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Will someone please help me understand! In the next two days, two highly respected Texas firefighters will be laid to rest. One a seasoned veteran and one an up and coming leader. These two men did not start the day with a reckless sense of duty. They were being pro active and training, doing something that they probably did before, only this time something went wrong. Was it the equipment? Was it human error? Was it lack of supervision? Was it experience? Only time will tell. My intention is not to “Monday Morning Quarterback” what has happened in Kilgore, Texas. I was not there. Maybe this is not the best time to speak out. However, I can’t sit silent anymore. As many of my close personal friends head to Kilgore to assist this department during their time of need, I can’t help but to once again feel great sorrow for the families and the Bothers and Sisters of this small Texas department who lost their family while training. If not now, when? When will it be a good time for all of us to wake up and realize we need to do something differently so that we DO NOT KILL FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING…..PERIOD.

Will someone please help me understand how, and more importantly why firefighters are dying and being severely injured during training? I personally have had the opportunity to work with some of the best firefighters in the Country and I have witnessed how they conduct their training. I personally have been involved in training literally thousands of firefighters. Based on my 25 years of experience, I can’t fathom killing a firefighter during training. Is it that we don’t think we can cause harm during training and therefore let down our guard? Do we not apply the same risk management principles in training as we do on actual incidents? Do we create scenarios that are unrealistic, and then attempt to handle them with far less resources than we would on an actual incident? Are inexperienced people fighting out of their weight class and conducting training that they are not qualified to conduct? Are egos involved? Do we still have those “knuckle heads” who believe that hotter is better, and the “by golly” I did it and so will you attitude? Well you know what? Maybe you were lucky.

Everyday I hear experienced guys complain about the lack of experience in today’s fire service. Guess what, twenty years of riding on a big red truck does not equal experience. Is it our so called experienced guys that are planning and conducting these deadly training sessions?

I’m pleading with those of you involved with training to DRT (Do The Right Thing) and make sure you personally do everything you can to PTB (Protect The Brothers) and make sure no one dies, or gets seriously injured during training. I challenge officers to pull back on the reins a little and do your job to make sure no one is exposed to unnecessary risks during training and that EGH (Everyone Goes Home). To those Chiefs who are managers and pro claim that they leave operations to others. News flash…at the end of the day it falls in your lap. Get involved and have a clue as to what is going on in YOUR department. To all FOOLS; maybe we should adopt a new saying, NODT (No One Dies Training) and use our influence to sell and reinforce the same.

Unfortunately we will see more training related deaths. We may even have one here in The Colony. But if it does happen, I fully expect to be held accountable. So as you start your tour today. As you conduct your roll-call. Please take a minute and make sure that any and all training activities will be conducted safely, that they are adequately supervised, and above all, survivable.

God bless the families of Kyle Perkins and Cory Galloway and the Brothers and Sisters of the Kilgore Fire Department. Let us all remember that they died trying to become better firefighters…

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Comment by Clay Cunningham on February 26, 2009 at 4:45pm
I hear ya...you make a good point.Training does not take the place of actual incidents however it is the safest way possible to somewhat keep ourselves prepared.So long as we keep our wits about us in real incidents,the training kicks in whether we realize it or not. I do believe that training should not be about trying to achieve perfection but rather the opposite....or full of mistakes (that can and do happen in real incidents).We learn from our mistakes.I trained in Kilgore at the academy in 1997...and trained with some of the personnel involved in this tragic event.My heart goes out to the men of this department.

Clay
Comment by Scott Thompson on February 16, 2009 at 4:08am
Marty you make some good points. I am doing a class here in Galveston on some of these very issues in about 6 hours. Just imagine if everyone did as you say. Unfortunately the ones that need it the most are not on this site.....they all know too much. Thank you for your thoughts and your involvement on this site.


Scott
Comment by Marty Mayes on February 14, 2009 at 10:34pm
Scott, first let me apologize for responding so late on this post. I just came across it today. I am the captain in charge of training for my department. I struggle, as you do, with even the thought of someone dying during a training evolution. Then time after time we receive the news that it happened again. Like you, there is no Monday am quarterbacking from me. I have been directly affected by losing three brothers at on fire, although not in training. So I know the damage a bunch of speculators can cause. So I think we sit in quiet anxiety over what should be said or could be said. We deflect away from straight talk and accountability. But that has to be done from within, daily. We cannot afford to wait on a tragic event. Chiefs all way down to FF have to be accountable everyday for their on actions. We have to establish a culture that embraces adherence to all the rules not just the big ones when at difficult or dangerous calls and training. I firmly stand on the principal, that there is peace in the details. Meaning if we take care of the details big issues don't materialize. In any event that resulted in negative consequences, we can always look back and find contributing factors. That is the easy part. The difficult part is working today with our fellows to understand what will lead to poor or disastrous decisions. The only way I have found to work at this level of risk management is to study the mindset
of the near miss. Get the guys to be honest with us, as trainers. What were they trying to accomplish when the near miss occurred? What caused the actions of their efforts? Then we role that back all the way to their daily routine at the station. Where did I miss training on that particular effort? I substitute the term effort for tactic.I feel if we can make minor adjustments to their efforts on the fire ground, we effect huge linear changes in direct tactical control. Solid and proven tactics produce positive results. So I am not sure if I really answered your post. But I hope I found a way for us to make a change today. No more lip service.Today I am accountable. Let's challenge our fellows to say the same. Thanks

for your passion Scott.

Marty
Comment by Robert William Hoven on January 28, 2009 at 12:20pm
MY PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS go out to the FAMILY, They're with Saint Florein(The Saint of Firefighters).I fear we are becoming to comfortable in our jobs, We've done this a million times so nothing happened then why worry now. We have to keep our Eyes and Ears open. Be On Your Guard, Stand Firm in The Faith, Be People Of Courage
Comment by Brad Hoff on January 28, 2009 at 11:47am
My heart too goes out to our Brothers & Sisters in Kilgore TX.

Scott, thanks for your post and like Art said your passion. I am glad to see brothers are not afraid to speak out over something that OUR fire service has struggled with and we come up on the loosing end of every year. Firefighter deaths while conducting training or a lack of is and will be a never ending battle to eliminate from our profession. The question is, how do we get everyone to work on getting on the same sheet of music and striving to make every effort to eliminate firefighter deaths regardless of the situation. Is everyone implementing and practicing the 16 Initiatives from the "Everyone Goes Home" program or is this something cool we attend and receive a free certificate for that we never use our knowledge on again? What else can we do or what else can be done to get the word out and actually see a decline of deaths. If you think that it's glorious to die on the training ground or the fire ground, you're sadly mistaken. The only way that we should feel it is a glorious way to die is when we are old and retired knowing that our job has been done because the people we mentored are now at the reins and doing everything they can to make sure Everyone Goes Home!!!

"Let us not become a name on the Walk Of Honor but to learn from and live to walk in in their honor".

FTM-PTB-KTF-RFB-DTRT-EGH-NODT
Comment by Scott Thompson on January 28, 2009 at 11:25am
Thanks Art. We can only hope that we may see some relief from these tragic events. Thanks for all that you do for the fire service
Comment by Art Zern on January 28, 2009 at 11:07am
Scott,

First my heart goes our to our Brothers and Sisters in Kilgore and especially the families of our departed Brothers. To some, this may seem poor timing; however, the time is now, the time is all of the time.

We are continuously shocked, stunned and heart broken by the endless stream of names added to the list of deaths and injuries. What are the reasons? What are the answers? Is there really any new information out there that will prevent the next LODD? Or.......do we have the information we need and it's just a matter of leadership and application of what we already know?

LEADERSHIP
CULTURE

Thank you for your passion.

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