All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

Failure Is Always An Options With The Guys From Twisted Fire Industries

October 13, 2023 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 1 Episode 12
Failure Is Always An Options With The Guys From Twisted Fire Industries
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
Failure Is Always An Options With The Guys From Twisted Fire Industries
Oct 13, 2023 Season 1 Episode 12
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

Are you ready to challenge what you know about firefighting? Join us for an invigorating conversation with the trailblazers from Twisted Fire Industries, Joe, Thomas, and Jared. We're shaking up the status quo, questioning foundational training methods, and the relevance of conventional fire training in a rapidly evolving field. We argue for enhancing the street-smart foundation for rookie firefighters, and the need for constantly updated textbooks that reflect the realities on the ground.

Moving on, we dive deep into the role of a company officer. It's not all about calling the shots, but also understanding the unique training needs of their team and filling in the gaps. We explore the importance of discipline and humility for continuous improvement, and warn against the dangers of not addressing training scars. The conversation gets real as we underline the crucial role of realism in training, and highlight the risks that come with training the wrong way. 

The conversation wouldn't be complete without touching on advanced firefighter training. We discuss how a change in mindset, eliminating excuses, and embracing the unconventional can lead to massive strides in skill advancements. We also delve into the role of physical fitness, personal ownership, and the benefits of being the 'odd one' in your crew. We also discuss how platforms like social media can serve as a gateway to advanced training opportunities.

 This is a must-listen for a fresh, insightful perspective on the fire service scene.

About Twisted Fire Industries and its founders:
Joe Yowler is a second-generation firefighter and has been in the fire service for 18 years.

Joe is co-founder of Twisted Fire Industries & Tactics on Tap Metrolina.  Joe is also a task force leader for Sons of the Flag (NC).  With an amazing team, Joe helps run and organize the Carolina Fire Days Conference in Charlotte NC.  A passion for the TFI mantra, #DYFJ, and keeping training real have been the fuel that keeps me moving.  By his side is an amazing woman, Heather who travels to many classes and conferences throughout the year pushing the importance of spouses and families staying involved in the fire service as well.  Outside of the fire service, Joe enjoys spending time & and traveling with his wife and two daughters (17 and 8). 

 

Thomas Yow is first generation fireman with 19 years on the job. He currently wheels an Engine company in a large municipal department in North Carolina. Thomas is co-founder of Twisted Fire Industries & Tactics on Tap Metrolina.  With an amazing team, Joe helps run and organize the Carolina Fire Days Conference in Charlotte NC. His passion for the job motivates him to continue to learn and share the knowledge he has gained with his peers. In his off time, when he’s not at a part-time job somewhere, Thomas enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Find Them At:
https://www.twistedfireindustries.com/

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to challenge what you know about firefighting? Join us for an invigorating conversation with the trailblazers from Twisted Fire Industries, Joe, Thomas, and Jared. We're shaking up the status quo, questioning foundational training methods, and the relevance of conventional fire training in a rapidly evolving field. We argue for enhancing the street-smart foundation for rookie firefighters, and the need for constantly updated textbooks that reflect the realities on the ground.

Moving on, we dive deep into the role of a company officer. It's not all about calling the shots, but also understanding the unique training needs of their team and filling in the gaps. We explore the importance of discipline and humility for continuous improvement, and warn against the dangers of not addressing training scars. The conversation gets real as we underline the crucial role of realism in training, and highlight the risks that come with training the wrong way. 

The conversation wouldn't be complete without touching on advanced firefighter training. We discuss how a change in mindset, eliminating excuses, and embracing the unconventional can lead to massive strides in skill advancements. We also delve into the role of physical fitness, personal ownership, and the benefits of being the 'odd one' in your crew. We also discuss how platforms like social media can serve as a gateway to advanced training opportunities.

 This is a must-listen for a fresh, insightful perspective on the fire service scene.

About Twisted Fire Industries and its founders:
Joe Yowler is a second-generation firefighter and has been in the fire service for 18 years.

Joe is co-founder of Twisted Fire Industries & Tactics on Tap Metrolina.  Joe is also a task force leader for Sons of the Flag (NC).  With an amazing team, Joe helps run and organize the Carolina Fire Days Conference in Charlotte NC.  A passion for the TFI mantra, #DYFJ, and keeping training real have been the fuel that keeps me moving.  By his side is an amazing woman, Heather who travels to many classes and conferences throughout the year pushing the importance of spouses and families staying involved in the fire service as well.  Outside of the fire service, Joe enjoys spending time & and traveling with his wife and two daughters (17 and 8). 

 

Thomas Yow is first generation fireman with 19 years on the job. He currently wheels an Engine company in a large municipal department in North Carolina. Thomas is co-founder of Twisted Fire Industries & Tactics on Tap Metrolina.  With an amazing team, Joe helps run and organize the Carolina Fire Days Conference in Charlotte NC. His passion for the job motivates him to continue to learn and share the knowledge he has gained with his peers. In his off time, when he’s not at a part-time job somewhere, Thomas enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Find Them At:
https://www.twistedfireindustries.com/

Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


Also Visit Our Sponsors - Studio Print Shop at
studioprintshop.com

Travis:

Welcome to All Clear Firefighter Health and Wellness. I am Travis. Eric is not with us today. He is assisting a department in a time of need, as his organization frequently does. But today we will be discussing failure is always an option the place of advanced tactics in the fire service, and we'll be having this discussion with the guys from Twisted Fire. We've got the gentlemen here from Twisted Fire Industries. There's three of them with us. I'm going to let them introduce themselves, tell us a little bit about what you guys specialize in and we got some questions for you, so why don't you start telling us about us, about you guys, joe? So I'm Joe.

Joe:

Yowler with Twisted Fire, fireman for 18 years, now Volunteer in Cabrera County for your fireman. Twisted Fire does real fire training. We are aggressive mindset for them. We put people first and we like to focus on making better firemen through methodical training.

Travis:

Down's pretty complicated, honestly.

Thomas:

Sounded like a mission statement. I'm Thomas. I've been a fireman for 20 years. Combination of volunteer and then also career. I've played firemen. Now I've worked in Metropolitan Department, kind of in line with what we do, you know, trying to make better firemen. You know, for the people that we serve.

Jared:

My name's Jared. I'm Jared Drennick. I'm part of the Twisted Cadre, just got involved in the fire service when I was 18, I volunteer company. I got my feet wet a little bit and then, once I got into college, switch routes on my career path, decided to be a fireman. Fast forward to where we are today. In my career I took a significant interest in all things aggressive firemanship and alignment with the oath we took. I feel like things were, things have been skewed at some point along the way in our careers and it never seemed right to me. So that was where my interest was sparked. And taking more control of training and so on and so forth.

Travis:

So when I listen to you three guys, I've heard you say the same thing a couple of times aggressive firefighting, building better firefighters and I think that really kind of goes along with what is missing in the fire service.

Travis:

You know, a lot of times when we sit around the kitchen table we might hear older guys in the department say, hey, what you learned in rookie school is good. You know, don't go too hard, don't work too fast, you know, and that can be kind of misleading sometimes and those lives can kind of stick with us over time. But you know we're seeing more and more emphasis being put on tactics, on skills, learning, how to do things. You know we always want to be a better firefighter and you know the whole purpose of this podcast is to look at ways to be healthier, better, you know, to more or less be the best you can be as a firefighter. But you know, in the fire service today there are a lot of skills that are taught in rookie schools, recruit schools and things like that. You got your ifstum manual and all that. Are those skills sufficient to make a good firefighter?

Joe:

So I'll start with this and then these guys can build on it. We talked the other day. Give the analogy if I was going to build a skyscraper at the beach and didn't put concrete down first, it wouldn't be very stable. So I equate that to the skyscraper 30 story, skyscraper being your 30 year career and your foundation, the beach being your initial fire training.

Jared:

We believe in certification.

Joe:

We believe in initial training. We believe in that being an important part of our careers. But what if that initial training isn't up to par with what we need or expect for the street? That foundation isn't going to be sufficient for your career per se, to be a good firefighter, good at the job. So we like to go back and say, instead of building off the basics, we're going to rebuild the beginning. Redo your basics and teach you how the street works versus what the ifs to manual, because it's a blanket. The people that are involved with writing the textbooks are doing just that they're writing textbooks. Most of them aren't still in the street or if they were, they were in the street years and years ago and tax exchange data. So we try to build off of that and make better firemen by going all the way back to the basics and pushing that stuff forward.

Thomas:

So kind of building off what Joe says, you have to have some type of foundation to begin with. Do I agree with everything that's in an ifs to manual? Absolutely not those skills to me. When we were teaching state curriculum a couple years ago, there was more time dedicated to teach somebody how to roll a double donut hose roll than there was actually stretching hose and line around obstacles they're going to find in the street, and that's just how the curriculum was set up. Also, as far as an estimate is concerned, there's also some to me.

Thomas:

There's some bad information in there when it comes to look at fire ground search. It says VES is your most hazardous type of search and should be last considered when you're trying to consider which search technique to use. Studies have shown UL just put out the study for fire ground search I think is what Fireground Rescue Search Study and pretty much says it's endorsing VES for a window initiated search. So we need to get these textbooks online or start developing our own program that's more in line with what's that foundation that we need to build from.

Travis:

Well, I know the ifs to manual has been around a long time and you guys are bringing up a good point. Tax taxies continue to change. But you know, jared, what do you think about that? Yeah, I mean.

Jared:

I have a very similar opinion as these guys.

Jared:

I don't think it does a complete look at C right? I think it's checking the box of giving everybody a basic look at you know each skill, if you will, but it doesn't talk about real world events. It talks about you know a canned event, this particular scenario, this is how we're going to do it, right? So fireman Joe thinks he understands the big picture when we're talking about this little snapshot, really? So I think it does a poor job displaying that this is not the full communication, right, that this is very, very small perspective on each piece of the conversation, including ladders, right Ladders, search hose, each event. I feel like the information isn't whole is still missing.

Travis:

And you know, that kind of leads to the second part of what I think about when I think about building a better firefighter. You know, obviously you've got your foundation, which you learn in your recruit school. But one of the things I know, like in Concord, where I am, they make an effort to try to adapt the in-house training to match what our capabilities are. What are the hazards? We see, you know things around us, we try to adapt to that. But are the regular training and evolutions that are conducted, you know, whether it be with your company, in your department, is that really sufficient to keep your skills sharp? Because you know, if you don't use it you're gonna lose it. But what you do in the department, is that enough to keep you sharp and progressive?

Thomas:

I believe it depends on what that training is and what that pilot department, what you're actually talking about, really, because I mean, if you're you know no offense to a lot of departments that use online training programs to get most of their training hours, you know, if you're sitting behind a computer most of the time, then no, it's not sufficient. But if you're actually getting out on the drill ground and you know stretching and doing company evolutions for actual events that could occur, you know, and perfecting for that, then yes, another thing goes is it comes down to the company as well. I think the company, I think a lot of the company, training, like I write, an engine at work, you know if I think some of our training evolutions are a lot better than what's handed out at the Academy, so it really goes down to that.

Jared:

I feel like there's a lot of individualistic variables there, right, like, I think, for me with my company. Maybe my skill set needed exactly what our boss that day decided to go over versus, you know, whatever we went over to start. So the company officer has the duty to figure out what his people need and fill that void if possible. So I think it's possible that the on-company training is sufficient. But again, deciding what that definition really means is going to be difficult too. So you know your needs versus my needs versus Joe's versus Thomas's needs, I think are going to be all dependent on you know your individual skill set. So growing together as a crew, finding your weaknesses and really working through those, being honest with yourself, right, like not lying to yourself about you know, oh yeah, I've got that stretch, I've got that technique down, etc. Find your weakness and working on it. I think that's going to be defining sufficiency needs and going from there.

Travis:

So you know talking about our in-house training and things like that, and how we have to personalize the training for our company or what we need. That leads to another important question, though, guys what ultimately determines what makes enough training, or who determines that a firefighter has enough training to be, I guess, good or effective at their job?

Joe:

I think discipline and there's a little caveat or saying with that is the only person that can make sure you're disciplined is you. And if you look at yourself and you say you're not disciplined, the only reason you're not disciplined is because you're allowing yourself to not be disciplined. So just a simple thing like masking up your gloves on that was something big in my career, and I'd say all three of our careers, when it first came out.

Joe:

I was not in tune with it and then I saw more and more people doing it, saw the other side of it. I wasn't good at it in the beginning. This has been a couple years now, still to this day. Every morning when I check off my air pack, I do a mask up drill with my gloves on. I'm not going to stop doing that because it's a constant thing. Like Jared said, you have to humble yourselves. We have to get rid of these egos and we have to humble ourselves and continue to get better at the job, because it changes Any other career. If you took your basic training when you started and you didn't advance it for your entire career, you wouldn't have a job. Why do we have people in the fire service and a job that can ultimately kill you or kill others not training every single day of your job?

Travis:

That is very true. And when you look at doing the training even if you're doing it yourself or working with the company is it possible to train in a wrong way, for lack of a better term? Is it possible to practice a wrong skill and become really good at something that's ineffectual?

Jared:

Yeah. So I'm pretty passionate I think we all are about training and not deepening training scars that we've all developed through our careers and becoming intimately aware of your training scars individually. So in term, I guess training scars, looking at things like we all have limitations on company or in training in general, the one that we've talked about quite a bit is not using adult dummies for burns or whatever the reason we do that is because they're heavy. As instructors, we don't want to carry this 220 pound dummy back up to the second floor every single evolution. But what's the realistic opportunity for a grab going to look like? Is it always just babies on the second floor? No, there's going to be adults mixed into, right. So not using that as like the stand-all beyond.

Jared:

You know, use your huge dummies on the second floor. I'm just saying for an example. But being aware of things that you're creating, you know taking your dummies and just throwing them out of the building like check the box of we saved this guy. You know, treat the victims as victims. You know creating a culture that normalizes that where it's like, hey, we're going to follow this through realism, right. So can you train wrong? Yes, in my opinion, you absolutely can.

Thomas:

So just to tag on to that, I mean we've all been in these RIT trainings in our career where it's hey, you stand up, you die, or you know you can't use that exit.

Thomas:

You can't use that exit, that exit's not available. Or we try to make things too technical, like trying to set up a three to one with a bell out kit on something when you should just grab and go right. So that's to me, that's training scores, and placing those limitations on your guys make them complacent and not being able to look at the big picture. Because, honestly, if I'm on a RIT team and have a fireman go down while my guys are sitting here doing the packaging and getting them on air, I'm looking for the closest exit to get out of whether it's a window, a door, something Instead of coming back through the exact same path that we got to get there. If I have a door that's 10 feet away, that's a lot closer. That's the day gum door that I'm going to go out of. Right, pretty smart, right, but we have been instilled, or back 15 years ago they were instilling. Hey, you're only going out the way you came in and that's the way you go out. You know so those were training scores. Who would ever?

Travis:

who would?

Thomas:

ever think let's go out the closest door or closest exit.

Joe:

I'll go on that too, with the RIT stuff is like we do focus heavily in all of RIT training, safety and survival for the state, the curriculum, any in-service, I mean it's widespread, We've all been part of it.

Travis:

Where if I go down in a fire I don't want.

Joe:

I expect whoever finds me if I'm not entrapped, to drag my butt outside as fast as humanly possible. I'm not worried about the air, that kind of stuff. If I would rather have people outside of a structure without air packs on in a non-IDLA to try to fix my airway, then a bunch of firemen that can't see, whose heart rates are 200, trying to fix my airway for things to possibly go wrong, when they could have taken a couple seconds literally less than a minute to just get me outside. And we don't train like that, we train like you have to do this whole air conversion, pack conversion, all this kind of stuff. But in reality if I find a civilian, we're not putting them on a RIT pack, we're dragging them outside. Why are we leaving ourselves in the IDLH instead of just dragging ourselves out?

Travis:

You know. All those are good points, and I've heard you mentioned the term training scar multiple times. When you have a training scar, can it heal? Can you unlearn bad habits we've maybe have learned or things that we've been taught? Can we change those things?

Thomas:

Absolutely yes, you have at least three guys in front of you, I mean, and you've had probably hundreds of other firemen who have changed the way they have been taught before because they have had their eyes open to other techniques, probably outside of their rookie schools and academies where they learned or got those scars from.

Jared:

Yeah, and being aware, I think, being honest with yourself and just being okay with the fact that, hey, maybe what I think is right right now isn't right, and then looking at the whole situation, yeah, yeah for sure, like humbling ourselves, being okay to fail.

Joe:

I want to fail, especially in training. I want to fail all the time and be okay with it and get better because of it. And we kind of preach that too as a cadre when we teach is not yelling, not screaming, not belittling people make training positive. Crawl, walk, run is hands down, our mantra. We start all our classes as basic as we can and we evolve our skills as we go. Because if you start with this high stress environment and put people in stress and oculation training from the beginning, they're not going to retain that knowledge because their body and their brains already stressed. It's going to protect them and they're not going to remember it. And you're not going to fix these training scores. Do you have to go back to the basic foundation and rebuild?

Travis:

So, when you talk about all these advanced skills and how you have to go back to the beginning to rebuild them sometimes, what are some of the skills that firefighters need to, I guess, learn advanced techniques on? What are some of the things that you guys have experienced through your own teaching, your own experiences and talking to other professionals? What are we doing wrong? What do we need to learn to do better?

Joe:

Search stretching. We don't stretch enough. We put too much emphasis on how easy a hose load is to pack instead of how easy it is to come off the truck. There's a hose load that we follow and we teach and we're trying to bring back that. Basically you shoulder all the hose simply in 100 foot stacks and hose is never on the ground unless we place it there. Friction's our number one enemy in hose stretching. So if we want to talk about an advanced tactic, I wouldn't even call it advanced. I would call it just getting better, more in tune with the job and advancing your skill set versus being an advanced technique Firemanship.

Joe:

Firemanship like just being a good fireman, like giving it and actually like caring about the job and them. And if we put those first, like with the hose stretching, the hose load is not the easiest load to repack until you learn it, but it deploys better than any hose load on the plant in our opinion, because I can place the hose anywhere I want as I deploy. It's just doing that doing 100 foot bundle work in the back of the bay, even if it's by yourself, taking 100 feet, putting it on your shoulder, working on drop points and just doing reps, just getting reputations in to get better at the job.

Travis:

And you know one of the things that I've heard people say, not so much where I'm from, but you know, I've had the chance to talk to firefighters across the state, across the country, and one of the things that they say is poison to the fire services complacency. No, let's say I'm a firefighter that's assigned to a crew that's pretty much complacent. Maybe they're not into doing hard training, maybe they're happy with their level of knowledge and skills. Me, as an individual firefighter, if my company's not in to advanced training or trying to be better, necessarily, what can I do to make sure I don't fall into that same trap of being complacent with my skills and knowledge? What can I do as an individual to make myself better if I'm the only one that's really focused on that?

Jared:

Yeah, I think that's a really honest question that a lot of us come to in our careers where it's like you find yourself, if you're not on that company all the time, t T with these guys, whatever, and it's like you know how do you make yourself better alone? But again, it comes down to eliminating the excuses. Right, like we all have the opportunity to create the excuse in the moment, like I'm going to just hang out with these guys for the day or whatever.

Jared:

There's always mascot drills. That's an individual skill. There's always I mean, throwing shoulder, or throwing hose on your shoulder, like Joe was talking about, or grabbing a ladder off the truck and throwing a couple reps of ladders, not to mention the whole rest of the conversation in our physical side of the job right, taking care of ourselves in the physical fitness world, which is going to directly correlate to our ability on the fire ground. So I think there's a lot of individual buy-in and ownership that we have to take when we find ourselves in those situations to make ourselves better.

Thomas:

So kind of like Joe's bracelet here it says let's get weird, I mean be the weird one on the crew. I mean so, yeah, the rest of the guys don't want to want to train or don't want to get out there, but if they start seeing you, maybe that'll instill something in them to hey, let's come together, let's see what the weird guys out there doing. And then they actually start to participate, and then one by one, and then you get that whole crew jumping in later on down the road. And I was saying it's going to start off immediately. Hey, it might take three or four shifts or three or four days, or however you work. So another thing too is you know there's plenty of other resources out there outside of your department that you can take hold of.

Thomas:

You know, on your own as an individual. You know, if you're hungry for more, there's plenty of cake out there. Go get some cake.

Travis:

I hear you I like cake. So you see, you're making me hungry already. But you see, when we talk about complacency being poison and things like that, I know that you guys have a passion for building better firefighters through that advanced training. So if we've got that guy that's maybe new, or maybe somebody's been on the job for a couple of years and they have that desire to get advanced training, where can they get it at?

Joe:

Social media is our friend.

Joe:

I'll say that a lot of people don't like it. People have lost their jobs over it, but that's based on their own accord. We have seen huge success on all platforms of social media to get people to come to classes of all ages, all ranks. Reach out to somebody, send somebody a message. At the end of the day, every single person that runs a training group runs a conference, runs it. They're still a human. They're still a fireman. I like to say that if you know any of these big name, superstar firemen that we all look up to, if they were walking down the street of Charlotte, would anybody recognize them, except for firemen? And the answer is no, they're still a human. If you send them a message, they can help you out.

Joe:

We run a conference Carolina Fire Days in November of each year in Charlotte. It's a two-day lecture, two-day hands-on, with multiple classes. You know it's affordable, it's local for North Carolina guys. We have a lot of people signed up. This year we're sold out for the most part. But you can find these things, you just have to look.

Travis:

So there's no lack in training available, is what it sounds like, and you just have to, like you said, go find it. Go find your cake, you know, eat until you're full. And you know, I think that that's one of the things that, as long as you're not complacent, there's a way to learn. And I think that's a huge factor that a lot of people overlook. And you know, one of the things I heard a coworker tell me one time. He said just because your truck's busy doesn't mean that it's good. So you know, just because you do a lot doesn't mean that you're doing it right or that you're necessarily doing it the best you can. And you know it. Really, when we talk to folks like y'all that are passionate about the deeper learning, the more advanced techniques, it really helps us to understand why we're doing these things. So, you know, I really appreciate y'all taking a little bit of time to talk with us tonight. So if they want to get a hold of the twisted fire clan, how do they do it?

Joe:

They can reach out to us on any social medias. We're on Facebook, instagram, tiktok go to our website. Online store has a form that they can fill out for class requests or information. Carolina Fire Day same thing. They can email us through that website. We're easily accessible.

Travis:

And you can reach out to any of us.

Joe:

We're all on social media. Every single person's humble and will answer any questions and get you in contact with right people.

Travis:

So it sounds like you guys are interested in making better firefighters. That's your number one priority and that's good to hear.

Joe:

Yeah, our number one priority is enforcing training to increase survivability for our families that are at home while we're away.

Travis:

We're here for them is what we like to say Very good, excellent, well.

Travis:

Again. Gentlemen, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us. You are listening to all clear firefighter health and wellness podcast, trying to build better firefighters every day and to ignite that fire within. So you can always reach us at all clear podcastcom. And again, thank you to the guys from twisted and we'll talk to you soon. You have been listening to all All clear as presented by the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and removed by Travis McGathey and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, all clear podcastcom, where you can contact us if you need to be back. If you like what you hear, please share this podcast with us. The opinions of guests who might not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded in eScrip and with technology that is provided by Cortec, and we'll see you soon. And it's always Mike the Firefighter.

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