With thanks to the Beatles (OK, Ringo) and the late, great Joe Cocker, that song has moved "mountains" when some couldn't even move "mole hills!" And that title rings true for many, if not most of us. Of course, it also depends on our ability to discern those who are true friends from those people who are more acquaintances than friends. Often times though, that is difficult to do and it's not unusual for us not to want to make that distinction.
We wanted to give our friends an opportunity to help us out from time to time, should they so desire. As many of you know, we are very interested in expanding what we do on "5-Alarm Task Force." That began last fall when we were cordially invited to attend the Great Florida Fire School in Ft. Myers FL, by our dear friend and mentor, Capt. Joe DeVito of the Ft. Myers Beach Fire Protection District. While there, we shot videos and photos, as well as recording audio clips from most of the classes and some attendees. Hopefully, you've visited its page here on our website to see what an excellent educational and social event it was. Thankfully, we've been invited to be there for this year's event in October.
Along that same line, many of you have asked us if we are attending any of the major national conferences to do the same thing. We'd love to! To be at FIREHOUSE Expo, Fire-Rescue 2018, FIREHOUSE World or FDIC 2019 would be an excellent opportunity for us to not only promote "5-Alarm Task Force," but also to meet many new folks that we would be able to invite to be guests on the show. Additionally, we would indeed grab "on scene" interviews and sound bites that we would use both on an upcoming show and on this website. However, we're not affiliated with any one fire department and to be honest, we're not at a level that any of the hosts of these conferences are going to invite us to be there like the Great Florida Fire School did. But that doesn't mean we can't try, right?
And this is where Patreon comes in. Patreon is a website where creators of all types of media can showcase their talent, be it music, art, photography or even podcasts, and people who appreciate their work and want to encourage or support their efforts, are able to do so. A visitor to that page may make a one-time donation or become a patron and subscribe monthly or on a per item basis.
Some of you may be asking, "Does that mean I have to pay you to listen to your podcasts now?" ABSOLUTELY NOT! The latest podcast, as well as our entire library will always be available to you right here on our website, on our podcast host, Podomatic's webpage Bit.ly/5-AlarmTFPodcast, and on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify, absolutely free!!! Patreon is simply a destination only if you would like to help us out or see works by others. There is no minimum and you may donate any amount you are comfortable with.
To sweeten the "thank you" from us to, we've posted a special reward: the first person to donate $100.00 will be invited to be our guest on an episode of "5-Alarm Task Force!" Additionally, we'll be creating a new page on our-soon-to-be revamped website, where we will thank each contributor by name (or anonymously if so desired). We will not list the amount of the donation!
To visit our Patreon page, click here and you will be taken there in a new browser window.
Thank you for reading our blog. Thank you for visiting our website. Thank you for listening to "5-Alarm Task Force!"
Stay Safe and God bless.
We have the great Bob Dylan to thank for those words. Funny how just six words can convey such a strong meaning across so many aspects of life. And for first responders in general and firefighters in particular, times are changing for us at a very rapid pace.
Even if you've only been on the job for, let's say, five years, you'd got to admit that a great deal about the fire service has changed since 2013! For example, we've seen a great evolution of one of our most important tools, the TIC. Where it used to be a big, clunky thing that looked like a radar gun or steroids, one of its newest iterations can be used inside our SCBA mask! (Oh yeah - that's means you must follow the "FACEPIECE ON" call of our good friend, Chief Robert Fling.) Another set of friends, Joe and Andy Starnes have created excellent TIC educational programs and presentations across this country! Anybody can learn to use the TIC well!
More change - the relatively recent discussions over the last several years or so, regarding the concepts of flow-path study as part of our 360. Though tens of thousands of us learned to "Get in there and bust 'dem windows," or "Cut that roof," we now know that that those practices may not always be the best start to our efforts in structures fires. And how about what we are learning today from the folks at Max Fire Box, that we can spray the door before we make entry and save ourselves from a "crap-load" of heat!
Whether we want to admit it or not, change is inevitable. However, it's important to remember that change does not necessarily mean that what came before is wrong; rather, change is the process of the evolution of the how or the why of what we do. Sure, there are those who are boisterous in their opposition of change, no matter what it's for or what it does. And that's not necessarily bad! When a method works, people use it and they like. It's a comfort sort of thing. Too often, folks on both sides of the "change" often color the other side, "wrong," automatically, without even studying or trying the new idea or method.
What we do, no one else does. When we are hired or accepted into the fire service, we don't just shake hands with the boss, find our desk and take a seat. We take an oath to save lives and property! That's places us in an entirely different atmosphere than most other folks. That means that we always must seek the best possible way to do what we do. Will that mean we'll need to change from what we were comfortable with? Probably yes! Is it an attack on the previous way we did that task? No, not in the least. It just means we're developing another method, another tool, another suggestion to help us save lives and property. And that's the bottom line!
Remember, it's not personal!
I do my podcast for you - my brothers and sisters in the fire service. Today's society is so different than when I grew up. Sometimes, that makes our job tougher. Just look what we have to do to help our communities understand how vital and precious sprinklers are in, at the very least, every new residential structure; not too mention commercial buildings too! And our jobs have changed drastically in the 30-plus years since an injury took me off the line. We used to be fire departments that ran with an ambulance if they needed extra help. Now, WE run the rescues and EMS calls and wonder when and if a fire call will come in.
Nevertheless, the oath we take and the badge we carry tell us that we have a job to do. This job didn't reach out and pull us in, we went looking for it, whether your career, volunteer or paid-on-call. WE made the choice! No matter how simple the call, when someone in our community dials 9-1-1, he/she is reaching out to us in a time of need. It may be a big "nothing" to us, but it wasn't to him/her when they needed us.
WE are a team and we are ALL professionals! Not just in our own firehouses and departments, but wherever we go. We know we can knock on the door of any firehouse in this great nation of hours and we'll be welcomed inside and we'll sit there and talk shop, maybe have a cold drink, a cup of "joe" or even a meal.
And now we're learning that this job could hurt or even kill us, in ways most of us never dreamed of. But there are a lot of good people out there who are dedicated to helping firefighters avoid these poisons and carcinogens. And heaven forbid, we do get the terrible diagnosis, there are those who will fight, tooth and nail, to heal us and get us back on the job.
We are a special breed, as we run in where everyone else is running out. But remember, we're still human and this job can take a hell of a toll on us sometimes. DON'T be afraid to reach out for help. There are many who have dedicated themselves to helping us.
We are America's bravest - we are dedicated - we are FIREFIGHTERS!
Some of you have asked, "Where have you been?"
To answer that question, I've been here doing everything necessary to produce "5-Alarm Task Force," which includes, sending out invitations and corresponding with guests. Not every guest can book the next podcast, so I have to be flexible, as they are giving of their precious time to share with you and me!
Additionally, you may have seen some changes here on the website. And there are more to come. We have some big announcements coming up very soon. However, it's always best to have everything in place before making a too-early announcement, or as my late father used to say, "Please engage brain before putting your mouth in gear!"
As I write this entry on March 21st, we're just a few days before the End the Violence March on Washington DC and around the country. While it's easy for me to think back and see myself during my high school days, I am amazed by the young men and women we are seeing give voice to their cause. Whether you agree or disagree with their agenda, you must admit it's nice for a change to see good kids on the TV news for a change, instead of just the one who get mixed up the wrong way in life. And, isn't it a shame that it takes such a tragedy before good, decent kids are featured on the news! Sure, we see great kids on the shows like "The Voice" and "American Idol," but these young men and women are working to help this country and everybody in it. And let's not forget, many of these students around the country are or will soon be eighteen years old, which means there's an excellent chance they will be voting in November.
We hope some of you will be heading out to Indianapolis in a few weeks to attend the annual FDIC conference. I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 2002 conference, which was a very moving and thoughtful experience, being the first national conference since 9|11. FDIC is an amazing experience and I wish you all a great deal of learning, experience, bonding and good times! Enjoy and stay safe!
The “dawn of a new day” is supposed to allow us to start fresh from whatever troubles we underwent the day before. Sadly, today that notion holds no water. Whether you live here in South Florida as we do, or you live “off the grid” and you heard the news on amateur radio, today the sunlight is obscured by the ethereal gun smoke that still hangs over our community where this tragedy occurred and that also drifts over our society as another mass shooting occurs.
We will soon hear to “facts” from proponents of the rights accorded by our Second Amendment and from those that demand absolute gun control. Again, subsequent to Columbine, University of Virginia, Sandy Hook, Orlando and Las Vegas, those who the citizens have elected will take sides as thy always do, but in all likelihood, will produce little action, if any at all.
I started enjoying the hobby of target shooting in junior high school, when I joined the rifle club. Starting with pellet rifles, then moving to a .22 caliber and finally to an M-1 over the two years, I worked my way up and received my medal as a marksman. Years later, I spent two different school years studying in Israel, 1972-1973 and 1975-1976. While there, I often visited an indoor target range and learned to shoot various caliber handguns, several long guns and the famous, Israeli Uzi. Remember, at this time, every young man and woman at age 18, was required to enroll in the Israeli Defense Forces for three years and open weapon carrying was a common site in Israel, on the streets, in restaurants and even movie theaters.
I spent four years in the suburban area outside Greensboro NC, where I began my fire service avocation in a volunteer fire department in the mid-to-late 1970’s. Many of my colleagues there, were hunters, responsible hunters, some using rifles and shotguns, other using bows and arrows. I even went hunting once or twice. We got “skunked,” but enjoyed ourselves anyway.
When I moved to upstate New York in the early 1980’s for a new job, I felt that due to the substantial amounts of money I handled each week, I wanted to apply for a gun permit. At that time, New York State had some of the strictest laws in this country regarding procuring a concealed weapon’s permit. Each permit application had to be submitted to a judge in the appropriate county, who would review the applicant’s background and decide if the answer would be “YES” or “NO.” That process could be completed in a week or take months. In my case, it took about a month.
Was I upset that I had to wait? Not in the least? Did I have an immediate and overwhelming need to defend myself that should allow me to receive an expedited issuance of my permit? No. I simply waited until I received the permit in the mail and then went to the sporting good store, where I had selected my handgun several weeks prior to receipt of my permit.
I had actually joined the NRA while in 7th grade. We did so as part of the rifle class. And I kept up that membership until the first time I saw the politicizing of the organization. Today, they could not even pay me to be a member again, for their diatribes against almost any type of gun control are the antithesis to the tenets it held dearly in those earlier years.
I strongly believe in the right for Americans who can meet the proper federal and/or state guidelines, to bear arms and this issue will not be mitigated simply by banning this weapon or that weapon. Hunters should be allowed to hunt. Target shooters should be able to shoot. Personal protection through concealed weapons should be allowed. All of these through a set of laws and regulations that not only protect those rights, but also help guard against the abuse. And the only way this will happen is if we cease the hysteria on both sides of the issue and work together to create the type of legislation that not only protects those rights, but also protects the citizens of this country.
Will this be easy to do? Of course not. However, if we do not find a way to push our preconceived arguments aside and come together with open minds and our palms up, then we will see this tragedy and its sorrowful aftermath happen over and over again.
One last fact – did you know that the United States has more mass shootings than any other country in the world!
It has been a difficult start to 2018 for the Fire Service. In less than one week, we lost two of our comrades. On January 3rd, Wamego KS Firefighter John Randle succumbed to his injuries suffered from a fall while returning apparatus to service. And on January 6th, Philadelphia Lt. Matt LeTourneau died as a result of a structural collapse while fighting a row house fire. We mourn their loss along with their families, friends, colleagues and the entire fire service and their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.
There will be those who will hold to the belief that this is how most firefighters die in the line of duty; accidents that just cannot be predicted or avoided. They could not be further from the truth and the statistics prove that. The recently released the LODD report for 2017. Last year, ninety-three of our comrades responded to their final alarm. However, of that number, only one firefighter's death was directly attributed to a fire. One! That equals less than one-percent (<1%) of those ninety-nine deaths! While exact cause of death determinations are still forthcoming for some, once again, it appears that most of these line-of-duty deaths were due to some form of preventable health issue.
Now the question is, how do we define preventable health issues? Personally, I break them down into two groups, the known and the unknown.
A. The Known Group: This group consists of issues that you are aware of, obesity, high blood pressure, elevated unhealthy cholesterol levels, chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. It is important to note that a number of these can also fall into the "unknown" group. However, if you are a firefighter, career or volunteer and you have had any type of a physical exam in the last 12-24 months, you know if you have been diagnosed with any of medical conditions. However, the question is, "Have you done anything to mitigate this/these issue(s)? If your answer is, "No," I'll cover that in a moment.
B. The Unknown Group: As stated above, many of the conditions stated in Group A, may still be unknown to you, except perhaps for obesity. There is NO way around that one! On the other hand, if you have not exhibited any of the common symptoms of the other issues, you may not know that you have it. Add to this list are the often asymptomatic in the initial stages of forms of cancer, certain organ ailments, bone and muscle issues and others. While a fair number of these might be detected in with a complete physical, some can still go unnoticed until they rear their ugly heads. When that happens, that will usually force you into seeking medical care.
Now, let's return to the members of the first group, Known Issues, but who have decided, for some reason that makes senses only to each of them, that they have decided not to do anything about it. That now places you into the, "Domino" group. What is the "Domino" group?
Most of us have seen demonstrations on a television show, where some person has set up some 3,000 dominoes on the stage floor. From the camera's angle, all we see are the little, black tiles standing up, but there does not appear to be any shape or form to them. Then, the performer bends down and gently tips the first domino down and one-by-one, they all begin to fall over. However, it is not until the view changes from a floor camera to one that is vertically mounted and focused down, do we see the fallen dominoes now for the image of the U.S. Flag, or the Statue of Liberty or some other image.
Now, if you know you have a medical issue, especially one that could impede your ability to perform your assigned duties on the fireground, and not sought out medical attention, YOU are first “first domino!” However, let’s try to understand why someone would do that and talk about the “domino” in a moment.
There are only two reasons that come to mind. The first is that you are concerned that if your employer learns you have a medical job, you will be taken off active duty, maybe assigned to a desk job (Heaven forbid!) and all your colleagues would know that “there is something wrong with you!” See, some of you are nodding your head in agreement!
The second reason, which might, just might be considered selfless instead of selfish, is that you do not want your family to worry. Sorry – that one won’t fly. Why? Because would you rather they find out that you collapsed on the fireground, in the station, or you never woke up the morning after your shift? And that first reason up above is because you’re all about your ego, your “cred.”
YOU fall into the “Domino” category because if you go down on the fireground, during a rescue or during any other aspect of your job, including a training exercise, you will “knock over” every other member of your department on-scene and back at the station, as well as your family and friends. Their lives will change because of your ego, bravado or the unwarranted fear of letting others know that you have a medical condition.
Do you really believe that every firefighter who advised their department that they had high blood pressure or high cholesterol were placed on restricted duty? Really? Besides being a firefighter, you’re probably at least an EMT, as well, right? So, where is all your medical knowledge? HBP, elevated cholesterol and a myriad of other preventable health issues are easily managed by easy-to-take medication and proper nutrition. Not only that, but most of them are not “life-sentences.” I had HBP for seven years, took my medication and now, I’ve been off my meds and have had no HBP for almost ten years! I’ve known firefighters with Diabetes, who remained the job without any problems.
Sure, there will be medical issues that occur that we have no control over unless we seek medical care. And yes, sometimes, even the best medical care won’t win the battle. But that doesn’t mean to you have let yourself fall victim to those medical conditions that can easily be managed, because of a false fear of the unknown. Do yourself, your family, your friends, your crew and your citizens a favor, take care of yourself. Don’t be a statistic of 2018. Be a healthy, contributing firefighter!
As I sit here writing this post, we're about 36 hours after the tragic fire in Bronx NY that so sadly took 12 lives. Most of us cannot even imagine losing one family remember or even one neighbor. Yet, one family lost four members, a brave soldier from our Armed Forces, home on Christmas leave, lost his life trying to rescue others, plus another seven poor souls.
The probable cause of this conflagration? A young child, approximately three years old, playing with the knobs on the stove, while his mother showered. According to news reports, she came out of the shower, saw the smoke, grabbed her 3-year old and another baby, 2, and ran out of her first floor apartment, leaving the door open. Her apartment doorway faced the stairwell, allowing a chimney-effect as the fire roared out her door.
Besides the terrible loss of life and nearly two dozen others injured, several in critical condition, our heroic brothers and sisters of the FDNY, FDNY-EMS and NYPD made amazing rescues and resuscitations. Yet, as most of us well know, the horror that they saw Thursday night will stay with them for many, many nights.
Many of us are working to break the barrier of the old phrase, "Suck it up!" Today, we know the very heavy toll that these types of calls take on first responders. Yes, we know what we're getting in for when we sign up, whether as career, volunteers or paid-on-call. But that doesn't mean we are not human; that we don't have a psyche that can be hurt and damaged by repeated exposure to terrible trauma.
Let this call incident provide us with two important goals as we enter the new year of 2018:
1. We must strive to teach our citizens what we already know; closing a door can reduce a fire's potential, whether it be at night when we go to bed or, if we know we are the last one escaping from a fire in a structure - CLOSE THE DOOR! Remember, "fire prevention" is not just for October!
2. No one, not one first responder, must bottle up their emotions after a call such as this. REACH OUT to someone you trust; be it a line officer, chief, your doctor, your clergy-person. The editor of FIREHOUSE Magazine recently said that currently, as he reviews submissions for articles, they run 4:1 being about behavioral health! FOUR-TO-ONE! What does that tell us!
Now - as we look forward to kicking off 2018, we proud to announce three terrific guests who will join us on "5-Alarm Task Force." First is David Wiklanski, a career firefighter in NJ, who will discuss having and maintaining resilience in the fire service and its definition. Next, will be Nic Higgins, Founder the The Firehouse Tribune website and Twitter account. Nic, also a NJ firefighter, will discuss the purpose behind their website and, critical thinking. Finally, (so far!) Aaron Zamzow will return to discuss not only firefighter fitness and fitness-for-duty, but his annual contest that has cash prizes and more!
Though we end 2017 on a sad note, let's let it teach us to do what we do with a stronger purpose and resolve! We wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy, Safe and Peaceful New Year!
First - We want to thank all of you who have stopped by to visit our new website. Whether you have hit every page or you jumped to read the blog or to listen to our podcasts, we are grateful that you took the time to stop by and see what Dalmatian Productions is all about.
As the title of this post indicates, we all must evolve in some manner to maintain and hopefully, improve our existence. Yes, we can be reticent to change; OK, we can be down right stubborn about it! In the end however, we usually find that the change is for the better. Not always, but most of the time. So, we too will be making a change; one that we believe will be better, not only for us, but for our listeners of our podcast, "5-Alarm Task Force."
To allow our podcast to grow and expand in a manner that will allow us to better serve you, we have decided to introduce the ability for our listeners to help us with our evolution. In the year and a half that we have brought "5-Alarm Task Force" to you, we have been joined by some of the best instructors, mentors and leaders in the American Fire Service. And we are extremely grateful to them for finding time in their very busy and hectic schedules, to chat with us for an hour or so. Guests like the late, Chief Alan Brunacini, Chief Dennis Rubin, Chief Marc Bashoor, Chief Gary Ludwig, Chief Robert Fling, Assistant Chief, Todd LeDuc, Capt. Dan Kerrigan and Captain Jim Moss, Lt. Ryan Pennington, Chief Bobby Halton, Chief Tim Sendelbach and many more. Yet, we are not satisfied...we want more, we want to bring you more!
Our goal is to expand our base to the point where it will prove worthwhile for us to take "5-Alarm Task Force," on the road. We want to be at FDIC, Firehouse Expo, Fire-Rescue International and one or two more, bringing you live podcasts from these conferences. We want to sit with the guest speakers and instructors for mini-interviews that we will feature in our follow-up podcasts.
At the same time, we must respect the fact that the vast majority of our listeners are members of our "family" in the fire service. Thus, early on we decided that we would never charge a fellow firefighter to listen to this podcast. The question is then, "How do we expand without specifically charging every listener?" We believe we found the right and fair answer.
The company Patreon allows creators for all sorts of projects such as YouTube videos, music, film, art and yes, even podcasts, to raise fund through donations from those who enjoy the creator's project and wish to encourage and help him/her grow and develop. You, our listeners can always come right here to our website and listen to our podcasts free-of-charge! Or, you can access our podcasts at our host's site, Podomatic, by using the link Bit.ly/5-AlarmTFPodcast. Either way, the podcast will always be free! Just as they are on both iTunes and Google Play!
Additionally, on both our website and our page on the Podomatic site, there will be a "badge." If you would like to make a contribution to assist us in growing and expanding "5-Alarm Task Force," clicking in the "badge" will take you to our page on the Patreon site, where you will be able to make a safe and secure donation to our efforts. Again, this will be your choice. It is not required to listen to our podcasts.
No matter what happens with this new campaign, we have one, singular goal: to bring you the very best information, news and issues facing the fire service in particular and first responders in general. And it is done to promote wellness, health, fitness-for-duty and safety for every first responder out there who listens to our show.
Thank you, stay safe and let's make sure every one comes home.
Just over 1-1/2 years ago, I planted a "seed." What did I "plant?" It was my podcast, "5-Alarm Task Force." Although I was only able to serve in the fire service for eight, short years before an injury forced me to leave, I have never let the fire service leave me. Since 1985, I have tried to stay up-to-date with the growth and evolution in firefighting, leadership, funding, education, etc. One way or another, I kept pace.
Through friends on Twitter, I am proud to say that our roster of guests includes some of the best mentors, instructors and leaders in the fire service today. They include the late, Chief Alan Brunacini, Chief Dennis Rubin, Chief (ret) Bobby Halton, Chief (ret) Marc Bashoor, Batt. Chief Jason Hoevelmann, Asst. Chief Todd LeDuc. Chief Robert Fling, Lt. Ryan Pennington, Capt. Joe DeVito, Capt. Robert Owens, Capt. Andy Starnes and many more. Moreover, we currently have over thirty (30) episodes "in the can" and have future guests carrying us into Spring 2018. With that, it is time for us to grow a bit more. Until now, I have personally shouldered all the costs for this podcast, equipment, broadband, hosting, etc. If I was still in the workforce, this would not be an issue. However, I have been disabled since 1992 due to a back injury that most likely occurred in 1978 at a state fire college training burn.
The goal for the podcast is simple - generate enough revenue to allow us to attend between two and four of the national fire service conferences, purchase two cameras, one still and one video, to use at the conferences and cover the basic operating costs of the podcast.
To achieve this goal there are several avenues that one could follow:
1. A Banner Sponsor - "This podcast is brought to you by...." The sponsor is mentioned at the opening and closing of the show, plus a number of times during. (Rating of Desirability on a 1-10 scale: 10)
2. Charge listeners to hear or download each episode - a "subscription," so to speak.
(Rating - ZERO! Do not want to do this to my brothers and sisters)
3. Affiliate with Patreon - Patreon is a business that allows followers of podcasts to pay towards a podcast, either by charging per episode, or a subscription fee as in #2 above, or allowing a follower to make a voluntary donation.
4. Commercials - There are several companies that work to match a podcast with advertisers. Then, instead of airing public service announcements, we air the commercials like most other radio and television networks,
That is where I am. I have no idea what the future holds in this regard however, I will unequivocally state that "5-Alarm Task Force" will continue as long as I can make it a worthwhile endeavor that will benefit the fire service in a positive manner.
While most firefighters know that October is the "designated" month for fire prevention programs, now is a great time, as well.
We can educate our communities about the need for keep live trees moist and green, inspecting lighting strings carefully, not overloading electrical sockets, times, or extension cords and much more.
This is not a task just for those in your Fire Prevention Office, every firefighter can and should play a role in this effort, starting with your own family and friends.
Let's teach everyone to "Live for the Holidays, Not Die Because of Them!"
Best wishes to all for a very happy and safe holiday season!