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          Brothers, we have a job at hand that we have sworn to do and do well. We are the sworn protectors of those who cannot protect themselves from the beast of flames or escape its grasp at times. When must we decide that in order to do this job and do it correctly we must maintain a sensible level of aggression towards our job? We are firefighters, the name says it in itself. We fight fire, we search, we vent, and we do not discriminate by the kind of person that may or may not be in the burning structure. And yes if the situation is far to advanced for search or any of the mentioned duties then by all means protect your men and keep them out. But if we are called to duty please please remember that aggression does not mean reckless!! This has become a dangerous misconception that has been spread like wildfire through the fire service and it IS NOT TRUE. This is merely something that has become a giant thorn in my side and I wanted to share my opinion with as many as I could. I will be more than happy to share further and give examples if anyone would like. Other than that just remember that we are here for a reason and if that building that we roll up on might possibly have someone in it that we are sworn to save or at least try to, do your job.

Be aggressive with your job. Aggression is good, fear holds no ground in this service!

 

Thank you,

Dan

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Dan, you are right over the last 10 or so years some folks who have been working albeit with the best of intentions to try to improve firefighter safety and survival have vilified the word aggressive. In their vilification of the word it has in some sectors become synonymous with reckless and careless. I could not agree with you more that there is nothing further from the truth when it comes to the deployment of professional and sophisticated firefighters on the fireground. When I say professional I do not mean career I simply mean firefighters who operate in a professional manner. When I say sophisticated I mean firefighters who are well-trained, extremely well versed in the limitations and capabilities of our equipment and personal protective equipment.

Firefighters who understand the the risks involved in our profession do not hesitate to take and here's a better word than aggressive "proactive" measures whenever possible to protect property and save lives.

Mr. Halton,

                Thank you for your thoughts and comments in this matter. This has been something that has been getting mentioned in many blogs and several articles over the past few years. I have really noticed a large explosion of this thought process in the last few months so I feel we need to start putting a forefront of aggressive firefighters together to help explain the difference between reckless and aggressive! I do not want to forget that I too agree with running the safest scene possible and bringing my entire crew home, but at the same time we have a job to get done. Thank you again you’re your comments chief.  And by the way, I think proactive might help us out with this one. Thanks

 

Dan

I agree with you my Brother.  Noone in the Fire Service wants to see their crew go home after a job more than I do.  That being said, I can't help but feel some Leaders in our Profession, whether they are paid for their service or not, have gone to the extreme of being over-board on some issues.  In fact, after reading some recently published articles and web postings, I would summarize the author's message by saying they would have you modify the "risk alot to save alot, risk nothing to save nothing" guideline to "RISK NOTHING...EVER".  Like the Military and Law Enforcement fields, we enter the Fire Service with the implied understanding that there will be occasions in our career where we may have to put ourselves and our crews in harms way to mitigate a situation.  This past year my Department responded to a Mutual Aid call where one of the followers of the ultra-conservative fire attack method was the Incident Commander.  It was like he was listening to the Lawyer in his head and not the experience and training I KNOW he had.  After the incident was over I questioned him on some of his decisions and tried to point out that he wasted valuable time and actually allowed interior conditions to worsen significantly before eventually committing a nozzle team.  How many times have we all seen the saying "think long think worng" come back to bite someone or even ourselves.  Safety of yourself and your crew should always be in the forefront of your thoughts and actions as a point of consideration...but when it becomes the only point of consideration you may as well leave the big red trucks in the station because inaction or indecision will eventualy have the opposite of your desired effect.  For those of you who played High School football...when did you get hurt the most...when you were trying to avoid that Defensive tackle coming at you or when you wnet at him full speed...I dont know about you, but I always got banged up when I wasnt giving it my all.

Harry,

I agree with you 100% on your views. I feel that this is a large oversight in the majority of newer and in some cases senior members of the fire service. This is dangerous, no bones about it. When we enter this field most understand that though we try to do the safest job possible there is a chance that we will be injured or even killed. Many I feel have created a shield from this once they realized how real the chances are, and instead of admitting their dislike for the danger they shield it behind the word safety. We must take into consideration that over the last twenty years or LODD have only altered from year to year by very few firefighter. This time of all the new safety standards and ideas, equipment, and concepts is well and good however the LODD reports explain it all. Lets be the aggressive men that get after the beast and put it down before the fight is too hard. We must start training on extinguishment, and all other aspects of our job and become great at it WHILE training on being safe. We are here in this profession to protect one another and the public we serve, so lets do it. Thanks again Harry for your comments. Be safe, and do work!

 

Dan

-Be a thinking firefighter and not a reacting one!! Aggressive is a proud badge for a firefighter to wear. Obsessive is a word that weak people use to describe dedicated people. 

-Bobby is correct when he says that far to many people vilify the word aggressive and deliberately misuse it in place of reckless in an attempt to make the case for the safety nazis promoting their culture of fear; a fear of ultimately having to do the job of fireman.

-Firefighting is a dangerous business and always will be. That doesn't mean we stop trying to be safe. But the job is dangerous and about taking risks; calculated risks not foolish chances... but risks none the less. 

-Train and be safe but always remain aggressive as their are lives on the line!!! Ours and theirs!!!

Risk everything to save a life!! Risk a little for property and Risk nothing for that which is already gone.

This is a frustrating subject for sure. You can't take all of the risk out of our profession.  However some of our leaders are trying to do just that.  I understand their point of view of course, there is no reason to risk our lives over nothing but at the same time we have to take some calculated risk to get the job done.  You can be safe and aggressive at the same time but only by making educated and rational decisions. I see a lot of firefighters/company officers with a reputation of being agressive but are blindly rushing in with little or any evaluaton of the conditions and the risk vs gain of the operation.  On the other side it is incredibly frustrating to watch conditions become more and more unsafe as the indecision making process is in full affect.  I get "ribbed" all the time for being the guy in there working or being aggressive....there is something wrong with that.  I am just doing my job and doing it safely...isn't that what we are supposed to do? 

"Proactive" is perfect...might have to plant that buzz word somehow.

Absolutely, calculated risk and advancement during a working fire incident is the biggest step towards safety. Indecisiveness from a command officer during an incident is the most dangerous issue and roadblock we can run into. Basically as many of these “leaders” have made clear the only firefighter objectives that we need to worry about anymore is Life safety and property conservation, we have lost the property conservation aspect of our job.  Yeah “It’s just stuff”…….. but it’s their stuff, not ours so lets do our part.  Basically lets do our jobs and do it right men, that’s all our community asks of us.

 

Keep the faith my brothers!

Everyday is a new day!

My mistake, I was meaning property life safety and Environmental preservation in line 4.

 

 

HI Dan

I completely agree with you. The culture of safety we are now seeing is a world wide phenomenon.  In an effort to make work places safer to reduce injuries, occupational health and safety has become such a beast and is an industry all on it's own.  I for one am pleased about that, because without doubt there are now fewer serious harm accidents in the workplace. Being aggresive just for the sake of it is stupid.  I remember the days of a melted helmet being a trophy.  I remember being burnt during an "aggressive" interior attack on an un-occupied farm shed, that had nothing savable in it.  Just plain silly and I'm glad that culture is being stamped out.

Health and safety acedemics, while well meaning, attempting to put our workplace activities into the same box as everyone elses have got it horribly wrong.  We can not control our environment as most other work places can, we can only control ourselves. The term "aggressive" has begun to imply a lack of control, for reasons I am unsure of. I don't mind if we no longer use the term aggressive to describe "proactive" or "offensive" operations; the implied meaning of words evolves from time to time.  As long as we are in control of our operations and have carried out a risk assessment so that we are aware of the risks, I will call it whatever the flavour of the month is.  The absolute important factor here is that we continue to operate in a manner that will achieve our objectives to save life and property, and to minimise the risks to our staff. At the same time we need to critically evaluate our operations to search for improvements and carefully study firefighter injuries to ensure the risks we are taking are outweighed by the benefits.

In summary, aggressive is a word.  Our actions will speak louder than words. 

Take care out there.

Mike D

Mike,

For sure this new era of safety has worked and will continue to work in the majority of workplaces as you said. I am not one to burn my men or ruin our equipment either and I am glad that that aspect of the job is changing as well, I agree with you. My biggest concern is while you can look at many other professions and see the change that is being made in the injuries and deaths at the workplace, you look at ours and we have no notable change. I feel that at some point we have overlooked safety in aggressiveness, offensive, proactive……. Whatever winner word we use today. We are having to many of our leaders initiate exterior attacks prior to sending men inside. This detrimental deterioration of the structure is a big cause of our LODD and on scene injuries, in my opinion.  I agree that melting your stuff to be the department badass is ridiculous and the entry into structures that have no purpose is not my point, I just wish we could reach a point of both safety AND aggressiveness! Thanks so much for your input and if you see anything that you could give your opinion on I’d appreciate it. Thanks

 

Dan

Thanks Dan

I believe we can reach a point of safety AND aggressiveness.  In order to do that we need to become better at assessing the true risk and deciding on a tactical mode, i.e. offensive or defensive.  That decision needs to be made definitively and communicated to all staff.  The assessment needs to be dynamic and conditions continually evaluated with a clear view to ensure the tactical mode is still appropriate.  Then everyone needs to be aware of the plan and stick to it.  If we do that as well as train, train, train I think we can be as safe as we can be given the risks of our jobs.  This is such an in depth subject and I'm sure we all have our ideas and experiences about how we can achieve the ultimate mix of safety and aggressiveness.  It's a great discussion, thanks for posting it.

Stay safe (and aggressive)

MD

Dan Rice said:

Mike,

For sure this new era of safety has worked and will continue to work in the majority of workplaces as you said. I am not one to burn my men or ruin our equipment either and I am glad that that aspect of the job is changing as well, I agree with you. My biggest concern is while you can look at many other professions and see the change that is being made in the injuries and deaths at the workplace, you look at ours and we have no notable change. I feel that at some point we have overlooked safety in aggressiveness, offensive, proactive……. Whatever winner word we use today. We are having to many of our leaders initiate exterior attacks prior to sending men inside. This detrimental deterioration of the structure is a big cause of our LODD and on scene injuries, in my opinion.  I agree that melting your stuff to be the department badass is ridiculous and the entry into structures that have no purpose is not my point, I just wish we could reach a point of both safety AND aggressiveness! Thanks so much for your input and if you see anything that you could give your opinion on I’d appreciate it. Thanks

 

Dan

Mike,

Thanks for your comments and thoughts on this. Yes there are going to be a million different views and concepts when it comes to this topic. As long as we can come to an understanding with the majority of what our overall goal is then we have done our job.

 

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