This week's IAFC, IAFC-SHS and NVFC "Safety Stand Down," is one of the most important activities you can participate in, not only as an active career, volunteer or P-O-C firefighter, but as a retired one, as well. Why? Because a good number of the numerous health hazards we are currently facing, have been around for quite a while; many from long before we knew the dangers that they held.
While it is true that new combinations of certain chemicals are being used today in everything from pots and pans to building materials, everything that burns has always created dangerous materials that we could either breathe in when off-air or absorb, when we strip off the bunker gear to perform overhaul.
OK, I'm a "dinosaur," and damn proud to say it. And as many of you know, I love the fire service, even though I was forced out due to an injury over 35 years ago. But that doesn't mean that I didn't suck down or absorbed plenty of crap during my eight years of firefighting. And what about my family? What did "Daddy bring home" to the wife and kids? My wife is a two time cancer survivor and I thank the good Lord every day for that. But I also wonder, was it my fault?
If you're a retiree or off the job for another reason, ask yourself this question, "Did your physician ever examine you knowing you were a firefighter?" If the answer is either, "Nope," or "I can't remember," then this week is the perfect opportunity for you to get examine the right way for a firefighter!
Under the ABOUT tab on this website, you'll see a page labeled, "Links for You." There you can download either the IAFF's Individualized Health Risk Appraisal Form or the NVFC's "Position on Firefighter Assessments." Download it, print it and take it with you at your next scheduled physical. Don't have one scheduled? Then call the office and make an appointment.
Almost every one of the 1.2 million firefighters in this country is aware of the tolls that cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease is taking on the fire service. Just read any of our terrific trade journals each month and you'll see that somewhere between 50%-60% of LODD's are attributable to most likely preventable health issues.
And while you're at it, even if you're in great physical and fit-for-duty condition, how are you doing emotionally? Are the job, the hours, the lack of sleep, horrific scenes or finances driving you to not be the real you? If so, this week is also a great time for you to reach out for behavioral health care. There are lots of folks who stand ready to either welcome you in or accept your call, to help you through any emotional turbulence you're going through.
We don't want to see you become a statistic. Last year, we lost more firefighters to suicide than to all the other causes of LODD's, combined! We can't and won't tolerate those numbers any longer. From your department to your church/synagogue, from your physician to behavioral health professionals, there are people to talk with and they're ready to help.
While this week's theme is "Safety Stand Down," let's all stand up to facing the fact that this job that we love and hold so dear, does take a toll on us. Let's stand up and learn how we're really doing, where we need improvement and so often, how simple that improvement can be.
Stay Safe Out There!
Just a short while ago, I was notified that an article I had submitted to FIREHOUSE.com had been approved and published.
It's not that I'm a newcomer to publication, but I'm no master writer, either. I started writing short articles on various topics, long before there was an Internet, as either a reality or even a dream! Thinking back, I believe the first article of mine that was published happened in 1972, while spending my junior year from Brandeis University studying in Israel. I wrote a short piece, in Hebrew, about an educational methodology which assist students to retain material studied. About six weeks after I had turned it in to my instructor, she provided me with a journal from the school, in which my article had been published. Along that line, while working as both an Educational Director and Executive Director in synagogues, I had several articles published on educational, leadership development, member retention and more. Nevertheless, this honor shines a bit higher for me.
It was shortly after stumbling into and then joining a combination fire department in North Carolina, a new magazine for the fire service arrived at the firehouse. By the time I had an opportunity get my hands on it, you might have though it was published in the 1920's! Nevertheless, I was a newbie and hungry to learn whatever I could about being a firefighter. That magazine was FIREHOUSE.
Every month, I waited my turn to read the latest edition, reading it cover to cover. What I didn't understand, I talked over with a couple of our caretakers (24-on/48-off, driver of first apparatus due out) who had become mentors to me and another young man who had joined up at the same time. Some of the stuff was way above my head, but I did my best to absorb what I could. It was sometime in its second year of publication, I decided I wanted to read a nice, shiny, new monthly edition and forked over whatever the cost was for the subscription.
FIREHOUSE was more than a magazine to me; it was a text book. I read authors' bio's to learn about them before I read what they had written. I took notes on the pages of the magazine. I saw Dennis Smith as the dean of a firefighters' school, where any and every firefighter could come and learn tactics, ideas, concepts and so much more. Though it seems like only yesterday, it was forty-one years ago.
And today, thanks to some special folks, I "joined" the faculty.
Welcome to the newly-revamped website for "5-Alarm Task Force" and Dalmatian Productions, Inc. Our previous version of the site wasn't so bad, however, with the help of our web and graphic designer at our host, Podomatic, Mr. Juan Francisco Veramendi, we have developed a "sharper" experience for every visitor .
All the features that you came to love in the first iteration of the website have been honed to their sharpest skills and delivers the news, the stories, the bio's and more that you wanted to see, in a quick, concise manner. And remember, if you spot something that seems out of sorts or out of place, please do not hesitate to contact me personally, at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I promise you, I will do my very best to address your issue and leave an answer for you as quickly as possible,
If you would like to help my team and me expand our reach and bring you breaking news from some of the regional and national conferences, please visit our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/Dalmatprod.
And watch for the launch of our IndieGoGo campaign on the very near future.
Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S. In my family and our community, it was always a special day. The last day of school before Memorial Day was made very poignant, even for those of is in elementary school. We learned a little about World War II and about the soldiers who fought there...and those who died there. There would be a patriotic play that we'd put on and often, a speaker would come to our assembly. Each student went home that day with a small American flag on a stick that we could put in front of our homes.
Listen, I'm no artist and make no bones about it. I am unable to draw a straight line - - - even with a ruler! So designing a logo for "5-Alarm Task Force" was not going to be a job that I could do. However, the incredibly talented and creative team at our podcast host, Podomatic, took on the task. And this past week, they delivered and I mean delivered! We received ten (10) different logo designs to choose from. I shared them with my wife and even she said that there are too many good ones to choose from!
We have a great round of guests who will join me on "5-Alarm Task Force" over the next couple of weeks.
1. Aaron Zamzow of "Fire-Rescue-Fitness." Aaron announces the winners of his annual "Get Fit" contest and explains what his programs are all about.
2. Chief James Tornabene joins me to discuss, The Assessment Center" a new way to look at the hiring of fire personnel.
3. Exec. Asst. Chief Todd LeDuc returns to the guest seat to tell us about his recent trip to Bahrain for the IAFC-SHS division to help establish similar guidelines there.
4. Capt. John Lovato, Jr. comes on to discuss, "Bringing Brotherhood Back to the Firehouse."
5. Capt. Dan Kerrigan and Capt. Jim Moss of Firefighter Functional Fitness" fame, return to talk about their impressions from their recent presentations and exercise classes at FDIC 2018 in Indianapolis.
6. Capt. John Hayowyk joins me to discuss, "The Chauffeur: The Unsung Hero," as well as his thoughts of attending FDIC 2018 with his father, a life-long volunteer firefighter.
Also joining us in the coming weeks with be Mark Cotter who will talk about the UL's SLICER program and Capt. Andy Starnes of Kill the Flashover will return, as well.
Remember, all of our podcasts are FREE and available at our website, www.dalmatianproductions.tv , on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and now, Listen Notes.
If you would like to help us continue "5-Alarm Task Force" and expand our productions to attend and broadcast from some of the regional and national conferences, please visit our Patreon page atwww.patreon.com/dalmatprod.
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 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!
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.
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!"