Category Archives: Uncategorized

What happens if the senior firefighter gives up?

There is a great deal of emphasis on the senior firefighter as it relates to mentoring and leadership in the firehouse and on the scene. I could not agree with this more. In some occasions I came in from the outside as a chief and I often looked to the senior member and officers for some guidance of what is and what was normal.

However, in talking with departments lately, I am hearing of a disturbing trend. The senior firefighter who has checked out or given up. My favorite term for this is ROAD….Retired on Active Duty!

This “giving up” ┬ácan be for a variety of reasons, all of which may be important, but what is the real challenge is to be able to re-motivate them into becoming productive again. They need to again realize how important they are to the organization and how they need to realize what example they are setting for others.

Leaders cannot lead alone, they need their officers and their senior people.

The first thing is to recognize and realize that this is happening. The second thing is to try and determine the reason, try to fix it if you can.

I think that in many cases, the senior firefighters are the backbone of your agency, but in some cases when they disengage, they can be a problem that even they don’t realize.

Work hard, make sure they know you need them and more importantly make sure they know the organization need them.

Practice What You Don’t Do Often

This has been said a bunch of times in many different ways, but it needs to be said again.

What I am referencing applies to fire suppression and EMS but I am going to confine my discussion to firefighting.

Someone on social media put out a video the other day about a deck gun being used on a 4th or 5th floor of a high rise window blowing fire. In the old days the text books said that master streams are generally good from floor 3 or 4. Obviously there are a ton of variable here as with most fire situations, but it shows a tactic which was effective, which I can tell you has not been used often.

Where you place the gun, how close can you get, is it on the ground or off the top of the truck? These are all some variables not to mention the tip size, pump pressure and a bunch of other stuff including angles and other stuff.

My point of this blog is how often is that practiced? How do you create a scenario that you do practice that? I know of a fire academy that used to practice that skill but stopped, because “…you should never be shooting a master stream through the window any way…”

Our job is changing by the day literally. Discoveries and practices are continuously evolving. The question is are you?

Every day many departments stretch handlines, 2 1/2″ lines and fight fire. Using a deck gun on a multi story doesn’t happen every day, and moving you deck gun 200 feet away into a back alley position needs your attention.

Practice what you don’t do often.

Go to school!!

I know it is only August, but in many parts of the country, children are either already back or going back to school.

My thought for you this week is check with your department’s fire prevention office or PIO and see if you can get into the elementary schools on September 11th. Do it now, scheduling class time is difficult.

I think it is a time where local fire departments can go into the schools, speak with children who may not have even been born at the time of the event. My point is two fold; One is to tell the story from a perspective of a firefighter. The second is to highlight and tell specific powerful stories of folks like Chief Jay Jonas, of Paddy Brown, or Fire Marshal Orio Palmer, or hundreds of other acts that were performed that day and the days and weeks that followed.

Do not tell the stories as if you did anything (unless of course you did) but tell the stories to show what firefighters do. I think you might be able to ask teachers to have some parents there also if they are able. If you can’t get an appointment easily, offer to go into your own child’s school or class.

If you can’t get into the schools, contact senior citizen groups, veteran’s groups and others.

We as a fire service speak an awful lot about never forgetting.

This tragic and historical event should be remembered. It affected each and everyone of us as firefighters and as proud Americans.

We should also take this time to say that the number lost is much higher than the 343. With all of the respiratory and cancer deaths the toll goes far beyond this day. It is also the same for us. Our health risks last long after any individual incident may last.

I think we should take this opportunity to make our youngsters and our civilians understand that these brave members that died are not heroes for what they did, they were in fact heroes for what they were willing to do.

Make a plan and an appointment to visit your schools today.

Do it to take action to honor these brave souls, and to “Never Forget“.

Do this public safety talk with humility, honor and respect. Do it on your own time. Do it for free.

LODD Medical – Captain Jack White NAFD (Ret.)

Retired Fire Captain Jack White has passed away from a hard fought valiant battle with occupational Cancer.

I had the honor and privilege of working with Jack, and I was proud to call him my friend

The best thing any firefighter wants to ever hear is ” You are a good Jake”. Jack certainly was a good Jake.

Rest in Peace, Jack we got it from here

Is it the results, the message, or how you performed?

This week we are talking about some things that require additional thought. Sometimes we do not look at things from the lowest levels and we just get somewhat self absorbed and always believe we are right without any critical thinking.

Is it The results?

Many times on the fire scene or any emergency incident we become very results oriented. If you make a save and make a great knockdown we will all claim it is our superior skill and effort and generally walk away. Even some after action reports now are afraid to actually say that anything went wrong, even if it did. Also if someone looks at the operation with a critical eye, people will deflect any form of improvement, because after all it all came out right anyway, right? What happens when the outcome is not good. Somebody hurt, or killed and things went bad. Do we learn from this or is it the unspeakable.

On the fireground or more importantly in the firehouse the message that is being sent consciously or unconsciously could be the most important thing. What is the message that you are speaking versus what is the message that you are demonstrating? How is it being perceived and interpreted.

This is sort of the root of this post, and in this case it also refers to your message you are sending to social media.

Here is what I see in many cases. Here I am and here is what I am all about and if you do not agree you are wrong and I will insult you. The second thing I am witnessing is people underestimating their social media reach and impact. We have people who are demonstrating some behaviors that might lead a young impressionable in experienced firefighter to emulate your bravado and get themselves in trouble.

I absolutely love the reach of social media and I have met lots of folks and friends that I speak with on a daily basis.

Here is something to think about for just a moment.

A young firefighter dies or gets seriously hurt, and you were the social media mentor without even knowing. Is it just because this is a dangerous business and stuff happens? Is it not my fault, I wasn’t there and I didn’t do it? He or she should have known better.

So my thoughts on this blog are to take our actions or performances and just be a little more aware of what we are responsible for. What impression are we leaving, and what actions have we taken, and if something goes bad, will we be happy and comfortable with the results, our message, and our performance.

Anchor App Explained

Earlier today I put out a tweet using the Anchor App and I also sent out the link to the App Store. The title from the App Store is misleading. It indicates that it is a Podcasting App. Not everybody is in to podcasting.

Let me tell you why I am excited about it. In real life it is short audio (2 minutes or less) tied directly to Twitter. If you use the APP you can actually respond with a quick audio reply.

This has amazing opportunities to get quick feedback and take a quick poll or get feedback.

I m going to experiment with it.

Even if you do not have the app you can still hear the audio.

Give it a try I think the possibilities for some down and dirty quick fire service discussions might be worth while.

Informational Triage

As firefighters, we all know what triage is. Simply put, it is the sorting out of patients so the outcome is the greatest good for the many.

I am a huge fan of what the internet and social media has done for the fire service. Speaking for myself it has allowed me to create this Blog, create the podcast, and the Firefighting Today Weekly Roundtables, and Training on Demand among other things.

My point is that the downside of social media is how quickly and how fast things are flying at us. My informational triage sort of looks like these four categories: Facts, Opinions, Both of these, neither of these. Lets take a look. This triage can be used for social media discussions, sitting around the firehouse table, or even at organizational meetings.

Facts

Facts are just that. They are statements that are true with out much dispute. There will always be people who disagree with facts but facts will usually stand on themselves. The sky is above us and the ground is below us. Facts. Now someone will say, what if I am hanging upside down or something. One of the good and bad things of the fire service is the phrase “What if?” It is really good on the fireground and during size-up and preplanning but in discussions it is most likely used to “argue” a point. If I present enough “What ifs” I can persuade you and prove my point.

Opinions

The old phrase is that everyone has one. We are very possessive and righteous about our own opinions and it clouds us from actually seeing the facts in some cases. Yours and my opinions, while they may be string beliefs don’t necessarily have to be factual. Most of the social media discussions and current events are based upon differences of opinions. This sometimes has value if it remains constructive but can be very destructive and devise it if remains unchecked.

Both of These

There are times where facts and opinions can coincide but it many cases they are not crystal clear. Many good debates use a blur and a mixture of facts and opinions to prove their point. We need to “diagnose” a little further when we triage these.

Neither of these

Generally this situation occurs with someone very uninformed or they are they result of a deliberate action because the person doesn’t know or care about the facts and just makes statements that can’t be verified or backed up. This can be deliberate misinformation to cause some desired result or just a lack of caring. I have seen both.

In a triage system, facts should be seen as GREEN. Easy to handle, require very little of our time and effort and will probably turn out OK.

Opinions can be seen as YELLOW. They should be measured and monitored and the outcome still is not certain.

Both of These are RED. They require a lot of effort and they should be diagnosed quickly because they have multiple issues and the outcome could be terrible.

Neither of These is a BLACK tag and maybe the best thing we can do is walk away and not expend any resources if our intention is to do the most good for the many.

Think about the information triage system before you engage next time.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering……This is only my opinion. ( Insert YELLOW tag here.