Category Archives: Uncategorized

Memorial Day 2017

May 29, 2017 will be Memorial Day in the US. While many of us will have the “beginning of the summer season” cookout and barbeques, we should really take a moment of rememberance.

Somewhere between the burgers, steaks and chips, take a moment and have a discussion among yourselves about how lucky we are to have brave young men and women that have laid down their lives so that we may enjoy the things that we have.

Think about those intangible things, not just the material things. I often, think about how angry I get when I see someone disrespecting our flag. It is their right to do so, but I don’t have to like it. I have seen people step on it, spit on it, use it as a rag, and completely disrespect it.

I guess those same people do not realize that our soldiers died carrying that flag, or worked on a base under that flag, or have it sewed onto their uniforms……in fact when they lose their lives they return home in coffins that are covered in that very same flag.

On this Memorial Day and every day they rest in peace in graves that are covered by a flag.

As I say every week in the podcast when talking about our firefighters that have died, please make sure that this Memorial Day none of us “Never Forget”.

Give thanks. Go to a parade or a ceremony. Visit a local cemetery. Never forget is a meaningless phrase without action.

Today I am thinking of my dad who was a World War II veteran in the pacific. He died of natural causes many, many years ago, but his 100th birthday would have been this upcoming week.

Arrogance

You know there is a lot of talk about aggressiveness in today’s fire service. This is a coveted and complimentary term apparently. While I am not a big fan of the term it relates to wanting to do everything we can to make a rescue or do our job to the best of our ability. That I get and I am all in, I just wish there was a better term.

The term I will not tolerate is arrogance. There are some members of the fire service today that have arrogance as a trait. The arrogance may be caused by many of a variety of circumstances that might include the department and size that you are a member of, your level of training and education, or just a positive personal attitude that is being portrayed rightly or wrongly and being cocky.

I write this article because I am currently watching someone on social media that is destroying their personal and professional reputation by exhibiting this behavior. I have never engaged or had any contact with this member but his interaction with other members of professional departments and different ranks without any compunction.

It is interesting that the person displaying this behavior has no idea how they might be being perceived. More importantly I am not sure they care or even if they notice.

My thought for all of us today is that we tale a moment of self reflection and make sure we do not display arrogance.

Arrogance is not compatible with the fire service in general. It does not compliment the team concept. It does not generally support departmental mission and ideals. It does not endear us to the public we serve.

Think about it for a minute, if you want to be known as aggressive, so be it….but do not let yourself be known as the one who is arrogant.

Just sayin’

The Station Nightclub Fire Memorial

It is Sunday May 21, 2017. Today, less than a mile from my house, in West Warwick RI they will be dedicating a memorial park to the victims of the Station Nightclub Fire. 100 people died during that fire making it the 4th largest loss of life in a nightclub fire in the US.

Several hundred people were severely hurt and burned, their lives changed forver.

Today’s dedication is about the families of those that lost their lives, their families, the survivors, many of whom are horribly scarred and have endured multiple surgeries. I speak every weekon the podcast of never forgetting. This is a time that we should let the families try to gain some sort of closure. I hate that word;closure. Their lieve will never be the same despite, monuments memorials or anything that will remember but never replace their loved ones.

Because of lots of reasons, some legal, some personal, and many other complicated social situations the firefighters and EMS personnel that responded never got to share their story. There was much anger  directed at the local fire marshal about code enforcement issues, so in some people’s mind the fire department was a silent enemy. My purpose for this blog post is not to venture down that path.

There were a couple of minor firefighter injuries that night. Nothing serious.

However, many firefighters “mentally died” that night. Growing up in this area and being a former callman for the West warwick fire department I know many of the firefighters involved. My first department (The Harris Fire Department in Coventry) was sort of the farm team for the larger career West Warwick Fire department. I know many of the firefighters personally that responded to this tragic event. Several members have been forced to leave the job, never to return to the profession they loved and have chosen. Many of them have had serious emotional consequenses that linger to this day some 14 years later. None of these things equal the loss of a loved one, but I write about it here because it is a risk that we take when we take the oath of office. No firefighteron duty that day expected to respond to a life changing event that evening.

From a firefighting standpoint many heroic events took place that night with the on duty crews, much mutual aid that responded statewide and from outside the state gave it their all. The rapid speed of the fire, the overcrowding, the furnishings and the use of pyrotechnics did not allow for a level playing field.

  • On that night there were some 300-400 + people in that establishment. The closest fire station was within a few hundred yards away. 2 firefighters responded on the first pumper and were faced with an inferno with several hundred people trapped.
  • A  review of the studies from NIST and review of on scenbe news footage from cameras that were filming that night indicate that the carnage took about 56-58 seconds before flames were coming out the front door.
  • Probably no other firefighters other than our brothers in Boston faced something like this since the 1940s and the Coconut grove fire.
There were many other issues that ocured that night which are too numerous to mention and should be mentioned by someone who was there. I was not and I had no involvement other than talking with my friends after the fact.

As firefighters we tend to focus on ourselves sometimes and think about tactics, strategy, command and all of the technicalities. As many firefighters there suffered from CIS and PTSD we must also remember that the families and survivors have had as much counseling as any of the members involved.The difference is that we have to continue to respond to those incidents again tomorrow.
 
Today on the dedication of this memorial let us remember those that we have responded to, and those who we will respond to tomorrow. It is who we are there for and who we have sworn to protect. It Is what we do.
 
We are in a business that requires are all out effort every time the bell hits or the town drops.
 
As we remember lets us think about the following:
 
  • Fire prevention and public education matters. Help educate the citizens so they can help us save them.
  • Sprinklers save lives. Sprinklers in places of assemblies are imperative.
  • Be trained, be ready for duty mentally and physically.
  • Never forget our brothers and sisters on duty, and never, ever forget those that we serve. It’s about them.
 


Fire Photographers

Fire photographers, sparks and / or Buffs or whatever you call them they are a necessary part of our business. Listen, firefighting is a spectator sport in some ways.

God knows that we have some of our own members that are spectators only but I digress.

Please be friendly with these firefighters who come and take pictures and really love what they do and they really do help us in so many ways they help tell the public our story. They get to see some of what the public never sees, and some of the most stark and greatest images we have come from these fire photographers sparks and buffs. As an incident commander I like to believe that I’ve always been friendly and Buffs or Spark friendly photographer friendly on the fire ground.

 I think that they serve an important role. Now obviously there are good and bad in every organization or every group of people and some of these people get a little aggressive or get a little overzealous and may go places they don’t need to go, but I find they are the minority.

I have truly been blessed here in the Northeast because many of the fire photographers have either been firefighters or have tons of experience. I think about some of the greatest of them have even been photojournalists as professionals.

 I think that we have some of the best and finest photographers in the Northeast that he will not get themselves in trouble and will not violate the trust of gaining access to the fire ground and being given access to places that others may not be able to go. 

I would encourage you to meet with your firebuffs and Sparks and fire photographers. I want to encourage you to pay for the pictures that you received from the paper that they’ve spent their time their equipment their gas and all of those things to help make you in your profession look better.  Try to develop a relationship with your firebuffs and sparks and photographers and they will help your organization reach the people that it needs to reach to be able to maintain your funding and your support as you go forward


Pete Lamb

The speed of social media

The speed of social media social media is a phenomenal thing. I think about in my lifetime when we didn’t have social media my goodness I was at the very start of message boards and all that stuff before the Internet was fully blossomed. Social media moves very quickly. just as it with fire photography Sparks involved in social media can be a friend as you can get information to the masses as soon as we need to get it there,  but it could also put out partial information very quickly I think that we underestimate the risk of partial information very quickly. I know that I’ve been a victim of that myself I know that in some cases I have watched a fire video from the scene I’ve watched fire photos from this the scene and I’ve made a judgments. I often talk in my podcast about being a witness rather than the judge using a court room analogy. I think that it’s critical that in the speed of social media we do not be swept up in this frenzy to get the first information on the first comment or the first challenge to what we saw “going wrong” in the video that was just published from the scene. Quite frankly I love periscope I love some of the active fire videos it allows me to see things as they’re happening. I can’t tell you how much that these videos have taught me in shaping tomorrow. The videos I saw made me a little better as I see things whether I am correct in my assumptions or not. I have used these experiences in the speed of social media to help me. I think that getting information early is important and I think that in some cases it allows us to get more educated as more information becomes relative to us we learn more. I think my point is use patience in social media don’t be trapped into making a comment as fast as you receive the information. Use patience, take it and absorb it and wait for the follow-up information so that your assessments may be a little more accurate than what they might be the moment you received instant information.

International Firefighters Day & St Florian

May 4 is now known as International Firefighters Day. It is also the feast day of Saint Florian. I have always known about the feast day but I am not sure when International Firefighters Day started, but it really doesn’t matter.

I think it would be a great time for one day to all come together as firefighters with all of our training differences, all of our urban, suburban, or rural depaftments and focus on our common areas.

We are all members of the greatest professions in the world. I say profession even if you are not paid. This is one of a handful of careers that is really as much of a vocation as it is a job.

I am proud that I have served in lots of capacities for 40 years. I cannot thank the many hundreds if not thousands of firefighters I have met, and those meetings helped shaped me or my career in some way.

My podcast has served to shrink the world in many ways, as I now have listeners in Sweden, many places in Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia etc. My spoken word is able to have something in common with fellow firefighters all over the world.I am thankful for each and everyone of those listeners.

On this day, I am going to be thankful I have had the chance to serve others and be part of the brotherhood and sisterhood. I am thankful that I have had the ability to train and help mentor some young firefighters who want to get into the service.

Just sit back a little today and marvel at how lucky you are for the gift of the fire service in your life.

You are something special, you are a firefighter!

I also have included a piece about Saint Florian for those that are interested. This piece was written for my blog by Retired Fire Chief Jim Blanchard of Saugus Massachusetts. (Jim wrote a number of pieces for me and they can be found at the petelamb.com page with. A tab across the top that says history.)

Here is the piece:

Saint Florian Patron Saint of Firefighters

All firefighters are aware that Saint Florian is the patron Saint of firefighters. Many have purchased and are very proud to wear the Saint Florian medallion around their neck. These medallions are usually gold and many are shaped in the form of a Maltese cross with the image of Florian stamped in the center of it. If you ask who Florian was or why he is our Patron Saint, most firefighters don’t know. They assume it is because he made some heroic fire rescue or maybe he was a priest who was involved in the fire service. These answers are the typical response but neither is accurate.

Florian was a Captain in the Roman army. He was a brave soldier and a tenacious fighter. Rome recognized the danger of fire and was the first to employ a fire department. This first fire department was made up of slaves. They had no real desire to risk their lives battling the flames of their captors. Rome desperately needed fire protection. They called on Captain Florian to organize and train an elite group of soldiers whose sole duty was to fight fires. Captain Florian indeed organized such a group. They were highly trained and very successful at protecting Rome from fires. A brigade of firefighters followed the army and provided fire protection at their encampments. These firefighters were highly respected and easily recognized. They wore the traditional Roman soldier uniform except the skirt was green. The most famous picture of Saint Florian depicts him with a young boy pouring water from a pitcher onto a fire. This picture if seen in color reveals this green skirt.
Rome was very impressed by this young Captain and all that he had accomplished. They decided to reward him by making him a general. Generals were often given large tracks of conquered land to govern. The only rules were that they had to enforce the laws of Rome and collect the taxes. Florian’s area included almost all of Poland.
Rome began to hear some rumors about the way Florian was governing his land. It was reported that he was not enforcing Rome’s law forbidding Christianity. Rome did not believe this, but they did sent investigators to check. They reported back that it was true. Rome sent a group of soldiers to confront Florian. They warned and threatened him that he must enforce the laws of Rome and abolish Christianity. Florian not only refused he confessed that he had embraced the faith and become a Christian himself. Rome was furious. They tortured him and demanded he renounce his faith. Florian steadfastly refused. Rome ordered his execution.
Florian was to be burned at the stake. Soldiers marched him out and secured him to the post. Villagers gathered around to witness the execution. Florian begged his executioners to build the fire higher. He implored them to light the fire so his soul would rise up to heaven on the smoke from the blaze. The soldiers had never seen this kind of reaction from a person about to be burned alive. They were frightened. What if his soul did rise up, right in from of all the villagers? They could not afford a martyr. The fire was not lit. Florian was taken away by the soldiers who decided to drown him. He was placed in a boat and rowed out into the river. A millstone was tied around his neck and he was pushed over board and drowned.
After his death, people who were trapped by fire reported that they invoked Florians name and his spirit delivered them from the flames. These occurrences were reported and documented many times. Florian was confirmed a saint for his commitment to his faith and the documentation of his spirit delivering trapped persons from the flames.
It is only fitting, that firefighters, committed to their duty, and instilled with the spirit to dedicate themselves to the protection of life and property, should choose such a man as their patron saint.

Why Are You Here?

In a previous time when we were using a windows computer there was a feature called a restore point. If some error was discovered you could go back in the computer to a previous point in time.

Hmmm, just imagine if we had such a device in real life at the firehouse kitchen table. When someone was disgruntled or out of sorts and complaining about any variety of topics, we could suddenly revert them to the time they were wanting to get on the job.

As you read this think about the pleasant stress of driving to pick up the application packet, the sharing of stories of each step of the step by step process, the butterflies in your stomach when you got called for the interview, and the sheer excitement and joy of gettghing “the phone call” that you were appointed.

Think about that first day in the firehouse apparatus bay. the smell of the turnout gear, the smell of the tires, maybe motor oil or diesel, the ever present puddle of where that appears on every fire apparatus floor.

I hope this brief paragraph was able to trigger your minds eye and senses to relieve these moments. While they were different for all of us there are some similarities I am sure.

While thinking of these moments, it is kind of hard to complain about the city government, the chief, the captain or whatever.

Think about the first time a citizen said thank you to you, or seent food to the station or sent a thank you card.

You see, my point here is that is so easy to be consumed by the bad and the negative we have forgotten why we are here in the first place. We do not have this restore button but a good companmy or senior crew member can serve that role.

One of the best things we can do is to stop the discussion early, and get folks to remember why they are really here.

As much as we think so, this job is lots of fun, and the greatest job in the world it is not about us…..it is about the crew, the department and those we promised to serve.

Thionk about it!

 

Online Officer Webinar – May 4 2017

On Thursday May 4th, 2017 there will be an online Officer discussion held by Pete Lamb and Retired Battalion Chief John Cagno on officer development. THIS IS A FREE WEBINAR  limited to 20 people. Join us and bring your own officer problem to discuss if you want.

What: Officer webinar roundtable discussion

When: Thursday May 4, 2017 – 1900 hours Eastern Time

Where: Register by sending an email to pete@petelamb.com with OFFICER WEBINAR in the subject line. You will be sent an invitation approximately 15 minutes before the webinar on the 4th.

You should have a webcam and a microphone to participate. We will be using a product called Zoom. You can get pre set up by going to Zoom.us and getting the applet that allows access to your webcam and microphone. It is a safe product to download for this use and there is no cost to you.