Train to Your Capabilities

   March is here. We all know that means warming temperatures, High School State tournaments, and at least one more blizzard. 

   As I mentioned last month, the SDFA President position will be up for election this summer. The term for President is a 3-year commitment. Nominations and letters of intent to run can be submitted to the nomination committee until the first session of the SDFA General Membership meeting, 16 June 2023, at State Fire School in Watertown.

   Nomination committee members include three SDFA Board members and two at-large appointments from the membership. Denny Gorton, North Haines VFD, serves as chair, Ron Hines, Huron FD, Chad Baumgarten, Lemmon VFD, Kevin Schuelke, Milbank VFD, and Glenn Sealy, Colome VFD. Submit a letter of intent or an accepted nomination to any of the nominating committee members. 

   We will have the State Fire School course list out soon. Keep checking the SDFA website and social media for updates.

   If your department has not gone onto the SDFA website and started working on our membership program, GrowthZone, I strongly recommend to get a couple members familiar with it. This is how you can keep your roster up to date and we can communicate with you, easier.

   The SDFA, Auxiliary, and Dear Old Timers post-secondary school scholarship application is available on the SDFA website. Applications are due 15 March.

   In some parts of the country, it is hard to find people willing to dedicate the time for what it takes to be a knowledgeable and functional member of the volunteer fire service. 

   The volunteer ego, combined with willingness, will frequently keep many people on a department. We all know, there are plenty of positions, duties, and tasks that can be performed other than those that are physically demanding. A fire truck doesn’t help much if no one can run the pump. And in our mostly rural settings, someone has to drive the water truck to the scene. (I loosely use the term, water truck, to eliminate the debate between tanker & tender verbiage).

   But, are you training to the current capabilities of your department, or, the ability of your members?

   What is the difference? Although, very similar by definition. I try to break it down a little more.

   You may have the knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA) to perform a certain task. 

   Does your department have the capable tools, equipment, and supporting personnel that will allow you to perform it? I know how to rappel off a building or steep slope. But if my department doesn’t have the ropes and harnesses, I am not capable to do it.

   Many of us have taken firefighting essentials, FF I & II. We gained the KSAs how to be a structural firefighter. But does our department have the trucks and equipment capable of performing structural firefighting? Are you taking wildland trucks to structural calls? Are you taking structural trucks to wildfire calls? If that is what you have, that is what you take. However, how effective will you be? 

   We have so many coverage areas that are such long distances away, we already know we are driving to a structure fire to protect exposures or prevent a wildfire. A vast majority of our fire responses are for wildfires. Yes, a grass fire is a wildfire. A stubble field is a wildfire. 

   If your department and the people you serve know, if their house catches on fire, have a good escape plan and get everyone out. That is the most important. 

   If this is your situation, my best advice is, make sure you know how to properly talk on the radio and call for mutual aid right away.

   The Irish heritage is strong in the fire service. 

   So, in my annual Irish and St. Patrick’s Day spirit, I know we have plenty of Fir Na Tine and Fir bhean (Men of Fire and Lady of Fire) keeping our State strong.

   Be Safe,

Charlie Kludt,

SDFA President




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