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An Interview with Fire Author Steve Treinish

Posted by Public Safety Group on 4/5/21 5:12 PM


As part of the Jones & Bartlett Learning Public Safety Group Author Interview series, we had the chance to talk with Steve Treinish about the all-new Third Edition of his book, Water Rescue: Principles and Practice to NFPA 1006 and 1670: Surface, Swiftwater, Dive, Ice, Surf, and Flood, to learn more about his experience, what’s new in the book, and why he thinks it’s a valuable contribution to the fire service community.

Check out the interview below and a video of Steve Treinish discussing the Third Edition here:

Can you tell us about your background in the fire service?

I’m a second-generation firefighter who has been with the Columbus, Ohio Fire Department for nearly 32 years. I joined the fire service in 1987 as a volunteer in the Millersport Fire Department, where I was a 21-year volunteer. My dad’s fire department had a campground on Buckeye Lake, which led to me growing up around water since I was a kid. In 1992, the Millersport Fire Chief wanted to start a dive team within his department. Given my background and position as an officer within the department, I was chosen to lead the creation and training of our dive team. This began my career in swiftwater rescue, ice water rescue, (etc.), and I’ve been involved with water rescue ever since then.

What's new in Water Rescue, Third Edition?

I’ve been a 10-year member of NFPA 1006. Water rescue within NFPA 1006 has been known for the different sub-disciplines, and working within and across them can be confusing for many rescuers. Over the course of the last two revisions, we’ve worked hard as a committee to clean up NFPA 1006 and make it much more accessible, which is reflected in the book. Outside of that, there is also a new “Understanding and Managing Water Rescue Incidents” chapter that provides an overview of water rescue and the role of the awareness-level responder at the scene.

What are the top 2-3 reasons why you think a rescue training officer/instructor should use this book over other options?

I think this book offers a lot of bang for your buck. While most fire departments aren’t concerned equally with all the different types of water rescue, this book covers all six sub-disciplines, which are now broken into awareness-, operations-, and technician-level chapters for flexibility in what departments want to teach. When writing this book, I also tried to stay cognizant that there’s more than one way to “skin a cat,” or in this case, make a rescue. The book acknowledges that there are multiple ways to accomplish our rescue goals, while still trying to provide direction by focusing on the most popular strategies and tactics. I’ve also tried to keep the reading level simple enough that most firefighters can use it without feeling like the book is “over their head.” There are also a lot of colored illustrations and images to help drive understanding of key concepts. The added “Understanding and Managing Water Rescue Incidents” chapter can also be beneficial to incident commanders during water rescue

Who is typically trained at the awareness, operations, and technician levels for water rescue?

Awareness – These are the people who are trained to identify a hazardous event and notify the proper authorities without making the situation worse or getting themselves injured or killed. Examples include police officers and EMS first responders—crews not associated with the fire department—and newer staff on the fire truck. Sometimes, even command staff, such as battalion chiefs, might fall under the awareness level.

Operations – This level includes front-line responders, such as most engine/ladder companies and EMS companies, who may respond to an emergency but don’t have the equipment or technical skill to rescue people in the water. They’re largely trying to make a rescue from the shore, such as dropping a rope from a bridge, or from a safe place, such as a watercraft. They also work to support the technicians on site.

Technicians – These are the specialty teams who are trained to enter the environment [water] and make the rescue. They may try to rescue from the shore if it’s safer, but if they need to be closer to the victim, they’ll often make a grab in the water instead.

What are some of the dangers and logistics of ice rescue training during the winter months, and how has this been accounted for in the book?

As far as the dangers of ice rescue training, it’s fairly benign when it’s done right, and not the riskiest water rescue discipline around. However, if a rescuer is working on the shore to try and rescue a victim, he or she close enough to fall in the water. Therefore, rescuers need to be able to demonstrate how to self-rescue, which is a skill that the books covers. As far as safety around ice and a moving current goes, the book also talks about ice and river flows, whether it’s being sucked into ice or a moving ice flow, and how to identify and protect yourself against those hazards. The biggest problem we have in ice rescue is the reliance on the needed conditions for training. A lot of departments find themselves scheduling ice rescue training, but they don’t have ice or the ice is actually too thick, which can make the delivery of effective hands-on training difficult.

Which natural disasters account for the most loss of life when it comes to water rescue? How have these been addressed in your book?

Floods are a big issue. The first reason for this is a lot of rescuers don’t know how to handle a flood. There are a few types of floods that are particularly problematic in the rescue profession. A fluvial flood (river flood) occurs when the water level in a river, lake, or stream rises and overflows onto the surrounding banks, shores, and neighboring land. The water level rise could be due to factors like excessive rain or snowmelt. A pluvial (ponding) flood occurs when an extreme rainfall event creates a flood independent of an overflowing water body, often by overflowing the local drainage system. If you’ve heard of flash floods, that’s a form of pluvial flooding. People often discount how dangerous flooding can be, so it’s covered extensively in the book. Additionally, flooding is increasing around the world because we’re settling more and more of the planet. For example, I’ve told my team that Columbus is growing rapidly with the many warehouses and apartment complexes that are being built in the area. Every time we put a giant collection system on the roof and parking areas of a warehouse or apartment complex, we funnel that water into some kind of drainage system, adding runoff into creeks and waterways that may not be able to handle it properly under bad conditions.

For more information on Water Rescue: Principles and Practice to NFPA 1006 and 1670: Surface, Swiftwater, Dive, Ice, Surf, and Flood, Third Edition, please visit our website or contact your Public Safety Group representative today.

Topics: Fire

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