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Making the tragedy personal is the first step in preventing the next Line of Duty Death.

 “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Joseph Stalin

After recently reading Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, and his use of this quote, I pondered if this quote from the feared Communist leader Joseph Stalin could help reduce our line of duty deaths and the answer is YES! While Stalin’s quote was most likely intended for more sinister purposes it does have merit when discussing LODD’s.

First, we are provided statistics in our trade on a daily basis but usually with no associated instructions on what do with the data. Specific to line of duty deaths, we know we average approximately 100 LODD’s, we know the percentages related to what activities, age, gender, etc. are when the catastrophic incident occurred, and we are provided some general recommendations that apply to that affected fire department. But how do we curb the trend of LODD’s based on the statistics provided within our department that may be similar or, more likely, vastly different. Without having this information the line of duty deaths simply become just statistics. This noticeable gap in the equation was the catalyst for 25 to Survive: Reducing Residential Injury and LODD. We took the opportunity to interpret the data and provide solutions to overcome the identified causes in the LODD reports that may be implemented in any fire department.IMG_2074

When we delve into Stalin’s quote and couple it with our process of reviewing LODD reports we can begin to understand that we lose focus on the loss of one firefighter, the tragedy in this case, and focus more on the statistics. For instance, most can recite the average number of LODD’s, but if the LODD did not occur in their department, I would venture to say they couldn’t recite the name of the person who was killed. This behavior is conditioned with the vast amount of mind-numbing statistics, figures, and graphs we receive but it can be altered. Mother Theresa offered a way we can begin to change that trend when she stated,

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Mother Theresa

The numbers are an important metric to demonstrate if we are changing the trend for better or worse but what is important is the person. If we learn the person, we establish a connection and we will learn the story. That story will open your eyes to factors leading up to the LODD and what can be done NOW to prevent it from occurring again. Simply glossing over the numbers will not provide that connection and leads to only honoring someone after they have died which is a disservice.

This process, placing a name and face to the tragedy, is referred to as the “identifiable victim effect” and is utilized everyday in our society to garner your donations or solicit your support. The most notable example is the Ryan White story. While AIDS was very prevalent in the 90’s and everyone had an increased level of awareness, it was something distant and happened in a far away land. That is, until Ryan White contracted AIDS and his was someone you knew. He was an all-American teenager who everyone could associate with; he looked like your son, nephew, the kid down the street, etc.

Ryan became the poster child for AIDS in American and his struggle, and eventual death, led to the Ryan White act. This happened because the AIDS epidemic became the story about a person who you could get to know and support, the epidemic got the attention needed and continues to this day.

How do we parlay this identifiable victim effect into our trade and begin changing the trend of LODD’s in the fire service? We must learn the person. Much like the supporters of Ryan White, we must be most diligent supporters of our fallen firefighters and use the identifiable victim effect to our benefit. The easiest way to start this trend is to review the statistics but also take the time and read the story of each LODD. When you select a report to review with your firefighters take the time to learn:

  • What was their name?
  • What did they look like (put a name to the face)?


    Lt. Pete Lund – June 14th, 2005

  • Where did they work, how many years of service, etc.?
  • What actions were they doing when the LODD occurred?
  • What were the contributing causes to their death that you could apply to your department and operations?
  • What can I do (skill, tip, technique, policy, etc.) to prevent this from occurring in my department, which would honor the memory and sacrifice of the fallen firefighter?

We know firefighters die in the line of duty driving to and from incidents, suffering cardiovascular incidents, and performing their jobs on the fireground amongst many other activities. Your goal is to match the problem or obstacle you are trying to overcome with the story of a fallen firefighter.

For example, if you are teaching new apparatus operators and want to stress the incredible responsibility with this position, pick one of the 17 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2012 responding/returning to an incident. If you are discussing the importance of coordinated ventilation, discuss the LODD of Louis Matthews and Anthony Phillips of the DCFD at the Cherry Road, N.E. fire in 1999. The list is unfortunately vast and plentiful to choose from and each one deserves our recognition.

All the motivation you will need to make yourself, your fellow firefighters, and the future of your fire service, exists in the LODD reports. Learn their stories, share it with your firehouse family, and motivate them to prevent the LODD’s. When we can place a name and face to a cause we naturally rally together to prevent it from happening again. Make them real for the people, learn details of their lives to make more of an impression on the candidates. Saying that a certain firefighter adored only the best keychain knives, might be random but it makes the victim real in the eyes of the people. Take the LODD’s from being just statistics of catastrophic incidents that happen in a far away land and make that tragedy your motivation to help one person at a time and make that one person that firefighter that may be charging down the smoky hallway with you later tonight.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 05-02-2015

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Sharon Hill, PA. Entangled Firefighter


In surfing the Internet in the morning, I saw an incident in Sharon Hill, PA. that included a well advanced structure fire, and a trapped/entangled firefighter in the basement during the evacuation of the structure by the Incident Commander.
They documented the incident on PhillyFireNews.com and I asked them to share their story with Traditions Training so we could get the word out to all our followers. So please read the narrative of the incident and the account of the firefighter in the basement. The following is their first hand account,
we greatly appreciate the department sharing the information for all of us to learn…

Around 1230 this afternoon tones dropped for Companies 09 (Sharon Hill), 05 (Glenolden), 01 (Folcroft) and RIT 19 (Lansdowne) for the working fire with possible entrapment in the 100 Block of Laurel Rd, Sharon Hill. Tele Squrt 01 under command of First Assistant Chief Carney responded with 4 followed shortly after Tower 5 and 09-2. Crews stretched multiple lines to all floors due to heavy fire conditions. Command called for manpower out of 04 (Darby Fire Company) and 42 (Collingdale Fire Company #2). On the arrival of Pipeline 04, crews from 01 entered in the rear to the basement with crews from 04. During this one F/F from Folcroft became tangled in wires that hung low from the ceiling. This firefighter is sharing his story and it is quoted below. Once the entangled fireman was free, crews regrouped outside, checked par and entered the basement again. Crews still had fire on all 3 floors and fire in the roofline. Crews worked hard and fast to get this fire under control within 2 hours.
Here is the incident from the eyes of the entangled firefighter;
“I am the firefighter that was tangled in the basement of the Sharon Hill fire. I was with the interior crew of 01 and 04. We had a good knock on the fire in the basement, smoke was not an issue, neither was heat, we received the order to evacuate the structure per command, Sharon Hill Assistant Chief T Macann 04’s Chief Caruso and M. Carr, assisted in cutting wires and helped me free myself. What happened was that on our Thermal Imagining Camera (TIC) there is a D ring that clips to our gear. Wires made their way around the D ring but the D ring is so small a gloved hand is unable to open it. The D ring has already been replaced since today’s fire with a new small but easily opened D ring with a fire glove. M. Carr and I used my knife from my pocket to cut the wires. I will also be getting a set of wire cutters for this very instance. I just wanted to pass along this information as a learning tool for all. Always watch for obstructions and have something that will cut with you.”
Thank you,
Assistant Chief Frey

photo 2ohoto 1photo 3

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, Commentary, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, news, RIT / Survival, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 25-11-2013

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By Larry Schultz

I will start of with a brief recap of my last blog. I began with a contemplative question that challenged the value of our thoughts and trends, as they relate to risk assessment on the fireground. I opined, that we might be defaulting to a “risk avoidance” strategy because we were falling to acknowledge the other causes that make firegrounds go bad.

I then suggested that the fire service as a whole has done a poor job of offering a subjective and systematic way of assessing risk on the fireground. In every class I teach, I ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever taken a four-hour class on how to conduct a proper risk assessment. As expected, very few hands ever appear.

I ended with a caution to all in the fire service, that we must never fall prey to intellectual laziness. I offered that the only way we will ever be able to achieve maximum fireground effectiveness, which includes safe operations, is through the use of critical thought, inspired by dialogue, discussion and yes debate on the topic.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve spent countless hours, teaching to a broad base population of fire service members. This never gets old; the relationships, the fraternal environment and the ability to engage in meaningful discussions about fireground management. Whether you are the instructor or the student, if you show up for class with an open mind, a willingness to learn and a commitment to exercise your brain, you are sure to walk away, better informed and better prepared to execute your job on the fireground. I challenge my students to never except what I say as gospel and to verify for themselves what works best for their system. My goal is to challenge the students to think for themselves.

From San Diego CA to Lancaster County PA, from Daytona Beach FL to Rochester NY, the most common topic I encountered was the discussion of modern fire behavior and the associated results of the comprehensive studies conducted on the topic. Over countless hours of discussion on this issue, I found, that these discussions leave most people in one of three camps. The first (Group 1), vehemently oppose the study, the results and the discussion on how to improve our strategy and tactics. The second (Group 2) selectively takes pieces of information and a portion of the conclusion’s, with far reaching assumptions, issuing an edict on the value and safety of interior firefighting. The last camp (Group 3) has chosen to educate themselves on the study, value the science and findings, understands the value as a “piece” of critical operational information and then use this information as a catalyst to assess things such as: current operating systems i.e. SOG’s/Sop’s, command and control, risk assessment process, accountability systems, resource needs, employee competency and training to name a few.

To those in Group 1, who choose intellectual ignorance, there is a LODD(s) or serious injury(s) knocking on your door. If you are in a position of leadership at any level, shame on you. You owe your members and Department better. For those not yet in a position of leadership, I am thankful and hope you never will be as long as you remain ignorant on the topic. My guess is, your attitude is based on opposition to Group 2 (see below). In doing so, you are as intellectually arrogant as Group 2 and twice as dangerous. My challenge to you, is don’t focus on Group 2, but allow yourself to study the information as presented, understand that the findings are factual and use that information as an ingredient in the entire formula for high performance fireground management.

To those in Group 2, don’t give me three thumbs up just yet. Let me reinforce what I stated above, you are as intellectually arrogant as Group 1, which leads to you being academically dishonest with your far-reaching assumptions and opinions. It’s my opinion (my blog my opinion) that if you are using this study in the absence of it’s context and complexity, your problems are far greater then your characterization that interior fire attack is both taboo and outdated. You sell yourself and your department short on providing the best possible service to the community as it relates to fire suppression activities.

Let me offer this consideration. The members under your command, are far more educated (not talking degrees) then ever before. Their access to fire service information, training and education is unlimited. The greatest numbers of them are extremely passionate about the service and consume countless hours of information. They are also great at spotting a phony. They will not succumb to intellectual bullying or far reaching assumptions as a way of achieving “best practice”.

While this is not inclusive of all groups, I have observed another common theme amongst this group. They are elated over some of the tactical suggestions that accompany these studies (transitional attack). They are also willfully overlooking the fact that most if not all of these findings (coordinated ventilation, speed of fire progression, proper fire-flows and the importance of getting water on the fire quickly) are timely truths that we have known about for some time. Instead, they see this as an opportunity, to gain control of an underperforming, undisciplined and unstructured department, by manipulating the spirit of the studies in order to rein in the chaos.

My common observations with this group is: they lack SOP’s/SOG’s or lack holding people accountable for following them, they fail to regularly train officers and firefighters on core basic skills, they fail to invest in officer development, they fail to hold anyone accountable for their lack of performance on the fireground and they promote people who cant or wont do their jobs. If you are in this category and have chosen to blindly create a default policy based on a transitional attack (hit the fire from the outside and then transition to the inside) this alone will not solve your fire ground problems. It’s a lot like having a zero dollar balance in your checking account, depositing a $25.00 check and assuming that because you have money in the bank, the rent will get paid.
Let may say this for purpose of clarity. In many cases, based on resource limitations and response time constraints due to standards of coverage challenges, this may very well be the best policy to have. That is very different then saying this is a one-size model that all departments must adopt if they are serious about safety.

My advice is, don’t try to pull the wool over the eyes of your people. Don’t use science as an crutch simply because you lack the knowledge, courage and capability to engage in a comprehensives discussion and debate. If there is a true need to change your operations, then look at every aspect of it and honestly assess your department’s shortcomings. Work on all identified areas of weakness, which will inevitably result in safer fireground management. Recognize and prepare for the fact that these changes will not only take courageous leadership, it will also take relentless follow-up to insure compliance and requires swift and aggressive action for those who willfully choose to violate the policy.

To Group 3, you are on the right tract. You are using this great information much in the way that Doctors use findings from new medical experiments. The findings are used in conjunction with your previous experiences, education and training and done so as a means to enhance quality care not replace it.

You understand the context in which the experiments were conducted and the focus of the research. You also engaged your mind in the complexities of fire behavior, building construction and fireground management, working to make sense of it all. You understand that the findings verify exactly what many have understood for sometime and you value the time, energy, funding and the precision that went in to this study.

You also understand that this information must be part of our continuous quality improvement processes for high performance fireground management. However we must move from simply “understanding” the information to “incorporating” the information in to our operations.

Here are some quick takeaways from those findings that must be considered moving forward.

1. Todays household furnishing are largely made of synthetic fuels. These fuels burn rapidly, reach greater temperatures quicker and the byproducts of these burning materials (smoke) are toxic, highly flammable and have a wide explosive range.
2. Today’s homes have building features, which, disguise (initially) the presence of fire, quickly denies the fire of needed oxygen (until we get there) enhances the spread of fire, conceals the presence of hidden fire and losses structural integrity quickly when exposed to fire.
3. Fires will often be oxygen starved when we arrive. Any opening that either we make (forcible entry/ventilation) or the occupant makes (leaving a door or window open) will provide the fire with the oxygen it needs to rapidly grow beyond our control.
4. This means that our discretionary time on the fireground, to gain control of the fire before it gains control of the structure and us is drastically reduced. In addition the time we have to recognize that conditions are deteriorating until flashover occurs can be as little as 10 seconds.
5. This means that our training must be rigorous and constant. It must focus on core basic skills and must be measured against timed benchmarks. Our goal must be to reach the “expert” level of competency on basic fireground tasks
6. This means that if you don’t have the resources (people and apparatus) or the resources cannot arrive in a timely manner, then you must consider these findings when evaluating your SOG’s. If you do not have the people or apparatus to simultaneously place in-service at least two handlines, perform search and rescue with a team of two (minimum) and be able to properly ventilate the structure within a defined period of time, then you need to adjust your operational procedures accordingly.
7. This means you must have a strong incident management component in- place on every fireground. This includes a competent Incident Commander, supported by a competent Command Team (sorry folks, no way of escaping the competency part)
8. This means that we as leaders, must have the courage to honestly asses the current state of our departments operations, identify our shortfalls, develop a team to find best solutions and then have the professional will and courage to take the journey.

In my next blog, we will discuss critical engine company benchmarks in order to perform a self-evaluation of time constraints and resource requirements for your department. This will be followed by truck company (support work) and incident command benchmarks.

Be Safe & Be Smart

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, Tips & Skills, Uncategorized | Posted on 21-05-2013

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Dealing With the Issue of Risk in the Fire Service

dcfire3Dealing With the Issue of Risk In the Fire Service

There are few jobs, which expose it’s employees (career or volunteer) to risk more then the fire service. The risks we face have caused line-of-duty deaths exceeding 100 per year and injury rates that exceed 38,000 per year. Todays fire service expectations are unmatched in the types of service we are expected to deliver. Along with that increased expectation, comes a correlating increase in the complexity of the risk we face.

Webster’s dictionary defines risk as someone or something that creates or suggests hazard. By nature, the very work we do is and will continue to expose us to high levels of risk. The fact that we perform a dangerous job should not equate to acceptable levels of death or injuries, unfortunately death and injuries are likely to be a part of our profession.

Reducing fireground deaths and injuries must be one of the highest priority of all fire service leaders. Unfortunately, while serving as a firefighter and in several positions of leadership in the District of Columbia Fire Department, I experienced far to many of these incidents. Rarely a day goes by, that I do not think about those whom we have lost. I have spent countless hours with injured firefighters and their families in the local Burn Center, sitting- watch during the long and painful process that accompanies these injuries. I have and will continue to focus on making the fireground as safe as we can feasibly make it, while keeping my efforts on building strong company officers and stronger incident commanders

Let me put out a disclaimer. Some will view my posts as controversial, some as thought provoking, and some as out right blasphemy. My intentions will always be to inspire critical thought on the very important topic of fireground management and firefighter safety. Critical thinking is being disciplined and thoughtful in how we apply, process, analyze and synthesize information as a guide to, belief (personal truths/values) and action (how we as leaders identify problems and resolve them). The fire service by nature is filled with highly emotional, Type A personalities. While this has long been considered one of the greatest strengths, it would stand to reason that it has also become one of our greatest weaknesses.

Todays fire service is facing countless challenges. Navigating these challenges will take courageous leadership and a strong ability to become critical in thought. “Emotional” thought is one of the single biggest pitfalls we face today. Generally speaking, emotional thought is weak in substance, lacks credibility and rarely provides real solutions to significant problems. Because it is based on emotion, it requires little consideration and produces more of a reactionary response then a well thought out idea.

As fire service leaders we must all start off by acknowledging that regardless of our education, background, and experience, our thought processes can be flawed by reasoning, emotion, prejudices, and laziness to name a few. These influences often cause us to think far too simplistically about very complicated and complex issues such as risk. As fire service leaders we must hold ourselves accountable to self-improvement. That’s what others expect of us and what we should expect of ourselves.

If we, as fire service leaders, are to be successful at navigating the complexity of challenges facing us, there will be a requirement to do so by quality of thought. Failing to resolve perplexing fire service issues, through debate, dialogue and discussion based on critical thought, respect and open mindedness, will continue to have us wallow in the plethora of problems, offering little or no real solutions.

There are those in the fire service, who insist that firefighters “become more tolerant” and “open minded” to new ideas, new thought, new culture and new science. Those statements are then followed by a proclamation that the service must change to fit their ideology. This is where they lose many. This form of messaging results in little to no buy-in from the ranks, censors free (conflicting) thought, and puts us at odds with each other, in spite of the fact that we both want the same things, safe and effective firegrounds. The only chance we have of resolving many of these issues is through real tolerance of free thought, followed by dialogue, discussion and debate in a manner of professional decorum.

My experiences have been, that when the only acceptable solution to proper fireground management and the reduction of deaths and injuries is through the ideology of total risk avoidance, the door to discussion is immediately shut. I have seen valuable science, case studies and lessons learned, thrown in the trashcan or immediately deleted from emails, without a moment of contemplative thought due to this one approach fits all mentality. Taking a complex issue such as risk and minimizing risk management techniques to simple risk avoidance policies, is viewed by many as being intellectually arrogant and unattractive. It is my opinion, that much of this valuable information is quickly discarded and devalued simply do to poor messaging.

Risk avoidance becomes a default strategy when our focus, efforts and attention is placed on what we “don’t want ” (death/injuries) as opposed to what we “do want” (high performance/safe firegrounds). By taking this approach, are we attempting to deal with the bigger issues of inexperience, ineffective or incompetent decision-making on the fireground? By simply abandoning the idea that individuals must meet required levels of performance? Instead of having the discussion, on how we can effectively increase risk management on the fireground through, building individual competencies in our chiefs and officers, strengthening our system of command and control, achieving consistency in operational performance and improving our communications habits; it has become politically popular to join the risk avoidance club as our default solution.

Let me be perfectly clear, there are times when risk avoidance will be the appropriate fireground strategy, but that can not be our long term default strategy in fireground management. My efforts will be as they always have been, inspiring critical thought on problem management. I hope to do this buy providing a forum focused on, building competency, inspiring better decision making capability, and identifying and challenging poor command habits. The value of discussion becomes more significant when other thoughts, ideas and opinions and experiences are shared.

What are your thoughts on managing risk on the fireground?

Please engage in the discussion

Please be critical in your thoughts

No Emotional arguments

Be respectful of others opinion

Be Safe & Be Competentatticfirepd11

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, training-development, Uncategorized | Posted on 18-02-2013

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Waving Red Flags on the Fireground in Erskine Lakes, N.J.

Traditions Training is headed back to Erskine Lakes, NJ to deliver our 8-hour “Waving Red Flags on the Fireground. This interactive session looks at past incidents and experiences where there were visual and audible clues that there may have been something wrong on the incident scene. By using these past experiences we hope to teach our students to recognize the many clues that are on the fireground, so as a company officer or chief officer they are able to identify them. And by identifying them help stop a course of action on the scene that could lead to an injury or death.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, Incident Command, Training Resources, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 29-05-2012

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FDIC 2012 “Red Flags on the Fireground”

Join Traditions Training instructors Larry Schultz (DCFD) and Ricky Riley (Clearwater Fire) as they present their class ” Waving Red Flags on the Fireground” This class is Monday, April 16, 2012 starting at 0800 hours. Please sign up and meet us for some early morning training in Indy.
At many incidents, all the signs and sounds are there for the firefighters and incident commanders to predict that an emergency or injury is about to happen. This class will set a foundation for companies to have a plan in place to take away some of these issues and problems. Learn how these firefights can be successful through the model of an SOP-driven fire where tactical assignments are already preplanned and assigned to companies prior to the fire happening, thus reducing the unknowns and frantic calls on the radio. This approach will teach you to be proactive and not reactive to problems as they arise on the fireground. But with every plan there are issues that can arise, and the IC and company officers should be prepared to react and have the ability to accomplish tasks without delay. Stop actions that will make us wave these flags.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, in-the-line-of-duty, Incident Command, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 31-01-2012

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Firemen… and “Never Forget”

Firemen… and “Never Forget”

Lt. Douglas J Mitchell, Jr. FDNY.

September the 11th is later this week and I have found myself writing. I have been writing snippet’s down as they pop in and out of my head, emotions from the events from that day, and its aftermath hereafter.

I just can’t watch TV these last two weeks. I can’t take it, it’s just too much. Caught myself getting upset watching a special such as, (I will make something up here…but you know what I am saying) “FIRST RESPONDER HERO’S” brought to you specially by “All Temperature Cheer.”

I can’t read the papers either, thier writers and publishers, who up until this week, were bashing “Firefighter Pension’s” as cause for the downfall of our economy… and so on…. and so on…

I thought to write a little side story, reflecting back on where I was in my career as a fireman when the events unfolded, but it makes no difference. I am just one of thousands of firemen who spent time at the trade center complex, went home from time to time between funerals, memorials and benefits, and came back to thier careers at the FDNY, getting back “on the job”.

Sometimes I wish I wrote down what I did each day, the 2 years of so after September 11th 2001. Most times, I am glad that I didn’t. For my nation, my city, my fire department, my fire company & my friends, words cannot describe the pain.

I’ll try to let the words tell my thoughts. I have posted a few of them this week in different places, but not all together…

“Never Forget” is a well worn adage attached to the brave members of the FDNY who were killed in the line of duty on September 11th 2001. I know that I will “Never Forget,” I can’t. There are times when I selfishly wish I that I could. “Never Forget,” not one day… I just can’t. “Never Forget” is more than just 2 simple words, they means everything and yet nothing at all… depending who you are.

To some, the “Never Forget” moniker is profitable, exploitable, in merchandise, ratings and to bolster arbitrary political posturing in “I’m right and your wrong.” To me, it’s at times silent internal reflection and at others gut wrenching jolts of emotion. You know, that empty in the pit of your stomach, want to vomit… yet can’t, feeling?

Like all firemen, I know my family at home cares for me greatly. We need the support of family, it’s a tough thing… family home alone: nights, weekends, birth’s, death’s, holidays… times when only a human touch can solve a problem and your just not there, you can’t be there your at work. But, we know fire takes no days off.

As firemen, we try to insulate our families somewhat from what we see and do, day in and day out. They don’t, and can’t really comprehend what it is that we do and why it is that we do it. They can’t, because, they aren’t firemen.

As firemen we must look out for each out for each other on this job.  Only we who are firemen, truly know what the job entails.

We must rely heavily on our brothers and sisters on the job for support. That is why we show up and come out for each other in times of need. I saw it in droves after the events in lower Manhattan 10 years ago. Why did you come to NYC to help out? Why, because you are a fireman and that what we do. You saw brothers who needed support and you showed up, it was the right thing to do. I thanked every out of town guy I saw at a funeral or benefit for the support back then, and I thank you again today.

“Never Forget” the great traditions of this job, both in our successes and in our sacrifices.

“Never Forget” how we got to where we are today; in your career, in your fire company, in your fire department.

“Never Forget” the wisdom imparted by those who came before you, for they have laid the path in their sacrifices.

“Never Forget” the love of those around the table with you today, for life is fragile, and they are the present. They will carry that honor forward.

Firemen will “Never Forget” what “Never Forget” means to them, because… well, they are Firemen.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, Company News, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, In the News, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, rescues, Testimonials, Uncategorized | Posted on 09-09-2011

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New Class from Traditions Training

Please save October 29th, 2011 on your calendar to attend a new class from Traditions Training. “Waving Red Flags on the Fireground” will be presented at the Claymont Fire Department in Claymont, DE.
This class is being presented by Chief Larry Schultz, DCFD (ret.) and Ricky Riley, Clearwater Fire and Kentland VFD.
This interactive class will assist all officers and firefighters with identifying certain red flags that we all need to recognize on the fireground and on the radio. We will also assist you in setting up your department and command post for success on the scene.
We will publish more details in the future and open registration on our website at www.traditionstraining.com.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, Incident Command, line-of-duty, major-incidents, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 04-08-2011

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The word “aggressive” is getting a great deal of attention lately.  I feel as thought the word has been given the wrong connotation in the fire service. Being an “aggressive” firefighter or an “aggressive” fire company HAS NOTHING TO DO with rushing in carelessly, cowboy antics and operating with reckless abandon. An “aggressive” firefighter or fire company’s foundation is formed thru personal and company level training and a marked state of combat readiness!

Check out Merriam-Websters dictionary, 1b. insert “fire” in the sentence, an “aggressive fire fighter”.



adj \?-?gre-siv\
a : tending toward or exhibiting aggression (aggressive behavior)
b : marked by combative readiness (aggressive fighter)

Take a active role in your fire service, be a sponge….soak it all in, learn and train to be better everyday!

Posted by | Posted in Combat Ready, Commentary, Engine Company, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, RIT / Survival, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 12-07-2011

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“Lest We Forget” LODD Drill #2

This installment of LODD drills comes from 2006 and the loss sustained by the brothers and sisters of Green Bay, Wisconsin Fire Department. The LODD occurred August 13th 2006.

From the official LODD Report:

August 13th, 2006, 1223 hrs

Arnold W.“Arnie”Wolff, Lieutenant

Lieutenant Wolff and an engineer were ordered to enter the front door of the house and perform a left-hand search. Another two-firefighter crew entered and went to the right.

Within minutes of their entry, a partial floor collapse occurred, and Lieutenant Wolff and the engineer fell approximately 10 feet into the fully- involved basement. Maydays were transmitted by Lieutenant Wolff and the engineer.

Lieutenant Wolff fell into a room that did not have windows, and his path to an exit was blocked by debris. Fire conditions advanced markedly after the collapse, and firefighters were unable to reach Lieutenant Wolff. His body was recovered approximately 13 hours into the incident.

Link to NIOSH Report: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200626.html


Most of us were taught in probie school (recruit school, basic firefighter, whatever name your organization gives its initial fire service indoctrination) that we search on our hands and knees. We crawl along in zero visibility, ever vigilant to stay low, we keep our head looking at the ground (also partially due to the SCBA hampering your neck’s movement). If we are searching with a partner, we search like Elephants walk into the circus, latched together.  Perhaps you were taught as I was, to hold the boot of the partner in front of you. You are now blindly going wherever your partner does, including into walls or your partners hind parts!

Read this month’s LODD report and remember the sacrifice of our lost brother from GBFD.  Take some time to refine your search techniques. Instead of a heads down, four points of contact search, take a heads up approach.  First and foremost, stop crawling!   Crawling on all fours places all the weight on top of you (SCBA) and can propel you forward if you need make a sudden stop or take evasive action.


Conduct your primary search in a position where you keep one leg out in front of you and the other leg bent under your body (a cross between a duckwalk and totally on your knees). In this position, your body will remain upright to observe fire conditions and obstacles (Photo 1). This body position affords us many positive benefits in the firefight. Allow your personnel (in full PPE) to complete a search in utilizing this position. Time how quickly they move, show them how much more area they cover using this technique versus conventional crawling.  Allow them to feel how much more control they have over their body in this position.

Photo 1 - Heads Up Search Position

Once that is done, take the drill to zero visibility! Place them in a room with obstacles and hazards. Assess their ability to find obstacles and hazards with the front leading foot. Have them determine what the obstacles are (wall, bunk bed, table). Next, mark the area, which they cover during their search to determine how much area they cover. Lastly, have them search in pairs and give the warning of “Hole in floor”. They should instantly sit back onto their back leg and recognize the stability of their position (Photo 2).

Photo 2 - The "Sit" Position when an obstacle or hole is found


Learning Points:

  • Primary Search is rapid! We often are searching without the protection of a hoseline and in a structure that has been subjected to fire for an unknown amount of time.
  • This modified position allows quicker movement through the hazardous environment while covering more area.
  • Allows the front foot to serve as a probe, findings walls, holes, or other obstacles. This is much better than your head, awkwardly outstretched hand or facepiece.
  • Outstretched leg allows the FF to quickly sit down onto the rear leg to keep their weight centered. This not only could stop you from falling into a hole but also creates a “roadblock” for your partner who may be searching behind you, from pushing you into the hole.
  • Keeps your eyes in front, and ahead of you, to observe any rapidly changing fire conditions that may demand a retreat.

Conventional vs Heads-up search position - the advantage is clear!

As with all of our drills, we take a moment to remember this fallen firefighter and the supreme sacrifice he made. Honor his memory by training everyday and getting out into your response areas to learn your buildings. Stay “Combat Ready.”


Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 17-04-2011