I wish what I am about to write about could be brushed away as an April Fool's joke. However, it is all too real in the world of First Responders. And though we often think of First Responders as members of of only fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies, it also includes "recovery operators," better known as tow-truck drivers.
Unless you've had your head stuck in the inner cavity of a engine company's pump, you must be aware of the plague of First Responders who have been struck and seriously injured or killed, while operating at an emergency on an active roadway. As I write this entry, police officers from Arizona, Illinois and Wisconsin are being mourned. Were they in a firefight with a bad guy? Were they dealing with a hostage situation? Neither! They had responded to an accident scene and were struck by distracted drivers. Additionally, we have lost so many firefighters, EMT's/Paramedics and police officers over the last several months, that the website, ResponderSafety.com, (an outgrowth of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firefighters' Association) along with the NFPA, issued an emergency declaration for Standard 1500 - Traffic Incident Management.
To be honest, I hate using the term, "distracted drivers!" It's too polite a description for these murderers. Yes, murderers. They took a life because they actively and knowingly, engaged in certain behaviors that drew their attention from driving carefully to barely being aware of what was going on around them. Whether they were DUI, kissing a partner, talking or texting on a cellphone, they made the choice to not focus their full attention on the roadway ahead of them. Thus, with wanton disregard, they have killed, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
And the words, "I'm sorry," just won't cut it!
As First Responders, there is not a great deal that we can do in advance, to specifically avoid that distracted driver. However, working as a team, we can work to help save lives!
"5-Alarm Task Force" has been a strong advocate for better care and protection of all first responders, who attend to emergencies on active roadways. And so far, the best protection for all appears to be a well thought-out and well-planned blocking program. Do you even know what a blocking program is?
A blocking program is one where, normally the fire service, brings a specially-rigged fire apparatus or a large, sturdy truck, that might have been headed for the scrap yard, but have been re-purposed to help protect lives.
For example, in Irving TX, under the direction of Chief Victor Conley, the Irving Fire Department, lost a ladder truck, that was acting as a blocking vehicle at an emergency on an active roadways, when it was hit at high-speed by an 18-wheeler! Four firefighters were seriously injured, but survived. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not as fortunate!
After that incident, Chief Conley studied for months to determine how a safe blocking situation could be developed. He spoke with representatives of other fire, police and EMS departments, as well as the right civilians. Several important factors became clear:
1. The blocking vehicle, while sacrificial, must be a strong and heavy motor vehicle,
2. The blocking vehicle must be parked a good distance from the initial emergency, providing lots of room for first responders to work at the scene, as a buffer,
3. The blocking vehicle must have the appropriate emergency and other lighting, striping, etc. to make it highly visible to all,
4. No equipment that would be necessary to attend to the initial emergency should be on the blocking vehicle. It should only have additional tools, such as reflective roadway cones, flares, emergency scene tape, etc. that would be used to place the vehicle and delineate a safety zone.
With all of this in mind, Chief Conley was able to "rescue" a fire apparatus that was scheduled for auction or the scrap yard. He invested in some state-of-the-art emergency lighting and setup a policy that one firefighter from the station where the vehicle would be stored, was to drive it to an emergency scene when dispatched and setup the safety zone.
Now, some might say, "We don't have a spare apparatus! What are we supposed to do?" You have to work to get your community to work together. For example, you don't have an extra apparatus that could be designated as a Blocking Vehicle. So, ask your chief to call the Public Works Department, to see if perhaps they have an old dump truck or other heavy-duty vehicle that is on its way to the scrap heap. If your municipality is dedicated to saving the lives of its First Responders, the various agencies will find a way to work together.
And while many First Responder agencies are well aware of the danger on our roadways, they are allowing red-tape, conceit and other human foibles, to get in the way of doing the right thing. Thus, it is up to each of you who reads this, to take this back to your agency. When it comes to MVC's on our roadways, they are going to continue, no matter what we do. But we can do something and that something may very well save the lives of First Responders who are on-scene. Is there anything more important than that?
On many of my podcasts and even a post or two on this blog, I have talked about a "perceived" attitude that the fire service is sometimes, slow to embrace change. But come to think of it, many non-firefighters may feel the same way. And of course, it all depends "what" is changing. For example, there are those who always want to be among the first to try or purchase the latest electronic gadget, be it a 3-inch long cell phone or a 120-inch acrylic TV screen in time for the big game. Others, are satisfied with last year's model. We each decide to accept, adapt or refuse to make changes for our own reasons.
A little over a year ago a member of the design team at the company that hosts this podcasts, asked me if I had thought about, "V-casting."
"V-casting?" I asked. "What is that?" (Me....the guy who started in A/V in the third grade! Duh!)
He explained that "V-casting" was adding a video component to a podcast and some also post that same podcast on YouTube. I told him that while it could be interesting, my guests are rarely in the studio (OK, it's the fourth bedroom in our home!) with me. It's all done either using Skype directly or dialing the guest's phone line with Skype. And he replied by telling me that the vast majority of podcasters simply recorded themselves creating their podcasts, whether their guests were with them or not.
Jump to just a couple of weeks ago when Dr. Rich Gasaway was my guest on "5-Alarm Task Force," to discuss, "Situational Awareness Matters." Now, having listened to about a half dozen of his podcasts, I knew that he was a card-carrying member of V-casters, using both Facebook and YouTube. With that, I said to myself, "Self...it might be time for you to think about adding video to your podcast tech plan. And I am writing this post to tell you that I am in the beginning steps of bringing "5-Alarm Task Force," into the "video age."
It will still be a few weeks before I start. Why? Simply because if I were to turn a camera on as this studi....I mean, room, is now, those of you who are in the fire service would probably call our good friend, Lt. Ryan Pennington, our resident expert in "heavy content" fires (aka, hoarding)! No, it's not that bad, but since it plays many roles in our home, i.e., spare bedroom, financial headquarters, guitar studio, broadband HQ, etc., it is in some disarray.
I have already begun to clear things up and with a friend, we're planning to lose this gigantic desk with two bookcases on it, for a more clean and sleek podcast platform. I am also in the process of creating a banner that will be the backdrop and that will also be used on-site, should I be lucky enough to attend a conference, where I have also been invited to record a podcast.
For now, that is the first major change that I hope to be bringing you in the not too distant future, but hopefully, it will not be the only one. There a couple more that are under consideration. I could tell you about at least one of them now.....
But then, how would I coerce you to come back to read this blog again!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
12/31/2018 - 10:45 AM EST - I believe that for most of us, it is hard to believe that 2018 is just about finished. In just hours from now, the balls, the oranges, the triangles, the pyramids, etc., will drop down on their cables and ring in the New Year of 2019. Wow! We are just about ready to complete the second decade of the 21st Century. Where the Hell is my flying car?!?!
Flying cars and/or hovering fire apparatus or not, the new year will be hear soon. As happens every year, numerous newscasts and other television shows will conduct a review on 2018, most often in pictures. There will be photos of big events, both positive and otherwise; photos of those famous people who passed away this year, etc.
However, I submit to you that most of us can look back relatively quickly. What is truly important is, what lies ahead. What will differentiate 2019 from 2018? And I don't mean the "resolutions" that we see every year. I believe it was either last year or the year before that I saw a news story about new year's resolutions. I believe it said that less than ten-percent of resolutions are actually carried out. Not a great statistic, huh?
The fact is, that you and I can change that percentage. Instead of resolutions, set goals you wish to achieve in 2019. And make sure they are realistic goals that can be met. Let's be honest, most of you who are reading this are probably firefighters or other first responders. One thing we love to do is brag! We love to tell the story of the, "Big One," or the one where the, "...the truck blew up just as I rescue three people from the SUV..." Let's promise each other that we're going to leave the bragging out of our goal setting!
So, what goals do you want to set? Let's also leave the "lose 40 pounds in 30 days," off the list for now, as well. Here are a few ideas:
1. I plan on monitoring my health. I will have an annual physical as per the IAFC/IAFF or NVFC guidelines. I will listen to my primary care provider and will follow through on any tests he/she believes are directly connected to me as a firefighter. I will not place my department or family in a precarious position by hiding any significant medical findings from them and continuing to perform as though nothing is wrong.
2. I will learn as much as possible about the Firefighter Cancer Initiative. I will remain, "on-air," will all my turn-out gear, hood and helmet on until such time as I am clearly in the "Cold Zone" or advised by an officer that I can go, "off-air."
3. Once in the designated "Gross Decon Zone," I will remove my gear and use wipes to wipe the soot, toxins and carcinogens from my face, neck, ears, etc. I will then have follow the balance of our on-site, Gross Decon SOP's.
4. Upon returning to the station, I will do my best to "shower within the hour," and follow such procedures that will prevent me from spreading toxins and carcinogens are the station and my home.
5. I will learn about the Firefighter Behavioral Health Initiative. I will be aware of those around me, my second family. I am all too aware of the toll some of our calls take on me. Add the pressures of our personal lives today, I understand that life can be very difficult. I want to be sure that my friends, my comrades, are doing OK.
6. In a discussion, whether at the firehouse or online, I will do my best to present my side in a mature manner and not resort to vitriol, yelling and bullying on line with those who may disagree.
7. I am a firefighter (EMT/Paramedic - LEO) 24/7, whether I am in uniform or not. I will do my best to proudly represent my agency to the public.
8. As a first responder, I understand that I must continue to learn. I cannot arbitrarily "draw a line in the sand," to say, "I know what I have to. I don't need to learn any more!"
9. As a first responder, it is my obligation to be a teacher or mentor. It is important that I pass on the "tricks of the trade" to those coming up behind me, so that they will perform well.
10. I am just another person; no better or worse than the person next to me. I will remember to maintain my humility and dignity to everyone I speak with and treat them with the respect I I would expect.
To all, have a Safe, Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!
From the last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving to the final sip of your beverage of choice on New Year's Day, this is supposed to be a season of joy and gladness. The mad rush for holiday articles, trees, Hanukkah menorahs, lights, candles, air-filled lawn decorations, etc., often help to re-direct our thoughts away from the real nitty-gritty of our every lives. However, any of you who have been a first responder through even a single holiday season will realize that all too often, the representation from above is not always the case. No matter the season, no matter the day, we respond when "invited."
For some reason, I have only recently subscribed to Chief Billy Goldfeder's, "The Secret List," and I now realize, even more than ever before, what a powerful and positive messenger Chief Goldfeder is for us. Yet, when I see a new email from "The Secret List," I often cringe with fear and uncertainty. And that has truly been the case the past couple of weeks. For while we (using the inclusive) first responders, should be able to enjoy all the excitement of the holiday season, our devoted vocation or avocation pulls us out of the mainstream to address one form of emergency or another. (BTW - if you are a subscriber, be sure to "Pass It On," to someone you work with!)
If you are a subscriber to this email, you will know of what I write; it has not been a good two-and-a half weeks for Emergency Services. The three main branches of EMS, Law Enforcement and the Fire Service, have all suffered Line-of-Duty-Deaths. Each of us has lost a comrade, a colleague, a brother and/or a sister. And in the midst of what should be a joyous time, we are forced to face the grim reality of loss.
Moreover, there is also a great body of evidence that comes out during this season, regarding how this time of the year is often very trying for some, especially though with behavioral health issues, and not for the general public alone. More recently, the American Fire Service has begun to focus on those same issues that affect many of our colleagues, not just now, but throughout the year. Sadly, the numbers do not lie. In 2017, we lost more colleagues in the fire service to suicide than to all the LODD's for that period. And now, the fire service has begun to develop a strong and positive Behavioral Health Initiative to help those members who are going through all types of turmoil and pain within their personal lives.
In my civilian life, working in Jewish synagogues and ritual life, I have to attend to too many families who have suffered a loss. Some whom I knew, other I did not, yet I cherished them just the same. As many of our Chief's and Commissioners know, it is not easy to deal with a bereaved family. It takes a strong mix of compassion, empathy, understanding and an inner "steeling of the gut," as one chief put it. We do so and we demonstrate that we are there for them and will try to guide them down this difficult path.
Let us remember all those we have lost, have loved, have worked with, have joked with, have dined with. And let us reach out to those around us to make sure that they are doing well and not masking their inner pain with a fake smile. "Tis the season. God bless us all.
I have been looking at some recent statistics for our podcasts and even after all this time, I'm still both surprised and puzzled by some of the numbers. First I'm surprised by how many listeners in foreign countries we have and how many of those countries there are. However, part of that comes from the many places where you are able to find our podcast.
Let's start at "home plate," which is our host's site. "5-Alarm Task Force" is hosted with Podomatic, Inc., located in San Francisco CA, USA. I have been with them from the start and I have been very lucky to work with two of their top people, Matt, who works in customer relations and Francisco, who is their tech specialist. With out them, neither this podcast nor this website would be what they are.
Each podcaster on Podomatic has his/her/their own page. Mine (in "longhand") is https://dalmatprod206.podomatic.com/. I've "abbreviated" it using the services of the website, Bit.ly, and thus you have, http://Bit.ly/5-AlarmTFPodcast. That address, will take to the first one, noted in the the prior sentence. So, each time one of our listeners accesses an episode using either of those URLs, it becomes a statistic on our Podomatic account.
Next, would of course be this website of ours, www.dalmatianproductions.tv. However, even though you'd be on our website, listening to our podcast, it is not recorded as an actual Podomatic visit. Instead, whether you listen to our show from the homepage or from the PODCAST page, it is counted as an "embed." An "embed" is accessing a podcast by a "player" that is embedded on someone's website; in this case, our own. However, there are some great folks out there, some who have been guests and others who just want to help spread us around, who embed our player on their own website. And we are truly thankful that they do. So, when you visit their site and listen to an episode, it is regarded the same as listening to it on our website, as an embed. That also includes when you use iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or one of the large number of podcast streaming services or "aggregators" out there. And, I've found that there are a lot more than I realized! A few months ago, I "googled" our name, "5-Alarm Task Force," and besides the few I've just mentioned, I found over a dozen more I had never heard of! But every time one of my episodes is accessed from them, it's counted in our stats!
Finally, (to keep this short and sweet), you may not be able to listen to a podcast I've just released right away, but you want to listen to it later when you're working out, walking the dog, or pretending to listen to Aunt Hazel who came for Thanksgiving and hasn't remembered to leave yet! Of course, that becomes a "download;" you save the podcast to listen to it later on. Our biggest numbers every week come from our downloads. For example, in the week from November 23rd - November 29th, we had exactly 600 downloads. That seems like a lot and for us, it certainly is. We actually average 500-600 downloads per week, in each week that I launch a new podcast. Of course, that averages around 2,000 downloads a month!
For many podcasters who sell advertising on their show (we are one, too) it used to be the number of downloads of a podcast that drove the pricing of the ads. However, more recently, instead of just looking at the downloads, folks are now talking in terms of "total accesses," per week or month." In other words, they are looking at every way that a podcast is "accessed". Thus, for the month between October 31st through November 29th, we've had nearly 4,000 total accesses to our podcasts!
So remember, you will probably find us on your favorite podcast service. However, if you want to explore, just choose your favorite search engine, type in our name and maybe you too, will be surprised where you will find your next listen to, "5-Alarm Task Force!"
Where has this year gone? Here we are, less than 48 hours before Thanksgiving. I still remember watching the ball go down to kick off the New Year! How does the time pass so quickly?
I guess we could ask a physicist or an astrophysicist and he/she could quote Einstein and others to explain how time works. Actually, Einstein would probably say that time, in and of itself, doesn't exist. He believed that space and time are part of the same fabric of the universe. thus the action of one is directly connected to the other. Oy! I'm getting dizzy just writing about it. Nevertheless, I feel that as I've grown older, time truly does seem to pass more quickly.
What all this boils down to is that, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches here in the U.S. and for our brave men and women serving around the world, and for other American who have chosen to work and/or live in other parts of the world, I want to say, "Thank You," to all of you who have become listeners to "5-Alarm Task Force!" I have been amazed at all the numbers I see and how many of you come from lands far away.
There are several "gabillion" podcasts to choose from every moment of every day. Yet, many of you have chose this podcast to listen to. Perhaps you're a firefighter, a fire buff or an interested civilian. You tune in to listen to my guests. It is my sincere hope that I bring you guests and discussions that are interesting to you and perhaps, that teach you or guide you, as well.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for listening. Stay Safe & Stay Well!
Some of you may know me, Steve Greene, solely as the creator and host of “5-Alarm Task Force,” and that I was a volunteer firefighter EMT for two years, before being sidelined by an injury. However, long before I started the podcast or even joined Twitter, myself, along with three terrific friends/business partners, created our company, Dalmatian Productions, Inc.
This was back in 1999. Reality television was in its infancy with shows such as “On Scene: Emergency Response,” “COPS,” “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,” and a few others. My best friend (whom I had met at the small, combination fire department in the Greensboro NC area back in 1977) and I started thinking that there should be a reality show that focused on the fire-rescue services and set to work planning it out.
Initially, our focus was to be on the volunteer side, as not only had we serviced together in the NC department, he came from Washington DC and had spent some time ride with Bethesda Chevy-Chase Rescue as a volunteer. First things first, though – we had to come up with a name that spoke volumes about the fire service. You can be sure there was a lot of discussion on that. However, we both finally agreed on Dalmatian Productions, Inc.
In short order, we hatched a name for our idea: “America’s Heroes: The Volunteers of Fire-Rescue.” I ran a letter in FIREHOUSE® Magazine, asking for departments who might like to be featured, to contact us, not holding out much hope. Wow were we wrong! We received letters and packages that looked like they were assembled by the local Chamber of Commerce. We received department descriptions, call sheets, t-shirts, caps, bumper stickers and more!
There was a second benefit to the letter posted in FIREHOUSE® Magazine, as well. After I left NC, we moved up to the Onondaga County/Syracuse NY area, where I joined another combination department. As it turned out, a member of that department who was also the County Fire Coordinator saw the letter. He reached out to another gentleman who had been a deputy chief in the village next to ours and who had also relocated to South Florida. Better yet, he was a television news cinematographer! He reached out to us and after a meeting to get to know each other, he came on board to handle our video and editing. Or so we thought. Turns out he was working for one of the TV stations here in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area and he was going to be too busy to be able to work with us. To make a long story short, when the flood of letters were coming in, we had received one from a firefighter/PIO in Delaware who owned his own production company, worked for a news station in Philadelphia and was as deep into the culture of the volunteer fire-rescue service as we were. We had our cinematographer!
Over the next couple of years, we produced several different pilot episodes and, wound up broadening the name of the show to, “America’s Heroes: The Men & Women of Fire Rescue®.” You can still see that pilot episode of YouTube at http://bit.ly/AmericasHeroes. Things were looking good. We had a new partner who was based in Los Angeles and worked on both sides of the camera in television, a distributor and several other shows in talking stages with FDNY, Israel television and even a children’s segment on fire safety for October’s Fire Prevention week for the then-Rosie O’Donnell Show”……by the end of summer, 2001.
We ceased our efforts in light of the terrible loss that those of us in the fire service and all of America suffered on 9|11. It was the right thing to do.
Yet, at the same time, it helped us rededicate ourselves to our ultimate goal – to deliver a high-quality and very realistic and lifelike television or streaming program about the brave men and women of the fire-rescue service. Thus, in the middle of the twenty-first century’s first decade, I came up with a concept regarding the unique make-up of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Marshal’s Office. Not only did they have their own investigators, they also had a Philadelphia Police Department detective assign to their unit, as well as an agent from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) along with his accelerant-detecting dog! This could make a great story. But it had to be told correctly, scripts that told the real stories of what firefighters face today, i.e. cancer, marital problems, drug problems, the dangers of the job, etc. This would be a show for and about firefighters, written by firefighters!
I wrote up what is referred to as a “treatment” which is a synopsis of the story or plot line and shared it with my partners. Everyone liked it and immediately jumped in to tweak this or improve that. When it was finished, we handed it over to our LA-based partner and hoped for the best. And so, “CAUSE & ORIGIN” was born.
However, mid-2014, the only people who liked the treatment were close friends and a few folks in the fire service that we shared it with. They all asked for more. Unfortunately, none of them worked for a network or production company. I had worked very hard on this and was deeply disappointed and was ready to throw it away. That is, until a close friend who is a former student of my wife and graduated Cal State-Fullerton with a degree in screenwriting. She explained that there was more power in a full script than in just a one-page treatment. I passed this on to my partners and even our guy in LA had to agree. So, we decided to write a script for the pilot episode.
Our friend pointed me in the right direction for the screenwriting software and guided me in crafting the script for the pilot episode. I’d would share sets if several pages with my partners and added their feedback. By the summer of 2015, we had a full script for the pilot episode of C&O. And we started to share that with our small list. But this time, it grew some “feet.” One of the friends we shared it with was a friend with the then, Commissioner of Fire of the Philadelphia Fire Department and shared the script with him. He liked it. That was a good sign.
At the time, one of our daughters lived and worked in Philadelphia and we planned to drive up there as part of our summer vacation. Before we left. I received a phone call from the director of the Philadelphia Film Office. It seems the Commissioner brought up our script and desire to work with the Philadelphia Fire Department with her. With a trip already planned to see our daughter, I made an appointment and asked my partner in Delaware to join me.
Our meeting went very well. Both the Film Office and the fire department were interested in the project and explained the processes that we would work through together, if and when, we had a production deal.
Since that time, we have done as much as possible to present the concept to as many people as possible, in the industry. During that time, a new Fire Commissioner was appointed. And, thanks to social media, we got the script in front of him and a Deputy. Both responded that they liked the premise and, should a production deal be set, would be interested in working with us.
Now, it’s 2018 and nothing has changed. Again, thanks to social media, we have continued to share the script with dozens of folks in the fire service. All of them have loved the script and the show’s concept and some are reaching out to their contacts in an effort to help us. To get an idea of the show, visit this page on our website, https://www.dalmatianproductions.tv/development.html.
Now, we are asking you for your assistance. If you want to see a program that depicts the passion of real firefighters without the Hollywood “fluff;” a show that tells our story because we have lived it ourselves, then we’re asking you to help. If you have any relatives or friends who are in the television or streaming services business, please tell them about us and “CAUSE & ORIGIN.” We’ll be happy to provide them copies of both the treatment and script.
You can share my email, steve-at-dalmatianproductions.tv with them or on Twitter, we’re at @CAUSE_ORIGIN.
Let’s all play a part in creating a show about firefighters, for firefighters, by firefighters.
Thank you and as always, STAY SAFE!
It's been a very busy month here at Dalmatian Productions/5-Alarm Task Force. We ran our first crowdfunding campaign at the end of August and I must admit, that I was truly surprised by the amount of time and effort it took to manage all the social media work for this campaign. I was regularly putting in 5-6 hours every day to keep up with all the posts, questions, etc.
Just as the campaign was closing, I launched the third season of "5-Alarm Task Force." For that, I wish I could have been an octopus! I had interviews booked almost every Tuesday and Thursday. Then there was the editing of each show to have it posted three days later! Thankfully, I have had some wonderful guests who just seemed to make the task easier. And there are still more to come.
As I am writing this, word just just trickled down the Chief Tim Sendelbach, Editor-in-Chief of FIREHOUSE Magazine, and a past guest on the podcast, will be stepping down from his position on September 25, 2018. As a long-time subscriber and reader of FIREHOUSE, I can tell you that Chief Sendelbach has done an excellent job in leading FIREHOUSE in this digital age. From the magazine to the website, plus the two major conferences, FIREHOUSE Expo, which takes place next month in Nashville, plus FIREHOUSE World, next February, which is moving from San Diego to Los Angeles next year, he balanced each one with a keen eye and a style that kept us, the readers, the attendees, the exhibitors, etc., anxious to work with him. I wish Chief Sendelbach the very best in whatever his next endeavor will be and hope that whatever it may be, will benefit greatly from his association.
The month of October is just around the bend and we have more guests already scheduled for you, as well as the fact that from October 24th-27th is the Great Florida Fire School. I have been invited back again this year, not only to grab some great photos, videos and interviews, but I have also been invited to be a presenter for a class at the School. My topic is, "The Elephant in the Firehouse - When Ego Gets in the Way of Passion."
And please don't forget, I have opened a "5-Alarm Task Force" storefront with our friends from Teespring. Just go to Bit.Ly/DalmatStore and choose one of our 4 t-shirts or one of our 2 coffee/tea/hot chocolate mugs! And the best part is that part of the net proceeds are bring donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which is what I have done with the royalties on my book, "Fish Out of Water: 2 Jewish Guys in a Deep South Firehouse."
I'd would love to hear from you with your comments and/or suggestions. Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
I have learned that the number of facets the job of podcasting has, is far more than I had thought. Take for instance the recent crowdfunding effort that completed last week. To keep this effort moving forward, I spent four-to-five hours on social media everyday. I would jump between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, PLUS sending out additional emails to my personal contacts. To be absolutely honest, the campaign results were no where near the goal I had set; barely fourteen percent of the goal was attained. However, I am sincerely grateful to those who did help and extend my heartfelt appreciation to them. Moreover, I will use those funds towards the goals I had set forth in the campaign mission statement, which will allow me to improve my abilities as a podcaster and my service to my listeners.
I would also like to tell you that my dear friend and business partner, Tom Mitten has launched his own podcast, "Fire-Rescue-EMS-Today." Tom's podcast is usually published once a month and it can also be found on iTunes, Good Play and Spotify.
One of those goals was to develop a line of promotional items linked to "5-Alarm Task Force," like t-shirts, hats, hoodies, etc. We are already busy on designing the first t-shirts and when they become available, you will be able to see and order them very easily. So, keep checking here on our website or check your copy of our newsletter for details.
I am writing this entry less than forty-eight hours after a tragic fire in Chicago that took the lives of eight people, six of whom were children and injured one of our Chicago comrades with non-life threatening injuries. Early reports indicate that there were no smoke detectors in this home!
While those of us connected with the fire service realize that yes, even in this day and time, there are still homes in this country without smoke detectors, it is extremely difficult to comprehend the "why" of this problem. In most communities, fire departments are able to provide the latest, 10-year smoke detectors at no charge and, will install them for free, if asked! Thousands of smoke detectors find their way into homes this way every month and the firefighters and officials are only too happy to provide this service! Why? Because it is possible that a smoke detector may help to avoid this type of tragedy.
We are over a month away from October, which is traditionally labeled, "Fire Prevention Month." What's important for all of us to realize is that we cannot and should not "box up" our fire prevention efforts into the month of October and tie it with a pretty bow. It is imperative that we see fire prevention as our primary task, 24/7/365!
While it is true that the number of fires is down, the fires that we do face are fiercer than they have ever been before. Where we used to have 7-10 minutes before a fire truly flamed up to the point where firefighters were needed, today, that time is down to 3-4 minutes! That means that residents barely have time to get out if an active fire is there only warning!
More importantly, smoke detectors are just one tool that we must always stress and have available for our citizens. Proper and ongoing education is the best tool we have. We must continue to teach E.D.I.T.H.'s lessons and drills, "Close the Door," is another, as well as a clear evacuation plan that every member of the family knows and the family should practice once every quarter.
We must do whatever we can to assist our citizens to avoid being "tested," before they have a chance to "learn the lesson." Sure, both budgets and scheduling is tight, but is that the excuse we provide to someone who just lost loved ones in a fire? We must face the reality that fire prevention education is second only to firefighting itself. When we do, we will start to break the hold that the lack of knowledge has on those we tragically lose.
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!
Steve Greene is the president of Dalmatian Productions, Inc. and the Creator/Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.