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Mark J. Cotter
  • Male
  • Salisbury, MD
  • United States
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Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

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 the way, required…See More
Mar 13
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA Tools and Rules: Needed changes

I thought it time to leave for awhile the references to tools in the Modern Fire Attack (MFA) arsenal and instead look at a few of the new tactical rules that should be guiding our actions.  First, though, a few words regarding the whole idea of attempting to create strict edicts for something as dynamic and variable as structural firefighting.  Since one of the things that characterizes a true MFA proponent is avoidance of the words “always” and “never”, pretty much eliminated from the start…See More
Feb 28
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA Tools and Rules: Preconnects

If “more tools in the toolbox” is a good metaphor for new tactics, then our favorite attack hoseline setups might serve as a more specific comparison to our standard fire suppression approaches.  With multiple available combinations of nozzle types and hose diameters, lengths, and folds for structural firefighting, each fire department typically carries one or more arrangements that best suit its needs.  Selecting the ideal configuration requires consideration of staffing and hazard profiles,…See More
Feb 20
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA Tools and Rules - Having vs. Using

Continuing with our examination of MFA tactics as additional “tools in the toolbox” for the control of structure fires, today’s post will consider the issue of ignoring viable options.  This topic is pertinent to every fire department because, thanks to the hard work of the ISFSI, UL, and many others in developing and distributing information about improvements to firefighting inspired by fire dynamics research, and the fact that these changes are merely modifications of traditional tactics…See More
Jan 16
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA Tools and Rules - Shiny new things

Note: This is the second in a planned series of blogs using the "tools in the toolbox” model to explore the many facets of the profound changes inspired by ongoing fire dynamics research.  As discussed in my first post in this format, I am a big fan of viewing MFA tactics as additional “options” to use for controlling fires in structures.  Besides being non-threatening and accurate, it allows me to break down the various components into more manageable, blog-sized, pieces.In order to sell…See More
Jan 13
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA Tools and Rules - Introduction

Note: With the dawn of a new year, I'm determined to become a better blogger.  The Modern Fire Attack series has been running as a self-posted blog for about a year and a half now, and I have simultaneously, though less often, been submitting more general fire service articles under the title of my old column "From the Jumpseat".  Other than the topics, the size of the two (and the effort I put in to them) are roughly the same.  Having long ago begun writing for emergency services magazines, I…See More
Jan 10
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA #37: Thinking Firefighters - Intelligent choices

We are learning that the fireground is more complex than we had previously understood, and we probably still don’t know the half of it.  While the recommendations for tactical changes that have arisen from ongoing fire dynamics research have spawned the most discussion amongst members of our profession, the raw information alone was revolutionary in its own right, even absent the practical applications that followed.  Flow paths, smoke as fuel, and the (actual) effects of hose streams and…See More
Dec 12, 2016
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

MFA #35: Small Times - An ideal strategy for the minimally staffed

It can be demoralizing to learn that something to which you had dedicated a lot of time and effort studying, practicing, and promoting has been rendered irrelevant, or at least less relevant, and I speak from personal experience.  The tactical modifications inspired by fire dynamics research that have incited the most rancor are those regarding initial water application targets and ventilation timing, with the proponents of still bypassing showing fire in favor of immediate entry, and of…See More
Sep 13, 2016

Profile Information

Lives in:
Salisbury, MD
Department:
Salisbury Fire Department
Title/rank:
Captain
Years of public service:
41
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;
Bio:
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: 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…

Continue

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 7:00am

MFA Tools and Rules: Needed changes

I thought it time to leave for awhile the references to tools in the Modern Fire Attack (MFA) arsenal and instead look at a few of the new tactical rules that should be guiding our actions.  First, though, a few words regarding the whole idea of attempting to create strict edicts for something as dynamic and variable as structural firefighting.  Since one of the things that characterizes a true MFA proponent is avoidance of the words “always” and “never”, pretty…

Continue

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 7:00am

MFA Tools and Rules: Preconnects

If “more tools in the toolbox” is a good metaphor for new tactics, then our favorite attack hoseline setups might serve as a more specific comparison to our standard fire suppression approaches.  With multiple available combinations of nozzle types and hose diameters, lengths, and folds for structural firefighting, each fire department typically carries one or more arrangements that best suit its needs.  Selecting the ideal configuration requires consideration of staffing and hazard…

Continue

Posted on February 20, 2017 at 6:41am

MFA Tools and Rules - Upgrades

Product development and performance improvement are two processes that are alive and well in the fire service, resulting in a continuous stream of proposed “advancements” for our consideration.  Stronger, lighter, smaller, safer, and faster are typical descriptors of “upgrades”.  Most of these "new" items or methods are actually just modifications of equipment or procedures we already have on hand, with only a few being novel, such as the Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) or Rapid…

Continue

Posted on January 24, 2017 at 12:26pm

MFA Tools and Rules - Having vs. Using

Continuing with our examination of MFA tactics as additional “tools in the toolbox” for the control of structure fires, today’s post will consider the issue of ignoring viable options.  This topic is pertinent to every fire department because, thanks to the hard work of the ISFSI, UL, and many others in developing and distributing information about improvements to firefighting inspired by fire dynamics research, and the fact that these changes are merely modifications of traditional tactics…

Continue

Posted on January 16, 2017 at 9:00am

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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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