March has been a busy month for the Left-Wing Volunteer Fire Department (LHVFD). The four-member Spring 2021 class has been upgraded from Probationary to Active Full Membership, and the new Probationary Class of 2022 has been processed. A total of seven trainee members began their journey to become well-trained firefighters and emergency medical responders. It comes at a critical time for local communities, as numerous fires have recently caused unprecedented destruction and made local communities wary of the next fire to report.
Even as the hugely destructive Marshall Fire lingers in our memories, the NCAR fire in South Boulder proved that the new fire season is already upon us. The left-leaning volunteer fire department has responded to numerous recently reported fires and continues to remain in response mode, making the new class of probationers one of the largest in recent history, a important addition to the service.
Recently, on March 12, 2022, the LHVFD conducted a group training activity with the Lyon and Boulder Mountain Fire Departments. This year, LHVFD Training Captain David Lindquist is working to incorporate the Blue Card response model into the training program. He talked about the new training model and the recent training session.
“Our live fire training in March had several objectives. First, we conduct fixed facility burns a few times a year to keep our firefighters’ certifications and skills current. For this formation, we have added some elements in addition to the live fire attack in the burnt building. We added a full scrum for engine builders where they had to do everything from establishing their own water supply to stretching the hose and making decisions about the ground fire. In many live fire formations a lot of these elements are removed, but for this one we timed our groups.
Lindquist went on to describe the process in more detail. “From the moment they put the airbrake on the truck, they were timed on how quickly and efficiently they settled in and hit their key landmarks on the fire,” he said. declared. “The other element we added was to use the blue card not only for initial arrival ratio and size, but also to bring into play the practice of having a single engine to initiate the fire attack and maintain command until a chief officer arrives.”
He also talked about the mutual training in which the local departments participate. on another officer to take command of the fire, and yet another agency to help us fight the fire.
Finally, Lindquist spoke about the new training model and its expected benefits to the overall effectiveness of the LHVFD response.
“The blue card is a way to create common terminology, expectations and practices, and although we have practiced on it in class, this is the first time we have done it as a group in a shooting training setting. It was a real challenge to put all these pieces together, but we were able to do it, and I think everyone has benefited from seeing how it can work, and how we can work together on structural fires in a way pretty seamless if we just practice using the same system.
LHVFD Fire Chief Chris O’Brien shared his thoughts on the day and commented on how it would help the department. “We support live-fire training exercises to help our firefighters stay sharp with their skills, especially their high-risk, low-frequency skills,” he said, “It helps us in our job of d team, our understanding and implementation of tactics to help us control casualty, and allows us to work fire in a controlled environment.
He went on to explain the need for the rigorous training that responders undergo. “These trainings help us to give the best of ourselves on real incidents. Likewise, it allows us to develop new skills such as our recent adoption of the blue card system for arrival and incident management,” he said. “We are working with our partner agencies who have adopted this system to help us harmonize our arrival reports, scene size and initial incident stabilization practices, so that we are safer and more efficient on site.”
As the mountain warm spring begins, our emergency response personnel, most of whom are volunteers from our own families and communities, will need to train hard and stay ready for whatever is to come. Blue card protocols and evolving understanding of fire response strategies will continue to be the best, and often the only line of defense against the ever-changing fire season.
To learn more about LHVFD, visit their website at www.lefthandfire.org/.