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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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Mayday Monday- The Radio Call

FullSizeRenderIn reviewing all the procedures and policies related to Mayday incidents, we have to remember the actual call itself from the trapped or lost firefighter. Does your department have a standard information set that needs to be transmitted out to the Incident Commander or the dispatch center. This is a crucial script that needs to be practiced by your crew members during weekly or monthly drills. This skill set must be able to be transmitted quickly and contain all the information desired by your department or company. In most cases of a Mayday call, the firefighter or officer is under extreme conditions and stressors. This may also be the only radio transmission that you will receive from them, so the practiced information should contain the basics to get the RIT moving under direction from command. How you or your department lay this information, and the procedures following the Mayday should fit your department. But basically it should start with:


2- WHO – Who is calling the Mayday?

3- WHAT – What is the problem?

4. WHERE – Where are you located in the structure

After this quick transmission, depending on local radio systems the pressing or activation of the emergency button on the radio could be added. With all the technology that is available to us through the new radios that are being manufactured, we must UNDERSTAND all that technology and ensure it works with our Mayday procedures. After this transmission the IC can then try obtaining further information by using the LUNAR acronym. Location, Unit, Needs, Air and Resources.

We will post a copy of some Mayday procedures at www.traditionstraining.com on the Resources Page. Please remember to DRILL, DRILL and DRILL some more on this procedure.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Incident Command, RIT / Survival, technology-communications, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics | Posted on 13-10-2014

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RIT Operations – Making the Stairs by: TT Instructor Donald Wedding

Take a look at this Fire Engineering drill by our own Donald Wedding…

TT Stairs Quick Drill PDF

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, RIT / Survival | Posted on 30-06-2014

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Double LODD Report from Bryan, Texas

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 | Posted in 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

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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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Got Stickers?

Got Stickers?


Firefighters, absolutely love stickers and decals.  I know that you know what I am talking about, and… it’s ok.  It is absolutely fine to be proud of who you are as a firefighter, be you a career or volunteer member.  You should be proud of your fire company and your fire department. Affixing decals and stickers to your personal property is just one way for you to show that pride to others.  I’ve seen fire department decals not only on personal vehicles, but boats, golf clubs, I’ve even seen decals on coolers… and so on and so on.
I’ve also seen some sort of decal on almost every rig I have come across.  Some are big, some are small but they mean something to the members who put them there.  I’ve seen decals with company slogans and nicknames, department mascots, company patches, memorial decals, the stickers run the gamut.  While they all serve as reminders to the members, either in memory or to elicit a source of pride, but in aiding our functionality for fireground, eh…well the decals are really just for show.
Recently, I have taken notice of a few stickers and decals on rigs and placed on certain tools that are absolutely excellently placed for OUR increased safety, and will aid our operations on the fireground.  Now, I will certainly not take credit for inventing any of them, I’m just not that smart.  I just thought that they were great ideas and they can be incorporated into most companies and departments quickly, easily and relatively inexpensively.  A sticker, believe it or not may just save a life!
Take a good look at the lead picture above and those below, courtesy of my friend Joe Brown from firehouse pride (www.firehousepride.com).  Ladder and tool wraps can greatly increase visibility of such important landmarks on the fireground.  Also, they are great identifiers for your tools and equipment.
Another useful sticker found on fire apparatus that I have seen is this RIT/FAST one.  In reality the sticker isn’t for your members, they should know where all the equipment is on your rig… its is for everyone else!  You never know when an additions compliment of RIT/FAST supplies may be needed at an incident.  With this decals placement, there is no need to “compartment hunt” looking for the RIT/FAST pack or associated RIT/FAST tools.

Label your RIT/FAST compartment

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-02-2012

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FDIC 2012: 25 TO SURVIVE (Lecture)

**This week we are featuring a short run-down of each of the programs that our staff will be presenting at this year’s FDIC in Indianapolis**

Tuesday (Pre-Conf Workshop, 130p-530p) – 25 to Survive

25 to Survive

TT’s Lt. Mitchell and Capt. Shaw will co-present thier flagship program, 25 to Survive:  The Residential Building Fire.  This program highlights 25 critical areas that present themselves to operating forces at the number one fireground killer of civilians and firefighters alike.  They will present this engaging, interactive presentation will focus on pre-incident, operations and post incident operations.  They will give you street smart tips and take home drills to make yourself and your fire company better prepared at the next residential fire you respond to.  

Lieutenant Douglas J.Mitchell Jr., Fire Department of New York and Captain Daniel D. Shaw, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue:

Course Summary:  More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at any other fire we encounter. This dynamic and interactive lecture program will address 25 critical firefighting errors and issues common to the residential building. Learn sound tips and take home practical drills to address and correct errors at residential fires. Topics include combat-ready attitude, leadership techniques, SCBA confidence, overcoming building construction features (setbacks, long stretches), communication failures on the fireground, developing and delivering sound and accurate on-scene reports, coordinated ventilation, and more.


Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Company News, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, technology-communications, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 08-02-2012

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Saturday March 10, 2012 – Sunday March 11, 2012

View Map | Register



Traditions Training Presents:

Modern Rapid Intervention Essentials


with a tactical twist will allow you to

“Manage the Mayday with a Real World Skill set!”

Topics and group skill stations include:

Constructing & Deploying the Initial RIT

A principal concern of any RIT deployment is the ability to locate the downed firefighter. This station will focus on several search methods specifically oriented to downed firefighters utilizing a “two-team” approach. Use of a search-rope system for this purpose is also included. Members will overcome challenges to locate the downed firefighter utilizing the search rope as an orientation means as well as a method to identify the downed firefighter’s location for assisting teams.

Packaging & Moving the Downed Firefighter

 Students will practice packaging a downed firefighter. Methods will cover the pro’s & con’s of various methods including “DRD” (in coat) devices, the SCBA, webbing, etc. Techniques for moving the downed firefighter will also be covered, including negotiating obstacles and stairs.

 Downed Firefighter Air / SCBA Emergencies

Keeping a downed firefighter on air during extrication and critical is a life-or-death matter. This station will teach students to systematically assess a downed firefighter’s SCBA status to identify and correct problems. This includes correction of face-mask emergencies, mechanical malfunctions, and low/out-of-air scenarios. Buddy- breathing will also be included, along with the 3 tiered rule of air change over.

“Out Side the Box” Removal Techniques

Downed firefighter removal from basement windows, upper floors, and roofs using basic equipment found on every firground or even in your pockets!

Real World Scenarios

 The class will conclude with these evolutions that will last 3 hours. Armed with the skills and knowledge gained in the above stations, students will be broken in to teams of 4-6 firefighters and assigned as the RIT at a mock incident. Amidst distractions, obstacles, and other challenges students will be challenged to resolve a realistic RIT scenario. These scenarios will challenge their new and existing skills as well as their teamwork, communication ability, and problem solving under stress.

Click for a Downloadable Flyer

March 10th & 11th, 2012

Hosted By: Lionville Fire Company – Lionville, PA (Philly area)

Registration: $250.00


Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, RIT / Survival, Upcoming Classes | Posted on 14-09-2011

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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