The weekend of May 19th and 20th, 25 members of the West Chester Fire Department completed RIT/Firefighter Survival Training at the West Chester Fire Department Training Center. The 16 hour course was taught by members of PL Vulcan Fire Training Concepts. PL Vulcan is a group of highly experienced and trained firefighters from the FDNY, Baltimore City Fire Department, and Boston Fire Department. PL Vulcan was formed in 2002 by Lieutenant Pete Lund, who served in the FDNY for 30 years and retired as a Lieutenant in Rescue 2. During his 30 year career Pete earned the title of Vulcan because of his firefighting abilities and his conduct on the fire ground. Pete tragically died in the Line of Duty in 2005, in his hometown of Woodmere NY, after fighting a house fire. Although Pete is no longer with us, the instructors of PL Vulcan carry on Pete's philosophy of interesting and informative training that also includes Pete's fire ground philosophy of "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way"! The PL Vulcan instructors for the weekend included Joe Honan, Kevin Candido, Jim Payne, and Ed Dailey.
Joe Honan has been a member of the FDNY since 1982 and is currently assigned as a seated Chauffer of Ladder 111 in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn NY. Ladder 111 is consistently one of the busiest Truck Companies in the FDNY and works at numerous structural fires throughout the Borough of Brooklyn. Instructor Honan's portion of the course focused on Rapid Intervention and his main focus was on proper and efficient tactics and to never give up if you become trapped. Instructor Honan brings a tremendous amount of experience to any topic he talks about and also has a very down to earth approach to how he teaches. Instructor Honan also teaches from the front of the line, simply meaning that he teaches by leading by example.
Kevin Candido has been a member of the FDNY since 2001 and is currently assigned Ladder 111 in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn NY. Instructor Candido has also been a volunteer firefighter for more then 25 years in Hempstead NY where he has held the rank of Lieutenant, Captain, and Chief of Department. Instructor Candido previously was assigned to Engine 235 in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn NY and also brings a tremendous amount of experience and street proven methods with him.
Instructors Honan and Candido taught the station that mainly focused on Rapid Intervention, which is a group of firefighters assigned to working fires. The main mission of a Rapid Intervention Team is to rescue downed or trapped firefighters by any means necessary. Instructor Honan and Candido taught several different options for removing trapped firefighters which included a station that trapped firefighters searching a building for trapped occupants. The purpose of this drill was to teach firefighters to recognize when they are in trouble, call for appropriate help, and more importantly how to get themselves out of trouble. WCFD members learned valuable lessons from Instructors Honan and Candido and will be sure to pass these lessons on to all of the members of the department.
Jim Payne is a Captain in the Baltimore City Fire Department and has been assigned to Rescue 1 for the past 6 years. Captain Payne also brings a tremendous amount of experience, both career and volunteer, with him. Instructor Payne has a very unique method of teaching that includes pushing students to perform at their highest level, learn how to get yourself out of trouble before you get in trouble, and don't ever stop moving on the fire ground. Instructor Payne, along with Instructor Dailey taught the firefighter survival portion of the course, which included breaching walls without any hand tools, search patterns, and ended with scenario based drills that made WCFD members think outside the box.
Ed Dailey is a member of the FDNY and is assigned to Ladder 133 in the South Jamaica section of Queens NY. Instructor Dailey also brings a tremendous amount of experience, both career and volunteer, with him and taught some very street smart tricks that can be used not only by a Rapid Intervention Team but by all firefighters on the fire ground.
The scenarios included simulated fires in vacant buildings with stairs reportedly missing on the 1st floor of the building and on the 2nd floor of the building. All of the scenarios included a report of people trapped and a fire on the upper floors of the building. Department members were assigned to an Engine, Truck, or Rapid Intervention Team and rotated through three scenarios. Each scenario tested a firefighter's ability to properly search the fire floor and the floor(s) above, removing trapped firefighters, and stretching and operating an attack line on the fire floor.
Each and every WCFD Firefighter worked hard throughout the course, took numerous tips away from the course, and enjoyed the brotherhood of the fire service, with department members and our instructors. The members and officers of the West Chester Fire Department would like to thank the instructors from PL Vulcan for sharing their proven techniques and experience with us. We would like to thank Captain Keith Green for taking the time out of his busy schedule to set up this class. Last but not least, we would like to thank the West Chester Fire Department Fireman's Relief Association for their undying support for the firefighters of the West Chester Fire Department. Their commitment to ensure that our members receive everything they need and to pay the expenses of virtually every training course we want to attend is unmatched! The members of the Relief Association promote and allow the members and officers to live by the adage that "Training never ends".