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Mark J. Cotter
  • Male
  • Salisbury, MD
  • United States
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  • Chris Leier
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Profile Information

Lives in:
Salisbury, MD
Salisbury Fire Department
Years of public service:
Agency structure:
Combination fire department
Top issues in your department:
Staffing, Training, Preparation, Hazard Analysis
Professional Qualifications:
Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences, Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 1977
Physician Assistant - Certified, since 1977
Maryland Professional Qualifications Board Certified as:
Firefighter II
Fire Inspector I
Fire Instructor III
Hazardous Materials Operations
Fire Officer I
Additional Maryland Fire Rescue Institute Courses:
Emergency Medical Technician - Basic
Emergency Vehicle Operator
Pump Operator
Truck Company Operations
Aerial Apparatus Operator
Advanced Cardiac Life Support Instructor since 1978
Topics you provide training for:
Single Company Operations
Emergency Service Myths
Modern Fire Attack
Areas of expertise:
Single Company Operations - obtaining maximum efficiency and effectiveness from small firefighting crews;
Emergency Service Myths - seeing beyond hype and habits;
Modern Fire Attack - application of fire dynamics and simulations research to fireground tactics;
Third generation firefighter, with grandfather the Fire Chief of Anaconda, Montana, and maternal uncle Fire Chief in Richland, Washington. Born and raised in Summit, NJ, a bedroom community in the NY metropolitan area. Joined town's volunteer first aid squad as a junior member in 1972, then the combination fire department as a volunteer in 1974. Attended Physician Assistant school from 1975 to 1977, working one year as a driver for an inter-hospital commercial ambulance company, and joined a volunteer fire department (Coal Township, PA) during my internship. Married in 1978, moved to Philadelphia, fathered a daughter and son, and worked two years as one of four EMS Field and Training Coordinators for the Philadelphia Fire Department, earning EMT-Paramedic and Instructor certfications. Moved in 1980 to northeastern Pennsylvania to resume medical practice in freestanding emergency room, and joined volunteer fire departments in Wind Gap, then Pen Argyl, PA., where I rose to the rank of Fire Chief. Also assisted in establishment of regional Advanced Life Support service. Began writing feature articles for fire and EMS publications. Moved to current location in 1987 to join practice providing staffing of local emergency room, and continued writing and teaching. Joined combination fire department in Salisbury, MD, as a volunteer in 2002, currently holding rank of Captain.

Mark J. Cotter's Blog

MFA Tools and Rules: Bridging the Tactical Divide

I returned from FDIC 2017 with the nagging impression that the American fire service remains divided into two general camps regarding our tactical approaches: those who embrace the results of research, and have modified their methods accordingly; and those who have little accord for experimental evidence, and continue to embrace familiar methods.  There was even a significant imbalance in the reactions to the different viewpoints: presenters who spoke of the duty, honor, and sacrifice…


Posted on July 18, 2017 at 7:08am

FDIC Recharge

If, like me, you are a regular visitor to the FE Community, you will have noticed a sparsity of postings over the past few weeks, my own blog included.  I suspect that the explanation for my slacking is shared by many other regular contributors, and that is the vast amount of ideas and information we are sorting through since returning from FDIC International 2017 in Indianapolis.  While I spent a lot of effort on my own presentation, adding updates right up until my assigned time on the…


Posted on May 17, 2017 at 6:49am

MFA Tools and Rules - Reversing Polarity

So, think you know how to fight fire?  Sure you do!  And, as a reader of this blog, you’ve shown your interest in trying to keep up with all of the advances in knowledge that continue to come out of fire dynamics research.  But, have you translated this information into practical use?  That is, have you or your department made changes to your operational procedures that take advantage of the increased speed, effectiveness, and safety of the various MFA methods?  Even if you are…


Posted on April 21, 2017 at 12:16pm

MFA Tools and Rules: "Attack from the Burned Side"

Today’s example of a revision to a prior firefighting “rule”, inspired by the new perspectives provided by fire dynamics research, regards the direction of our fire attack.  It is a phrase I first saw used by Lieutenant Sean Gray of Cobb County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services in a November, 2011 article in Fire Engineering,…


Posted on April 3, 2017 at 11:21am

MFA Tools and Rules: Put the Wet Stuff on the HOT Stuff

"Don't spray water on smoke" has been uttered as a dismissive command from generations of instructors, officers, and senior firefighters attempting to stop what was viewed as a useless action, and to instead encourage progress to reach and extinguish the seat of a fire.  A result of the fire service's movement from using almost exclusively exterior streams to the currently-standard interior attack (an evolution that has been ongoing for the past 50 years or so, and which, by…


Posted on March 13, 2017 at 7:00am

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At 11:01pm on April 27, 2009, Chris Leier said…
Hey Mark, we met out in FDIC at the NIST booth as I work for them, I am out in Salisbury quite a bit as my girlfriend goes to school out there and would love to see the station and that beautiful new ladder truck in person. Maybe we can work something out, if you are ever in PG let me know as I am a member at station 12. Nice to meet you and hopefully we can keep in contact.

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