Back in the saddle

24 August 2006

On Tuesday night, I attended the first class of Fire Science 156–Intro to Wildland Fire Management–at Hawai`i Community College. The classes are run through and tuition paid by the Rural Development Grant Project, so everybody gets to go for free. There was another volunteer firefighter in the class, from someplace on the Hamakua Coast, as well as a couple of regulars from the Hawai`i County Fire Department.

Most if not all introductory Fire Science curricula are set to conform to some national standard of sub-military pedanticism and dogma. Thus, they all spend an inordinate amount of time hammering away on the “Three Parts of the Fire Triangle.” Basic fire behavior is absolutely important for firefighter safety and for competence also, but this can’t be the best way to teach it. Even though I don’t know the fancy ed theory words for teaching, something comes back to be about psychomotor and cognitive domains. If anyone would care to jump in with the correct terms, please fee free.

At any rate, I’d like to brainstorm a new way to teach fire behavior effectively that doesn’t involve bludgeoning students repeatedly in the cranium with “Fuel, Oxygen, Heat.” Perspicacious readers have noticed that this isn’t even the more complex “Fire Tetrahedron,” which adds “Chemical Chain Rxn,” to the aforementioned three. But lets leave that aside for the moment.

Perhaps videos that show several different fires in assorted settings, environmental conditions, and sizes, produced in demi-laboratory conditions which reduce uncertainty? I have seen a couple of those to illustrate some of the more exciting types of compartment fires (those that happen inside buildings, jargonally).

Discuss.

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