Are you a yard breather? You may be & not even know it…

Whats a good firefighter to do? Broad brush right? Heres some indications of good firefighter behavior I’ve read while reading comments on our YouTube page. “With that much fire I would have pulled a 2 1/2 after the first 1 3/4 was put in to stop…”, “must have been a new guy. shoulda just dealt with the heat…”, “I wouldn’t feel safe running with this small crew to a fire. I’m glad we have a minimum staffing of 5 on all full-time squads and a minimum staffing of 6 on the volunteer engines, this way there is always someone there to safe you ass!”

All honest opinions from various parts of the country. And hey, if you’re gonna play in the public arena that is YouTube, you’re probably gonna get some negative feedback. But here’s my favorite variety… “save your air boys…” & “Take the mask off. There’s no reason to waste air in the yard. Force the door-control the door- go on air.” Now these two comments on two separate fires made me go back & check out the videos again. One of them I was the nozzle man so it was a personal mission as well to answer my question…I’m not a yard breather…Am I?

Flashback rookie year: Here in my department when you got hired, you went to the training academy four days a week for eight hours & spent one day of your weekend doing a twenty-four hour ride. I went to a very fire busy engine company on one of my very first weekends & picked up a small car fire. Fully dressed out in my shiny new gear I stepped off the engine masked up & plugged in before I hopped up on the step to pull the pre-connect. As I waited next to the burning engine compartment for water I felt the small, but loud “pop” of a radio antenna hit me across my helmet. My crusty ole’ Lieutenant was standing next to me in his bunker pant and helmet and yelled “take that shit off!” Ok. As I began to dress down, the same loud “pop” occurred…WTF??? “Not everything…just unplug & put it out! Save your air!”

And so it begins. When’s a good time to plug-in? now, I’m not here to debate safety. At FDCam when we work with our cameras above all else, go home tomorrow after your shift! IDLH, dangerous atmosphere, possible dangerous conditions, doesn’t matter…Go on air. But I also know whats in those bottles are precious commodities. Its time, its life and sometimes its bragging rights. No matter what your argument or reason for, firefighters always have a strong opinion on what constitutes “yard breathing”. So I ask you guys…When is a good time to clip in? I’ve only been doing this gig for thirteen years and what’s been working for me pretty well; Before I walk in the smoke or chemicals, I clip in. BUT…after living on the internet for a few years, it occurs to me that is not the philosophy that satisfies everyone. And not just my videos, but the numerous ones where guys are squirting through windows (on air) or sitting on a Keeley coil (on air) or working the deck gun (on air), those have drawn the same ire as the guys forcing a door, walking toward a burning front door, all these have drawn the same negative feedback which labels one as a “yardbreather”. So, what should dictate your actions. Your officer? Your SOP? Your experience? Your gut? I tossed out all of those because I believe they are all parts of a complete answer that drives my number one motto i stated above..”Go home”.

 Why should it matter if you plug-in the truck, the yard or the doorway? Really it doesnt…what matters is you, me, people who give a crap care about this job, about getting better, doing it safer, more efficient …We care about being the best at what we do AND the best sweat the little things. Like yard breathing.

Check out those links to our fires & see if you agree or disagree..join the conversation here or anywhere else you see fit. I’m a firm believer FDCams and fire films will revolutionize how we do work on the fire ground. But we’ll never have a starting point unless we get feed back…And thats where you come in.

Thanks for playing,


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