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Mark J. Cotter
  • Male
  • Salisbury, MD
  • United States
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Latest Activity

Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Addressing Public Expectations - Meet or change?

Duty to the citizens we serve is frequently held up as our most basic and sacred responsibility as firefighters, and I couldn't agree more. It motivates us to perfect our skills for the benefit of others, face dangers known and unknown, and even to leave a warm bed to assist a stranger. In short, it inspires selflessness. Still, though that obligation is powerful, it is unfocused; it serves as a compass, not a map. My point in making this distinction is to counter the frequent citation of “duty…See More
Mar 31
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Interior Search - Flipping the Survivability Question

The practice of estimating the likelihood of finding living persons inside a burning building, and basing a large part of our risk determination on this calculation - more specifically, the decision whether to enter the building to perform a search - has spawned fervent discussions in the fire service, to say the least.  One side cites the lack of justification for risking firefighters’ lives if it is unlikely there is anyone alive to rescue, and the other argues that the only method for…See More
Feb 4
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Inching Closer to Agreement

I'm going to end 2018/start 2019 with a positive assessment of the past year's progress spreading the new fire dynamics knowledge and integrating it into our tactics. To be sure, this may be an overly optimistic view, as sometimes there seems to be more than enough distance between the two sides to take an entire fire service career before they meet somewhere near the center. Still, I have been seeing and hearing more and more evidence of the spread of our evolving understanding of fireground…See More
Jan 14
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Priorities and Tactics - Apples and Oranges

When engaged in an activity where seconds count, lives hang in the balance, and there is little margin for error, choosing the correct initial action is critical.  As firefighters, we must "get it right" the first time, and there are no “do overs”.  To be most successful in protecting lives and property, our selection of methods and their execution must be flawless.  Unfortunately, some in the fire service incorrectly link our traditional and consistent goals with our evolving and varied…See More
Dec 24, 2018
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Fastest Water Wins

Everybody knows you need water to control fire. (And, by “everybody”, I mean firefighters, scientists, politicians, civilians, immigrants, elementary school children, your spouse and kids. Everybody.) That’s why fire apparatus are primarily designed around the need to quickly transport water to the location of a fire, engineered as they are with the capacity to carry a booster tank, hose, pump, appliances, and the personnel needed to put it all to work. It didn’t take a series of high-tech…See More
Nov 5, 2018
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

You Can't Scare Firefighters

Fear is a lousy motivator for persons who have joined an organization that routinely confronts danger, especially when, for some, that danger was itself a motivator to join. Now, I am not suggesting that firefighters care less about themselves than your average citizen; just that they generally put the wellbeing of others ahead of themselves. This helps them face hazards that, without such a focus, would cause your average human to turn - if not run - away. Of course, we are also trained and…See More
Oct 31, 2018
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

“I” is for Ventilation - Using all available tools for controlling combustion

Contrary to the action-oriented, fix-it, can-do attitude of firefighters that make us so effective in most fire suppression and rescue situations, sometimes the best thing we can do to protect the lives and property of those we are sworn to serve is let some things alone. What makes this “hands-off” approach even more difficult is that the tactic I am here addressing - Ventilation - is one that we had been taught and believed was not only helpful and necessary, but a priority for…See More
Oct 1, 2018
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Water Rules: Summary of the recent UL Studies Part 4: Full Scale Experiments - Tactical Recommendations

Concluding my series of commentaries on the findings of the “Impact of Fire Attack Utilizing Interior and Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival” collection of UL experiments, this installment will cover the 18 "Tactical Recommendations" from the "Full Scale Experiments" (https://ulfirefightersafety.org/docs/DHS2013_Part_III_Full_Scale.pdf). Inspired by the findings from this study, but also…See More
Sep 17, 2018

Profile Information

Lives in:
Salisbury, MD
Department:
Salisbury Fire Department
Title/rank:
Engineer
Years of public service:
45
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, rising to rank of Captain, and currently serving as Engineer.

Mark J. Cotter's Blog

Addressing Public Expectations - Meet or change?

Duty to the citizens we serve is frequently held up as our most basic and sacred responsibility as firefighters, and I couldn't agree more. It motivates us to perfect our skills for the benefit of others, face dangers known and unknown, and even to leave a warm bed to assist a stranger. In short, it inspires selflessness. Still, though that obligation is powerful, it is unfocused; it serves as a compass, not a map. My point in making this distinction is to counter the frequent citation of…

Continue

Posted on March 31, 2019 at 4:17pm

Interior Search - Flipping the Survivability Question

The practice of estimating the likelihood of finding living persons inside a burning building, and basing a large part of our risk determination on this calculation - more specifically, the decision whether to enter the building to perform a search - has spawned fervent discussions in the fire service, to say the least.  One side cites the lack of justification for risking firefighters’ lives if it is unlikely there is anyone alive to rescue,…

Continue

Posted on February 4, 2019 at 8:55am

Inching Closer to Agreement

I'm going to end 2018/start 2019 with a positive assessment of the past year's progress spreading the new fire dynamics knowledge and integrating it into our tactics. To be sure, this may be an overly optimistic view, as sometimes there seems to be more than enough distance between the two sides to take an entire fire service career before they meet somewhere near the center. Still, I have been seeing and hearing more and more evidence of the spread of our evolving understanding of…

Continue

Posted on January 14, 2019 at 7:13am

Priorities and Tactics - Apples and Oranges

When engaged in an activity where seconds count, lives hang in the balance, and there is little margin for error, choosing the correct initial action is critical.  As firefighters, we must "get it right" the first time, and there are no “do overs”.  To be most successful in protecting lives and property, our selection of methods and their execution must be flawless.…

Continue

Posted on December 24, 2018 at 6:00am

Fastest Water Wins

Everybody knows you need water to control fire. (And, by “everybody”, I mean firefighters, scientists, politicians, civilians, immigrants, elementary school children, your spouse and kids. Everybody.) That’s why fire apparatus are primarily designed around the need to quickly transport water to the location of a fire, engineered as they are with the capacity to carry a booster tank, hose, pump, appliances, and the personnel needed to put it all to work. It didn’t take a series of high-tech…

Continue

Posted on November 5, 2018 at 9:20am

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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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