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July 2016 Blog Posts (33)

Include Telecommunicators in Your Mayday Training

This past Wednesday I was a guest on Fire Engineering's TenCate Humpday Hangout, hosted by mentor and friend Frank Ricci. In our discussion, Rex Strickland from Fairfax County mentioned that his department conducts regular mayday radio discipline training- including their telecommunicators in the training. THIS IS GENIUS!

The first line in public safety is used to operating in the background and on the periphery- and we rely upon them to send us to calls for service and  "send the…


Added by Samuel Villani, III on July 29, 2016 at 6:01am — No Comments


We all know that one person, don’t we? The one who was promoted to a leadership role when they have no leadership qualities whatsoever. They have said all the right things to the right people, done the bare minimum to get ahead, and now find themselves in a position of management over firefighters that know all to well who this person really is. My grandfather used…


Added by Paul Combs on July 28, 2016 at 2:56pm — 2 Comments

It Takes Two...

     Hopefully the decidedly ambiguous title has piqued your interest to read on.  It takes two parties to accomplish many things in life and in the fire service.  We operate in teams of at least two for almost all fireground functions.  It takes two to have an argument, and it takes at least two parties to form a cooperative effort to achieve a goal.  Cooperation towards a goal is the purpose of this discussion.  Specifically, the most important of all the goals in the fire service;…


Added by David DeStefano on July 28, 2016 at 2:35pm — No Comments

3 Uses For A TIC On The Hazardous Materials Incident Scene


Added by AB Turenne on July 27, 2016 at 6:30am — No Comments

Why do Fire Ground Duties Trigger Sudden Cardiac Events in Firefighters? Author Thomas Hales

Fire suppression involves physically demanding work in hot, dangerous environments with

heavy encapsulating protective gear while being exposed to toxic chemicals and

particulate matter in fire smoke. Thus, it is not surprising that firefighters have high rates

of injuries and illness. Approximately 85–100 firefighters die each year on duty with

approximately 35–45 being caused by sudden cardiac events. But these on-duty sudden



Added by John K. Murphy on July 26, 2016 at 9:05pm — No Comments

Size-Up Indicators - Hoarding Conditions

Hoarding Conditions are more prevalent than you may be aware of. Taking a second during your 360 to take in some of these clues can pay off. Although nothing is ever truly set in stone on the fireground, more times than not the following can be a strong indicator of hoarding conditions.

Photo 1: Residential single family Dwelling in a "well to do" neighborhood.

Note the front entrance is blocked with overgrown bushes, out…


Added by Will Heiney on July 26, 2016 at 1:30pm — No Comments

"Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"

     The title of this blog post is borrowed from Chief Van Dorpe’s 2012 FDIC keynote speech.  Within that address, he made one of the most profound statements regarding our duty as fire instructors:

“Those of us who call ourselves instructors, those of us who are teachers, must be agents of change – we must be the early adopters.  We must be the people, the advocates of the new and the different: new techniques, strategies, new tactics.  But at the same time, we must never…


Added by Nicholas Papa on July 26, 2016 at 9:30am — No Comments

Judgement Days must end

There's been much said about the level of discourse on social media, both in and outside the fire service. Having been involved in a social media incident with my fire company, I know that the rhetoric can devolve to a point that can make seasoned veterans, men who have volunteered their entire adult lives, saved people, and carried on a family tradition, brought to the point of considering leaving the fire service because of the words of others in the fire service based on a…


Added by Larry Browne on July 26, 2016 at 8:30am — No Comments

Pride in Oil and Paint

Ever smell a smell or hear a song and it brings you back to an old memory?  The smell of linseed oil always brings me back to my grandfather’s cottage shed.  My grandfather was a carpenter by trade and a volunteer firefighter.  His relied on his tools to put food on his family’s table for decades.  Long after retirement the tools all hanging in that shed he built, still looked like they came off the shelf at the hardware store.  He took pride in his work and it…


Added by Lou Comenale on July 25, 2016 at 12:39pm — No Comments


Don't laugh, I bet you a Bulbasaur and a Squirtle that somebody has thought about doing this! Pop culture and the way we humans fawn over it has always fascinated me, if not at times dazed and confused me. But, as any good cartoonist would, I'm having my own brand of fun with it.


Click here to see more of my work or to order…


Added by Paul Combs on July 25, 2016 at 6:43am — No Comments

A closer look at incidents that "went well"

Normalization of deviance. If you haven't heard the term, it basically starts with taking shortcuts under pressure. Of course, we're frequently under pressure on this job and, by human nature, we don't always do exactly as we're supposed to. 

We don't buckle our waist strap. We don't throw ladders. We don't have solid incident command.

These things don't frequently make-or-break an incident because we're able to "make it work." Talk about a false sense of security. …


Added by Barrett Dorner on July 24, 2016 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Mind the Steps...

The Sunday Preach:
Chapter 10: "Stairway to Heaven or Hell"
Do we ever teach our firefighters just how dangerous a seeming simple set of residential stairs can be... we would argue that we do not.…

Added by Douglas Mitchell, Jr. on July 24, 2016 at 11:59am — No Comments

A unique relationship with our audience- keeping it positive

Public safety is unique in so many ways, as we all know.

Our audience calls on us in time of crisis. We interact at the worst time for many, a perspective that lasts and is usually tinged by tragedy and loss. It is also why we have a difficult time interacting with the same audience when the situation is normal.

Our audience relies on us to keep them safe and be there when called. They also see us when we're not engaged, and make assumptions when there is no information. A…


Added by Larry Browne on July 23, 2016 at 9:00am — No Comments

Ladder Rescues--Training was the Key


“What are you going to do at 3:00 in the morning when you get that call with people hanging out of windows with an active fire?”

We’ve all heard or said that in regards to our training and preparation at some point in our career. It’s safe to say that it can be considered cliché because it is mentioned so often. But, without a doubt and with no debate, it is true!

On July 20, 2016 my department responded to a report of smoke in…


Added by Jason Hoevelmann on July 22, 2016 at 8:00pm — No Comments

My first Speech

Below is the first speech I ever gave. I was asked by Chief Rodney Twyman to be the guest speaker at the Ridgley Volunteer Fire Dept. in WVA:

Good evening. My name is David Polikoff and I am extremely honored to be here. I am Battalion Chief in Montgomery County Maryland, life member at Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in PG County Maryland, and volunteer at Sykesville Fire Department in Carroll County Maryland. I am also an instructor with Capitol Fire Training. I…


Added by David Polikoff on July 22, 2016 at 6:54am — No Comments

Always Return a Favor

     Call it good manners or the Golden Rule, it is simply polite to return a favor or help someone in turn who has helped you.  This rule applies to the fire service as a community as much as any one individual.  Throughout our careers we all  experience the many benefits that make the fire service the unique brother/sisterhood that creates lifelong bonds, trains and develops us from recruit to retirement, and preserves the ideals that guide us through good fortune and adversity.   As the…


Added by David DeStefano on July 20, 2016 at 7:38pm — No Comments

Recognize the Signs of Possible Wall Collapse

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

      Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?”

FIve Man Electrical Band c.1971

The above is a part of the chorus from a song from the early seventies, if you want to Google or fact check feel free and even better, play it while you are reading this blog which is a quick reminder of a hazard many…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on July 18, 2016 at 4:11pm — No Comments


Credit or Credibility?

Each of us will have the opportunity to look back on our career and determine whether we earned credibility or if we fell short of that by wasting time seeking personal credit.

I overheard the following conversation a few years ago, as I walked toward a house fire.…


Added by Warren Cersley on July 18, 2016 at 11:40am — No Comments

MFA #33: Ventilation Justification - More new excuses for old habits

Continuing my theme of rebutting the new reasons traditionalists are coming up with to avoid changing their approach to firefighting, given that many of its original justifications have been effectively disproven, this post will focus on the air flow component of the "How to Control Combustion" equation, commonly referred to as tactical ventilation.  I addressed the resistance to the use of exterior hose streams in MFA #32: Changing the Rules - New excuses for old habits (at…


Added by Mark J. Cotter on July 18, 2016 at 6:50am — No Comments

With or Without the Hose Line?

Podcast Link HERE

In the last few weeks I posted about being aggressive. In that post I mentioned that we, our department, will search without a hose line. This seemed to raise some eyebrows and concern about what…


Added by Jason Hoevelmann on July 15, 2016 at 6:22pm — No Comments

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