs executing in short notice, you need to be competent enough to deliver appropriately. Always be on the ready.
It is also very important that you represent the Fire Service positively wherever you go. Obviously, you are definitely proud to work as a firefighter and that should come across in your everyday work. The Fire Service has a vital and esteemed image to keep and it is your job as a firefighter to maintain it.
Others important characteristics include:
- Being able to communicate effectively
- Being an apt problem solver
- Being conscious of situations around you
- Showing some level of commitment to excellence
The reason why firefighter personal traits are very vital is that unlike tests and other forms of training, personal traits cannot be acquired in a short period of time. In most cases, personality traits must begin earlier on within an individual. When you absorb these distinct and honorable traits first, the mental and physical aspects of the job will certainly follow. Therefore, leading to an effective and superior performance. When it comes to serving others with lots of dedication, Fire Brigades only want what’s best; and for this reason, personal quality assessment is taken very seriously and followed to the letter.
For anyone looking to learn about the current trends of firehouse design and architecture, there are two grand-scale conference opportunities in 2017. Firehouse’s Station Design Conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas in May (it was in Anaheim, California last year). Not to be upstaged, F.I.E.R.O. is hosting what it calls the ‘premier fire station design conference in the country’. The 2017 Fire Station Design Symposium will be in late September in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Firehouse’s Station Design Conference promotes itself as covering the entire scope of building a brand-new fire station. These details include the complete bidding and construction process, construction site costs, selecting a design team, and incorporating the newest technology and equipment. There are so many considerations that don’t get a ton of thought until they become a problem. The 2017 conference will discuss unique troublesome issues such as zoning complications, dealing with city architectural review boards, planning with tree preservation in mind, height or bulk restrictions or building around natural elements such as wetlands, streams or steep hills. Of course, keeping within your budget is a major topic that will be addressed.
Topics that probably never dawned on the fire house architects of yesteryear are also on the agenda. Making your station ‘green’ and efficient, and also how to create gender-friendly locker/shower rooms and bunkrooms. Time will also be devoted to fire fighter safety, protection and training. Sponsors and exhibitors will of course also grace the facility, along with plenty of time to network and brainstorm.
The F.I.E.R.O. (which stands for Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization) Fire Station Design Symposium has held an annual symposium since 2010. It specifically focuses on not only fire stations and training facilities planning to be built but for those already in existence. This event has a schedule full of speakers, demos and exhibitions but one of the big highlights is the annual Design Awards. The goal of these awards is to showcase public safety buildings that not only serve the community but also advance what the personnel who work there can do. Six judges with fire fighting backgrounds and architectural degrees determine the contest winners.
F.I.E.R.O. is a non-profit fire service agency. All income from the symposium is channeled into the following year’s event. All attendees receive a convenient USB thumbdrive with any digital handouts the presenters share.
Between these two events, 2017 looks to be a year of education, sharing, camaraderie and architectural advances in the fire house and fire training facilities department.