Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse-PDF Download

The recent comprehensive post titled: Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse has been receiving a considerable amount of attention as the post makes its way throughout the fire service eMedia sites, links, likes, shares and commentary circles, with over 6,000 views in the past 24 hours on various sites.

It furthers the premise that I have advocated my entire career and that is the fire service continues to recognize the need for increased knowledge, training, insights and skill sets related to building construction and its diametric relationship to firefighter, command risk management and operational safety.

And that we need to learn from each and every incident response,operation and run….Let’s continue to gain learnings and insights from not only this event, but from the vast resources of published LODD investigations, after-action reports, case studies, near-miss events and close-calls; for each has a lesson that we can use on our next call.

In order to provide support for continuing training and insight opportunities, I’ve developed a PDF download of the Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse article in its entirety.

  • A power point program will be forthcoming to accompany both media items.
Remember: Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety

Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse PDF Report, HERE

A good discussion and dialog around the kitchen table today or tonight at the station is a conversation on operational safety considerations related to either bowstring truss roof occupancies or operations in "vacant", "abandoned" or "unoccupied" structures; what defines the mode of strategic or tactical operations that is implemented?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hazards and Lessons Learned from Fighting Fires in Modular Construction Homes

Latest Media Segment released from the NFFF/Everyone Goes Home Program: Residential Modular Construction Fires – Lessons Learned

Description: This clip discusses the hazards and lessons learned from fighting fires in modular construction homes.

This link comes by way of Chief Kevin A. Gallagher of the Acushnet (MA) Fire & EMS Department and our good friends at NFFF/Everyone Goes Home Program. This is a great new program on FF Safety, Operational Excellence and understanding the newest challenges on modular residential construction….

Friday, December 17, 2010

Near-Misses, Maydays and Floor Collapses

If you’ve been paying attention to the latest news and on the job reports these past few days, you may have noticed there’s been an emerging trend evident in near miss, close-calls resulting in maydays, RIT deployments and self-rescue resulting from floor compromise and floor collapse.

As I was doing some research and posting links related to the first one or two events on Buildingsonfire on Facebook, HERE, it became evident that there was an immediate opportunity to get some learning’s and insights out.

If you have a chance head over to Facebook and link into Buildingsonfire and check out the incident links posted as well as some immediate report links.

I’ll have some operational safety and awareness insights related to building construction, floor systems and operational integrity posted on Commandsafety.com in the next few days. I’ll get a comprehensive list of events and incident parameters compiled and posted also.

This seems like a good time to have a ten minute drill on these events as Operating Expeeince (OE) on floor systems and operational safety.

In the meantime here are some links I pulled together that you should take the time to read and share with your companies, personnel and staff….. Reference Links for Operational Insights and Operating Experience (OE) link HERE

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Lead Tomorrow, Learn Today

Becoming a leader is like making a sound investment. What actions you take today will impact the results tomorrow. Leadership by definition is the position or function of a leader. What matters the most in the development of a leader is what occurs day by day over a long period of time. Leadership develops daily, not in a day.

Leaders are not just born. It is true that some individuals are born with greater natural talents than others. However, the ability to lead is a development and collection of skills. Most every one of these skills can be learned, sharpened and honed. Leadership is complicated. The important thing to remember is that it requires due diligence daily and it will not occur overnight. There are many aspects to leadership; people skills, emotional composure and strength, discipline, vision, dedication, momentum, timing, respect and the list goes on. With so many of these aspects to develop that is why it takes development and a long period of time to become seasoned as some would say. There is no magical age when you will begin to understand the many aspects of leadership, but one thing will be certain is when clarity of these aspects begins to occur you will know it. Your focus, demeanor and actions will clearly be different than previous.

According to John Maxwell there are four phases of leadership growth.

Phase 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know
Most people never recognized the true value of leadership. The concept that leadership is for a select few is common, usually reserved for those of “Chief Officer” rank. Unfortunately most people never recognize the opportunities that they are passing up, especially when individuals don’t learn to lead. Leadership can occur in so many fashions and at every level. The opportunity to lead someone or a group exists everyday in some way, shape or fashion. If we learn that leadership is influence and that in the course of each day most individuals usually try to influence at least 4 other people, their desire to may be sparked to learn more about this subject. It is unfortunate that as long as an individual doesn’t know what they don’t know, there is failure to grow.

Phase 2: I know What I Don’t Know
Usually this phase occurs when you suddenly find yourself in a leadership position only to come to the realization that no one is following. This is usually when individuals realize they need to learn how to lead. This is when it is possible to learn how to lead. To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to becoming knowledgeable. Successful leaders are life learners, a result of self-discipline and perseverance.

Phase 3: I Know I am Growing because it is Showing
When you recognize your lack of skill and begin the daily discipline of personal growth in leadership, exciting things start to occur. During this phase you begin coming into your own as a leader. This phase is more of the true student phase. You are actively learning, experimenting and growing in both knowledge and wisdom.

Phase 4: I simply Go because of What I know
When you are in phase 3 you will be effective as a leader, but you have to think about your every move. During phase 4, your talents and abilities to lead become almost automated. During this phase is when you receive your reward for all of the discipline, dedication, determination and hard work. For many they never reach this phase as they never recognized the process and pay the price. During this phase it also opens the door for mentoring. You have the opportunity to pay it forward as you “lead” other through this rigorous process.

Leadership is something that is not developed over night or in one day; it is developed daily and is an ongoing process – that is reality. The important thing to recognize is that your leadership ability is not static. Because no matter where you are or starting from you always have the opportunity and ability to get better no matter who you are – world famous to the person next door.

For more leadership information check out the following links:
Leadership - 4 Characteristics of Great Leaders

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do You Remember???

I was reading my facebook the other evening when a couple of younger firefighters were posting back and forth about the there being no “Brotherhood” left in the fire service. One even stated, “I am getting out of the business because of that very reason.” Now to say this hit me hard, is an understatement! But as I reflect back over the five years, unfortunately I can see why these individuals would say that. Coming from a strong brotherhood environment and having the fortune of working in those types of environments it is definitely disheartening to see this type of mentality creep into the fire service. However, this is not the first time in recent months this conversation has taken place in my presence. I want to encourage the individuals in today’s fire service to reflect…Don’t forget to remember why you got into the fire service.

In following my own advice, I can remember the excitement that would energize my body when, as a child, I would hear the alert siren sound for a call in the small West Virginia town I grew up in. I would lie in bed and listen for the federal Q sirens to crank up as the apparatus left the station all at the same time dreaming of the day I could become a firefighter. Still today, after almost 30 years that same excitement still initiates itself. In the words of my first mentors, Rick Rice and Jerry Green, “you have the love of the fire service.” That meant the desire to serve, the thrill of responses, the feeling of accomplishments, the love to engage in a battle, the heartfelt warmth of that smile and thank you from a citizen, the challenges we faced to become a firefighter, the fun we have every day and the passion to have that honor, courage, fortitude and desire that comes with being a firefighter. To many it is just a job. For me personally and my family, it is our life, my career and our extended family. So what has happened to create this feeling, in some cases a dilemma, we have today with no brotherhood? First I think we may have forgotten to remember why we got into the fire service.

So what happens when we forget to remember…
· It will create conflict – with this conflict comes frustrations, disgruntled attitudes and non-supportive actions about everything in the fire service. We are even seeing negativity between the troops.

· You will try to control – This is what I call the Burger King Syndrome... “My way, Right away. The attitude of “What’s in it for me” rises to the surface and there is no more “we” it becomes “I”. When this occurs we avoid dealing with the real issues and become extremely resistant to change. We fail to look at the outside world. Most times we are doing all of this to hide our own weaknesses. When you find yourself wanting to control things, ask yourself this question, “What does the fire service owe me?” I think we need to ask not what the fire service can do for me, but what I can do for the fire service.

· You will be convinced that yours and others lies are true – Remember you are the child of a mentor and the fire service. You love to do the things your mentors did. You like to fight fire, respond to calls, serve others, fellowship with your brother and sister firefighters and protect your community.

· You will compromise your convictions – Your convictions are your standards, commitment, morals, desire integrity, passion, etc. We are seeing a lot of this in today’s fire service. I encourage everyone to remember the Honor, Courage, Duty, Fortitude, Passion, Protection

What will help you remember?
· Look at your true heart for the fire service, the one you had when you started in the fire service.

· Become a mentor to someone in the fire service and seek out your old mentors and a few new ones and become a mentee.

· Everyone opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself put your true heart forward and see what happens.

As a brother firefighter I ask you to please remember the excitement of having your first badge pinned on, the first call you rode, the first fire you fought, the feeling of being a part of something great and the brotherhood you experienced. I LOVE the fire service and all it is...do this for a fellow brother firefighter!
In closing, my final words about being a firefighter are these - “It’s Not Something You Do…It’s Something You Are…”
Please take time to watch this video on Brotherhood

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies Training Download

Training download
Operational Safety Considerations at Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies

Building Type III and IV Training Materials for the Fire Service

This program was developed to support the case study information published within the 2009 Near-Miss Reporting Calendar for the Month of May, 2009 for the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System. If you’re not familiar with the NFFNMRS, go to their web site, HERE for insights on resources and timely operational and training information, data and resources. The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety.

The Near-Miss Reporting System Report Case Study #08-0099 provided various insights into operational and safety issues affecting incident operations within a complex of warehouses built within the late 1800’s.

The program objectives consist of;
  • Increasing awareness of Type III and Type IV construction characteristics.
  • Provide awareness of inherent building construction, stability, performance and collapse considerations.
  • Provide a focus on Type III and Type IV building construction predominant in pre-1960 construction and occupancies.
  • Although Type III and IV construction is utilized in a variety of present day construction projects, these areas are excluded due to production limitations and focus on the near-miss case study reporting correlations.
This program provides an awareness level perspective on selective construction, operational and safety issues affecting the fire service, and does not represent other numerous areas of considerations. Formal training courses within a number of related subject areas is encouraged to increase knowledge and skill sets necessary to further strategic and tactical firefighting operations and incident management.

  • National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System Operational Safety Considerations at Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies PowerPoint Program developed by Christopher Naum, HERE
  • Informational Support Narrative download, HERE
Don't forget to check out expanded information on Commandsafety.com and Thecompanyofficer.com and follow Buildingsonfire.com postings and links on Facebook HERE

Friday, December 3, 2010

Remembrance Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse Fire

Today December 3, 2010 marks the 11th anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire that resulted in the line of duty death of six courages brother firefighters.

For those of you who remember this event, take the time to reflect and honor the sacrifice made this day; to those of you who have not heard about the fire before- take the time to learn about the incident, the firefighters, the building, the operational factors and challenges, the courage, fortitude and convictions that define the American Fire Service, it’s honor, tradition and brotherhood.

The Worcester Six;
  • Firefighter Paul Brotherton Rescue 1
  • Firefighter Jeremiah Lucey Rescue 1
  • Lieutenant Thomas Spencer Ladder 2
  • Firefighter Timothy Jackson Ladder 2
  • Firefighter James Lyons Engine 3
  • Firefighter Joseph McGuirk Engine

 Detailed insights, video, USFA and NIOSH Report and links HERE

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Rule of 3's

At All Hazards Contemplations, I'm discussing this topic and that there are three different "Rule of 3's" and all three of them are important to anyone who works in Fire/Rescue or EMS.

The first one is espoused by survivalists. It goes something like this:

You can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

While not exact, that Rule is pretty close to reality for the average human. I know that I can hold my breath for a little more than 3 minutes, but it's pretty uncomfortable after about a minute, it's VERY uncomfortable after two minutes, and at three minutes, it's agony. I've never gone even one day without hydrating, nor more than about 30 hours without food. I hope I never have to do either one.

The second Rule of 3's is the Cave Diver's Rule, now adapted for firefighting as the Rule of Air Management. This Rule states that you use 1/3 of your air to enter the hazard area and do whatever task you planned to do, use 1/3 of your air to exit to a safe atmosphere, and 1/3 of your air for emergencies. It's a good rule and following it has saved the lives of divers, firefighters, and confined space rescuers.

The third Rule of 3's is my rule - "Waller's Rule of Leadership Change". When an organization has a leadership change at the top, there are generally three possible results for the organization including changes in organizational effectiveness, the training cycle, and morale. The three possibilities are that there will be no real change. In that case, the organizational effectiveness, training cycle, and morale tend to continue at the same levels, in the same manner, and with similar results as what took place prior to the leadership change.

The second option is that the new leader may demand big changes and that the changes are improvements. That typically means that the organization will become more effective - at some point. That may take time, and that is dependent upon the nature and complexity of the changes, the amount of training required to adapt to the changes, and how the changes and the training cycle affect morale.

The third - and worst - option is that the new leader may demand big changes and that the changes are bad ones, or even disasters. This change type can destroy organizational effectiveness, drive good people out of the organization, trash the training cycle by requiring constant basic training for new people rather than more advanced training for the more experienced employees, and concurrently ruining morale.

How leadership change is handled is primarily the responsibility of the new leader. The new leader will likely have some constraints. After all, everyone has a boss. If the leader has the power to throw off contraints, that can be either very good or very bad for the organization and for morale.

Hopefully, the next leadership change your organization has will be the kind that improves organizational effectiveness, takes the training cycle's requirement into account, and solidifies and improves morale.

After all, happy employees will work harder for the new leader. If the new leader has a vision, can sell it to his/her boss and the troops, gets everyone's buy-in, and uses it to improve both the organization and morale, he/she is likely to be successful. One caution for new leaders here; sometimes the organization is doing fine, and the best you can do is to be a caretaker for that success until an opportunity for improvement comes along. Don't force change on the organization simply for change's sake. If you do, you've eliminated 1/3 of the possible outcomes, and now you're down to a 50/50 chance for success. Those aren't good odds.
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