Friday, April 27, 2012

My First Published Article

Well, I know its no fire engineering, but the Carolina Fire Rescue Journal is a journal that is distributed to every firehouse in North and South Carolina.  The spring edition came out today and I was fortunate enough for them to have published my article that I submitted.  This is the first article I have had published in my career so I'm very excited about it.  Hopefully, it isn't the last.

Please enjoy the article, it appears on page 60.  Visit it here.

As always thanks for the support.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

As I wrote the other day as I attempted to catch up on life, FDIC is an incredible experience.  If you haven't gone, save the money and go.  From the Hands on Training, to the classroom sessions, to the keynote speeches to just the bagpipes and people you'll meet, it is by far the most humbling, and beneficial experience I have had in the Fire Service. I must start by saying, thank you to the IAFF Local 660 for allowing me to attend.  The knowledge and connections made last week will benefit our members in everything we do.

Some of the people I met there write and instruct routinely for departments and journals nationwide, and seem to be larger than life.  These guys are the big leaguers , the Peyton Mannings, the superstars of our job.  We often say, man I'd love to meet that guy, or take a class from that guy.  Well I did both in some cases, and the guys I met and learned from were no doubt the best in the business.  The main difference between them and many of the local superstars I know was, all of them were normal down to earth firefighters.

The stair climb was another incredible part of the week.  Never have I ever felt such a brotherhood and honor as I did there.  Our own stair climb here at my department didn't have that same feel, but I plan on making it that way this year.   Every person wished each other well, every person offered to help, and every person was there to honor the fallen.  It was yet another humbling and incredible experience.  I climbed for Patrick Waters, Captain Haz-Mat 1, and every time it got hard for me, I would yell his name to remind everyone why we there and who I was climbing specifically for.

Yet another great part of the week, was helping one member of the Fire Service Warrior movement to finish his first 5K and watch him complete the 110 floor stairclimb within 24 hours.  This individual has made the decision to change his life because of the FSW movement and its Ethos.  He and I exchanged some messages back and forth and I told him he was inspiring.  I mean, I struggled with the climb and the 5K and I view myself as being in shape.  This guy did it, and I asked him what's next?, because now he knows the sky is the limit.  That summed up much of my experience for the week, I can change so much as one man, if I can infect others with some of the enthusiasm I have, it will spread through our department.  If you haven't seen the Fire Service Warrior check it out here.

The entire experience can't be summarized for someone who hasn't been, but if you have it is always the same amount of enjoyment, encouragement, and fun.

It was a humbling experience all in all.  I will attempt to summarize it more in the next few weeks, but I'm not sure that it is possible to put it into words.  It was great to meet the few of the readers I met in Indy, and I look forward to seeing you again.  In short, the experience re-energized me, and made my will stronger to affect positive (Key word) change in the departments I am a part of and to share the knowledge gained with those around me.

To see some pictures visit the Hosejockey Facebook Page
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Obviously, FDIC is an incredible experience for all of those who attend.  I enjoyed my time there, met many great minds of the fire service, and made new friends with some great people.  I have no idea how to put into words the things I learned, took home with me, or shared during this past week, so I won't at all once.  I want to get some of these videos from the week out for all of you to watch to at least share some of the joy of FDIC from the comfort of your home.  Please watch them and learn from them.

Bobby Halton's Opening Speech at FDIC.  Great Speech by a Great man.
Chief Steve Kraft's Keynote, another changing speech for me.  Look at yourself, not others.....

 And One I had to post to close it out.  This is from the Stairclimb at Lucas Oil.....Enough Said RFB


Friday, April 13, 2012

Deep Survival Part 1

As I have mentioned before, the IAFF has a great online survival program that is open to everyone, including non-union members.  While reading over the handbook from it, I located the inspiration for the post on  The Abilene Paradox.  That article seemed to resonate with many of you and made some pretty vast travels across the internet.  While its great to understand what that post mentioned, I think this one may be much more important when it comes to truly being safe at work or on calls.

The handbook also mentions a book titled "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales.  This book is a great book, and for me it has been a great read thus far.  the book discusses the stories of many mountain climbers, pilots, and other risky hobbies and jobs, and their stories of tragedy and survival.  Throughout the book, the author continues to address many of the same issues no matter what realm they are discussed in, be it in an avalanche, or on an aircraft carrier, many of the same root problems and solutions exist.

Of course, being an "Eat up" fireman I have attempted in every way to relate this book to the fire service and so far, nearly the entire book relates directly to what we do.  Within the first few pages, he struck me with the first of many points that will stick with me the remainder of my fire service career.  To paraphrase he says that you need to control all of the variables you are able to control all of the time, there are variables that you can't control, but you must have a plan on how to react to them.  Then he goes on to discuss emotions, and he isn't talking about you all crying during a Lifetime movie.  He is talking about emotional responses and the problems that they can bring.  Gonzales says emotions can cause stress and panic which in any of the environments he describes as well as the fire service can be deadly.

More profoundly to me, he says that emotions create "bookmarks" that we refer back to in split second to base our decisions on.  We as humans essentially flip through a Rolodex of these bookmarks and we react in whichever ways we find the happier ending in.  This sometimes can turn us into sitting ducks, firefighters in some deep s%^&, or genuinely lucky firefighters.  Basically, he is saying that if we "get away" with some stupid action, when faced with the same situation, we will react the same, but unknown to our emotions at the time, we may be failing. 

We may push ourselves that much deeper in the building because we've done it before, we may say ohhh we got this, we just had the same fire last week.  Meanwhile the new guy is thinking, WTF, I scared but this guy knows what the hell he is doing.  Then he forms that same bookmark in the same dumb ass spot as the senior man has.  I think you see where I'm going with this.  As a service we have to assert some leadership to realize the way we have always, isn't always the best.  Maybe our bookmarks are on the wrong page, maybe they are in the last chapter, as we all have seen 100's of times each year. 

He also presents an interesting point in his book.  he says that the more experience someone has, may be detrimental to their successful outcome in a panic or survival situation.  While this isn't entirely fool proof, stick with me for a second...You have a 20 year veteran who has been there done that.  Place him in a survival situation on the fireground, then he controls his emotions and his brain searches for that bookmark of a positive outcome for this same experience that I spoke of earlier.  Well that bookmark may have been from recruit school in 1990, long before much of the self survival info or RIT items that we have today.  Does this individual call the mayday or does he macho his way out, after all he has done it 10 times before?  I hope that he uses his background, skills and knowledge to do the right thing and survive.  Gonzales states that unfortunately the more experience one has, quite often it can be a factor working against their survival, not always but much of the time.  I hope you see what I mean here, there is a slow but steady shift for firefighters to call for help when they need it but many still fail to do it.  We are beginning to tone down the egos, and understand that some of the macho elements of the fire service should go by the wayside so that we can hug our kids the next day. 

We all need to start understanding the fires have changed, so we must.  We can't charge in the door like the senior guys did in the 80's and expect the same result.  They didn't have wooden laminated I-beams, gusset plates, and furniture made of gasoline.  Flashovers are happening earlier, houses are less ventilated, and houses are less well built, so we have to be smarter than we have ever been.  However, as Gonzales says, we can't reason ourselves into a safe spot.  We have to use our senses and control our emotions in order to remain safe.

Firefighting is scary at times, there I said it, sometimes its scary.  If it isn't then you are lying or you don't respect what we do.  The difference is a good firefighter doesn't get emotional and show it, we pin our ears back, calculate the risk, and put the fire out, save the people, etc.  This is the way it should be, calculated, not reckless. 

We need to ensure that individuals don't leave bookmarks for survival in bad spots.  Good training and education can eliminate this possibility.  Do some recognition primed decision making and see how that helps to keep you calm and develop a plan.  I am not saying that what Gonzales writes is the gospel, but it sure is some food for thought especially as an officer.

Well, that's my pre FDIC rant.  I hope to see some of you there.  Thanks for reading, and there will be more to this post when I get to read some more of the book.........

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Upcoming Events

As many of you may know I will be attending FDIC for the first time this year.  It is actually my first fire "show" that I have ever attended, so I'm sure it will be incredible.  I am attending with my IAFF Brother from Working the Job, Jason Jefferies.  If you are going, drop me a line so we can catch up for a beer or six.  We of course plan on attending all of the big events, but we have some meetups of our own to attend as well.  In addition, I'll be participating in both the stair climb and the 5K, so hopefully I will see some of you at those events. 

Only a few more days until FDIC, can't wait........See you there.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Philly Fire LODD

Another LODD with two brothers killed this morning while operating at a warehouse fire in Philadelphia.  The past few days have been rough for the Fire Service.  Early reports are the two were killed by a wall collapse.  The audio and pictures are all out on the internet so listen and look so we can honor the brothers.  Everyone be safe out there.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


I have added a link to on the facebook page, but here is another one from a TN news station: LODD.   Please keep your thoughts and prayers with all of those involved.  Be safe out there everyone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The below video was seen a few weeks ago on the King of all blogs Dave Statter's  I will stay away from a tactics discussion because we have no idea what kind of construction they encountered. But at the 6:18 mark when the helmet comes flying out the door, we all know what happened.  Someone forgot to buckle their chinstrap, oh wait two people did.

Things like this drive me insane on the fire ground.  Whether it be unbuckled waist straps, unbuckled chin straps, or hoods hanging out of gear too many people think wearing PPE properly is an option.  Some of this can be attributed to an honest mistake, while others are habitual offenders.  I think one reason I get so mad about these things is since I joined the Fire Service they have been drilled into my head.  Always buckle your belt, always tuck in your hood, always use your chin strap.  All of these items are not effective with all of the features not being used.   If you don't buckle your helmet it will get knocked off.  Ask the chief in the video if that's true.  It looks cool to wear your chinstrap over the back of your helmet, but that certainly won't hold it on your head.  I learned this as a hard and fast lesson during my tenure in my former career department.  50 pushups for each time you chinstrap, waist strap or any other part of your PPE that was not secured.  They made it habit to make sure everything was worn correctly.

This was done because of an incident that occurred there.  A captain was burned and injured during an apartment fire in the northeast area of town.  He survived because of the high quality gear and the fact he worn his PPE properly, with one exception, his helmet.  That mistake nearly killed him, but the collapse occurred just far enough away he wasn't hit directly in the head.  He suffered a glancing blow removing his helmet, but nothing else fell on him, so we all know he was lucky.  This is why it is a pet peeve, nothing like a personal plea by a person who had it happen to them to make you develop a pet peeve.

The one that gets me the most and by far is the most prevalent, is the unbuckled waist straps.  If you have an emergency in a fire and these aren't buckled, my job of getting you out and converting your SCBA into a drag harness is ten times more difficult.  If you don't know why it's more difficult email me and I'll show you.  Plus, the weight of the SCBA is meant to be supported by the waist straps not the shoulder straps, so you can wear it more comfortably for longer.

So please my plea to all of you fix these issues if you see them, because the last thing I want to see is someone get hurt because of something they could easily fix on their own.  Control all the things you can all of the time, and have a plan for those things you can't control.  Be safe out there.