Friday, December 30, 2011

The Firehouse Meal

As you may or may not know, I'm a faculty member at a local Fire Science Bachelors program.  Currently, I'm in the process of designing a new class for our program about Fire Service Personnel Dynamics.  I find the topic facinating, because the more you travel around and meet firefighters, the more you see how each department's culture is as different as it's equipment.  Some places everyone loves to promote, and other places people want to ride the back forever.  Some places SOG their operations to death, and others let the officers make intelligent and safe decisions.  It is amazing the variance of the American fire service even within the same county.  Quite often we see departments who are too safety concious, while we see others who don't care.  Which one is your department?  Also, where is that happy medium located?  There is not a single department with the exact right mix of safety, training, fun, and fireground aggressiveness to make all firefighters happy (If that is even possible).  Two things are common throughout the fire service though, we like to bitch about things, and the dinner table is the center of the firehouse.

As I always do, I challenge you to attempt to make where you work or volunteer a safer place each day.  Maybe that means everyone spending some time talking about an LODD, maybe it means having "Storytime" with one of the vets, maybe it means stretching some hoselines, maybe it means taking the crew out to dinner for everyone to just break bread together outside of the normal confines.  Either way, you need to have the crew around the dinner table (or at least together in one room) three times a day.  First, at roll call, and then of course at 12 and 6 for lunch and dinner (Supper). 

Too many don't see the dinner table as a place where safety can be taught or learned, but it really is.  We can learn more about one another and build or gain fire ground trust here, enough said.  The dinner table is a facinating place in the fire station.  I think if we could get some key world officials in on some of our meals we could save the world, cure cancer, and win every war.  But seriously, how much trust have you lost or gained for a person during the fire house meal?  I know I have caught myself saying "Man I hope we don't have to see this guy pull a line, or do CPR today" while listening to someone at the meal.  Also, this is the place where firehouse story time often takes center stage.  As my buddy Jason Jefferies just posted on his blog Working the Job (Link to the Right), the old guys often can have some knowledge to pass on to the rooks and many times this stuff is passed on at a meal or roll call.

This is also the place in the fire house where we solve many of the internal personnel conflicts we have.  This problem solving allows for us not to be fighting on emergency scenes, since we take care of it at our home.  Sometimes people get their feeling hurt at the table, but they usually leave the room understanding where they stand with their colleagues.  All of us need to understand that lunch and dinner is where we can make our crew a stronger and safer crew.  The more we can solve our issues and get to know each other the safer we will be on the scene.

My point is that we need to spend time together at the station.  In the modern fire service there are so many distractions that interfere with the fellowship time in the firehouse.  I find myself in this trap, surfing the internet, and "facebooking".   However, I do make it a goal to spend time with the crew whether I like them or not, so we can enjoy the one of the best parts of our job, the fellowship.  Of course there are places where I thank god I have an office that I can hide in, but there are other places where I wish the station was one big room so noone could hide out.  Remember that fellowship and being a team are two important elements within the firehouse, and they always unite around the dinner table.

Spend some time figuring out how to make your department safer, so that everyone can go home at the end of the day.  And if you follow my philosophy, this may give you an excuse to go drink a beer with the guys to be safer at work, or spend more time at the dinner table.....your wife might believe it who knows.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day of Maydays

As you are aware I'm sure, yesterday was a busy day for maydays and injuries.  Please go over some of these and then look over your procedures, because today could be your day.  Please pray for everyone injured yesterday, and refrain from Monday morning quarterbacking.  The videos are pretty telling, and the FDNY video is terrifying, but glad to know they all made it out injured and not the alternative. 

Have a safe day everyone, and prayers out to the brothers injured.

Here are some links:

DE Townhome: Additional Coverage at

Audio from DE:

FDNY Bailout:


Friday, December 16, 2011

Never Forgetting and Always Learning

Here is a great reason to be healthy and safe at work everyday.  If this video doesn't make you think, or want to get home to your family, quit reading the blog and turn in your boots because this job isn't for you.......

This video gives some great ways we can control our own destiny sometimes.  Wear your PPE, Wear your seatbelt, don't be complacent, honor those who have come before, such simple commands on the surface, but so difficult to follow and live by once we are work.  Please take some time out of your day to watch this video, it is great.  This video comes from a large department whose leader put out an incredible letter a few years ago to his firefighters when he was first hired.  I think from the outside at least it appears he gets it.
  Here is the Letter

I like many of the points that he makes, and most of them you could and should apply to your department.  Once again thanks for reading, in the meantime Stay Safe and Stay Trained.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Haz-Mat Awareness

This video shows a horrific accident in what appears to be a rural area. The Police officer obviously doesn't see whats going on and it costs him his life. I think the fire department makes some pretty great moves to get the victims out of the environment, and having been around an ammonia leak, I'm sure they were taking a beating in their gear. How would you react as the first in engine crew here? What resources do you need, and more importantly where would you get them from? This video just makes you think about how we respond each day and we never may know what's waiting for us when we get there.  Until the next time folks......

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Worcester LODD

I want to send out my thoughts and prayers to the WFD and the family of Jon Davies, who was tragically lost last week in an apartment fire.  If you haven't already go over to and catch the audio of the fire.  To me it sounded like they faced a bunch of obstacles that were insurmountable in the end.  The RIT team did remove one downed Firefighter which is a small victory in a time of such sorrow.  Also, I repeat what I have always said, let's not judge, let's learn.  Fellow blogger the Backstep Firefighter put it great in his post:

So let's not be Captain anonymous and Firefighter Hindsight as he says, let's see what we can learn from the tragedy.  Have a great weekend folks......Stay safe and Stay trained.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Technology

In firefighting we are always presented with new technology, which claims to make our job safer and easier.  Look at TIC's for example, a great piece of technology but only when it works.  The point I'm trying to make is that no matter what technology they come out with, we still need to remember the basics of our job.  As I looked over one of my favorite websites today, I saw fellow blogger Dave Statter had posted a link to a story on a new firefighter location technology.

Here's the link:

 This technology claims to be able to help us locate firefighters inside of buildings even when there is no GPS signal.  This is a huge step forward, but many questions still remain like: Where will the equipment mount? How will it hold up to high heat and the abuse of firefighters? How much is it? just to name a few.  It appears to work very well in the video, but you never know until the units are in the field and firefighters wearing them.  I truly do look forward to this technology advancing and hopefully interfacing into the fire service everywhere.
That brings me to my main point, we can't forget the basics.  Even with high tech firefighter locators, you have to understand a primary search, and how to command a mayday or RIT activation.  You can't just dump firefighters in a building and say "go get 'em" without some basic understanding of search beyond looking at a computer screen.  What will we do if the computer dies (which it will)?  What will do if the locator malfunctions (which it will)?  Both of the questions show why we must not ever forget the basics even if we are given the latest technology.  Our training as firefighters gives us the fundamental knowledge to operate the technology and compensate when it fails.  Without a firefighter's knowledge the best technology in the world is crap.  Remember the basics, because when technology fails (and it will) you have to be able to finish the mission or assignment you are responsible for no matter what excuses you have.

Until the next one, stay safe and stay trained.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Worchester 6

Please take a moment out of your day to remember the Worchester 6 who made the ultimate sacrifice 12 years ago.  RFB.

Friday, December 2, 2011

3 For 1 Deal

I found this video of a typical suburban America neighborhood....As you notice the fire is well advanced upon arrival of the first officer and well, let's just say it gets alot worse.  These guys were up against alot when they got there, but there are some improvements they could have made.  Watch the video and think about how you would address this fire.  For those of us that work and/or volunteer in this type of area, it is only a bedroom fire away on a windy day from happening to us.  As with any post on here, I am not here to sharpshoot others, but to present the situation and to ask what would YOU do not how would you change what they did. 

Sit down and address this with your crew as a strategy and Tactics scenario, because its a great one.

These type of fires will become more and more common as building codes are changed to benefit developers attempting to fit as many houses in a development as they can.  Well until the next time....Stay Safe and Stay Trained.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chance Zobel

Take a moment today to reflect on the LODD from my former department that occurred a year ago today.  Cahnce Zobel was killed fighting a brush fire on the interstate and his partner Larry Irvin Sustained massive injuries that he is still recovering from today.  This tragedy could happen to any of us and was my motivation for my last post on roadway safety.  Please take a moment to remember them and the Columbia Fire Department today or during your next shift.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roadway Safety a Lost Art

Well, I guess its time for another installment of my thoughts.  One topic that gets plenty of attention (with high visability vests) but not enough attention on the emergency scene is that of roadway safety.  I feel like the most dangerous thing we do on a regular basis is operate on the interstate and roadways at emergency incidents.  There are so many variables that we can't control out there and many times I am terrified when operating on the interstate. Put distracted drivers, speed, and add some red lights and you have a great recipe for an injury or LODD.

We all have our wonderful high visability, retroreflective, break away vests that DOT requires us to wear and most departments require on all roadway incidents (not just on federally funded roadways).  However, those sometimes seem to be more like targets for drivers than a safety mechanism for us.  Firefighters, police, and medics continually underestimate the stupidity and lack of care that drivers have while passing through an emergency scene.  We have so many distracted drivers on the roads now a days that hardly ever do we run a call where someone doesn't almost cause a wreck while we are enroute to a call or while we operate on scene.  So why don't we protect ourselves better when on the roadways?

With all of that said, we still operate with such a sense of security while we stand around at accidents.  We often position our apparatus based on how we can get out most quickly, what is easiest, or where ever the police tell us to.  Too often we fail to consider personnel safety when considering apparatus placement.  We need to be looking at how to best protect the scene for our people.  The police may give you a hard time, but a hard time is better than having to knock on a door and tell someone that their husband, dad, or brother is dead or hurt.  In my area we have a generally good relationship with the HP and the PD, so this is never an issue, unless the incident is of an extended nature.

Last November, in my former department a firefighter was tragically killed and another firefighter was severely injured in a interstate incident.  If I laid out the whole scene for you and explained what happened, you wouldn't believe how a car hit them but it did.   Two trucks were positioned to protect the scene at proper angles and what one would think were proper distances, but a car somehow snuck in between the guardrail and the tailboard of an apparatus and struck two firefighters.  In speaking with some who were there, they weren't sure they could have done anything differently to prevent the incident, which terrifies me.  But we all know that our job is the only job where sometimes you do everything right and get killed, and that day was a testament to that.

The point of this post is to cause some conversation concerning roadway safety, to make sure if your department responds two trucks to interstate calls to use one to block traffic well ahead of the scene, and to ensure that no one reading this takes their safety on any call on a roadway for granted.  In case you haven't noticed people don't care about us, they are worried about facetweeting about how their day was so long and hurrying home.  They forget that emergency workers have families we like to go home to.  So next day you work, sit down and discuss how safety at roadway (interstate and others) incidents can be improved on your company, how can you deal with distracted drivers, and most of all how can we all make it home in the morning.  Take the time to eliminate the non chalante attitude on your next roadway incident, because complacency on the road could lead to a tragedy in your town.

Until the next time, stay safe and stay trained.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breathing Equipment School

On Thursday, I will have the pleasure of assisting in one of the greatest and most beneficial classes I have taken or will ever take. As a firefighter, I have taken multiple classes, seminars, and participated in many roundtable discussions with many so called experts on everything fire department.  One area that I have always made sure I stayed up on is the area of self survival.  I have always figured that who better to get me out of trouble than me.  Of course, I realize that there may be situations where I need help from someone else, but why not prepare myself ?  Alot of my thinking goes back to me post a little while back which can be found here:

It talks about controlling variables, and that what I feel some of the self survival classes are always about.  However, one class that stands out head and shoulders above all classes on the subject that I have taken is NC Breathing Equipment School, held at Gaston College.  One of my fellow bloggers, Jason Jefferies has mentioned it on his blog "Working the Job" (Link on the right side).  This class is a must take for any firefighter, and while I say that, I understand that many people who call themselves firefighters who really don't have what it takes wouldn't make it through this class. The "Firefighters" (Notice the quotes) who wear their pagers all around, have a 72" light bar on their '86 Chevy s-10 and can tell everyone how to fight fires aren't the kind of folks who have the courage or the drive to take this class.
This class is filled consistently with the best firefighters in the State of North Carolina and throughout the country.  This class isn't your standard, "here's the UAC connect this with a blackout mask and oh your pack just failed so buddy breath and get out" type of class.  The instructors tell you on day 1, "We will not make up problems for you, you will create enough of your own".  That statement was consistently true the entire week.  It never fails we as firefighters get ourselves into more problems than we get out of.  This class is not for the faint of heart or pretender within the fire service.  During this class, you will run out of air, you will have to buddy breath, you will have to make connections in real heat and smoke, you will breath real nasty smoke, you will realize that you aren't superman,  but most importantly you will learn things that may save your life or life of someone on your crew.
Some departments in the state require this class as a condition of employment, other firefighters throughout the state take it to become better and safer firefighters.  The point is this class took me completely out of my comfort zone, there were times I wondered if I would get out without having to call a real mayday.  How many classes have you ever taken that may take you out of your comfort zone?  If you haven't you should, because you don't want to be out of your comfort zone for the first time when someones life, including your own may be hanging in the balance.  This class also taught me that I could control many of the variables that directly effect me on the fire ground.   I can control how well I know my equipment, how to call a mayday, and how to help others that may be trapped that I go to help. 
So my advice is go take a class that gets you outside of your comfort zone, challenge yourself with a class like breathing equipment school, that truly teaches recognition primed decision making.  Don't let yourself and other brother firefighters down by wasting away on the couch at the station.  Get up and take control of your destiny on the fire ground.

Until the next time,

Stay Safe and Stay Trained

Monday, September 26, 2011

Radios What do you know?

In my opinion, one of the most neglected part of the Firefighter's PPE is the radio.  Firefighters think of cool melted bourkes, stained leather helmets and dirty gear as their PPE, but we forget about how important that radio is to a person until we need it or forget it in the truck.  In my department, we are fortunate enough to have a radio for every seating position in the truck, and I understand that many departments are not as fortunate but the point is the same, radios are important.

Sure I can tell you my department operates on a P-25 capable, Motorola Smartzone, 800 Mhz system with XTS 3000, 5000 and 2500 portables but what fireman actually cares about all of that?  Our primary focus is that when we need to talk that they work and we can talk.  But when was the last time you sat down and clicked around the radio, hit the mayday button, or heard the evacuation tones?  I'm sure the answer is too long ago.  My point is that we are so dependent on the radio yet we devote no training time to using it or understanding it. 

As I referenced in a previous post here :

We have to control the variables we are able to control all of the time and one of those is our radio.  Too often we get on the truck in morning, check our airpack, put our gear on the truck only to wait until we get to the grocery store or run the first call to find that our battery is dead on our radio.  In recruit school your are taught how to don and doff gear, how to check an airpack, how to pump, but very little emphasis is put on the one thing that can summon help from miles away, the radio.  Let's think about how we store our radio, take care of our radio, or even hold our radio.  I assure you of one of the last three items, you are doing one incorrectly.  The antenna isn't a handle or a place to clip the speaker mic to, the radio should be cleaned of all debris just like an airpack, and balling the radio up with the antenna curved isn't the recommended storage method.
The next question I have is, how do you operate your radio?  Do you know what your radio does when you press that magic orange button? How do you reset that same button?  Can you access you mutual aid company's channels without asking for help.  Most folks are on 800 MHz systems so you have hundreds or talkgroups programmed in, but can you navigate your template?  I have done some radio training throughout our department, and I have come to find that the majority of people don't have a clue where talkgroups are in our current radio.
We need to remember that besides our training, experience, and knowledge the radio is our primary lifeline.  The IC can't tell us that we could be in danger or that there is a victim in a particular room if we can't hear him because our radio is dead, not turned on, or on the truck still.  On the flip side, we can't let the IC know that we are in trouble or call for help if the same conditions mentioned before exist.

I make a challenge to each of you (All five readers) to answer the following questions about communication the next day you are at the Firehouse:
1) What happens when I press the Mayday button?
2) What is the comm procedure for a mayday? (Who switches channels etc)
3) How do you access your mutual aid department's primary tactical channel?
4) Do you have a contingency plan for simplex communications if you cannot get a repeater in a building?
5) Do you know how to make contact with adjoining counties/cities if called to assist in a large scale incident?

These are just some questions to get you started, but I think you see how much we all really don't know about our primary help line in what we do.  Communication lines are always listed as a contributing factor in LODD's, but what have you done to improve them where you are?  Remember folks who had comm problems on an emergency scene never thought it could happen to them, but it did.  Prepare yourself by controlling the communications variable all of the time, instead of letting it take control of your emergency scene.

Until the next one,

Stay safe, and stay trained.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Charlotte, NC 9/11 Stairclimb

We all know how tragic the events of September 11th changed this country and the fire service.  Now the phrase "Never Forget" is thrown around like hello, some mean it and some don't.  Our Union recently hosted a 9-11 stairclimb to remember the 343 as well as the Police and EMS who were killed that tragic day.  It was unbelievable to be a part of the planning of this event, but it was even better to be a part of it on 9-11 with all of the participants.  Our committee climbed it prior to 9-11 as a press getter and it worked.  I climbed in full gear and carried 50 ft. of 2.5 for the first 55 and then went on air for the last 55.  It was a humbling and difficult experience.  I climbed in memory of Steven Siller of Squad 1.  This firefighter came in off duty ran 3 miles to the towers with his gear and perished.  My kind of guy.  This experience brought a range of emotions that can't be put into words, but it took me back to that day as I'm sure it did to many of the participants.

I remember being on the phone with my mother when the first tower fell, the first words I said were "Do you know how many firemen just died?"  I wasn't on the line at the time but it was a dream of mine to be a fireman.  That day solidified that for me.  These guys were heroes in every sense of the word.

One of the coolest parts of our climb was that we had 60 police officers and 10 EMS workers participate.  This gave us the chance to show that not just the FDNY lost people.  It was incredible to see CMPD and other Police officers climbing side by side with Charlotte Firefighters and other Firefighters from all around.  Everyone honored the memory of someone and carried them up the 110 floors that we all climbed.  The point I want to make is that we need to remember what happened that day not just in our country but within our profession.  Many saw that we rush in when everyone else is going out.  They began to hold us in a more heroic light, sure politicians will depending on the day, but our profession changed. 

Make sure you prepare yourself with knowledge and skills to help you if you encounter such a difficuklt situation as many FDNY members did that day.  Never forget that 343 brothers were lost that day, and that 343 families have a hole that will never be filled.  Take care of each other around that station, and don't forget that telling your family "thank you" every now and then can go a long way too.  When they watch 9-11 stuff they put our face in one of the 343 boxes they see on the shows.

Until the next time, stay safe, and stay trained.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Redmond Symposium

A few weeks ago I was honored to be sent to represent our IAFF Local at an international convention in New York City.  It is called the Redmond Symposium and it is one of the best conventions/symposiums I have been a part of.  The IAFF holds this symposium every other year and they present the latest and greatest ideas and practices in health, safety, and wellness.  As you know these are all passions of mine so this was right in my wheelhouse.

I arrived a day before everything got started to see the big city.  I did go to two fire houses spending approximately 2 minutes at each, just enough to show interest but not be that guy who says "Hey I'm ______ and I'm a Firefighter in ______ can I look at your firehouse?"  I got to see Ground Zero, the new Freedom Tower and numerous other sites in the city.  On Sunday morning, I registered and the most interesting week of my life began.  I ran into some folks I knew from DCFD or DCFEMS whatever they are today, and met countless folks at the opening ceremonies.  As the week went on, I continued to network and talk to people who had the same passions as mine when it comes to the IAFF and the Health and Safety of its members.

This symposium gave me countless ideas for posts on this blog, but I'll roll them out as I can remember them.  I attended a great presentation on the IAFF Fireground Safety and Survival Class that is currently in its rollout phase.  Battalion Chief Alkonis from LA made some great points in the presentation and presented some interesting information on why firefighters get in trouble.  However, out of this presentation two quotes stuck with me.  They both came from Laurence Gonzales in his book Deep Survival.  This book discusses the lives of extreme mountain climbers and how some make it and some die in their pursuit of making the summit.  To paraphrase his exact words "There will be things that you cannot control, for those you must have a plan".  The one that touched me more was "There are variables that you can control, therefore you must control them all of the time." 

During his presentation he also made the statement that when a firefighter uses a predetermined set of actions (SOP's/SOG's) to get himself out of trouble he aides in his/her own rescue more than they could by doing anything else.  If we know how our people will react to a MAYDAY we can rescue them more effectively.  As I stated above, the statement that got my attention more was that we need to control controllable variable at all times.  I began to think about this to figure out what this included.  Think about all of the variables we can and can't control at a fire......We can know our airpack, our SOG's, our apparatus, and numerous other items.  We need to understand all of these prior to even operating at a fire.  "Knowing" these doesn't mean learning them in recruit school 5 years ago, this means keeping all of the skills up at all times.  Too often we would rather watch HBO rather than look over our airpacks, too often we would rather run our landscaping business than go over an SOG for our department.

We must realize that we should live by the statement about controling variables every day.  We must control them every time we can.  Our job is dangerous enough by itself, we don't need to increase our danger by not preparing to deal with the dangers many of us look forward to facing each shift.  If we control the things we can control all of the time there is no doubt we will be a safer and more efficient fire service.

Thanks for reading everyone. And there will be more to come on the lessons learned from the Redmond Symposium.  If you would like to view any of the Redmond presentations, they are online at:

Stay Safe and Stay trained....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Working Out

When I was hired by the first Department that I worked for I had 28% body fat, barely ran, and was 23 years old.  I knew when I had my first physical, something had to change.  Once I had completed recruit school, that change had been made, I had begun a regular workout regimen.  I had been challenged to my limts during those weeks and I became physiclaly and mentally tougher, but never did I think that I would do some of the things I have done since then.

As I began working out regularly, I saw the benefits of it as I began to feel better, eat (at times) better, and of course the important part for so many, look better.  I began weight training and running regularly and saw my abilities as a fire fighter increase exponentially.  When I was hired by my present department, I was pushed even closer to my limits, but now it wasn't a struggle, it was fun.  Then I really messed up, I entered a race.  This is where my working out took a turn, I began to have goals for each day, not just going to the gym and aimlessly lifting.  Since that point I have run numerous 5K's, 10K's and I have even completed 5 half marathons and 2 full marathons.  I think I have finally found my limit, I think 26.2 is it for me, but for some reason in the back of my head I want to do an ironman.  Time will only tell. 

Another goal of all of this working out is to survive through retirement.  Too many firefighters sit around the firehouse and continuously say "Man I hope I make it to retirement".  This is a great goal, but lets push our own limits and say instead: "I hope I survive through retirement".  I will have worked 25 years whe I can retire and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let my wife have all of the fun with that retirement money.  We all know that every one of us is at an elevated risk for cancers of all kinds, arthritis, sleeping disordersetc. based on the wear and tear a career in the fire service has on a person.  Do we just think that if we eat, sleep, and watch TV for 25 years that god with grace us with an extra few years?  Yeah sure guys who run and workout all the time die at 45 or 50 but give yourself a chance. 

I spoke with a physiologist at a PPE symposium and he made a statement regarding those who say "Why work out so and so died at 45 and he worked out every day".  He told me that if you are in better cardiovascular shape then your body requires less oxygen to function, so if you have a heart attack than you stand a much better chance of survival with full recovery.  Sometimes no matter how good of shape you are in, it is your time, but why not prepare yourself to survive such an event.  The tremendous stress that our work enviroment places us under places us in so many risk categories, so why not prepare yourself to combat those inherent risks?

I recommend that each of you read the Indianapolis Physiology study done by Indiana University and the IFD.  Some of the findings are terrifying.  The IFD embedded researchers with firefighters for shifts at a time and monitored their bodies before, during, and after calls.  If you haven't read it click on the link below and read at least the highlights of it.

Our goal everyday we go to work should be to survive through retirement not just to it.  Physically prepare yourself by doing something involving physical fitness every shift, to prepare yourself for the inherent challenges of our job.  Walk on the treadmill, walk the block around the station....something to make you a better public servant to the citizens you serve.  Doing this will allow you to travel with you family and enjoy one of the best benefits of our job....Retirement.  Until the next time, stay safe and stay trained.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Asheville LODD

As all of you should be aware on Thursday, we all lost a brother firefighter and a family lost a husband, Father and friend.  Captain Jeffrey Bowen of Rescue 3 in Asheville was killed tragically at a working fire at an office building in the hospital district of town.  I also just confirmed that he was an alumni of the Fayetteville State Fire Science program where I am a professor.  I had him as a student in at least one class so this one hits too close for comfort.  Everytime there is an LODD, I always pause to think about the tragedy, and I immediately become curious as to what happened.  I always want to learn from it, especially as a company officer so that I don't ever have to experience an LODD first hand.

It is always easy to Monday morning quarterback fires especially from 2 hours away or across the country even, but that's not what this post is about.  The radio traffic from the fire has circulated the internet and I am even using it for training at my station today.  This audio allows us to identify OUR own shortcomings when it comes to OUR department not the one involved in the tragedy.  Do you know how to call a Mayday? What are your department's parameters for a Mayday?  How do you carry out a search of a large office building that is unsprinklered? How proficient are you with standpipe operations and the deployment of hose in a high rise or mid rise enviroment?

If more of us focused on how we could be placed in the same situtation in our own department, rather than cast blame on the affected department after hearing fireground audio and seeing a 2 minute video we would all be safer.  I challenge you to examine this tragedy by looking at how you would approach the same situation in your own department not cast blame on anyone.  This is how we can honor Captain Bowen and the others injured at the fire.  He would want us to learn from the tragedy and to prevent it from happening anywhere else, because in our line of work we all too often have the "It can't happen here" attitude.  However, we all know that when all the cards are dealt, it can happen anywhere to anyone, we just have to limit our opportunity for it to happen to us.  Please honor Captain Bowen by going over your Mayday procedures, High/Mid rise tactics, and Search procedures to ensure we all gain knowledge out of this tragedy.

Until the next post:
Stay Safe and Stay Trained

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The First Post

Well, I guess like every other member of my generation I am slowly falling victim to the internet trap called a blog.......I started this blog to add another resource to the many that are already out there for the fire service.  My focus will start on health, wellness, and safety all passions of mine when it comes to our job.  I feel like these topics cause more problems and arguments with many in our profession than they truly should.  We all want to be aggressive firefighters, but we can't do it the way they used to in the old days.  Many fail to realize this and attempt to teach the young firefighters how they need to do it.....

Now don't jump on me about not liking fire service tradition, because I am a true believer in that, but let's keep the traditions that are positive around.  Let's leave behind the carcinogen covered gear and helmets that scream "Look at me I stand up when its way too hot" and "I think I'm a bad ass because my gear hasn't been washed since I got it".  Let's leave behind the "We don't need physicals" and the "Who needs to work out?" and bring with us the selfless nature of the true firefighter.  The bravery and the respect for the profession, the public, and the firefighters that got us where we are today.  we should continue the "ball busting", the "probie period", and the continuous rounds of practical jokes.  We can't ever forget that our job is fun, that's why we do it.  If we can just begin to change our culture when it comes to safety we will move forward everyday.

You say safety and most firefighters immediately use some derogatory words soon after.  Yeah, safety can interfere with what we want to do, but doesn't that word get us home to the people that matter to us?  Safety doesn't mean standing outside of fires, or wearing a complete body reflective suit, it means making calculated risks and operating properly and consciously on emergency scenes.  Many take safety too far and handcuff guys and girls on scenes to the point where they can't act as firefighters should.  The right blend of aggressiveness and safety saves victims of emergencies and gets us all home the next day.

Well, that's my first stab at it, hopefully it won't be my last..........Stay safe and stay trained.