Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Company Officer: Influence, Leadership, Committment

Some words to think about as the Company Officer….

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority, Kenneth Blanchard

Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work, Vince Lombardi

The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it., Theodore Roosevelt

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity, George Patton

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it, Dwight Eisenhower

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things, Peter F. Drucker

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights, John Wooden

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do, John Wooden

Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability, John Wooden

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work, Vince Lombardi

Where does YOUR committment, leadership and Influence come from or fit in?

Follow more at

Occupancy Profiling and Risk; Take another Look

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders and commanding officers to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior, a focus on operational structural stability and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type.

There is an immediate need for today’s emerging and operating command and company officers to increase their foundation of knowledge and insights related to the modern building occupancy, building construction and fire protection engineering and to adjust and modify traditional and conventional strategic operating profiles in order to safeguard companies, personnel and team compositions.

Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk, not occupancy type, and must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior.

The dramatic changes in buildings and occupancies over the past ten years have resulted inadequate fire suppression methodologies based upon conventional practices that do not align with the manner in which we used to discern with a measured degree of predictability how buildings would perform, react and fail under most fire conditions.

We predicate certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner that fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time; that the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy, structural system and given an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions, we can safely and effectively mitigate a structural fire situation in any given building type and occupancy.

Past operational experiences, both favorable and negative; gave us experiences that define and determine how the fireground is assessed, react and how we expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm in the future; this formed the basis for the naturalistic decision-making process.
Implementing fundamentals of firefighting operations built upon nine decades of time-tested and experience-proven strategies and tactics continues to be the model of suppression operations.
  • These same fundamental strategies continue to drive methodologies and curriculums in our current training programs and academies of instructions.
Are you aware of the defining changes in structural systems and support, the degree of compartmentation, the characteristics of materials and the magnitude of the fire-loading package in today’s buildings and occupancies? When was the last time you were out in the street with the companies, or spent some time doing a walk-through of construction or renovations site? Have you asked you commanding officers, division or battalion chief or your company officers for insights into what operational demands and risks are being imposed upon them while operating in the street and within the buildings, occupancies and structures that comprise your jurisdiction?

The structural anatomy, predictability of building performance under fire conditions, structural integrity and the extreme fire behavior; accelerated growth rate and intensively levels typically encountered in buildings of modern construction during initial and sustained fire suppression have given new meaning to the term combat fire engagement.

The rules for combat structural fire suppression have changed; but no one has told us. The IAFC Safety, Health & Survival Section (SH&S) spent that past year refining and updating The IAFC Ten Rules of Structural Fire Engagement. First published in 2001, the original Ten Rules of Engagement for Structural Fire Fighting provided a set of principles and parameters that incident commanders, commanding and company officers could utilize and implement during incident operations to decrease operations risk, increase and amplify personnel safety of operating companies.

The section moved to develop rules of engagement for structural firefighting to serve as nationally developed model procedures (SOPs) offered by the IAFC. These new Rules of Engagement for Structural Fire Fighting have been posted on the IAFC SH&S web page and were officially rolled out the Fire Rescue International in Chicago in 2010. 
  • The Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival and The Incident Commanders Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety will provide a crucial link towards integrating occupancy risk considerations with more educated and informed understandings of buildings, occupancies, and the behavior of fire with a structure.
However, from a methodical and disciplined perspective; aggressive firefighting must be redefined and aligned to the built environment and associated with goal-oriented tactical operations that are defined by risk assessed and analyzed strategic processes that are executed under battle plans that promote the best in safety practices and survivability within known hostile structural fire environments.

 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. As a result, risk management must become fluid and integrated with intelligent tactical deployments and operations recognizing the risk problematically and not fatalistically, resulting in safety conscious strategies and tactics.

 Today’s incident commanders need to think about the Predicative Strategic Process, refined Tactical Deployment Models integrating intelligent Structural Anatomy and Predictive Occupancy Profiling, while implementing Tactical Patience.

Think about the following;
  • Read, comprehend and implement the new IAFC The Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival and The Incident Commanders Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety
  • Take a tour of your response area, district, community or city.
  • Take a good look around and begin to recognize the apparent or subtle changes that are affecting your incident operations;
  • Take note and think about what needs to be adjusted, modified or changed in your operations.
  • Read up on the latest research and technical literature on wind driven fires, extreme fire behavior, structural ability of engineered lumber systems, fire loading and suppression theory
  • Take the time to personally read a series of the latest NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program LODD reports and relate them to your organizations operations and jurisdictional risks.
  • Start thinking in terms of Occupancy Risks versus Occupancy Type and align your operations and deployments to match those risks
  • Increase your situational awareness of today’s fireground and refine your strategic and tactical modeling
  • Implement both Strategic and Tactical Patience;
  • Slow down and allow the building to react and stabilize, for fire behavior to stop behaving badly and for your companies to increase survivability ratios while meeting the demands of conducting fire service operations
  • Reprogram your assumptions and presumptions and options on building construction and firefighting operations; the buildings have changed, our firefighting has not; what are you going todo about that gap?
It’s all about understanding the building-occupancy relationships and the Art and Science of Firefighting, equating to Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interactive Dynamic Risk Assessment Download

An interactive training program has been provide courtesy of and to support skill set development in the areas of dynamic risk assessment, size-up analysis and situational awareness for all rank of personnel.

This is a basic program that will support any of your department’s or company’s current drill or training inititatives.

Download the program HERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Fire Officer’s Library

Here‘s a selection of Six Fundamental Books related to the Company Officer that should be in every Fire Officer’s library. What!- don’t have a library?-then it’s never too late to start one.

In no special order or ranking here are six fundamental books that every aspiring, emerging, developing or veteren Fire Officer should read and have.

The Fire Officer Principles and Practices; Jones and Bartlett Learning HERE
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) are pleased to bring you the Second Edition of Fire Officer: Principles and Practice, a modern integrated teaching and learning system for the Fire Officer I and II levels. Fire officers need to know how to make the transition from fire fighter to leader. Fire Officer: Principles and Practice, Second Edition is designed to help fire fighters make a smooth transition to fire officer.

Fire and Emergency Services for the Company Officer; IFSTA HERE
The 4th edition of Fire and Emergency Services Company Officer provides emergency services personnel with information necessary to meet the JPRs of NFPA® 1021, Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications for level I and II fire officers. The manual presents information specific to the duties of first-line supervisors and midlevel managers.

The Chief Fire Officer’s Desk Reference; Jones and Bartlett Learning HERE
Just as firefighters rely upon proper gear and equipment to tackle a challenging task at hand, fire officers require reliable tools to help them make the right call when faced with a tough decision. Chief Fire Officer’s Desk Reference provides a ready reference on key topics for the modern fire chief, including tips and indispensable advice from some of the most respected members of the fire community. This comprehensive insider’s guide will help chief fire officers operate effectively and efficiently across an ever-increasing range of responsibilities, including operations, personnel and asset management, fire prevention and education, and much more.

The Company Officer; Delmar Cengage Learning HERE
Based on the 2009 Edition of NFPA 1021, STANDARD FOR FIRE OFFICER PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS, the third edition of Company Officer provides vital information for those who seek certification as Fire Officer I or II. Learning objectives in this new edition were validated by a committee of experts from the field to ensure that the content meets the intent of the Standard and highlights contents for each of these two officer levels. Content was thoroughly reviewed and updated to reflect new technology, practices, and terminology to remain current in the field as well as to focus on issues critical to the fire officer today – budgeting, labor management, legal implications of actions, and more. In the tradition of previous editions, Company Officer, Third Edition continues to provide valuable insight and advice for aspiring and current fire officers alike.

Achieving Excellence in the Fire Service; Brady Books HERE
To remain a viable public organization, fire departments must maintain a constant focus on quality. Chief Fire Officers must continually strive to improve their department’s service and cost effectiveness, while maintaining a level of excellence. Unique to this market, Achieving Excellence in the Fire Service is the only quality improvement resource developed specifically for fire service professionals. Integrating quality improvement principles into overall s management and administrative strategies, it provides comprehensive coverage from a history of system evaluation in the fire service, to quality management to strategic quality planning and much more.

The Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics; PennWell Books HERE
Modern firefighting is a continually evolving science. New technologies are constantly being applied to the fire service, both from within and without. In the latest edition of this perennial favorite, author John Norman examines these new technologies and how they affect fireground tactics. He also details the new role firefighters play in homeland security. What is offered here is a guide for the firefighter and the fire officer who, having learned the basic mechanics of the trade, are now looking for methods for handling specific situations.

These books are specific to a broad range of Fire Officer topical areas that each book contains and do represent the expansive range of both topical subjects or books available from the various publishers that address other specific functional operational areas such as strategy & tactics, safety, instructor, building construction, administration etc., that each fire officer should also have in their library.

More on those on a future post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First-Due Arriving Companies; Are You Prepared?

As the First-Due Fire Company; Officer and crew, Are you prepared to address the fireground variables and occupancy risks upon your arrival and during the initial stages of your deployment and operations?

Are you combat ready or passively engaged?

It seems we’ve struck some interests over past week since we first discussed the First-Due Fire Officer on the most recent edition of Taking it to the StreetsTM where we had a vibrant and insightful program in which we discussion some of the expansive facets related to the First-Due Fire Officer.

The First-Due Fire Office program can be downloaded HERE at Firefighter

The formulative discussion revolved around a variety of functional elements, traits, responsibilities and duties befalling the First-Due Officer, and was followed up with a post  on

We discussed how today’s First-Due Officer must perform smarter with increased perceptions, discernments and acumens with intelligence and wisdom that is drawn from further progressing and collective fire ground response and operational experiences.

My good friend Captain Willie Wines (aka The Iron Fireman) posted a great article with further interpretations of the First-Due Officer. Check out “The First-Due Officer; What are you thinking?” HERE.

Here’s today’s situations to think about at the station, around the kitchen table, over a cup of coffee in the day room after your next alarm or tonight at the station for a “back step” company drill.

What are the Adverse Conditions that might be encounted upon arrival as the First-Due?
  • Flashover, Backdraft, Compromised or degraded Structural Conditions, Collapsed Conditions, Structural Collapse, Wind Drive Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Pre-Flashover/ Post-Flashover….
  • How Effective are you in Reading the Smoke?
  • How About Reading the Building? Do you understand Occupancy Profiling and Occupancy Risk?
  • Are you Taking the Time to Read the Subtle or Pronounced Fireground Indicators.; Comprehend their meaning or are you just “too engaged in the tactic or task?”
  • Do you have an appreciation for Tactical Patience?
  • Are your operations Tactically Driven by SOP’s and SOGs?
  • What Rules of Engagement are you considering?
  • Have and IAP in mind?

Take a look at the other discussion points along with additional video clips and references at the full article discussing the First-Arriving Company HERE

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The First-Due Fire Officer

On the most recent edition of Taking it to the StreetsTM we had a vibrant and insightful program in which we discussion some of the expansive facets related to the First-Due Officer. The discussion revolved around a variety of functional elements, traits, responsibilities and duties befalling the First-Due Officer.

Taking it to the Streets: The First-Due Officer
On Your Street, In Your City, Across the Country, Around the WorldTM
To listen to the program, HERE

Regardless if you’re the First-Due Company Officer or the First-Due Commanding Officer, you have a tremendous level of responsibilities and the obligation to formulate and initiate immediate actions that require effective and efficient; identification, assessment, analysis and integration in the evolving fireground environment.

Or is it just; “pullin’ the line”, or “opening up” or “arriving on scene and assuming the command?”

The First-Due Officer has many facets, functions and pitfalls. Leadership, determination, fortitude, skills, resilience, strength, conviction, temperance, restraint and the courage to be safe are but a few of descriptors that define the role or could it be recklessness, ineptitude, incompetent, self-indulging, careless or dangerous: all in the name of tactical entertainment.

There are numerous avenues that a discussion can take when talking about the street level issues affecting the First-Due Officer. First and foremost, the First-Due Officer should have a solid foundation of requisite skill sets, knowledge and training tempered with experience and fortified with empathy and identification with crew and company integrity and safety.

Today’s First-Due Officer must perform smarter with increased perceptions, discernments and acumens with intelligence and wisdom that is drawn from further progressing and collective fire ground response and operational experiences. It’s no longer just brute force and physical determination that defines our fire ground operations, especially when we relate to the duties and responsibilities of the First-Due Officer.

Here are some things to think about today at the station, around the kitchen table or over a cup of coffee in the day room after your next alarm;

What defines the First Due Officer in your organization or company?

What effect and consequences does the First Due Officer have on Incident Operations?
• Is the First Due Officer defined by the level of aggressiveness they select and implement in their IAP on a consistent basis?
• Is there a correlation and parallel between Risk Management, Building Construction, Firefighter Survival and Aggressive Intervention that the First Due Officer must balance?

What is the Role of the First Due Officer?
• Strategic, Tactical or Task level Operations?
• Can they truly perform all of the functional facets required or implied by current fire ground operational models and practices?
• Can Risk Management really be implemented by the First-Due Officer? Is it being done in organization or company? Or is it just getting the “job done”?
• Company Level Crew Integrity and Safety & Survival
• Maintaining Fluid Situational Awareness
• Evolving and Expanding Operational Concerns
• Company Integrity
• Having Appropriate Technical Competencies, Knowledge and Skill Sets
• Confidence Experience and Operational Fortitude
• Abilities to Predict & Maintain; Focus, Forecast,
• Command & Leadership Presence in Strategic and/or Tactical deployments and Assignments

If you are an emerging, aspiring or seasoned Company or Command Officer;
• What are your First-Due Strategic or Tactical Decisions Based Upon?
• What is the Sum of your Experiences and Training?
• What Factors formulate your Risk Assessment Process & Action Planning?
• What is the Basis of your Decision-Making Process?
• What Do you really Know, Assume or Consider in the Buildings, Occupancies, Events & Incidents you interface with?
• Do “Fire Service Traditional Expectations” Cloud your Ability to “SEE” the Big Picture?

What Defines you:
o Aggressive, Forceful, Dynamic, Influential, Passive, Conservative, Decisive, Measured,
o Leadership, Determination, Fortitude, Skilled, Resilience, Strength, Conviction, temperance, restraint and the courage to be safe
o Reckless, Inept, Incompetent, Self-indulging, Careless, Uncontrolled or Dangerous

Are your deployments and operations Delineated in the name of Tactical Entertainment or Defined by Tactical Patience?

Remember this; 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.
• Adequately and Effectively Prepare yourself for those First-Due Officer responsibilities; you have a tremendous level of responsibilities and obligations, Be all you can be, your companies an personnel are counting on you.

Check out the latest downloads of recent programs in the archives by visiting Taking it to the Street’s webpage on or for program insights at

Taking it to the Streets Radio Program, HERE and HERE
Taking it to the StreetsTM is a monthly radio show featured on BlogTalk Radio and is hosted by Christopher Naum and is a Series and Production, © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MGM Grand Hotel 1980-2010

Thirty years ago on the morning of November 21, 1980, 85 people died and more than 700 were injured as a result of a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the second largest life-loss hotel fire in United States history. It was determined during the investigation that the fire originated in the wall soffit of the side stand in the Deli, one of five restaurants located on the casino level. The investigators concluded that several factors contributed to the cause of the fire but the primary source of ignition was an electrical ground fault.

Once the fire ignited, it quickly traveled to the ceiling and the giant air-circulation system above the casino. In the casino, flames fed on flammable furnishings, including wall coverings, PVC piping, glue, fixtures, and even the mirrors on the walls, which were made of plastic.

The fire burned undetected for hours until it flashed over just after 7 a.m. and began spreading at a rate of 19 feet (5.8 meters) per second through the casino. As fire companies and firefighters were arriving, according to published reports, an estimated one-million-cubic-foot wall of flames was rushing through the casino, melting slot machines and sending a cyanide-laced cloud of killer smoke pouring upward.

The investigation determined that the rapid fire spread was due to a series of installation and building design flaws. A wire at the point of fire origin that had been improperly grounded could’ve been discovered had the area been inspected. A compressor wasn’t properly installed. A piece of copper wasn’t insulated correctly. A fire alarm never sounded. A stairwell that was a crucial escape route filled with smoke. The laundry chutes failed to seal and defects existed in the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. All of these factors contributed to the spread of smoke.

Comprehensive posting and reference and video at HERE

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remember to Keep it Fresh

Is your relationship with the fire service at best “Status Quo”? Just like any relationship it has to be worked at. Often when we analyze where we are in a relationship we find you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; regroup and start doing the works you did at first. Another words, refuel the passion for the job!
To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are, to stop developing, progressing or advancing; become sluggish or dull; become stale, foul or dead. So what causes firefighters to go into Status Quo?

· Unmet Needs- Often times the nurturing of our organization does not occur. We have individuals or groups who are often neglected or are never addressed due to the system trying to help others who are not at the same level.

· Unfulfilled Expectations- Many times we find individuals in the fire service who have expectations. Often these expectations are never meet for whatever reason. One of the most common causes is that the expectations are not realistic ones or ones that the organization cannot support for any member.

· Under Developed Self Esteem- In most cases self esteem is not a major issue; however with some individuals the environments they are placed in are negative, hostile and/or demeaning. When this occurs it is not hard for them to have a low self esteem. We often see this with many of the harassment cases.

· Unresolved Conflicts- many times individuals will have unresolved issue. Why is this? Well most times they never have the fortitude to address them professionally. They get mad or sulk when they don’t get exactly what they want. There is no conflict resolution or closure in an issue. Other times they never choose to address the problem at all.

· Uncontrolled Thoughts- We recognize that many individuals will have these thoughts that are not controlled. That is they don’t have a full knowledge of all information and they are thinking one dimensional.

· Unprotected Lifestyles- Who is influencing you and your thoughts? Who are your so called friends and colleagues? What are they feeding you? Often times we find that individuals find themselves in a status quo mode due to being frustrated. The first area you should look at is who you are hanging with. In most cases it has been shown that who you are hanging with influences you tremendously whether it is positive or negatively. In short what junk are they feeding you?

· Unreliable Commitment- Commitment takes work and if in the relationship one side is not committed then it becomes unreliable. Often times the organization is not the problem but officers who don’t do their jobs. This influences the entire organization.

Keep It “FRESH”?
We have to invite today’s fire service in. We cannot be living in the past or on fantasies. Today’s fire service is a lot different than when I started back in 1980. The key is adapting and embracing changes. We the Fire Service have a burden of responsibility…a responsibility to leave the service better than we inherited it. This means we have to learn from our own and other’s mistakes. We must set a course of direction that has safety as the focus. This will mean that many cultures, values, opinions and beliefs will have to be changed or better yet educated. Leaders must be diligent in their efforts working tirelessly to accomplish the vision exhausting all means for a successful journey. Never lose faith or lower the vision. Falling short of the vision is better than setting one low and making it. If leaders will follow the vision with heart-felt desire you will win! To sum it all up you must keep the vision and keep from getting distracted.

Remember to make it your priority. To keep the vision you must understand that it will require personal sacrifices and risks to be taken. In making sacrifices and taking risks we often feel like we are out on a limb. Well guess what, you are! But if we don’t take chances you most likely will not keep focused on what is important, the vision you have set as a leader. These distractions that come up often pull even the best leaders off of the vision. When we keep our vision, we often receive harsh criticism. But remember, DO NOT compromise for what seems easier nor be discouraged by the criticism.

We have to be focused on nurturing our relationship with the fire service. With that said we need to have true diverse communications that are open and engage active listening. When I focus on active listening, I challenge you to hear what has happened in other organizations and responses. Embrace vicarious learning as we cannot create training for every scenario possible. There just isn’t enough time. But we can learn about situations, conditions, events and types of responses from others who have experienced them, plus benefit from their lessons learned. By doing this we spend the required time live and learn. With all of this being said there has to be a degree of pleasure that comes with anything. Remember that we need to keep it fun. However, fun is dictated by attitudes. So before you tell me that all the fun is gone check your attitude and the people that are influencing you. Maybe the reason it isn’t fun is who you are surrounded by which most often is a choice. I challenge you to look at the big picture.

For officers you have to keep the romance and passion for the fire service going for your crews. Don’t fall victim yourself. Here are a few tips on how to keep the fire service passion going:

· Pay Attention- It is important to be following closely what your personnel are doing. You should spend quality time engaged with these individuals to truly understand them as individuals. You should focus on their needs more than your own.

· Give Affirmation- To the fire service and the people who affect and work with you. Positive affirmations and positive thinking techniques can help develop a powerful and positive attitude to life; which is an essential element in life success and good health. With this power you can turn failure around into success and take success and drive it to a whole new level. Your positive attitude is the fuel for your success.

· Show Affection- Speak well of the organization and the people in it. Negative comments drag everyone down. The negativity you show in these conversations depicts your level of thinking.

· Create Adventure- We need to create in our realms an exciting or very unusual experience and the ability to participate in exciting undertakings. This needs to be on going and challenging.

As you strive to keep it fresh remember …you are a part of this great profession we call the fire service. What are you going to do to make a difference?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Focus on Improving Situational Awareness

Traditional phased incident scene size-up and monitoring is antiquated and no longer appropriate or applicable to modern fire service operations.

Situational awareness is a combination of attitudes, previously learned knowledge and new information gained from the incident scene and environment that enables the strategic commanders, decision-makers and tactical companies to gather the information they need to make effective decisions that will keep their firefighters and resources out of harm’s way, reducing the likelihood of adverse or detrimental effects.

Command and company officers and firefighters MUST understand the building, the occupancy features and the inherent impact of fire within and on the structure, AND be able to identify, communicate and take actions necessary to support the incident action and battle plans, mitigate incident conditions and provide for continuous safety protection to themselves, their team, their company and the entire alarm assignment operating at the incident scene.

Everyone on the incident scene MUST stay alert to changing conditions, obvious or latent conditions or escalating factors that require prompt identification, comprehension and appropriate implementation of actions. To the Incident Commander, fire officer or firefighter, knowing what’s going on around you, in and around the building structure and understanding the consequences of building, construction, assembly, fire load and fire development and growth is mission critical to incident stabilization and mitigation and profoundly crucial in terms of personnel safety. Maintain a three-sixty sphere of observation and awareness at all times.

Check out further insights HERE
Some addtional References; HERE, HERE and HERE, HERE
Follow Informational Postings for Buildingsonfire on Facebook HERE

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Public Safety. Private Funding!

With the mid-term elections behind us, we now need to look forward.
With a nation concerned about the economy and our growing deficit that was created by out-of-control spending, it should come as no surprise that spending cuts are a reality that we must face.
As a push to limit federal government begins to kick in, I believe that less federal money will be made available to local government and in particular; local fire service.
Local and state governments will be asked to carry the bulk of their fire protection expense.
For instance; our county is facing a 1.3 million dollar deficit, unless new revenue streams can be found.
If not, I believe we are facing cuts in funding.
Do we take a “wait and see” position or do we go to the table with a realistic spending plan?
If we don’t, then funding decisions will be made FOR us and let’s face it; the elections was a referendum on the intrusive, “nanny state” mentality of our current government power brokers.
We cannot simply stand in line with our hands out.
The fire service must make every effort to demonstrate that public safety can operate without being a money drain to the local economy.
We need to offer value-added service and consider such strategies as charging for services that are not funded through conventional fire protection taxes.
If we have to ADD services to keep manpower at adequate levels, then we have to find the wherewithal to pay for it, because communities will be unlikely to add jobs if it adds to the debt.
We should be open to performing such services as hydrant inspections that includes flushing/flow testing. We may want to consider building inspections that includes health and safety risks, structural integrity, fire suppression and alarm systems and to conduct inspections of the early phases of new construction.
We should be included in any local, open burning legislation that would allow the fire department to require a fee for the permit to burn. A pre-burn inspection could also be done.
We have also gone to the businesses in our rural community and they have been more than willing to supplement our rescue services with purchases of equipment designed for confined space and grain bin rescues. Our very first set of extrication tools was purchased 100% with donations. From start to finish, it took less than three months to raise the $14,000. That was 1985 and our community continues to support us with their donations AND their taxes.
These are just a few off of the top of my head that could make every difference for a volunteer fire department. I’m sure that we can come up with more.
If you are not charging out of district users for your services; you should be. Anyone from out of district who has the misfortune of experiencing a vehicle accident that requires fire department services typically has insurance to cover the costs of their accident. Reasonable charges should be assessed. Our fire district adds several thousand dollars to the general fund every year from non-district users’ fees.
Businesses in our communities need to understand extraordinary circumstances that extend beyond a typical request for fire service. That is; if the response requires more technical assistance than fire suppression, then a bill for services should be considered. Examples of “non-typical” would be a trench/building collapse or a confined space rescue. Hazardous material calls should also be billed. Fire districts need to remember that public law only requires fire districts to provide for the publics’ fire protection. Unless the law has been amended to include other, specific tasks, you may also be in violation of the public trust if you are spending tax money for equipment that is not for firefighter or the public’s safety with regards to fire “protection”. It would be prudent to check your local and state laws.
From personal experience, I can tell you that our laws in Illinois are explicit on what can and cannot be purchased with tax money. As a small example, we are discouraged from even purchasing flowers for a funeral; the point being that, if we do it for one taxpayer, we would have to do it for all taxpayers and that wouldn’t be wise use of tax money where it is a tax for fire protection. You get the point.
If our communities are going to look at us when spending cuts need to be made, then they must also understand that there are costs associated with what we do.
A community that is willing to cut their public safety when economic times are tough must also be willing to pay for it when the money is there and especially if we are willing to show them additional funding mechanisms. Why should a fire department run lean and mean and have a budget surplus only to have it “swept” and used for other government expense or worse; are told to cut even more? It happens.
However; if you live in a community where the residents believe that those “community clean up days” are free, then yes; we have an uphill battle to fight.
So; we will educate them for “free”!
This article is protected by federal copyright laws under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It cannot be re-produced in any form without the expressed, written permission of the author, Art Goodrich, also known as ChiefReason.
Please visit and my blog at
Web Analytics