Tuesday, May 29, 2012


During the past week I have been busy, if you couldn't tell.  I still wanted to get out some information on my trip to Atlanta and how great it was.  At FDIC this year, I was able to meet the leadership of the MAFFC conference.  After speaking to one of them for a few hours, I could tell they got "it".  This group wanted to bring an affordable, beneficial training conference south so that everyone could benefit.  Some conferences are quite expensive and MAFFC is not one of those.  MAFFC core principles are informative training, positive networking, and fellowship. 

The conference for me started off with a class on the "Coordinated Fireground" class.  This class was taught by numerous instructors from all over and they addressed many of the basics that we as firefighters fumble around with at too many fires.  The stations were ladder throws, VES, Hoseline advancement, and forcible entry.  These stations were quick, thought provoking, and informative. 

I took the afternoon off and spent time with family which, as always was great.  I began Saturday morning with the "Advanced Engine Company Operations" class which allowed me to learn some new techniques for advancing 2.5 as well as 1.75 inch hose.  I had seen many of them on you tube and other places but this class let me practice them.  The instructor utilized the two man, back to back techique as I would call it.   Here are some of the techniques we worked with.  The below video is from http://nozzleforward.blogspot.com/.

Saturday afternoon, I took "TIC Operations" which covered many great aspects of the TIC and its operations.  This class was incredible, and was very thought provoking.  It provided many training ideas, class ideas, and dispelled many of the things people or salesmen may tell you about a TIC.  TIC's often look great in a conference room, but only a few perfom well under live fire conditions.

Sunday, I finished up with a ventilation class given by PJ Norwood.  It was a very good class, and was kind of a flashback to FDIC since that is where I had met him.  Also, the program was of the same quality as any FDIC program I attended. 

In short, this conference was great.  It was just what we need in the Southeast; a simple yet informative and econmically feasible conference.  The lead group of MAFFC has big plans for it in the future, and they should.  I would like to thank the sponsors of the event including the IAFF for their generousity that allowed the conference to keep costs low, and quality of instruction high.  Also, I would like to thank the MAFFC board for what they did.  It is only three years old, but this conference is growing every year.  Lastly, I would like to thank Atlanta for the additional traffic that I got to encounter while roaming the 285 corridor.  Wow glad I don't live there.

Make plans to attend MAFFC next year May 17-19 2013.  You can visit the website www.maffc.org or follow them on facebook.

Until the next time......

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Best Advice

I am sure all of us could say we have worked for great officers and for bad officers.  I also believe one could advocate that the bad officers teach you more about being a quality officer than the good ones.  In my previous department, I had the fortune to work for an officer who was one of the best in the Department.  He treated me just like a rookie should be,  he gave me a hard time, pushed me to be better, mentored me, and most of all taught me about many parts of the service, especially tactically.  I was assigned to him straight out of rookie school, and rode the back with two of the best firefighters around.  When I left that department for my current one, he was mad that I left but had done everything in his power to help me get the job with the new department.  To me that showed me what kind of man he truly is.

When I was promoted to Company Officer a few years ago, I of course invited him so he had such a large influence on me over time.  He had some issues and was unable to attend but he did take the time to send me this email below. He gave me permission to put this out there, but he will remain nameless.

"You are about to venture on the most challenging yet rewarding job you have faced in the fire service.  There will be times when you will think why didn't I stay a firefighter but those days will soon disappear.  I have this quote, that I keep on my desk, and I look at it often, "a leader with great passion and few skills will always out perform a leader with great skills and no passion".  You are lucky, you have the passion for the fire service and the knowledge, skills and ability to be an outstanding Captain, not everyone has both.  Keep that passion and work to develop those skills, and you will rise to the top.

Remember this, "if everyone below you is successful then you are successful and if they fail it is because you failed them".  Keep a humble attitude towards you men make sure they know that when the team is successful they did it, and when the team fails you did it.  When they know you have their back and will take hits for them, they are more likely to have yours.

Always remember to hold the fire (where is it at and where is it going, cut it off) until the Calvary arrives and never forget the hook.

You are truly missed.  I hope you know that I think the world of you and desperately hate not being there."

Once I read this, I saw its true meaning.  He wanted me to be a true leader.  I didn't need to read an 800 page book to figure that out, it was all right there in this short email.  The key is passion, not the most degrees, not the most certifications, but passion.  Dictionary.com defines passion as "any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate."

Passion is something that can't be taught in a class, can't be found in the book, its in your heart.  It is easily identifiable in a group, it is found in many firehouses but unfortunately not all.  It is something that can be developed and can easily become contagious, but it doesn't just show up when the Battalion Chief brings the mail.

Also, as the definition points out, passion can be love or hate.  Passion is a powerful  emotion and can have some negative results if it is negative.  SO as you can see, we have to watch which way our emotions carry us.  Too often and too easily we (me included) are sucked into a negative conversation regarding our department, station, a call, etc.  We must step above these petty gripes and insist on excellence.  Taking the "high road" is harder, but that why it isn't just called "the road" it is a step above.  An emotion that we can channel into promoting excellence is one we need more of in today's fire service.  Our profession is under assault by politicians, manpower, benefits, and many other parts of the service are being attacked.  If there ever was a time where firefighters needed to channel passion in a positive direction, it is clearly today, right now.

Passion is also that thing that keeps you going when you are having an off day, its the thing that makes you get in the gym while everyone else naps, its the thing that makes you explore parts of the job you may not enjoy, but that you need to know.  A passion for the fire service is a great thing, the thirst that it brings inevitably forces more knowledge, proficiency, and skill on the individual who has it.  To see passion for the fire service, look for the firefighter studying NIOSH reports after morning clean up, look for the firefighter marking the balance points on the ladders, look for the firefighter who knows who John Norman, Frank Brannigan, and Andy Fredricks are, and what they accomplished for the fire service.  We all talk about how great the job we have is, but how many of us want to have the passion to make it great for the next generation?

Nick Martin had a quote during the recent "Combat Ready" class that I attended that really hit home with me.  He had a slide that said:

"Its not how you make the mistake, it's how you recover"

Having a passion for the job makes that recovery that much easier.  I make mistakes all the time, as do all of us, but passion feeds my recovery from those mistakes.  Passion leads me to a resolution, and to improve whatever process needs to be fixed to avoid the same mistake happening again.  Passionate firefighters don't let their ego get in the way of learning a new technique, trick, or a battle hardened skill that will help them be better at their job.  In fact, these firefighters seek out these tidbits, to make them more effective on the emergency scene.

It is our job as passionate firefighters to spread this "disease" as some people can call it to everyone we can.  Some see passion as a problem because you are "Eat up" or have no life, but the passionate folks know that more often than not, it isn't true.  If you have the "disease" of passion, don't treat it, spread it to everyone who wants to carry it.  The resources are out there to ignite the passion on your own.  As I posted a short time ago, use your network to keep the faith if you can't do it on your own. 

My former officer's email should bring up some points for you officers and aspiring officers to remember.  Please read it to ensure you didn't miss some of his lessons to live by.

Now get up, get out there and infect somebody with the passion for the job.   

Also, "Never forget the hook".

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I am finishing up a great weekend here in Atlanta at the Metro Atlanta Firefighters Conference.  The classes have been great and have refueled my passion for the job.  I will have the opportunity today to attend PJ Norwood's ventilation class and a few others before departing back to the homestead.  My wife has been a trooper through this and has had a great time as well with her friend here in ATL.  I am always humbled when taking classes, as I usually find out I don't know as much as I think I do on many subjects.  It is great to be in gear and sweat with other firefighters from all over who want to be here on their time.

I will have some sort of summary in the next week for you, in the meantime stay disciplined, stay safe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All My Rowdy Friends

While at the "Combat Ready" Class last week many of my fellow firefighters gave me a hard time about some things while we were there, including one of the instructors.  It was a great presentation that I took a lot away from including things that I can implement and live out at all of the fire departments I am associated with.  Many of the guys I knew asked if I was running for political office, but I told them, "I'm just making contacts".  As with any class I take, I met some great folks who I hope to stay in touch with over the years

I was fortunate enough to meet West from http://hpfirefighter.com/ and Pete from http://elaffhq.com/ and was happy to finally meet face to face since I felt like I had known them for a few years.  During my career, I have worked with and met some great firefighters and leaders, however in the past 12 months I have met so many smart people and great leaders in our fire service that I can hardly wrap my head around how they call me one of their peers.  I have been humbled by their words of encouragement and laughed at their joking jabs, and I still can't understand how I have been so blessed in such a short period to have met them.

I have met the authors of all but one Blog that I regularly read, I have met people whose articles I have read, and many other folks who are leaders in our profession.  The ability to talk to these folks on a regular basis is something I value and am thankful for everyday.  It is amazing how similar many of us are, despite our ranks, department size, or geographical location.  However, I am pretty sure that most people that have met me think I am a redneck just because I talk funny and live in SC.

However, while it is a blessing to have such a great network of Bloggers, writers, leaders, and firefighters (some are all of the above), the question should be asked: so what now?  So I met some great people, how do I help the fire service, especially my small piece of it by making these contacts?  I think we all know how...by keeping in touch, pushing each other and motivating one another when each of us has a rough patch, or a discouraging day at work or home.  Chris Huston from Engineco22 tweeted the other day, "People say there is no time, time hasn't changed priorities have".  I think that is so true especially in the fire service of today.  We have no time to train on hoselines because its Tuesday and that's tile day at the station etc, you know the story.  With that said this post is about a network I have developed, not training, I will save that for another day.

We must make it a priority to maintain those friendships we may have made a the local fire school etc. because an isolated fire department is one doomed for disaster.  Chris Brennan over at The Fire Service Warrior wrote about it here: I Have A Theory.  In this article he discusses entropy, where a closed system moves from a state of order to disorder.  A department whose members never go outside for any training, conferences, etc. may see themselves as the leaders in the fire service when they are truly not.  The development of some friends from other departments from all over will help avoid this closed system in your fire house.

Making a connection with people is so simple these days, but being "that guy who seemed nice" at the bar in Indy, vs. "my friend I talked to yesterday" is much more of a challenge.  The fire service really is a small world, whether we feel that way or not, its like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, some how within 6 people we are all acquainted with one another. 

Working the Job posted about it Here : The Network. Jason's post is very similar to this one in that it is amazing how many people you meet from writing a fire blog.  Just as I am, he is thankful for all that the blogo-sphere has given back to him.  If you don't have a network of your own, make one, in your county, state or region.  Go to a weekend conference, go to a state sponsored class...oh and by the way aside from meeting people you may actually learn something too.  In short, you don't have to go to FDIC or Firehouse to participate.  In addition to the learning, these people are  a group you can bounce ideas off of, get ideas from, and receive some career changing/saving advise at times.  This group can allow you to keep a pulse on the fire service and how your little island is doing compared to everyone else.  In addition,these folks you meet from all over can help keep your negativity down and help you show folks on your "Island" how good they have it (sometimes).

Most Importantly, this group to me has become a year long conference.  Every week, I have exchanged some sort of text, email, or phone call with someone I have met during the past year.  Some times these communications are just jokes that keep the day going, other times there are some serious questions posed regarding fire service ways, tactics, and leadership. 

This blog has been a major part of the development of my group of folks the I call "The Network" but my involvement in our department's Local, our department's Accreditation process and just being engaged in regional schools and classes have also assisted in it.  All of you reading are part of my group and I am proud to call you a friend, colleague, and a reader of this rag.  Get out and get involved in your department, your local, or just take a class or two outside of your department.  It will help you grow as a firefighter and a person.

Thank you to all the followers, readers, and haters of this blog whether you realize it or not you are helping me develop a great group of people to surround myself with.  Let me also close by saying that I want to thank you for reading this, there are no shortage of blogs out there for you to read and it is an honor for you to take the time to read mine.  I hope that in the words of Mark over at "Fully Involved"  that I give you some positive influence to help you do your job better. 

Until the next time.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

South Atlantic Show Class

As many of you know, I am presenting "Emergency Communications: How we can control our own destiny" at the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo in Raleigh in August.  I got notification that my class will be on Friday August 10th from 1330-1645.  Please come join me as I share some essential information on fire ground and emergency communications.  I am finalizing the presentation now and I am already excited about it.  Hopefully, I will see you there.....I should have a new post up this week, I have just been slammed at home and at work. 
Here is a link to the South Atlantic Fire Expo: http://www.southatlanticfirerescueexpo.com/
Until the next time.....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Follow Up to the Computer Critic Post

I was looking through the posts on the fire that I posted about here :Behind the Computer Critic.  I found a few comments that are great including one from a firefighter who WAS there and knows all of the information.  It reads as Follows:  "I just want to say I stand by my decision to make a rescue. I pulled a line and had no thought other than to do that. The police officer did a great job allowing me the time to go back in and search for victims. But thank you for all the great Monday morning quarterbacking of a tough situation. When making all these comments please remind yourself that some who was there is reading."  This quote is in the facebook quote section on Statter's site.  Find it Here: CA Fire  Just goes to show you, someone reading was there and was doin' it and we don't know.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SFFD Report and Combat Ready

Well, the NIOSH report came out from the San Francisco incident and has some good information in it for everyone to learn from.  You can find it Here

Also, tomorrow I'll be travelling the short distance to Salibury, NC to take Traditions Training's Combat Ready class.  I have always heard good things about it so I'm excited about it.  If you will be there shoot me a line and I'd love to meet you in person.  Thanks for reading......

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

San Diego RV Fire

Somehow this post got lost in the mix prior to FDIC, but it still needs to be put out there.  The video below comes from San Diego during a routine RV fire that they had on a normal day.  This video should show all of us why Full PPE is a must on vehicle fires.  These firemen were lucky that it seemed to just flash on them and they were able to retreat.  This video is probably repeated all over the US everyday, without incident because folks were ready.  RV's and large camper fires are a pain for us because of the construction and the construction materials of the vehicle.  These things burn like gasoline, yet too often you see firefighters standing around in no SCBA or PPE, this video should reaffirm the idea that PPE is a must on all fire calls.......

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Behind the Computer Critic

As a Blog follower, as many of you obviously are, we all see what I feel like is a paradigm shift in our fire service.  We all know that there are video cameras everywhere we go, and that almost no working fire goes untaped anymore.  Someone (Public or Fire Service) is taping what we are doing on almost any significant call that we run these days.  I check statter911.com virtually everyday to help me formulate daily training, keep up on the latest cool videos from all around, and inadvertently, I watch unqualified, under-experienced, and most of all ignorant firefighters post how much better they could have done things than the folks being taped.  Really....... you could have gotten water on the line quicker than 2 minutes, well you probably could if you had your department's staffing, no rescues in progress and who knows what other obstacles the brothers in the video had.

I watched a video today where the fire engine was overwhelmed with what they had going on as soon as they pulled the parking brake. Here is the link to it: Fire in Ca .  This video shows just how hectic and chaotic a fire scene can be, because last I checked A frame ladders weren't NFPA complaint but, they sure appear to rescue people just fine in this fire.  In reading the comments, there are some great ones describing how "they" would have done it better and faster and greater.....but really could they have?  Everytime one of these videos comes out, there are always a few who tell everyone they could have done it better.  My question is always: Did they invite you to the critique?  If the answer is no, then you must not be the expert you think you are Captain Anonymous.

My point is that most videos provide only a snapshot of the whole picture of what the brothers encountered.  We know only what side A looked like, or what the uneducated civilians are saying.  Sure, there are some videos that show some training needs in departments, but the last time I checked I wasn't the training officer in the XXXXX Fire Department, hell I'm not even the training officer in my department, so who am I to say what people need to train on in other departments.  But give me a keyboard and a screen name and man I'm John Norman, or Tom Brennan.

Folks, realize that we can critique one another constructively and quietly, not in a public forum.  We can always think we can do it better, prior to any idea what happened on scene or without even knowing what information the folks had prior to arrival.  We all know every department is different, so why do we as a service continue to critique in an open forum everyone's actions at fires of which we have no idea the events leading up to what we watch in our cozy homes.  Watch the videos, discuss them with your people, but don't criticize one another in a public forum.  Get the information and discuss it, but until you know the whole story, don't sharp shoot tactics and videos.

Until the next time, Stay Disciplined and Stay Trained.