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.