Friday, April 30, 2010

Evansville Indiana Close Call Magnesium Explosion Car Fire

Evansville Indiana Close Call Magnesium Explosion Car Fire

There are NO HEROES un unoccupied car fires
Firerescue1 - "Over Aggressive Attacks on Car Fires" - feature story by me - CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NIST Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiements

The much anticipated NIST Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiements was recently issued. The report is also available for download at the NIST, HERE or at, HERE

I provided some program insights into the study, its parameters, methodologies and scope on the (Here and HERE) A more comprehensive post addressing the Executive Summary of Findings is over on HERE

When you have an opportunity, I highly recommend reading through the report findings and summary conclusions. The cases made related to effectiveness of operations correlated to staffing levels and tactical assignments will provide a wealth of information that will form the basis for the developing tactical renaissance that is emerging within the fire service.

Here' the introduction to the summary in the report;
Both the increasing demands on the fire service – such as the growing number of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responses, challenges from natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, and acts of terrorism—and previous research point to the need for scientifically based studies of the effect of different crew sizes and firefighter arrival times on the effectiveness of the fire service to protect lives and property.

To meet this need, a research partnership of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was formed to conduct a multiphase study of the deployment of resources as it affects firefighter and occupant safety. Starting in FY 2005, funding was provided through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) / Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program—Fire Prevention and Safety Grants. In addition to the low-hazard residential fireground experiments described in this report, the multiple phases of the overall research effort include development of a conceptual model for community risk assessment and deployment of resources, implementation of a general sizable department incident survey, and delivery of a software tool to quantify the effects of deployment decisions on resultant firefighter and civilian injuries and on property losses.

How do you think this report will impact or influence the fire service going forward?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leadership Suicide

I here this phrase from fire officers across the United States, “You just can’t find good people today. They just are not like we were at their age.” So what does this mean? Some may say that the future is not to bright looking at the current generation. Other may say what is wrong with us? I say if you asked the officers who trained us, they would say they said the same thing about us, “You just can’t find good people today. They just are not like we were at their age.” So is the fire service really that bad now? I say no, we are not that bad but we could always improve what we are doing and I believe succession training is the key. Teach others from our mistakes and victories.

A successful leader must have a well defined vision of where the organization is going. Often times you can measure vision as it is in direct proportion to accomplishment. As we begin to develop the future generation of fire service personnel we must navigate that road with vision. Vision is like a navigational system guiding you precisely from point “A” to point “B”. With vision we must be focused on the mission as well. Like vision, the mission gives a successful leader a sense of direction and purpose. This same mission gives personnel and future leaders the same sense of direction and purpose.

As we navigate our pathways of development we must learn not to utilize a “shoot from the hip” philosophy. We must learn to set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym standing for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time dimension. As we set goals we must set specific or well defined goals that can be measured. Measured is usually specific to statistics or set time tables. The realism is often the area leaders fail in. They either set the goals out of reach and they fail or set them too easy and never excel. Setting realistic goals means to set them where you have to stretch yourself but not fail in doing so. Without a time frame, the goal becomes merely a wish or dream.

As officers and leaders we are faced with developing the future leaders of the fire service. I often look around and see officers not setting a very good example in all aspects of the fire service. If you picture an individual you consider to be a great leader, like Dennis Compton, I can promise you will find one trait that they will exhibit…That is they will show integrity in all that they do! To have integrity you must have strong values like innovation, honesty, a positive attitude, team work, mercy and many more. But most of all you must take responsibility for your actions. I far too often see officer’s sale their subordinates down the road for their mistake. Here is a responsibility check:
- Do you get defensive when you are criticized?
- Do you learn from your mistakes and start fresh?
- Are you comfortable in admitting when you made a mistake?
- Do you try to hide your weaknesses?
- How do you feel when you make a mistake?
- How does it feel when others know you made a mistake?

Depending on how you answer these questions will determine if you are willing to take responsibility for your own and others actions.

Operational Excellence

Regardless of your rank, or time in grade, the length of time in your organization, the size and structure of your department or your daily demands and challenges; leadership, mentoring, contributing, setting the example, being at your very best individually or collectively as part of a team, a company or a department is essential and pivotal- Think about it…..

  • Find your Energy
  • Explore your Strengths
  • Discover you Passion
  • Expand your Perspective
  • Understand your Beliefs
  • Choose your Attitude
  • Align your Behaviors
  • Challenge your Perception
  • Define your Success
  • Live your Value
  • State your Mission
  • Proclaim your Purpose
Remember: It’s not the uniform, rank or helmet color that defines a person; it’s what you do that defines who you are.

We must have the fortitude and courage to be both safety conscious and measured in the performance of our sworn duties while maintaining the appropriate balance of risk and bravery.

The demands and requirements of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger.

How and what you do, accept or disregard reflects highly upon you, as does your training and level of skills.

What defines you; as a firefighter, an officer, commander or instructor?

Where and how do you fit in?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ever-Changing is Always Confusing!

It started with that very first, “If you don’t like the rules, then don’t play”!

But then, someone came along who decided, “Well, I don’t like the rules, but I want to play, so we’ll change the rules”.

And so it began.

When more and more got to play and it was starting to get crowded, then the rules were tightened, so that fewer got to play.

But, that appeared to be discriminatory, so the rules were changed again in the name of diversity.

But, when diversity proved to be discrimination in reverse, the rules were changed once again.

And on and on.

How does it happen that these changes are made?

How is it that rules, requirements, legislation or laws are so ill-conceived that they face these barrages of changes?

In my opinion, it is because the INTENT is often misinterpreted.

What seemed like a good idea at the time, turned out to be a sieve for challenges by anyone smart enough to ask the question. And rather than stay with the original intent; the intent became the victim of more liberal interpretations, because our society has moved more towards inclusion, so as not to appear exclusionary and done so without consideration for cost or the problems created by constantly changing the rules.

I offer as examples federal grant programs, PSOBs and my favorite; NIMS.

The “don’t haves” complain that the rules are too stringent that they can’t comply, whether it be a training standard or a grant for training.

The “haves” complain that what they get isn’t enough or doesn’t go far enough.

Both are appeased when rules are “loosened” for the “don’t haves” and the “haves” get to apply for money in more than one category. On the surface, it looks like “win-win”, but it isn’t, because, unless you walk up and hand someone a bundle of cash, there will always be the “don’t haves”.

I have seen a couple of recent articles that address public pensions ( and LODDs (

With public pensions and with firefighters pensions to be more precise, it appears that the public-i.e. taxpayers-aren’t as supportive of the notion that firefighters are worth their pensions.

Yeah; all of a sudden and in these tough economic times, the citizenry has the same contempt for ALL public sector employees, regardless of job description. It would appear that our once-adoring public HAS put a price on public safety and it’s less than they are currently paying.

It seems that governments everywhere have no desire to eliminate wasteful spending in order to continue to deliver needed services, if it means eliminating their relatives and their pet pork projects. They want to max out credit and borrow more and if they can’t, they will cut where it hurts the most.

But, taxpayers all across the nation are saying “enough is enough”.

And I’m saying that, once again, our societal tendencies have shown that, when we are angry, we will indeed cut off the nose to spite the face!

Turning to LODDs, the language in this document continues to be a “work in progress”, though I’m not sure how much progress is being made. I believe that we have gone past reasonableness if we award LODD status to firefighters who die in a car wreck while returning from training; a car wreck that may have been caused by street racing. Note that I use “IF” and “MAY” and I will also throw in that, until the alleged charges are proven, judgment should be withheld on guilt AND the awarding-or not-of LODD status.

My opinion will be very clear on this; without using the news article from North Carolina as an example, I will simply say that firefighters who are returning from a sanctioned event and are involved in an incident where they have violated rules of conduct or laws and die as a result, then LODD status should not be awarded. Death benefits and type of funeral service will be determined as well.

My opinion in general on LODD is this: maybe it’s time that we return to the days when you were actually engaged at an incident in an activity and died at the time you were engaged in said activities. Illness due to the many pulmonary, cardiac and cancers that cause death have their place under LODD, if for no other reasons, the illness occurred from their occupation.

I mean; it has gotten to the point where, if you die of complications from an abscessed tooth and was seen eating candy bars at the fire station, you get LODD status.

We have lost sight of the INTENT, which are noble and political correctness has weighed heavily on the LODD process and created an “LODD Lite” category. I feel that, if you have to split hairs, then it shouldn’t qualify. If you don’t look at the total package and only the information that meets the criteria, then we will see a day when a firefighter arsonist who set the fire and died while putting it out, will be on the memorial.

My point is that, if there are “questions” surrounding the death, then maybe we should hold off on the “honors” until we are certain that it will not bring major embarrassment to the department.

Unless we don’t care; you know; just like our elected officials.

No thanks.

Let’s talk about it at FDIC in Indy.


The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Aggressive is not Reckless

Aggressive is not reckless
There is a difference between an aggressive fire attack and a reckless one

By Jason Poremba

Too often these days, firefighters are confusing an aggressive attack with a reckless attack. An aggressive attack on fire is not a reckless attack. An aggressive attack is thought out in advance, well planned, and trained for. Videos online often give a bad name to aggressive fire attack by showing firefighters entering a large volume of fire at a rapid rate, with equipment that often doesn't match the job. The key aspects of an aggressive attack are highlighted by size-up, full PPE, proper hose line handling, and an attack that is compatible with the pace of the fire... READ ALL WITH MULTIPLE VIDEOS

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Are Your Firefighters Really Getting It?

I had the opportunity to spend a few moments with an old student, colleague and friend this past weekend. I usually don't like to name departments or people but I truly feel this one is worth mentioning. Recently I wrote about Getting Engaged in the fire service. Well the picture I saw on April 1, 2010 was not an April Fools joke. I saw a department who was truly engaged.

Let me start by praising the leadership of the Roxboro, NC Fire Department. Most are thinking, well the Chief must be a strong leader. I would agree with that but it goes much deeper, everyone in the organization is a leader. They lead with their own talents and projects. The department is truly "Engaged". The chief officers are involved on a local, county, regional, state and national level. The officers and firefighters are involved at a minimum to a county level with many reaching the state level and a few on a national level.

So what is so special about this department that got my attention? The entire department truly "Gets It". They understand that it is about more than running calls and fighting fires, it is about all the other things that impact the community and the citizens there. In talking with Chief Kenneth Torain he was telling me about a crew who had connected with an elderly gentleman who had a lot of limbs down in his back yard. He was not physically able to move those to the front for the City Waste collections to pick up. His budget was not to where he could afford to pay for the services and he was in need of help. The shift from that district made arrangements to help this gentleman out. One firefighter brought in his personal equipment in to work, they took the apparatus and equipment over, staying in service to maintain the standard of cover and moved the limbs from the back yard to the street for pick up. another crew ran a call to an elderly female who was a very bad diabetic who had just returned home from having bilateral amputations of her legs. Her current ramp went down a hill and back up. She was not able to maneuver herself to even get her mail in her wheel chair. This crew went to a local business, secured some materials, paid for what materials were not donated, the required building permit and inspection out of their personal pockets. This list continues with taking care of a welcome to Roxboro sign with planting flowers, mulch and even an appropriate holiday character I personally saw people who had stopped to have a picture made with the Easter Bunny by the sign. They have adopted the areas near their station and keep the trash picked up. They are never to busy to stop and talk to a child and they even helped citizen whose car broke down with a ride home and help with the groceries they had in the car. Chief Torain stated that the person lived in their community and had help pay for that fire apparatus who better to ride as she was truly in need of assistance.

So what is such a big deal about this. Chief Torain in conversation stated he had told his personnel that the profession we had chosen was one of service. The people riding up and down the roads and living in the community didn't owe us anything. They pay taxes and we receive our share. But he challenged them to live what most of them said when they became a member of that organization, "I want to help people and the community". These folks have done just that, they live the basic mission of the fire service which is to "Protect and to Serve the Community". This is just a few of the examples he provided. Oh by the way this is a smaller combination department.

With the failing economy of this area and the need for a new fire apparatus the department placed it in their budget. All other city departments who had requested new capital improvements like vehicles had been cut. The fire department's request made it to budget hearing. There was one question asked by the city council..."How can we expedite this to get you what you need?"

It is important to realize that being engaged has political power. These folks were doing what they enjoyed and they were helping their community. They are so politically desirable to the community that it would be suicide for city government not to give them what they need because the community would be outraged.

Hats off to these brothers and sisters in the fire service. Maybe we all can learn something here...

They Get It!...Do you?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Household Hazmat - Not In My Back Yard

From this weekend at All Hazards Contemplations...

In the world of preventing the occurance of harmful incidents, the fire-rescue community has few peers and often excels. Innovative ways to prevent and reduce harm have included smoke detector programs, fire inspection programs, injury prevention programs like Risk Watch, and especially fire prevention education programs. My department is fortunate to have a very active Public Education Officer who coordinates and often instructs a variety of injury prevention and fire prevention education programs. The public education programs are well-received, and often receive good reviews in the local news media.

A few years ago, we developed and implemented our first-ever Household Hazardous Materials Round-Up. This is a one-day event where our entire department - firefighters, Hazmat Team members, the command staff, communications personnel, support services personnel, and the emergency management staff work conduct a drive-up hazmat collection point. A pollution control contractor licensed in hazardous waste recycling supports the effort with chemists, hazmat personnel, and logistics personnel. Last year, we added a new service - electronic waste collection - with another contractor that specializes in recycling old electronic components. The Hazmat Round-Up became an annnual event, and is now usually held twice per year.

The Hazmat Round-Up has several objectives. It removes literally tons of hazardous materials that would otherwise pollute our sensitive environment, reduces toxins and other hazards in our residents' homes, and reduces the number of hazmat spills, leaks, and fires to which we would otherwise have to respond.

The spring 2010 Hazmat Round-Up was held yesterday, and was a spectacular sucess. We set up the collection point at our new Training Center, which includes a 1/4 mile driving course. Local homeowners dropping off household hazmat items simply drove through the Training Center, where firefighters and hazmat technicians offloaded, sorted, classified, and overpacked the materials for the residents. As shown in the photo above, we removed tons of hazardous materials from our first-due, including virtually every class of hazardous materials. The hazmat total included three tractor-trailers and two other trucks filled to capacity with overpacked hazardous materials and an additional tractor-trailer filled with electronic waste (e-waste).

The variety of hazmat removed from the environment included batteries, paint, old fuel and lubricants, pesticides, old compressed gas cylinders, mercury-containing flourescent lights and thermostats, fertilizer, flares, and other items with the words "Caution", "Warning", or "Danger" in the labeling.

The e-waste included old computers, TVs, stereos, appliances, and anything else containing circuit boards, cathode-ray tubes, or other electronic components.

The inevitible questions about programs of this type involve NIMBY - Not In My Back Yard. That acronym has been used to include taking waste from one place and dumping it in another. I'm happy to say that this isn't a big problem with our Hazmat Round-Up. Most of the materials collected are recycled by the hazmat and e-waste contractors. In fact, the ability to recycle these materials contributes substantially to their business model, so they have an incentive to maximize the recycling of the materials they collect. We're glad to have developed a program that not only removes hazmat from our first-due, but that doesn't just take it and dump it somewhere else.

We rotate the on-duty engine, medic, and truck companies through the event, maintain a reserve engine, medic, and the hazmat rig on-site, and provide two meals, rehab, energy snacks, and hydration for everyone who works the event.

It takes a lot of planning, a lot of public service announcements (PSAs), a lot of coordination, and a lot of work to make this even successful. I can state without any hesitation that this event - again - was a resounding success. I appreciate our local residents who brought their household hazmat and dropped it off in a safe manner. That is a much-preferred alternative to finding it leaking, spilled, or on fire in our environmentally-sensitive environment here on the Rock, or worse, spilled into our marine and salt marsh environments, groundwater, and food chain.

It was a long, but rewarding day, and well worth it.
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