Sandy Hook Elementary Scool – Interview with Fire Chief William Halstead

This week we have an interview with Fire Chief William Halstead of the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department in Newtown Connecticut. Chief Halstead was involved on December 14, 2012, when 20 children and 6 adults were murdered in a horrific crime at the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

The fire department had a supporting role in this primarily police operation.

This episode is in memory of those lives lost and the families directly affected. We are only discussing the fire department operation because that is the nature of the Firefighter Training Podcast.

Our thoughts are with the families who suffered loss of life to family, friends and loved ones, and also we respect and honor the police officers in Newtown as well as the Connecticut State police and many of the other agencies that responded.

At the end of the episode there is a website given by the chief where any listener who would like to assist in some small way might be able to do so.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE HERE.Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Weekly Firefighter Roundtable – Sunday, January 12,2014 8:00 PM EST

SUNDAY EVENING JANUARY 12, 2014 8:00 PM EST

Join us on the Firefighting Weekly Roundtable by viewing on YouTube. We will be discussing the first alarm decisions, how to make the first alarm, safer and more efficient even while sometimes trying to do more with less.

We also how science might be affecting our decision making, if at all.

View us on the events page of google + HERE.

https://plus.google.com/events/c1sq6s2k62ier4l2mn526j2fu54

Watch on YOUTUBE HERE.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Response to the laundromat

This week you have received a call of “the laundromat is on fire”, this building has immediate adjacent exposures. Base your decision on what you see and your experience.


1.) In your experience have you ever mistaken steam for smoke early in your career? If you have not had this experience learn how to recognize the difference.

2.) Indicate the mostly like cause of a fire scenario in these establishments? Two come immediately to mind.(yes there are many)

3.) What is the content fire load in this building?

4.) In addition to a hose line what equipment should be carried in for the initial investigation?

5.) What initial actions should be taken in relation to utilities, and what are you looking for as you examine the exposures?

Stay safe, and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

SOP Testing

Whether you are in a small department, or a large one the following two scenarios can be a helpful training suggestion. It also works if you are just able to affect the company or station house you are with.

I have approached this two different ways and either one has merit if you use the results in a positive and not a critical manner.

At your next drill, create a 25 question exam based upon your department’s SOPs. Give the exam without any warning, and be prepared to correct it somehow that same time. Give the troops a break and correct the test.

When everyone has come back, review the results as best you can. You will find that different members will have different results. They may be all over the place, they may be different by station or group or shift, and many will not even resemble what the SOP actually says.

The second way to do this is to pick and SOP that covers a particular topic such as first alarm response or something of the sort. Forward lay, reverse lay or some measurable practical topic. Gather the companies and just give the most basic simple command such as a simulated non emergency response to a target hazard and allow the drill to continue to whatever level you choose. When all companies return and come back in service, gather them up, and measure the performance at the drill directly to what the SOP says should have happened.

Again you will find that the results sometimes do not even resemble what they are supposed to do.

You can bet that what was expressed in writing or what was done at the drill is probably what will be done at the actual emergency scene.

As the training person you need to decide if the SOP needs to be modified (and sometimes they do) or if there needs to be reinforced training on the SOPs. If the incident commander actually believes that a certain set of procedures is going to be followed and in fact they are not serious safety issues will arise.

There is an old military adage that says, Train like you fight, and fight like you train.

Make sure that is what is going on in your department today, you might be surprised.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Weekly firefighting Roundtable – The new year….

Feel free to join us for our Sunday Evening weekly Roundtable Chat at 8:00 PM Eastern time.

We will be talking about what we will do this year, our fire service resolutions, what we expect to see in the service this year in terms of technology and procedures and tactics, and if there is anything we need to leave behind in 2013!

Watch live on YouTube and interact with the panel.

https://plus.google.com/events/c88mue479ofhp4heiriq3fco67k

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Fireworks Store

This week we have a roof fire or something more in a very specialized occupancy. I am not sure if fireworks are legal or not in your area but if they are or if they are in a mutual aid area you should be prepared.

Just one question this week instead of five:

What’s your plan?

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Some Fire Service Simple Solutions

How confused we sometimes get in the fire service when we try to overcomplicate things and we put a fire service spin on them because “WE” have to operate differently. This week I have some oversimplified thoughts for your consideration. Some of these are tactically related and some are in fact leadership and people related.

Use the ones you want, disregard the rest and feel free to send some of the ones you have thought of yourself.

I have been reading a lot about leadership and how to treat people. Good officers and bad officers. Hey I got an idea, treat others the way you might want to be treated. Ha! Stole that one from the bible I did. If people just treated others in a fair manner we would not have to have all of these complex management ideas and techniques. Just a thought.

Hold yourself and others accountable for your or their actions. If we started to do this more there would be a lot less problems in the fire service. The problem is that, holding someone else accountable can be an uncomfortable feeling for the moment, so we let it go. We need to do more. Simple.

Understand the new realities and science in the study of ventilation. Know when to vent, when to control the air flow, and always have a charged line available at the seat of the fire when you vent.

Preplan buildings and circumstances in your jurisdiction before the fire. They are a lot easier to view without all of that nasty smoke and heat. Good solid preplanning is a simple safety solution that is underutilized in the fire service.

Remember the fire doesn’t know how much manpower you have. Call the resources you need, from wherever you need them. No excuses. Operating with not enough people is our own fault not anybody else’s. Sure we all need more staffing but if your city, town or district wont give you the personnel, call for them at the fire when you need them.

Write disaster plans that are goal or resource oriented rather than incident specific. Forget that you are planning for a plane crash or a tornado, plan for the outcome. Mass casualties, big fires, wide spread destruction or what have you. Who cares what the cause was, plan for the outcome. You will have a better plan.

Train more than you feel like it.

Realize that your department wants to be full service to all of your people. realize that all of the special teams like haz mat and confined space are specialties and are exciting to do, but your department cannot be all things to all people. Do what you can with what you have, whenever you can do it. Sometimes all of these specialty functions take away from our core mission of fire and EMS.

Check on your people often and supervise them as you should. We often say in the firehouse that ” your mother doesn’t work here”. Maybe she should. She knew where we were, how to check up on us and made us tow the mark. Huh, what a concept for the fire service eh?

Riding lists are not accountability, really. I don’t know how this one got in here as a simple solution but I am leaving it in. A perfect simple accountability system costs about $ 100,000.00. The system costs less than $ 1000.00 and you should mandate and fire the first person who doesn’t participate in it. You will need the other $99,000.00 for legal fees but it will almost guarantee full participation in whatever system you choose.

Throw a lot more ladders than you normally would, it helps us get out of the building when we need to.

There are a million of these techniques and tips out there, but I truly believe the fire service is a very trendy organization steeped in culture and tradition. Just because there is some new procedure and technique out there, it does not mean we as the fire service should jump on it.

Let us be more concerned about simple solutions to complex problems instead of the expensive flashy ones with all of the glitz and glitter. We sometimes get too wrapped up in the “sex sells” and all that glitters that it blinds us from the obvious. When you have a problem in your department either operational in nature or personnel related, look for the root problem and the simplest solution possible.

It is a lot easier, and I have never known a firefighter that would not take the easiest solution to any problem.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013