What is your excuse?

I was having a conversation this week, with a friend of mine who is a retired captain and well respected fire officer and instructor. In the course of this conversation while we were telling funny stories, he was recounting the story of a great firefighter he knew who was moving away. During the process of telling the story he was speaking about how they would operate above the fire and sometimes they would even split up. He then continued and followed it up by saying, “I know now, and I knew then, this was wrong, but we didn’t have that much manpower…” or at least that was our excuse. The fire service always has an excuse.

After he said that, I paused to reflect for a minute and I realized that he was right. Listen to others around you in the fire house. Listen to fire Chiefs. Go to national conferences….we always have an excuse.

I also paused to reflect upon the times that I have used excuses for less than stellar fireground performances of mine.

Lets look at some of the fire service excuses for a variety of things.

That’s the way we’ve always done it.

We just don’t have the fires anymore.

It’s this damn bunker gear it makes us penetrate too far.

We don’t have the manpower, we are a small department.

It’s politics.

These new recruits are different today.

It’s all these safety rules and regulations.

…..and many many more…..

There are as many excuses as there are problems and people that bring them up, but it takes a strong willed person to avoid the easy way out and make an excuse, but to stand up and try to do the right thing, and accept responsibility.

Another fire officer I know often says the following…..” I can get anyone of the people out there to give me a reason why or make excuses, all I want and need is just one person to do the job”

Think about it, before you make an excuse next time.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Strip Mall

This week a fire in a strip mall.

1.) What construction features can be found in most of these buildings?
2.) What are the common forcible gentry challenges in the rear of these buildings?
3.) Are you anticipating an interior ceiling or not?
4.) Explain your use of thermal imaging at this fire?
5.) Discuss the number, size, and placement of lines at this fire?
Say Safe and stay thinking!
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Weekly Firefighter Roundtable Sunday June 30, 2013

Join us for our weekly firefighter Roundtable discussion this Sunday evening June 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM Eastern time.

We use voice and video chat via Google HANGOUTS so you should have a minimum of a gmail address and/or a google+ account.

We talk about all topics that come up, tactics, recent events, equipment, leadership and more.

If you would like to join in send. Your email to pete@petelamb.com.com and I will send you a link at exactly 800 PM Sunday evening. You check your email, click the link and you join us live!

We have a small connected group now and we are looking to expand.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013


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 well 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.

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.

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.

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, rust and much more.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – UPS Truck Haz Mat

This week a Haz mat simulation based upon an incident I actually had, with exception of the location….it was “delivered” to the fire station ramp!

1.) We all know we will probably never see quantities large enough for placard inch, so we now have to rely on labels and package type.

2.) Do we really know what the package contents are even though there is a declaration of the contents?

3.) Bill of laden??? Electronic package information and data? How do we know if the driver is incapacitated?

4.) Handling a Haz mat if there is a liquid leak involves containment, in a powder or solid the situation is somewhat static, what challenges are brought by a vapor or air release?

5.) List the first 5 action items you would perform.

Thanks, stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

"Changing the fire service, one mind at a time"