I would like to take a few minutes of your time and share with you my recent experience with the On Scene Training Big Box Class. If it wasn't for Captain Aaron Heller, Lt. Dave Gallagher, John "Bart" Simpson, Lt. Steven" JoJo" Gillespie, Lt. Tom Decker, Firefighter Sean Golden, Capt Kevin Maloney, and Bill Hopson, but not forgetting Steve Misiano with True North Staff, and the Charleston Fire Department Training staff and administration, none of this would have happened. So, thank you very much! As the days passed and I had time to reflect on the training I received, the one thing I found that I really can't find words to explain was my experience with the instructors and staff. Here is my best shot at capturing it into words. Only a couple of words that can even come close to describing what I felt though this training are humble, professional, brothers, leaders, mentors! I know those are only a few words, but that's what comes to mind. I'm also going to try to keep this e-mail short, and I think it would be best if I went in order so that I don't miss anything.
Aaron Heller: Heck, what can I say? He started his classroom portion by showing his emotion on what an honor it was to be teaching us. But let me tell you, it was more of a honor to have them teaching us! Then he asked who served, or who is currently serving in the military. He started clapping and said thank you. It reminded me of why I served and who I was protecting. He then went on to recite the pledge of alliance, and hold a moment of silence. I have never, and I mean never, gone through a class and had any instructor give respect to say thank you for your military service, recited the pledge of allegiance, and take a moment of silence. Right there, in less than 5 minutes of class, I knew what kind of individual Aaron Heller is! I feel that he is a stand up individual! Also to say "I'm not here to change your SOP'S, we're here to add more tools to you tool box" showed us what kind of individual he is! It's all to frequent that I run across a outside instructor trying to change things instead of teaching. Aaron Heller is passionate and is very true brother!
Lt Dave Gallagher: Lt Gallagher taught us forcible entry. What a class! Not only did he teach us, he reinforced the material he taught. The only way I can explain what I took out of his portion of the class is to explain what happened to me, less than 12 hours from taking his instruction. Battalion 3 and a tower from battalion 4, "Tower 5" which I'm assigned to, was dispatched to a working residential structure fire later that night. Our assignment on the call was to check for exposures to the structure next to it. As my captain walked to the door, I did the "clock method" and noticed that there was no door handle. I also too notice as to what kind of door it was. I sounded the door and noticed a weird sound. As we went to force the door, I noticed that a drop bar was behind the door. If it wasn't for the method Lt Gallagher just taught me in class, it would have taken us much longer to gain access and possibility make things worse! What they are teaching really does work on the street! It's not just a class of smoke and mirrors, it's a class of reality. Honestly, I would love to pick his brain for days to get more education from him! He is a Loyal Man!
John "Bart" Simpson: Set up a training station as realistic as it could have been. We don't get a whole lot of time using K12 saws, less alone learning the method of holding them to successfully complete the job and use less energy. He definitely shed light and answered a ton of questions for me, and I didn't even have to ask him. He anticipated questions that we would have, and already had answers and explanations prepared regarding bar windows, gates, and through the lock method. He hit the nail right on the head! He cut right through the fluff and taught us what really works! Once again, he is a STAND UP INDIVIDUAL!
Lt. Steve "JoJo" Gillespie: Wow, what a class act and what a individual! I'm not going to lie, I've never taken a class with a instructor from FDNY. To have the experience of someone with that background teaching you is awesome, and having guys from the North East teaching, plus one Florida instructor is pretty amazing! Lt Gillespie taught venting commercial roofs and technique. I can't predict the future, but when he said if you know its a steel truss, metal, corrugated roof, get off! I've never heard that, and if I wouldn't have taken this class, who knows what could have happened, or if I would have ever heard that. He had such a delivery method to get his knowledge across, you didn't even want to blink! He could have taught on for days and he still would have had our attention! He is definitely a true brother!
Lt Tom Decker: Class act! Lt Decker taught us how to use power saws on commercial garage doors and residential doors. I will tell you this: he gave us about a 30 minutes discussion on it, and then he went right into hands on teaching! To me, we can talk about something all day long, but until I get my hands on it, I wouldn't feel comfortable. It was refreshing to see that hands-on practice is exactly what we did! I learned and gained so much more from his station! Not only did I learn he has a big ole bear claw as a hand, he stood right there and gave you that sense of confidence! No one person can try to do that- you just do that without even trying. Lt Decker: Old school, new school, and with one hell of a grip!
Capt Kevin Maloney and Fire Fighter Sean Golden: Exciting and connected! Capt Maloney and FF Golden taught deploying a 2 1/2 inch line up to the 3rd division. After what they taught us, I would advance a 2 1/2 in line any day! The best part of this class was the fact that they were teaching from experience, not "stuff" from a book. You have 2 brothers who are from 2 different generations teaching you! What else could you ask for? They have gone through the trial-and-error phase of what they were teaching. It's one of those "let's not re-invent the wheel and learn what they were talking about" situations! Not only are they both humble, but Capt Maloney has walked in our shoes and can understand where we are coming from! You can't buy that kind of connection, it comes from the heart!!! FF Sean has so much energy and passion. What he was teaching it was a eye opener! This is a man that I think could run on empty and keep on teaching and have that same amount of energy he had from day 1. He had a way to pass that energy onto us after we've been up all night with a structure fire! Capt Maloney and FF Golden are energetic, compassionate, and one hell of a combo!!!
Bill Hopson: Seasoned, calm, and creative. Mr. Hopson taught large area search. The one thing he did is realize what we needed more of, and how he was able to push us even further. He set up a challenging maze for us to search through. He taught the technique and then had us apply it. The best part was that he let the captain in our group make the decisions; just like how we would do it on the street. He taught us and applied crew integrity and knew how to apply even more stress on us in order to push each individual to the limit. What I took from that scenario was communication, air management, and team work. Our group made it through, but he made some amazing points. He really made you think about the given situation and how we could apply and react, if we ever came across it in everyday situations! Mr. Hopson is a challenger and makes you think!
Steve Misiano and True North Staff: Showed us nothing but respect, gratitude, understanding, and humility! If it wasn't for Steve Misiano and the True North staff, none of this education experience would have ever happened. This type of training is truly life saving. This is the training that will bring us home at the end of the shift. I know it's easier said than done, but none of us can predict what can happen at that next call, so what we resort back to in extreme situations is what we were taught . I can honestly tell that you after this class, my eyes are wide open when it comes to the Big Box style structure fire, or any structure fire at that. He has created such a amazing, life changing opportunity for us. To Steve Misiano: I'm sure you would have never thought that this style of training could be life changing. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart! You have defiantly created a opportunity and educational experience I would have never thought of!!
On Scene Training: Humble, brotherhood, sincerity! I think I could go on for days about you guys. You gentlemen, or brothers, I would like to say, have had such an impact on my career and life. You have showed me what a band of brothers truly is. Humble is the only word that comes to mind when I think of y'all! The way you guys treated, spoke, and interacted with us is just unparalleled! There is one thing for sure, you guys showed us so much more than just on a fire fighting level. The way you guys are and how you carried yourselves showed me that you are just more than instructors; you passed down your experiences and education. It felt like you were truly here to support and show us some different methods and techniques of doing things. You defiantly showed your true identities and it was apparent on who you serve. I didn't think walking into the class that I would walk away with 10 fellow brothers from all across the east coast. Everyone had something to bring to the table, and not one way was right or wrong! The class definitely made me think, that is for sure! So, if your reading this and didn't take the class yet and are looking for reviews, STOP!!!! You can't find this type of training/brotherhood anywhere else! Its a challenge to you, it's worth it, and trust me when I say YOU WILL WALK AWAY WITH MORE THAN JUST A CLASS UNDER YOUR BELT!!!
City Of Charleston Fire Department Sc