It's hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, I will begin the third season of "5-Alarm Task Force: News & Issues for Today's First Responders." When I started the podcast back in 2016, though I had a good deal of experience in radio, audio and visual, I barely knew what a "podcast" was. It all came about after some friendly (at least I think it was friendly) cajoling my several "friends" I had met via Twitter. About 99% of us current or former firefighters and initially, we did what any small group of firefighters do, we talked about our biggest "jobs," rescues, officers who don't understand us, chiefs who don't care, etc.
However, it didn't take long, once we got to know each other, that we all shared serious concerns about the job we love to do. Basically, we morphed from big-mouth braggarts to concerned firefighters. At this stage, we began discussing important issues, such as tactics, leadership, the incoming generation, cancer in the fire service and so much more.
It was important to me to stress to my colleagues that I was not quite a seasoned as they were; I had only put in eight years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT before a serious knee injury forced me off the line. However, my vocation had me working as both an educational director or executive director of non-profit organizations, which meant that 99% of the people I dealt with were members of the organization who were volunteering their time to serve as leaders in one capacity or another. Thus, a great deal of what I had learned regarding leadership training came from that environment. That turned out to be part of the platform that started my social media "buddies" to begin educating me about podcasts.
Thanks to their efforts and a lot of my own research as to what made a "good" podcast, as well as my research into the technical side (what I refer to as the "fun stuff") I decided to give it a go. And to start, I pushed back against those who had been the most vociferous of voices and told them that they would have to be my first guests. They agreed. Those first two included my now good friend, Capt. Joe DeVito of the Ft. Myers Beach Fire Protection District and a good friend of his, Grant Schwalbe. (Who I will finally get to meet in October at the 2018 Great Florida Fire School!)
I only had the most basic of equipment, so much so that I had to use an open mic to pick up the audio from my cellphone's speaker as I interviewed those two guests. And of course, my dog barked, the cat meowed and the delivery guy showed up, ringing the door bell several times. Nevertheless, I did some more research and finally created the best set-up I could. And that was over 60 episodes ago.
On August 14th, I will conduct my first interview for the third season of "5-Alarm Task Force," and they continue from there throughout the Fall. Similar to an article I wrote about leadership that was published on FIREHOUSE.com, those first episodes were the seeds that I planted to create this podcast. Over the subsequent two years, I have done my best to nurture and help my podcast grow into one that any member of the fire service would not only be interested in listening to, but who would also walk away with some level of new knowledge.
If you would like to help me nurture and "grow" the mission of "5-Alarm Task Force." please visit igg.me/at/5-AlarmTFPodcast Thank you!
If you're a first responder, you well aware of the fact that what we do is very often not easy, not in the least bit. And some of the things we see....well, we hope and pray that no one else has to see that. I joined the fire service in 1977 and wow...could I have used some...OK, many of what you have today.
Let's start with a radio for every member on the apparatus. Back when I responded on my T-Rex with a red flashlight tied to his head, there were two radios on the apparatus; the one bolted under the dash and one for the officer. That was it!
How about gloves and hoods? Sure, we had latex gloves, but there were only worn on a retrieval, never on-scene where someone might see us! And hoods? The only hood I had was on my parka when I lived in Syracuse NY and the winter temps dropped to -20 degrees!
And what about the SCBA? Sure, we had SCBA units. The tanks were made of steel and a complete harness, including the regulator, weighed in at about 40 pounds and if you were lucky didn't exert yourself, you might get a good 20 minutes of air before your bells rattled and you had to go change your bottle. Today, the job seems a lot easier or at least, you have more access to great tools to help you do this job we love to do!
In my "professional" life, I worked with non-profit religious organizations. And sometimes, I would think that working the most difficult fire or rescue was easier than what I did when I wore a suit and tie. The most difficult part? Asking for money. For even though everyone who participated in the institution knew that there were times where you would have to be the one who did ask or the one who was asked.
Well, my friends, I am in a very similar "boat" right now. As you may be aware, today I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $2,500 for "5-Alarm Task Force." I did a great deal of both soul-searching and research before finally devising my program through a website called Indiegoogo.com. They have been doing this for a good number of years, assisting in raising small amounts like mine for "artistic" efforts like a podcast, to raising $10 Million for a start-up product company. And, as I just mentioned to my wife, there are lots of "help" articles that revolve around a "team effort" to orchestrate the campaign, but I wasn't able to find too much when you are doing so, all by yourself!
Nevertheless, I did not want to have to do this. And if I keep things just the way they have been going for the past, almost two years, I can probably manage to continue without too much of a problem. But I don't want to do that! You see, I believe it's time to expand the mission of "5-Alarm Task Force!"
I want to be able to travel to FDIC or a FIREHOUSE conference and grab interviews there or even broadcast a podcast live, from the venue! To do so though, incurs travel and registration costs. To do so, required the type of camera that I do not currently own.
Additionally, with listeners around the world, it's time we had some "swag" available on our website, where you can show your support for the podcast and wear it proudly.
Finally, it will help defray the costs I've put into the equipment, broadband and hosting since we started this little adventure, back in 2016.
Thus, as much as I truly do not like to do this, I'm asking you for your help. Large or small, it will go to help me to what I love doing, for the people I love doing it for. And even if you're unable to donate funds, how about helping by spreading the word across the worlds of social media?
To visit our campaign page, please head over to https://igg.me/at/5-AlarmTFPodcast.
Thank you and God bless.
Though we have just closed our second season, we are working hard towards having a very successful third season. As I write this entry, I am hoping that you have cast your ballots in The Podcast Awards for "5-Alarm Task Force," as we enter the fray for the first time. I thank you very much for your vote.
While I have been fortunate to have had some of the biggest names in today's fire and EMS services join me as guests, I still have the "hunger" to bring you more, more guests, more coverage and of course, more information that will help you perform this job we love to do. I am happy to say that I have already booked two new guests, who will bring you amazing personal stories about their connection and/or work, with the fire service.
Back in 2016, I had heard of podcasts, yet had never listened to one! The funny thing is, way back in 2001, I was asked to join a live, radio show about the fire service entitled, "Burning Issues," hosted by a gentleman who was a firefighter/medic and PIO for a nearby fire department. As I said, he broadcast a live radio show, every Sunday evening, from the studios of a local AM radio station. The signal was sent to the Internet by a Real server (let's see how many of your remember all the software from Real Audio), that has hosted by a fire apparatus manufacturer. That was all before Apple has re-invented the word, "pod!"
Now, after sharing a lot of tweets with firefighters on Twitter, a group of them started to "gang up on me" to start a podcast. By now, they new my long experience in audio-visual and felt that I'd be a natural. After several months of "teasing" and "bullying," I finally caved and "5-Alarm Task Force," was born.
I hasn't been easy, but I have loved every minute of what I've done and I wouldn't change a thing....except to bring you even more great program content. And how about having some "5-Alarm" swag for you to enjoy, like T-shirts, hoodies, caps and more? I truly want to bring you all of that. And it is for those reasons (and more) that I have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign.
"Oh, oh," you're probably thinking. "He's asking me for money here!"
Nope, I'm not. SURPRISE!
I simply what to tell you about the campaign because it is not just for my listeners, it's for anyone who wants to help me help the fire service! The campaign will be hosted on a great crowdfunding site, Indiegogo.com. They know this business inside and out. They know it so well, that they have an entire area set aside just for podcasts!
I have not launched the campaign yet. What I do have is my "practice" page and I want to let you take a look at it and tell me what you think. Just go to www.indiegogo.com/project/coming_soon/preview/f50433f3 that's it. All the videos work, as do the photos! You can see now what others will see when we launch the campaign.
Now, if you like what you see and you may be interested in seeing the real campaign when it goes live, just enter your email in the magic box. Then, when we launch the campaign in the next week-to-10-days, you'll know about it right away.
Finally, it is certainly understood that in this tight economy, many people who would like to help are unable to help - - - financially. But that doesn't mean you can't help me at all! Because you can tell your friends about the campaign and they can tell their friends and so on. Not only that, but Indiegogo actually has programs to help campaign followers spread the word.
Remember, every single time you listen to an episode of "5-alarm Task Force," you are helping me! Every time you rate our podcast, you are helping me. Every time to tell a friend about the podcast, you are helping me. And I sit at this desk, typing this entry, humbled and honored that you are interested and like my podcast. I thank each of you, from the bottom of my heart.
Surprised to hear that there's an award show for podcasts? Why not! There's one for almost everything else. However, in this case, you can have a voice, or vote....or well, you know what I mean!
Beginning this Sunday, July 1st and ending on July 31st, listeners can nominate their favorite podcasts. "5-Alarm Task Force" is already registered under the "Government & Organizations" category. You will need to register and than nominate us in our category.
We hope that you will take a few moments and nominate our podcast. I do this podcast for you, our listeners, where you're in the fire service, EMS or law enforcement, or you're a "buff," someone who enjoys listening and learning about the fire service and first responders.
You will find all the rules for the contest at http://www.podcastawards.com/rules. And thank you for listening and your support!
Our podcast with Asst. Chief John Luca of the Boca Raton Fire Department will close off our second season of "5-Alarm Task Force," and take a few weeks off to share some quality time with my wonderful and very patient wife, who is also on her summer break as a teacher. Fear not, brave listeners, for we will return in mid-to-late August with more episodes and with both new and returning guests!
Since we owned our first home up in Syracuse NY in 1981, we have enjoyed planting a vegetable garden. And living in South Florida for more than the past 25 years, we don't need to wait until summer, but it is when we have the most time to attend to the task of being good gardeners.
Over the last few months, I have attempted to plant another seed and tend to it and hope for the "fruit" it will bear. That is our special page on the Patreon website. (http://www.patreon.com/Dalmatprod). Patreon allows creative artists of all types, from paints to singers, from rock bands to poets and yes, even podcasters, to post their works or information about their works, and where those who appreciate the works the artists create, can support them financially with contributions.
Some artists have specials episodes or creations that only share with financial supporters. Some create special releases that only the donors can access, while leaving most of their creations available to all. And then there are those, like me, who keep all their creations available at no cost whatsoever and hope that loyal supporters like you, will help with either a one-time or occasional donation and offer a special gift or “perk” to those who meet a certain level of donation.
First, I promise you that I will always keep “5-Alarm Task Force” free to anyone and everyone who wishes to listen to it. With all the streaming services that carry us now, it would be quite difficult to require a “pay-for-play” arrangement, anyway.
Second, for me to be able to both continue bringing you great episodes of “5-Alarm Task Force” and expanding what we can do to bring you even better podcasts, I do need your help. I love what I do and wish I was able to shoulder all the costs that it will take to keep producing new and better shows for you; but I cannot.
Third, you may donate any sum that you are comfortable with. If you can only donate $1.00 or $5.00, that will help us. Lots of small donations grow to be big donations. Currently, the only “perk” I can promise to everyone who makes a contribution, is a big, on-air, “Thank You.” However, if you’re capable of making a minimum donation of $100.00, I will feature you as a guest on an episode of “5-Alarm Task Force.” And you know what? One of my budgeted items in raising this money is to have some “5-Alarm Task Force” memorabilia created, e.g. t-shirts, mugs, hats and more!
I hope you will help me to continue to help the brave men and women of the fire service. I promise I with continue to my efforts to bring the best least, instructors, mentors and more, to be my guests and to focus on firefighter health, wellness and fitness-for-duty, as well as the Cancer Initiative and the Behavioral Health Crisis.
Again, just go to http://www.patreon.com/Dalmatprod to contribute.
Thank you so very much for helping me make “5-Alarm Task Force” a success with listeners on six of the 7 continents.
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 email@example.com. 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!