“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.
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)?
- 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. 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 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| Posted in
As with every class we teach, we urge all our students to read and study Line of Duty Death Reports. Please click on the link below to go to the report from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, in-the-line-of-duty, Incident Command, line-of-duty, rescues, RIT / Survival, Testimonials, Training Resources, training-development, Uncategorized | Posted on 21-05-2014| Posted in
Today is July 24th 2013, it has been a few years and it does not get any easier. Lt. Steve Velasquez of the Bridgeport Fire Department, Ladder 11 lost his life in a three wood on this date in 2010. I am sharing this portion of a newspaper article written the week of the funeral for Steve.
“Assistant Chief Keith Wallace said that when he cleaned out Velasquez’s locker he found three pieces of paper taped to the door.”
One said:”Discipline, Dedication, Teamwork”
Another one was a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again…If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat”
On the third was the quote:”The brave don’t live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all.”
If you are looking for the definition of a Fireman it was Steve Velasquez.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, fires, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, Uncategorized | Posted on 24-07-2013| Posted in
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 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| Posted in
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 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| Posted in
Each year we are presented with the grim statistics of the previous year’s line of duty deaths in a detailed and meticulous report. The report details every facet of the incident along with the “causation factors” that led to the untimely death. Historically, we know that many of the factors repeat each year. Factors, such as Command & Control, Accountability, Communications, along with specific fireground situations like rapid-fire growth, collapse, lack of situational awareness.
Many variations of the quote above exist but the overriding theme is the same. We must be students of our past history so that we can overcome their challenges and hopefully not suffer the same fate. So, the question is often posed, what do we do with these detailed LODD reports? How do we “study” them so we are not condemned to repeat it?
I offer that these reports provide the foundation for a training program for all firefighters. They provide the perfect training environment (strip shopping center, office, single family dwelling, etc.) and the conditions to recreate (zero visibility, high heat, Collyer’s Mansion ). You, as the instructor, can than challenge your firefighters to think about how they could overcome the situation our lost brother or sister encountered during their last fire.
A fact not be lost in any of these blog post or drills, is that we were not there and do not know what the firefighter encountered in his last seconds of life. This is not armchair quarterbacking, this paying homage to the sacrifice they made in the line of duty and ensuring that their death is not in vain.
Please take the time to review with the LODD reports with your firefighters, discuss different strategies and tactics to overcome these challenges they faced, keep our fallen firefighters memories fresh in your mind, and always study our past so we don’t repeat it.
To help keep the memory and legacy of our lost firefighters fresh in our minds and constantly challenge us to stay on top of our game, we will post a Line of Duty Death Report along with a drill or tip that is related to the event. Let this become the beginning of the tactical conversation you have with your fellow firefighters perhaps event the start of the reality-based training program that just may save their live.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, rescues, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 03-03-2011| Posted in
Traditions Training, LLC had another great month in February 2011. We conducted several extremely successful hands on and lecture programs. We had instructors write articles in this months editions of Urban Firefighter and Fire Engineering Magazines. All the while, we continued to publish new tips/tricks on our blogs and Facebook pages…
March is now upon us and Fire Engineering’s FDIC (Fire Departments Instructor Conference) is less than 3 weeks away. Our instructors have been tirelessly polishing their presentations and the Traditions Training, LLC staff is set to be entrenched there for most of the week! If you are going to be at FDIC, come out to take a listen to what you have been reading here on our FB page and Blog, you will not be disappointed! We are certainly privileged to be presenting several times throughout the week on various fireground topics.
Keep up with TT’s facebook page, as we will be trying to attend various social events throughout the week! Let us know where you are going to be, we would love to join in sharing the great Tradition’s of our profession at FDIC!
Monday, March 21, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Firefighter Nicholas A. Martin, District of Columbia Fire Department
Basement fires are among the most hazardous incidents that you respond to, primarily because of delayed recognition and limited access. This workshop will discuss techniques for size-up and attack of basement fires, including considerations for the truck company, engine company, and incident commander. Learn about the hazards, size-up techniques to improve early recognition of the fire’s actual location, various methods of fire attack, the construction and contents of typical basements with the corresponding effects on fire behavior, structural stability, and tactical options.
Monday, March 21, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
25 to Survive: Residential Building Fires
Captain Daniel D. Shaw, Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue; and Lieutenant Douglas J. Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York
More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at other building fires. This dynamic and interactive program will address 25 critical firefighting issues common to the residential building. The program will discuss the areas of preparation, response, and operations, all vital to successfully mitigating the event. Students will learn “street-smart” tips, tactics, and practical company drills to remedy the common errors encountered and allow the student to bring back more than just what they heard.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
10:30 AM-12:15 PM
Modern Engine Company Essentials
Captain Dan Shaw, Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue & Lieutenant Douglas J. Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York
This interactive program discusses the most vital unit on the fireground, the engine company. Learn how changes in building construction, staffing levels, and new equipment have affected the job of getting water to the fire. Students will learn sound tactics and techniques for preparing and operating the modern-day engine company.
Friday, March 25, 2011
8:30 AM-10:15 AM
Effective Use of Tower Ladders in Tactical Operations
Firefighter Nicholas A. Martin, District of Columbia Fire Department
Proper use of tower ladders in various fireground scenarios is presented. Topics include proper placement and deployment of aerial apparatus; integrating the aerial into the fireground effectively; and using the aerial in various scenarios such as gaining access, rescues, using elevated master streams, and performing technical rescue. Rear-mount and midmount devices and “ladder tower” vs. “tower ladder” are also discussed.
Posted by administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, In the News, in-the-line-of-duty, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 01-03-2011| Posted in
Today marks the 11th anniversary of the tragedy in Worcester, MA in which 6 firefighters died in the line of the duty fighting a fire and conducting a search for reported trapped victims in a Cold Storage Warehouse. Please take a moment today to reflect on the events of that day along with the findings demonstrated in the after action reports so that none of our brother firefighters are forgotten.
We, at Traditions Training, LLC, view the training that firefighters conduct everyday in their firehouses is paramount to us always being Combat Ready and doing the job we swore to do well. So, if you are looking for a topic for training today, follow the links below and review the incident with your members and what they encountered that fall evening.
Additionally, spend some time discussing or formulating what your tagline operation would be in a building like the Cold Storage Warehouse. The brothers lost on December 3rd, 1999 become disoriented in windowless 40,000 + square foot building that was on fire. We owe it to their memories to make sure we are up to par on our tagline searching skills and today is a great day to get out and refine them so we are always Combat Ready!
Link from the Telegram & Gazette Newspaper in Worcester, MA:
Posted by administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, fires, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, major-incidents, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 03-12-2010| Posted in
In our first post on R.I.T, we reviewed the new “NFPA Standard for Rapid Intervention #1407 ” and its role in defining RIT training. In this is second blog post we will take a look at the rest of the NFPA 1407 document. On the fireground, No one is coming in for us, but more of us… We need to be sure that we are ready to go to work as a member of a R.I.T Company.