Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Best Job In The World

This is a repost of an article I wrote from a few years ago…..

Today I thought I would reflect and get us all to think about the fire service in general. Why did we get involved, what is it all really about?

In the movie Backdraft, one of the characters asked the other…”What’s this job really all about, Brian?”

There are those of us who may have had a family member in the fire department or were influenced by a close neighbor or family friend. We got involved in the “job” (paid or volunteer) because it was interesting, exciting, and we wanted to sincerely help others.

There are others who got into the job because it was a secure job and paid benefits for your family, the schedule was great and it allowed the ability to explore another job with minimal risks.

Maybe it was just for the thrill and excitement of interior structural firefighting.

Whatever your initial reasoning you actually made a conscious effort to join. You were not drafted, you probably jumped through several hoops to get here. Maybe it was a physical ability test, a written test, or whatever process is used in your organization.

When you joined the department what did you agree to? What did you sign up for? Have you forgotten?

Let’s review a couple of things:

You agreed to join a structured paramilitary organization that has rules and regulations. You do not have to ever like them. You do have to follow them.

You agreed to be inconvenienced to help and serve others on their worst day of their life. Your on duty time is never your own, and you are there to answer the calls presented to you, no matter how trivial they may seem to you….they are serious to someone else.

You agreed to join a team. The mission of the team is greater than your personal issues all of the time. If you are not a team player then the team might as well play without you.

You agreed you would keep yourself ready at all times to play with the team. You must be physically and mentally ready to be engaged while on duty.

You agreed that as a member of the fire service you would participate in whatever was thrown at you. As structure fires decline, other issues such as EMS, and prevention have come forward and they may not always seem as exciting as what you believed. They are part of the job you agreed to do.

You agreed to see tragedy, pain, and suffering and injustice and knew that it would have some impact on you and your family.

You agreed to work with and for the public, in a microscope of public opinion, where your name, salary, and all are public information instead of private.

There are many other things you actually agreed upon when you signed up for the Best Job in the world, the fire service, but we don’t even have enough time to go through them all.

My point was to make you refocus on these issues and when you are feeling like the city, town, or community “owe” you something, remember they may not really “owe” you as much as you have agreed to “owe” them.

Sure I know, we wear the “low bid” when we run into a fire, and there are equipment and manpower injustices that all departments face, but there is nobody that can convince me that this is not the most rewarding job in the world.

I am proud to be a member of the fire service. I make sure the people I meet know that. I make sure and work hard so I try to not make a blemish or a mark on the fire service.

If you are having a bad day at work, or have just had a rough company volunteer meeting, take this out or post it and remember why we are really all here.

Let’s put the “service” back in the Fire Service!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Blog feature – Voice Mail !

I am trying out a new feature that some of you might have noticed. It allows readers to send a voicemail, to interact with the tactical fire problems, or to contact me and request I formation.

On the right side of the blog there is a gray tab that says send voicemail.

It is a lively experiment and we will see how it goes. If it works I will keep it, if not, out it goes!

It is powered by speakpipe.com.

If you are interested give it a try, or as always you can always email at pete@petelamb.com

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Basement fire random thoughts…

* After locating any victims that might be threatened by fire, locate the source of the main body of fire. If this fire is in the basement the entire structure is exposed and threatened.

* If this is a new residential structure immediately suspect lightweight construction of either truss or wooden “I” beam. This will fail extremely rapidly and firefighters can be dropped into infernos underneath them during initial advance and entry.

* If this is a commercial basement then consider large stockpiles of material, narrow or limited access. Also consider that with a significant fire load as described heavy large streams may be needed.

* Always expect high heat conditions and extremely limited ventilation options.

* In older residential and in many commercial basements be extremely suspicious and suspect of shaky wooden stairways that can easily fail under the weight of a firefighter and hoseline.

* In warmer temperatures, smoke coming from a chimney can be an indicator of a basement fire.

* Smoke universally on all floors can be an indicator of a basement fire.

* Basement fires can present challenges for initial attack. The first hoseline should generally protect interior stairways.

* Basement fires can present Rapid Intervention challenges, rescue of a firefighter up stairs, out of a basement window, and rescue from holes in the floors with and without fire.

* Basement 1/3 of height above ground. Cellar is less than 1/3 above ground. Small casement type windows as opposed to a full window.

* Learn how to open, force, and cut, steel bulkhead doors.

* Do not forget the use of cellar nozzles, baker nozzles, bresnan distributors as a last resort.

* During initial advance get to the base of stairs as quickly as possible….do not remain in the chimney! Have a backup line cover the stairway and your means of egress.

* If operating in the basement be aware of collapse of floor above that can trap you and block way out.

* Beware of rapid fire extension to upper floors and attic and loft spaces in older structures.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Training and speaking requests

I have been receiving some email request about whether or not I go out and conduct individual training sessions for departments.

The answer is yes!

I do programs on leadership, safety, tactical operations, command, simulation exercises, emergency management, and using technology (iPads, etc.) for the fire service.

I have also been doing some motivation discussions for business and private industry.

Please feel free to contact me for scheduling or hosting a class in your department.

In addition, I am just about a month away from offering online custom training programs for your department training night. There will be more information about this coming up.

Feel free to contact me @ Info@petelamb.com

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Search and SCBA Training

This week I am asking for information as much as sharing information. The topic is basic firefighter search and rescue training. My question and ideas that I want to explore are pretty easy and straightforward as well as the questions that I am asking.

* About how many hours of actual SCBA training do your new firefighters receive before you allow them to become ‘interior”?

* What are you teaching them about “oriented search techniques” such as keeping a member in a stairwell or protected area, or such as using a person with a thermal imager to guide rescuers?

* What facilities or techniques are you using? Fire station with obstructions? An actual Maze or maze trailer? Acquired structures? Training facility building?

* Are you using live smoke, Roscoe machines with theatrical smoke? Blacked out masks?

* For obstructed masks there is black spray paint, crushed waxed paper, Nomex hood on backwards…and what else is out there that works and is effective?

* Have you done any experimentation with how much area a two person search team can search in about 15 minutes or one air bottle with escape time? What square footage can be searched? Is it different in a residential vs. a commercial?

* If you use search ropes what techniques are you using? Knotted rope? Un-Knotted rope? Knots every 20 feet? Knots every five feet? the one and two knot system? What guidelines are you using for when to use a rope search?

There are a lot of firefighters from a variety of departments that read these pages. I would hope if you have any questions you might email me and I answer any and all questions personally.

I hope I have made you think about some of these issues.

Stay Safe, & Stay Thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Aerial Ladder Consideration

In major cities, this problem is less prevalent then in small departments that might have minimal manpower and less fire duty and don’t use their aerial as much as others.

This is not an aerial ladder program by any means but just some random thoughts for a small training on aerial use.

Make sure all drivers and operators are specially trained and re-trained as necessary on a regular basis.

Do not overload or use beyond design strength or performance ratings.

Inspect after each use completely and document and report deficiencies.

Make sure that ladder and all ground ladders are tested annually.

Use extreme caution on any uneven surfaces and steep hills.

Ladder will have less load carrying at lower angles.

Ladder will have less load carrying at greater extension.

Use caution with loose gear around the turntable area.

Operators should be attentive to inclinometer during use.

Always be aware of overhead obstructions, wires, overhangs, etc.

Keep the tip visible and lit well during night operations.

Maintain hydraulic system constantly. Take precautions in extreme cold weather.

Operate within the manufacturer’s instructions and or specifications.

In general get the rig out and have operators perform certain designated tasks, such as placement drills, speed of set up (safely!), and smoothness in operation of controls.

Do not trust that an operator with only limited operating experience will be able to use this vital piece of equipment when needed.

Train with nightime operations as well!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Personnel Accountability

Just a small reminder that the rules of accountability state that you should be within VOICE, VISUAL, or TOUCH with your partner and crew.

The next time you have an incident or a drill, try and do that and see how
really difficult it is. Practice this when you are on the simple “smells and bells” calls.

At your next call or training drill have someone see how many times this rules gets violated

This is a real chore and can be a pain in the neck.

As conditions change and the area becomes filled with smoke, the visual goes away.
Move closer!

The voice becomes muffled by a mask and you now have to be much closer than you were.
Move closer!

Smoke banked to the floor and high heat….you must be in touch contact in case something goes wrong, you can assist your crew members.

At your next five incidents try to maintain this level of accountability.

E-Mail back and tell us how difficult that really is.

It’s hard work to stay safe….but really give it a shot, you and your family are worth it!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Cold Weather Operations – Some random thoughts

I probably should have put this one out earlier but with a bunch of serious fires here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island lately, and the single digit temperatures, I thought I would get it out now.

* Always, always circulate water in the pump during cold weather operations. Don’t forget quint apparatus either!

* Sand and speeding dri can be used at the front doors and entry points of working fires to prevent members from taking a tumble.

* Keep nozzles flowing to avoid freeze-ups

* Notify the water department so that hydrants that have been used can be drained down, or have anti freeze added.

* Dress in layers whenever you can. I never heard anyone complain about an extra pair of wool socks.

* Camping supply hand Warner’s and foot Warner’s can be used. (Don’t tell the crew they will call you sissy names, but at least you will be warm!)

* If hose and equipment is badly frozen, contact your local towing company and they will assist you with a flat bed so you are not twisting, folding and compressing hose and items that might cause damage.

* Chauffeurs should be extremely conscious of battery maintenance in the extreme cold. Also depending how cold the temps are tire pressures can fluctuate considerably.

* Check for excessive condensation in air brake systems and air ride suspension systems on ambulances.

* Keep your SCBA regulator inside your coat whenever you can due to condensation buildup during use, and temperature change from inside to out.

* Consider a plan for taking care of residents affected by the fire, keep them out of the elements when you can.

* Consider additional alarms sooner. Things will freeze, men will operate slower, and conditions dictate more manpower.

* Remember in single digit temperatures, smoke color may be lighter due to frozen water vapor, and may move slower, and this could affect size up and your initial read of the situation.

* Make sure hydrants, dry hydrants and water holes are cleared out as early as possible.

* Make sure access to boat ramps and ponds are cleared and not ignored, so you have access for ice rescues.

There are tons of these, so feel free to send along any others to info@petelamb.com

Stay safe…….and Stay Warm!

( This post is not intended for our readers in the warmer climates and does not apply to friends I have on the job I’m Florida who tell me it’s cold when it is 45 degrees either!)

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

The I Stair – The Green Maltese Website

This article crossed my desk yesterday and I won’t even paraphrase it or change it all, but will just provide the link.

This is a new construction technique that involves a pre fabricated staircase with multiple gusset plate connectors.

Please pass this important safety bulletin throughout your department.

The I Stair at Green Maltese Website

Also if you have not already heard about the Green Maltese or do not have their page bookmarked, please do so there is great information on their website!

Thanks and stay safe!

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Ask not what your country can do……..

Most folks can finish the famous quote by President Kennedy, and this week I am applying it to the fire service.
I get a variety of emails each week some are good and some are not so good but at least I am provoking some thought and hopefully doing what the website says and that is “Changing the fire service, one mind at a time”.
This week I am once again talking about a problem that is a symptom of our society. The problem is that it is spilled into the fire service and as emails would tell me it is wide spread. The subject is entitlement.
I should preface this commentary by saying that I have over 30 years in the service in a variety of capacities and I have been involved in three departments and a statewide agency.
Nobody owes me anything, nor do I believe that on a daily basis. I chose this service to do just that and provide service to others.
The problem that I am noticing is that some of our younger members believe there is some entitlement or rights that come with being on the job for four years. Chief Billy Goldfeder coined a term 6/22 meaning someone who had been on the job six months and acted like they had been on 22 years. I think we all have these members.
These are the members who suddenly become veterans once they have been on past their one year probation. I made a previous reference to the person or member who recounts a story like they were there and they were not even on the job when it happened.
Some of the things that have been reported to me via email might sound familiar…. A member with three years explaining to someone else why they should get the assignment, because they are senior!
The members who are first worried about when they ran out of sick days because they have been on for two years and have no sick time. They make these stupid statements in front of firefighters who have not used sick time in twenty years but yet they need their entitlement.
What about the members who suddenly put themselves on the same plane as those who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. These younger firefighters who think that their application and successful appointment allows them to claim some act of heroism or bravery as their own. There is no comparison to those 343 member that gave their lives that morning. Simple. We have never seen anything like that since Texas City and I hope that I shall never see it again in my lifetime.
There are those members who think that some number of years months or hours in grade entitle them to some form of respect.
What tips can we offer to make sure that folks understand earning something versus an entitlement? I am not sure I have a conclusive list but I will offer some tips.
Make sure all new members are taught basic fire service history. If they understand the aims and ideals of those who came before us then maybe they will be less likely to feel entitled.
Make sure all new members meet and review your own department’s history with previous members who have gone before them. Members who may have worked 72 and 96 hours to get the provisions in the current contract that you now enjoy.
Lead by example even if you are not an officer but are in fact a “real” senior member then do not look for any give me yourself but always set an example that what you have is earned.
Teach all new members that their reputation and any ” entitlement” that they have is being earned each day they are on the job. They are entitled to a fair shake from their brothers and sisters and the boss, but anything else they earn such as their own reputation is their own choosing.
At the fire department funeral for a Boston Firefighter Fire Commissioner Martin Pierce made a statement about …”in this world there are givers and takers”…”The takers are easier to spot because they are always in front,…but there are few givers” This phrase has always stuck with me and it meant something as I always wanted to be a giver. It seemed like a better thing to do.
Hey that is why there are choices in this world of give and take. Decide where you want to be in your department and fire service career.
Let’s try to show the takers what they truly have been missing because this business would be a lot better off with less folks that feel the fire service owes them some entitlement to either pay, benefits, respect, trust and much more.
Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com