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Joseph Pronesti's Blog (43)

How the year 1933 can help you size up a Type III structure

The year 1933 has a significant meaning to me as that was the year my mother was born, this year also was the commencement of the winds of war as Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor in Germany, the world was changing rapidly and our greatest generation was just starting to make their mark on our history. So how you may ask does all this relate to us in the fire service? On March 10th of that year a 6.4 magnitude earthquake measuring 6.4 hit the Los Angeles area, damage measured…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on March 6, 2017 at 10:30am — No Comments

Practice for your MAYDAY using simulations and video

"Hey kid, go out on the apparatus floor and play with the R.I.T. bag, oh and put your gloves on." Well readers that's as far  as many command level officers regardless of rank handle their MAYDAY training. Sadly, few command officers prepare themselves emotionally and tactically for handling that MAYDAY call. Whether its a firefighter out of air, sudden change in fire conditions, or partial ceiling collapse that bangs a few noggins of your members will cause moments of excitement, anxiety…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on November 27, 2016 at 1:25pm — No Comments

Tragedy in Sheepshead Bay

Voids and Large Spans Need To Be Recognized

38 years ago today August 2, 1978 on a warm summer morning in Brooklyn, New York a collapse occurred which claimed the lives of six FDNY members. Over thirty more were injured according to news reports and while the years have passed just like any other major event in our profession the members’ legacies and the lessons learned should never be forgotten but sadly most members many of whom weren’t…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on August 1, 2016 at 9:00pm — 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

The Main Street MAYDAY...

Thinking your three or four member rapid intervention team will suffice when combating a fire in an ordinary construction group of attached structures can be compared to “fool’s gold".…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on June 5, 2016 at 6:50pm — No Comments

Corner Buildings & Vacant Lots Beware!

The engine rounded the corner on a quiet ride back after a late Sunday run and as the new firefighter looked at the rows and rows of "old" buildings he asked the acting Lieutenant what was on the corner vacant lot now filled in with gravel and weeds, "I have no idea kid, let's worry about dinner" was his quick response back. The rest of the day went by quietly and the young firefighter forgot about his inquiry, a week later the crew was fast asleep in their recliners and the young…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on May 24, 2016 at 8:00pm — No Comments

MAYDAY Simulation Exercise II

Here is a simulation of a MAYDAY occurring in a Type III "Main Street" building, we do so much to try and avoid a MAYDAY and rightfully so, but how much does a command chief work on as far as preparation? I cringe when I hear fellow command level officers state that they are prepared to face a MAYDAY, no one is totally prepared no matter how experienced and confident one may be.

There are so many scenarios that could occur such as collapse, disorientation, flashover, etc. and an easy…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on April 1, 2016 at 7:30am — No Comments

MAYDAY Simulation Exercise

Are you ready for the MAYDAY? whether in command or as a company officer/firefighter, we must practice our mental approach and involve scenarios in the classroom that enables members to go through the event mentally not just the physical rescue knowledge such as R.I.T. operations. If you are an incident commander, search out audio from MAYDAY events and utilize the same simulation exercises you train your members on size up for the mental approach to our worse case scenario on the…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on March 6, 2016 at 6:00pm — No Comments

A Legacy Tip that Could Save the Modern Company

We all know just how dangerous basement and cellar fires can be and the hazards are even more pronounced in a commercial building, an old tip that saved many lives fifty years ago needs to be reminded as a modern tip in today's fire environment. October 17, 1966 was one of the FDNY's darkest days prior of course to September 11th, 2001, for on that day twelve firefighters perished when a floor collapse occurred in an Ordinary Constructed building on 23rd Street in Manhattan.



Added by Joseph Pronesti on February 20, 2016 at 9:56am — No Comments

Lost in the “fog of the fireground”

 My mistake of getting “sidetracked” upon arrival could’ve led to a serious problem on one of my fire ground commands, don’t let yourself be sidetracked at your next serious event.

While not a veteran, I have tons of respect for and consider myself an avid reader and student of military leadership and command, and in one particular book from a former Marine who fought in World War II describes the term “lost in the fog of war”. According to this author, this expression…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on January 10, 2016 at 2:30pm — 3 Comments

You're a chief, now what??? well ASK SOMEONE for advice!

August 27th 2015 was a big day for me as I was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief and in my department, this meant taking on the role as a shift commander in a department of three stations and roughly 20 people under me on shift, now I had been a Captain for almost 20 years prior and also served as the fire chief for a short time so I felt I knew the job of command but as of 1100 hours on August 27th I was the chief now and I took a good honest look at what it is I had to do to be…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on December 2, 2015 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Don't Let This Party Crash Your Fire

It is a quiet Sunday morning and as you the day's shift commander are reading the paper and thinking about brunch and the day's football games when suddenly the tones drop for a reported building fire in your downtown district, as you hear the address you think about the building run through your size up thoughts. Upon arrival you find heavy smoke coming from what appears to be all three floors of an Ordinary construction Type III building in the center of your town's once vibrant business…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on November 10, 2015 at 7:23pm — No Comments

Hello, it’s me……The Deck Gun


The title to you older members can be hummed to the tune of the great Todd Rundgren hit song “Hello it’s me” but in all seriousness this article will focus on an often forgotten tactic the blitz attack, transitional attack, whatever you wish to call it using the apparatus mounted deck pipe or gun.

Like most students of the fire service I study hundreds and hundreds of fire videos every year and then choose from those the best ones to help with a…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on November 1, 2015 at 10:00am — No Comments


By: Joe Pronesti

While watching a recent replay of a FDIC webcast Lt. Ray McCormack of the FDNY was emphasizing the need to “dig deep” into NISOH reports and I paraphrase here, utilize them in your department’s structure and response. I immediately recalled a fire my department experienced recently that should be considered as a close call and how if my department as a whole would have heeded McCormack’s advice how we may not of gotten as close as we did to a potentially serious…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on October 1, 2015 at 8:30am — No Comments

September Simulation- Tool and Dye Factory

Hello, we are back to simulations after a month off, I will attempt to get a couple of sims out a month, again if there is a particular simulation you wish to see send me an email at In this particular simulation you have a fire in a legacy constructed building constructed in early 1900s, I have attached some thoughts to consider and also attached a kitchen table handout with still frame shots of the building to discuss with your members. Some key points again to…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on September 2, 2015 at 9:00am — No Comments

McCarthy and Croom Never forget their sacrifice the lessons

Monday August 24th is the sixth anniversary of a double line of duty death that must be studied and lessons taken by all firefighters responding to Type III legacy buildings If you are new to the service I have attached the report and also video and audio from the scene, crews arriving were met with a serious basement fire with reported people in the building.

The audio in my opinion should be a mandatory part of every command officer's training in this country and I encourage you to…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on August 23, 2015 at 6:00pm — No Comments

Using today's G.I.S. and internet mapping for your pre-fire kitchen table study

The next time it is too crummy, hot, rainy, snowy, etc. to get out of your firehouses and into your streets looking at your buildings grab your laptop, tablet, etc. and search out the many different mapping and G.I.S. programs on the internet and also most likely available through your city or county real estate, auditor, property websites and "take a drive through town" While doing this one quiet day in the firehouse I found another great medium to help keep our members more informed and…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on August 14, 2015 at 8:00pm — 1 Comment

"Having Your Cake and Getting Through It Too!" Main Street tar build up

Just like any other visit to your Main Street buildings signs of heavy tar built up may not exactly hit you in the face but some leftover materials left up on the roof should be taken into account as you look at your buildings prior to the fire, do you see empty tar buckets? Old tar mops? Roofing paper rolls? Even a fire extinguisher? Yes a fire extinguisher, these may be needed as a safety measure as roofing contractors utilize heat to adhere the roofing paper (I am…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on August 10, 2015 at 10:00am — No Comments

The “Main Street 360” Tips on the initial 360 degree size up for your Main Street fire

Through the analysis of many line of duty death reports and close calls, the one stand-alone take away that I believe has been fully embraced and is in my opinion become a standard in today’s size up is the 360 degree evaluation of the structure immediately after arrival. But; as with most of our tactics this procedure has been honed on one particular type of dwelling, the residential structure. Doing a lap around an 80’ X 65’ can be done relatively quickly and in doing so can provide…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on July 25, 2015 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

The mini big box....... "Dollar Store" This Week's Simulation


By: Joe Pronesti

In this edition we will look at combating a fire in a “dollar store” type of mercantile building, these buildings sell everything you can imagine and are what I call a “mini big box”. The stock in these stores can be considerable and if in a stand-alone building should hopefully present little tactical challenges to the incident commander; big water, collapse zones, etc. But what about these…


Added by Joseph Pronesti on July 6, 2015 at 6:00am — No Comments

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