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Have you ever been to the zoo and watched the monkeys fling their own poop at each other?

Yeah; some of you already know where this is headed.

The rhetoric has been ratcheting up. The sabers are rattling once again in the fire service on issues of safety, searching and abandoned buildings.

This is where you go back to my opening question and briefly ponder the correlation between monkeys flinging poop and firefighters “discussing” today’s urgent, fire service topics; three that I mention here.

Ironically, before the virtual Hell broke loose, I wrote a blog ( that a couple of people read and I thought that I made some salient points on respecting others’ points of view.

But, because some bloggers did not choose their topics or their words wisely, they found themselves in that “virtual street fight” that I alluded to in my blog.

With regards to safety, searching and tactics used for abandoned buildings, I have read some very good blogs that offer similar views, as well as opposing views.

My concern is and always has been the impressionable ones who see the vitriol and not the whole picture. The “impressionable” ones are those who look for the smallest shred that will, in their minds, justify their break from sound judgment to one of risky behavior. I think that it creates an almost voyeuristic curiosity to find out for themselves; regardless of the unintended consequences.

In my mind, there has never been the question of “why we search”. Any firefighter worth their salt knows why we search. That is a given, though WHEN to search is not always that obvious. The “not-so-obvious” requires some thought; not much, but some. Is it wrong to give a little more thought to the plan in case Murphy and his law shows up?

The Internet is awash in a sea of those claiming to be “experts”. They can produce a long list of credentials that would lead you to believe that they are the teachers of the teachers. They took their class on the computer and got their degree in the mail; all without stepping foot on the fire ground. At least they know the subject matter, which is more than the outright frauds know.

Fortunately, many of us have been around for a while and know who is and who isn’t. I guess that is where longevity pays off. We have established a resource list that has been built upon verifiable attributes of our personal contacts, as well as trusted intel from friends in the service. Either way; the source is reliable and we can trust the information.

The reason that I mention that is because I agree with many that we must ALWAYS consider the source of our information and it cannot be found in the bloggers’ profile. As I have said before; anyone with a computer and some time on their hands can write a blog.

Anyone can toss out their opinions, but when they are critical of a department’s tactics; rest assured that it will create blow back. At that point, those reading the criticisms have no desire to check the author’s credibility in the fire service. The reader only knows that the writer has no right to look from the outside in at a very personal event within their department and any discussion of the matter will be incendiary.

So; at the proper time, the questions that should be asked and answered will come, but when? When will the discussions of the events that led to an undesirable outcome be an appropriate topic for a discussion forum and especially if there could be potential, life-saving lessons learned?

Do we wait until a national organization such as the IAFC, NVFC, NIOSH, NIST or the IAFF issues a position paper on it?

Or, as some metro departments will do, will they share the findings of an internal investigation?

Even then, will it be with the understanding that some of the tactics that we employ are unique to our geographical locations?

Will we temper that with mitigating factors such as available manpower, training, equipment and type of department, to name a few?

Can we agree that we are not all from the same cookie cutter?

When I was a firefighter; you know, back when you could ride the tailboard, my instructors always told us to take what we could use from the training and use it. That makes perfect sense.

During the past, few weeks, there has been some very good information that has gotten lost in the monkey cage.

If we cannot raise the tenor of the debate to a respectful one, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not represent the views and opinions of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by copyrights.

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on January 13, 2011 at 3:45pm


As you can see when you read my blogs, I ask alot of questions, not because I know the answers but because I am looking for answers. I also happen to believe that it can be done respectfully.

At some point post incident, it needs to be discussed from an analytical perspective and not an emotional one. I know it is tough for some and maybe that's why outside agencies may be better equipped to ask those questions if they have substantive information. That might eliminate alot of the second guessing that goes on.

I don't know; just some thoughts.

It just seems like reputations quickly come into question when we have an unfortunate incident; the reputation of the affected fire department, the leaders, the investigators and the firefighters looking for answers and those who state their comments of an incident. When emotional wounds from the incident are still fresh or still healing, it might not be the time to bring it to the "kitchen table". I could say that common sense might dictate when that is, but it might be a case of extending common decency as well.

Words definitely need to be chosen carefully and the framework for the discussion needs to be clearly defined, in my opinion.


Comment by Brad Hoff on January 13, 2011 at 3:13pm
Art, it's probably a good thing you can't draw like Paul with this title! You definitly grab attention with your statements as our Bro does with his pictures! We need to team the two of you up for a special project!

I just listend to some of Eddie Hadfields webisode on the other fire website and he once again stated the need for a full scene sizeup with 360 performed and "softening the structure" for some that's a new word meaning to open as you go and make it firefighter friendly. Along with that it means to use "common sense" pertaining to fire conditions and to inform others of your agenda so as not to endanger other crews or those we are searching for. I think our brothers on Back Step Firefighter mentioned something similar in that When sentiment and emotions increasingly call for changes in tactics, and make allusions to the occupants inside we need to seriously consider the source. As we’ve written before on here, your sizeup should be an intelligent, safe one based on the conditions facing you and including the resources being immediately deployed. It should also be influenced by:
-Your Chief Officers
-Your Company Officer
-Your SOPs
-Your Training

It should not be influenced simply by commentary. Everyone has worth, value. It is the fire that restricts us from rescuing them.

So are we the flingers the flingees or the poop? That is the question!

Comment by Jeff Schwering on January 13, 2011 at 1:27pm

True, you can't draw like Paul. You know texting that individual will be in order shortly. With the fun aside, I'm thinking that developing the sense needed should warrant a new course to be invented. In my world common sense really isn't so common, but, could be if an officer that had both experience an education would step up and be a boss. we have some brilliant folks in our profession. They do budgets, start IV's, drug calculations, friction loss, as you said, but, could tell if the structure was fully involved, until it fell on their head.

Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on January 13, 2011 at 1:13pm


Our friend knows that the safety tiara is perched squarely on top of my tresses(?).

Probably because I don't choke, piss myself and pass out when I say the word, "SAFETY".

Seriously, we have a ways to go. We'll get there. We know how fast the fire service moves when it comes to change. Plan for it.

And you are correct; if we have done our jobs with our firefighters with regards to their jobs, then common sense takes over when all else fails. I see some using the old adage "common sense isn't common". Well, I got a news flash; if common sense becomes part of the maturation process in our firefighters, then we'd better find a way to put THAT in the course study. If you can figure out pump pressures and friction loss, then you should be able to look at a building and know if it's safe.

And you know; I work hard to get just the right title for my blogs. I mean; it's the first thing you see and I want to get attention. I can't draw like Combs, so this is my only shot.



Comment by Jeff Schwering on January 13, 2011 at 12:42pm

Art, I love the title! Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure you After reading this a couple times two words come to mind. COMMON SENSE! Many variables effect searches. Does every structure need to be searched, absofreakinluty, but conditions, manpower etc, dictate this. We run 3 person engines, Common Sense! I also agree folks need to have a good debate, after all we are adults, sorta. I'm quite sure our friend in Mass will start calling me a "safety sally" which is far from the truth, but, that's what friendly harassment is all about.

See you in Indy!


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