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

Half Ready - Limiting our options

Excellent firefighters are easy to spot: they’re usually doing something that will enhance their skills and knowledge. Though individual abilities will differ due to such variables as time in service, experience, and level of training, the consistent traits of the best firefighters are that they tirelessly study the trade, practice skills, and critique responses in order to better assist the citizens they are sworn to serve. This quality is readily apparent in their focus, attitude, and…See More
Sep 9
Mark J. Cotter posted a blog post

Experiments vs. Experience: How a handful of test fires beats tons of real fires.

A frequent criticism of Modern Fire Attack (MFA) methods, often phrased as a warning against their adoption, is that the actual number of experimental fires upon which they are based totals only a few hundred, while Traditional (TFA?) tactics have been "proven" effective many thousands of times.  To be exact, I counted just 106 test fires performed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in the most widely-discussed studies published over…See More
Aug 26

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

Half Ready - Limiting our options

Excellent firefighters are easy to spot: they’re usually doing something that will enhance their skills and knowledge. Though individual abilities will differ due to such variables as time in service, experience, and level of training, the consistent traits of the best firefighters are that they tirelessly study the trade, practice skills, and critique responses in order to better assist the citizens they are sworn to serve. This quality is readily apparent in their focus, attitude, and…

Continue

Posted on September 9, 2019 at 6:21am — 3 Comments

Experiments vs. Experience: How a handful of test fires beats tons of real fires.

A frequent criticism of Modern Fire Attack (MFA) methods, often phrased as a warning against their adoption, is that the actual number of experimental fires upon which they are based totals only a few hundred, while Traditional (TFA?) tactics have been "proven" effective many thousands of times.  To be exact, I counted just 106 test fires performed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL)…

Continue

Posted on August 26, 2019 at 10:28am — 1 Comment

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…

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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,…

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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…

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Posted on January 14, 2019 at 7:13am

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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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