I was approached by a peer on my department today for whom I have a great deal of respect. He is a Training Officer on our department and is assigned to a 40 hour week. In his position he is directly in charge of recruit training. In other words he is a captain that is in charge of the recruits in the academy.
He mentioned that he has been reading my posts on this board and has been following its status for some time. He stated hat he would like to get the message to you, the future recruits the strong need to become proficient with mechanical skills.
He was a little reluctant to make the post, so I asked if he minded if I did it on his behalf.
His suggestions were:
- Mow your lawn. Understand the basics of how a lawn mower works. The motors that are used on a lawnmower are similar to those on a smoke ejector. The same theory applies to a chain or rotary saw. If you understand the basic concept of how the motor works, you will be able to tear it apart.
- Change the oil in your car. Become familiar with the operation of basic hand tools. The more you use them, the more you will able to adapt to changing situations on the fire ground or during a complex extrication. It is critical to be able to think outside of the box.
- Buy a skill saw and build a dog house. By doing so you will understand the basic operation of the saw as well as have to preplan its layout in your head.
In our academy recruits are expected to put on a blacked out mask and crawl through a building. In the middle of the evolution, the candidates encounter a smoke ejector, a chain or rotary saw. The recruits are instructed to start one of the three pieces of equipment while wearing the blacked out mask, full turnouts and a breathing apparatus. This is done while wearing structure fire fighting gloves. The recruits has three minutes to complete the evolution.
According to this training captain, the recruits that possess mechanical ability prior to entering the academy stand above the crowd. Those that don’t are also very visible.
I respect his advice. If I were in the position of looking for a job and had the opportunity to learn what would help me be successful, I would be all ears.
I hope this helps.