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!
Steve Greene is the president of 5-Alarm Task Force Corp., a 501 (c) (3), non-profit company and the Creator/Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.