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David Polikoff's Blog (31)

Rank vs. Respect

When it comes to rank there are those who think that respect comes with it. This thinking is so far from the truth it is almost laughable. We know that respect is earned and not given. I do agree that you need to respect the rank, but not always the person.  The question is, how does one earn respect? Respect is earned over a long period of time. The day you walk into the fire house be it career of volunteer you are being watched and evaluated by your actions. There are many thing you will…


Added by David Polikoff on November 19, 2017 at 5:16am — No Comments

Forcing Drop Bars

You are the officer on the 2nd due ladder truck on a commercial structure fire, and your assignment is to report to the rear and give a report. You cannot get your ladder truck physically to the rear, but you must get to the rear and give a report to command. What tools will you take and what jobs are you going to do? A good truck crew will deploy ladders to the roof, coordinate ventilation with the inside crews, and force doors.

When focusing on…


Added by David Polikoff on June 9, 2017 at 9:30am — No Comments

The Job. The Calling. My Short Story

Most of us took this job because it was all we ever wanted to do. Some call it a calling, some are following in their parents footsteps. I remember when I was 7 all wanted to be was a firefighters. I remember my mom taking me to the fire house in Greenbelt MD, where my dad and grandfather volunteered.  At 4 years old my mom told me I use to try to walk the fire house dog (which was a Dalmatian named Pepper) but most of the time the dog ended up dragging me across the engine room floor. When…


Added by David Polikoff on May 26, 2017 at 8:37am — No Comments

Nozzles and Hose Lines

When deploying hose lines it is important that the line is kink free as you move into the fire area. I am still hearing that the “low pressure nozzles make the line kink more and that it is difficult to ensure that the lines stay kink free as crews move in.” We are now running 4 people on almost all engines. This is more than enough people to run a line. We have been using low pressure nozzles for almost 12 years. Line management is a key skill that all crews (engine, truck, rescue squad and…


Added by David Polikoff on May 5, 2017 at 7:04am — No Comments

Being a Rock Star

Recently I had the pleasure to see one of my favorite Metal bands in concert. I was amazed to hear how great they sounded. These guys have been together for 30 years and still sound like they did 30 years ago. One can imagine the life of a rock star and the toll it can take on one’s body, but through it all they were healthy and still rocking. This got me thinking about a couple of things. How did these guys sound so good after 30 years of playing music and being on the road? How were they…


Added by David Polikoff on April 21, 2017 at 7:43am — No Comments

New Rookie coming, now what?

Soon the recruits will be graduating and coming to the field. Once they are assigned a shift and station, they will start training and learning the craft for their year of probation. There is a resounding complaint throughout the fire service that the new generation of firefighters do not possess the work ethic needed to be in the fire service, or the new firefighters are only here for a pay check. How can we change this perceived observation? For starters we must keep in mind that the new…


Added by David Polikoff on March 24, 2017 at 7:45am — No Comments

The not so common calls

Training on the basics is vital to our fire ground operations. The basics must be converted to muscle memory. Often we over the look the importance of the not so basic skills. These are skills we don’t use on a daily basis, most likely on a monthly basis. Think about the operations we don’t perform often like:



METRO incidents

Rope rescue (horizontal and vertical)

Air bag and cribbing

Vent Enter Search

Bangor Ladder



Added by David Polikoff on March 10, 2017 at 6:36am — No Comments

New officer. Help wanted.

As officers, how do you prepare your firefighters to become officers? Firefighter can move from FF III to Lt. by taking a test. As officers are you doing a disservice by not working with your people? Are you ensuring that the day they are promoted they have the tools to function? Many station officers are putting fighters who are on the promotional list in the officer’s position on the apparatus, while riding behind them to give guidance. This is a time old and great practice. When we think…


Added by David Polikoff on February 28, 2017 at 7:01am — No Comments

The hard part of the job.

The hardest thing to do in the fire service is administrative work. Let’s face it, we would all like to be running calls. The reality is paper work fills up our days. Of all the admin work we do the hardest is discipline. We have had employees that are not performing at a level that is the standard. As an officer you can’t tell your chief that FF Doe can’t do the job. There must be paper work documenting their sub-par performance. Their IPPA (annual evaluation) must reflect poor performance.…


Added by David Polikoff on February 17, 2017 at 6:44am — No Comments

All Hazard Duties

Today’s fire service is called upon to more and more. The term “All Hazards service” is thrown around in the fire service. This means we as Firefighters are tasked to handle any and all emergencies from a sore toe to an active shooter situation and everything in between.  I want to dig down to the company level. Our fire apparatus is being set up to do multiple tasks. The names of the fire service apparatus are changing to fit the growing responsibilities:

Engine Tanker



Added by David Polikoff on February 10, 2017 at 6:43am — No Comments

To layout or not to layout

You are the officer of the engine and you are dispatched first due for a house fire with reported people trapped. You have several decisions to make, among them is laying out going in? There are some who say that it takes time to layout and that is time the fire continues to burn and trapped occupants are in a hostile environment. There are others who say that they would lay out with a 4 man crew and leave the 4th man to wrap the hydrant and run back to the scene, or jump on the…


Added by David Polikoff on February 3, 2017 at 7:16am — No Comments

Advice to the new officer

Being a leader is a full time job and we can't afford to be complacent in this job. Every day you have to prove that you are worthy to be a leader in this organization. Respect and loyalty is something that is earned every day. Putting on the gold collar brass and a badge does not come with a can of respect spray. Your actions in the station and on the incident will define what type of leader you are. There are times you have to hold the reins tights and other time you can ease off. Being a…


Added by David Polikoff on January 20, 2017 at 7:00am — No Comments

Don't skimp on checking for extension

When checking for extension once a fire is knocked, you have to pull ceilings walls door and window moldings’. Most know this, but as officers you have to approach each room with a 6 sided approach. This means not only all 4 walls but the ceiling and floor. It is not uncommon for fire to burn down through a floor and ignite the floor space. The same holds true for ceilings as well as the attack. Knowing basic building construction will saving you from a rekindle. How will fire spread in…


Added by David Polikoff on January 17, 2017 at 6:35am — No Comments


When conducting a primary search, the Officer must take several things into consideration very quickly:

  • Size Up
  • Building occupancy
  • Fire location
  • Search Priorities
  • Search type


Size Up

While en-route to the call you need to monitor the radio. Listen to where the fire is located.  Know the type of structure and occupancy you are responding too. As you arrive on the scene, look at as many sides of the building…


Added by David Polikoff on January 10, 2017 at 8:33am — No Comments

Brothers in Blue

Do you have the capability to listen to the police on your radios? You can glean crucial information from the police. Have you ever been dispatched on a call for a sick person that ended up to be a person that is having a mental crisis and ultimately required police intervention?  There are times we are dispatched to assist the police, but you are giving very limited information. By monitoring the police channel you can get the missing information. There are call that may require the fire…


Added by David Polikoff on January 6, 2017 at 8:19am — No Comments

Are you listening

The dispatch speakers in the fire house have a volume control. All the speakers in the fire house should be set at a level that they can be heard at all times. Giving the excuse, “if they need us they will dispatch us” is a lazy excuse. Situational awareness applies to all and it is important to know what is going on in the county at all times. Major incidents that you are not due on may impact the next call you are due on. Aggressive companies will know if they are next up if a fire…


Added by David Polikoff on January 3, 2017 at 7:32am — No Comments

New Year

As 2016 winds down, it is time to think forward to 2017. Most make resolutions that they never follow through with. To my fire service brothers/sisters I want to challenge you, make a resolution that will strengthen you, your shifts and the fire service in general. Keep your fire service resolutions for the entire year. Don’t give up 2 months in. Remember complacency kills. Below are some ideas, but please feel free to come up with your own:


  • Train every…

Added by David Polikoff on December 30, 2016 at 7:04am — No Comments

The Home Team

It is Football and Hockey season and we love to root for the home team. We get mad when our team is not playing well and we cheer when our team does well. Sometimes we get a little animated when we are watching the game. I was on a plane heading to Fla. I was listening the Ravens game, they scored a touchdown and I said (a little too loud) YES with a fist pump! This caused my wife to look at me as if I was her 3rd child that spilled cherry Kool Aid on the carpet. My actions…


Added by David Polikoff on October 18, 2016 at 7:13am — No Comments

Has the mission changed?

In 1999 Andy Fredericks asked “is the fire service straying away from its core mission”? Do we place more emphasis on peripheral issues/training as opposed to bread and butter skills?  RIT training is important and needs to be a part of our training, but shouldn’t we put more effort into not getting into those situations in the first place. I know there are unforeseen circumstances that happen on the fire ground. Knowing how to fill out triage tags is a skill we should know, but do we need…


Added by David Polikoff on September 27, 2016 at 8:20am — No Comments

Passive CO Meters

Here on the east coast, soon we will be entering the colder months. As the cold settles in the furnaces will come on, and with this comes potential carbon monoxide (CO) issues. When a 911 call comes in for a CO alarm in my county a unit that carries a 4 gas meter is dispatched. There are times that a call comes in for a sick person and only an ambulance is dispatched. Fortunately all our units have passive CO meters on their EMS bags. These small meters are always on and will alert when…


Added by David Polikoff on August 9, 2016 at 8:22am — No Comments

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