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Mark J. Cotter's Blog (62)

Inciting Bravery - The realities of promoting risk-taking; Part 3 - Should we increase it?

So far in this series exploring the practical limitations inherent in any attempt to motivate firefighters to think less about their own safety and more about the lives and property we are sworn to protect; to display more boldness and less caution, I have suggested that the concept of heroism is so vague as to render it virtually useless as a tool for either change or measurement, and have proposed that the route to maximizing effort is to educate, demonstrate, and support the desired…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 29, 2018 at 7:41am — No Comments

Inciting Bravery, Part 2 - The realities of promoting risk-taking - Can we increase it?

Having cited the limitations and contradictions of the concept of heroism in my last post (i.e., unmeasurable, and essentially bestowed upon all of us simply for joining the fire service), is there another attribute that might allow us to be more effective in our attempts to protect life and property by inspiring bolder searches and fire attacks? Might it be feasible to at least increase our collective acceptance of risk? And, if so, what would be the best method for accomplishing this…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 8, 2018 at 8:41am — No Comments

Inciting Bravery - The realities of promoting risk-taking

Part 1 - What are we talking about?

Courage is considered by most to be a vital firefighter trait, and its lack has been cited by some as the cause of a decline in fire service effectiveness. Whether it's a perceived pre-occupation with safety, or a choice of fire control tactics that are considered less valiant, the willingness of our members to display sufficient bravery in the pursuit of protecting life and property has been called into question. Unfortunately, an…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on December 29, 2017 at 7:03am — No Comments

Results of UL Fire Attack Studies Published

Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute (ULFSRI) last week released their three reports on the Fire Attack Study - Water Mapping, Air Entrainment, and Full Scale Experiments. They can be accessed from the Fire Engineering home page, or at www.ulfirefightersafety.org. These were the experiments that looked at the effects of interior attack, among other things, in order to provide more realistic comparisons amongst…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on December 12, 2017 at 5:08am — No Comments

Cowards and Morons - Seeing past labels

Sticks and Stones/Axes and Halligans. Firefighters have the means to put a serious hurt on somebody, but we use our tools instead for good. Our words, on the other hand, are wielded, at least by some, with much less regard for the human damage they can inflict. The internet has proven itself fertile ground for zingers and put-downs, allowing a well-timed and -phrased comment to create a virtual worldwide chain-reaction of effects, which can be amusing and/or hurtful, depending upon the…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on December 4, 2017 at 7:10am — No Comments

Divisions and Distractions - Exploring hot-button topics

I stirred up more than a little controversy recently when I questioned the feasibility of increasing our effectiveness by decreasing our caution (See "Worth Dying For?!" at http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?xg_source=activity&id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A641725).  Many who contacted me were supportive and encouraging, with some describing…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on November 27, 2017 at 7:25am — No Comments

Passion vs. Pragmatism

A lot of discussion was generated by my last post (Worth Dying For?! at http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?xg_source=activity&id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A641725]), both pro and con, and much of it quite strongly-worded.  (To me, the most amusing comments are from those who claimed to stop reading my post when they reached a point with which they…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on November 6, 2017 at 6:26am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Worth Dying For?!

 

One of the more powerful sentiments I have been hearing and reading in response to suggested firefighting tactical improvements is that it is understood and expected that firefighters risk their lives in the course of their work, and that they need to put their self interests behind in order to save lives and property.  Essentially, the “suggestion”, typically provided in an admonishing tone, is that anything that gets in the way of interior operations constitutes…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on October 23, 2017 at 7:12am — 6 Comments

Farewell to the Chief

The fire service’s sensei has passed from this earth, having left us smarter, safer, and kinder.  Chief Alan Brunacini was a leader on many fronts, while remaining disarmingly, yet sincerely, humble.  Probably the best evidence of the range of his impact and influence will be the plethora of stories you will read from those who had the good fortune to cross his path and benefit from his wisdom.  My direct contact with him was meager, yet he provided me with substantial guidance…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on October 17, 2017 at 5:03pm — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Changing Too Fast!?

Even to this zealot, the arguments against the tactical improvements inspired by fire dynamics research can, at first, sound persuasive:"The aggressive interior attack has proven effectiveness."; "Experiments have little application to the 'real world' of structure fires."; and "Nothing works everywhere” are common examples.  Furthermore, I have heard and read these and similar statements from many fire service leaders, and such pronouncements generally garner more applause…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on September 26, 2017 at 6:14am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on July 18, 2017 at 7:08am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on May 17, 2017 at 6:49am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on April 21, 2017 at 12:16pm — No Comments

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,…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on April 3, 2017 at 11:21am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on March 13, 2017 at 7:00am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on February 28, 2017 at 7:00am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on February 20, 2017 at 6:41am — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 24, 2017 at 12:26pm — No Comments

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…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 16, 2017 at 9:00am — No Comments

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,…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 13, 2017 at 7:11am — No Comments

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