As kids — maybe adults too — we can all think back to a meal or particular food that our parents forced us to eat and we couldn’t help but think, “man I am tired of this junk.” Not having an option, we regrettably consumed whatever was on our plates or went to bed hungry. Well listen up fire service colleagues, “I ain’t drinking the kool-aid anymore and I’ve had my fill of the alphabet soup.” I can’t idly stand by and continue to accept the almost daily bowl of stew being forced upon us. I say no more and I ask all of you to examine the acronyms below one spoonful at a time. You don’t have to agree with me, but you can’t deny that we tend to place a great deal of time and value in conjuring up these little gems. The sad part is, many are looking for a hefty pat on the back for their clever achievements rather than helping our brothers and sisters do the job. All too often, a new idea, concept or strategy is presented and what’s next — we wait for the ensuing flood of acronyms to take hold so one can place their mark on the fire service. The list is a bit long, but it only scratches the surface of the number of acronyms being hurled into the fire service arena.
I would be lying if I said I don’t use some of them to help accomplish the fire service mission. Like many of you, I cut my teeth on Lloyd Layman’s RECEO (VS) and found it to be very helpful as a young officer on the fire ground. To this day, I still utilize it and a few others such as UCAN, VES and some ICS or hazmat acronyms. Recently we have been bombarded with new acronyms such as SLICERS, which is proposed to modernize RECEO, as it coincides with research obtained from UL, NIST and the Spartanburg burns. Just last month I was yet again served another bowl of alphabet soup with the development of DICERS. At first, I thought this was a joke or even a rebuttal to SLICERS supporters, but now it seems to be a model for interior fire attack. Fire service personnel must take the time to review and learn from the new data collected from UL and NIST. Certainly, we owe it to our communities, our fellow firefighters and ourselves to be more educated and prepared than the day before, but must we have a new shiny acronym for every concept developed?
Vent, Enter, Search (VES) has been made out to be the redheaded stepchild since it doesn’t actually include the term Isolate, even though it has always been a vital part of the tactic. The correct acronym is now VEIS (vent, enter, isolate, search) and it is grossly printed pretty much anywhere you can imagine. Is it really necessary to reinvent the wheel just because an old acronym doesn’t specifically tell us to perform a size up, control the flow path or isolate a room? Has the fire service become so white collar that we are more interested in developing gimmicky acronyms instead of getting out and doing the job? Don’t get me wrong, I understand how acronyms are mind jogging tools to help us learn and quickly access stored information, but many of these listed here are a waste of ink and paper. For example, the acronym BAG stands for where fire conditions have been, at and going. I’m sorry; if you can’t obtain that information without referencing BAG, please don’t get on my truck.
I am and always will be a huge proponent of education and obtaining as much knowledge as one can get, but enough is enough. Have you ever heard of “information overload” or “paralysis by analysis?” Fellow firefighters, are we over thinking it? I believe so and it’s time we put down the pen and paper and meet our members on the training grounds. The fire service doesn’t need more acronyms; it needs firefighters who are mentally and physically prepared to get the job done. At the end of the day, these acronyms are useless if you can’t put them into action at the emergency scene. Our training needs to include more than fancy acronyms or mnemonics. My fire service still requires us to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty. It’s true, thinking firefighters do it different, but skillfully-trained thinking firefighters do it smarter, safer and more efficiently.
Brad Maness is a 17 year student of the fire service and is employed as the Captain/Training Officer with the Belton Fire Department. He holds a Fire Science degree from Columbia Southern University and is an adjunct instructor with the South Carolina Fire Academy. He is also a volunteer firefighter with the Anderson County Fire Department and serves with the Hazmat and Technical Rescue Divisions. Brad can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
and follow him on Twitter @FDtrngcapt
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