What is a “combat ready” engine company?

Tim Linke from Lincoln, NE sent me this basic but thought provoking inquiry.  We all talk about being “combat ready”.  Weather you use that particular term or not, if you’re reading this you’re probably interested in being your best, A+ performances all the time, etc…

So for those of us in an engine company – WHAT IS COMBAT READY?

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What’s 500psi of air worth?

Look at the picture to the right, it’s the pressure gauge on a SCBA bottle.  Is this bottle full?  I say its not…  In the DC Fire Department the “books” say that when you check an air-pack, the minimum acceptable pressure is 4000psi.  But these are 4500psi bottles, so that’s 500psi you’re giving up!  By my math, thats a little over 10% of the SCBA bottle’s overall capacity – or about 6.5 minutes.

Unfortunately bottles like this get an “ok” during AM checks everyday – and I’m sure it happens all over the country.  You can call me “anal” or tell me it’s no big deal, but it is a big deal.  What is that 10%?

  • It was the last 10′ to the seat of the fire you couldn’t make.
  • It was the last bedroom you couldn’t search… The one with the civilian in it.
  • It was the last 5 minutes you wished you had before you died after you got trapped / disoriented.
Sorry to be the Grim Reaper, but thats how I see it… These bottles take just a minute to change, just a fraction of the 6.5 minutes it’ll give you later when you REALLY need it.

Be “Combat Ready“, everyday, every fire…


Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of working/volunteering for a boss who is much more concerned about how something looks rather than how it works…  Unfortunately you can see this illustrated on A LOT of fire apparatus out there.   

  • Dysfunctional hose loads – because we don’t want hose-ears or nozzles sticking out…
  • Inaccessible tools…
Fortunately, not all fire chiefs think like this.  Some are able to recognize that fire trucks are for firefighting, not for winning the county parade.  Joshua Schreiber from the Parkesburg (PA) Fire Department is fortunate enough to have such a chief (Chief Ray Stackhouse).  He sent in this idea regarding the recent standpipe rack discussions….