Measuring Effectiveness

This week I am challenging us to think about what we use as our own measures of success or what really makes us effective either personally or professionally in our career of this fire service.

There are all sorts of things that can serve as our personal yardstick and I am just going to randomly throw out some things so that you can discuss these personally in your own setting, whatever size department or at whatever rank you are.

Do you meet any of the NFPA national standards or doesn’t that matter to you? The certification standards for firefighters are a nationally recognized minimum. To some people these certifications are the measure of effectiveness they use in their career.

Are you well respected by your members below you and your supervisors above you? Being efficient and well respected regardless of any certification might be the measure for some other folks.

Do you have or are you pursuing a higher degree and college education. To some that is the ultimate and the measure of their personal effectiveness?

Does your department as a whole do the right thing and not embarrass the community. Does your department enjoy good positive community support regardless of how busy you are?

Does your department have the best and newest and latest and greatest equipment, and that is your measure of effectiveness?

Do you operate safely and efficiently without a lot of injuries?

Does your department operate cost effectively with low sick time and high enthusiasm?

Are you an average department that does good safe firefighting and aggressive EMS work, and the “customers” actually appreciate the routine everyday things that occur within your community.

Whatever you do yourself within your own department remember that it is really not about what you think is effective it really doesn’t matter at all what you think, it really matters what your community thinks and how other perceive you, that really determines how effective you are or are allowed to be.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Refrigeration Leak

Not really a fire problem this week, sort of a Haz mat or medical emergency.
You receive a medical call for your local supermarket for someone feeling weak and dizzy. While EMS is enroute you begin receiving additional calls.

1.) What are your initial actions?

2.) What are the additional resources you would call for?

3.) Do you know what refrigerant is used in these coolers, and what does the system schematic look like?

4.) Is the product toxic? Does it just displace oxygen? Is there any odor to the product? Is it a huge refrigeration system that uses ammonia?These are all things that you might be able to determine through pre planning ahead of time. We often pre plan the building but we should take a look at all systems that introduce products inside of a building through pipes, vents, conduits.

5.) On a crowded Saturday morning, how many people are actually exposed or contaminated, versus the folks that might have “sympathy” sickness from watching this incident. Triage will be a major consideration. Because this is a grocery store, are there any other considerations or agencies to be called after the incident is stabilized?

Stay Safe, and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Firefighter Roundtable Discussion Using Google HANGOUTS

The weekly firefighter Roundtable discussion will be held Sunday June 16, 2013 at 8:00 PM eastern time.

If you have a free gmail account or a google+ account or both you are welcome to join in. A mic and webcam obviously make this very interactive.

Topic is open right now, review of everyone’s organization and ops, one screen sharing fire problem at least and whatever else we get into!

Send an email to if you are interested and I will send a link at 8;01 PM on Sunday evening, click the link to join in.

Hope you can make it. Currently limited to the first nine folks for now, once we are done beta testing the concept we have more in store!

Stay tuned!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Weekly Firefighting Roundtable Chat

Sunday June 9, 2013 at 8:00 PM Eastern time we will be holding the weekly firefighting Roundtable chat using Google HANGOUTS video calling. If you have a gmail address, webcam and microphone you can join in.
Send an email to and I will send you a link at 800pm Sunday that you can click and join in. Last week we had Massachusetts, Florida, and Pennsylvania represented.
No real agenda this week, a fire problem, everyone’s respective department, and just a general sharing of ideas.
I hope you can join in!
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Educational “Freelancing”

I had an opportunity this week to have a conversation with some of my peers. During this conversation I had a thought that came up and I choose to share that with you this week.

We all know we claim that freelancing is not allowed in our fire scenes and we are well aware of the problem. Frankly that is all BS and we continue to do it each and every day and it has become acceptable. We all have a hundred reasons why it is allowed…but that is not the point of my commentary this week.

Is there a small group of firefighters or members of your organization that are always training, always reading trade journals, always trying to learn more. I submit to you there are one or two members and they may well be in a minority.

These members are on the correct path and they should continue on this path at all costs, but there should be one word of caution to be passed along.

Their training and methods of operation can be so contrary to the actual or perceived operations of the department, that they could become hurt or injured easily.

Think about the following…a new recruit is taught to wear all their gear, use PASS device, and understands nozzle operation and fire behavior…as they begin to attack an interior fire they are being supported folks wearing half their gear, not versed in hydraulics and water delivery, and who may or may not understand what they are looking at. What danger is our newly trained firefighter in? Will the line be pumped properly, can his backup team get in to assist?

This was the first time that I actually thought about a well trained firefighter getting into trouble in this manner.

Think about your department and your culture and think about circumstances where the “training gap” of knowledge between the new and the old could create a safety hazard.

The answer to this is obvious (everyone should be at the same level) but in a realistic view of the world in practice it will be more difficult.

Do everything you can within your power to raise the level of training to that of your most “aggressive student”. This is much easier said than done. The second task is to make sure that your “aggressive students” are always aware of the level of training of those that are supporting them.

I have looked at this as a peer to peer educational free-lancing situation, but it does not take any imagination or thought to determine how dangerous this becomes when it is a firefighter and an officer. The knowledge deficit of an officer, or chief managing an aggressively trained firefighter can become catastrophic.

Be aware of your personal level of training and be sure to operate within the boundaries of departmental SOPS or accepted practices…if you do not you could be an educational or training free-lancer yourself.

Take a look around your department and try to close this knowledge safety and training gap.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Rubbish Truck On A Crowded Street

This week something a little different, but still a challenge.

1.) This is a bad location. Are there any alternative solutions?

2.) In addition to the hazard of the mixed, unknown, compacted load, what are the truck related hazards?

3.) What is the appropriate extinguishing operation for this incident?

4.) How long will this incident last?

5.) List some firefighter hazards.

Send your responses via email to if you would like feedback and discussion, or just speak your responses into the send voicemail tab on the side and you will also get feedback if you wish.

Stay safe, and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013